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James Morton quartet, Jazz at Future Inns, Aug 18th

August 22, 2009

Now this is nice: a real jazz club, with stage, spots, decent PA, shiny new piano and deisgner décor, reasonably comfy chairs even. The welcome champagne didn’t go amiss either. Just what Bristol needed… I guess some good had to come of Cabot Circus.

This second preview night, like the first, featured local sax whiz James Morton, who did the venue proud. An intense player, he seems intent on proving there is life in the idioms of the mid-50s to mid-60s – not unusual among players his age, for some reason – but the old models he chooses to emulate are good choices: Coltrane and, more so, Cannonball. In fact I was thinking that before he played Mercy, Mercy to open the second set (and before reading on Myspace that he cites the influence). More, I found myself thinking he has something of the impact people say the younger Adderley had – super technique allied to impassioned soloing with a reliably bluesy undertone.

Even if your alto ear leans more toward the Colemans (Ornette or Steve), Henry Threadgill, or Konitz, and mine does, this was impressive stuff. The drummer, a German chap called Guido May, was a real pleasure to hear too – he smiles constantly like Billy Higgins and that wasn’t the only thing about his contribution which brought Billy to mind, which can’t be bad.

A splendid debut for what is instantly the best jazz space in the city. Still a few tweaks to come, but it is a super room, not unlike the Pizza Express in Soho but less completely subterranean, and fewer  nattering fuckwits. Already looking forward to Don Weller when the paying gigs get under way in a few weeks. Long may it flourish!

p.s. there will be acoustic music and blues too.


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