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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dead Hedge Trio @ The Jazz Café. January 30


Nick Branton (tenor saxophone & clarinet), Rory Ballantyne (guitar) & Michael Metcalfe (drums) 
(Review by Russell/photos by Kath Jobes - left - and Mike Tilley - Right.)
All seats were taken before the eight o’clock start. The Dead Hedge Trio started on time. Liverpool based, a gig in Leeds the previous evening, the trio were, for the first time, on the road in earnest. Saxophone, guitar and drums and, of course, a few pedals. Tenor man Nick Branton the (visual) focus, the trio kicked-off with North West and Lonely Woman. The Jazz Café, essentially a standards jazz venue, took a little while adjusting to the sound of Dead Hedge.
Layered, hard-blowing composed to free jazz pieces, Branton, Ballantyne and Metcalfe embodied the spirit of the 1960s American avant garde (Ayler, Coleman, Taylor). Branton rocked and rolled (physically), tenor raised to the sky, then swooping to the floor, raging. Rory Ballantyne played a black Gretsch for most of the evening; rhythmic, hammered, inventive, different; Frisell to Americana to the blues. Michael Metcalfe (an erstwhile Tyne Valley resident) is the equal of any of the new crop of brilliant British drummers. A busy hi-hat, sticks and mallets, Metcalfe breezed through complex rhythmic patterns. Eel Song, an original number impressed, and the fist set closed on Ornette’s Broadway Blues. Very, very impressive.
Second set: The confines of the Jazz Café imposed an eye-contact intimacy between the musicians and the within-touching-distance audience. Branton’s guttural exhortations maintained the momentum on Antibiotic. Metcalfe, endlessly inventive, Ballantyne knew it was going well, a contented smile amidst the intensity of it all. Monster Munch hinted at the demonic fury of other, established trios on the scene – no names, the name Dead Hedge is the name to check-out. The true tale of five in a Nissan Sunny over the AlpsDriving with John – closed the set. The Spirit of Albert Ayler was with the Dead Hedge Trio – Rejoice! From time to time a gig earns a Bebop Spoken Here nomination for Gig of the Year. It will take something special to better this Jazz Café performance by the Dead Hedge Trio.
Russell.

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