07/30/11 By Tomas Ciucelis
James Allsopp, Kit Downes & Tim Giles Trio @ The Vortex (London, UK)
24 July, 2011
James Allsopp -- reeds
Kit Downes -- keyboards
Tim Giles -- drums
The Trio opened the set with one of their originals, 'Animal Slices'. It began with an energetic groove, which led to an intricate and well organized improvisational development. What immediately struck the ears, was an appealing continuity between the free-grooving pulse, experimental electro-acoustic ambience and art-rock-ish riffs. One could immediately tell that the Trio was heading towards the dense, almost orchestral sound.
Thoughtful and articulate James Allsopp was leading the way with his artillery of reeds (two saxophones and a clarinet), showing confidence both as a composer and improvisor. He constantly kept some intriguing stuff going on on a conceptual level. There were also some impressive and dense emotional discharges, like the one in 'For No Raisin'. Kit Downes provided a groovy and high quality comping by pushing his Hammond to its expressive boundaries and keeping the pulse with powerful bass lines. He really made an impressive statement with his tasty, extremely subtle and expressive technique: playing without showing off, only necessary notes/noises, creatively uncovering many layers of obviously deeply internalized musical heritage and nonetheless creating something that is quite 'today'. Downes' keyboards acted as an effective imagination booster, providing the acoustic pair of reeds and drums with an immersive, cinematic context. Together with the drummer Tim Giles they were constantly diving into the convincingly deconstructed groovy patterns and I must say that Giles definitely felt more in his shoes compared to the occasion earlier that month (19 July, The Vortex), when I heard him playing with Mat Bourne Trio. This time Giles demonstrated a really good feel of space and adequate technical vocabulary, thus putting his drumming style in the right context. At times this almost shamanistic electro-acoustic journey had somewhat ghostly quality and even created the impression of listening to an old sci-fi movie soundtrack. The Trio surely has the magic ability to lend their ears to each other and approach 'the unexpected'. Witnessing their adventurous ways through the delicate and sometimes fragile compositions was a really inspiring experience.
An impressive musical literacy allow them to wander seamlessly between the delicately controlled free improvisational environments to almost art-rock realms, full of powerful, pulsating, psychedelic riffs.
In terms of mapping their musical territory, my personal compass would point to Till Brönner, Cinematic Orchestra, Nils Petter Molvær--a thoughtful, atmospheric and wide ambience can surely be one of the common denominators here. All in all, this creative Trio gave us a memorable performance, enjoying their own journey all the way. While these guys didn't take their presence on stage too seriously, the presence of their music was really commanding and deep.
Photo: Geiste Kincinaityte
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