Note to self: In amongst the hurly burly of ‘yet another thing’, jostling for attention or needing to be done, remember to stop and appreciate the moments of of magic. The mind can play tricks. With non-musical pre-occupations distracting me (a lot) the last month or so, I’d been thinking live music had taken a back seat. Until I wrote a list
There were the ones that I actually wrote about: Chris Potter at Cheltenham Jazz Festival; London Vocal Project (LVP)‘s UK premiere of Miles Ahead; Bath Festival gigs (these for Jazzwise) – Brad Mehdlau, Georgie Fame with Guy Barker Big Band and ‘Stormy‘, a one women theatre show about Lena Horne. Of that little crop Mehldau, and LVP still give me a physical tingle if I stop and think about it.
It seems we are never short of great live music at the moment for the local scene. We took in an outing of Andy Hague‘s Quintet. As well as being a fine trumpeter and drummer, Andy is a prolific and inventive writer and arranger, making these gigs a bit of a roast for his band. It’s a good job they are all top drawer. A scintillating arrangement of Ladies in Mercedes still glows in the memories and George Cooper in peak form (only depping mind) absolutely burning on an Andy tune inspired by Giant Steps.
We took in a double bill of Zoe Rahman and Jay Phelps at the Colston Hall’s Lantern stage. Rahman’s was a solo set at the piano and she was simply glowing. A set of mainly originals with a sprinkling of other sources were vehicles for fiery improvisations. Elbows, snaking glissandos, plucking and muting strings inside the piano, all were melded into fluid lines that ebbed and flowed, full of drama. Never far away was a meaty groove, sometimes implied, often explicit. If we’ve seen less of her over the last two or three years on the live circuit, this is timely reminder that she must be one of our most assured and individual voices. More!! Jay Phelps band are also, individually, some of the busiest and hardest grooving musicians around. They let rip on a collection of Phelps originals inspired by a couple of years of globe trotting on his part. Sophisticated funk, latin grooves and soulful hip hop inflected themes were the order of the day. Phelps made is mark as trumpeter as a very young man. His writing for voice seemed to stretch his own vocal technique however.
As if all that wasn’t enough – catching a set of Alex Hutton stretching out on what sounded like a Bill Evans themed set at the Archduke (just on London’s southbank ) was a delight. With Dave Whitford on bass and a drummer whose name I didn’t quite catch, they were nonchalently swinging like mad and Hutton reminding me what fine, lyrical improvise he is.
Maybe not such a quiet month then. Wherever you are, it seems you may not be too far from some great live music.