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Chris Biscoe quintet, Embankment. July 8

July 11, 2009

How pleasant to be in London…  leaving John Adam Street early for a meeting after lunch on the South Bank, strolling across Embankment Gardens: what’s this? Strains of good jazz. Ah, this is what Bristol has been lacking, free open air gigs in the middle of a weekday.

OK, I lied a little. Knew this was happening and arranged the day to suit. Used to do that quite a lot, as these Summer gigs have been going for years. This was one of the nicest line-ups. Chris Biscoe and Pete Hurt on saxes – two senior players who don’t get written about much but go on doing their excellent thing, often together. A kind of undemonstrative virtuosity which suits their repertoire – Monk, Andrew Hill, that kind of thing, along with their own stuff. Supported by the man with a wonderful touch, Paul Clarvis, on a minimal trap set. Impressive how many sounds he can get out of a single cymbal. And Liam Noble doing battle with a rather recalcitrant piano. All very absorbing and fit for the big city. Just finishing in time to beat the rain – the hazard with open air music.

p.s. Biscoe’s recent recording of Dolphy tunes strikes me as a more convincing lead off from Eric than the Empirical set at the Bath Festicle. Maybe because with Tony Kofi on alto, there are two horns to emulate the man, and much fine bass clarinet from Chris B. What a great musician he has been all these years…

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