02 April 2008

Godly tuba

Gareth and his mates performed last night at the Gods as the Gareth Hill Quartet. It was a return performance of the Sam Young Quartet which performed at Hippo’s a few weeks back, this time without Miroslav Bukovsky sitting in. As sometimes happens with jazz players, this band appears under different names when the bookings call for it. When they go incommunicado, they can also appear as Lookwell, a name taken from a favoured, but very short-lived (single episode?), TV program. Confused?

The performance was not so confusing. This was a quieter and more attentive environment for the band, and it highlighted the interplay and good natured friendship between the players. The playing was much as observed at Hippo, but it was all clearer and more evident in this listeners’ environment. Aron’s guitar was malleable, sometimes dirty, and often intriguingly indeterminate in pitch. Valdis played some lovely, often simple but always tasty solos and backed with interesting counterpoint or ostinato lines. Sam watched the others studiously, and played well structured solos and responsive support. Gareth is a keystone, at one time holding a 6 feel across 4/4 for a lengthy passage of melody and solos, and at various other times soloing and backing with comfort and solidity.

I caught more of the names and composers of tunes this time. They played Scofield’s Cool and Ellington’s African flower. African flower is a lovely, unforced Ellington melody (aren’t they all?) and it was a treat to hear it played on a sultry and sinuous trombone. The other tunes were all originals, roughly equally shared between Aron, Sam and Gareth. I heard post bop, New Orleans marches, fusion, lullabies, Wunderlust and more amongst the styles, so there was variety.

It was a worthy return performance, another satisfying concert at the Gods, and another recording to listen out for on ArtSound over coming weeks or months.

The band comprised Gareth Hill (bass), Aron Lyon (guitar), Valdis Thomann (trombone, tuba) and Sam Young (drums).

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