Tag Archives: Liran Donan

Led Bib. London, February 2013.

When I was in London last month, I went back to one of my old haunts, the Vortex jazz club in Dalston. I had noticed a tweet from a band I like that they were playing whilst I was in town, booked a ticket, and here I was. Well, after an excellent meal and three bottles of wine with friends. (That was about a bottle of wine each of those drinking. I would notice that the next morning.)

Led Bib are an interesting band. Part of the modern British jazz movement – stable-mates with Polar Bear (and occasional band mates, too) – they have two alto saxes in the front line. Their music is kind of danceable improvised-jazz-funk-dub – with a nod across to Ornette Coleman. I guess that’s to be expected with two altos.

It was a great gig.

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Brit Jazz Fest: Led Bib and Phronesis at Ronnie Scott’s. London, August 2010.

Last night found me at Ronnie Scott’s for the second night of their Brit Jazz Fest, a double bill featuring Phronesis and Led Bib. A full – and young – house for these two, very different bands bodes well.

Phronesis are a piano trio, but the dominant voice seems to be Jaspar Holby’s bass. Perhaps taking their lead from other European trios like EST and the Tord Gustavsen trio, they have an energetic yet subtle presence – drummer Mark Guiliana combining the difficult trick of playing softly but with power, at times just swishing the air with his brushes.

Their set was interesting but ultimately their complex music failed to work its magic on me: their use of quirky rhythms and jerky time signatures made the music feel spiky and angular, and I had to concentrate to keep up.

Led Bib were a very different prospect. From the very start, they had me grinning broadly: there is something infectiously fun about their music. Drummer Mark Holub seems to do most of the writing, but they felt very much a unit. An unorthodox line-up – two alto saxophones plus a keyboards, bass and drums rhythm section – they manage to create incredibly funky improvised punk-jazz. Maybe with a touch of heavy metal thrown into the mix, too.

Electric bassist Liran Donin is central to their sound, putting down line after line of danceable bass. Toby McLaren’s keyboards added a lot of flavour – he was getting some great sounds from his treated electric piano, as well as playing the grand piano – whilst Holub’s drums were pushing the whole thing along with a mixture of rock and jazz beats. Over the top the two altoists – Chris Williams and Pete Grogan – were given the space to improvise, sometimes together, chasing each other up and down, and sometimes in vivid, cascading solos.

The whole is like a funkier, danceable version of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, without the really out-there free phases. Watching the quintet, it felt like it shouldn’t work, but actually, it works very, very well. I’m not sure if it would be so good in the comfort of one’s own home – it felt like it needed the live setting – but it works brilliantly live. Now I want to see them somewhere where the audience could dance – that’d be some gig!

Spitalfields’ Summer Stew Jazz Festival. London, September 2009.

I went to Spitalfields’ jazz festival this weekend. I wrote a short review which was posted by the LondonJazz blog. I was going to post it here too, but frankly I might as well just post a link to it here. So I have.

What LondonJazz didn’t do was take pictures from all the bands though – so I shall post those…

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