A pretty good crowd had built up steadily at the wonderful Hideaway - already firmly ensconced as one of my favourite venues - for the Frank Harrison Trio before the off, and people still kept on arriving after. Excellent for a Thursday, especially in Streatham, and given the large capacity of the Hideaway.
Another thing that is notable about the Hideaway is that it tends to attract a larger than average young crowd, and a greater than average ethnic mix. Both of these are very important for jazz. Especially without substantial amounts of young people attending jazz gigs, audiences in general for jazz could only decline over time as the more senior jazz fans either become too infirm or die out.
The Frank Harrison Trio at the Hideaway last Thursday night marked a most welcome return of this world-class trio to gigging in their own right after something of a hiatus. Frank Harrison is unquestionably the finest jazz pianist of his generation and the fiercest, most innovative improviser. His trio has recently undergone a personnel change in bassist Davide Petrocca taking over Aidan O'Donnell's former seat. However, the former was not available for this date and so Calum Gourlay very capably took his place. The traps were manned, as ever, by the amazing Stephen Keogh, one of the British Isles very finest.
Gourlay, it has to be said here, surprised with a performance that far exceeded the typical substitute bassist. This rising young star, who also leads his own quintet, astounded with the way he seamlessly integrated with the other players and with how superbly well he got into the music, both in ensemble playing and some spectacular solos.
Last Thursday night's performance by the Frank Harrison Trio included a preview of their forthcoming new album Sideways (to be released in January 2012 and to be reviewed here around that time), a mix of outstanding new Harrison originals and some wonderful standards, a formula that works supremely well. Especially so as the originals compare exceedingly well to the classics, which are mostly very heavy weight indeed.
Harrison's compositions tend to lean towards the lyrical, melodious, and the new ones generally followed that line. This is in sometimes stark contrast to his often fiery, fierce bebop and hard bop improvs (especially with Gilad Atzmon & The OHE), which were much more mellow on the night. But nonetheless as exhilaratingly inventive and imaginative as ever, playing right out on the edge and keeping one - barely! - hanging on to the edge of one's seat. A spectacular performance by Harrison that simply left one gasping for air.
However, an exception to Harrison's lyrical compositions, Gilad's House, showed a new, somewhat darker side to Harrison that had not been heard previously and that proved totally riveting.
Keogh's style of drumming is the perfect complement to Harrison in this trio setting, and his solos were every bit as breathtaking and exciting as his leader's, keeping one right on the edge of one's seat.
The ensemble playing throughout was just perfection itself, and one would expect nothing less from artists with the experience and of the calibre of Harrison and Keogh. And Gourlay, as already noted, more than held his own.
The roughly one hour long each two sets of the Frank Harrison Trio at the Hideaway alas seemed to fly past all too quickly. Filled with about as much excitement, sheer beauty and exhilaration as one could wish for, this gig was an unforgettable experience. As much pleasure as there is to be had outside of between sheets!
Prepare for a real feast in the form of the forthcoming Sideways album. It is going to be an absolute cracker! Meanwhile, more London and other dates are lined up in the new year, so be sure to catch the Frank Harrison Trio for an unforgettable experience.
© 2011 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.