Wednesday 4 December 2013

Duncan Eagles Quartet - Spicing Life

Duncan Eagles - Tenor Saxophone
From a cursory glance at Facebook it is clear that some jazz musicians spend days sitting in their pants with Playstations in hand. Even though I have sketched Duncan Eagles more than any other muso in my brief tenure on this blog I do not know whether he embraces the tracksuit pose or a full Y-frontal exposé in his spare time. On this day (17/11/2013) of the EFG London Jazz Festival he had absolutely no time to put his feet up. Earlier he had performed with Mark Perry and then Leo Appleyard's Quartet at Pizza Express. Despite this heavy workload he saved the best to last and flourished at a boisterous Spice of  Life in Soho.
Benet Mclean

The opening set by Duncan Eagles' younger brother, Samuel, had got us in the mood but it was Eagles Senior who now commanded the stage with a relaxed repertoire from his various projects. The wild card in the quartet's pack was the mercurial Benet Mclean who I had sketched the day before at The Southbank Centre. Despite being in a laidback mood Mclean laid down a lyrical palette with a pointillist's verve. Although he is more of the Hieronymus Bosch and Richard Dadd persuasion his colourful dabs transformed the opener 'Shawty' into a dreamy interlude that left us in a state of hypnotic wonderment.

Chris Nickolls - Drums
Two new tunes warmed the belly of the set, both of which I had heard recently at the Jazzed Up Exhibition. Both Chris Nickolls and the aforementioned Mclean drunk deeply from Max Luthert's new composition 'Banrock Station' while Eagles was at his most direct, with that overblowing style and rising left shoulder illuminating his own 'Folk Song'.

Max Luthert - Bass
Luthert's composition skills were again called to the fore in the form of 'Quiet December' which is soon to be released on his debut album. It has a pedestrian opening and a lulling effect that always makes me feel like smoking again, just to complete the reflective vibe. There were a few yawns in the audience but this shouldn't reflect badly on Luthert or the quartet because it was the cold reality of Monday morning that had started to dawn on us. Similar to that cold sweat when January peeks its icy head under our Christmas duvet. Benet Mclean added the tinsel once again to the Duncan Eagles Quartet's Douglas Fir.

Paul Pace - Mr Spice
The finale was a family affair with a powerful tenor and alto combo from Eagles senior and junior. It was a challenge of dexterity over conflict even though Duncan watched Samuel like a hawk. It was not clear whether this was in admiration or with a sibling's protective arm around his younger brother. The family theme was complete when I accosted the Eagles' parents on the escalator which descended into the dungeons of Tottenham Court Road and I embarrassed them with my tipsy praise, but we must acknowledge Paul Pace's nurturing involvement too. This is the third year in a row that he has hosted Duncan Eagles at the London Jazz Festival and from his balconied perch he must look down with pride at how this protégé continues to artistically develop and grow.


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