16 January 2008

London calling

The longstanding laid-back Trident gig had a London visitor this week, and I was lucky enough to attend. In case you don’t know, Trident have been playing a gig on Tuesday nights for several years (5+?) at Dickson’s Trinity Bar. Each week, they perform a few sets of quiet but intense funk/groove from 9pm. The tunes are based on well known tunes (on this night it was Footprints, Rhythmaning, All blues, Nostalgia in Times Square, Nica’s dream, and even Madonna’s Material girl) but the references to the originals are pretty obscure and flirting. It’s a style that is urgent but restrained, and still fresh and improvised despite numerous outings. And refreshingly laid back: set 1 comprised only 2 numbers: a reggae-infected Nica’s dream, and a 35-minute medley comprising 3 tunes (a groove on G, All blues and Nostalgia).

This week, Trident were joined by Mike Guy, keyboardist and ex-Jazz School student, who’s come home for a visit after 3 years in London. Mike sat in easily with his old mates, and played with conviction and involvement. His sounds were mainly Rhodes piano and Hammond organ, and both suited the soft and extended improvised tunes well. A fellow pianist commented on his melodic inventiveness, sense of space and control of tension. I liked the way he developed solos (an exercise in both tension and space) and his satisfying lines within the diatonic harmonies.

Overall the band is not so much harmonically out, as rhythmically complex (it is funk after all) and melodically abstruse. This is rhythm to die for. Chris was playing masterfully, with a big ear for all that was surrounding him, and constantly changing, very intense but superbly controlled grooves. No need for volume to express emotional intensity with this drumming. Always sharp, open and precise. Luke was in tune with a great sound on his active Fender fretless 5-string playing strong patterns but freely improvised. I particularly liked his chordal and harmonic work, his clear and well intentioned soloing, and one very syncopated walk against Nostalgia. But a highlight was some free rhythmic fills that left the groove then resolved, making playful mockery of the rhythm, but confirming it by its return. I saw it as a rhythmic version of going harmonically out then resolving. Lachlan was a steadying influence, bending melodies but soloing mostly diatonically and in a scalar form on a softly distorted guitar. There was lots of time taken to build and sustain grooves, and generally toy with subtle changes, considerable sitting out by various players, and easy passing of solos. This is playing in the pocket: very appropriate for a mid-week bar gig and a great pleasure. Like having a band in your living room; a gem of Canberra jazz.

Just some news from Mike to finish off. He seems to be enjoying his time in London. He leads the band Organum (which includes Niels Rosendahl), and has recently been involved in musical theatre, touring the UK with a Motown show and a Michael Jackson show that may reach London’s West End. He’s enjoying London and talks of a massive musical scene, with all forms strongly represented.

Mike Guy (keyboards) was sitting in with Trident. Trident are James Luke (fretless bass), Lachlan Coventry (guitar) and Chris Thwaite (drums).
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  • 1 comment:

    Mike Guy said...

    Hi Eric...nice one! Thanks for coming and the great write-up...hope to see you again in the Bush Capital sometime....
    Mike Guy