Wednesday 1 December 2010

Nigel Price Organ Trio, The Brunswick, Brighton

Nigel Price
Surrey-based guitarist Nigel Price was on fine form on Sunday night on this last date of his national tour. The guitarist was in classic organ trio format, ably supported by Matt Home on drums and Pete Whittaker on Hammond C3 organ (+ rotating Leslie).  With a set largely inspired by the classic bop guitar of Wes Montgomery, Nigel demonstrated fiery virtuosity, sensitivity and and strong musical intelligence.

The tone of his archtop guitar (made by Lewes luthier Charlie Crabtree) is very like Wes, though he picks rather than playing with his thumb. With thick strings and a very low action, be plays with real grace and dexterity, caressing the strings and strumming harp-like harmonics. He can also get from A to B with a speed and energy that makes you listen with wonder.

The tunes he chose included Wes' funky bossa Road Song and Four On Six, Freddie Hubbard's Up Jumped Spring, Blossom Dearie's Sweet Georgie Fame (also covered by the late Emily Remler), Ellington's Prelude to a Kiss, Stanley Turrentine's arrangement of Love for Sale and an original funky tune in the style of Dr Lonnie Smith called Wavy Gravy.

Pete Whittaker on Hammond C3
Matt Home is a no frills drummer but with a really solid sense of time and great swing. I particularly enjoyed Pete Whittaker's hammond playing - really cool, nicely place phrasing and nothing too fussy. A contrast to Nigel in the right way.

One person described it as being like Ronnie's forty years ago. Close your eyes, listen hard and you would find it difficult to spot many traces of any jazz that had emerged in the last forty years. How is it different? Like Jim Mullen, Nigel peppers his playing with the blues-rockisms of Sixties guitarists like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. This may be a British thing a as guitarists like Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jesse van Ruller seem to have purged their playing of these sort of clichés. That said, that blues feel is something that hooks in the ears of the non-jazz audience and, as such, I think it serves its purpose well. The other minor niggle I had was the frequent use of diminished chords as passing chords - "cheap glue" as Geoff Simkins is always reminding his students, quoting Peter Ind.

Nigel has a nice line in patter, paying tribute to the guitarists of past and present (Wes, Kenny Burrell and the Irish guitarist Louis Stewart), explaining the derivation of tunes and how he had changed them (e.g. moving from a 4 feel to a 6 feel) and generally drawing the audience into the music. I was really to discover where the name of Wes' arrange of the chords of Summertime came from -  Four on Six is not some reference to the time of the tune but simply a reference to four finger on six strings. Of course!


Anonymous said...

Looks like a Hammond A100 rather than a C3. Same sound, different box.

Anonymous said...

Yeah.It's an A100.Different box.I think they use cheaper glue.

Jeremy Kahn said...

Hmmm. I'd rather hear Nigel play a diminished chord that a lot of other people I know.

It was good enough for Wes, I suppose he was cheap too?

John Harris said...

I agree - pretty much everything he does sounds great. It was, as I said, a minor niggle. And yes, Wes does it a lot too . . .

Jeremy Kahn said...

Someone wrote: Also, try suggesting to Jim Mullen that he's been influenced by Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, then record his response and see if you can find a bleeping machine which will bleep for long enough to make it broadcastable before the watershed. I think you will fail in your endeavour..

I think you've upset a few people with your minor niggle.

Anonymous said...

I like the Bill Evans comment that jazz is a 'how' not a 'what'. In this context, it's not important that blues licks or passing diminished chords were played, it is HOW they were played which counts!