Kobe trio, Andersons, Sligo

Opening for the Linley Hamilton quintet last night at Andersons in Sligo The Kobe Trio played selections from their debut album Kobe. The trio, who place the emphasis strongly on original composition drawn from a modal impressionist base, pianist …

Published: 6 Mar 2020. Updated: 3 years.

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Opening for the Linley Hamilton quintet last night at Andersons in Sligo The Kobe Trio played selections from their debut album Kobe.

The trio, who place the emphasis strongly on original composition drawn from a modal impressionist base, pianist Mark Murphy displayed an Esbjörn Svensson sense of quiet ecstasy to his characterful solos delivering pedal note leads that fed into some handsome solos from the Belfast born Irish-US bass guitarist Jaimie Carswell who is the heart and soul of the band.

Drummer Con Schmaucks was a listening presence in this short set stylistically a little like Bill Stewart, the highlight of which for me was located in the Herbie-like poise of 'For All' while the three part 'With Cian's Help' suite was squished into a medley for brevity's sake given that the support slot was a half an hour or so. 'Country Song' from the album also featured. A trio you've got to hear. Hopefully the word will get out more and more about their appealing approach that allows plenty of room for motivic development in the improvisational passages. Certainly this Andersons showing aids that process of gaining wider recognition no end. SG.

Mark Murphy, above left, Jaimie Carswell, Con Schmaucks, photo marlbank

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Linley Hamilton quintet, Brilliant Corners festival, Black Box, Belfast

The album’s called For the Record. And, for the record, this Black Box showcase joins the list of the most memorable nights yet at this celebrated venue. Hard luck if you drifted in, like I did, at half seven expecting to find plenty of seats. The …

Published: 5 Mar 2020. Updated: 3 years.

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The album’s called For the Record. And, for the record, this Black Box showcase joins the list of the most memorable nights yet at this celebrated venue. Hard luck if you drifted in, like I did, at half seven expecting to find plenty of seats. The place had been packed to the gills for at least half an hour.

Everyone was waiting for something special. And they got it. Because this wasn’t just an album launch, it had somehow turned into an occasion to celebrate Linley himself. And why not. His has been a remarkable journey – as a musician, innovator, educator and as an ambassador for jazz on and off this island.

Only Linley, networker supreme, could have put together this truly international a quintet – himself on trumpet, his soul brother Derek (Doc) O’Connor on tenor (they’ve known each other since they were in The Commitments together many moons ago), another long-time friend Cian Boylan on keyboards, and two giants from the US – Mark Egan on his trademark Pedulla five-string electric bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums.

The album consists almost entirely of tunes written by the members of the band. The one exception is 'And I Love Her,' a solo feature for Linley who dedicated it to his good friend – and Beatles fan apparently – the great drummer John Wilson who was in the audience, out and about again after a long and arduous period of medical treatment.

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Egan and Nussbaum provided two compositions, both of which have been recorded before. 'See Saw' is a perky tune by the bass player, first heard on his album Truth Be Told with tenorist Bill Evans and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. But the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night was by Nussbaum, a slow slinky blues called 'Sure Would Baby' which he first recorded as part of We 3 with Dave Liebman and Steve Swallow. A terrific late-night moody piece, you could practically see a cat walking across a rooftop in the moonlight. Just while I was thinking that, O’Connor threw in a few bars of 'The Pink Panther'.

The leader’s trumpet sparkled throughout the night, particularly on Boylan’s strong themes 'Right Angle' and 'Mo’ Hip' and on 'Split' with its bass and piano unison rhythm that had echoes of the music of Sesame Street. O’Connor put his foot on the accelerator from the beginning of the evening and rarely let up. He is a life member of the honourable society of tough tenors. On keyboards, Boylan has a tasty touch but driving them all on and providing much of the excitement was the powerhouse duo of Egan and Nussbaum, always rock steady but with subtle shifts of light and shade.

During the second half of the evening, we welcomed a guest. The singer Dana Masters, just back from another tour with Van Morrison, gave us a tender rendering of the Abbey Lincoln ballad 'Throw It Away'. Another high spot among many.

At the end, there were a lot of people to thank from the stage, not least Moving On Music who’d made this one of the key events of their current Brilliant Corners festival, described quite rightly by The Irish Times as one of the last outposts of artistically-credible jazz programming on this island.

When the band had finished, they linked arms and bowed to a lengthy and noisy standing ovation. Mercifully for them there was no overwhelming demand for an encore. These guys were done.

Keith Baker

The Linley Hamilton quintet play Anderson's, Sligo, tonight; Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir, co. Tipperary, tomorrow; and Arthur's, Dublin, on Saturday.