Saturday 10 May 2008

DYLAN HOW UNITY 4, Brighton Jazz Club, 2 May 2008

DYLAN HOWE Drums; SAM CROCKATT Tenor saxophone; MIKE OUTRAM Guitar; ROSS STANLEY Hammond Organ

Larry Young’s Unity is a classic of Modern Jazz and one of the few Hammond organ-led albums that some Modern Jazz fans take seriously. Joined by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Elvin Jones, this album established Larry Young as an original voice – he was dubbed the “Coltrane of the Organ” for his adventurous harmony and probing lines.

I was interested to see if Dylan Howe’s tribute was going to use Larry Young’s material as the starting point or the end point of the exercise. Last year I saw John Scofield’s Lifetime tribute (Trio Beyond) use some of Larry Young’s material as a starting point. From the drum roll opening to Zoltan it sounded as though Dylan was recreating the sound of this classic album. With such great material to work with, this was no bad thing.

The second tune, Tyrone, is from Larry’s Into Somethin' album, featuring Grant Green on guitar. However, it is clear that there has been over forty years in the development of the electric guitar since Grant recorded the tune - wah wah, overdrive, slide guitar, Clapton, Hendrix, Page, Scofield, Metheny, Frisell, Holdsworth, Rosenwinkel. Mike Outram has phenomenal chops is and constantly inventive. That said, his playing he doesn’t have the funk of Scofield or the emotional pull of Rosenwinkel’s. These are sides of his playing that he may need to develop. I’d certainly like to hear more of him though.

The next tune was the standard Old Folks, which I know well from the Grant Green version (with Jack McDuff on organ). A lovely tune and another showcase for Mike Outram. The remaining tunes included a few of Ornette’s (e.g. Law Years), a Metheny tune and another from the Unity album (Beyond All Limits). They all shared strong, quirky, sometimes tricky, heads. The band had a nice, loose feel, and was sometimes a bit rough around the edges on the head arrangements (not surprising given that it was the first date of the tour).

Sam Crockatt’s tenor has the tone and reflective quality of Joe Henderson’s. Organist Ross Stanley (playing a Hammond XK3) sounded superb throughout. The Hammond tonewheel organ has such an expressive, organic feel - the instrument lives and breathes, the Leslie speaker filled the Komedia Bar with vibrating air. I could almost imagine what is would have been like walking into a New York jazz club circa 65-66. Like modern organists Sam Yahel and Larry Goldings, Ross plays bass in the left hand (as opposed to pedals) and often uses arpeggios in his soloing.

Dylan Howe (son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe) played with restless energy on a minimal kit. Falling off the stage while introducing the band was a great ice-breaker and he is an engaging MC. Overall, a really enjoyable gig. The only thing missing - my favourite track from the Unity album, The Moontrane.

No comments: