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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



3 gig reviews (not mine!)

March 9th, 2006 | No Comments | Categories: Musing on Music |

That’s not my gigs, not not my reviews. Of course these are my reviews.

For some reason I completely forgot to blog about the two gigs I went to last thursday – Buddy Miller at Bush Hall followed by Ursula Rucker at The Jazz Cafe.

Buddy’s gig was put on by the lovely people at Greenbelt, so they were hosting a bit of a reception upstairs (if you ever want to do a gig with VIP stuff going on, Bush Hall is ideal – really nice little bar upstairs…) – so that was nice, to catch up with lots of GB-related friends, and Hoda from Fender who I’d not really had the chance to chat to for a long time. All good.

Opening the show was the marvellous Brian Houston – who just gets better every time I see him play. Don’t miss him if he plays near you.

After that was some other bloke who didn’t really do it for me, then Buddy. Part of the interest in the gig for me was that the rhythm section for the gig were Paul and Phil Wilkinson from The Amazing Pilots (I say ‘from’… they ARE the amazing pilots…) who are without doubt one of the finest roots rock rhythm sections in the UK. I’ve seen them before playing both as their own gig (where Paul plays guitar not bass) and backing up Iain Archer, and they are just fantastic. As a trio with Buddy, they were amazing (though there was no evidence of them being actual pilots). Alternately rocking out and acoustic balladeering, the evening was just magic.

Sadly I had to bail out about four tracks from the end of their set to get over to see Ursula Rucker. A gig that I really didn’t know much about other than a) Andy Hamill was on bass and had put me on the guest list and b) it involved, in some way, looping and poetry. Sounded promising. Lived up to the promise – Ursula is kind of a female Michael Franti – political poet, to eloquent and erudite to just be simply a ‘rapper’, she’s a soul singer/poet/thinker/activist, and puts on a slamming show. Her core band was Tim Motzer, looping and processing an acoustic guitar, and a drummer (whose name I can’t find just now), and they were augmented for a couple of tunes by Andy on bass and Julian on violin. All in all, a crackin’ gig.

And then, leaping forward to last night, Gary Husband was playing at St Cyprians. Well, was meant to be playing at St Cyprians, but there’s no heating in there, and the piano wasn’t tuned, so it was moved over the road to a school, a Yamaha C3 was hired in, and all was well.

Gary, for those who don’t know about such jazz-related things, is in the rather unique position of being pretty much at the top of his game worldwide as both a drummer AND a piano player. Last night was a solo piano gig (augmented at times by some extra layers of piano and percussion on multitrack), and was mind-blowing. It’s SO rare to hear that level of instrumental virtuosity without it either being smug, sterile or both. This was neither. Which was all the more remarkable given that the two sets were inspired by, and consisted of pieces written by or based on – Alan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin, both of whom are often seen as being monster technicians over and above their contribution to the world of jazz composition.

The playing, the arrangements, the performance and the banter were all top class, leaving no-one there in any doubt at all as to Gary’s standing in the world of piano players. I can’t think of many players who could have done anything even close to what he achieved. A hugely inspiring gig.

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