3 September 2015
Old and new friends
Johannes Luebbers led a band at the Gods and it was a combination of old and new friends. JL is one of the new breed at the School of Music. So is bassist Alec Hunter. Whatever we think of the changes, none of these people had anything to do with it, so best to them. They played with masters from the previous incarnation, of the Jazz School, Miro and John Mackey and Mark Sutton. All masters: they had to be to play this at short notice. Miro showed me a chart, all time changes (4/4-5/4-6/4) and sixteenth notes and then the sticky-taped pages fell open and touched the ground! There must have been 7 pages of this stuff to read! The players were all groaning, as players are wont to do for difficult charts, but ready to take it on. Miro commented he's "not an accountant". But he counted and they did a great job of it all. They were mostly playing charts by Johannes. Johannes played piano but is principally a composer: he said he's usually out front conducting his works rather than sitting amongst the players. How much I liked this! Complex, busy, original works with limits on repetition. Spaces for solos - this is jazz, after all - but plenty written for ensemble. I melted with some of the superb harmonies from Miro and John. How correct and sweet can intonation be? And solos from them were equally breathtaking. I also especially noticed some of Johannes' comping, all harmonic colour and movement from a composer's point of view. Alec played with bow, sometimes with bass noises, but mostly played with clarity and a neat firmness. Mark convinced as always and let go for one later solo. They had planned one standard to finish off, I remember you, but ended up adding Alone together as an encore. I play that tune regularly and could just wonder at how the best manage to embroider a tune. Quite remarkable. Old and new, from before and after a disaster.
Johannes Luebbers (piano, composition) led a quintet with John Mackey (tenor, alto), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet), Alexander Hunter (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums) at the Gods.