Live Review: Reynolds/Gwizdala/ Husband/Palmer

Janek Gwizdala. Downstairs at Patrick’s, Crystal Palace, March 2012
Photo Credit: Mike Stemberg

(Downstairs at Patrick’s, Crystal Palace, 31st March 2012. Review by Rob Mallows)

Cannonball Adderley could never have imagined “Fun” played the way Bob Reynolds, Janek Gwizdala Gary Husband and Louie Palmer played it last Saturday: an eight minute bass solo, the melody improvised using synthesised keyboard vocals and a intense call and response between sax and bass that blew the house away. Jazz on an epic scale, infused with power and an insistent groove that was a world away from its hard-bop origins. It was the perfect inaugural gig at this compact but welcoming new performance space in south London.

Bob Reynolds showcased tracks from his most recent studio album, Can’t Wait for Perfect. Reynolds has one of the most individual sax sounds I’ve heard in a long time. Influenced clearly by Michael Brecker – with whom he worked – I heard a melodic playfulness similar to that of the UK’s own Barbara Thompson, and a groove as powerful as David Sanborn in his pomp. His playing was sparse – he was on stage for less than of the gig – but what he did was to express the power of simplicity: breathy, almost-imperceptible codas, effects and choruses that enlarged his sound, simple lines building and building up to a crashing finish. This was astonishing playing, lapped up by the small but receptive crowd.

Janek Gwizdala on bass was quite simply: incredible. I have never seen the bass played so fast, so elegantly and so creatively. Some fans had travelled all the way from Gloucester to see him play, and you can see why: when he accompanied himself on the bass using one of his numerous effects pedals used constantly throughout the gig, developing the same arpeggio bar by bar, adding to it each time to create such a wonderful groove with just three notes. Less, here, was most definitely more. Gary Husband – on keys – was in playful mood: hands poised over the keyboard, a quick glance at Gwizdala, an idea occured, he smiled and – bam – wild arpeggios and extended chromatic runs that used every single key on the keyboard and which left me open mouthed. His angular, choppy playing was the perfect counterpoint to Gwizdala’s groove and Louie Palmer ‘s tidy and insistent drumming, his tap-tap-tap on the hi-hat driving the whole show along.

For a first gig Downstairs at Patrick’s, this was a great success; the only downside: they need to improve the stage lighting. The promoter can see the potential for more gigs, and also senses a demand to be fulfilled. South London is certainly crying out for more live jazz, and this new space could hopefully answer that call.

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