Colin Steele Quintet. Edinburgh, January 2009.

I saw the Colin Steele Quintet play at the Lot – one of a series of gigs featuring Steele in different settings coming up in Edinburgh and thereabouts over the next few months.

I have seen Steele play a lot recently – and it is always an exciting gig. This time around, there seemed to be a new maturity to the band’s sound – there was a lot more space than the last time I saw them play, at Islay. This may have come from the setting – a small club in Edinburgh as opposed to a hungover village hall on a Sunday lunchtime (which, believe me, has its own special charm!). But I think real change was in bassist Calum Gourlay: back in September, he was playing his first gig with the band, and perhaps it showed. (Maybe he washungover, too!) This time, he was on top of the music, playing with great confidence, and allowing the rest of the band to stretch out more, too.

This allowed Dave Milligan a lot more freedom, and he took several excellent extended solos. Milligan’s new found freedom also allowed saxophonist Phil Bancroft and trumpeter Steele more space: the whole band was freed up.

They might also have been helped by playing both a reduced set, given them the time to develop each tune, and Steele picking some tunes the band haven’t played recently.

Wherever the maturity came from, everything seemed to come together last week – this was a cracking gig, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

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