REVIEW: Leo Richardson Quartet at the Spice of Life (2018 EFG LJF)

Leo Richardson  (with Tim Thornton)
iPhone snap by Sebastian

Leo Richardson Quartet
(Spice of Life Soho. 21 November 2018. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review by Jade Lauren)

Hunting for audience engagement at a jazz gig can be tantamount to searching for UFOs in the age of smartphones. Having said that, swiftly following the intro for the opening song, Blues For Joe, the room dropped their phones, piped down their mumbling and fully engaged with the band. By the end of the evening there had been a generous lathering of whooping, cheering, applause and the odd cough for dramatic effect. And too right. We were treated to offerings old and new, with a sneak peak of the Leo Richardson Quartet's new album which, if last night was anything to go by, will be just as good if not better than the last.

Chris Draper has managed to master rapturous cascading drum fills that just fall short of blowing the bloody doors and windows out of the place. He exhibited some restraint in the moments that warranted, so we all left with tympanic membranes intact. Cheers, Chris.

Also on the rhythm section was the consistently brilliant bassist Tim Thornton. At one point I couldn't tell if Tim was really, really in to one of the songs or about to fall asleep. I'm going to go with the former for the purposes of this review. Saying that, cheers for not falling asleep at the wheel, Tim.

Elisha’s Song is a rather tender excursion from the rather exuberant swinging album. Live, on the other hand, it has evolved into an absolute departure from reality thanks to Rick Simpson’s majestic meandering over the keys, transporting the room somewhere otherworldly for a few minutes before cracking on with the tune. Saved me an air fare. Cheers, Rick.

I spent a good portion of the gig sending clips of the show to Leo’s father who is a friend of mine. For reasons beyond his control he couldn’t make it, but thanks to technology and my propensity to ignore standard house rules when it comes to recording, Jim managed to appreciate what botched footage I could provide. He remarked that he was incredibly proud of, and completely blown away by, the level of composition his son has managed to accomplish. I agree wholeheartedly.

There was a song from the debut album that I adore called Mr. Skid. The intro to the song sounds like two lifelong friends bursting out of an establishment after a heavy drinking session, professing their love and brilliance for one another and then, as the rest of the song almost narrates, attempting to continue their session into any establishment that will have them. Repeatedly rebuffed, but valiant and triumphant regardless. In lieu of not having this song on the setlist, I foolheartedly saw fit to re-enact the sentiment of the song as my friend and I stumbled over (via nibbles at Valentino’s; standard practice) to Ronnie’s. There we managed to catch the brilliant Mark Kavuma hosting the late set.

The rest I can't remember as well because, quite frankly, I got too pissed. Sorry Mark.