Concert Review – Phil Robson Trio – Lichfield Garrick Theatre – March 15th 2016
The renowned jazz guitarist and composer Phil Robson played a set that featured straightforward jazz soloing, tight ensemble playing, and experimental, almost science fiction music when he bought his trio to play at the Garrick Studio.
With sterling support provided by keyboard player Ross Stanley, and the dynamic drummer Gene Calderazzo, their sonic explorations took in music of their own invention, jazz standards, and work by such jazz luminaries as Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman and Herbie Hancock.
With many pieces stretching past the eight minute mark, this was an evening for endurance, for both musicians and audience. Opener Second Thoughts was an original with two different sides, rangin g from a slowish jazz ballad to a more sprightly, gospel vamp, underpinned by Ross Stanley’s keyboard bass, whilst he also played a solo of invention and shifting moods, whilst the second original Thief played around with ideas from the Herbie Hancock songbook, and the ensemble’s reading of Wayne Shorter’s Fall was a study in melodicism over technique. Blame it on my youth was a fine study in dynamics, whilst The Cut Off Point roved into Jazz rock territory, with experimental blasts of sounds from guitar and keyboard keeping the audience on their toes.
The second half featured only four pieces, but once again these ran the gamut of mood, with Vintage Vista a showcase for the incendiary drumming of Gene Calderazzo, Dimmy and the Bluemen, a piece by the saxophonist Dave Liebman containing ambient and abstract sounds that many musicians would shy away from, but which the three players took turns to explore, whilst the show was closed by One Finger Snap, one of Herbie Hancock’s best known pieces, and showed that jazz, in all of its most open, and exploratory nature was in safe hands with these three players.