Friday, November 23, 2007

Moss Freedom Jazz Dance

The Moss Sextet played down at Manchester's ubiquitous Matt and Phreds on Friday the 16th November. I spotted this gig courtesy of musician friends I've hooked up with in Facebook, being duly informed by my news feed that a few of them were attending the 'Moss Sextet'. On clicking through a few links I spotted that band leader Moss Freed is Berklee Alumni and eventually made it to their MySpace.

The Sextet have some really interesting tunes and Moss has clearly worked hard on the sophisticated arrangements. There's elements of Philip Glass style minimalism at the start of 'Obstinato' which rapidly shifts into a classy contemporary chord sequence in 5/4 with a violin adding to the overall jazz classical piquant fusion. 'Crimes' hits you in the face with a fast sharp angular line and then catches you with a warm and comfy funk groove provided by Luke Flowers of the Cinematic Orchestra. Moss goes for quite a twangy trebley guitar sound that I can't decide if I think works, but full marks for going for something different to the usual mellow thuddy jazz tone. I suppose I go for something imbetween, Moss being more at the Mark Ribot end of the spectrum.

So all looked promising for the gig. It was their debut and it's fair to say this showed. It was a nervy performance that was rough at the edges but nevertheless the promise of the material showed through. Many of the tunes are complex and I suspect more rehearsal would have helped but the spirit and vibe hit the spot much of the time. I've seen sax player Kenji Fenton a few times and have always rated his playing but he was on especially good form tonight and really digging in to his solos with some powerful muscular playing. Keyboard player Ed Barnwell's playing was nice and sharp as well. The Sextet have got more gigs coming up so I'm looking forward to seeing them becoming a sharp and well honed act on the Manchester jazz scene that ought to be a force to be reckoned with.

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