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Resonation and All in one Helmet (another year over)

December 23, 2010

Two great gigs in the last week to round off the year. First was a welcome sighting of the Resonation Big Band, rescheduled at St George’s after a cancellation last January – thankfully the weather didn’t quite get them this time, and there was a good turnout. The sometimes chilly venue even felt warm. Hoping my review of that one will appear in Jazzwise, in February I guess, and I’ll paste it here then. But the evening was well up to the standard of their three previous gigs in the city.

Then another return, and what a return. The remarkable quartet which James Gardiner-Bateman leads occasionally, Freddy Gavita on trumpet, James Maddren on drums and Pete Randall on bass, came back to Cabot Circus on Dec 19th as part of their prize for winning the club’s future of jazz competition back in the summer.

Gardiner-Bateman was in the front line for Resonation, but his own group, perhaps more relaxed out of competition, really showed his talent. They operate mostly in a free-boppish area, which I love, though with moments hinting at others from Art Pepper to Phil Woods and Henry Threadgill – thoroughly well-informed, modern alto playing, in other words. Gavita is, frankly, stunning – you’d be scared to have him in your band, he’s so good. Able to play with enormous restraint, so you hang on every note, but strong on up-tempo stuff as well. The first set reprised several pieces from their competition set, including Ornette’s Tears Inside and a wild arrangement of Glenn Miller’s In The Mood. There was also a superb reinvention of A Night in Tunisia, which made an old warhorse sound remarkably fresh – real inspiration there.

Second set saw them joined by Andy Sheppard, who they spent part of the day with before the gig. A welcome addition to any band, and some nice three-way interaction ensued, as well as a further freeboppish workout on a Sheppard suggestion, Dewey’s Tune (as recorded a couple of times by Old and New Dreams). But the main highlights for me were in the first set. This is a superb quartet, and here’s hoping they get lots more chances to play live in 2011.

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