Inspecting the photos on my phone, I find I have a fairly random smattering of snaps taken at post lock-down gigs from June/ July onwards, but they do include the smallest venue (seating around 30), and the largest (1000+) with a few in between. I could invite entries to the ‘sequence-the-gallery-in-venue-size-order’ competition, but fear I may crash the website with traffic, so I’ll resist. The full list of gigs (as memory serves) is below, and it’s prompted a few reflections.
The period from June onwards was a really important time to not just support live music, as we so often exhort and are exhorted to, but to relish, savour, marvel and appreciate it. At the same time there was a caution and tentative air, and now in January a wave of cancellations accompanying a wave of infections. My list represents many hours of pleasure, but I can’t help notice it’s not as long as it would have been in previous years.
Quite a few of these gigs were the first outings for a line-up or individual in over a year. There was a palpable sense of wonder, excitement and off-the leash excitement when this happened. And as is always the case, as I look down such a list, moments jump back at me that give a flutter and breath of an elusive magic.
Zoe Rahman unleashing a percussive fusillade to transport us at St. George’s, nudging Courtney Pine to play in different and exciting ways in their intimate, supple duo; Ghost Note bringing a distinctly soulful James Brown edge to their funk at Ronnie’s, lustily declaiming ‘Let the Good Times Roll’. They were thrilled to be back; Ruth Hammond‘s voice and keyboard weaving a spellbinding magic against the patter and shimmer of Lisa Cherian’s percussion at the new Fringe-in-the-Round session, before a completely acoustic Xhosa Cole Trio blew the house down; Charles Lloyd, oh Charles Lloyd, his mesmerising, chanting sax, sketching, tracing, declaiming for an hour at the Barbican in November, before the maestro got Gerald Clayton to budge up at the piano so he could sprinkle chords over Reuben Roger’s bass solo. Not before Clayton threatened to steal the show however, with episodes at the piano that evolved and intensified as organically Lloyd’s own playing. There was a moment in which the piano sounded as if it was Lloyd himself breathing out a spiraling melody; One Sunday lunchtime, a gust of harmony and swirl of melody from Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra is almost overwhelming, tears spring to the eyes, a visceral response to the direct emotional impact of glorious music.
There’s a list of random moments, that have lodged in my leaky memory and give me a reason to salute those that make them possible, starting with the musicians of course, but embracing everyone who has battled to keep concert halls, clubs, club nights, festivals going.
The Full List….
All of the Above promotions, Widcombe Social Club, Bath
Dave Newton Trio (Dave – piano, Henrik Jensen – bass, Mark Whitlam – drums)
Jazz Locavores (Iain Ballamy – tenor, Martin Kolarides – guitar, Henrik Jensen – bass, mark Whitlam – drums)
Steve Banks Quintet (Steve – guitar, Rebecca Nash – keys, Sam Crockatt – saxes, Henrik Jensen – bass, Mark Whitlam, bass)
Drumless twos and threes
Ian Shaw, Iain Ballamy, Jamie Safir (vocals, sax, piano); Fringe Jazz @ Bristol Music Club
Alan Barnes/ Dave Newton Duo; Fringe Jazz @ Bristol Music Club
Courtney Pine/ Zoe Rahman “SONG”; St. George’s, Bristol
Clubs and Festival gigs
Ghost Note, Ronnie Scott’s, London
Ruth Hammond & Xhosa Cole Trio, Fringe-in-the-Round, Bristol
Andrew McCormack Trio & Rob Barron Trio, Pizza Express Holburn, London Jazz Festival
Charles Lloyd, Barbican, London Jazz Festival
Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra, Pizza Express Soho, London Jazz Festival
Iain Ballamy/ Jason Rebello, Fringe Jazz at Bristol Music Club