The Swiss, Future Inn Cabot Circus
With a late start to the year after a couple of gigs in the diary were snowed off, the appetite for live music was well restored by the time of this first visit to The Future Inns club. The prospect was doubly attractive because they had a new trio from out of town (from Southampton and called The Swiss – no idea why), players I had never heard of but who caught Mr Storror’s ear.
They were Steve Down on guitar, Simon Robinson on acoustic and electric bass, and a new drummer whose name I missed, playing guitar trio jazz in a Scofield-ish vein. They came out of music college, and have a large body of compositions and a slightly hesitantly delivered rubric, courtesy of Mr Robinson, which has them testing the limits of genres, incorporating lots of non jazz elements and generally challenging preconceptions. That’s all fine, except they don’t really, or not yet. They play well, have some nice ideas and neat arrangements, but there wasn’t that feeling of players who are always surprising themselves, let alone the audience. Some of the fusions on offer sounded more backward than forward looking – I caught more than a dash of Hatfield and the North, I reckon. That’s fine, they were a band I enjoyed hugely in their time, but proposing something more radical may then be a mistake – aligning performance with what you are advertising isn’t a bad idea.
Still all very promising though. Like Hatfield’s stuff, this was all very good natured, sunny music, fluently delivered by people who know a lot. Down’s guitar mostly skirts the most obvious contemporary influences (Metheny, Frisell), though there is some Scofield in there and, tone wise, a leaning toward some much earlier stars of the electric strings (think Hank Marvin, even), as well as enough variation to maintain the interest of what can be a limiting instrumentation. If there wasn’t enough grit in the oyster to generate any truly arresting improvisation, this evening anyway, that may come with time. Meanwhile, they provided a pleasant evening’s listening, a not too demanding start to the year, and a chance while there to reserve seats for the (slightly!) more experienced Don Weller next Sunday. Gosh, must be twenty years since we heard him live…