Jonny Mansfield vibes
Rory Ingham trombone
Sam Quintana, bass
Luke Tomlinson drums
plus guest Jacob Cooper trombone
Ah, live music at last! Our collective release and relief from lockdown blues was probably best expressed by Rory Ingham in the first words he addressed to the audience ‘….This is really weird…’ But Rory and the band quickly delivered us back to familiar and much-missed musical pleasures. What a lively, engaging re-immersion into live music they provided!
Although this is not a well-established band, they certainly played like one, with great rhythmic coordination, ease and obvious pleasure. There’s always an extra element of delight in a performance when the members of the band are so clearly enjoying themselves—and indeed, edging each other toward their best.
Rory Ingham’s stamina and undiminished effort were pretty remarkable in several of the tunes, let alone across two sets and we were treated to the full expressive range of the trombone: enveloping warmth; sharp, staccato passages; long, extended notes running across the bar lines as though breath wasn’t required; beautifully articulated melodic lines through the middle register; and both the surprising heights and alarming lows that the instrument can produce in the right hands. There were fresh takes on several familiar standards, but one of the high points of the performance was a ballad that Rory composed, ‘Sandal Castle’, which brought the audience back to earth after a particularly driving number.
To play the vibes at all, never mind as well as Jonny Mansfield, requires rhythmic sophistication as well as harmonic acuity and responsiveness of a high order. He was mesmerising to watch, too. He moved deftly from, soft, gentle accompaniment to show-stopping solos; and it was a delight to see his pleased, ‘just so…’ expression at a particularly deft chord.
Sam Quintana kept the proceedings grounded, with unshowy but sensitive and adventurous bass playing. His artistry was on peak display in a trombone/bass duet version of “Before” by Jasper Høiby And Luke Tomlinson was one of those uncommon, ‘nothing to prove’ drummers—intensely musical, but an integral member of a quartet. The entire band cut loose in the second set, but Luke’s solos were never empty, detached displays. He contributed a lot of the evening’s excitement.
The unexpected bonus was that Rory was able to invite a fellow trombonist—and close friend from his schooldays—Jacob Cooper. A two-trombone front line is quite a prospect—and they delivered. It was a great deal of fun to see how their shared history played out—not as a ‘cutting contest’, but more as the pleasure of each playing at his best. Jacob returned to the stage for the final number before the encore. By this time, it’s likely that no one wanted to hear a ballad; instead, of course, it was a raucous, rowdy send-off. Then, somehow, each member of the band had sufficient energy to give us what we insisted on: a fine encore.
That’s the Lockdown Blues blown away—and an assurance that the future of jazz is in the remarkably capable hands of the next generation.