Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

7

Phronesis at Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Phronesis
Crescent Arts Centre
Belfast, Ireland
May 30, 2014

You had to feel sorry for the couple, rocking up at Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre fifteen minutes before show time only to be told that the concert was a sell-out. Slightly sorry, that is, because in times when jazz is often a hard sell, a 'sold out' sign is music to the ears—certainly for those lucky to have bagged a ticket for Phronesis' penultimate date of its UK tour promoting Life to Everything (Edition Records, 2014). It's also tremendously encouraging to the promotors, Moving On Music, the venue and the band itself, all of whom can be sure they're doing something right.

One of the few modern jazz piano trios of the past decade that really doesn't sound in any way like the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Phronesis music is built on the equality of the three voices. Even when pianist Ivo Neame soloed with free-flowing gusto on "Urban Plan" there was never the feeling that bassist Jasper Hoiby and drummer Anton Eger where anything less than vital components in the mix; an essential part of Phronesis' make-up lies in its constant rhythmic vitality and flexibility—Hoiby's grooving ostinatos, Neame's elastic vamps and Eger's array of colors are the bones of the closely-knit interplay.

Eger's Afro-Caribean-flavored rhythms on mallets announced the dancing "Songs for Lost Nomads," which moved from tightly coiled collective groove to a looser improvisational dynamic. "Behind Bars" shifted through the gears, from the delicate piano and arco intro—with Eger's hands gently animating snare and cymbal—to flowing collective freedom; Neame and Eger sent a flurry of little messages back and forth, escalating the drama, with Eger winning the prize hands down for best face contortions. Even on brushes, as on the lyrical, piano-led "Phraternal," Eger's quiet industry was impressive. The first set closed with tightly woven interplay on the punchy "Herne Hill," which Hoiby dedicated to Sue Edwards, a tireless jazz advocate on both sides of the Atlantic for three decades.

Eger launched the second set with a nuanced solo to introduce "Deep Space Dance," a more spacious, light-textured number. With barely a pause, deep arco and rumbling mallets introduced "Wings 2 the Mind," which took shape around Hoiby's bass ostinato, and Neame's folksy melody that evoked Czech jazz pianist Emil Viklicky's Moravian folk vocabulary. The pianist's solo in the higher registers—fluid yet light of touch—was followed by features from Hoiby and Eger. The episodic "Blue Inspiration" saw an exhilarating extended solo from Neame, driven by Hoiby and Eger's tremendous rhythmic energy. The bouncing "Eight Hours" continued with the same high energy levels. The encore, "Dr. Black" evolved from the classically-inspired opening melody to thrilling collective and individual virtuosity where the line between both was satisfyingly blurred.

During the gig—and reflecting a commonly made observation by many musicians—Hoiby spoke of the constant demands of promoters for novelty: "You have to reinvent yourself and keep making up these excuses to play gigs," Hoiby told the audience. It's a pity such value isn't placed on evolution as opposed to revolution, as Phronesis nine years playing together has forged a supremely tight unit whose thrilling live performances are founded upon deep familiarity. Phronesis doesn't need an excuse to play, nor are excuses necessary to see Phronesis in concert. Even between studio albums there's no such thing as fallow time with an active trio this fertile, for the music is constantly in a state of growth. It is advisable, therefore, to book your tickets in advance.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Bonerama at the Iridium" Live Reviews Bonerama at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "FORQ at The World Cafe Live" Live Reviews FORQ at The World Cafe Live
by Mike Jacobs
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
by Nick Davies
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall" Live Reviews The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland" Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland
by Walter Atkins
Published: August 17, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!