I regretted not being able to stay around till the end, but what I heard from this band was mesmerising and often euphoric. The bass and drums combination of Ruth Goller and Seb Rochford were accurately described by Bojan Z as “la fine fleur” (the pick) of London rhythm section players. They got into shifting grooves, jazz, rock, whatever. They provided solid, energetic and constantly lifting and challenging support. A backdrop which left Bojan Z, a Serbian based in France, on keyboards and piano – and particularly an authorative right hand – to roam freely, to be varied , expressive, melodic, to twist and turn and be simple or complex. The recent album Humus has been well reviewed, and is definitely worth a listen. But, as ever (?) live is better. And this band, great to hear at Ronnie’s would fit well into bigger venues.
The discovery of the evening, a change in personnel from the record was trombonist Gianluca Petrella from Bari in Italy who has worked with Enrico Rava and is a member of the French Orchestre National de Jazz. He plays fluently, and with real character and nuance, but also produces an extraordinary range of sound, from wolf howl to industrial noise to a whole range of multiphonics. Petrella’s melding of extended technique and electronic effects was magicianly. Impressive, and, to me, he was a revelation.
Sharing the double bill with Bojan Z was John Escreet ‘s elite New York band featuring Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, David Binney on alto sax, Matt Brewer on bass and drummer Nasheet Waits. Another fine band, and caught in one of those moods where the band gets absorbed, locked in, and, unplanned, link and segue not just one or rwo numbers , but the whole lot. After the thank you’s, the very first words of the evening from Escreet were: “Well, that was the first set.” That approach of wanting to make it different, to let it happen is the core of the way this band works – see Nate Chinen’s recent New York Times review which develops this idea. I particularly enjoyed Escreet’s piano explorations. There was one moment I was convinced that Don Pullen, Kenny Drew Jr. and Ligeti had met in heaven. It happens.