|Setting the scene for De Beren Gieren’s
AJ Dehany reports on a two-gig night in Greenwich: De Beren Gieren were performing a Sofar session and Elliot Galvin/Tom Herbert/Corrie Dick were at Oliver’s Jazz Bar.
Belgian piano trio De Beren Gieren is in the UK touring their new album Dug Out Skyscrapers, with dates in Birmingham and Marsden Jazz festival followed by the Vortex in London on Sunday. I caught up with them a couple of days ago in Greenwich where they were filming a Sofar Session in a 1%er house, an astonishing church hall renovation with a spiral staircase, exquisite fitted kitchen, swimming pool size bath, life-size fibreglass horse, and ostentatiousous glass view-throughs tastelessly showing off the gorgeous classic red Ferrari in the garage.
Sofar puts on intimate gigs in people’s houses in over three hundred countries. You can offer up your digs for gigs if you wish, whether or not you own a Ferrari. De Beren Gieren played a short set with double bass, small kit, and clavinet instead of their usual piano, which added a whiff of The Impress File and worked well with the tighter figures but can’t be as expressive as the piano in improvisation. The trio’s music has a late night quality, moody and densely rhythmic, with expository melodic themes, electronically-tinged textures and scrupulous restraint. The young Sofar audience seemed to enjoy it, with an overheard “I liked it, but it was a bit too jazz for me.”
|The sign outside Olivers….|
After that I strolled down to Oliver’s Jazz Bar and caught the second set from the debut trio crystallisation of pianist Elliot Galvin, bassist Tom Herbert, and drummer Corrie Dick (jokily listed outside as “Corrie Dick and the Honeymooners”). These are three exciting young players with eclectic influences, and it was a great and unexpected pleasure to see them together. They played a mixture of originals and pop reworkings including 5/4 by Gorillaz and a convincing piano-led reading of Nirvana anthem Lithium. Elliot’s piano style is exciting and richly drenched in advanced harmony. Corrie and Tom are both sure hands at propulsive rhythm, elevated by Corrie’s expressive lightness on the kit and Tom’s melodic insight on the bass.
Corrie’s Dinosaur bandmate Laura Jurd was just leaving when De Beren Gieren arrived at Oliver’s. They and I stood outside nattering about famous Belgians. The group is from Ghent, which is a small scene. Brussels is more the hub. We talked about Flemish saxophonist Toine Thys, who was the first jazz musician I ever interviewed (at Jazz Station). Toine’s a heroically busy man but I’ve never seen him in England. Pianist Fulco wasn’t surprised. “It’s really hard, man.” Many jazz artists just don’t get the opportunity to travel. (So if you’re around in London on Sunday, support De Beren Gieren at the Vortex!)
Oliver’s Jazz Bar is one of those ‘secret London’ places, slightly under the radar, a thinker’s choice for Tinder dates. They host jam sessions (mostly in a straight ahead style) where students from Trinity Laban will work out their chops. I wanted to show it to De Beren Gieren, but the club was closing up. Classic English 11pm chucking-out time, we stood outside talking in the cold, with De Beren Gieren and Tom Herbert and Corrie Dick chatting about where everyone had randomly met before. Six degrees of separation in the jazz community is more like two degrees of proximity, whatever the distance from England to Belgium.
AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk