Live review

Binker Golding Quartet, Trish Clowes, Meridian at Jazz in the Round

Binker Golding Quartet, Trish Clowes, Meridian
(Jazz in the Round, Cockpit Theatre, 28 October 2019. Review by Peter Jones)

The Cockpit is the venue for the excellent monthly Jazz in the Round concerts produced and presented by Jazz FM’s Jez Nelson and Chris Phillips. Befitting a music venue that is also a theatre, there are three acts – newcomer, solo performer and headliner.

Binker Golding (Photo © Steven Cropper of http://www.transientlife.uk)

Tenor saxophonist Binker Golding is known for some edgy work in recent years, particularly his sax/drums duo with Moses Boyd, but here with his new quartet he is working within slightly more familiar confines. What is still there, and will hopefully never fade, is Golding’s demonic energy, an energy shared not only by this fine band but by the whole Tomorrow’s Warriors clan. Golding is also developing a nice line in thoughtful pre-gig ruminations, viz: “Hope is a dangerous thing” and “Artists should be hypocrites”. He also expressed his love for Emily Dickinson, whose famous poem Hope is the Thing with Feathers has clearly inspired his recent album Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers, as well as the delicate song …And I Like Your Feathers.

Sarah Tandy (Photo © Steven Cropper of http://www.transientlife.uk)

One variation to the band that recorded the album is Sarah Tandy’s presence on piano, replacing the ubiquitous Joe Armon-Jones. And what a substitution! Tandy was somehow able to play lyrically, even passionately, at terrifying speed and with perfect control. Her contributions were always melodic and always in-the-moment, notably on the funky I Forgot Santa Monica and on Exquisite She-Green, which also featured Golding at his most fluent. Daniel Casimir has become a top-drawer creative bass player, and you could happily spend an entire gig just listening to what he’s doing. Drummer Sam Jones is shaping up very nicely as the class clown, first removing his silly wig-hat (“because I couldn’t hear shit”), then improvising a brief passage during which he shaped to hit various cymbals but never actually made contact, and finally laying out altogether in order to fix his detached bass drum pedal. This allowed the rest of the band to demonstrate their rock-solid time by swinging on regardless. Oh yes – swing: not a rhythmic style you normally associate with the under-60s, but Golding’s quartet did just that in the brilliant, propulsive Fluorescent Black. What a treat.

Earlier we were treated to some lovely, haunting solo tenor saxophone from Trish Clowes. Working in a similar vein to John Surman in his solo experiments 20 years ago on the Road to St Ives album, she linked together three pieces, singing as well as playing on folk song The Month of January, squeezing breathy overtones from the instrument on I Can’t Find my Other Brush, and with sparing use of electronic effects on Pfeiffer and the Whales. Here, the pedals were used to recycle the instrument’s natural creaks and squeaks, and to create foghorns and distant ship’s hooters, and even a church organ.

Meridian is a new band formed by drummer-composer Adam Woodcock, who this Summer graduated from Trinity with a first. The tunes were great, especially the closer Turquoise and Ballad for Barney, Woodcock’s elegy for a much-loved family dog. Sam Glaser (alto saxophone), James Pettinger (piano), and Aram Bahmaie (bass) provided sensitive support, and guitarist Dan Kemshell is a very promising soloist.

LINK: Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers review

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