10 May 2014

New to me

Contrafact was a new one on me, but it's there, in Wikipedia. It's a new melody over existing chords, a common compositional technique in bop because melodies are copyrightable but chord sequences aren't. I'd never hear the term, contrafact. Alex Raupach introduced it for a few tunes at his gig at Smiths, with Steve Barry, Alex Boneham and Mark Sutton. This was one great band. Again a winner. Alex is playing with much maturity with unrushed lines, often extended, nicely structured and unpretentious. Steve's lines can be like a column, unrelenting, long, hinting at quotes but not quite, with solos building from even but sparse, doubling time then doubling again, always logical, sequenced, neat but also intriguingly bent. Alex will be swinging or ostinato, mobile over the neck, low to high, wonderfully formed strong tones from a firm right hand technique (see that finger bent over a string, feeling the weight, taking the pressure) and solos that spelt out clear sax-like intervallic melody, not easy on the doghouse. Mark a powerhouse, driving, brushes, sticks or flipping the stick to mallet, attacking the fills or driving the rhythm. I often find I concentrate on one player ona night. Mark was that for this night, although I did take a few glances at the others. The music was not too practiced, but their skills and reading drove through it. They soon get the feel of the tune and the ability shines. They'd played a standards night at Hippo the night before; apparently this was loud. Smith's was more the concert performance, original music, contrafacts from Lee Konitz (Thing-In on the chords of All the things you are) and Alex R (Tower condition on Isfahan). Ron Carter's 81. A range of originals by Alex R, often melancholic, and one by Steve Barry, Sahara. Interestingly, a few references to poet Dorothy Parker "Some beautiful things, even in change, wondrously remain the same". Alex sang some lines against the final tune. It's an interesting expansion on instrumental jazz; I like it lots. An involving night with some wondrous playing and substantial tunes. Last visit was in February. I can only hope this becomes habit.

Alex Raupach (trumpet) led a quartet with Steve Barry (piano), Alex Boneham (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums) at Smiths.

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