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.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Eurovision 2015: The best moments from Australia's random entry to Lithuania's gay kiss
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear trio returns with a blend of fireworks, AC/DC and 'automotive pornography'
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland