wed 19/12/2018

John Etheridge & Philip Catherine/Igor Gehenot Trio, The Vortex, Dalston | reviews, news & interviews

John Etheridge & Philip Catherine/Igor Gehenot Trio, The Vortex, Dalston

John Etheridge & Philip Catherine/Igor Gehenot Trio, The Vortex, Dalston

New duo of great guitarists supported by exquisite young trio in innovative Anglo-Belgian jazz event

Guitarist Philip CatherineJos L Knaepen

Distinguished jazz guitarists Philip Catherine and John Etheridge made (a little bit of) history at The Vortex last night, playing together for the first time. In a perfect balance of youth and experience, the evening also saw the launch of a debut album, Road Story, by the Igor Gehenot Trio (like Catherine, recorded by Brussels-based Igloo Records), with original compositions by the precocious 23 year-old pianist Gehenot. The evening was masterminded by Igloo and The Vortex; both deserve credit for an enterprising and worthwhile venture. 

Etheridge’s musical diversity and grasp of rock playing (with stints in Soft Machine, for example) is well known; Catherine, despite a more classical, acoustic sound, also has substantial jazz-rock experience. There was, all the same, a slight difference in attitudes to improvisation, Catherine’s in general more melodic, while Etheridge’s was slightly more chordal and rhythmic. The limited jamming time required a programme of standards, but their selection had a broad chronological and generic range.

Though both players were, individually, in fluidly lyrical form, and it was fascinating to hear the relationship evolve, they were too polite for the first couple of pieces, avoiding the harmonic wrestling match that a duo like this requires. Then, after about half an hour, during “Willow Weep for Me”, the partnership clicked, and the rest of the evening was sumptuous. 

Both players used plug-in acoustics, except for the Brazilian song Manhã de Carnaval, when Etheridge swapped to electric guitar, which seemed to give a more defined tonal contrast. Etheridge’s use of modest distortion and reverb prompted Catherine to try to craft some lovely electric effects on his plug-in acoustic, and this, in turn provoked Etheridge to improvise more assertively. By the end the players were enjoying one another’s company so much they played two encores. This partnership would - Igloo Records? - make a great album.

Igor Gehenot’s new trio specialises in delicacy, spaciousness, and the exquisite interplay of its players. With a sonic portfolio comprising Paul Bley and Brad Mehldau, with a dash, surely, of EST, they played Gehenot’s searching and ambitious compositions with a tangible sense of adventure and commitment. Stand-out track was perhaps “Au Lac”, a tone poem of mountain scenery, in which a looping melody, building over piano chords, crescendoed, then dissolved in an aqueous shimmer, before rising again in angry angular drumbeats.  

The band, Sam Gerstmans on double bass and Teun Verbruggen on drums, both more experienced than Gehenot, improvised simultaneously, and with panache. Verbruggen was especially good during the quieter passages, creating spinning wheels of pattering sounds with fingertips and shakers. Gehenot’s trio does not yet have an entirely distinctive sound, but it can certainly make a beautiful one.

Despite Belgium’s proximity and the quality of her music, Belgian jazz has a much lower profile here than her smaller and more distant Nordic counterparts. An important, eye-opening event.

Verbruggen was especially good during the quieter passages, creating spinning wheels of pattering sounds with fingertips and shakers

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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