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Jazz around town: Coryell and Arcoleo

May 6, 2011

Got behind here with all the Cheltenham excitement, so just a brief mention of a couple of dates from the previous week.

Mumbai Jazz, a US-Indian collaboration featuring Larry Coryell gave us an agreeable evening at St George’s. The guitar veteran is pretty laid back these days, and so was the whole affair – though enlivened by the presence of a wondrous contrabass flute played to great effect by Ned McGowan, especially in the second set. He was the most convincing player of the evening, on all his flutes. Overall, though, perhaps not jazzy enough to grab the ear, but not really Indian enough either. Can you be in the middle of two roads at once? If that uncomfortable posture is feasible, that’s where they were.

A late decision to slip in a quick visit to the Be-Bop club the night before the first Cheltenham treats was well-rewarded. Josh Arcoleo put himself and sax out front in a trio featuring James Maddren on drums and Pete Randall on bass. That always invites comparison with great sax trios past, but he brought the first set off splendidly. Some self-penned tunes and a couple of classics which were both especially good – Isfahan and Skylark. On the more uptempo pieces he has a tone and line which reminded a bit of Julian Arguelles when younger, which can’t be bad.

Second set saw him joined by James Gardiner-Bateman for a more boppish 45 mins, with enjoyable versions of Ornette’s Tears Inside and Pepper’s Smack-Up – all the better for the chance to see the ever inspirational Maddren at work up close in the Bear’s spiffily redecorated jazz room. It’s almost civilised down there now. Just as well with news of the demise of the Future Inns Club at Cabot Circus. There are a few jazz gigs left to run there. Then they’ll just be left with another dull modern hotel with an overpriced bar and a mediocre restaurant, and no reason to visit.

Well, not quite no reason as the staff have always been extremely pleasant. A shame, though. Now they’ll just be serving travelling business people and tourists, not us exciting jazz fans…   Still, maybe if there’d been a few more of us they wouldn’t have closed down the music room.

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