7 December 2011

Cocktails

Bands are unique as each player is unique. I noticed this particularly with James Annesley’s band when it played at the Gods. The second tune was the lovely old Bye bye blackbird and it started with Tom on bass accompanying James on soprano sax. I could hear the strains of an authentic ‘50s jazz bar here. More Shorter than Coltrane (although I heard strains of Trane in other tunes) and a simple but nicely taut bass. Then Hugh came in on drums, maintaining the feel of the era, even visually as he sat over the kit, toms forming a pretty flat surface with the snare and the cymbals laid low. This feel faded but the individuality of the band firmed when Other Hugh came in. Other Hugh is Hugh Stuckey on a guitar that sounds more recent with searing fusion solos of long lines softened with digital echo. So I heard mixed eras but what else is music these days? The tunes, too, varied over eras. The first set had several covers: early and modern standards like Bye bye blackbird and Impressions and a funky Tutu to end the set. The second set was heavy with originals and these floated with colour and landscape: mostly single chord grooves, some with odd times or contorted turnarounds. The band played through these charts, almost as a medley. I caught few titles when listed later. I think one original was called Erin’s enthusiasm and I could really feel a kid’s enthusiasm in the 7/4 groove and occasional contortions and endless inquisitiveness in the sax solo. I liked the way the band was busy but gentle: busy with Other Hugh’s forthright guitar against Tom’s doggedly solid bass but there was also obvious Coltranesque spirituality from James on soprano. I enjoyed the drum solos, too. First Hugh cut time into triplet feels and rolls that just dropped out of the rhythm. There was colour in the choice of drums, but mostly this feeling of falling through the skins and through the tempo. The overall feel of the night for me was modern with delicious band dynamics: often quiet, reserved, moving with colours and landscapes, but also outspoken with that forceful guitar and its broad sweeping arpeggios and dissonant sequences. This was comfortable and inventive playing with a really solid, steady underlay. Modern, occasionally brash sounds that spoke also with the language of a swing era. Somewhat like the cocktail of this title.

James Annesley (tenor, soprano saxes) led a quartet with Hugh Stuckey (guitar), Tom Lee (bass) and Hugh Harvey (drums).

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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