07 June 2006

Valdis Thomann Trio

Valdis Thomann (trombone) led a trio with colleagues from the CSM Jazz School, Neils Rosendahl (tenor and soprano sax) and Michael Azzopardi (piano) at Geoff Page’s Jazz sessions at the Gods Cafe. Valdis joked his way through an evening of excellent music. Neil’s riddle indicates the tone: “Why are pirates so dirty? … Because they arrrrrr.” Hmmm…

But the tunes were an interesting collection played thoughtfully and with considerable variation. About half the tunes were original (penned by both Neils and Michael) and several interpretations were solos or strongly featured one player. There was also a lovely breadth of styles. Mingus’ Jelly Roll was treated with the respect for, and knowledge of, history that the tune deserves. Contrasting with this was a funky acid jazz original by Michael which ended the show on a high. Non-originals included Some time ago, Wayne Shorter’s Deluge and Neil’s solo on Round midnight. Michael performed a solo rendition of Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance with synth effects that harked back to Hancock’s rhythmic-rich bands, but also was free with time signatures so breaking from the normal interpretation. Neils put on show his freedom with harmonic treatment and wide intervals, his ability over the full range of the instrument, and his playfulness with strained high notes and honking low notes. Valdis played clear heads and inventive solos with that characteristic mixture of bell-like tone and honky blat that is the trombone - lovely! I also noticed the horns blending sweetly with clear and balanced harmonies, which I assume were improvised. Michael provided a strong, dense and often staccato support which propelled all this along, and sizzling solos when he had the floor.

So, perhaps the music was better than the humour, but, hey, you can’t have everything.

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