4 July 2012

Take with beer, wear dance shoes

Nick Delaney mentioned fusion to me just before he got up on stage at the start of the Daimon Brunton Quintet’s gig at the Gods last night and picked up his 5-string electric bass, so I was somewhat surprised to hear a very cool tune, Bennie Golson’s I remember Clifford, starting the set. The next tune, Freddie Hubbard’s Red clay, was more punchy and had straight eighths and rock drums, but it still seemed pretty mainstream. Then on to a string of originals and Hancock’s Chameleon and the supreme ballad, You don’t know what love is.

Daimon explained they are touring the release of their latest CD, and this CD and tour explore what Freddie Hubbard would have developed into if he’d continued in style from ’74 and lived to today. It’s an interesting conceit. So how were Daimon’s tunes that explored this? Smile was written for his daughter, with a melody that moves from 9 and 4 and with a modern swing against solos. Lament for the meancholy king was in two parts: a slow, clear guitar/organ segment moving into an up-tempo clavinet-groove reminiscent of Superstition. They know not what followed, and this seemed more true to CTI and mid-career Freddie Hubbard to my ears. Francine & Rita was a lively, mainstream tune dedicated to Daimon’s parents with just a hint of trad-sentiment. Then Herbie Hancock’s jazz-rock standard, Chameleon, as a long, powered, bass-enclosed and wahed outing, and the lovely You don’t know what love is. How lovely can a song be: floating, emotive, sparse. Roundabout was a broody crescendo leading into simple descending chords and agitated rock sensibility with occasional prog-rock hits. Then one for Daimon’s wife. I particularly liked this one: a dainty tune sounding like a music box in waltz time, uncomplicated and deeply pretty. Synchromesh was the most complex tune of the night: not long but more open and intellectually intriguing, with the band split into two different but concurrent time signatures and the bass written on the Fibonacci sequence ( “In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1. This sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 ....”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci, viewed 4 July 2012). The final tune, Wah sa, returned to the forceful, busy, energetic playing of most of the night.

This was not a music of repose and contemplation. Nick’s bass was busy, voluble, urgent and he was wonderfully fluent so that, with Adam’s insistent drums and Daimon’s front-line urgings and leads, the band was anything but restful. This is music to move to: lively, youthful, energised. If anything, Adam’s carefully and individually noted guitar and Andrew’s various keys – organ, piano, clavinet, rhodes – were restraints on the busyness, but they, too, took their roles in the often-building excitement. This was also a show, in the sense that Daimon dressed and talked as the host, inviting, explaining, joking, conducting. It’s a showmanship that’s often relegated these days, but good for getting the gigs. I’m the bassist listener, so I will take away the bass above all else. Nick’s a hot player, five-string, solid, clear, toppy tone, thumbs, chords, taps, machine-gun picking: all impressive and good fun. But then that music box was a delight and the Fibonacci was a puzzle. As to whether Freddie would be doing “angular harmonic arrangements with drone melodies and drums’n’bass grooves” as Daimon described one tune, I don’t know, but this was a busy and excitable evening with just a touch of the cerebral and one or two spots of pleasing prettiness.

Daimon Brunton (trumpet) led a quintet with Adam Orlando (guitar), Andrew Boyle (keys), Nick Delaney (bass) and Adam Donaldson (drums) at the Gods.

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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