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Glasgow Arts Club, Bath Street. Thursday, 23rd September 2010.

The back room of the Glasgow Arts Club – oak panelled, full of comfy leather sofas, with paintings galore hanging on the wall, and large skylights in the ceiling – isn’t like any other jazz venue I’ve ever been in. It reminded me a lot of Hornel’s studio in Broughton House at Kirkcudbright, with a general air much more that of an art gallery than a concert hall – more Adrian Wiszniewski than Konrad Wiszniewski. But in the event it turned out to be a decent, nicely relaxed venue.

The opening night of Bridge Music’s new Glasgow concert series was a fairly informal affair. It began with a quartet of musicians from the RSAMD’s new jazz degree course: Pete Johnstone on piano, Andy Baker on tenor, John Lowrie on drums, and Brodie Jarvie on bass. What impressed me most about their performance, a mixture of jazz standards and originals, was not just how good they were individually, but how well they interacted with each other. They maybe still need a bit of time to develop really individual musical personalities, but they’re already sounding like decent professionals.

The second half was essentially a jam session. A rhythm section of Brodie Jarvie (again), Stu Brown on drums and Tom Gibbs on piano was initially joined by tenorist Jonathan Chung, a player with an attractive light, sometimes slightly mournful, tone and a distinctive silver and gold saxophone. Then Ryan Quigley and Paul Towndrow came on and played an unaccompanied freeish duet, before piano, bass and drums joined them to demonstrate that the younger generation do know how to play “Cherokee” – which they did, very fast, and with some fine horn interplay on the closing choruses. Finally, Jonathan Chung and Andy Baker joined them for a slowish blues. Sometimes I think that if contemporary jazz has one flaw, it’s that it has lost touch with the blues element of the music, so it was good to hear them all getting into some downhome wailing.

A fine start to the season, then, and as Rob Adams points out in his Herald review, “there’s more every Thursday”. This week, it’s the turn of the Chick Lyall – Rob Hall Quartet.

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