21st March 2020 8:00pm
Under 25s £10.00
Nikki Iles on piano, Norma Winstone on vocals, Steve Watts on double bass, Mark Lockheart on saxophones, James Maddren on drums and Mike Walker on guitar, is pretty much the line-up of your dreams, and a band that sums up all that’s finest in British mainstream jazz. A great band to launch our newest venue.
The material comes from Iles, Winstone and Walker within the group, and Kenny Wheeler, Fred Hersch, Joni Mitchell, Steve Swallow, Paul Simon, Ralph Towner and others outside of it. This is not head-improv-head stuff. Iles builds into the arrangements a flow that rises and falls, breaths in and out, and the tunes fill out like landscapes in four dimensions.
Nikki Iles shows impeccable taste in everything she does, whether it is choosing fellow musicians to work with, those supportive chords behind another’s solo or the musical line of one of here own improvisations; she also has such a great touch on the keys. Norma Winstone is not only a marvel when blending wordlessly with the other melody instruments, but she is the most subtle of interpreters of a lyric. There is no broad over-emoting here, and it is so much moreeffective as a result. Steve Watts is one of those almost invisible bassists, who doesn’t draw attention to himself but is content just to make everyone else sound even better, while James Maddren… well, he not only plays the beats and rhythms, his drums sing the melodies too, and acknowledge the harmony. You can see and hear his pleasure in making music. Mark Lockheart builds his solos, especially the tenor ones, into the most solid of structures, all counter-balance and matching flying buttresses… They soar but they are always safely grounded, too. And just the thought of hearing Mike Walker play is enough to make me grin. He clearly loves this band and this music and, when he isn’t putting together solos of wide-ranging
styles, he’s doing a marvellous near-funk chug.
This preview draws shamelessly on a Peter Bacon (The Jazz Breakfast) review.
James Maddren Drums
Steve Watts Bass
Mike Walker Guitar
Mark Lockheart Saxophones
Norma Winstone Voice
Nikki Iles Piano
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