Corrie Dick Quintet + Pixel
Spice of Life, 11 November, EFG LJF 2017. Review by Peter Slavid
Central London was overflowing with visitors who had come to see the Lord Mayor’s fireworks, but there were plenty of people and plenty of musical fireworks on show at the Spice of Life as well. With standing room only the Spice has the perfect jazz club atmosphere. Low ceilings, random seating and a good bar – it’s intimate and friendly.
The evening started with a surprise since the Corrie Dick trio that was billed as the opener had morphed overnight into the Corrie Dick Quintet. These are players who had been together many times in different combinations in various bands so there was no noticeable hesitancy in the playing despite some new tunes being debuted. Corrie Dick is one of the busiest drummers around. Having emerged with the Chaos Collective (Laura Jurd, Elliot Galvin, et al), and as a regular in all their bands, he now seems to appear as a sideman almost everywhere – including with his regular collaborator on this night, guitarist Rob Luft. The impressive Joe Wright on tenor, Matt Robinson on piano and Joe Downard on bass (NYJO) are all regulars with Rob Luft as well.
The music is very accessible with catchy rhythms and compositions, with hints of Celtic folk. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the one song with which Dick finished off the set, but otherwise a splendid opening to the evening.
It’s rather strange reviewing this gig from Norwegian band Pixel. First of all, Rob Mallows has already eloquently described their gig from the previous night and it’s difficult to add a lot. Secondly, it’s almost certainly the last they will ever perform with this line-up. Saxophonist Harald Lassen is leaving, and although I gather the band will carry on with a new line-up, it will undoubtedly be different. Pixel have been together for about seven years and three albums and have evolved a unique sound. It’s built around the driving clubby rhythms of Ellen Andrea Wang‘s bass and Jon Audun Baar‘s drums. The really distinctive element is the three front line instruments of Wang’s voice, Kilmork Vemøy on trumpet, and Harald Lassen.
These three combine, sometimes all together, sometimes in duos and frequently in tight unison. It speaks of plenty of rehearsal and lots of playing together that often there seems to be one sound not two or three. With some minimal effects the sound is sometimes spacey or clubby (I’m tempted to say Norwegian), but the pacing of the tracks is well judged and it moves seamlessly from the atmospheric to the danceable.
Individually all four get their moments to shine, with Lassen outstanding, and a beautiful trumpet/bass duo showcasing the more delicate side. It’s a good mix. Vemøy’s trumpet is ethereal often with some effects added, as is Wang’s voice, in contrast to her muscular bass. Lassen’s sax and Baar’s drumming are both powerful and it’s a combination that works well.
Pixel gained a lot of new fans when they appeared at last year’s Match & Fuse Festival and their most recent album Golden Years is a fair example of their work (Review). It will be interesting to see how they move on with a new line-up.