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Gig(s) of the week – Smith and Babelfish

November 25, 2018
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Haven’t done this for a while, but there are two dates this week that really deserve a mention under this heading – and can’t choose between them. They’re on different nights though so that’s OK.

First is the latest in Nod Knowles’ promotions at the very lovely Widdecombe Social Club a few minutes stroll from the station in Bath on Wednesday. Tommy Smith and his quartet gave their widely lauded John Coltrane project an airing at St George’s earlier this year for Bristol Jazz fest, but first night clashes must mean lots of people who’d have appreciated it found themselves elsewhere. Now there’s another chance, in a nice room which offers every jazz comfort. This series is a recent addition to our options round here, and really deserves support. The band has “former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, Peter Johnstone on piano, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s bassist, Calum Gourlay, and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums”.

Sample tune…

Ticket details here .

Equally enticing are the ought-to-be-fabulous Babelfish at St George’s on Thursday. I’ve not heard the band, but the personnel looks superb. Brigitte Beraha, seen here recently with Eddie Parker’s Debussy project and Issie Barrett’s big band is one of our most interesting vocalists. Barry Green on piano, similarly, is one of the best of the current crop of piano players. And the rarely seen Chris Laurence is simply one of the best bass players this country has ever produced (he has a busy classical career as well, I think, and live jazz dates these days seem to be confined to occasional shows with John Surman, who he’s played with since the 1970s, and even scarcer appearances with his own quartet. Add the infinitely resourceful but light of touch Paul Clarvis on drums/percussion and you have a rare combination indeed.

And they sound like it…

This is last but one date on a tour to promote their new recording, which has mostly stopped at rather smaller venues (and finishes at the Vortex in London on Friday). I think the more spacious acoustic of St George’s will suit them well.

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