So, if jazz wasn’t rule breaking and confusing enough already…..
I did well at Maths at school and use it in my day job. I’m not a died-in-the-wool enthusiast, exactly. Still, I can’t help notice a few things about numbers this evening.
First, The Bear is short of a few people. There are empty chairs in the house.
Second, there are four people in the trio. The advertised line up – a trio – is augmented by Vasilis Xenopoulos, who brings tenor sax and a Scrabble-busting name to the party. A lesser man, unaware of the anarchic nature of jazz may have suffered an anxiety attack at how these numbers weren’t adding up. Not I. ‘Good job’, I say to myself. A tenor sax, with the added bonus, therefore, that statistically speaking, half the band won’t be playing guitar or Hammond Organ.
To make matters more confusing, the band actually take the stage as a trio – Vasilis in the loo right at the beginning of the set. Nigel announces as much, and so sets the tone for much of what the Trio seems to be about; good humour and a relaxed vibe. Nigel Price (guitar), Ross Stanley (Hammond), Winston Clifford (drums) and the aforementioned Vasilis also immerse themselves in their music, closing eyes and making jazz faces enough so it’s noticeable, although not so much and not so histrionically that it’s annoying.
Musically, this is excellent. Price spent three years and recorded five albums with The James Taylor Quartet. I wonder how on earth it wasn’t the other way round. There are strong hints of funk, acid jazz and quotes and bits and pieces from standards. Over and above everything else though this is jazz, with all its intensity, improvisation and soloing. Nothing overly slick, staid or dinner party here. Long tracks, pop fans; but nothing to be afraid of. And when you have a front seat and less than an arm’s length away from the action, the whole thing is thrilling and immersive. For me, as someone who’s hit a drumskin and kept time in a couple of bands in my time, Clifford’s brush work and the different sounds he’s getting out of his cymbals are absolutely fantastic.
Thoroughly, thoroughly recommended. Nigel talks a bit about structures and bridges and what not, but doesn’t over complicate. He comes across as a warm and modest bloke – the band carries his name, but then they’re an ‘organ’ trio. He’s the guitarist. Whatever. Organ or guitar; trio or quartet, this is a band well worth checking out.