I went to two gigs on consecutive evenings last week, something I try to avoid – but the second was arranged long ago, and when I learned about the first I didn’t want to miss it. They were sufficiently different not to clash.
The first was eyeshutight at the JazzBar. A piano trio, they played with passion and intensity; the first number – or maybe several pieces concatenated – lasted over half an hour. The pieces – or perhaps sections – twist around their themes, as the musicians shift rhythms and tempo. The trio have that second sense built up over lots of gigs, I imagine, happy to follow each other wherever they may go. A very engrossing, enjoyable gig. (I picked up their latest CD at the gig, “Resonance”, which I reviewed for LondonJazz. It’s well worth a listen.)
The JazzBar managed something quite spectacular that evening: both a very sparse crowd and people determined to talk over the music! To be fair, it was only one table of six who chatted through the first half, and they decided the music wasn’t for them; but that left only six of us in the audience. We were very appreciative, though! I hope eyeshutight give Edinburgh another go – we’ll have to see if we can get more people out next time!
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The following evening I headed down to Peebles, where a friend of mine had grabbed me a ticket to see Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock in duet. I realised that I first saw Tommy play as a teenager – thirty years ago, before he left Scotland to study at Berklee. I have seen him, many, many times since – including with Brian Kellock. They’ve just released a second CD of their duets, “Whispering of the Stars”, a companion piece to their earlier outing “Bezique”.
Playing a set consisting solely of standards – most going back to the 1920s and 30s (only a Chick Corea piece and Ellington’s “Single Petal of a Rose” came from the second half of the twentieth century). “The Surrey With The Fringe on Top”, ” I Want To Be Happy”, “Stardust” and many others filled the two sets.
Whilst the tunes may have been dated, the music was timeless. It seems like Kellock and Smith are playing better than ever. Kellock impresses me more each time I see him, and the duo setting with Smith gives him freedom to really explore the tunes; his left hand keeping the rhythm going and allowing Smith to stretch out. That just two people can create such good music from what might be considered hackneyed sources is impressive.