Overtone Quartet – Cheltenham Sunday May 1

Larry Grenadier at Jazz Standards with Fly, Ap...
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Just the one set on our second visit to Cheltenham, but what a set. The Overtone Quartet is pretty much your state of the art jazz supergoup – and remains just that with Larry Grenadier standing in on this tour for Dave Holland. We felt slightly let down by their London performance a couple of years back, but only because expectation was so high. This time, they  really delivered, despite Jason Moran seeming a little subdued on keyboards. He still sounded great though, especially on the second, bluesy number (announcements and titles were in short supply) when all his modern-day Monkishness came through.

As a quartet with sax out front it matters a lot whether Chris Potter is on form – and I have seen more than one evening when he seemed lacking in inspiration, relying on technical skill and crowd-pleasing-effects to get him through the night. Not so this time, and he seemed on song throughout. Highlights from him, and everyone, included Four Winds, from Holland’s landmark Conference of the Birds recording – way back in 1972 – and a superb treatment of Don Cherry’s Guinea, I think it was*. That tune, opened beautifully by Potter on soprano, comes with strong memories of Old And New Dreams, who shared the quality of this group that one would happily listen to any of them play all alone for an evening. Dewey Redman had a looser, more relaxed swing than Potter, and a much freer approach, and both seemed to rub off. And the piece featured a lengthy bass solo from Grenadier in which he raised echoes of both Holland and Haden, but was mainly his excellent self. Throw in a couple of exemplary, musical drum solos from the uber-cool Harland, nearly as much fun to watch as to listen to, and this generously proportioned (for Cheltenham) 90 minute set managed to be crowd-pleasing, in a good way, and produce some great music. There was plenty else going on in Cheltenham, but this was enough to send us happily home.

This gives the flavour, with Dave…

*nope, it was Togo: always get those 2 mixed up

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