28 February 2009


Andy Campbell’s Quintet was playing a full night of Candy Amble’s original music at ArtSound last night. It took me back, thinking Red clay and First light and White rabbit and the CTI releases of the seventies. Cool melodies overlaying steady but tense rhythms from drums and bass. Hannah’s often simple, steady bass reminiscent of Ron Carter laid back (for how many CTI albums?) and Miro’s trumpet in attendance like Freddie Hubbard, waiting to pounce. The cleanest of recordings with a surface calm, but an explosion just waiting to happen beneath, or an implosion in action. Andy’s call and response melodies fitted glove-like, calm, simple, expressive, over this bubbling tension. Very nice, very soulful.

Andy’s guitar was deceptive. He doesn’t look the smooth, expressive guitarist he is, but you don’t see that out of the radio studio. He was sometimes simple, but deceptively ready to let loose with runs that tingle with an edgy guitar and minimal effects, or perhaps a heavily sustained overdrive. Ben’s piano, too, was just the part. I’ve missed Ben from the scene for some time. He’s been a favourite player of mine, and this performance confirmed it. We may not see him too much in the near future, either. I understand he’s in the family way, so may be busy. Children are more demanding than practice, even. But he was taking to the charts with authority, despite a rapt attention that suggested he hadn’t played them too often. Miro was also reading confidently. His maturity as a player claimed the melodies and stated them so nicely, often in unison with Andy, and he was similarly comfortable with his sweet, melodic solos, clawing high notes and falling runs. The trumpet and flugel suited the style so precisely. I wonder if I would have made the CTI association without it. Hannah started several tunes with solo vamps that impressed as independent and strong. I’ve noted that competence in her playing before. There were also steady, fast walks, some solos of note and again that competence when on one tune she dropped in some little solo segments within the head. Hugh’s playing with involvement and his own style of busyness. He doesn’t so much state the groove, as imply and densely colour it with rolls and cymbals and snaps and various fills.

I still hear it in my head. That deceptively relaxed CTI sound. I’d tired of the style in the past, but this was a refreshing revisitation. Much enjoyed.

Andy Campbell (guitar) led his quintet with Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flegelhorn), Ben Foster (piano), Hannah James (bass) and Hugh Deacon (drums).

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