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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Tuesday, 28 February 2017 10:45

James Beckwith Trio, 4th February, The Job Centre, London

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Bubbling under in South London.

It has been an age since KoJ has found itself south of the river on a Saturday evening, but we were tempted from out West End moorings by the promise of new things from the James Beckwith Trio.

Also novel was the choice of venue, The Job Centre. Fittingly located on the site of a former employment exchange near Deptford Market, it’s a sparky  addition to London’s endless list of places to go and just be.

Themed in thrift shop style its performance space is cosy enough to be intimate but generous enough to leave wiggle room 

James Beckwith is a British keyboard player who spent some years in Canada but is now back in Blighty with his current well drilled line up. His cohorts are Harry Pope on drums and Joe Downard on bass duties. They are a keen bunch with a smart city scaping sound and delivered an absorbing Saturday night sermon.

The first set quickly made clear JBT’s signature sound. Beckwith providing warming, deep grooves that were firmly anchored in melody with Harry Pope’s hip hop seasoned drumming giving the tunes velocity and a very fast forward heartbeat. The tunes were spacious full of Headhunters fluttering  and  a bubbling middle eastern vapour. Harry Pope nails each movement down with robust empathy that picture framed the floating melodies.

Song titles were lost due to the soce voce announcements but pop pickers in the audience noticed a cover of Californication which grooved along with soothing abstraction and a summer breeziness. 

By the second set Joe Downard’s bass and been wisely turned up and this turn of the dial literally amplified JBT’s strengths. Wide blocks of balmy grooves carried with an arresting insect buzz of drums and bass. The trio are free enough to freak out when they want to but composed enough not to lose their minds. Tunes don’t stay in the same place for very long but the audience does not feel left behind. Which is easier said than done.

JBT brought a centrifugal warmth and an urban complexity to a cold night in Deptford and KoJ will but putting their debut album on our wish list when it appears later this year.

Review: Simon Cooney

Photos: Courtesy of Paul Ottavio www.kodakline.com 

Read 1559 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 18:53

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