Martin Speake, Norwich

DAVID WAKEFIELD This concert provided a mixed bag of bewildering variations, with titles like The Healing Power of Intimacy and Buried Somewhere.

DAVID WAKEFIELD

Despite listening to all kinds of jazz over four decades, and, I hope, keeping an open mind at all times, I still view the prospect of a jazz “concept” with a somewhat jaundiced ear. Musical concepts are like concept cars: sometimes they blossom gloriously, at other times it might have been better to leave them on the drawing board.

This band – Brits Martin Speake on alto sax and Mick Hutton on bass, plus Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson and the American drum icon Paul Motian – use concepts from their members, adapted by the leader.

This concert provided a mixed bag of bewildering variations, with titles like The Healing Power of Intimacy and Buried Somewhere. These free


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compositions are all very worthy, but do not provide an essential element of jazz, that of excitement.

It was a relief to hear Level One, at which point the band did swing mightily and we at last heard what Motian was capable of. Call me old-fashioned, but I like drummers to be drivers. For most of this time he wasn't driving; he wasn't even conducting. He was a contributor at best, and I felt a tad disappointed as a result.

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