REVIEW: Gabriel Latchin Trio – The Moon and I album launch at Pizza Express Dean Street

Gabriel Latchin, May 2019
Photo credit: Roser Jorba

Gabriel Latchin Trio The Moon and I album launch
(Pizza Express Dean Street. 8 May 2019. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Gabriel Latchin has defined clearly who he wants to be as a musician. In a sense, therefore, he has already pigeon-holed himself. As Mike Collins put it rather elegantly in his CD review of the first album Gabriel Latchin Trio (link below): "Gabriel Latchin wears his inspirations clearly on his (CD) sleeve", and goes on to cite them: "From Tatum through Bill Evans, Cedar Walton, Phineas Newborn, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and on". In the year since that album was released, that proposition, those terms of engagement, unsurprisingly, have not changed much at all, as he explained in a recent interview with Rachel Coombes (link also below). Last night at Pizza Express, for example, he made a point of specifically paying homage to both Barry Harris and Cedar Walton. And yet...those slowly shifting constants are really only a part of the story.

And that is because, when one hears any musician, and in particular any improviser, it is worth remembering the dictum of Charles Mingus: "In my music, I'm trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it's difficult is because I'm changing all the time." What struck me about last night is how far and how quickly things have moved on in a year.

When I think back to the album launch for the first album it is obvious that there has above all been a major uptick in self-awareness, in assuredness, in the ability to settle straight into a tune and to portray its essence. And then one starts to look for the reasons and the explanations for that. The fact, for example, that supplies of the first album have all but sold out must have helped. And also the good fortune that the Spotify "Coffee Table Jazz Playlist" has taken a shine to Gabriel and that one track dedicated to one of his children has had 850,000 streams; that can't have hurt either.

Latchin  –  the British jazz community has form here  – is naturally quite diffident when he explains what he does, but that modesty now comes across a trope, a shtick, and really cannot disguise a sense of purpose about what he continues to do which is absolutely solid. The most recent tune that the trio played last night, For B.H. in praise of Barry Harris was also the most extrovert and exuberant of the pieces in the programme. Maybe there's a trend here.

There can be other reasons why there were quite such a natural ease and a flow about last night. The rhythm players Steve Brown on drums and Dario Di Lecce on bass impart such obvious clarity and class to the proceedings, it is bound to instil and nurture a sense of confidence. Di Lecce as a bass player naturally thinks, hears and plays low and in an anchoring way. That came across particularly in You and the Night and the Music. And Brown has such a definition, a crispness in his sound, and also an utterly reliable sixth sense of the level to be playing at, he never fails to bring joy.

Latchin is increasingly in demand as an accompanist for singers – he recently took on the role of music director of a Claire Martin/Ray Gelato show for example  and works regularly in Sara Dowling's increasingly busy group – but as the chocks and inhibitions fall away, his trajectory, his sense of enjoyment and his profile as a trio-leader are all rising, and rightly so.


 LINKS: Mike Collins' review of the first album Gabriel Latchin Trio
An early LJN sighting of Gabriel Latchin in 2011
With Renee Fleming and Christian McBride at Wigmore Hall, 2016
Interview with Rachel Coombes, 2019

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