Sunday 31 October 2010

Gigs: Full Circle (Brighton) and Seamus Blake (London)

Another busy week in which I managed to catch a couple of gigs. Last Sunday was Joss Peach and Full Circle at The Brunswick in Brighton. The trio featured Joss on piano, bassist Terry Pack and Dave Trigwell on drums. Overall, the music has a relaxed feel, hooking into modern pop by reinterpreting the likes of Sting, Massive Attack and a haunting version of Tainted Love featuring vocalist Rachel Munro ("A song about a failed relationship. Maybe you've had one, or maybe you're sitting next to one now!"). There was plenty of space in the music and Dave Trigwell played sensitively with (to him) some unfamiliar arrangements. I liked the overall sense of space in the music - space to think, reflect, enjoy. Perfect for a Sunday evening. Interestingly, the largely groove-based set did not lend itself to any startlingly solos. The one standard they performed was Clifford Brown's Sandu. Joss played with a lovely, light Wynton Kelly feel and his solo deserved the applause it received. Overall, Full Circle has a distinct identity and, evidenced by the good turn out, quite a few fans. The climax was fitting - everyone in the room got to play percussion - it's great to be treated as a part of the music, rather than just a passive listener.

My first visit to the 606 club in London. A nice space to listen to jazz - the sound is good, you're physically  close the musicians. Leading NYC tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake was playing a guest spot with musicians he had only met that day. American band leader Michael Janisch, who I last saw performing with George Garzione, is a muscular bassist - fantastic chops, Mingus-like sound and beautiful note choices. Ernesto Simpson is a fine Cuban drummer who inhabits the beat, playing both sensitively and with intensity but never playing loudly. Seamus played with conviction and focus. A big tone, thoughtful choice of notes and and that ability to communicate directly to the audience through the horn.  That left Phil Robson on guitar and Alex Garnett on tenor. Alex provided most of the arrangement- broadly bebop in influence - but his playing suffered next to Seamus. He can play fast (as in lot of notes) but he didn't seem to have a lot to say. Phil Robson can also play lots of notes but I didn't get a strong sense of Phil as a person through his music. The Cuban-American trio definitely made the evening for me. I'd like to hear Phil Robson again, playing his own music perhaps. I would have loved to have heard Seamus play some of his own compositions (I've been listening to his Live in Italy record, which has some great tunes on). A minor niggle - I felt lucky to have caught him at all.


dan blake said...

Hi John,
Just read your comments about Seamus Blake at the 606 last October. I was in the audience too. In fact my wife and I (Seamus' parents) were following the Mark McKnight tour through Ireland and England. Of course, the 606 gig wasn't part of Mark's tour. By the way you should check out Mark's playing. He's a fine young player from Belfast. The band is touring again this September (again featuring Seamus) and the 606 Club is on the tour this time. Nice to hear that you were listening to "Live in Italy". I have copies of a more recent CD, "Live at Smalls". I'd be happy to mail you one if you would like to review it on your blog. Just send me a mailing address.
Dan Blake

John Harris said...

Hi Dan,

I listened to that tune from the live album yesterday - Rear of Roaming. So good I played it twice! Can you send an email to my email address so that I can send you my mailing address? Happy to give the CD a review. I'll try and check out Mark too - I'm a big fan of organ bands.