Best possible antidote to a rainy Summer? – hot music, provided by one of the longest-running and most exciting bands in the UK. Last time I caught them was at the Crypt in Camberwell, a reliably annoying venue with lousy sightlines and an audience usually noisier than the band.
The Corrie has, well, lousy sightlines, but makes up for it in atmosphere. And even though we were sitting a few feet from Gene “whipcrack” Calderazzo’s drumkit the volume was bearable (just). Bearable partly because although this was mostly high energy stuff – just the one ballad, which soon picked up speed! – that energy was carrying a lot of information.
Four CDs to the good, the band have a big collection of great compositions. But none of the recordings (not heard the latest yet) captures their live impact. An old story, but I also wonder how often they play with this attack and intensity. Their response to the audience, and each other, last night was great to hear, and a splendid outcome of this somewhat unlikely gig – prompted by bassist Thad Kelly’s residence in the region.
The result: a truly arresting night’s music. Four people each of whom could easily be your favourite player on their instrument working together to huge effect. Phil Robson on guitar played extended solos which lifted the room each time – a good deal less, er, restrained than his last Bristol appearance with Alec Dankworth, enjoyable though that was. Julian Siegel was as inventive and absorbing as ever on saxes and bass clarinet, and Calderazzo was a man possessed, but in a good way, the entire evening. Thad Kelly was his impeccable self, never soloing but always interacting. They rock when they want to, and can do flashy ensemble playing, but never for its own sake. Above all they avoid the tedium which sometimes attends more fashionable “punk jazz: outfits who probably play to Corrie-type (that is young) audiences more often. Every piece in both sets generated genuine musical excitement. This kind of thing could give jazz a good name… In any event, I doubt if the city will see a better gig this year. Come back soon!
p.s. if you missed them, you can hear a live set here, or find them in Marlborough tonight.