Gig Review/Guest Review By Alban Low: The Twelveheads Live At The Amersham Arms, New Cross, London, Tuesday 5th March 2013
The Twelveheads

The Amersham Arms
New Cross, London
Tuesday 5th March 2013


The Twelveheads:

Peter Ibbetson - drums
Alam Nathoo - tenor sax
Tom Challenger - tenor sax
Tom Farmer - double bass

Alban Low's review titled 'Both barrels from The Twelveheads' originally posted on his blog Art Of Jazz 2013/03/11
The Twelveheads Live At The Amersham Arms, New Cross,
London, Tuesday 5th March 2013

Both barrels from The Twelveheads

Last Tuesday (05/03/2013) I witnessed the birth of a new band; it wasn't a difficult delivery, in fact no gas or air was needed and we smoothly entered a new era for the SE Collective's Peter Ibbetson. The new arrivals were 'The Twelveheads' who broke their waters at The Amersham Arms in New Cross, London.

This is a new moniker for the quartet that I had seen under their previous name, Pseudonym, just a few weeks earlier (November 2012, Spice of Life).
Img. of Peter Ibbetson
Peter Ibbetson

The S.E. Collective at the Amersham Arms have built a hard and cutting edge reputation in their brief history, and this was another rapier-like thrust into the soft underbelly of London's music scene.

Although it's been through lean times, we have a nimble and expressive group of old and new Jazz musicians writing and performing some fantastic new material during Britain's darkest days of austerity. Capitalising on the appetite for fresh and original tunes Ibbetson was recording the night's endeavours with the help of Alex Bonney, who hid in the shadows, illuminated only by the glow of his laptop.
Img. of Tom Farmer
Tom Farmer

It was a patient and measured start that sucked the air from the venue itself (I Hate Nostalgia, I Want Nothing To Do With It.), creating a build up of latent energy that left me emotionally thirsty.

Then we felt the pumping rhythms of Alam Nathoo's and the wafting & sweeping of Tom Challenger's (tenor) saxophones on 'All That Was, and How It Is Now'.

Nathoo is soft shouldered player, giving no indication of his power and intensity from the outside. Again Challenger has a disarming and prepossessing demeanour that is more Teddy bear than Grizzly. Although both took the spotlight on regular occasions  their power was at its greatest when working together. They elevate their performance not by competition but by nurture and building upon each other's successes.

Enter the middle phase of the recording and Ibbetson's beats pulsed from his electronic box. They were evocative and subtle throughout. For example, in a composite  of  'You Never Listen'  and  '51 Rue Cler'  the


Img of Alam Nathoo
Alam Nathoo

electronic sounds were reminiscent of a bell, perhaps warning you of an incident in a distant (mental health) ward. Ibbetson was restraint itself throughout, developing beautiful layers through scratches and washes. Although physically in the background he's very much the leader, both conducting with a lone hand at one point, and more commonly with eyes full of intensity.

At last we passed half-way and the quartet let rip with the bouncy melodic 'Here Comes Mylo,' a tune about an excitable dog. Apologies for this ham-fisted metaphor but 'The Twelveheads' were let of the lead, Challenger leaned back like he was begging for treats, Ibbetson's sticks rapped a barking beat, Tom  Farmer

Img. of Tom Challenger
Tom Challenger

on bass wagged his shaggy tail, and like a mischievous hound Nathoo pissed up the legs of the audience with devilish charm, and even cracked a smile at the end.

On the last tune of their recording Nathoo and Challenger again worked so well together under Ibbetson's direction. Both took turns building up the structure of 'Too Much To Think' until they then smashed their creation down with  both barrels of their collective saxophones.

Like many a musical evening we leave the venue picking through the pieces of our memory, humming the shard of a tune or recreating a slideshow of images to replay in the future. The snapshot I'll leave with is not an image of Peter Ibbetson's first musical baby..... but of his twins, Challenger and Nathoo, crying in honeyed harmony. Don't take my word for it, look out for the CD that will grow up to be one of the 'big boys' of the Jazz playground.


Alban Low is Rainlore's World Artist in Residence.

© 2013 Rainlore's World/Alban Low. All rights reserved.
First published on Alban Low's Art Of Jazz blog 2013/03/11.

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