There is now doubt about it, this trio is one of the most adventurous and challenging groups in the UK at the moment. Based in Leeds these three exceptionally talented musicians all play a major part in the city’s ever prolific LIMA collective. Although separately they all have successful recording careers, together their telepathic skills as improvisers truly shine.
This was free music in every sense of the word with each member of the group giving and taking spontaneously throughout their performance. On this occasion British free jazz hero Paul Dunmall also joined them on stage for a cross generational meeting of minds that was simply explosive.
The set comprised of four lengthy improvisations which mostly worked by taking a small idea and building upon it a layer at a time; like a helium ballon being filled breath by breath until it eventually implodes in on itself giving way under the pressure.
These musical passages were like mini dramas unfolding in front of our eyes and portrayed a mixed bag of emotions. Too often free improvising groups lack the dynamic variety to keep an audience engaged, but in this case they were able to affect a whole range of emotions using pace, energy and interaction. At times it was difficult to keep up with the intensity of all four players who at their most chaotic sounded almost painfully violent. In complete juxtaposition their were times when a playfulness crept into the performance, especially in Matthew Bourne’s case, who at time virtually climbed into the piano to manipulate it with his hands – at one point even using a empty cup from the tea he had just finished drinking.
An unexpected highlight of the set came during the final piece when the intensity and atonality of previous sections were put to one side. This was replaced by a beautiful drifting piece instigated by Bourne, who slowly floated chords from his piano as Dunmall complemented them with some enchantingly beautiful lines. After the violence of the previous works this came as a surprise but the footnote only emphasised the contrast and proved that free improvisation can be equally as powerful, without necessarily travelling at one hundred miles per hour.