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John Pearce Quartet, Future Inns, August 1

August 3, 2013

It was almost as if nothing had changed down at Future Inns – same room, same decor, same 9.00 pm start, same piano I think. But a Thursday night, not Sunday as in the basement bar’s previous flirtation with jazz, and free entry.

And a really excellent band. Dave Newton, who featured on several of the best nights last time round, on piano was his usual immaculately swinging, good-humoured self. (Can you be harmonically good humoured? I think so). And John Pearce leading on violin, playing 2 sets of songbook standards, plus some Ellington and Jobim with his usual impassioned commitment. He has a full classical technique, along the lines of Jean-Luc Ponty before he went electric, and plenty of jazz feel. Violin can get freaky pretty easily (this I like) but that didn’t happen too much this evening – though Caravan got a workout which made some of the hotel guests look slightly uneasy.

Hotel guests? There were a few – maybe running through August isn’t a bad idea then.  And enough other listeners to fill the room, which was promising. The deal, I gather, is to build up an audience, and a mailing list, with free-entry-and-donation gigs for local players (like these), then perhaps get a little more ambitious.

Thursday seems a good night to go for, although it does mean there are now two sessions that night in proper jazz spaces (where there is a separate room, and people actually go to listen) – this one and the excellent Fringe up in Clifton. The Fringe has more atmosphere, but the Cabot Circus room has air conditioning, and actually felt a little chilly in shorts and a T-shirt. Luxury on a humid night, though!

With luck they are far enough away from each other not to compete for the same audience and both can flourish. Meanwhile, it was great to catch a full set from Pearce, a player who communicates a lot of joy in his music-making. And Dave Newton is back next week with Gary Alesbrook. Should be a nice warm up for a weekend at the Brecon Jazz Festival, when reviewing for Jazzwise is on the agenda…

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