Friday 13 December 2013

Alex Hutton Trio - Dark Fables

Alex Hutton - Keys
Alex Hutton does not perform his own compositions enough and it is mystery to us why not. The crowd at Twickenham Jazz Club would welcome him back week after week, for they listened with intense delight and finished the evening by leaping to their feet in praise.

A standing ovation was not on the cards considering the start to the evening (28/11/2013) which spluttered to life with a clashing of melodies and volumes. 'Crying Wolf' nearly brought us to tears, partly because of a new synth riding on Hutton's usual keyboard arrangement, whose temperamental volume control jumped and dipped with alarming regularity. It also took some time to digest Stu Ritchie, his drumming and all of his noise toys which he produced from his magician's bag. Here's a man who juxtaposes his diminutive appearance with a larger than life sound and persona.

Dave Whitford - Bass
Both the first and second tune 'Clouds' were from Alex Hutton's most recent album Legentis. The Trio now restored some serenity with this tender tune and the warm front of Dave Whitford rolled in with a subtle rumble. Whitford often gets so low whilst playing you would think he was competing in a limbo competition rather than a concert. He is a thoughtful player who I have sketched in a clutch of gigs recently, here he was the nimbus nexus.

No Alex Hutton gig could be without his signature tune  'JJ' and Ritchie's drive on drums supported Hutton as he played with intensity and commitment. As an audience you get caught in the drama of the tune, it is a hurtling nose dive you just cannot pull away from. This wasn't the show stopper though. 'Shenandoah' created such a hush in the ample audience that we heard the footsteps of Dave Whitford in Alex Hutton's snowfall of notes. Hutton usually plays with an intense bow but here he leaned back and with mouth open unshackled his wrists.

Stu Ritchie - Drums
If our ears were tuned to bass and piano then our eyes were fixed on Stu Ritchie and his drums. His versatility is so impressive you feel you are experiencing more than just one man. Here with drumstick in mouth he gave us the drummer's equivalent of a Jew's harp. It fitted perfectly with his wily coyote image, Ritchie is wonderful to draw as he looks like one of those gnarled compact Gauls from an Asterix book.

The synth which housed Alex Hutton's 'Flute in a box' was a hit and miss affair, but it set the mood on the atmospheric 'Robin Hood's Cave'. Its hollow call combined with Ritchie's bowing, and created a growling smear of retro emotion. It reminded us of those dark fables so keenly animated in the 1970's where children's tales weren't spoiled by a sugary coating. I am full of admiration for the Twickenham Jazz Club audience who digested both Hutton's sweet frosting and his bitter laments with equal relish.


ps. After this gig I tracked down the music for Noggin the Nog which you can download here.

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