Chris Potter’s Underground / Deelee Dubé

First published in 2018. The first set of the Underground’s return to Ronnie’s was gritty improvising of the highest order by one of the greatest saxophonists alive in his prime and the band’s the thing. The flavour was metrically advanced freebop, …

Published: 16 Dec 2019. Updated: 17 months.

First published in 2018. The first set of the Underground’s return to Ronnie’s was gritty improvising of the highest order by one of the greatest saxophonists alive in his prime and the band’s the thing. The flavour was metrically advanced freebop, by times funky and tender often dizzyingly uptempo particularly in the early forays. With Chris Potter, the Dave Holland, Pat Metheny and Steely Dan sideman, who switched from tenor saxophone to flute on ‘Zea’, were the mighty bluesician Adam Rogers on electric guitar; the big fingered baseball cap wearing London born New Yorker Fima Ephron a Rogers playing partner on his 2017 album Dice on a white bass guitar; and Dan Weiss on drums, his absorbing solo in the latter part of the approximately 60-minute set splashing the cymbals from the heat of the anvil to the spa of lapping wave.

Tunes back-announced by the quietly spoken side hair parted simply dressed Potter – who left the stage to disappear backstage when his three colleagues were getting their thang on simmeringly 20 minutes or so in – two long numbers on and which were ‘Train’ (like ‘Zea’ more about which in a mo from 2007’s Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard) and ‘Time’s Arrow’ (from 2009 album Ultrahang) and to keep distracting words to a minimum tidily then forward announced before the extraordinary ‘Zea’ utilising a captured live-recorded just created flute figure that the technology allowed Potter to play over on tenor, and ‘Tweet’ (“l’ll have to rename it,” the Chicago born 47-year-old joked) – the set burnt on the camphor of the night.

Upstairs in Ronnie’s bar as the second set downstairs got under way, Deelee Dubé, (top, centre) sang ‘Sassy’s Blues’ while on double bass 'Level' Neville Malcolm behind her, beating like thunder on China Moses’ Nightintales released in 2017, was warm and listening as Alex Hutton on the upright piano locked hands and broke loose to George Shearing’s ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and the evergreen, wise, ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’, among their standards choices. SG

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Shabaka Hutchings interview

First published in 2013. Shabaka Hutchings talks to marlbank about his brand new band The Comet Is Coming ''The Comet is Coming is Danalogue (Dan Leavers) and Betamax (Max Hallett) who usually play in a duo group called Soccer 96. I met them …

Published: 16 Dec 2019. Updated: 2 years.

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First published in 2013. Shabaka Hutchings talks to marlbank about his brand new band The Comet Is Coming

''The Comet is Coming is Danalogue (Dan Leavers) and Betamax (Max Hallett) who usually play in a duo group called Soccer 96. I met them through being a fan of their band and checking their music out. They bring so much energy live that the first time I heard them play I was pretty much blown away, and said to myself: 'I've got to work with these guys'. That led to me guesting on a gig and sitting in with the group whenever I was around for the last couple of years. I guess you'd call what Soccer 96 does experimental popular music, though a lot of what emerges musically can be linked to directions pointed towards by modern players of 'jazz' music also. The thing that attracts me to their style is the driving intent whenever they play. There's a feeling there of really losing themselves totally in the music to the point of nullifying any genre association which could be placed on it.

The name of the group comes from a BBC Radiophonic Workshop piece of the same name. Once we heard this piece, with its allusions to sci-fi, cosmic remembrances and general space, it instantly struck a chord. We're exploring new sound worlds and aiming to destroy all musical ideals which are unfit for our purposes so the name stuck.

We rehearse in a warehouse space in Dalston called the Total Refreshment Centre which is an artistic living space with rehearsal facilities, studio and general great vibe. We decided to go into the studio for four days and create an album's worth of material that we compose together on the spot, then take some time producing, then rehearse the resulting tunes extensively to create a live set.

All the improvising is intuitive, in that we all play to the service of the mood or the vibe of the moment. The pieces we've created have scope for improvising either as extensive soloistic excursions or in the service of the song which might not sound like typical jazz soloing but still retains an element of freedom to make spontaneous decisions as to how far to push the pre-planned material.

The ensemble is very different from say Sons of Kemet in that it is less rootsy, has less of an earthy sound. We're trying to take the listener into a futuristic world as opposed to reaching towards the earth in our sonic journeys. Cosmic. Sci-fi. Hipster. Punk. These are the first words that spring to mind in the general description.''