REVIEW: Alyn Cosker Quartet plus Laura Jurd's Dinosaur at Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow (Celtic Connections)

The Alyn Cosker Group playing at the
Festival Theatre during the 2016 Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Alyn Cosker Quartet/Dinosaur
(Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow, 2 February 2017. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

This double bill formed part of the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, the festival that draws together many genres of music and links them with Scottish traditions.

It was fascinating to hear Dinosaur on what was the last date of their seven-date tour. I had heard the band on the first date of the tour at the Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (Jazzlines). I was particularly interested in how the music had changed and grown over the tour. In his LondonJazz News review, Peter Bacon was very enthusiastic about the way the band was developing the material on their album Together, As One, extending it and bringing a very cohesive feel to the collective sound. Peter did, however, comment that he would have liked to have heard more from Laura Jurd on trumpet and that her contributions seemed restricted to “adding trumpet comments and shorter phrases’” in the style of late Miles.

On the Glasgow gig, Jurd’s trumpet was much more to the fore and her playing featured longer and more extended lines, thus contributing to a group cohesion that struck me as being even stronger than on the Birmingham gig. Laura’s voice on trumpet also seemed to have become more forceful, and there were fewer moments when the influence of Miles seemed dominant. The integration between Jurd and Elliot Galvin on keys was impressive and there was none of the occasional “over-extension” that Peter had noted.

There was one major personnel change with Tom Herbert depping for Conor Chaplin on electric bass; he fitted in extremely well adding very powerful funky bass lines. As before, I was immensely impressed by the drumming of Corrie Dick, always providing a forceful swing, but never at the expense of the overall cohesion of the group.

The Alyn Cosker Quartet headlined the concert. They began their set with two tracks from the CD Lyn’s Une recorded in 2009, but then launched into new material that is being recorded for a new album. The quartet was joined by the two singers who will appear in the recording, Rachel Lightbody and the singer/songwriter Eddi Reader, both singing one song. These two songs were, for me, the highlight of the set fitting in as they did with the overall “crossover” philosophy of the Celtic Connections Festival.

The instrumental numbers that made up the greater part of the set were mostly up-tempo numbers with a strong jazz-rock and funk feel with outstanding individual playing from the members of the quartet, Cosker on drums, Steve Hamilton on keys, Davie Dunsmuir on guitar and Colin Cunningham on bass. Great solos from each player, but I missed the close integration and the flowing interaction of Dinosaur’s music.

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