Bristol jazz week – 5 April

As Tony Benjamin‘s rundown on the week’s gigs for Bristol24/7 says, a bumper crop of organists, and sax players this week. You can see the full list here.

TB’s gig of the week is the striking duo of Courtney Pine – playing bass clarinet – and the fine pianist Zoe Rahman at St George‘s on Thursday, playing songs from their well-received new recording. That’ll sound fine, I’m sure, and is already close to selling out. My own standout, though is Marius Neset a few days later at The Lantern.

Neset has made a huge impression on several earlier visits to Bristol, at the Lantern and a couple of times at St George’s, and a more recent sampling of his live playing at Brecon last year confirms he just gets better and better. His current recording band features Jim Hart on vibes, Ivo Neame on piano, Anton Eger on drums and Petter Eldh on bass. It’s surprisingly hard to find out exactly who is on this tour, but Eger is a certainty*. He’s not irreplaceable – the wonderful Phronesis where he is also a lynchpin recorded a whole live CD with a different drummer – but certainly inimitable, and has a fine rapport with Neset. They demonstrate it at length in this rather amazing recent concert video, which has a couple of different players and suggests that whoever Neset chooses to perform with rises to the occasion.

I haven’t seen many concert videos lately that capture a live show so well.If this one doesn’t make you want to go along on Sunday you may be reading the wrong blog…

Meanwhile, don’t forget the smaller venues. I hadn’t been down to the Be-Bop club this year until last night, and was rewarded with 2 fine sets from Dave O’Higgins, playing with Jim Blomfield to a full house, and both peeling off gripping solos aplenty, whether on standards or a couple of O’Higgins own tunes. He really does know his stuff – when he plays a song by Sinatra, he played with the man; one by Wayne Shorter, he was on a recording Shorter produced. That one, preceded by a couple of choice Shorter anecdotes and with a solo decorated with quotes from other Shorter tunes, was early in the first set, and set a standard for the rest of the night. Impressive stuff, and a reminder of how the back room of the Bear can be such a great place to see really good music, really up close.

*serve me right for saying that: I hear it may be Josh Blackmore on drums on this tour…  He’ll fit in fine!

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