REPORT/ PHOTOS: Ben Crosland Quintet The Ray Davies Songbook Album Launch at the 606 Club

L-R:Steve Lodder, Dave O'Higgins, Ben Crosland, Seb de Krom, John Etheridge
Photo credit and ©: Alan Ainsworth Photography

Sebastian writes:

I caught part of the album launch of Ben Crosland's album The Ray Davies Songbook Wednesday July 13th, in which the bassist/bandleader was joined by Dave O'Higgins (tenor and soprano saxes), John Etheridge (guitar), Steve Lodder (piano and keyboard) and Sebastiaan de Krom (drums).

We have covered the origins of the project with a feature/ interview about it by Stephen Graham (LINK). What the live show brought out was the different approaches and levels of intervention that Crosland has taken in the arrangements, the varying amount of the kind of raw material that jazz musicians like to get working on: cross-rhythms, colourful chord progressions, the potential for intensity builds, etc. In the first half, a tune like Tired of Waiting they didn't get much rope, the tune was just allowed to be its floaty self. On the other hamd,  I Need You was much punchier. Dave O'Higgins led off in aggressive/assertive mode, and John Etheridge found his way into the idiom by creating a panoply of reverb effects. Similarly in Sunny Afternoon, Etheridge was producing all kinds of wah-wah sounds, while Steve Lodder with his inventive range of keyboard timbres. Lodder's chameleon-like adaptability has been described as the 'glue' in this band, and his ability to bring character to individual songs with his range of sounds is remarkable and refreshing.

Lodder was also finding all sorts of unexpected harmonic corners in Well Respected Man at the start of the second set. That song, into which Crosland has inserted an insistent dominant pedal for the jazz musicians to really dig into, also gave the opportunity for a an aggressive and expansive drum solo from Seb de Krom. The energy level rose much more in the second set and the audience responded too. Sunny Afternoon caught the rising tide of audience approval. And Crosland's bass-led, funked-up version All the day and all of the night gave exactly the right kind of rhythmic goading that is everyday meat and drink to John Etheridge. This is an unusual project, at one level it might even seem a curious obstacle course for jazz musicians to navigate, but the band gradually won over a nearly full 606 Club, and seemed to be doing it with ease and room to spare.

L-R: Dave O'Higgins, Ben Crosland, Seb de Krom
Photo credit and ©: Alan Ainsworth Photography

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