A happenstance and a co-incidence brightened my Wednesday evening this week . One of my occasional forays to Sheffield happened to find me there on the right day of the week to take in the weekly session at The Lescar. Jez Matthews who is the energising spirit behind the night and marshals the dedicated band of volunteers who make it happen, was deservedly cock-a-hoop at their nomination for the annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards, for venue of the year. This piece can serve as an un-solicited citation, in praise of the place. The programme at the Lescar is pretty much year-round, dizzingly diverse, adventurous stylistically, and uniformly high quality. That Jez and the team, inheriting a long running and noble legacy a few years back, have built a consistent audience and a warm and appreciative vibe is a testament to commitment, savvy and informative communicaton and promotion (check out the website) and, let’s say it, love. It is all about the music and it’s not possible to miss that. Musicians love playing there and I’m sure it’s why the Lescar has been nominated.
Co-incidence and poetry were provided by the band for the night, Sam Rapley’s Fabled, stopping off here as part of a national tour. Last time I was at the Lescar, some eighteen months ago, guitarist Alex Munk, pianist Matt Robinson and bass player Conor Chaplin were all in attendance as part of Munk’s band Flying Machines. On Wednesday they were all there again, this time with leader Rapley, Will Glaser on drums and playing Rapley’s music and what a treat it was. The music bustles, skips and roars by turns. Dove Stone started with an arresting pattern from Robinson’s piano and propulsive stabs before Rapley’s warm, intimate tenor sound, wove an elegant melody through the urgent pulse bouncing around the band. Yellow Car had more contrapuntal interplay with lines from guitar, sax and bass twisting around each other before Robinson built a beguiling and then scintillating solo, stuttering phrases gradually coalescing into fluid, spiralling phrases. For HG had a sighing swirling melody, carried by clarinet gusts and eddies of accompaniment. 25 Years of Rain was another epic tale moving from a chamber jazz-like, stately dance between guitar and clarinet through to a squalling rocky workout with thunderous drumming from Glaser. It’s music that wears it’s intricate sophistication lightly, glowing with warmth, buzzing with invention, and every now and then letting it all hang out and blazing away: Well up to the Lescar’s exacting standards.