REVIEW: Freddie Gavita Quartet at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Freddie Gavita at Pizza Express Jazz Club
Photo credit: © Patrick Hadfield

Freddie Gavita Quartet. Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, 25 June 2018
(Review and pictures by Patrick Hadfield)


In the intimate venue of the Press Express Jazz Club, this felt very much like home turf for trumpeter Freddie Gavita: in the company of friends – he seemed to know half the audience – he had a certain self assurance as he moved on the stage. It wasn't a show of arrogance but an entirely justified confidence.

In part it may have been because he was in good hands with his regular band of highly accomplished musicians: pianist Tom Cawley, bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren, all of whom played on Gavita's debut CD, last year's Transient.

But also his writing is highly effective. Most of the tunes the band played came from Transient. Rooted firmly in neo-bop, it seemed as if the band were using the Blue Note vernacular to create a hard bop for the 21st century. Cawley in particular invoked Maiden Voyage-period Herbie Hancock, playing lots of block chords, and all three of them powered the music along, allowing Gavita the space to solo.

He's not a flashy player: hardly moving in stage (though there isn't much room to roam), he played with fluency rather than theatrics. His solos had depth to them, developing and building gently.

Tom Cawley with Freddie Gavita
Photo credit: © Patrick Hadfield

When not playing, Gavita listened intently to the other members of the band. Each of the quartet reacted with empathy to the others' solos, Gavita and Cawley smiling joyously at what others had played.

Maddren was working too hard to smile. He is a drummer who seems to get better each time I see him play (and he started off pretty good). He is a busy drummer – there's a lot going on in his playing – without being overbearing: he is both quiet and powerful. Cawley's solos showed his more contemplative side.

Amongst the tunes from Transient, they played one new piece, Uprising. Slower than most of the other numbers, it had an emotional weight: Cawley's opening solo was full of space, but every note counted. Playing a muted trumpet, Gavita's solo was powerful, building and building. The bass and drums dropped out, leaving just piano and trumpet playing together for several minutes. When the drums came back in, it was almost shocking.

They closed the evening with Spezzatura, which Gavita explained was an Italian dialect word meaning "appearing carefree and relaxed, but actually carefully planned". A piece of modern, free flowing hard bop with some lovely walking bass from Gourlay, it summed up the evening.

(The Freddie Gavita Quartet are playing Dereham Jazz Society, Norfolk on Thursday 28 June; Fleece Jazz, Colchester on Friday 29 June; JATP Jazz in Bradford on 6th July; the Watermill, Dorking on 24th July; and Cadogan Hall, London 27th July, with more gigs coming later in the year.)

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.
Calum Gourley and James Maddren with Freddie Gavita
Photo credit: © Patrick Hadfield

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