NCW 4 (Nick Costley-White, Ivo Neame, Conor Chaplin, Lewis Wright)
(Sound Cellar, The Avocet, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset. 20 January 2022. Live review by Paul Kelly)
The post-industrial seaside Dorset town of Poole definitely has a capacity to spring surprises: not only is it home to the world’s second-largest natural harbour (extra trivia points for naming Sydney as the largest…) it also boasts an intimate jazz club that books an exceptional fortnightly programme of new and emerging British and occasionally international jazz groups.
Poole’s Sound Cellar was established by local guitarist Rob Palmer 10 years ago, and among the leading names who have appeared there are Jason Rebello, Laura Jurd, Phil Robson, Theo Travis, Jim Mullen, Henry Lowther, Julian Siegel, Martin Speake, Kit Downes, Michael Janisch, Mike Outram, Becca Stevens….
During the pandemic it kept musicians going with a series of streamed events, and it now live-streams many of its concerts. Having started out in an atmospheric brick cellar bar – now lost to fine dining – Sound Cellar now operates in the homely high-ceilinged upstairs function room of a large Edwardian pub. The room will hold about 50 or so (it was packed for Mike Outram and Ross Stanley a fortnight ago) so has all the advantages of intimacy.
Last Thursday saw the debut of a new group, guitarist Nick Costley-White’s top-flight quartet featuring Ivo Neame on Fender Rhodes, Conor Chaplin on bass and Lewis Wright on Drums. Their set was a mix of Costley-White originals and standards like ‘Maiden Voyage’.
Following a loping mid-tempo blues opener, the band launched into Costley-White’s Brazilian-inspired ‘Chóro No 1’, a colourfully intense piece with unison guitar and piano lines that faintly reminded me of Egberto Gismonti’s wonderful ‘Loro’. It segued into what seemed like a purposefully disjointed samba with ostinato closing lines.
They took Fran Landesman’s classic ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most’ at an elegantly stately pace. Costley-White’s new tune ‘Must It Be’ that followed seems to shape-shift between 6/8 and 4/4 and featured an intense Ivo Neame Fender Rhodes piano solo. That distinctive sound takes you right back to Joe, Herbie, Chick and our own, much-missed, John Taylor.
Resonating guitar chords opened the second set and were a prelude to ‘Maiden Voyage’ one of Costley-White’s favourites with a fine arpeggiated guitar solo full of leaping phrases. ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ another original featured a fine Bass solo by Conor Chaplin and a fleet guitar solo. For those who have not had the pleasure, Costley-White is a fluent clean-toned guitarist whose playing and compositions use a post-bop harmonic language with rich harmonic changes and periodic ambiguous uses of rhythm.
The second set finished with new Covid-produced original drily titled ‘Staying at Home’. A fast-moving boppish start led, after solos, into a concluding series of ziggurat-like harmonic ascents. It was a satisfyingly intense way to end a fine debut concert.
At the very start, before launching into the night’s first tune, Nick Costley-White described getting an extreme case of stage fright on his first post-Covid gig after a considerable layoff. Audiences possibly don’t fully realise that artistic confidence comes not just from practice and skill but from public engagement. Costley-White’s honesty was endearing. His and the quartet’s performance was engaging. A fine combination. Put this new quartet on your watch list.
Future Sound Cellar dates include Nigel Kennedy Band guitarist Sagat Guirey’s Known Unknowns, (27 Jan) The Adam Glasser/Hans Riepler Quartet (3 Feb), and John Law’s Congregation (17 Feb), with more to be announced shortly.
Sound Cellar also has a substantial video archive, including Nick Costley White from 2018, and the “In Our Own Space” series from lockdown.