29 October 2015


It's a fling back to a comfy past to hear Hugo Lee's band playing funky 16ths-note patterns. This is '70s funk as I remember it, before a descent into its pop-disco incarnation (which was itself entertaining enough if lighter and perhaps less pretentious). I haven't heard that same insistent bass, the odd rhythms, the infectious moves for ages. I was trying to transcribe a rhythm as I listened and realised how difficult it can be. It all fell out when I counted in 8 rather than 4: it was the odd leading 16th notes that caught me out. So the bass was key; interestingly Jack on a 6-string Ibanez for some funky solos, too. Then over this, a melody from Hugo's alto and calm, at times almost meditative, but sharp, snappy drums and edgy guitar chords that would sometimes move to solo with unassuming swirling effects, perhaps accompanied by another of the '70s innovations, an EWI, a synth controlled by wind and sax-like keys but sounding, this time, all the world like an organ. All a throwback in some ways, but satisfying and brought to date by current-gen players. Not just that. There were two originals by Hugo, one rock solid, one another funk outing. And a few standards. Ladybird done quickly but otherwise straightforwardly, and Caravan rearranged for time and hits and double-time walks. And a Kenny Garrett (as we were reminded, not Kenny G) tune to end. I enjoyed it all, grooved with the 16th notes, expecially drooled over the superbly neat and apt drums. Another great little lunchtime outing at the Ainslie Arts Centre.

Hugo Lee (alto, EWI) led his band with Ben Forte (guitar), Jack Schwenke (bass) and Alec Brinsmead (drums) at the Ainslie Arts Centre.

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