- Dead Hedge Trio
- Leather Cow
Tonight, presented by Kazimier’s Jazz Club, there come three bands that each give a different definition of what jazz actually is. It’s a vague and loose term, jazz, rescued from vapid “feel-good” commerciality in the World War Two era by the likes of Charlie Parker and his ilk. Be-bop clawed back jazz’s artistic credibility. Now, in a dimly lit Liverpool venue, it’s clear to see that not only is that credibility still intact but the music itself is still evolving beyond any boundaries created by past jazz idols.
LEATHER COW arrive on stage first and burst into an onslaught of the most emancipated free jazz you’re likely to hear. Ornette Coleman is an obvious reference aside from the fact that Leather Cow’s bassist, Rob Wilkinson, hits a lot harder than Ornette ever did. Wilkinson plays like an out-of-place Death From Above 1979 fan which, surprisingly, nicely compliments the wayward direction that the band take. Leather Cow are an impressive but challenging start to the night and that’s a challenge that this audience is more than willing to accept.
Next we have DEAD HEDGE TRIO, who are slightly more refined than their predecessors yet even more expressive. The guitarist, Rory Ballantyne, adds 20,000 leagues’ worth of depth to their expansive sound, playing abrasive, coarse chords and melodies that are reminiscent of John Frusciante’s work on Ataxia’s first LP. Nick Branton, the trio’s saxophonist, lunges charismatically into his instrument, warring enigmatically with the thing as if it were in the midst of a musical brawl. The musicianship shown by the whole band, held together by drummer Michael Metcalfe, is almost primal. They journey through tracks Monster Munch and the stirring Antibiotic with passionate fervour. Elements of early Portico Quartet emerge throughout. The boys from Dead Hedge leave the crowd stunned.
It’s been a busy few years for ROLLER TRIO, whose debut album was nominated for a Mercury Music award. In no time at all they have become one of the most important and innovative new breakthrough acts in the British music scene, challenging people’s perceptions of what modern jazz should sound like.
This evening’s show is part of a short tour in support of their imminent second album Fracture, the release of which is being funded through an online crowdfunding campaign. The band play an engaging set which includes the new single High Tea as well as older pieces Deep Heat, Roller Toaster and Howdy Saudi. The performance is immersive: complex melodic structures and rhythmic syncopations are fed through the instruments with almost mathematical precision. Guitarist Luke Wynter sticks like glue to the rhythms employed; even the erratic wanderings of drummer Luke Redding-Williams and saxophonist James Mainwaring, whose vibrant playing entrances everyone in the room, cannot throw off the skeletal underpinning of Wynter’s nebulous guitar work.
Roller Trio offer a mix of electronic infusion, hip hop-style breakbeats, the occasional foray into rock territory and, mostly, some lush, opulent and almost geometric jazz. It’s a wonderful and innovative cacophony. You aren’t likely to catch a show quite like this one anytime soon, so, it’d be wise simply to patiently await Roller Trio’s next return to Liverpool.