REVIEW: Elliot Galvin Trio at Pizza Express Dean Street (2017 EFG LJF)

Elliot Galvin Trio
L-R: Tom McCredie, Elliot Galvin, Corrie Dick


Elliot Galvin Trio
(Pizza Express Dean Street, 16 November 2017. EFG LJF. Review by Mike Collins)

A quietly ringing, high pitched note, insinuated itself into the hushed atmosphere at the beginning of Elliot Galvin’s set at Pizza Express Jazz Club. As was to happen often, it wasn’t immediately obvious where the sound was coming from. On this occasion it was Corrie Dick, gently rubbing the rim of a small metal bowl place on his snare drum. Spacious chiming chords from the piano circled the note and a slightly unexpected, pastoral ambience settled, an extended prelude to a stealthily infectious, dancing groove, with Galvin using a synth sound in his left hand to complement Tom McCredie’s propulsive bass hook. Unexpected was a theme of the set.

That first tune, New Model Army, was followed by Lobster Cracking which seemed to pack all the possible variants of unexpected into one piece. Dense, helter-skelter percussive sections on the piano switched suddenly to stomping, rocky riffs, then stopped in mid-stomp and switched back to the helter-skelter. For all the air of wild spontaneity, the trio moved from one to the other without blinking. This was carefully constructed music, as well as being riotously performed.

Galvin’s trio was voted European Jazz Artist of the year in 2014 just as they released their first album. A third is due in January, The Influencing Machine, from which much of the material we were hearing came. On this showing, it should further establish them as a formidable presence on the European scene. There’s Galvin’s writing. The moods, textures, grab-you-by-the-throat maelstroms, other worldly sounds and, dammit, get up and dance grooves, are woven together into seamless, sometimes white knuckle, rides. And then there’s the playing.

Galvin can make the piano do anything for him and it always seems to have q quirky twist or kink in it. JJ had an irresistible funky pulse over which a spiraling, acerbic, melody unfurled before a blistering, frenetic work out from Galvin. Scurrying runs, punctuated by fierce percussive episodes with the judicious use of an elbow. Bees, Dogs and Flies was all elegant counterpoint and traces of melody, but twisted by the careful placement of paper on the piano strings. It would have been easy to miss Corrie Dick’s part in all this. The whole performance seemed to float on the presence of his drums, often telepathically anticipating some switch back turn in a solo passage or providing a pin drop coda to a piece.

This was an absorbing gig; arresting music demanding attention and exhilarating playing.

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