(Ronnie Scott's, April 5th 2011, 2nd night of 2, review by Frank Griffith, Photo credit: Eric Richmond)
The Storms/Nocturnes trio, which was celebrating the release of its new CD, "VIA" on Origin Records, is composed of the "3000 Mile Club" (the distances between their respective domiciles) of jazz pianist, Geoffrey Keezer (San Diego), vibist, Joe Locke (New York City) and multi-reedist, Tim Garland (Whitley Bay), who make up a completely equal triumvirate of contributors to this most egalitarian of groups.
The ten original compositions (most of which were performed at Ronnie's) on the CD all refer to specific locations, and were introduced and described eloquently by the composers. This is far from the "hey, let the music speak for itself" approach often taken by somewhat shy, sullen and inarticulate performers. Joe Locke, in particular, one who is not afraid to expound fully, told colourful and engaging tales of his inspirational locales. One of which, "Miramar" went into detail of how this well respected California music venue evolved from its humble beginnings in 1959.
The abundant energy of this group produced not just sheets of shimmering sound, but also moments of simmering heat. Their interaction brought a spiky rhymical pointillism that quickly put paid to any risk of over-presence of the silky smoothness that - one might assume - could easily result from such an instrumentation. We are not talking the George Shearing Quintet minus two here. The combination of their unique sonic harmony and perpetually moving together throughout leaves the listener astounded at the imposing scale of the sound that they produce. Stunning stuff. While one might question the absence of bass, percussion and amplifiers I found this void to open up other "aural pathways" and entrances to the unique sonorities of these well matched voices.
The virtuosity and command of so many musical idioms amongst this group is simply spellbinding. The technical mastery of Garland's soprano and tenor sax is evenly countered by his more reflective and brooding bass clarinet. This brought about a welcome change of seasons to the world tour if you will. The sparkle and punch offered by Messrs Keezer and Locke result in their four hands (and feet) tantamount to a full orchestra's worth of sound.
Special mention to guest vocalist, Jacqui Dankworth, who sang "It Happens Quietly" composed by her late father Sir John Dankworth, with the trio. This melody with Mancini-like influences (from a 1968 movie score) brought the first set to a somewhat pensive close thanks to Jacqui's simple, direct and heartfelt delivery which was equally supported by Keezer's sensitive interpretation as well.
Not to be left out, mucho plaudits to the wonderful Tom Cawley Trio providing heat before and after the Main Attraction. Tom's characteristic self-deprecating remarks ("you're REALLY hear to check out Geoff, I know...) fell on deaf ears says this scribe as their unique treatments of jazz standards like "Dolphin Dance, What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Billies Bounce" demonstrated an elastic and unpredictable group interplay that was not only refreshing but did not take a back seat to anyone else performing that night.