Freddie Gavita-Calum Gourlay Jazz Orchestra
(Con Cellar Bar NW1, Friday April 23rd 2010,
part of the 2010 Con Cellar Bar Festival, review by Frank Griffith)
The Freddie Gavita/Calum Gourlay Jazz Orchestra played to a packed house on Friday at Camden's Constitution Pub.
Their 90-minute first set featured mixture of originals and arrangements by the co-leaders, trumpeter, Freddie Gavita and bassist, Calum Gourlay. Gavita's eclectic treatment of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker's "Scrapple From the Apple" was full of angular melodic permutations and brightly coloured harmonies, whereas Gourlay's take on Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately" opted for a more cloaked Ellingtonia quality, peppered with a scintilla of sound cultures borrowed from East of the Atlantic.
The band's crop of young, talented and creative recent grads from jazz courses from music academies from the capital included faces such as Toms- Lawrence and Challenger- as well as James Allsopp occupying key sax chairs. The redoubtable Kit Downes was on keyboard. These younger talents were complemented by more seasoned veterans, trumpeters Noel Langley and Nick Smart, along with altoist Martin Speake. Speake's folk-like melodical improvisations helped to infuse a coat of pastorality over the somewhat sharper edged tendencies brought forth by this ensemble.
A new large-scale jazz orchestra is a very welcome addition to the scene. Their Friday set kicked off a 3 day jazz festival for St George's Day weekend. Stay tuned at this time next year for what, with luck, the organizers expect to become an annual event, in addition to their regular, adventurously programmed Monday nights. Here's hoping.
Photo of Calum Gourlay by Patrick Hadfield
Frank Griffith's trio, with Steve Riddle and Eric Lease will be at the Half Moon in Roxeth Hill, Harrow-on-the-Hill HA2 this Wednesday 28th, from 9.30pm.