|Ed Jones and Damon Brown|
Damon Brown and Ed Jones – Killer Shrimp
(606 Club, 26th May 2016. Review by Brian Blain)
A welcome appearance at the 606 last Thursday of Killer Shrimp, after a break of some six or seven years, the band lead by the devastatingly empathetic trumpet/tenor pairing of Damon Brown and Ed Jones (although Brown now favours a hybrid kind of ‘long cornet’ instrument) with a new rhythm section of Worshipful Company award-winner bassist Adam King and Chris Draper on drums, fast gaining recognition for his work with Tim Thornton and as frequent rhythmic foundation on the Late Shows at Ronnie Scott’s.
Both the leaders have a nice gift for writing attractive melodic themes, and two of them, Brown’s My Deposit and Jones’s Marielyst, from their first album, Sincerely Whatever, allowed them to get through an undersandable touch of ring-rustiness, to get to that state of tight but loose playing which is the hallmark off musicians who truly understand each other. Damon revealed a glimpse of his vocal chops on Walking On– he should do more of this; plenty of trumpet players have gone before him with great success – and then unveiled a new one Han River Tales, an almost delicate theme with a mild Asian flavour, inspired by his current residence in Seoul, South Korea. Brown’s burnished sound, in that Freddy Hubbard/Lee Morgan bag, allied to a rare gift for sustained melodic invention was jazz perfection, as was Jones’s combination of loose limbed muscularity with just enough edge from post-Coltrane thinking without overpowering an impression I picked up from one of those Parker blues lines of an old favourite, the great Wardell Gray.
And so we were hearing a truly hip and heavy band and yet in the first set Damon was not afraid to go back before the Second World War with his reading of THE iconic trumpet feature, I Can’t Get Started, made famous by Bunny Berigan, while in the second set Ed delved into the same era for a not too reverential, but in the tradition nevertheless, treatment of Coleman Hawkins’s classic version of Body and Soul. As Harold Macmillan might have observed, “….it’s roots dear boy, roots.” Meanwhile the wonderful rhythm section thrived on all the grooves and feels that came up like two session supremos. I was particularly taken with Draper’s way with world patterns so that nothing was obviously Cuban, Brazilian or African but a subtle amalgamation of several, which put me in mind of Johnathan Blake’s man of the match contribution to last November’s Maria Schneider concert: the ability to power a band without seeming to break sweat to do so. So subtle. Which wouldn’t be possible without relying on Adam King’s wonderful bass playing to do the heavy lifting-a drummer’s dream. With a few breaks this could become one hell of a band when Damon returns from Korea in September to enrol for a Master’s Degree at Trinity – a band that not only can be firmly in the present but suggests much of the history of the music as well.