(The Greenbank, Easton, Bristol. 8 September 2022. Live review by Mike Collins)
A Thursday at the end of summer, and Summer, had an elegiac air, a hymn-like harmony, alluring, unexpected shifts in the progression and moments of stillness that make the listener catch their breath. Add a layer of breathy, ruminating sax and it was quite a way to close a gig.
Around Bristol, a steadily growing number of calendars have the first Thursday in the month circled. That’s when Yetii comes out to play. For four years, on and off, but mostly on in the last 12 months, the acoustic trio of Alex Veitch on piano, Ashley John Long on bass and Alex Goodyear on drums have been building a repertoire, a sound and an audience with the gig, always in the room above The Greenbank pub.
In recent months they’ve taken to inviting collaborators and the September edition was due to see the trio mix it with Iain Ballamy. An on-the-day emergency meant Ballamy’s gig was re-scheduled – it will take place in early 2023. The duly-forewarned, nearly sold-out-in-advance audience turned out in force nonetheless to hear tenor man Alex Merritt dig into the distinctive originals and dissect a few classics with the regular trio.
Before Summer, another original Enough, skipped along, developing the simplest of melodic before a contrasting cell of rippling piano launched them into an intense group improvisation. There are plenty of surprises and juxtapositions in the Yetii music. An impeccable, straightahead My Romance to start with, gave way to The Bad Plus inspired take on Flim. Alex Merritt showed his restraint on another beautiful astringent ballad Spring sketching and stretching its shape with yearning long tones, before a blistering work out on a duo version of Joy Spring with Veitch.
Yetii are a trio of fluent and wildly inventive improvisers who’ve developed an unshowy group sound that paints textures or settles into grooving vamps threaded with filagrees of melody. It’s a set of mostly originals, with a sprinkling of reinvented jazz classics. They’re planning a November release for a live recording of a recent trio set, so there’ll be no need to travel to The Greenbank to be initiated into the expansive musical world of Yetii.
LINK: Yetii Website