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Phronesis, Cabot Circus Future Inn, Oct 2

October 8, 2010

Phronesis come across strongly on record, especially on their new live CD, but there’s no substitute for hearing them in the flesh. The charismatic Jasper Hoiby, leading on the bass, is great to watch as well as hear, and is matched in intensity by Anton Eger at the drumset. Eger gets near to overdoing the intensity at times, perhaps – even a switch to brushes only lowered the temperature a degree or two – but is so skilled you forgive him. And Ivo Neame rides the torrent confidently, unfurling some fine piano solos.

Their pieces often feature complex rhythmic figures. Julian Joseph asked Hoiby, half jokingly, on the radio the other day if he can still play in 4/4, and he said he hardly wants to. He obviously can – and does on Neame’s own recent quartet CD – but doesn’t do it in this band. Some reviewers have found this a bit tricksy, but I don’t find it so. It is one of the sources of the band’s energy, and made a full evening’s music, including a late encore after the second set, seem too short. There was a pretty good crowd, considering the competition from Polar Bear at Colston the same night, and on this showing there’ll be a bigger one next time. The comparison was offered with EST – I don’t quite get that, as they seem to me to have a sharpness, which I often lazily associate with New York, which tends not to be the mark of the “European” sound in piano trios if there is one. Personally, I also think they are more interesting than EST, who I always found duller than their reputation suggested. But forget comparisons. Phronesis rock! (but not in 4/4)…



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