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Glasgow Art Club, 14th April 2010

It’s gigs like this – the solid 3-star performance, good but not great – which I find the most difficult to say anything about. To concentrate on the shortcomings seems churlish and nit-picking; yet to concentrate solely on what was good comes dangerously close to laying aside my critical faculties. Judged by binary good/bad standards, this was definitely good, but it lacked that certain spark which distinguishes the absolutely top jazz performances.

Alex Garnett’s Quartet played straightahead post-bop, with all the compositions except one (Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”) being written by Garnett himself. He frequently seemed to follow the jazz tradition of putting a new melody on top of an existing chord sequence, with the set containing numbers based on “How High the Moon” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”, plus one explicitly modelled on Charlie Parker tunes.

Individually the band, Garnett himself on tenor, Steve Hamilton on piano, Michael Janisch on bass and Enzo Zirilli on drums, were very good, but they didn’t quite function as a unit as well as the best groups do. This may have been down to Steve Hamilton being a stand-in for the originally-billed Ross Stanley. Whatever the reason, at times I got the impression that Janisch – always a propulsive bassist – seemed to be trying pushing the band along in a way which was at odds with the others’ more laid-back rhythmic approach.

But that’s getting into the sort of pedantic criticism I’ve said I was keen to avoid. Overall this was a very enjoyable concert, and it was good to see a healthy turnout.

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