Saturday 6 March 2010

Phronesis, Brighton Jazz Club, 5th March

Phronesis was an enjoyable end to a busy week. Three versatile musicians making subtle music that drew in the smallish crown at the BJC. Jasper Høiby is the bass player and composer, joined by a versatile Ivo Neame on piano and interesting American Mark Guiliana on drums. It's a piano trio with a difference - it's led by the bass player.

Jasper's compositions tend to start with oddly angular bass patterns in unusual times - there was a lot of quiet counting going on the audience. They would moved through a number of sections of a varied tempos, seamlessly combining written and improvised parts. The compositions are structured but give the individual musicians maximum ability to improvise within the given structures. Having recorded a live album over the previous two evening, they seemed to have nailed the demanding arrangements. Mark Guiliana excelled at making the difficult time signatures flow naturally, generating constant rhythmic interest. Ivo Neame added tonal colours and textures.

There were a few points of reference. Jasper's bass patterns suggested Dave Holland but with a distinctive jerkiness and angularity. The compositions suggest EST in places (particularly the double bass and piano unison lines).  I liked their understanding of dynamics in volume and intensity. If I have one minor niggle it's thats all the compositions flowed along at medium tempos (some very slow or very fast tempos might have helped me avoid the 90 second "power nap" I took during the last number!). That said, I look forward to hearing the forthcoming live album and would love to see Ivo Neame and Mark Guiliana in other contexts.

Here's a short video introducing Phronesis:

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