Thursday 9 July 2009

Baptiste Trotignon Quintet featuring Mark Turner

Another great night at Charlie Wright's International Bar in Hoxton saw French pianist Baptiste Trotignon with all-star support direct from NYC - Mark Turner (tenor), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Eric Harland (drums) and Matt Penman (bass). I had never heard of Baptiste before, so was surprised that he was playing with such big names.

The band played original compositions but the focus was on the star improvisers. Matt Penman's solo on the initial number was muscular and intense. He's a very physical player and seems to play with heavy strings, giving a sense that he is really digging in.

Mark Turner came on for the second number, starting it solo. He has a very clear, woody tone and there is a vertical/arpeggio-based approach to his soloing, often moving into the upper register. He literally bobs up and down with the notes. There is a "pure" or cool/meditative quality to his playing. There are no obvious blues inflexions and he doesn't excite the rhythm section. That said, it is very musical and satisfying.

Jeremy Pelt is a fiery trumpeter with a beautiful tone on flugelhorn. Dressed in suit, tie and shades he would have been perfectly at home on an Art Blakey date in the late Fifties. A marked contrast to Mark Turner, his exciting solos touch the rhythm section up a notch in terms of energy. Eric Harland on drums was outstanding, his style restless, thoughtful and tasteful.

I'd like to here Baptiste on CD. There was plenty to listen to but his sound was compromised by a poor PA. Talking to him afterwards he admitted that it was "a really cool band" and he clearly enjoyed just being in such brilliant musical company.

There were various partners involved in putting on the gig, including the u-turn project that supports women who have suffered cruelty and abuse and encourages them to make sustainable changes in their lives.

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