A brace of gigs: River Cruz@Widcombe (Friday 18th), Bath & Dan Newberry@ Fringe Jazz, Bristol (Wednesday 23rd)

River Cruz, publicity shot

Two gigs and (if I may be so bold), two generations. The vagaries of transport and other commitments meant I caught the first set of both, but the two halves made a satisfying, contrasting whole. River Cruz is a quartet with bass and guitar provided by Alison Rayner and Deidre Cartwright respectively. Theirs is a partnership going back over 30 years with joint and separate projects often under the banner of ‘Blow The Fuse’. They may be good candidates for national jazz treasure status for their own projects and the volume of others they’ve supported and enabled. None of that mattered at Widcombe Social Club last Friday of course. With Diane McLoughlin on tenor and Jessica Palin percussion, the quartet, billing the music as Jazz/Latin/ African-Cuban, had an easy comfortable groove and spun out some real classics; Grant Green’s Mambo Inn, Jobim’s Wave, Bonfa’s Samba d’Orpheu, a jaunty Take 5 reinvented as reggae in 4/4 and a bustling take on Abullah Ibrahim’s African Marketplace. It’s easy to miss the richness of familiar music but the quartet inhabited these pieces with joyful intensity making them pulse with life without shouting. It was a lovely set, well worth catching as they pop up around the country

Dan Newberry

Dan Newberry brought his newly emerging quartet over the bridge from Cardiff to Bristol, the band a product of the dynamic scene in the scene in Cardiff, steadily replenished by the programme at the Royal Welsh College. Most of his quartet are familiar faces on the Bristol scene, but these four as a unit, Newberry on tenor, Guy Shotton on piano, Alex Goodyear on drums and the firmly established bass phenomenon Ashley Long John, are a force of nature. Whether deconstructing standards like Little Suede Shoes and Tea for Two or playing his own attractive compositions, Newberry’s voice on tenor is already distinctive and he swings through the form and harmony with an intoxicating freedom, sliding along the shape of melody and jumping off into space with a flurry of notes or honk and a squeak. Guy Shotton was a revelation at the piano, building incendiary solos egged on by the unstoppable momentum of Long and Goodyear. Long’s comprehensive command of the bass was on full display as he joined the fun at full tilt. This was a band playing with unbridled energy and prodigious invention, another glorious evening.

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