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Tim Whitehead, Future Inns, Sep 26

September 28, 2010

Tim Whitehead’s suite of pieces inspired by his explorations of the Turner archive at the Tate (as explained here) give his quartet plenty to get their teeth into. There are romantic evocations of sea and cloudscapes, dancing themes on which the leader plays some stonking tenor, and plenty of space for improvisation.

Good support from long-time cohort Milo Fell at the drums and the undemonstrative Pat Bettison on bass guitar. More striking, hearing Liam Noble on the Cabot Circus piano was a special treat. One of the half dozen most interesting players around in the UK now, I think, a virtuoso of the non-obvious, his contributions lifted the whole evening. He has the true jazz virtue of lightning fast responses to what everyone else is doing which are part contribution, part subtle commentary – a live performer who really rewards close attention every time.

The evening was leavened by some nice, relaxed anecdotage about Turner, and by projections (on a hotel sheet!) of the watercolours which set the whole thing off. Had a particularly good view of these as I was persuaded to hit the laptop key to change the image, and thus had to keep my eyes open and on the tenor player when he signalled the right moment.

An eye on the audience suggested that most were watching the players, rather than the pictures. Both were fascinating, though as someone who has the opposite of synesthesia, if that’s possible, the connection between images and music was not strong. On the other hand, Turner was some kind of genius and musicians must take their inspiration where they may, so there is a less direct satisfaction simply in sampling one creative artist’s response to another.

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