Live Music Review:
Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho,
London W1, Monday 8th August 2013
Soho Interpretations presents

Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane


Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
10 Dean St., London W1D 3RW
Monday 8th August 2013 8pm


Feat.

Gilad Atzmon Quartet :

Gilad Atzmon - tenor & soprano sax
Frank Harrison - piano
Ernesto Simpson - drums
Tim Thornton - bass


Date of Review: 2013/08/06


All photographs by and © Teresa Hunt




Gilad Atzmon Qt.
Gilad Atzmon Qt., L-R: Frank Harrison, p, Gilad Atzmon, ts, Tim Thornton, b (partly
behind Atzmon), Ernesto Simpson, d
Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho,
London W1, Monday 8th August 2013

Trane Lives!

That is the inescapable conclusion you would have reached too, if you had been at The Pizza last night, Monday 5th August 2013, for contemporary legend Gilad Atzmon's tribute gig to the legend of the past John Coltrane, the Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, and if you had ever seen Trane himself.

It was a cool, wet evening, but The Pizza was on fire! Searing white heat permeated the place as soon as Atzmon and Co. started off with Naima. How we all got out alive from the packed out Pizza is still something of a mystery. Packed out, on a Monday night! But then, this was Gilad Atzmon, with an all-star line-up of the 'Jewel in His Crown,' genius pianist Frank Harrison, and star drummer Ernesto Simpson (playing with Atzmon for the first time but as if he'd been playing with him all his life!) and 'rising star' bassist Tim Thornton who amply proved that he is a star already.

Gilad Atzmon Qt., with Atzmon on tenor
Gilad Atzmon Qt., with Atzmon on tenor

Of course, this being a Coltrane tribute gig, it presented a rare opportunity to see Atzmon, normally an alto and soprano specialist, on his tenor, a beautifully-toned historic Selmer Mk. VI (as played by Trane himself), with an old British made Lawton mouthpiece from the 1960s, as well as on soprano, as one would expect.

Atzmon on tenor was something most memorable in itself, it was as if he had never stopped playing tenor in jazz. Truly every bit a match for Trane, but with a more beautiful voice still that matched that on his alto.

Gilad Atzmon Qt., w/Atzmon on soprano
Gilad Atzmon Qt., w/Atzmon on soprano

Firing off with Naima and Like Someone in Love, Atzmon and his quartet played as if they'd made a pact with the devil himself! The playing was just (profanities struck out - ed.) unbelievable, whether ensemble or solo. You really had to have been there. The whole quartet seemed to have more fun than should be legal outside of sheets! But then, so did the extremely appreciative and attentive audience.

Both Atzmon and Harrison had raised their game to an even higher level of brilliance than usual, if such a thing can be imagined. (I am still waiting to be able to say they slipped somewhere, but that will be a wait till the cows come home I think!) Atzmon often played off-mic, particularly on tenor, and this was a most laudable idea as it sounded far better than over mic actually, and horns certainly do not really need mics anyway except perhaps when the acoustics are just too lousy.

Simpson also was quite unbelievably brilliant, showing his full mettle with superb exchanges with Atzmon and equally superb solos. I must confess I had not heard young Thornton before but had been tipped off that he was excellent, someone to really watch out for. No kidding! He proved that rather than a rising star, he is a star bassist already with superb bass lines and incredible solos.

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Gilad Atzmon Qt. - Atzmon on soprano, Thornton, and Simpson
Gilad Atzmon Qt. - Atzmon on soprano, Thornton, and Simpson

Atzmon's performance last night was even more physical also than usual, again, if such can be imagined. His calorie burn must have been as phenomenal as his playing. And Atzmon the raconteur was likewise in peak form, oozing charm, charisma and good humour. We shan't go into some of his more explicit antics as there may be under-18 readers. Let's just say that if Atzmon ever wanted yet another career (he is also a successful author, activist, speaker, and producer) he would no doubt do well in the stand-up comedy sphere as well.

Among the material were, apart from the two opening numbers already mentioned, Giant Steps, Atzmon's own Scarborough Fair from his latest album with The OHE, Songs Of The Metropolis, but even more in Trane's style than ever, In A Sentimental Mood, Lazy Bird (not necessarily in that order - it is hard to remember all and in the right order in such - musical - heat!) and finally, the closer Blue Train.

Gilad Atzmon Qt. - Atzmon on soprano, Thornton, and Simpson
Gilad Atzmon Qt. - Atzmon on soprano, Thornton, and Simpson

The two sets lasted a good hour each, and time seemed at once to stand still and fly by all too quickly. This most extraordinary of gigs, this brilliant, magnificent, glorious performance felt like it should never have ended.

I am sure we shall see more of Atzmon on tenor, and it is most fervently to be hoped that the Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho will form the beginning of a new tour. I would go further and plead with Mr. Atzmon to record this, and ideally live! We've had the Bird tribute album (with strings) and tours, now let's have this for Trane. From the only man who could pull it off, and did.

Gilad Atzmon Qt., w/Atzmon on tenor
Gilad Atzmon Qt., w/Atzmon on tenor

The Gilad Atzmon Quartet - The Spirit of Coltrane At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho last night was truly unforgettable. Atzmon has long been compared to both Bird and Trane. Last night, he out-did both Trane and himself with the most exciting, most memorable performance since Trane himself. Thank you, Gilad Atzmon, Frank Harrison, Ernesto Simpson and Tim Thornton for such a magnificent night. Thank you, Pizza Express for putting on this monster night.


In closing, a big thank you also to Teresa Hunt for the use of her photographs of the gig, taken with her smartphone. Terry is a 'muso' herself and the leader of the brilliant Greek/Afro/World/Jazz band Terryazoome.


© 2013 Rainlore's World/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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