Pop & Jazz: Live: Kitchen-sink superstars
Kenny Wheeler/Lee Konitz/John Abercrombie/Dave Holland St George's Brandon Hill Bristol
Friday 29 January 1999
The setting of St George's provided a suitably ecclesiastical context for the almost devotional quality of the music, and the wonderfully airy acoustic flattered the sounds of Wheeler's flugelhorn, Konitz's alto sax, Abercrombie's almost apologetically electric guitar and the deep, woody tones of Holland's double bass, to near perfection. Though at first the tuning was a little off, slowly but surely each instrument found its own level and before long the whole hall seemed to be singing, the sound hanging suspended in the air like a hi-fi fan's dream. While most good concerts offer at least one moment where the listener just has to stop and say "Wow!", here there was an almost continual stream of suitably gob-smacking opportunities. Everyone knows that Dave Holland is a wondrous bass-player, but the extent to which he amazed us was quite incredible, and all done without recourse to vulgar showboating.
As a trumpeter (although he in fact played the conically-bored flugel throughout), Kenny Wheeler is unusual in that he neither wheedles nor whinnies, favouring instead a full, plangent, almost classical tone. In the lower registers there's a satisfyingly deep bottom, and at the high end he has made a language entirely of his own, with breathy, expressionist smears that sound as though the air in the valves is shooting towards the surface like a submarine, spilling out aqueous waves of half-formed phrases as it rises.
On alto sax, Lee Konitz remains, at 71 years of age, an eccentric marvel. A student of Lennie Tristano's quiet revolution in jazz aesthetics, and part of the "Birth of the Cool" school with Miles Davis's nonet, Konitz has an effortlessly hip and indirect way with a solo. On the one standard of the night, a showcase feature of "Body and Soul", Konitz sounded as Charlie Parker might have done if he had favoured tranquillisers.
Replacing the album's Bill Frisell on guitar, John Abercrombie was unusually restrained, but the combination of his off-centre chording and Holland's magisterial command of time provided a rhythm section to die for. By the end of two long sets, you were beginning to miss the lure of dishcloth and Fairy Liquid, but this remained one of the great jazz gigs. And although no one is likely to notice, Kenny Wheeler is probably a genius.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in 'disturbing surge of beheadings'
- 5 Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >