An exceptionally cold, miserable Wednesday night, and a remarkably well filled Pizza? Well, this was the Frank Harrison Trio's official launch gig for their new album, Sideways. And also the start of their associated brief tour in their new line-up featuring Davide Petrocca on bass and stalwart drummer Stephen Keogh.
Harrison seems to have hit the nail on the head with this line-up! As near perfection as you can get, as not only already evident on the album but as would be made even clearer last night.
What a night this proved to be, too! Throughout the two sets of the Frank Harrison Trio At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, Harrison and his trio excelled. With the greatest of ease and panache. Without trying, Harrison again showed why he is the stellar performer, the finest pianist of the younger generations that he is, perfectly effortlessly as always. Petrocca seems just made for this kind of set up and was a joy, as indeed was Keogh who just excels in this, too. The empathy among these players seemed almost uncanny!
Harrison presented a mix of material from Sideways and other so far un-recorded material, both new and standards. A pure dream of a blend. Harrison's 'sideways glance' at Autumn Leaves is one of the most memorable there has ever been, and nor could one forget his treatment of Brubeck's In Your Own Sweet Way, by way of examples. But his own originals delight every bit as much and compare perfectly to the classics.
Throughout both sets, whenever one might have thought things could not possibly get any better than this, they did, and the tension and excitement just kept mounting. The Frank Harrison Trio's flawless, exemplary and just plain gorgeous ensemble playing was matched by the soloing, with innovative, inspired improvs from Harrison as one would expect. This man never runs short on imagination, nor on chords! Neither would anyone have dreamt of talking during Petrocca's inventive bass solos. (Going by the old adage, 'Everybody always talks during the bass solo.') Keogh's finely judged solos were equally outstanding.
Especially notable also was that last night, Harrison played with a particular edge that occasionally bordered on the hard, almost aggressive, as he kept raising the ante and pushing the envelope. A sheer delight that one could have happily listened to all night! Harrison's darker as well as more humorous sides, given plenty of rein.
The Frank Harrison Trio At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho was one of those very special gigs, even by Harrison standards. More, please!
NB - The Frank Harrison Trio At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho was filmed by documentary film maker Tali Atzmon, and a few of her videos of the event are embedded below. The sound is excellent.
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