REVIEW: Get the Blessing at the Lantern in Bristol.

Get the Blessing at the 2014 Berlin Jazz Festival
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Get the Blessing
(The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol. September 13th.Review by Jon Turney)

A home town gig for long-enduring avant-jazz quartet Get the Blessing is something of a rarity these days,so the Bristol launch for their fifth CD, Astronautilus was a hot ticket. They added to the celebratory vibe by avoiding use of the stage at one end of the Colston Hall’s Lantern and setting up along one of the long sides of the smaller venue’s space, getting as near their audience as possible.

And the locals packed in to hear a run through of all the new music from the CD. Their signature sound is intact. Rock steady drummer Clive Deamer lays down beats that vary from simple to teasingly complex. His Portishead bandmate Jim Barr supplies bone-jarringly insistent bass playing like some jazz-rock reincarnation of John Entwhistle. Horn players Pete Judge on trumpet and Jake McMurchie caper and cavort over the top. The new pieces, though, are generally darker in hue and thicker of texture than the earlier work. The shift toward more use of electronics by the horn players apparent on their last recording OCDC has gone a little further on the new one.

The horns often alternate, one riffing while the other solos, with Judge punctutating reflective electric trumpet comments with brief flares of heat, McMurchie typically more emphatic on tenor, and both spending time crouching over their individual electronic consoles to layer samples, echos or loops over what they just played.

Some of the new pieces (Green Herring, Monkfish) have the familiar anthemic flavour, some are more exploratory. Even the less flamboyant ones still have plenty of bounce and the home town audience seem well-satisfied with the latest stage in the band’s development. The half hour of slightly more approachable old favourites that followed rounded things off in fine style – entirely relaxed but delivered with the precision born of long familiarity. With a stable personnel for fifteen years, Get the Blessing are a supremely comfortable working unit. The new stuff shows they want to use that mutual ease and confidence to make some edgier music. Something worth celebrating.

The London launch of Astronautilus is at Rich Mix on October 16th as part of the Match&Fuse Festival

LINKS: CD Review Lope and Antilope
REVIEW: Get the Blessing in Berlin 2014

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