Excerpt from CD review by Scott Yanow
(for the full review please visit the Downloads page of this site)
Gig review from www.listomaniabath.com
Tony Kofi Standard Time Trio
Michael Tippett Centre, Bath Spa University
March 16 2011
Saxophonist Tony Kofi is well known in British jazz; his reputation has now crossed the Atlantic for a new album with Ornette Coleman and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. On this night at Bath Spa University he was in trio format with double bassist David Chamberlain and drummer Rod Youngs; it was pure jazz at the highest level.
Tony announced that they would be playing songs from “the great American songbook,” but that songbook was not the Tin Pan Alley one older jazz fans might expect. These were standards within the jazz idiom, beginning with Joe Henderson's Isotope, followed by Toots Thielmann's Bluesette, ending with Charlie Parker's Relaxin' at Camarillo.
The band's approach to the tunes was oblique, often not stating the melody until deep into the piece, if not just at the end. They were playing the song, however: this was not free jazz. There is a certain amount of elusion built into a trio such as this, with no chording instrument, and it allows the saxophonist, in particular, greater freedom in building and interpreting the tune. This was, from the redefinition of “great American songbook” to the last note, a serious concert of serious music.
Not that they weren't having fun — many smiles passed between the three at points in the interplay; it was clear that this was an exceptional night and a high point in their individual gig schedules.
The Standard Time Trio has a big sense of history. David Chamberlain was a revelation, with chops that would turn any bassist green with envy. Like Ron Carter, he played a lot of walking bass at amazingly rapid tempos with perfect articulation, perfectly pitched even when playing at the top of the fingerboard.
Rod Youngs, recently seen with Denys Baptiste at St Georges, has a uniquely identifiable style, loose-limbed, ever so slightly behind the beat, giving everything a great sense of swing. It is a style that incorporates influences across the board from Sid Catlett to Tony Williams, but centres in the great post-Bop drummers of the 50s.
Tony Kofi, tonight sticking to tenor sax, can do it all and pretty much does no wrong. He too draws on a large range of jazz history with big echoes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and some Eric Dolphy in his playing. The thing I think I like best, however, is his robustness. He is cerebral without being effete. Reminiscent of Cannonball Adderly, he digs into the core of each piece with gusto as well as creativity.
Gig review by Don Emanuel
Dave Chamberlain Trio featuring Chico Chagas (accordion) and Oliver Wilby (alto/tenor saxes)
So I knew what Brazilian accordionist Chico Chagas sounded like because when Colin told me that bassist Dave Chamberlain was bringing a Trio down to the Good Intent as a replacement for the Graham Harvey Trio, (who couldn’t make it because of family illness), I looked him up on YouTube and found a good sample of his playing. So I knew he could play a bit.
Saxist Oliver Wilby was a more difficult proposition because apart from a couple of mentions of him with the Pasadena Orchestra, there was very little under Google. I was personally a little concerned that although a Pasadena Orchestra player needed to be a good player and reader; this didn’t mean he would necessarily be a good jazz player.
I needn’t have worried though, I should have just trusted Dave Chamberlain that he wouldn’t let us down, and he didn’t. Wilby was an excellent jazz player, on both alto and tenor.
An unusual line-up for the gig then but when the music started it was clear that we were in for some fine jazz, with generally a Brazilian tinge, which was very understandable as Chico was from the home of the bossa nova.
They started with Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’ and it was clear that this group would be providing us with some very melodic playing. They played some more bossa novas including ‘Chega de Saudade’ (‘No more Blues’), ‘Wave’, some more Ellington with ‘Caravan’ (actually by Juan Tizol, but forever associated with Ellington) and ‘In in a sentimental mood’. They cruised through Dizzy’s ‘Night in Tunisia’ and ventured into more modern realms with Chick Corea’s ‘Windows.
Oliver Wilby has a cool toned measured approach on tenor, not really sounding like anybody else which was very welcome. His ideas were coherent and he swung, if not like Tubby Hayes or Simon Spillett, in a quieter more understated way. There was one solo which sounded a little like Warne Marsh, which for me was a welcome thing to hear. Whether he had been influenced or not by Marsh is irrelevant, it fitted perfectly in this context. His alto, I thought, garnered a different approach. It was like a lovely eclectic mixture of Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter and Paul Desmond. Absolutely lovely on ‘In as sentimental mood’ and ‘As time goes by’.
Accordion is not the most natural instrument for jazz players. There have been a few over the years, especially in the US, guys like Art Van Damme, Tommy Gumina, Frank Marocco, Leon Sash, Pete Jolly and more recently Gil Goldstein and my favourite Eddie Monteiro (who puts so many midi devices on his instrument that is hardly an accordion any more) but there have not been many over the years. Chico Chagas is one of the very best, highly melodic on the bossas but he could stomp on the swingers, like ‘Caravan’ and a closing ‘Now’s the time’. First time I’ve ever actually seen a jazz accordion player but it was novel and very musical. Chico is a fine jazz player.
Dave Chamberlain is simply one of the best bass players in the country. He was THE rhythm section for this gig and we didn’t need a drummer. Lightly amplified, his tone was exemplary, his lines were supportive and swung and his solos were musical statements, not just a series of licks. His arco work (bowing to you) was superb. I’ve never rated the bowing of most jazz players but Dave’s, almost cello like in places, was truly excellent.
So an unusual gig but one that was full of musical highlights.
Thanks guys and special thanks to Dave for introducing us to two excellent musicians in Oliver Wilby and Chico Chagas, new to us in the Medway Towns.
6 December 2008
Excerpt from New York Times review
(New York Times review of Stacey Kent at Birdland, 11 Nov 2007)