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Glasgow Art Club, Thursday 22nd November 2012

Over the years, various Scottish jazz musicians, such as Tom Bancroft, Kevin MacKenzie and earlier Brian Keddie, have tried to run medium-sized groups playing contemporary jazz, but generally seem to have found the economics of the business militate against any band bigger than (roughly) a sextet. The latest brave soul to have a go is young bass player Brodie Jarvie, who brought his new septet along to Glasgow Art Club last Thursday.

It’s to be hoped he manages to keep this outfit together, as it’s a very promising band indeed. What impressed most, though, wasn’t as much the individual soloing as the inventiveness of the arrangements and the way that they worked together as a unit.

The opening number gave us a taste of what we were in for, with an imaginative arrangment which featured passages for guitar, flute and soprano sax alternating with ones for piano and alto sax. Overall, the music had a very European, “ECM” feel to it. I thought at one point there was a contradiction between this and some very American titles to the tunes – “Kerouac” and “Big Sur” for instance – but I think Jarvie might just have a fondness for literary names. Or maybe I’m wrong in thinking that “Goodbye Watson” (which had a very Scottish sounding piano intro) was a reference to Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick. Perhaps it was something to do with Bobby Watson, or a different Watson all together?

As player, Jarvie was generally prepared to stay in the background and let the rest of the band take most of the solo limelight. He did play an excellent solo introduction to one of the tunes though, making fine use of the range of dynamics available to the bass rather than just showing how fast he could play. Indeed, that was true of all the solos on the night: they all served the music rather than merely letting the player show off.

The line-up in full:

  • Brian Molley tenor sax and occasional flute
  • Adam Jackson alto sax
  • Michael Butcher soprano sax
  • David Dunsmuir guitar
  • Peter Johnstone piano
  • Brodie Jarvie bass
  • Neil Paton drums

I very much hope this is going to be one of the first of many gigs by this band. Jarvie seems to have the makings of a very good arranger, and while this was a fine concert in its own right I think this group’s got the potential to become even better. They’re definitely a band I want to hear again.