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Future Inns Jazz on a roll…

August 29, 2015

Future Inns jazz promoter Steve has not just kept going through the Summer lull that has seen other venues take a break, but put on a superb sequence of gigs.

After the Pushy Doctors, mentioned here last week, we went down last Thursday a little after 9 in the evening to catch bassist Tim Thornton‘s quartet, and had trouble finding a seat in the Inn’s excellent downstairs club room. Not a total surprise, as the combination of the always sparkling Jason Rebello on piano and local boy (but usually on the road elsewhere these days) James Gardiner-Bateman on alto was sure to create a buzz.

It’s a superb group, completed by Chris Draper on drums, and the second number we heard – an ultra slow blues – quickly established this was going to be a rather special evening. Gardiner-Bateman’s Art Pepper-meets-Cannonball alto sound just gets better and better, and he reeled off a succession of thoughtfully inventive solos, revelling in the chance to stretch out with such a fine group, it felt like. Rebello was his excellent self – always a man who seems to enjoy his work, he was as effective when sparing with his notes as when letting rip with his full technique later in the second set. The bassist, who I’d not heard before, has beautiful tone and time, and is a fine composer. He didn’t have enough CDs to sell, but I’ll be tracking his new one down. We had visitors that night, who came down to the gig. They seemed pretty impressed by the quality of music on offer in Bristol on a Thursday night…

This coming week, there’s yet another date at the venue likely to be memorably good. I can’t be there, alas, but on the strength of Karen Street and Steetworks’ latest CD, it will be a shame to miss it. I reviewed it for LondonJazzNews, so easiest way to explain why is to paste the review below:

CD REVIEW: Streetworks –Unfurled

Streetworks – Unfurled.
(ATKS1501. CD review by Jon Turney)

The accordion, leader Karen Street’s instrument here, can be a domineering presence: that garrulous wheeze, the endless sustain, can leave other players with too little breathing space. Have no fear, she is far too good a musician and composer for that to ever happen. She is interested in colouring the soundscape and subtle orchestration and, although she can throw off a rapid fire solo with the best of them, there is relatively little of that here. She states some themes, embroiders others, comments and cajoles. But the bulk of the solo duties, and many of the lead lines, are shared by the pure-toned saxophone of Andy Tweed and Mike Outram’s superbly inventive guitar.

All three players stay mainly in a mellow mid-register, which with the immaculate support of Will Harris’s bass in this drummerless quartet gives the band a gently beguiling overall sound. There are no sonic extremes, save for a brief and – to my mind – not completely convincing burst of sax histrionics that underline the title of Tantrum. Otherwise, the more calculated approach of each arrangement allows the tunes to shine through. All are by Street, save for Tweed’s upbeat Beluga in the Bierkeller and No 255, a limpid reworking of a hymn tune by Basil Harwood. Street has said (in her interview here with LondonJazzNews) that this a contemplative, mid-life offering. It also seems a very good-humoured set, though, in an English way. Certainly the accordion playing leans more toward the jaunty rather than maudlin side of the instrument’s personality. There are more dances than dirges, although the exceptionally beautiful closer Peace – introduced by simply-stated solo bass – does have a pleasantly melancholy air.

There, as elsewhere, the four sustain the mood brilliantly, with perfectly pitched contributions from all the players. Outram’s guitar lines, especially, always draw the ear, but this attractively unusual CD is really about the band sound, and a lovely one it is. The accordion, almost in spite of itself, is constantly hinting at other musics, from folk tunes to tango, but its use here is individual, distinctively jazzy, and wholly effective. It is a nice lesson in how a mature, relaxed and undemonstrative player can, nevertheless, be the essential, central voice.

Haven’t had time to check out what else is on round town this week, but I think this is the one to make for if you can.
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