|Impossible Things album launch at Jackdaw. Photo credit: Rachel Maby|
(Jackdaw Jazz Cafe, 28th November. Review by Rachel Maby)
Last Saturday night, Scottish jazz drummer Corrie Dick concluded a two-date album launch of his debut, Impossible Things, at London’s newest jazz venue, the Jackdaw Jazz Cafe. The band comprised Joe Webb on organ, Matt Robinson on piano, Laura Jurd on trumpet, Joe Wright and George Crowley on saxophones, Conor Chaplin on bass, and vocalist/violinist Alice Zawadzki.
The Jackdaw’s intimate, chic, black-and-red basement performance space seats approximately 30 people and hosts a delicious restaurant upstairs, offering a varied selection of wholesome food dishes from lamb and chestnuts to gnocchi and celeriac purée. Nestled in a dark corner in the candle-lit basement, I first found myself unexpectedly treated to a folk support set by Dick’s friends, John Dipper (viola) and Dave Malkin (guitar). The two interplayed beautifully and went from the driven, rhythmic impulses of King of Poland to atmospheric pieces such as Weather Lullaby.
Dick’s eight-piece band followed on, spilling out into the audience from the Jackdaw’s tiny stage; but this crowded set-up seemed to help the musical interactions, rather than hinder them. This was highlighted in energetic opening number, Soar – an upbeat love song with poetry by Alice Zawadzki. Jurd, Wright and Crowley blasted out massive horn lines in free and open rhythmic form, which was quickly followed by a pulsating driving bass line underneath Zawadzki’s spoken poetry. The sections interwove seamlessly, as one musician fed each musically stylistic idea into the next. This approach to combining musical styles was similarly used in Six impossible things, which quickly changed from an open free jazz form to a structured ‘French cabaret-esque’ ballad, as Zawadzki and George Crowley on keyboard took centre stage. A mash-up ensued, with a gypsy jazz rhythmic structure underlying the heavily stylized cabaret harmony and singing persona Zawadzki took on, reminding me very much of Parisien songstress Zaz’s music.
I loved the idiomatic and childlike What has become of Albert?, about a flying dinosaur, which featured frivolous polyphonic horn lines and 80s organ, with the music fading towards the send as Zawadzki described the dinosaur flying away. Dick let rip on Annamarrakech – a pentatonic, harmonically-built song dedicated to his girlfriend Anna. King William walk brought out the true Scottish folkloric element to Dick’s musical inspiration, featuring a violin and flute duet (played by Zawadzki and Wright) into a quickly-paced rhythm to get feet stomping in traditional folk spirit. My only reservation was the outro, which seemed to fizzle out, rather than ending with an expected accelerando and big finish.
Dick finished the night with a Caribbean, funk-inspired tune called Lock your heart up and sultry ballad Don’t Cry. The combination of the two showcased both the loud and fast-paced dexterity of Dick’s rhythmic playing, as well as his intricate and quiet contrapuntal ability. Perhaps these might have been played the other way round, but the musicians captivated the audience and left us feeling contemplative, charmed and peaceful.
It was a completely ‘family friendly’ affair – his band was full of musicians he’s studied and played with over the past six years of being in London; and the sense of rapport in their charisma and dynamic energy onstage was palpable. Dick’s Scottish ties are, without a doubt, what binds this music together – and it certainly feels home-grown, both in the sense of the community of musicians incorporated, but also the direct inspiration of his family on tunes written for this album. It has a wholesome, earthy quality which is sure to attract both jazz and folk audiences alike.