19 July 2009

Sensuous and satisfying

There’s always a buzz around the jazz community when one of the Jazz School faculty is playing. I haven’t heard Eric Ajaye much recently. Last time was with Vince Jones a few months ago. His trio gig with Mike Price and Col Hoorweg at the Kurrajong is now defunct after more than seven years, so there’s no opportunity that I know of to catch him regularly. Eric is, of course, the bass teacher at the Jazz School and has authentic stories of LA sessions and playing with several very big names, so he’s local jazz aristocracy. It’s well justified: he’s a great player and a nice guy. Eric often plays with Chris Thwaite and Chris was there to make up a trio led by James Le Fevre. James has just graduated from the Jazz School (honours, I think). I’ve watched his progress over recent years, and I’ve very much enjoyed his playing recently.

They played a gig of modern jazz and standards tunes, a really good collection including some great favourites. Starting with Ornette’s When will the blues leave?, Sam Rivers’ lovely Beatrice, McCoy Tyner’s Passion dance, Monk’s Round midnight and Well you needn’t, Freddie Hubbard’s Sunflower, a favourite standard There will never be another you. There were a few others, and no doubt more after I had to leave. Eric plays was supreme fluidity: mellifluous slides, syncopated lines, long notes intersperced with fills in triplets or more complex divisions of the beat and bass chords. All there, beautifully expressive and simply correct. Chris plays with commendable simplicity and clarity. I’ve heard him play more colour in other circumstances, but this was more crystal clear and straightforward rhythmic interpretations and solos, played with simple correctness and clarity. James is playing with much maturity. He’ll play melody, but he likes to shift the time and occasionally the pitch. He’ll play tunefully then happily drop into chromatics and dissonance and flourishes. He’ll also vary intervals, so we get obvious seconds and thirds, but branch into longer steps continuing across the range. So, a great way to while away an afternoon: very much enjoyed, sensuous and smooth and musically satisfying.

James LeFevre (tenor) played with Eric Ajaye (bass) and Chris Thwaite (drums) at a Minque afternoon session.

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