Tag Archives: The Lot

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!

Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia. Edinburgh, December 2008.

Last night, I went to see Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia play at the Lot in Edinburgh. It was a very similar line up to the concert Andersen, Smith and Alyn Cosker played during the Edinburgh Jazz Festival – but something was missing, last night.

I’m not sure what to was: whether it was the weather, the venue (which normally I think is great – it is intimate, one is close the stage, and usually it works well), the audience (a largely middle aged crowd, for a change – I felt like I was the youngest there!) – or, just maybe, the musicians: perhaps they were feeling slightly jaded, since they are half way through a tour of Scotland, promoting their new CD (which has had some great reviews – and I picked up a copy last night. I have picked up a lot of music over the past couple of days!).

This was a good set, but not a great set – unlike the summer’s trio performance, or Smith and Andersen’s previous duets I saw in Edinburgh (almost exactly two years ago – memories of that evening may be influencing me) and Islay some time before that. It lacked a bit of intensity and excitement. Possibly, my own expectations were simply too high.

The music was lovely though; and the CD is pretty good, too!

Chris Grieve’s “Islay Quartet”. Edinburgh, January 2008.

Last month, I went to see the Chris Grieve Islay Quartet at the Lot in Edinburgh. According to my sources, they played a storming gig at the Islay Jazz Festival last year (hence their name…). It was a while since I had been to a jazz gig – this was the first of the year; and I took my camera with me.

Here are some of the pictures I took – there are a lot more on flickr…. Mostly they are of Chris Grieve (trombone), Ryna Quigley (trumpet) and Phil bancroft (tenor and alto sax).

It was a great gig – Quigley and Bancroft were particularly storming.

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The Necks. Edinburgh, November 2007.

I don’t think I have been to The Lot since the Jazz Festival in July – too long, really. On Wednesday, following on from a rather interesting wine tasting of some delicious wines from Mas de Daumas Gassac, I made up for that and stumbled along to see the Necks. Described by the promoter as “not entirely avant-garde, nor minimalist, nor ambient, nor jazz”, it was a fair bet it would be a quiet night and I’d have no trouble getting in.

So I arrived late, hoping to sit propping up the bar. I was wrong. The gig started late but not late enough for me, and it was busy. Very busy. The promoter – a friend for over twenty years (we once shared a flat) – was at the door, preventing latecomers from getting in: the music was so soft, she didn’t want to disturb the mood.

Through the door, we could hear a gentle repetitive piano figure; other punters moaned, worried that there wouldn’t be a suitable break in the music until the interval. To avert rebellion, we were let in – quietly.

There were no seats; I went upstairs and leant against the wall, unable to see the band, until I noticed a couple of empty seats tucked right down at the end. I snuck down – the music was still quiet.

I had a great view of the Necks. Actually, I had a great view of their necks: from the balcony, that was all I could see.

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Slowly, gently, imperceptibly, the music built up. The repetitious nature of the music reminded me of Steve Reich or Terry Riley; it was hypnotic – like gamelan by a jazz trio. Slowly the music subtly changed, the piano leading, then the bass. It was very effective, growing like thunder rumbling in the distance.

The crescendo built over thirty or forty minutes, reached a climax, a gently faded. In the interval, I chatted to the promoter: I wondered whether they ever got bored, whether the band ever felt like rocking out.

The next set was less abstract than the first – the drummer kept a rhythm on the cymbals; and after forty five minutes, they started to rock out, loudly. I can’t quite remember how they got there (I can’t ignore the possibility that perhaps the repetition lulled me to sleep – there were many people with their eyes closed; listening intensely to the music, I’m sure). The drummer must have needed to free up his wrists.

It was really interesting music: much closer to minimalism than jazz (not a band to swing), but using the standard piano trio format.

And good that it was so busy – I had thought new music (well, newish), improvised music doesn’t have much of an audience: clearly, they were keen to come out on a cold, blustery November evening to see an Australian trio; even if there wasn’t much to see.