Jazz In The Round was back in town last night and, my goodness, were we ready for it!? The Windsor Castle Contingent was a little constrained, however; dry January? too many competing gigs? hmmmm, we’ll try to do better next month
It was our stroke of luck that The Cockpit is producing something at the moment that had required the erection of a small proscenium arch and, doubly lucky, it had to be left up for the gig. Whoa! Dave Wybrow – we want this left up the whole time; it created a very stylish backdrop creating the feeling of some kind of debauched cabaret; all we needed was a temporary suspension of the smoking ban and waiter service to complete the scene. Also, the lighting was a lot whiter than usual, which was grand: the whole setting is just such a special one for music or theatre production. Magical and wondrous place.
First up was Bahla – when I first saw the blurb that the band was exploring a Jewish musical heritage, I thought great, we’d love a bit of klezmer in the round. Whoops – no klezmer; what we got was a bunch of photogenic guys knocking out some beautifully realized music, calm and ruminative, full of invention and ideas. One of the best opening acts at JITR I’ve ever seen. Certainly an outfit to plug into your Songkick list.
Up next, occupying the first solo slot of the 2016 season, we had improvising flautist/saxophonist Julie Kaer. Never having heard her before, I’d done my homework before the gig and had a good listen online and had like what I heard. Always a sucker for a bit of solo flute and Julie delivered with a wide ranging set of improvs on both flute and alto sax. I love the way the mind wanders during free pieces only to be yanked back by some arresting phrase. Got a good couple of those during the set. Great stuff. Will on the lookout for more Miss Kaer in future.
Up in the last slot were Enemy a new vehicle for the JITR regular Kit Downes and almost as regular James Maddren, supported most ably on bass by Petter Eldh, who was a Cockpit rookie if my memory (ha!) serves me right. Man, what a treat to see a trio of such quality, playing complex pieces, full of spiky rhythms, bracing changes of tempo and key. There was quite a bit to pore over in the customary post-gig al fresco debrief. I hope you like the photos. See you next time.