25 April 2012

Walking bass(less)

There was no bass but I think I heard more walking bass at Eamon Dilworth’s gig at the Loft than I’ve heard in some time. I sometimes think swing is almost becoming a lost art in modern jazz but Eamon and his mates obviously enjoy it and so do I. This was a lovely little concert.

Some hot playing, some organ grooves with those muffled organ bass lines, post-bop trumpet and clear guitar and driving ride defined it for me. That’s not to say this was out of time. Carl’s guitar was crisp and clean in the ’50s style, but his lines were long and tortuous and spanned some impressive ranges. I was wondering how he builds his lines. I thought perhaps on fourths in one tune, but another had clear thirds. Eamon was more scalar in a recognisable post-bop style, so a Kenny Wheeler tune to end the night was not out of place. Steve’s organ was perhaps the defining sound. An organ-based band is unique in presentation and sound: soft and malleable but nevertheless hard swinging. It’s a busy job for the organist, thinking left hand walks and right hand solos or choppy C3 accompaniment. Steve did it with aplomb and also joy, which is fitting, because it is a carefree sound. I heard his solos as more bluesy, against more delightfully contorted yet tonal solos of Carl. And I enjoyed Carl’s comping: modal, busy and wonderfully colourful. And what of drums. James (aka ‘Pug’: I must ask him about that sometime) swung with a very promiment and heavily syncopated kick drum and sharp and precise rolls and rudiments. Nicely fitting for this style, with several generous solos and swapped eights and fours. It’s an old custom but was perfectly apt in this context. This was swinging, lively, joyous music with space for individual solos statements. Old-school but there were also several more worldy tunes. Not so much swing but not out of place. These were originals by Eamon, dedications after a year in Europe and in context of good times and friendships. It’s not surprising that this swinging goodwill continues into his originals. From Bucharest with love switched from a lengthy mutating quarter note arpeggio intro in 4/4 to melody and solos in 5/4 with a funky 3-2 groove then back to the 4/4 as outro. Vienna was a slow, airy jazz tune. Milano was a more modern, funky 8-feel which fits the city of famed and capricious architecture. But you can’t keep a swinger down so one original was a straightahead swing, a university exercise called Starting point. The rest of the repertoire comprised a few less common standards, I love you and East of the sun west of the moon, and an end on post-bop heaven, Kenny Barron’s Voyage. What a lively, joyous and skilled concert. I revelled in it and left with a smile on my face, as you should.

Eamon Dilworth (trumpet) led a quartet with Carl Morgan (guitar), Steve Barry (organ) and James ‘Pug’ Waples (drums) at the Loft.

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