Music: The week in Jazz April 10 – 16

Tony Benjamin, April 10, 2017

There’s a brace of opportunities for a taste of what’s what in contemporary jazz on the London scene coming our way this week, with the welcome return of the Elliot Galvin Trio  who brings his (Bebop Club, Friday 14) being one. Anyone who caught Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur band at the jazz festival last month will remember the bespectacled Mr Galvin (above) gyring and gimbling behind his keyboards, and some might recall his 2015 visit to the Colston Hall Foyer, complete with toy piano and stylophone. He’s clearly a man who enjoys himself but don’t be fooled – the music and the playing are seriously good. And did we mention Dinosaur’s excellent drummer Corrie Dick is also in the band?

Much the same can be said of the music and playing of pianist Rick Simpson (above) whose band Klammer (Future Inn, Thursday 13) is a 6-strong supergroup including vibes player Ralph Wyld (also seen at the festival, playing with Yazz Ahmed), saxophonist George Crowley and Dave Hamblett drumming. The calibre of Klammer’s personnel means that Rick’s compositional imagination can have full rein, with pieces shifting through sometimes complex structures while the soloists move across them. Tricky to play, no doubt, but fascinating to hear.

Fans of flailing Spanish guitars have a couple of treats this week, too, with the return of Craig Sutton aka The Flamenco Thief (Canteen, Tuesday 11). Craig’s musical travels have kept him off the Bristol scene for a couple of years but his remarkable multi-layered solo performances used to be a regular treat hereabouts. An early adopter of loop technology, he uses traditional Flamenco forms as the starting point for his original music, building themes and rhythms into complex structures allowing him to add melodic interpretations. It’s not true Flamenco, of course, hence his stage name, and neither is what the Gypsy Kings do but their blend of Flamenco with rumba, salsa and other Iberian/Latin flavours has been pretty successful. They return to the Colston Hall (Sunday 16) 25 years since they last visited the place. And there’s more Latin jazz pleasures to be got at Descarga (Thursday 13) when trumpeter Joe Longridge leads The Canteen’s regular tropical-themed jam session.

George Cooper’s Jazz Defenders (Fringe Jazz, Wednesday 12) are a more familiar highlight of local jazz activities since coming together in 2016. Pianist George (above, in pensive mood) specifically picked the members of his quintet to embody the drive and flair of hard-bopping jazz in the style of classic Blue Note jazz composers like Horace Silver. The twist is that their music is all original, jointly composed by George and other band members, and this gives a fresh take on one of jazz’ most successful periods.

And, finally, a couple of left field gigs that might tempt the jazz-minded, both on Thursday night (13), being the highly danceable Afrobeat and reggae rooted Nubiyan Twist (above) at The Fleece and a triple bill of post-math noise and free playing at The Exchange, featuring local boy Harry ‘Iceman’ Furniss’ quartet and headlined by US/Spanish collaboration Blood Quartet. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

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