Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Nick Costley-White Trio, Nice Work! ***1/2

Marlbank has luckily heard Nick Costley-White oh some 3 times already over the past 12 months, always pleasurably and with increasing interest as we get used to his style. Once over at the Oxford (now the ludicrously renamed Parakeet) in London's …

Published: 10 Jul 2023. Updated: 12 months.

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Marlbank has luckily heard Nick Costley-White oh some 3 times already over the past 12 months, always pleasurably and with increasing interest as we get used to his style. Once over at the Oxford (now the ludicrously renamed Parakeet) in London's Kentish Town. And a couple of times this year up west over at the very jazz friendly Louche on Greek Street in sessions also led by estimable Mobley chap tenorist Alex Harper. But the first time found the double bassist here Empirical bass legend Tom Farmer on the gig and that was the best of the shows. Usually when Farmer is on any gig you have to make hay while the sun shines and get down to hear him do some considerable harvesting of whatever standards the leader calls to store up for future digestion.

And so it proves. Nice Work! is sunny side up, on an unassuming and no worse for that calling card of an album that begins quietly and generates its own neatly unfolding sense of motion. Beautiful Wayne Shorter Adam's Apple tune 'Teru' is the pick in all tenderness and where the interplay between the guitarist leader and Farmer is most pronounced. While not overtly or much at all an obvious Wes Montgomery ''stan'' as Nigel Price, just like the Epsom icon Costley-White has fantastic facility, can swing the phonebook and goes more deeply into the harmonic inner stitching of tunes than most. And certainly he can totally unpick salient motifs to swoop in on and run with when he extemporises on favoured themes. Cleanly recorded by Ben Lamdin at London's Fish Factory studio with an Alex Bonney mix and master (always a plus factor) it is Josh Morrison known for his work with Stacey Kent who is patient and stately and knowing at the kit. No boat needs to be rocked on this hush hush set volume-wise so why bother? But the knack here is the subtle movement and connoisseur twists that Farmer and Costley-White fashion so adroitly.

  • Just released - on download and streaming formats. Nick Costley-White, above, publicity shot, bassist Dave Whitford and the Nice Work drummer Josh Morrison play the Norwich Jazz Club at the Maddermarket Theatre Bar tomorrow night

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Silke Eberhard and Céline Voccia, Wild Knots, Relative Pitch ***1/2

It's worth restating your musical beliefs every so often. And while a very big and complex area, so, what we believe in thinking in terms of free improvisation is to define it most meaningfully for practical purposes relevant to this review is that …

Published: 10 Jul 2023. Updated: 12 months.

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It's worth restating your musical beliefs every so often. And while a very big and complex area, so, what we believe in thinking in terms of free improvisation is to define it most meaningfully for practical purposes relevant to this review is that it is spontaneous composition. We know anyone can ''play free'' in a stylistic way using notated language that replicates the particular styles however achieved or have composed in non-spontanous situations earlier too. But in purist hardcore terms the key point of it is either to adopt systemic rules for the improvisers pre-performance either followed or disregarded or to choose no input and adopt a position of un-rulegoverned spontaneity - something that does not mean ''play anything'' carelessly either.

What might be mind blowing to some is that what is achieved does not have to sound avant-garde. It may do and usually does. But equally somebody could have a memorised knowledge of any kind of tune and just play that and it could be as melodic as a nursery rhyme. And as valid as a creative entity. Here on Wild Knots, a saxophone and piano duo album from German saxophonist Silke Eberhard and French pianist Céline Voccia recording in a Berlin studio in 2021 is reminiscent of the way for example Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald and American pianist Marilyn Crispell leaping to mind instinctively work together.

What is striking to return to the earlier point above about composition is that when you are soaked in the idiom of free jazz, avant-garde, ''contemporary classical'' composition, experimental music-making to use a range of overlapping areas your whole method up to the point of a new performance is in the zone and touched by its inflections and vernacular spirit. You can then compose not on paper but in the air in a studio in a venue wherever if you are working with someone attuned to your own approach and idiomatic suite of resources. When you have people in front of you as witnesses at a show everything is different because of nervous energy perhaps or more to do with the heightened pulsations of humans in a room together who invisibly change the way you play without directly collaborating with you.

In this studio performance you get a level of excitement and you'd swear it was a live album. That's one reason I think why it works so well. And I'd highlight 'Renaissance' as the most lit up of these tremendous explorations. You won't depart humming any tunes or grooving to the beat - that's not the point at all with this kind of abstract music-making. But you will come away with a whole set of sensory impressions that just goes to show how big a canvas the two musicians here have created and how much depth and colour there is to this kindling of raw materials into a fire not at all reduced to shadowy embers. SG. On CD and for download