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

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.