Kevin Figes Quartet, Colston Hall (foyer), March 5, 2010
That (foyer) sets the scene here. In my fantasy, the spiffy new space down at Colston might lend itself to something like the excellent Friday commuter jazz sessions at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. But they have more space to arrange it all in. Colston seems oddly laid out, in a way that positively discourages listening – a few nasty backless cube things to sit on in front of the band space (no stage) and all the better seats, and most of the people, over near the bar. All quite shouty over there (well, it is Friday evening), so the music doesn’t really cut through. I could hear better when I was in the gents than when waiting to get served (spiffy, but understaffed).
So the band end up playing more or less for themselves. Which they do very well. Some nice tunes, mainly originals I think, and Figes – sounding at times as good as early Art Pepper – is consistently thoughtful (not necessarily what this space calls for), and pulls off some genuinely story-telling solos. Jim Blomfield has fun on his electric keyboard, now vaguely piano like, now convincingly in Hammond organ mode, though you’d think Colston could manage to maintain a decent piano in the foyer. But it must be a slightly strange experience for the band. The whole thing seems a bit extraneous. Some people just there for an after work drink. Some later passing through on the way the the evening’s main gig – whatever that was. Ah well, maybe you get what you pay for. If there’s an admission charge, at least the other folks have come to listen, maybe, some of them? Foyer music must be a special genre, and this might not be it… Me, though, I liked it.