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The Ant Law Quintet
The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, presented by NC Jazz
27 February 2014
Ant Law - Guitar
Michael Chillingworth - reeds
Ivo Neame - piano
Tom Farmer - bass
James Maddren - drums
If this gig was any guide to the direction of contemporary jazz, prepare for wider recognition of a new player on the scene. The guitar is one of the most difficult instruments on which to achieve jazz individuality - that is to say, to develop a sound that is distinct, individual and, perhaps most important, easily recognisable by the listener. Many have tried, few succeed.
Ant Law’s approach differs significantly from others on the scene. While adopting conventional techniques, he adds to the mix a broader sound of many notes played together applying electronic technologies which result in ‘sheets of sound’. At first, one is taken by surprise, but it soon becomes clear why and how this has become an essential, and distinctive, feature of his playing.
His technique both complements and contrasts with the other members of his Quintet. In this combo, it was noticeable that in place of the usual pattern of each member soloing in turn, the Quintet frequently preferred to perform in sub-groups, in an innovative and refreshing approach.
The mode of jazz varied from almost conventional modern cool jazz to contemporary jazz rock - the latter evidenced in the grandstanding number closing the first set, Mishra-Jathi, in which the solid drumming of James Maddren ruled supreme. At times, bassist, Tom Farmer, seemed in a trance as the rhythm increased inexorably in its intensity.
Each member of this Quintet has a significant pedigree in contemporary UK Jazz and their skills were plain both to see and hear. Their combination provides a formidable offering with which to build on the Quintet’s first album, Entanglement, released in 2013, unsurprisingly to critical acclaim. Another is due for release shortly. Be sure to hear it.