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Olly Chalk Trio with John O’Gallagher in Liverpool

Olly Chalk Trio with John O’Gallagher (The Music Room, Liverpool. 24 August 2019. Review by Frank Griffith) On 24 August, The Music Room at Liverpool’s venerated Philharmonic Hall featured Suffolk-born, Birmingham Conservatoire-trained pianist Olly Chalk, and his trio along with a special guest, the American alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher.

Olly Chalk (Publicity picture)

The Music Room is a recent addition to Philharmonic Hall, having opened in 2014. It has an excellent Steinway grand piano did not require amplification nor did the saxophone as the natural acoustics amongst the high ceiling served the sonic clarity of the quartet well. The group walks the high wire between detailed writing and unabashed freedom. The intricate, daring and emotive pieces fully lent themsleves to to explosive improvisations. There was a distinctive 20th Century classical influence in Chalk’s pieces that often commenced with substantial solo piano sections. Many of the pieces were from Chalk’s newly released CD Scathed Citizens. The music explores a radiant picture-book of themes varying from mysticism, dystopia and anxiety to hope and science fiction. The fine basswork of Sam Ingvorsen scored on every level with his sturdy handling of complicated chord sequences and rhythmic grooves. Drummer Gwylim Jones rose to the occasion with aplomb with his thunderous interplay with fiery saxist O’Gallagher. John will be well known to LJN readers through his many recent collaborations with fellow American drummer, Jeff Williams, who also resides in the UK. Noted pianist and jazz educationalist Hans Koller has the following to say of Chalk: “Olly is without doubt one of the most gifted players of his generation. He has everything: sound, groove, vibe, detail, intellect, intention, invention, energy, delicacy… above all, he plays from the heart.” An excellent two hours of  original and ferocious jazz at this impressive venue which hopefully will continue to programme this kind of fare in future. Frank Griffith is a Liverpool-based saxophonist and clarinettist.   The Chalk/ O’Gallagher group has further gigs at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh on 28 August and at the Blue Lantern in Glasgow on 29 August.

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