An evening that warmed up well as it went along. The first set fit the preconception I arrived with: this lot would be firmly in the zone which seems defined by the Chop House’s booking policy – conservative but classy. (Seems sensible – they aren’t going to put on Evan Parker or Lol Coxhill in a hotel lounge.) But there were already touches of something more interesting. Leader Gascoyne on bass and drummer Sebastian de Krom are the kind of rhythm section usually described as immaculate, no small thing, and launched some resourceful solos from Tom Cawley on piano. He’s a recent addition to the band, I think (new album has Jim Mullen, a very different player) and his cohorts enjoyed him enjoying himself.
Then the second set yielded some really excellent moments, notably Andy Panayi’s flute solo and Gascoyne and Panayi again – back on tenor – on Charlie Haden’s lovely ballad First Song. Taking on a Haden tune as a bass player denotes a certain confidence – and worked beautifully. There was also a cameo from Damon Brown, sitting in the audience with trumpet about his person, on his favourite Joyspring, which added nicely to the mix.
Audience still not huge, but the place is settling down very nicely – and brings us Peter King, with Gascoyne again, Steve Melling and the ever reliable Martin Drew on drums next week. Brilliant musicians all. Like I said, conservative, but classy.