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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jenny Williams Quartet/Alec Harper Quartet @ The Spice of Life. May 9.


Jenny Williams (vcl); Ed Blunt (pno); Gili Lopes (bs); Dan Ingamells (dms).
Alec Harper (ten); Matt Robinson (pno); Calum Gourley (bs); Dave Hamblett (dms).
(Review by Lance). Photos by Joanna Wallfisch.
A two band session featuring two very different quartets. The opening set saw the very young looking Harper Quartet get things rolling, although not rocking, with an introspective original by the leader - Walking in a 
Foreign Land. Harper has a dry sound that suited the mood of the piece. Another original - The Last Episode - moved things up a notch with some  fast, hard-blowing tenor that would have done credit to Ernie Watts last night at Ronnie's. He dug in deeply justifying the applause that followed. Another epic performance came from pianist Robinson who displayed a Tyneresque approach that didn't hurt a bit.
A rather beautiful ballad - Everything I Love - displayed the romantic side then deeper emotions as it became climatic before subsiding back to tenderness. More emotive playing in a piece dedicated to Harper's late grandfather Toby followed by a journey to Never Never Land. Hamblett had a big feature on this one whilst Gourley steadfast and strong all night held everything together.
The Jenny Williaams Quartet, not surprisingly, centred around the leader's vocals. An American folksy jazz voice reminiscent at times of Joni Mitchell and other singers who I can't quite pinpoint Williams pitches perfectly even when shooting off at a tangent with some amazing vocalistics. Piano, bass and drums kept things moving along.
A varied program that included Nick Drake's Fruit Tree, a piece by Elisha Keyes, My Ship, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, The Magic of Love and Night in Tunisia. Alec Harper joined in on tenor for several numbers which added an extra dimension to the proceedings.
All in all another good night at The Spice although the attendance seemed to be a little below the norm.
Lance.

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