Friday 18 February 2011

Recent gigs: Tony Kofi, Tractor Factor, Julian Nicholas

It must be daunting playing with a pick-up rhythm section. Tony Kofi's band for Sunday night (13th Feb) at The Bruswick was Spike Wells  (drums), Nigel Thomas (Bass) and Mark Edwards (piano). With Tony exclusively on tenor everyone was playing on top form but it was several numbers in, when they launched into Miles' Milestones (the older tune of that name) that the band really gelled. It's an interesting, intricate set of changes that Tony weaved in and out of with energy and grace. This was followed by a very funky version of Freedom Jazz Dance with some fine playing from Mark Edwards. Spike Wells was enjoying himself, chuckling as he played and Nigel Thomas laid down a very strong groove throughout, interacting beautifully with Spike and Mark. The second set kept the standard high with tunes such as Sometime Ago and Relaxin at Camerillo. Tony peppers his playing with quotes - Can't Buy Me Love cropped up several times - and a highlight was a favourite tune of mine at the moment, Jimmy Rowles' The Peacocks. A great gig overall and a really good turnout for a Sunday night. Worth looking out for his gig at the Brighton Jazz Club later in the year when he will be performing the music of Eric Dolphy with his own band.

The previous Thursday (10th Feb) I saw Tractor Factor at the tiny Bees Mouth on Western Road. The band is Luke Rattenbury (guitar), Tristan Banks (drums) and Andre Fry (drums). This was the band that appeared at the kineojazz event last year with Liane Carroll. They locked together into a very tight groove. Tristan laying down the foundations, Andre glueing the changes together with a very tasteful choice of notes and Luke bubbling away on top, providing the heads, funky rhythm guitar and some very percussive soloing. The band focused on getting stuck right into the guts of the rhythm. Of the material I recognised, there was one (possibly two) Ernest Ranglin tune, a Charlie Hunter tune and their take on Nardis. The fact that there were so many musicians in the audience, shows that the band is already highly respected by their peers locally. They deserve to be playing a lot more gigs.

The week before that (3rd Feb) I was amongst the well-heeled residents of Rottingdean for a Rottingdean Jazz Club gig with guest Julian Nicholas. The monthly gig is run by singer Imogen Ryall and pianist Rod Hart in a room above The Plough Inn. It's a fairly polite affair but some great playing from the whole band. Dave Trigwell played beautifully - his approach is almost balletic as it's graceful and refined - and Nigel Thomas played some very melodic bass solos. It was the first time I had heard Rod Hart and I enjoyed his playing a lot  - reminding me at times of the West Coast bebop classicists like Hampton Hawes and the young Andre Previn. Imogen has the ability to make the words of a song matter, particularly on Kenny Wheeler's Everybody's Song But My Own. Julian Nicholas played tastefully throughout, although at times it felt as though he could have pushed it a bit further and broken through the atmosphere of polite dining. Imogen and Rod have done a great job of selling out the venue and it's worth checking out what else is coming up soon on their website:

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