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Dan Messore’s Indigo Kid, Bristol Jazz Fest, March 9

March 11, 2014

Some nice reviews of Bristol’s own jazz and blues festival are appearing, and I’ve a piece up on LondonJazzNews reviewing one of the gigs that featured new music. I’m not going to add to the overviews except to say it was sunnier than the first one on 2013, crowds were larger, and a good time was had by all. Good! Here’s to next year.

We heard a load of stuff, but a couple of days on one really stood out from the rest, for me. That was the stellar quartet led by guitarist Dan Messore. They were programmed a bit awkwardly as support to Get the Blessing – their music is very different, while the double bill meant both played pretty short sets. And this band surely deserves a full slot of their own. The personnel would be hard to beat: Messore on guitar, Callum Gourlay on bass, Martin France on drums and Iain Ballamy on tenor. They all play Messore’s lovely music as if they’ve been on the road for months. They haven’t. He’s toured with Trish Clowes on sax and Gourlay, but it was a treat to hear him reunited with Ballamy, whose playing blends superbly with his agile guitar. To my ear he has a complete, state of the art style on the instrument – and the enthused listeners round me all seemed to agree. You can hear a lot of Pat Metheny in his playing, as well as (of course) Bill Frisell and – I reckoned – something of the daddy of them all, Mick Goodrick, as well as, oh, just about everyone else you can think of who has contributed to the instrument’s vocabulary over the last half century. None of this is for show, it just emerges from the music.

Announcements were sparse because of the time constraint so I didn’t catch names of tunes, but they all sounded wonderful. The main thing, though, was to enjoy the sound of this band playing together, urged along by the astounding drumming of France, who has the ability to animate the time while offering that sharp, flexible commentary on what the others are doing that I associate with Jack DeJohnette.

It was a great, standout set in a weekend of good things – including the Get the Blessing set that followed directly after. There’s another CD on the way from Babel, which will be good to have but a live band of this quality is a rare treat. No idea when they’ll get to perform again – Messore’s website has a calendar mainly featuring an arena tour with something called the CBBC Big Band Live Show which will be, er, nothing whatever like this. Maybe there’ll be a CD tour at some point. Here’s hoping. I would give a lot to hear another hour or two of these four playing at this level.

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