Because jazz is an improvising music, its many hybrids invite names and categories, but the best of it—and a live performance in particular—has a way of scribbling over the neat lines and exceeding expectations.
Much of what Noemi Nuti and her wonderful band presented could plausibly be tagged ‘Latin’—but even that is a musical world unto itself; and no one present would want to reduce the splendour and variety of the music they played to a blunt generic. This was quite individual music, from a band of superbly endowed musical talents.
Noemi Nuti divided the sets between her own compositions and Brazilian numbers to deliver a shrewdly balanced and very coherent programme. The evening was certainly not a ‘singer + accompaniment’ outing: for all that Noemi could hold the stage at any tempo and volume, we enjoyed a very tightly integrated performance, with plenty of room for each of the players to shine, but at its best in some of the remarkably fast and intricate exchanges.
Pianist Chris Eldred somehow managed to convey two musical worlds at once: those wonderful Brazilian rhythms, together with voicings and runs that have their home further north—and all with an adaptive, sensitive responsiveness and lightness of touch.
Quentin Collins’ trumpet has power, but also finesse: his jaw-dropping solo passages were complemented by his parallel, note-for-note playing beside Noemi and well-judged, carefully placed interjections and inflections. At one point, the band held back while Noemi sailed in to a duet with bass player Ashley de Neef—a Portuguese vocalise that would give the best scat singing, anywhere, a run for its money. Emiliano Caroselli had two explosive but deeply musical drum solos, which were a delight.
The final number was breathtaking: wonderfully exuberant and fast-paced exchanges between Noemi and the band, reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie be-bop in the speed and precision of the interplay. We could see that both Noemi and Quentin Collins were left breathless. Kindness might have prevailed, but there was no way they were getting away without an encore.