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Friday, June 23, 2017

Group Theory @ The Jazz Café - June 22

Dan Garel (alto saxophone), Matt Jacobs (piano), Dylan Purches (double bass) & Tristan Bacon (drums)
(Review by Russell)
The previous evening the magnificent Durham University Big Band brought the house down. This small group session promised to do the same. Four musicians from DUBB returned to play tunes written by alto saxophonist Dan Garel interspersed with a selection of jazz standards. One of the quartet is about to graduate, two have a final year ahead of them, and the fourth member is about to complete his first year at Durham University.
Garel’s Symmetries opened a long, one set, programme. Alto saxophonist Garel demonstrated an amazing command of his instrument, possessing an incisive, biting tone. Garel took a look at Have You Met Miss Jones? turning it inside out with his band mates right there; pianist Matt Jacobs sat listening, playing when necessary, giving Garel room to stretch out, drummer Tristan Bacon (a fine big band drummer) revealed a small group sensitivity (brushes and mallets in evidence during the evening), and bass player Dylan Purches appeared unperturbed throughout. 

Several of Garel’s compositions have yet to be given a title, one, Modal Comp, did what it said on the tin. On Green Dolphin Street hit the spot, Garel, one imagines, could have held his own on the stand at any one of the long-gone 52nd Street haunts. Bacon used mallets from beginning to end to great effect on Garel’s Eight Weeks, the group cohesion admirable on this number, and indeed, the entire set.
A rip-roaring Night in Tunisia, an untitled Afro-Cuban piece, Garel’s tasty Pumpkin Vermicelli, just how good are theses guys? The quartet agreed that Wayne Shorter’s Footprints was an ace tune, they played it, top stuff! Group Theory are well worth catching. They’ll be playing gigs in Durham – the Empty shop is a good bet – although the soon-to-graduate Matt Jacobs is to depart, beginning a new chapter in his life, necessitating a change in personnel, perhaps a change in instrumentation but regardless of change, go hear Group Theory.
Russell.

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