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Soweto Kinch and Ruaridh Pattison Trios

King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Wednesday 27 June 2012

This was the first jazz gig I’ve ever been to at indie rock club King Tut’s, and I believe one of the first they’ve ever put on (although there are regular weekend trad sessions in the bar). It worked well as a venue, with a few tables set out, so that people who got there early enough could have a seat, and there was a splendidly relaxed atmosphere to the concert.

Both the evening’s bands were alto plus bass plus drums trios, but they came up with very different ways of using the line-up.

First up was the Ruaridh Pattison Trio, in which young saxophonist Pattison was joined by a couple of his colleagues from the Guildhall School of Music, drummer Will Glazer and bassist Mark Lewandowski. It was very much a trio of equals: they reminded me a bit of the Mark Turner – Larry Grenadier – Jeff Ballard group the Fly Trio in that the bass and drums often seemed to be playing a more heated music than the cooler, slightly austere saxophone line above them. Their set consisted mainly of originals by Ru Pattison, with Lewandowski and Glazer contributing one number each. A very promising young band.

Soweto Kinch’s trio was much more an example of front man plus rhythm section. That’s not to be dismissive about the talents or importance of Karl Racheed-Abel on double bass and bass guitar or Troy Miller on drums, who were both excellent, but their role was very much to lay down a solid foundation – be it jazz, funk, hip-hop or reggae – for Kinch to improvise over. He used quite a bit of electronics, which sometimes seemed to be triggered in reaction to what he was playing, and at other times to be pre-recorded loops for him to solo over, and this added a variety of colour to the overall sound.

As well as being an alto player, Kinch is also a rapper. It’s possibly just an age thing, but I found his rapping much less interesting than his saxophone playing. Partly this was because I couldn’t always make out the words. With some rappers (and before that, reggae toasters), there’s the sense that phrases are being used as much for their rhythmic effect as for their meaning, but that wasn’t Kinch’s approach. He’s to be admired for rapping about social issues rather than simply guns, bling and girls, but having something interesting to say makes it all the more important that the audience could make out what he was saying.

One bit of rap which did work, though, came towards the end of the set, when he decided to do a “freestyle” on words suggested by the audience the initial letters of which would spell out the name “Glasgow”. We probably weren’t the first audience to good-naturedly give him a challenging selection to work with, but our insistence on generally going for Glaswegian Scots words (with one surreal exception) added another degree of difficulty. But he handled it with great aplomb:

  • Gallus
  • Lassie
  • Arty
  • Schemie
  • Gemmy
  • Octopus
  • Weegie

Selections from the gig are being broadcast on Radio Three’s Jazz Line-Up tonight (1 July) at 11.00pm. You’ll also be able to hear it online for the next week. It’s well worth a listen.

Keith Bruce’s piece on the Glasgow Jazz Festival in yesterday’s Herald includes a review of Soweto Kinch’s set.