REVIEW: Paul Booth's The Patchwork Project at the 606 Club

Paul Booth. Photo credit: Melody McLaren

Paul Booth's The Patchwork Project 
(606 Club, 29th July 2014. Review by Brian Blain)

Warm weather or August holidays? Were these the reasons why the 606 wasn’t rammed with percussion students last week to hear the great Clarence Penn - chosen by everyone from Freddie Hubbard and Betty Carter, to the illustrious Maria Schneider Orchestra where he has worked alongside bassist Christian McBride - and master congalero and assorted ‘toys’ Talvin Singh in a band assembled by tenor/flautist Paul Booth?

Like Ben Castle, Paul’s session work and touring duties, particularly with Stevie Winwood, tend to diminish his profile on the London scene,so we were lucky that work in progress on a new album, The Patchwork Project, brought together not just the aforementioned percussion masters, but Steve Hamilton, brilliant Glasgow pianist, dynamic bassist Michael Janisch, lyrical and heavily Spanish influenced guitarist Giorgio Serci and the thrilling voice - a bit lost in the mix in the first set - of Nina Ferro.

Kicking off with multiple handclaps, more complex than the usual House foundation of the two and three beat clave pattern a Brazilian theme with Booth soloing on flute, the rhythm shifted to a more intense Cuban feel as Hamilton’s percussive piano solo lifted Janisch and the percussion duo to a different level .Almost impossible to keep track of the ‘patchwork’- a smidgeon of reggae here, a crazy mix of Bollywood/Celtic there,even a little prog rock with Paul’s sumptuous bass flute and sitter-in Richard Rodney’s guitar sustains creating beautiful harmonies.

A piece introduced as free improv provided moments of calm which gradually morphed into another gentle bossa for Serci’s exquisite guitar, and Booth’s beautiful tenor sound. I could pat myself on the back when it was back announced as Quietude, a tribute to Jobim: I was actually keeping up, having spotted the references.

But for the ‘real jazz’ heads it was the introduction of another sitter in, the magnificent Scots trumpet, Ryan Quigley that really took this fantastic band into another world, especially on two Horace Silver-ish themes, a breezy Bojo and a fast Latin/jazz groove, A Million Miles from the El Morroco Tearooms, with Paul himself whacking a tambourine and Janisch and Penn grinning like two people off their heads to close out the evening in a spirit that reminded us why we joined in the first place. Magnificent and exhilarating.

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