Sunday, 7 July 2013

Gig Review: Jim Blomfield Trio - Live At The Looking Glass 03.07.2013

You could be forgiven for thinking that Jim Blomfield is quite work-shy, given his very small and incredibly slow recorded output. You would though be entirely missing the bulk of his professional life as both a brilliant piano player and highly gifted composer. Known mostly for playing with other groups throughout Bristol and the south-west, he has successfully made a strong name for himself supporting among others Kevin Figes, Andy Hague, Greg Cordez and various Latin and salsa groups.

Somewhere close to a decade ago he made his excellent debut recording that showcased his trio and septet group recordings. But as good as it was, a number of reasons intervened that delayed any kind of follow-up...

...Until now. Armed with a new trio and occasional boss Kevin Figes' own Pig Records, Blomfield's trio-only album 'Wave Forms And Sea Changes' is finally here, and on the night of the 3rd of July 2013, at Bristol's new 'Looking Glass' venue, the recording was both launched and played in its entirety.

Each of the pieces live dazzled, with fast and unusual key and time changes equally complemented by strong melodies and driving rhythms - all testament to both the clever compositional talents of the groups leader, and the skill and passion of all three musicians. Aside from the memorable, melodic and always engaging piano work on display, the bass and drums supplied by Roshan 'Tosh' Wijetunge and Mark Whitlam respectively.

Mark Whitlam is well-known to local jazz fans, having supplied powerful drums to back near what feels like half the groups in the county, and here he is in his element, providing subtle brush work, hard funk, skittering dance beats and more besides, all to the cheers of an astounded and enthusiastic audience. Roshan Wijetunge is less well-known but no less talented. Possessing a light and nimble touch, Wijetunge is also able to generate one of the fullest, deepest and richest live bass sounds I've ever heard.

'Now And Zen' is the track being heavily promoted currently, and it's a doozy, showcasing absolutely everything it can in under 10 minutes. But from the strength of every other piece played live this night, the album is all killer, no filler. And the group is exactly the same, if not more so.

A small venue, though half-filled to begin with, by the close of the gig it was full to bursting and the audience was won over in both sets. Jim Blomfield often cites many pianists are his inspiration, and while they are all in there in the mix, he has distinctly has his own sound. Intellectual, humourous, driving, yearning, funky, dancey, it's all in there and more besides, and there's never a dull moment.

A thoroughly enjoyable gig, put aside any pre or misconceptions about what you think a piano trio can do or sound like. Here is the new real deal and they need to be seen live to be fully experienced.

To check out some more of Blomfield's work, and when he is playing live again (in his own groups and as a side man), have a look at his site at :

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