Jazz In The Round came to the end of its 4th year on Monday last. What a great idea, thought through, planned and executed by the triumvirate of Jazz On 3’s Jez Nelson, Dave Wybrow, manager of The Cockpit and Sean, also from The Cockpit. Although I would still namecheck Jason Yarde’s trio Wah! as my own personal peak of the 4 years, there have been so many other firecrackers of a night including this year’s Marc Cary Trio, Alex Garnett’s Bunch of Fives and Noel Langley’s Edentide Ensemble. What makes the night so very satisfying though is the camaraderie, the intimate setting of this venerable old theatre, the eagle eye of Gina Southgate in her lofty eyrie to the left and the careful stewardship of Jez and Chris Philipps.
Tonight, up first was a six-piece J-Sonics, new to me, but making an impression with shrewd observers of the scene including Bill Laurance (Snarky Puppy). The band has risen during the last couple of years and are fast becoming one of London’s hottest groove-driven jazz bands. Led by bass guitarist and composer Mike Flynn, J-Sonics features saxophonist Matt Telfer, trumpeter Andy Davies, guitarist and composer Clement Regert, drummer Gabor Dornyei and percussionist Jon Newey, all collaborating within an exciting mix of memorable originals and re- tooled jazz, Brazilian, Afro and rare-groove tunes.
In the "solo slot" tonight, there was a duo Grew & Watts, which is the pairing of Stephen Grew on piano and Trevor Watts on soprano and alto saxophones. The duo have a special union: two different generations with two differing musical roots. Although both working within total improvisation, Grew has earlier classical interests and Watts is a free Improvisation veteran.
In the headlining slot for this last was Food; originally a quartet, Food now features founder members Ballamy and Strønen who invite like-minded musicians to join them, using sound, space, texture, and contrast to create ever-changing moods and environments for true improvisation. Combining acoustic elements including bells, blocks, gongs, lyrical saxophone, live sampling and drums, Food create moods ranging from minimalist to very turbulent. Great visuals as well, which we need to see more of at JITR.