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John Law trio, Future Inns, July 31

August 4, 2014

Here’s a treat for a Thursday evening in the quiet stretch of mid-Summer: John Law launching a piano trio set with a determinedly rhythmic Straight, No Chaser. I’m not sure I’ve heard him play a Monk tune before, but this is the common language of jazz club sets and this trio have not played together before – drummer Andy Tween and Law are old friends but bassist-about-Bristol Greg Cordez is a new acquaintance. The three mesh immediately, responding to Law’s left hand punching out the time with an emphasis so strong it is almost but not quite eccentric. Monk would have approved.

They then move onto more expected terrain – a Jarrett piece, one by Chick Corea, an arrangement of You Don’t Know What Love Is. The last dances gently against an unusual rhythmic backdrop that lends new life to the tune. We don’t hear any of the restlessly creative leader’s large book of memorable  compositions this evening, but each of these is very fine.

Set two continues in the same vein: Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance (an oblique response to a request for On Green Dolphin Street), then two choices that became the portion of the evening where everything really works perfectly and the music takes on a richer patina – Michele Petrucciani’s joyful Looking Up and that new almost-standard Nick Drake’s mysteriously melancholic River Man. Then a new Law arrangement of Kenny Wheeler’s gorgeous Heyoke (Jarrett territory again there – he played piano on the original recording of the piece in his last ever sideman gig), and a finale of My Favourite Things leading into another Jarrett tune.

Altogether a great advertisement for the breadth of jazz repertoire now available to players of this calibre. I don’t know if this particular formation will perform again, but they could record tomorrow and produce something worth preserving for posterity.

They could have done with a bit more of an audience last week, though. It was a pretty quiet night down in Future Inns basement, though the bar above was annoyingly noisy at times (not busy either, just noisy).  Maybe everyone is on hols…   Here’s hoping the place picks up as they carry on through August. I would say, though, that the current admission arrangements are a bit odd. A fiver to go in is very reasonable, but also asking for tips for the band is a tad confusing. Better to set a price and pay once, surely? Or – to steal an idea tried in Derby a while back – why not have a “one note” policy on the door: pay any note you like, a fiver for casual punters, a tenner for enthusiasts, or twenty if you are feeling flush and want to support creative music. How about it guys?

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