A few weeks ago, I went to see the TransAtlantic Collective play the JazzBar. (I’d have written about it sooner, but I got waylaid by the London Jazz Festival; and a rather nasty cold, that laid me low for several days.)
Somehow, I had got it into my head that they were a trio; I was wrong: they are a quintet. Except that the trumpeter was called away, so the night I saw them, they played as a quartet, with saxophonist Patrick Cornelius as the sole lead instrument. (The following night in Glasgow, they were joined by trumpeter Ryan Quigley on trumpet and Konrad Wiszniewski on tenor for what sounds like a highly interactive gig split between two venues across the city!)
The JazzBar is a funny venue – I have been there many times, but I don’t really feel like I have a handle on it. It was pretty quiet to start with, lacking in atmosphere from the audience – it was a nasty evening outside – but later on it got busy – with lots of people who were there not to hear the music, but to drink. The hub-bub and bar-sounds threatened to drown out the band. The capacity for bar staff to clink glasses at the quietest moments is quite amazing. (Still, they are only doing their job, I know…) It is a small intimate venue, and I think I should like it more than I do – it is just that most of the audience seems to pay to get in just so they can talk over the music: and it pisses me off.
The band were excellent. They played a mixture of standards and tunes of their new album, Travelling Song – the title track is lovely – including a lovely piece of Freudian Ellingtontonia accidentally named “In A Semi Mental Mood”.
Each member of the band shone – Cornelius was excellent on alto sax, bassist Michael Janisch inventive and solid, and drummer Paul Wiltgen (who shared a lot of the writing duties, too – a talented guy) was both energetic and subtle. Pianist John Escreet took a bit longer to warm up, but be played some great solos in the second set.