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Recital Room, 6th February 2010

Unusually for Jazz International concerts, this was a double bill. On the one hand this was a good thing, in that we got two fine bands for the price of one; on the other, it meant that we were deprived of a full-length set by either of them.

First up was Australian trio Trichotomy. They were firmly in the post-EST school of piano trios, in that the members of the group slipped effortlessly between lead and accompanying roles and because, although they could produce a good groove when they wanted to, they never attempted to swing in the conventional jazz sense. But that’s not to say that they sounded like EST, they’d a sound of their own. A lot of their pieces started off with a fairly tranquil, almost classical-sounding theme, before developing into an often more heated group improvisation. In a couple of numbers, they developed one idea, returned to the opening material, and then launched into a second improvisatory passage. I hope they come back to Scotland soon and get the chance to play a Glasgow concert of their own.

The second half was a duo performance by Brian Kellock and Julian Argüelles. Their set started out with a couple of pieces from their Nine Mile Burn Sessions album before moving on to unrecorded material: mainly ballads, but they also did Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop” and what they described as a “Rhythm changes thing”.

Their work together always reminds me of the Art Tatum – Ben Webster recordings from the mid-50s, with a laconic tenor line floating above a cascade of piano. As the set went on, Kellock became more and more adventurous in his approach to the material. His overall style might be fairly mainstream, but his choice of harmonies can often move very far from the original indeed. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best jazz pianists around, and I can’t understand why he’s still only playing small venues such as the Recital Room instead of the size of hall you’d hear Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea in. The plus side of that is that we get to hear him quite often and for affordable prices.

Julian Argüelles is no slouch either. He’s one of those players with the rare gift of knowing that which notes you play are more important than how many notes you play. He stuck to tenor throughout the main set, only switching to soprano for the encore, a version of one of the songs William Walton wrote for “Henry the Fifth”. It sounded slightly hesitant compared to what had gone before: possibly they weren’t as familiar with it (it was the only piece where they used sheet music), or possibly it just wasn’t as suitable for jazz as the American Songbook stuff which had gone before.

Mid-way through their set, Argüelles broke the news that John Dankworth had died, and dedicated the pair’s moving performance of “Dedicated to You” to his memory.

Rob Adams’ Herald review of the following night’s Kellock – Argüelles Edinburgh concert.

Glasgow audience demographics remain as puzzling as ever. At the Alyn Cosker gig earlier in the week, I felt I was about twenty years older than the rest of the audience. At this concert, I felt I was about twenty years younger than the rest of the (near capacity) audience. I suspect most of them were there for Brian Kellock and Julian Argüelles, but people seemed to enjoy Trichotomy as well.