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Things have changed and are changing at the Vortex with all gigs at the moment relocated downstairs because the upstairs is being refurbished and not just that but the way things are run downstairs with the departure of the long time restaurant/bar manager. What hasn't changed is the random anti-social behaviour that plagues the Gillett Square area so for instance marlbank witnessed a few guys fighting and brandishing a bottle just outside the entrance deftly calmed down by the door supervisor who expertly ushered patrons inside for the second set.
Drama averted this was a rare chance to hear erstwhile original Acoustic Ladyland colleagues Tom Cawley on electric keys and Prophet-type synth with Sons of Kemet founder member acclaimed drummer Seb Rochford here with newcomer bass guitarist Daisy George who is on Jas Kayser's new album.
The trio did not rely on sheet music because this was a free improvisation and treated the crowd to an incredible oh-I-suppose 50 minute-long improvisation only interrupted by George's departure for a gig later in the evening at Ronnie Scott's and when the trio became a duo to perform what Cawley titled fittingly 'Alone Together' - ''but not that one'' - 'that one' meaning the 1930s Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz standard. The main improvisation was full of ingenuity. Rochford marshalled the trio so well, so at times there was deft groove, ripples of syncopation and rhythmic impetus that just bubbled up from nowhere.
Cawley burst into 1970s-like Bitches Brew-type passages with ease and kept the melodic lines alive with insightful riffs and motific ideas that he ran with to leap off the patterns both George and Cawley were developing. A fascinating intergenerational meeting of two masters and one of the most exciting new generation bassists to emerge in recent years everyone kept it real in this intimate setting which was a reminder of how great a drummer Seb Rochford is. Look out for his debut as a leader on ECM and he will be back on the road again soon with Patti Smith.
Tom Cawley, top left, Daisy George and Seb Rochford at the Vortex. Photo: marlbank