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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stravena @ Hoochie Coochie 8/5/13

Sarah Travena (sop sax/flute) Mark Williams (guitar) Alan Law (piano) John Pope (bass) Mark Robertson (Drums)
(Review by Ed Case)
A very well attended night at Hoochie Coochie kicked off with a flawless arrangement of No More Blues, Sarah's sop. sax making light work of the many changes and the rhythm section kept the piece firmly placed in Brasilia. 
How High the Moon was excellently handled by Sarah, floating over the band, ornamenting beautifully a loose interpretation of the melody rubato before kicking it into tempo with a three times tag. As if this wasn't pleasing enough the whole thing morphed into Ornithology half way through with Mark and Sarah taking an obviously well rehearsed dual head. (Sounds filthy!)
Angel Eyes was beautifully brought in with sax and guitar harmonising over a Dave Liebman composition, setting a precedent for Sarah’s sax to bring real thought to a very tenderly played piece. Mark Williams took up the B languidly, making as much of a statement with his use of dynamics as the notes he chose; as ever, improving and owning any tune he embarks on.
The whole band took a nice change of pace, heading towards a rolling, gospel feel for Joe Zawinul’s Country Preacher, its laid back Cannonball groove working very well in the context of the set and piqued the interest of even the non ‘jazz’ members of the audience.
All or Nothing at All fairly skipped along, the work of John Pope and Mark Robertson allowing Sarah to take a tasteful and brief solo to finish the first set. The band leaving the stage so quickly some of us thought they had split up...
But no, Alan Law opened the second set with a solo account of All the Things You Are, a nice defined ‘Oscary’ moment before the band joined into a medium swing over a dinky motif.  Mark’s solo playfully quoting from some equally well known pieces, all the time being fully supported by John’s bass playing. Some fours allowed Mark Robertson to come to the fore (no pun..), his sense of humour obvious even when its medium is wordless.
Chucho had some drunks - sorry, punters - dancing at the bar but they were at a loss as what to do over Donna Lee Ha! Not surprised, it was a fair clip.
The classic There Will Never be Another You’ was never allowed to descend into cliche, the band really proving that an accomplished group of musicians can bring a fresh feel to any tune, no matter how many times it’s been played. The solo’s taken by Sarah, Alan, Mark and John were kept consistently interesting not only by the sense of personality each brought but the rhythm section’s refusal to rest on their laurels, the pedal John wrought over the end of Mark's solo a particular high for me. And one member audibly shouting ‘8’s, 4’s, 2’s!’ over the rest of the band meant the fun was only starting.
They finished with a funk (don’t know what it was) giving Sarah a chance to break out her flute and for Mark to use some of the extensive effects he had with him. Shame the flute was only out for the one song but well worth it regardless.
I really hope this band continue in this vein, a hugely promising start to Sarah Travena as a saxophonist and leader. 
Ed Case

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