Janette Masion Trio
Sunday, November 6th, 2016
Reviewer: Reg Webb
It's great when you go to a gig expecting it to be good, and it turns out to be even better than you were expecting. And so it was last night.
There are a lot of good piano players around, and we can't help being influenced by the music we hear, but what was riveting and unexpected about last night was how, with only 12 notes per octave, there's still new stuff to be said.
Ms Mason's playing is less derivative than most of us can manage, and that goes for both her improvisation, and, especially, her compositions.
The bass and drums were perfectly in tune with this music and, from where I was sitting at least, perfectly balanced as well. This is one of the best live drum sounds I've heard anywhere.
Meanwhile, this wasn't just pyrotechnics. Some of the chord voicing on Janette Mason's emotional intros could make a cardboard box tear up.
Thanks to the musicians, Steve and everyone, for one of the best musical surprises I've had for a long time.
Gilad Atzmon's Spirit of Coltrane
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
Reviewer: Reg Webb
This gig was typical of my recent experience at Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club, because music I knew would be good was even better than I expected.
The sound of Gilad Atzmon's tenor goes with his somewhat edgy presence. The band was playing music from their forthcoming 'Spirit Of Coltrane' album.
The world is blessed with a lot of really fine saxophone players, and it's hard to pin down what each uniquely brings to their performances.
While listening to Gilad playing Coltrane, I felt that I would be hard put to hear anyone who better evokes that 'spirit'. Very expressive soprano too, dispelling the harsh soubriquet 'misery stick', sometimes applied to that instrument.
Also, he played two pieces on bass clarinet - an instrument not used much by soloists, because it is as difficult to play as it is expensive to buy.
I had only heard jazz on a bass clarinet on records and, in the acoustic space of the Arts Centre, it's clearly worth the effort, with the contrast between its low and higher registers. You have to hear the bottom end resonance live to get its impact.
As a piano player, it was a real pleasure to hear Frank Harrison live and up close, having heard him previously only on radio.
We piano players all need to go to gigs where we're musically and unintimidatingly presented with what we don't know. Unerring technique and intensity, with chord voicings I couldn't instantly recognise, was a real treat.
Oh Lord, defend me against complacency. If you want that prayer answered, listen to more Frank Harrison and Janette Mason.
The spirit of the rhythm section - Frank Harrison piano, Yaron Stavi on double bass, and Enzo Zirilli on drums, reminded me of the Hancock/Carter/Williams recordings with Miles when they were flying, as in 'Mr PC'.
I hope those concerned will take that as about the biggest compliment I could pay them, because it is.
The sound was just about perfect. The piano was a tad under when all around were getting excited, and there was an annoying D (open string) resonance from the bass. Acoustics, instruments and amplifiers are an uncertain cocktail.
Anyway, a fantastic gig, and if you get a chance to hear any of these four musicians in any combination, I urge you to take it.
Thanks to Steve Wright for all his hard work. His efforts are certainly repaid by the quality of music we hear once a month.