5 August 2012

Colour against the dark, part 2

It’s only a small room so they could hardly fit on stage, but the sound of Alex Raupach’s Dectet was lush with the tuba and various horns and the soprano voice performing sometimes as a singing voice and otherwise wordlessly as another instrument. This sound just has to remind you of Miles in the ‘50s. The tonality and harmonies and voice movements may be influenced by Gil Evans (the ballad was spot on) but the music was contemporary. The one non-original was a piece by drummer John Hollenbeck. It sat minimally against an insistent and heavy drum pattern then grew into melody and withdrew again to melodic minimalism. The last (as yet untitled) tune of the night seemed to be similarly contemporary with perhaps cacophony replacing minimalism. An earlier tune was cabaret-zany music as a setting for lyrics in Franglais by Liverpool poet Neil Innes. Andy’s Drag was more slow and bluesy and ripe for solos. Matt was his normal stunningly fluid and expressive self; Alex impressed me with some very purposeful solos on trumpet and muted trumpet and flugelhorn. Andy’s style was hard and abrasive and exploratory with single-note lines in a hard-bop style and formed an interesting contrast to Tate’s gentler tone in the previous set. I hadn’t heard Valdis for some time and I luxuriated in his solo of essential lines portrayed with richly satisfying tone. The tones of Ben and Tom and especially Peter’s tuba was essential for the lush performance. I was surprised by Ben on flute at one stage, when I thought I was hearing voice. Mark added rhythmic grunt and lots of percussive colour and Rohan sounded strong and beautifully tuneful on bass. But this was essentially a group performance in a way that smaller formats aren’t. It was lush and rich and satisfying and it must have been lots of work to orchestrate. There were some minor lapses in intonation, but nothing a little practice or regular performance wouldn’t fix. This was part 2 of a concert that confirmed the quality of our local jazz product (while it lasts). I enjoyed it, but more, I was truly impressed. Alex Raupach (trumpet, flugelhorn) led a dectet with Rachael Thoms (vocals), Matt Handel (alto, tenor), Tom Fell (tenor, baritone sax), Ben Sutcliffe (tenor, flute), Valdis Thomann (trombone), Peter McGoven (tuba), Andy Butler (piano), Rohan Dasica (bass), Mark Sutton (drums).

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