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Thursday, May 05, 2016

VEIN w. Greg Osby @ the Lit & Phil - May 4.

Michael Arbenz (pno); Thomas Lehns (bs); Florian Arbenz (dms); Greg Osby (alto). 
(Review by Lance/photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
In the film, The Third Man, Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, famously says, "In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Well Harry, if you hadn't been shot dead in that sewer in Vienna, you'd have realised that the cuckoo clock has been joined in the list of Swiss achievements by the trio known as VEIN which also features brotherly love!.
VEIN, making a return visit to the Lit and Phil, had star American alto saxist Greg Osby with them and the portents were for an evening of exciting and innovative jazz.
The portents got it right!
A mix of originals by pianist Arbenz and Osby had the audience at this very well attended Jazz North East gig showing their appreciation in no uncertain terms.
Call me old-fashioned, but when I noted that Osby was suited and bow-tied I automatically knew this would be the real deal, and it was. Having said that, there was nothing dated about the music. This was driving, 21st century, jazz with a punch that Rocky Balboa could only dream about.
Osby blows with a passion reminiscent of the days when JNE regularly presented American Jazzmen at the Corner House whilst the guys from Switzerland were equally impressive. Michael Arbenz displayed a near classical technique that, at times, thundered or, on occasion, brought to mind the sound of gentle rain. Both moods inventive. Brother Florian, sporting what we used to refer to as a 'county cap', dropped the bombs strategically and accurately without damage whilst upping the excitement level. On bass, Lehns, full-toned and resonant, provided the harmonic pulse as well as holding the listener's attention during his solos and not many bass players can do that!
It's early days but this could well be in the running for the Gig of the Year!
Lance.

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