Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble Feat. Ben Davis, Cello,
at The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, London W1, presenting new material. How much more advance excitement could a jazz gig generate! You could fit the answer on the back of a small postage stamp. 'None at all.' Not in our age. Thus, even following two successive bank holidays this week to celebrate HM Diamond Jubilee, the Pizza was unsurprisingly almost sold out.
Bodies and hot food started to slightly warm up the cold Pizza on such a miserable and cold June evening, but the real heat came when Atzmon & Co started playing. And what heat they generated! A blast furnace was as nothing to the excitement of the new material Atzmon presented for the very first time and the excitement of the playing of the finest jazz band around anywhere. Both Atzmon, equally unmatched on alto, clarinet and soprano, and ivories king Harrison proved once again why they are the fiercest improvisers of modern times, while Stavi on bass and Hick on traps were equally unmatched from the start. And cellist Ben Davis too kept up superbly well and showed why he had earned his place here.
The new material, mainly presented in the first set, was just out of this world. Atzmon, true to form, excelled himself yet again as composer, and also true to form, each Atzmon gig gets more exciting even than the last. Neither is easy when you're already the top of the form, as it were. But Atzmon restlessly keeps on moving on, from one peak to the next, higher, one. There simply is no stopping him, he has no off switch. And he has already more than justified his reputation as the Bird (Charlie Parker) that inspired him in his youth to take up the sax and jazz, and the John 'Trane' Coltrane of our times.
The hot, steamy atmosphere that the first set of Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble Feat. Ben Davis, Cello,
at The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho generated almost made the break a welcome relief from all the intensity.
Immense intensity is something you always get with Atzmon, as sure as night follows day. Thus, the second set only grew in intensity and heat.
New arrangements of some of the material from Gilad Atzmon & The OHE's last album, The Tide Has Changed, including the inevitable title track, sounded as fresh as the first time round and even more intense. What Atzmon did with Bolero At Sunrise simply defied belief! We Laugh added a bit of joviality and relief from the incredible intensity.
The older material was performed mostly sans Ben Davis, who did though return for some more new material. Over all, his performance was breath-taking and well merited his inclusion.
A bass solo from Yaron Stavi and a drum solo from Eddie Hick in the closing numbers proved unforgettable. Hick has evolved into the very finest drummer of his generation and one of the very finest, period, over the last few years. He fits the OHE like hand in glove.
As always with Atzmon, Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble Feat. Ben Davis, Cello,
at The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho was a most memorable experience. Now this was only the very first performance of Atzmon's new material. However, imagine what the album's going to be like! Queue up to pre-order when this becomes available!
If there's one issue I might have, it is that I would prefer it to be a live recording. This, a live recording, would be my dearest wish from Atzmon. Well, and an extended Summertime some time...
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