Live reviews

Catenaccio at the Spice of Life

Catenaccio (Spice of Life, 24 July 2019. Review by Lauren Bush)

Catenaccio (Photo: Paul Pace)

Catenaccio is Tom Cawley’s most recent undertaking as a band leader. It delves into his love of football and synthesisers and it’s hard to tell if his adoration for one outweighs the other.

Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.


The balance of voices in this band is just terrific as Fini Bearman’s vocal lines – matched with the timbre of Gareth Lockrane’s flute – float over different synthesizer sounds creating a type of magic. With memories of Weather Report and The Pat Metheny Group, the surging patterns of the synthesisers that layer beautifully underneath each memorable melody bring life to these complex compositions.

Bearman was a treat to watch as she had clearly internalised the melodies. She was deeply entrenched in each song and despite the lack of words, brought meaning to each line that she sang. Lockrane and Bearman’s unison parts melded as one voice and created an almost synthetic sound which blended with Cawley’s. Known for being one of the most exceptional instrumentalists on the UK scene, Lockrane brought a lightness to the music and played not only the C flute but also picked up the alto and bass flute. A thrill for the audience came when he even soloed on the piccolo! Cawley had joked that no one would want to hear that, but Lockrane had a way of making it delightful and fitting. It definitely filled the room with smiles.

Conor Chaplin, on bass, was teased quite relentlessly for being a stand-in in the band, but his role was considerable, as it cannot have been easy picking up all these new compositions and doing such a fine job. It was clear that Cawley’s ribbing was in good faith and that he’d definitely earned his spot in the band for the night. Chris Higginbottom brought change of pace to each song, filling the space, giving Lockrane and Cawley ideas to bounce off and adding interesting textures to each piece.

Favourite songs of the night included Left Peg with a catchy backbeat, Nutmeg, as it built up into layers of sound into a lovely latin flow, and their closer, Zona Mista which left no holds barred.

Cawley’s influences are diverse and at the heart of his music; it is clear that he writes to showcase the talents around him, including his own. His solos were creative and eclectic and as he looked up from his piano seat, it was obvious that he was enjoying the joy of the music around him. Catenaccio refers to an Italian football tactic which metaphorically implies that this group of musicians are working together to create a fluidity of sound similar to the football tactic. To put it in similar terms, after a triumphant finish, these guys should be lifting the silverware.

Lauren Bush is at 

Leave a Reply