Bristol jazz week – 7 Jan

Good to get back to live music for 2020 with the second Bath Jazz weekend. This cosy event at Widcombe Social club, put together by the indefatigable Nod Knowles, is provincial in a good way.  The players are mostly local (if local stretches to Frome and Dawlish), and/or have connections with the old Bath Festival. You get mainly familiar faces, sometimes in new combinations, and the programme mainly passes by newer bands from Bristol. But the quality is uniformly high – whether from the locals or from star visitors like solo pianists Joanna MacGregor’s or Nikki Yeoh.

Solo piano was something of a feature, with everyone making the best of a Yamaha grand that has seen better days. And John Law’s solo set on Sunday afternoon was the highlight of the three days. His playing just seems to get better, and the complexity of the arrangements never obscures the beauty of the pieces he is exploring. There were plenty of other offerings to savour, but that is the performance that will stay with me. The weekend is altogether a good New Year Thing, and this time an effective counter to post-election depression – at least while it lasted, which is probably all you can ask of music.

And so back to the regular rich array of gigs in Bristol and round about – as listed by Tony Benjamin every week on Bristol247. Future Inns are still on a break, but the other weekly gigs are back in business. I’ll just single out Tony Orrell’s Big Top,  who projected a real sense of fun in the closing set at Bath – and if you missed that they’re at it again at the Fringe on Wednesday.


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