Review: Jim Rattigan Quartet at the Salisbury

Jim Rattigan, Ryan Williams, Dave Mannington, Chris Draper
Salisbury Arms, 26th Feb 2012
Drawing by Geoff Winston. Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Jim Rattigan Quartet
(The Salisbury, N4. Sunday 26 February 2012; review and drawings
by Geoff Winston)

Jazz is blossoming in the Harringay Spring. Continuing an inspired series of Sunday night concerts, Jazz at the Salisbury, Jim Rattigan‘s keen, young group showed the merits of this collaboration between the Birmingham and London jazz scenes.

Rattigan is a seasoned, sensitive french horn player and composer, who has bridged the divide between the classical horn and jazz, with pretty well all points in between. This quartet featured Birmingham Conservatoire graduate and Tony Levin Drum Prize winner, Chris Draper, with Dave Manington (bass) and Ryan Williams (guitar and co-promoter), who have been building up considerable experience since their days at London’s Guildhall jazz course.

It was nothing short of a revelation to see the french horn so seamlessly adapted to the jazz repertoire in Rattigan’s hands. His strong rapport with Ryan Williams’ complementary guitar sound and phrasing recalled the fertile Bob Brookmeyer-Jim Hall collaborations.

Rattigan’s 2010 CD, ‘Shuzzed’, was the perfect focus for a small group performance at this intimate and venerable venue. Running through their paces on half a dozen of Rattigan’s elegantly structured compositions, bringing to mind the light complexity of Hall’s TelArc excursions, and supplemented by a handful of Parker and Coltrane classics, Rattigan set the bar high, drawing out from the group a combination of measured restraint and sprightly versatility.

Rattigan would set the example, swiftly laying down the themes, then casting off into improvisatory runs, before passing the baton, to set in motion sequences of solos and duos, supported by interventions which added extra depth and momentum. He stepped back to give space to his trio, but also gave the sense of casting a gently proprietorial eye over them, as they worked closely to their scores.

Rattigan has an interesting tonal palette, from a softly cosseted trombone-like sound to a sharper, icy muted trumpet sound. Williams was a model of classic fretboard modernity, slipping elegantly between chordwork and fluid runs, eschewing pyrotechnics. The rhythm section was brightly disciplined in a similarly supple dialogue. Throughout the two sets, the quartet garnered applause for a string of crisply crafted solos.

The pace was ramped up in Parker’s ‘Donna Lee’ – in a “version that ends twice as fast as it starts” – and Draper’s fiery drum licks and Manington’s committed bass runs gave an extra sizzle to ‘Yardbird Suite’. Williams’ treacly harmonics brushed the filmic theme of ‘Leaded Light’ and in ‘Lament’ a single guitar chord was repeated like a record stuck in a groove, before bass and drums set off into a equally offbeat zone.

Rattigan’s subtle compositions and the quartet’s naunced interplay maintained the highest standard of the Salisbury’s programme. This musician-led venture would be a perfect destination for the likes of the Jazz Meetup Group. For us music-loving locals of Harringay and environs, it’s real quality right on our doorstep.

Chris Draper and Jim Rattigan talking in the break
Salisbury Arms, 26th Feb 2012
Drawing by Geoff Winston. Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Jim Rattigan – French Horn
Ryan Williams – Guitar
Dave Manington – Bass
Chris Draper – Drums

Jazz at the Salisbury Facebook Group

Categories: miscellaneous

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