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Orphic, Tobacco Factory, 24 Feb

February 26, 2019

My regular reader (I’m sure there once was one) will recall my eagerly anticipated engagement at the Barbican last Monday to enjoy Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming. Great gig (I’ve tagged reviews in the original post). Last number before the encore: Redman’s catchy Unanimity, played real fast after a lengthy solo tenor intro.

Six nights later, Sunday at the Tobacco Factory’s nicely appointed cafe – first visit there for music: a bit like the Canteen except you can hear properly – and the closing number before the encore was Unanimity, delivered with a swagger that did the composer proud. What are the odds?

OK, not that long in this case. Sophie Stockham’s new band Orphic is inspired by a particular subset of favourite jazz tunes in much the same way as Redman’s, and has the same instrumentation (sax, drums, Pete Judge on trumpet and flugelhorn and Chris Jones on bass. I’d say more, but Tony Benjamin explains how they operate here.)

This gig – their second, (with the excellent Tony Orrell again standing in for Matt Brown on drums: maybe he’ll play with them one day!) was similar. There were tunes from the Old and New Dreams/Still Dreaming collection, including Mopti and Josh Redman’s Blues for Charlie (Haden, not Parker) and Carlos Ward’s Lito whose best recorded versions I know are by Don Cherry’s Mu and an Ed Blackwell-led quartet.

Although Ornette and Carlos Ward were (mainly) alto players, Stockham sticks to tenor throughout – more in Joshua Redman’s sound world – and digs deep into its heftier sound, especially on Blues for Charlie. So it seemed a natural choice, by the end, to hear Unanimity, delivered with real panache – although a little slower than the breakneck tempo adopted by Still Dreaming a few nights earlier! Here, as elsewhere, Judge was brilliant. He’s been exploring this style for a long time, and it shows.

With a trio of Monk tunes and a Freddy Hubbard song to round out the set, it was a great band to hear so close to home, doing justice to some of my all-time favourite music. I’ll be looking out for future dates.

Want to hear one of these tunes? OK, here’s a version of Mopti I didn’t know before, in a group with Cherry, Steve Lacy and Dave Holland, no less.



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