20 November 2013
Jam ... sweet
The Jazz Jam at Smith’s has been going on for months and I finally got there. What a buzz. The band was a blowout: Wayne Kelly, Simon Milman and Aidan Lowe. All well known and all respected, but they were more impressive than I’d even expected. Aidan’s back after over a year in Berlin. The word that comes to mind is monster. Confident, inventive, steady, concentrated but ready for an occasional smile of recognition. The sticks were flailing but this was gentle and detailed playing. I hadn’t so much thought of him playing hard bop and modern, but this was exemplary. What a year can do. Wayne is a master with his own overseas jaunt, if more commercial: Macau for several years. This man flows with ideas, toys with dissonance, nothing forced or jarring but on not too easily expected. Authentic as in channelling the masters. There was a bit of roughness this night, but so be it in this context, but reliably awe inspiring. Simon was with the two internationals. I’ve recently heard him in all manner of styles. He raps, he writes, he rambles through a post-modern collage of music, so it was a surprise to hear some swing, but not a disappointment. These were inventive lines with a soft but firm presence and well-spoken solos. Then the jam. Tables with audience and tables with musos. Simon gave the invitation and Wayne called Alone together. This is my signature standard so I couldn’t let this pass. So much for reticence. I got up for Alone together, then My funny valentine as bossa with a singer, then Stella. I played OK and it was a pleasure to play again with Wayne and Aidan. Then Alex Raupach, Tom Fell, Victor Rufus, Angela Lount, Phill Jenkins and other singers, guitars, drums, pianists and an end with Wayne’s trio with Alex and Victor. It’s a scene of nerves and friendly competitiveness but general goodwill. Notably, also, Smith’s is a lovely little venue, with grand piano, stage and lighting and PA and café tables and a bar and centrally located. Very nice. And as I write, I hear that the Loft is moving to Smiths for a gig and jam every Thursday from 16 Jan.