Opening the latest instalment of the Mark Kavuma and the Big Beat Ninety One Living Room residency with Kenny Dorham's 'Short Story' going back to Joe Henderson 1965 Blue Note album In 'n Out this was an evening of classic hard bop. I for one was keen to hear Kavuma for the first time live after earlier this month digging a whole lot the swinging Freddie Hubbard-esque 'Eliud' from Arashi No Ato (''After The Storm'') released on the trumpeter's new label. The album itself came out last week and among the personnel the pianist everyone is talking about since the Londoner won BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year last year Deschanel Gordon was here with Kavuma who reminds me of giant of UK jazz piano Julian Joseph in terms of sheer power and the much missed McCoy Tyner for all the quartal harmony he does and the feeling he contributes.
Gordon is a brilliant comper and beyond this ability came into his own on Monk's 'Ask Me Now' ostensibly a feature for the bassist Ben Hazleton. Tenorist Mussinghi ''Songbird'' Brian Edwards played very well all night and I thoroughly enjoyed the rapport he has with Kavuma who is an imaginative leader. Chatting to Mark a few times during the evening he mentioned he goes way back with Songbird to his teens. Listen to 2019's 'The Songbird' as you read and you get a flavour of the characterful playing also heard tonight in quantity. In the second set there was a very nice guest spot by singer George Kelly excelling especially on a tasteful version of 'Skylark'. SG
Deschanel Gordon top left, Ben Hazleton, Mark Kavuma, Matt Fishwick and Mussinghi Brian Edwards. The Big Beat residency continues next week