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Compassionate Dictatorship, Be-Bop Club, March 13th

March 15, 2009

This is a great quartet, showcasing the fruitful musical relationship between Guitarist Jez Franks and sax player Tori Freestone. They’ve really got everything; interesting compositions, two excellent front line soloists, a superb bass player in Jasper Holby, and a mutual understanding which makes for strong interaction the way jazz is supposed to allow, but is hard to bring off.

In truth some of that interaction got lost with these instruments in the Bear’s slightly clouded acoustic, partly because the drummer – not the regular member – was a dynamic young man whose exuberance sometimes overwhelmed the other players. It comes across better on their CD (there’s another on the way). At least I hear it better that way than I did on the night, and it is gettting lots of repeat plays. Perhaps I was just having trouble listening after the ear-bashing of the previous evening. Perhaps I need a “repeat” button on gigs. Perhaps I’m just getting old… I will soon be that grumpy old man who just complains that everything is too loud. Come to think of it, I’ve been complaining about that for decades, so I’ll turn into that man just by staying the same.

This was still an excellent two sets’ worth, though – well up to the standard of their appearance down at the Bear last year. The two front people are both thoughtful, largely cliché free players – Franks especially is as good as any of the current crop of stand out guitarists, to my ears (Robson, Outram, Walker…). I hope they go on as a band as long as Partisans, another favourite sax/guitar led quartet, who they somewhat resemble.

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