Chamber jazz this wasn’t—and all the better for it: robust, rollicking and hugely entertaining, this is a band that really knows how to put on a show. Jamie Brownfield is a fine trumpeter, with a technique that was able to give expression to that instrument’s many incarnations, from New Orleans to be-bop; and although there were plenty of bright, piercing improvisations, he was no less adept on the slower numbers. His take on ‘The Good Life’ stripped back the lushness of the Tony Bennett original, restoring to the melody the wistful sadness of the lyrics. His take on ‘Where or When’ was similarly affecting. And when he deployed a mute, his trumpet took on a near-vocal quality, a striking embellishment to the ballads.
Jamie had a fine musical partner in pianist Tom Kincaid. The first set was largely up-tempo, and powerfully supported with storming, two-handed octave runs, clever use of dissonances and a technique that gives extra meaning to the term ‘powerful playing.’ His playing and Jamie’s were remarkably well integrated for music which didn’t once sound stale or over-rehearsed—even when the music was at its most fastest or most complex. But it was in the second set when the full measure of Tom’s pianism came to the fore: the rhythm section played a stand-alone number, Abdullah Ibrahim’s lovely ‘Water from an Ancient Well.’ The performance was a truly soulful and deeply appreciative rendering of the original, during which Ken Marley’s bass was also much to the fore.
In Ken Marley, we have a bass player for whom slap bass is not merely part of jazz history. It was fascinating to see and hear how he was able to combine this seldom-used technique in combination with contemporary, cutting edge playing.
It was one of the pleasures of the evening that he was given sufficient space to have his talents foregrounded. And whatever the genre or tempo—New Orleans marching patterns, the demands of be-bop, Coldplay, gentle ballads—drummer
Jack Cotterill was unfazed and always responsive. And his solos demonstrated that he has a musical voice of his own.
This was an evening full of musical delights—energetic, varied and at times, thrilling. Serious music, certainly, but so much fun, too.
Jamie Brownfield: trumpet
Tom Kincaid: piano
Ken Marley: bass
Jack Cotterill: drums
© J. Whitman, 5th November 2017