Pete Oxley-Nicolas Meier Quartet, 8 March 2019

Pete Oxley – guitars Nicolas Meier – guitars Raphael Mizraki – bass Paul Cavaciuti – drums   Even before the first note was struck, it was plain that we had in store as much tonal variety as a two-set gig can hold. Between them, Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier had ten guitars—6- 7- and 12-string;…

Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock, 1 March 2019

Tommy Smith, tenor saxophone Brian Kellock, piano This was as fine a display of musical artistry as one could hope for: the precision and refinement of chamber music brought to bear on the heart and soul of jazz. Much abetted by the unamplified acoustic, the playing was at turns exuberant, tender, hard driving, wondrously inventive—and,…

Clark Tracey’s Ruby Anniversary Quintet, 8 February 2019

Nadim Teimoori – tenor sax Sean Payne – alto sax Elliott Sansom – piano James Owston – bass Clark Tracey – drums Perhaps the worst thing one could say of a jazz drummer is that he is predictable, but after 40 years of playing and leading bands, the only thing that’s predictable about a Clark…

Nicola Farnon Trio, 1 February 2019

Nicola Farnon – double bass and voice Piero Tucci – piano and sax Phil Johnson – drums The piano trio is such a staple of jazz that it takes a moment to adjust one’s expectations to something that’s apparently the same, but musically wholly different. Yet for all that Nicola Farnon was clearly centre-stage and…

Julian Siegel Quartet, 25 January 2019

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…

Sam Braysher and Michael Kanan, 18 January 2019

Sam Braysher, alto saxophone Michael Kanan, piano This was an exquisite evening of music-making.  In some circles, the label ‘chamber jazz’ has become an unhelpful catch-all for improvised music that doesn’t entirely conform to expectations, especially when bass and drums are absent.  And yet, pared down to the essentials of instrumental interplay, a piano-saxophone duet…

Whitman review Claire Martin and Jim Mullen

7 December 2018, Claire Martin and Jim Mullen play the music of Wes Montgomery Claire Martin OBE – voice Jim Mullen – guitar Mike Gorman – organ Tristan Maillot – drums Two artists of the stature of Claire Martin and Jim Mullen appearing in the intimate setting of a jazz club is a dream configuration—so…

Nigel Price Organ Quartet, 23 November 2018

Nigel Price – guitar Vasilis Xenopoulos – tenor saxMike Gorman – organ Pat Levett –drums This is not a ballad band; and if in spite of the line-up anyone had supposed that the music would be low-key and soothing, they were quickly disabused. What we were treated to was two hours of utterly thrilling, fast-paced and at…

Phil Robson Quartet, 16 November 2018

Phil Robson – guitar Jed Levy – saxophone Oli Hayhurst – bass Clarence Penn – drums This was high-powered jazz, not by dint of frenetic pace, volume or assertiveness but by the beauty and coherence of the quartet sound that was at once polished but fresh and lively. That’s a difficult poise to strike, even…

Greg Abate with the Pete Rosser Trio, 9th November 2018

Greg Abate – sax Pete Rosser – piano, Ed Harrison – double bass John Settle – drums There are good reasons why a ‘classic’ jazz configuration—in this case, alto sax plus piano trio—remains classic: because the power of the music constantly shifts between the cohesion of the four instruments and the contributions the individual musicians…

Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat, 2nd November 2018

Emma Johnson – tenor sax Calvin Travers – guitar Sam Jackson – bass Alasdair Wells – drums Emma Johnson’s quartet reminded us that although jazz has a history and plenty of familiar forms,  serious improvising musicians don’t do ‘conventional’—there are always delights, surprises, and forms of originality arising both from the individual players and the…

Loz Speyer’s Inner Space, 8th June 2018

Loz Speyer, trumpet and flugelhorn Chris Biscoe, alto sax and alto clarinet Rachel Musson, tenor sax Ollie Brice, bass Gary Wilcox, drums A pianoless quintet poses some interesting writing, arranging and performing challenges. Maintaining the momentum and vitality of the songs without relying on continuous front-line playing or leaning too heavily on bass and drums…