Helen Abbey and the Dave Pullin Trio

DAVID WAKEFIELD Zak's at The Swan, Poringland


Zak's at The Swan, Poringland

Jazz clubs open up in the most unlikely of places, and who would have thought that this American-style food outlet would fit the bill? But alternate Thursday evenings in the cosy bar area do so, with an interesting series of gigs by local artists. And it's free, to boot.

The current programme - it culminates with a pre-Christmas concert by young vibes wizard Lewis Wright, which should not be missed - contains a good mix of instrumentalists and vocalists, and Helen Abbey presented a nice programme of familiar material, backed by the house trio.

Ms Abbey, who has a pleasant, soulful voice, showed herself to be more comfortable on slower number like That Old Devil Called Love and the Latin classic The Girl From Ipanema.

But with due respect to the vocalist, the highlight of this evening was the piano playing of Chris Cooper, a young man whose ability seems to grow with every hearing.

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Already a soloist not afraid to take risks, he is also developing into a fine accompanist - twin qualities not necessarily found in equal measure, no matter how accomplished the player. With Pullin on bass and Neil Kane on drums, this is a sound and solid backing unit.

t The next gig, on November 8, features trumpeter Ray Simmons and guitarist Phil Brooke, with rhythm backing.

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