Julian Siegel – tenor and soprano saxes, bass clarinet, compositions
Liam Noble – piano
Oli Hayhurst – double bass
Gene Calderazzo – drums
This was a sensational performance, marked by unrelenting creativity and commitment—propulsive in ways that make ‘upbeat’ seem a little wan; full of surprises and shifting patterns; and with so much wonderful playing, it was difficult to settle on who to watch.
Julian had the audience in at the deep end from the first bar: a tart, hard-edged tenor opener; and the band gave us equal measure. We knew we were in for something special. All four musicians are well known and much loved at Wakefield Jazz, so this was something of an ‘all star’ band—an over-used term that the night’s proceedings returned to its proper meaning. Liam Noble’s piano playing is in a class of its own, particularly by dint of his left-hand agility and his ability to create counter-rhythms and even counter melodies. His facility was on display throughout in ways that were integral to the sound of the band as a whole. In fact, the individual musicianship of each seemed to break down the distinction between chorus and solos—none saved their best for the spotlight. Case in point: Oli Hayhurst, who brings the same precision and deep musicality to every bar of the music.
Gene Calderazzo was a tour de force: his entire performance was replete with shifting patterns, unexpected (yet entirely apt) small explosions, beautifully placed accents and an unceasing drive that never once settled into a comfortable groove, yet supported each of the numbers. In fact, Oli, Liam and Julian also played with a view to shifting the perspective on each tune—much as though viewing an object around a 360 degree turn (though sometimes at breakneck speed!)
In the second set, Julian played a lovely number on soprano before a lengthy turn on the bass clarinet. There can’t be many people who can make a bass clarinet swing, let alone incorporate multiphonics, drone-like effects, blasts in the lower register and ceiling walks in the upper, all the while maintaining the coherence of the two tunes this performance encompassed. It was quite remarkable—and ought to raise the status of an instrument usually relegated to harmonic duties.
The audience was deeply appreciative of such exciting and committed playing. It seemed clear that despite the demands of music making at this level, the band had a wonderful time, too. Come back soon!