Dominic Galea Quintet, 26th May 2017

Once a protégé of Stan Tracey and now a musician of considerable standing, it was a delight to be able to hear Dominic Galea in one of his rare UK appearances. Star billing should also be accorded to his compositions, which stood at the intersections of lyrical and romantic—a truly inviting and spacious arena for keenly attuned and able improvising musicians. Martin Shaw (trumpet) and Nadir Teimoori (tenor) responded accordingly, with commanding and varied solo turns. Nadim had a particularly strong line in working a solo across the registers of his instrument in such a way that they were as musically compelling as they were technically accomplished. Martin—who featured largely on flugelhorn in the second set—could turn from bluesy expressiveness to Lee Morgan-like attack to tender ballad work. These two frontmen could approach their solos with stylistic independence, but still maintain the integrity of the numbers and of the group sound.

Mark Lewandowski’s bass playing was outstanding; and his solos were musical showpieces: deeply thoughtful and cleanly articulated, adding musical depth to the quintet’s exploration of the tunes.

There can’t be much new to say about Clark Tracey’s drumming: a musician of his standing and capability can respond to any setting, but he was certainly in his element here, propelling everything along but—as those familiar with his playing will attest—with a subtlety and responsiveness that is a sign of his careful listening as well as his formidable technique. And like is fellow band members, he appeared to behaving a ball.

Dominic Galea demonstrated a range of styles, each of which would have made a show on their own, but for all of the sparkle of his solo runs, this was a quintet performance; and some of his best playing was dedicated to the band sound, which gave the evening an unusual degree of substance and depth. His accompaniments of the front-line unison playing and even the solos was a masterful demonstration of acute listening, clever timing and musical resourcefulness.

There was nothing in these two sets that was the least nostalgic or retro—(a Latin take on ‘Body and Soul,’ anyone?)—but for sheer dynamism and swing, the evening was much as if we had been transported back decades to a classic Blue Note session. Everyone has an idea of what constitutes a jazz ‘golden era,’ but the beauty of a live performance is that there’s never a shortage of golden moments—as this performance amply demonstrated.

© J. Whitman, 27th May 2017

Dominic Galea – piano
Nadim Teimoori – tenor sax
Martin Shaw – trumpet
Mark Lewandowski – bass
Clark Tracey – drums

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