Review: Calum Gourlay Quintet

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Calum Gourlay Quintet
(Con Cellar Bar, NW1, January 18th 2010, Review and photo by Patrick Hadfield)


After last week’s gig featuring one upcoming youngster, I was pleased to find a whole quintet of them at Jazz at the Con Cellar Bar on Monday. And what’s more, this time the audience was a lot younger than those at most jazz gigs, too.

The Con Cellar Bar is exactly what it says: a bar in a cellar. Barely lit and without a stage, it is a very intimate venue with tables and chairs right up close to the musicians – there was no need for much amplification. But I was glad I got there early to grab a good seat.

Calum Gourlay is a young bass player from Scotland, where he’s played with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the Colin Steele Quintet, amongst others. This was the first time I had seen him heading up his own band, with regular collaborators Freddie Gavita on trumpet, George Crowley on tenor saxophoneand James Maddren on drums. They were joined by Gareth Lockrane on a variety of flutes.

They create an interesting sound. Playing only Gourlay's own original compositions- plus his arrangement of You're Driving Me Crazy - they had quite a different feel: the flutes, particularly the rarely heard the bass flute, added an ethereal tone; the drums a controlled mania. The trumpet and sax Gourlay’s bass behind it all played appealing melodic lines.

The instrumentation and piano-less line-up, and the interplay between bass, flute and drums reminded me of the feel of another fine bassist as a leader, Reid Anderson – although a lot less free than Reid’s playing.

This was a captivating outing for a young band, and the writing showing a great deal of confidence.

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