Tag Archives: Julian Arguelles

Tommy Smith Sextet. The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, c1986-1990.

These photographs confuse me. I have no recollection of the gig in the slightest, and I didn’t record the date. The backdrop shows the Queens Hall.

Tommy Smith said by email that he put the sextet together before recording Paris, which was released in 1992 – but that only adds to my confusion because I wasn’t living in Edinburgh at that time!

I can’t think how I could have forgotten such a good line up – Tommy, Steve Williamson and Julian Arguelles on saxes, Guy Barker on trumpet, Terje Gewelt on bass and, Tommy’s email said, Jason Rebello on piano. I think it looks like Ian Froman on drums behind Tommy in one of the pictures.

Trumpeter Colin Steele was in negatives on the same film; Tommy Smith says he’s never had Colin in his band, so I presume that Colin was providing the support.

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Julian Arguelles. “Playtime”, Edinburgh, August 2014.

The only jazz I saw during the Edinburgh Fringe was a show by Julian Arguelles with the “Playtime” trio of Tom Bancroft on drums, Euan Burton on bass and Graeme Stephen on guitar. A month or so before, Arguelles had played on of the best gigs at the Jazz Festival; this was an opportunity to see him with some musicians he was less familiar with, in a much more intimate setting. And it should be no surprise that it was a very different gig.

The set list was similar, mostly culled from Arguelles’ latest CD, Circularity (with Dave Holland on bass, Martin France on drums, and John Taylor on piano. An experiment line up and a superb record – but again, a very different sound!). Stephen’s ethereal guitar made it a much more spacious sound. Coupled with Bancroft’s open rhythms, the result was a freer sound: less certain and more experimental.

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Leah Gough-Cooper / Hanna Paulsberg Quartet and Julian Arguelles Quartet. Edinburgh Jazz Festival, July 2014.

I hadn’t seen Julian Arguelles play for several years, and then I get to see him twice in a week…

First up though was Leah Gough-Cooper and Hanna Paulsberg Quartet. I saw Gough-Cooper play in last year’s festival with a sextet, and whilst I thought the playing was excellent, the compositions didn’t work for me – they seemed took busy, as if trying to fit in everything she could do.

The tunes she and Paulsberg brought to the party this year were of a different order – simpler, but with more depth; essentially more mature. With Gough-Cooper on alto and Paulsberg on tenor, they had gutsy voices, ably helped by Calum Gourlay on bass. They played a really enjoyable set.

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Arguelles set which followed was something else, though. A different league. Confident and assured, subtle and unshowy, the music was engrossing. They started off with several pieces from a suite and finished with a piece called “Iron Pyrites” apparently abstracted from a Stone Roses’ tune (with any of the Roses elements well and truly disposed of), and in between played a wealth of exciting music.

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Arguelles was helped by his band – Kit Downes on piano, Sam Lasserson on bass and James Maddren on drums. Downes is always a pleasure and Maddren, who regularly plays in Downes’ trio, was a revelation – he could let rip in the less intimate, amplified setting. Together, the quartet were an excellent unit.

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This was a wonderful gig, one of my favourites of the Festival, and I’m looking forward to seeing Arguelles again in Playtime’s Fringe programme on August 20!

Celebrating Lennie Tristano at Edinburgh Jazz Festival. July 2014.

I’m not sure why Edinburgh Jazz Festival programmed a series of gigs around the influential pianist Lennie Tristano, but it was an interesting collection of performances over two gigs (with an extra bonus later week).

The support act on both gigs were the Roby Glod Trio. Taking Tristano’s tunes (and those of his acolytes, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh) as a starting point, saxophonist Glod lay down dense, fast sheets of notes. Tristano was one of the instigators of “cool jazz”; I found Glod’s two sets distinctly cold: interesting to observe, not part of it at all.

The opposite was true of the Kenny Ellis Trio’s set. With a chameleon-like Brian Kellock on piano and an alto player (whose name I missed…), bassist Ellis brought some warmth back to the proceedings. Both Kellock and the alto player took to their roles, the saxophonist sounding uncannily like Konitz.

Kellock has a remarkable ability to adopt others’ styles whilst sounding completely himself. He brought that skill back to the evening session when he occupied the piano stool for the Martin Kershaw Quintet. They played a wonderful set.

Kershaw on alto was joined by Julian Arguelles on tenor, with Ed Kelly on bass and the ever-excellent Alyn Cosker on drums. The contrast with Glod’s opening set was even more striking, with Kershaw and Arguelles proving Louis Armstrong’s saying that “…Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot…” In the place of Glod’s onslaught, the saxophonists brought a thoughtfulness to play, and produced some lovely music. Where other musicians might produce a torrent of notes, whilst backing a solo by Kershaw, Arguelles played just one over several choruses – a wonderful example of restraint (and circular breathing).

Their subjects – Tristano, Konitz and Marsh – informed their playing but didn’t dominate. They adopted the dynamics of those relationships without inhibiting their own creativity.

This was a lovely gig, with some wonderful music.

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Later in the festival, I caught another gig that by design it accident echoed Kershaw’s quintet. The Pal Nyberg Quartet played two sets featuring Nyberg’s originals – and a host of numbers by Tristano, Konitz and Marsh, all of which had been featured by Kershaw. It has a very different feel, not least because of the instrumentation – guitar, tenor, bass and drums. This made it feel a bit fussy to my ears – enjoyable enough, but string in comparison to Kershaw’s outing.

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