04 December 2019

Nothing to prove

Some people have nothing to prove and it's lovely to see and hear them. Mike Nock has earned that position with his long term influence here and overseas. He's joyous, capable, relaxed, knowing and apt in his interpretations. It's easy, never forced, not uncomfortable, but that's not to say it's not challenging, for it often is, or not interesting, for it certainly is. He's playing with younger offsiders these days, as could be expected. He's not so young now, although light of heart. Those offsiders are Brett Hirst and James Waples and they are easily with him, respectful of his lead but also adventurous and virtuosic while understated. All that sounds like a blissful gig and it was. The tunes had a few lesser knowns but featured a string of standards. Bernie McGann appeared in Spirit song. They started with Lady be good and Lollypops and roses and finished on Poinciana, which only became evident as the song itself after some time. Moanin' got in there. A few I didn't know were Golden earrings and Fresh water. He led with a piece that he called Curl that turned out to be a baroque piece of ~1600. I didn't catch the original title, but it sounded eminently modern as they did it. They also merged Summertime with So what and that worked a treat. What I noticed, though, was an immense respect for melody. It seemed to be present throughout his playing and to some degree from the others. It's not the thing of bebop, which takes the chords after using the melody just for a starter. This was more a consideration throughout. That interested me. And he was just a nice, chatty, jokey presence on stage, too. Again, nothing to prove except to play the music and display jazz. Great stuff and a lovely trio.

Mike Nock (piano) played with Brett Hirst (bass) and James Waples (drums) at Smiths.

No comments: