Gig review: Neil Cowley Trio

Neil Cowley Trio. Picture: Facebook
Neil Cowley Trio. Picture: Facebook
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I SUSPECT the Neil Cowley Trio’s rhythm-driven music appeals strongly to people who like jazz’s energy and drive, but aren’t so keen on all the complicated fiddly stuff that goes on top.

Neil Cowley Trio - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

***

The pianist and his cohorts, the extravagantly bearded Rex Horan on bass and drummer Evan Jenkins, largely eschew jazz’s tradition of deep melodic and harmonic exploration in favour of a much simpler reliance on that aforementioned rhythm and energy.

Cowley’s own background encompasses an early involvement in classical music and a subsequent successful career in pop and dance music, and all of that is clearly reflected in the Trio’s music. This Glasgow International Jazz Festival concert was the first live performance of the music from their new album, and the opening sequence of four tunes sounded a little tentative until the familiar Gerald injected a blast of colour and drive that seemed to settle them down.

I haven’t heard the album, but on the basis of this first exposure, the new material sounds rather more reflective and considered than the kind of aural assault that led one exasperated critic to describe their approach as “loud, louder, stop” (to Cowley’s credit, he adopted the jibe as an album title). That said, Gang of One and another piece he did not identify bristled with the band’s customary rhythmic groove, although that was nowhere more evident than on the fierce energy and visceral punch of one of their earliest tunes, How Do We Catch Up.

Seen on 26.06.14