Review: The Nick Malcolm Quartet (Bebop Club) 8 out of 10 by Tony Benjamin
SOMETIMES even the most chin-stroking jazz audience wants to have a bit of fun.
The trick is to keep up the standards of intelligent contemporary jazz but to imbue the music with energy and a sense of humour and Saturday's acoustic set at the Bebop Club from Nick Malcolm's band pulled it off time and again.
The four musicians – Malcolm's trumpet plus Corey Mwamba (vibraphone), Olie Brice (bass) and Mark Whitlam (drums) - are well-matched improvisers with an easy confidence in their abilities, while the music is mostly drawn from the band's recently released CD of Malcolm's tunes Glimmers plus a few of Brice's compositions.
It was largely about group improvisation, though individuals shine out at times and occasional solos and duos emerge.
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The jump-cut structure and angular melody of It's All Right, We're Going to the Zoo makes for a breezy opener and gave Mwamba the first opportunity to demonstrate his capacity for co-ordinated frenzy on the vibes.
Brice's Mad Yak rolled out cool and jazzy, the players mixing and matching, flashing glances and grins between themselves.
There was a bigger picture to Views, a beautiful stream of consciousness melody revelling in Malcolm's superb tone and technical control, while washes of held vibraphone chords and sympathetic bass created a strong sense of atmosphere, aided by Whitlam's deft and beatless percussion.
But, slow or fast, every number had the same energising qualities that reflected the fun the band had revisiting these tunes passed on to the audience as enjoyment in the music and, ironically, a sense of just how seriously good this lot are.