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John Law Trio, Be-Bop club, Dec 9

December 11, 2011

An evening of Andras Schiff playing Haydn at St George’s paved the way for another dose of classically inflected piano playing the next night, with John Law‘s wonderful trio packing the tiny back room of the Bear.

Yuri Goloubev is an ideal partner on bass, a slight over-amplification at the start being corrected after a few songs, so we could appreciate his beautiful tone properly, as well as perfect note placement and rythmic infallibility. Long-time associate Asaf Sirkis is a wonder, sticking to brushes most of the evening, and using a quiet touch even when he turned to sticks apart from a couple of solos – probably not necessary, but quite enjoyable if only for his blindingly fast technique.

But Law is the real marvel of the group. Even on the Bear’s not exactly plush sounding piano, his touch and taste shine through. He  loves to build slowly from simple beginnings, often Jarrett-like vamps or Mehldauesque counterpoint (with nods to Bach from time to time, of course). A mixed programme, mainly his own tunes, with a few standards – Nick Drake’s River Man surely counts as a standard these days: does anyone play any of his other songs? It appeals t0 Law, I guess, because it is a real song, as are many of his own pieces, albeit sans lyrics. The beautiful Chorale in the second set and his occasional sax partner Nick Sorenson’s The Journey Home, an appropriate encore, were particularly nourishing, but this was an evening of simply delicious music making from a West Country resident who tours constantly – playing the Vortex in London tomorrow – but happily plays plenty of local venues as well.

Afterthought: Standing room only at the Bear is great to see, and keeps happening, but does  make one miss the slightly more ample proportions of the short-lived Cabot Circus club, which seated, what, about 70 at a pinch? A shame the city lacks anywhere where people will actually listen (no chatter at all at the Be-bop club, which is a big bonus for a pub gig these days) between the 40-odd capacity there and the 200 seat hall at Colston…

Until someone else chances promoting a larger space, though, great to enjoy the fact that the modest profile of jazz means you can enjoy hearing world class musicians in a such a small room. The economics are rubbish, of course, but the listening is fantastic.

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