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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Toby Delius Trio @ the Bridge – Oct. 4

Toby Delius (reeds); Olie Brice (bass); Mark Sanders (drums)
(Review/photos Ken Drew) 
The second On the Outside free jazz and improv gig - part of Jazz North East’s autumn season (first Sunday of the month at Newcastle’s Bridge Hotel). The Bridge is a most suitable space for an acoustic performance. Following the improv workshop in the afternoon, the ‘stage’ had been dispensed with giving what some regarded as a fuller sound and, more importantly, making the performers ‘more accessible’. This seemed to be the case for this trio – providing an intimate setting for some well presented improv.  
Delius, born in London, but not a regular on the UK scene, having been abroad for most of his career, predominantly in Holland and Berlin, where he is now based. Yet he plays with London regulars Brice and Sanders as if they are a long-established threesome, partly a result of the trio having toured previously in the UK.
After a small delay in his arrival (flying in from Berlin) Toby appeared, unflustered and ready for the off requiring only a brief catch-up with the rest of the trio. Then it was straight down to business.  Expectations were high, and the assembled audience’s (some from Holland arriving well before 8pm just to make sure) patience was duly rewarded by 2 fine sets. Full of energy and good interplay between the three, the sound was certainly free-spirited yet often pushed forward with driving bass rhythms (sometimes regular, other times asymmetric) with the drums an essential part of the mix.  The trio delivered a range of sonorous images with Toby playing reeds (tenor saxophone and clarinet) and at one point played the sax as if it were producing notes played backwards – something you hear on guitar recordings by playing the recording backwards, but this was happening live, here and now, and blended perfectly with the soundscape as it unfolded in front of us.
Together, Brice and Sanders provided a solid foundation to underpin Delius’ saxophone and kept the momentum going, but equally importantly augmenting, enhancing and reacting to Delius’ changes and development.  His music is focused mainly on short, constantly changing phrases with a relatively light of touch, constantly breathing life into his tenor. Together the bass and drums pairing responded unfailingly to Delius’ every move.  Overall, despite the relatively small audience numbers, the two sets were enthusiastically received and it was good to see this trio on Tyneside.
Ken D.

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