Percy Pursglove and Perdato, The Mall, Clifton, May 13
How likely is it that one of the best bassists around is also one of the most interesting trumpet players? It’s no longer a daft question – the answer seems to be very likely, in the person of the Birmingham-based player Percy Pursglove. Well, he came from a musical family and makes light of it, saying simply “I’m fortunate that I have different ways of accessing the music.”
In some contexts he sticks to one or the other, as heard in a great band at Cheltenham where his trumpet and flugelhorn work helped fill out Julian Arguelles enhanced ensemble to marvellous effect. On Wednesday at the Mall, a trio set for Fringe Jazz saw him deliver big helpings of both.
With Dan Moore on electric piano and Tony Orrell on drums this was Perdato, or The Pushy Doctors with Pursglove as locum for Andy Sheppard. That meant a different selection of tunes, and fewer playful treatments of pop songs (though there was a funky Tennessee Waltz), but the same projection of general joy in music-making. Tony Orrell reminds me of Al Foster in the delight he takes in just working his kit, and gave just the right, driving urgency to the opener, Joe Lovano’s bluesy Fort Worth. The next selection, Dudu Pukwana’s Hug Pine, proved we were in for an evening of fine tunes, and Keith Jarrett’s Spiral Dance immediately following confirmed it. We visited South Africa a couple more times in the course of the evening, and there was a touch of Ellington (Perdido, Perdato? Yes, well…) and a beautiful Kenny Wheeler song I hadn’t heard before – always a bonus, that
Pursglove found just the right touch for each one, whether on trumpet, flugelhorn, or bass – which after the first couple of pieces he kept his arm round casually while playing the horns. He has technique to spare on both instruments, but that isn’t the point. Everything he does is intensely musical, and the result for this relatively casual gig was one of the most consistently enjoyable musical evenings I’ve heard at the Mall. It was enjoyed, alas, by relatively few of us – perhaps due to a clash elsewhere in the city. I do hope he comes back. If he does, anyone who missed this one, know that it is not one to pass up twice.