Review: The Yamaha Jazz Scholars Evening

Matt Robinson and Alex Munk
Photo Credit: James Cumpsty

The Yamaha Jazz Scholars Evening
(606 Club. 5th December 2012. Review by Fran Hardcastle)

The sixth year of the Yamaha New Jazz Sessions at the 606 provided a welcome introduction to some of the names to watch out for in the next generation of jazz talent from around the country, making for a varied and inspiring evening. The opener, pianist Matt Robinson, showcased a remarkable talent for composition. His writing has enough lyricism to stay with you, yet has plenty of depth to satisfy demanding ears. Opening track, Here and Now, heard on the album, allowed saxophonist Josh Arcoleo to light a match under our seats. The music has emotional depth to it that is frequently lacking in young players. Robinson’s own playing draws you in with improvisations that have purpose and meaning. There is a slight feeling that he needs to gain confidence as nerves seem to hold him back a touch, but the listener understands that what is held back will be powerful to hear.

Tom McCredie and Ben Mallinder
Photo credit: James Cumpsty

Tenor saxophonist Ben Mallinder’s warm balanced tone worked well over Fred Hersch tune, Stars, but was particularly beautiful on Mingus’ Duke Ellington Sound of Love. For my ears, he is at the moment, a play it safe improviser, but his musical language is still developing and his potential is certainly clear. However, I would readily buy an album to sink my ears into the rich, languid tone Mallinder draws from his tenor.

Huw Williams
Photo Credit: James Cumpsty

For originality, bassist Huw Williams was one to watch. With a line up which included Huw Warren on accordion, Williams had a strongly European sound ranging from the atmospheric focused sounds similar to Nils Petter Molvaer to quirky, vibrant songs of changing feel and Eastern Europe folk influences.

Chris Maddock, Hamish Livingstone
Photo Credit: James Cumpsty

Also of note was alto sax player Chris Maddock, whose linear compositions created melodic motifs that quickly became earworms. Drummer Jonathan Davis offered natural, intuitive playing and a colourful palette of sound. When his trio gained momentum, they were engaging.

This was a night which brought to mind again and again just how strong the young UK jazz scene is.

Categories: miscellaneous

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