Peter King Quartet, Future Inns Jazz Club, Oct 4
A great deal of piano this evening, too, from the impressively virtuosic Steve Melling. He’s been a King regular now for years, and this is a superbly integrated quartet, driven by Martin Drew – irrepressible as ever on drums. And Peter King, 70 next year and fifty years this since his debut when Ronnie Scott opened his first club, was on fine form too. The club missed its first grand old man when Don Weller cancelled due to illness, but King did them proud. The same eager, forward-leaning stance as ever, same bootblack hair, same black shirt – and the same pungent, Phil Woodsian tone and unceasing flow of invention.
King is a surviving master of the high bebop style, with few equals, but is much more than a mere stylist. Sometimes he goes through predictable moves, but any evening is puctuated by real flights of improvisational surprise. Highlights came in the second set with a Coltrane-inspired mini suite/medley, with Melling again to the fore but King successfully conjuring the spirit of (early) ‘Trane even though sticking with his faithful alto. Great stuff, and followed by his favoured solo vehicle, Lush Life, wrung to death, but in a good way. Then home to sleep, and prepare for another week of fiddling with words. But most of the standing room only crowd remained for the last little bit. The Cabot circus club has achieved lift-off. Looking forward to lots more nights like this.