The name ‘That Groove Thang’ may not have made the cut at a high-end advertising agency’s strategy session, but as a hook for guitarist Martin Kolarides‘ gig at The Cornerhouse in Frome on an average Sunday night, it did the job. The grooves in question were anything African tinged or titled. The company was anything but average.
If there were plans for Afro-beat, especially if it had a West African edge to it, you’d probably have Outhouse and Fofoulah animateur Dave Smith‘s name near the top of the list (if he wasn’t on tour with Robert Plant). A bass player you could rely on to nail any rhythmic trickery and have ideas to spare? Riaan Vosloo would fit the bill. Keyboard pyrotechnics when required, married to a poetic lyricism and that essential sense of groove? Well John Law would be hard to beat. All were present and correct soon after 7pm. It was probably best not to dwell on how this could possibly be a free entry gig, and just make a generous contribution to the hat that circulated at the break. The local residential addresses of most of the band may have helped.
This was a pick-up gig with Kolarides supplying some of his original charts with a few Abdullah Ibrahim tunes and a couple of standards woven amongst them. There had been a rehearsal though, and they were blistering. Stairs, one of those originals, was a racing soukous style piece, the guitar laying down a glittering carpet of phrases, the rhythms locked in an instant with Dave Smith. Another Afro burner in the second set, switching between meters buried in the grooves was a wide eyed, ‘are they really doing this?!’ tour-de-force. At one point my other pair of ears leaned over and observed that it sounded like considerably more than four in the band, just as John Law was taking flight using one of the scronkier organ voices on his keyboard. Ibrahim’s hymn like tune The Wedding got an outing in each set, the re-visit an intense, tumbling version, with some emotional soloing. They played out on Footprints, turned inside out and upside from moment to moment with another volcanic solo from John Law.
It was an exhilarating ride, the leader for the night by turns colouring and shading the music, then driving it along with pell-mell riffs or reeling out sinuous, crafted lines. Top drawer stuff and just a regular Sunday night in Frome.
The Jazz Club seems to running regular alternating Sundays and Thursdays and, according to their facebook page, coming in May and June, they have a Mingus Tribute with another formidable line up; Jon Lloyd‘s Confluence and experimental electronica from the maestro of the form, Andy Keep.