The week just past – with evenings of outstanding music from Entropi, Craig Handy and Thelonious – has been exceptional, as Mike Collins explains here. Among them all, I’d rate Jeff Williams’ drumming as the highlight. Simply marvellous to see and hear such a master at work, up close. Also great, incidentally, to catch some of Peter Edward’s Nu Civilization Orchestra roaring away in Colston Hall foyer on Friday evening, with Gary Crosby and Nathaniel Facey to the fore, after sets from schoolkids they’d all been working with whose enthusiasm lent their performances a special charge. I wonder which of them will take their jazz further and return to that stage as fully-formed musicians in a few years?
There’s another take on Craig Handy on Bristol 247, where you can also find the usual weekly preview from Mr Benjamin – here. The big attraction there for me has to be Malija: three favourite musicians in one drummerless trio. A deeply knowledgeable jazz fan remarked to me the other night that Liam Noble is his favourite UK pianist, and I can see why. He’s somehow always contrives to be thoughtful and adventurous at the same time. It’ll be interesting to hear how he copes with the somewhat elderly sounding piano that is on offer in the Hen and Chicken. Jasper Hoiby of Phronesis fame is definitely my favourite of the younger bass players. And Mark Lockheart’s sax playing, also heard in Hoiby’s other band Fellow Creatures who graced this year’s Bristol jazz festival, has been a stimulating presence ever since his days with Loose Tubes.
Malija are promoting their second recording, which Bandcamp’s in-house jazz reviewer describes very well:
Melodies from Malija feel like falling autumn leaves. They have an undeniable beauty, full of vibrant colors and sharp imagery. Their motion is light and free—and unpredictable. And yet, time and again on the trio’s sophomore release Instinct, the melody has an undercurrent of gravitas that, inevitably, guides it gracefully down to earth. This progression, devised by saxophonist Mark Lockheart, bassist Jasper Høiby, and pianist Liam Noble, gives the music an atmosphere of contemplation. The spryly-dancing melody of “TV Shoes” gets tangled in dissonance, while the hop-and-skip of “Mila” becomes lost in deep thought before snapping out of it and rejoining the dance. The back-to-back “Panda Feathers” and “Sanctuary” play off of one another like light and shadow. These dichotomies aren’t a new thing for the trio, they’re just a more cohesive representation of their sound. On their excellent 2015 release The Day I Had Everything, that interplay between light and shadow were drawn out to their extremes, which heightened their contrast. Here, they exist side by side.
You can listen to it here. This gig is firmly in the “eagerly awaited” category, along with the extraordinary Ute Lemper at St George’s on Thursday. But unlike the regal Lemper’s date (I’m going), it’s not sold out yet…