Sunday 17 January 2010

Dave Newton Trio, Brighton Jazz Club, 15 January

The Dave Newton Trio played a good-humored and crowd-pleasing set at Brighton Jazz Club on Friday night. The set began with a Latin vamp that let led into Your Stepped Out of a Dream. It quickly became apparent that pianist Dave is not seeking to break new ground. I imagine that he usual knows how a phrase is going to end within the first few notes. His lines are clear, logical, well-balanced and familiar. However, once you accept it for what it is, the Trio's playing had a lot to recommend it. Dave looks quite schoolmasterly and his set was a lesson in tasteful, swinging jazz. The second tune, They Can't Take That Away From Me, had a light, groovy feel, that brought to mind Diana Krall. Tunes like Surrey With a Fringe on Top made me think of Red Garland and Stompin' at the Savoy, Oscar Peterson.

Dave Chamberlain had a full-sized double bass with a big, fat tone. Sebastiann De Krom played some great solos and his brush work brought to mind Philly Joe Jones. The band really warmed up towards the end of the second set and I really enjoyed their take on Luck be a Lady and they encored with a beautiful, slow take on All the Things You Are.

Thinking about the gig afterwards brought to mind the distinction between the Apollonian and Dionysian that Nietzsche wrote about in The Birth of Tragedy. Abridged from Wikipedia:

Apollo (Apollonian): . . . the wish to create order . . . beauty, clarity . . . celebration of appearance/illusion . . . self-control, perfection, exhaustion of possibilities, creation, the rational/logical and reasonable.
Dionysus (Dionysian): chaos, intoxication, celebration of nature, instinctual, intuitive, pertaining to the sensation of pleasure or pain, individuality dissolved and hence destroyed, wholeness of existence, orgiastic passion, dissolution of all boundaries, excess . . . destruction, the irrational and non-logical.

Well, I guess Dave's good humoured, swinging style is at the Apollonian end of that continuum (perhaps with Oscar Peterson and Nat Cole). And further towards the Dionysian end? Bud Powell, Hampton Hawes, Bill Evans - all of whom had their demons and perhaps drew inspiration from some deeper and darker places. Fashions in culture and personal taste tend to move either way along this continuum, so it's hardly worth debating which is better. Certainly, Dave and his trio played impeccably and provided some rewarding listening.

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