Monday 29 March 2010

Liam Noble Trio, Brighton Jazz Club, 26 March

Liam's Noble's presentation of the work of Dave Brubeck was notable for bringing some of Brubeck's lesser know tunes into the spotlight and for blending the Brubeck sound with his own. It was also a performance by the Trio that was designed to delight and entertain.

The opening Give a Little Whistle from "Dave Digs Disney" showed that Liam Noble shares some of Brubeck's compositional approach to improvising. That said, it soon became clear that he has his own distinctive approach with balanced phrases, a dynamic left hand, modern-sounding harmony and a collective sense of improvisation.

Of those lesser know tunes, I particularly enjoyed Autumn in Washington Square, suffused with autumnal melancholy and with some particularly sensitive playing by Dave Whitford on bass. I think La Paloma Azul is a Jazz Record Requests perennial favourite, a simple, memorable Mexican folk tune which featured a very melodic bass solo from Dave.

There was a sense of balance across the Trio. Liam's playing was nicely balanced by Dave Wickens' inventive use of what Liam called his "scrapyard cum drumkit" - regular drumkit augmented by a teapot (for the delightful sound of pouring tea, of course!), an assortment of bells, chimes, wood blocks and more. In the middle of the two, Dave Whitford acted as a kind of fulcrum. There was as sense of the three musicians having equal air time.

With the better known tunes - Take Five, In Your Own Sweet Way, Blue Rondo a La TurkThe Duke - Liam approached them from a distance. He would start with an improvisation with just a hint at where he was going and then work himself towards the inevitable conclusion. I was glad that these tunes weren't the focus of the set, because it would have taken the focus away from the Trio's collective playing. At its best it was quite a long way from Dave Brubeck - somewhere around Paul Bley territory.

In all, a great gig by a great band led by a distinctive pianist who, judging by his amusing line in patter, clearly cares that the audience finds a way into what he is doing. It was also good to see the Wickens/Whitford rhythm section back after another recent great performance with Kirk Lightsey.

No comments: