Live review

REVIEW: Huw Warren Trio at the Vortex (Everything In Between album launch)

Dudley Phillips, Huw Warren and Zoot Warren
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Huw Warren Trio – Everything In Between album launch
(The Vortex, 8 February 2019. Review by Gail Tasker)

Friday night’s gig at The Vortex was a welcome ray of sunshine on a rainy evening. It was the album launch of pianist Huw Warren’s latest album Everything In Between, on Italian label CAM Jazz.

With Huw leading on grand piano, the ensemble was completed by Zoot Warren on drum kit and longtime collaborator Dudley Phillips on double and electric bass. Together, the trio performed an array of Brazilian tunes and originals with a compelling combination of tight synchronicity and wry British humour.

Brazilian music has long been an influence on Huw, evident in his collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Maria Pia de Vito. This particular group, announced as ‘Trio Brasil’, is an embodiment of his passion for the music, incorporating tunes from composers such as Hermeto Pascoal, Chico Buarque, and Egberto Gismonti. Yet, true to the nature of interpretation, there was a distinctively innovative edge to the proceedings. This manifested itself through Huw’s seemingly-spontaneous employment of dissonant, Monk-like chordal progressions based on Brazilian rhythm patterns, occasional flamboyant embellishments upon the main melodies, and the constantly shifting and never-settling nature of Zoot’s drum grooves.

Fast-paced tunes took up the majority of the set-list. The trio’s performance of Hermeto Pascoal’s Frevo Em Maceio drew shouts and whistles from the crowd. Phillips and Huw played the main melody in blindingly-rapid unison, underscored by Zoot’s driving patterns. And when the seemingly final chord of the piece rang out, the audience’s applause turned into laughter as Huw led the band into an almost ludicrously up-tempo, final play through. A similar occurrence took place with Egberto Gismonti’s Loro, which began with Zoot freely improvising on drums before lapsing into a high-paced drum beat. This became a highlight for me; the trio’s capacity to transform atmospheric, out-of-time improvisation into groove-based, danceable patterns, and vice versa.

There were some slow, breathtaking moments to the set-list; the most impressionable was the trio’s deeply heartfelt rendition of Guinga’s Noturna. This Chopin-esque piece also appears on Warren’s solo piano album Nocturnes and Visions (2017), worth checking out. Friday’s interpretation was especially moving, with Phillips and Warren doubling the melody, and Zoot only bringing in the drum kit once the music’s tension was at its limit.

Spontaneity, quick wit, steady grooves and a certain level of telepathy are what embody Huw Warren’s trio – an inimitable force to be reckoned with on the UK jazz scene.

Everything In Between by the Huw Warren Trio will be released in the UK on 15 March. Pre-release copies will be available at the trio’s gigs.

LINK: Huw Warren’s website

Categories: Live review

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