Sunday, May 11, 2008

Small Objects Moving Very Quickly

So the hot weather has finally returned to this fine city of ours. I spent much of yesterday in the garden working on improvising through 'Autumn in New York'. I rather rashly suggested doing this song for a couple of duo gigs I've got coming up at the Southport Jazz Festival with Hannah Peel at the end of May. The song sounds simple enough on a surface listening but is actually quite complex in places, rapidly shifting between major, harmonic minor and melodic minor keys with a healthy dose of altered 7th chords and a whole bunch of other things going on as well.

The weather and the need to practice (and the thought of an early evening beer in the garden) all made me partially regret having got a ticket to see Bill Bruford and Michiel Borstlap at the RNCM last night. I did however make the effort and it was really worth it. Just before the Bruford gig was an RNCM student showcase of Terry Riley's minimalist masterpiece 'In C'. They started a little tentavively but soon got going and gave a great rendition of the piece which was suitably hypnotic and a good aperitif for the main course.

The Bruford/Borstlap duo immediately hit the spot for me with a great percussive intro instantly characteristic of the Bruford approach and sound, Borstlap drumming along with his fingers on the piano lid. The set was more or less entirely improvised with Borstlap wandering liberally between classic swing jazz sequences, Monkesque jagged blues riffs, Herbie style suspended chord grooves, contemplative nordic introverted sections and a whole lot more. There's just something about Bruford so that is so captivating. He sits more or less bolt upright and the playing is extremely precise but at the same time flows and grooves gorgeously in a way that's quite addictive to listen to. He can get very busy when he wants to but for me he's most engaging when he gets a strong pulse going and throws in his sneaky sporadic sideways jabs and cuts that make the whole thing so exciting. Bruford introduced quite a few of the tracks at length and he does come across just a tad public school pompous but he's interesting none the less so I think he can be forgiven for this.

Overall a really exciting and excellent concert. My only criticism really was that the pianist could have held back a little a times to allow the full Bruford effect to come across but it's a minor point. I hope I get a chance to see these two again and would recommend missing a few hours of rare UK sunshine to see them any day.

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