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Glasgow Art Club, 4th November 2010

The two-tenor frontline has a long and honourable lineage in jazz. Ben Bryden’s band Bright Noise, in which he shares horn duties with Belgian tenor player Steven Delannoye is a fine addition to that tradition. But what we got wasn’t two players trying to outdo each other as they swapped licks in a display of empty macho bluster: this was very much a night of sax duets, not sax duels. On most numbers, the two horn players would played interweaving lines before taking it turn about to solo. Ben Bryden himself had a fairly light tone, and was one of the quietest tenor sax players I’ve heard – I don’t know if this was something to do with the sound in the room, but I suspect it’s just the way he plays. Delannoye had a fuller tone (although only by comparison – he’s no Arnett Cobb), and the two sounds worked together well.

One of the strengths of this band, I thought, was that Bryden seems to be a pretty decent composer. He wrote all the night’s music, with the exception of the standard “My Shining Hour”. Most of his compositions were more memorable than the average post-bop number while still giving the band something to dig into. I’ve only mentioned the sax players so far, but the rest of the band were very good too. Guitarist Mark McKnight is still young, but has already reached the point where his playing is easily identifiable from a few notes: I think it’s something to do with the bright clean tone he gets from his instrument. Drummer Lionel Beuvens and bass player Des White were unobtrusively excellent, with Beuvens demonstrating that he could lay down a driving beat when necessary, or add sensitive colouring on cymbals.

Overall, another fine night from Bridge Music. This Thursday it’s the turn of Los Angeles based tenor player Benn Clatworthy, who’s accompanied by some of the top players on the local scene: Steve Hamilton, Euan Burton and Alyn Cosker.

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