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Will Vinson quartet, Future Inns, June 27

July 4, 2010

Vinson is a young New-York resident Brit who plays alto, hasn’t had much profile over here, but by all accounts is doing well in his adopted home. He lived a while in Bristol in the 90s, I think, but his last UK sighting, was at Cheltenham last year, in a lunchtime gig which was cut short by technical problems in the rather flaky theatre  – we turned up then mainly to hear his cohort Kurt Rosenwinkel play guitar, and the general letdown meant the sax man made little impression.

So good to have another chance to check him out. And good to record that the result was very impressive. He’s got a great sound, a forceful improvisational style, and keeps good company – here for this one-off UK gig with Tom Cawley on piano, Calum Gourlay on bass and James Maddren on drums. That’s quite a quartet, and they all contribute to the rather brilliant results. This was conventional, but more modern sounding than a lot of the line-ups who grace the stage at Cabot Circus. How modern?  As always, I find it hard to say. Something to do with more open rhythm, improvising based on melodic motifs as much as chords, and – even with a solos-by-turns style – a feeling that anyone can contribute at any time. Cawley was impressive in this context, and Maddren was his excellent self, but the agreeably self-possessed Vinson gave the most to remember – especially on ballads, where his slightly tart tone adds emotional weight, and especially on Paul Desmond’s well-titled Late Lament. A really first rate evening all round, and a name to look out for on return visits.

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