Monday 24 June 2013

Frank Harrison - Gilad Atzmon's Crown Jewel

Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon is a force of nature, a man that cannot be contained by international boundaries, nor by pen and paper, as I found out last Thursday (20/06/2013) at Twickenham Jazz Club. Although I had recently attempted to capture Atzmon and the Frank Harrison Trio in 2 dimensions at the launch of their new album, Songs of the Metropolis (Pizza Express, Soho), I couldn't refuse the opportunity to represent  their 3 dimensional personas in my sketchbook once again.

Frank Harrison -
Piano / organ
Atzmon is the undisputed Odysseus of the Jazz stage, a man worthy of myths and legends in the years to come. A man full of bristling humour. A man whose sexual pheromones are so powerful we forgive his indiscretions and wallow in his bawdy anecdotes.
I must have made 12 detailed sketches, none of which captures his prowess. Instead I present this stroke of movement. It is the only way I know how to convey the way he rocks from side to side, leaning back, arching his back. He breaks that imagined electric fence that guards many a stage, walking into the audience he squeezes every once of energy into his performance. There are no boundaries to his own body either, modesty is but a puny veil, and his 'genetalis', as he refers to them are in fact an excellent foil for more ribbing and humour. However good Atzmon is (and he has few equals/betters), it is his 3 musical crown jewels, Frank Harrison, Tim Thornton and Eddie Hick that deserve a huge pouch of credit.

Eddie Hick -
If Atzmon is a living Greek myth then Harrison is his Priapus. His skills stand proud despite his understated appearance, and he extols the adage 'Its not the size but what you do with it'. Musically he wouldn't need any such saying to support his work and on this night he stood defiantly like a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea. Understandably he excelled on a grooving 'Scarborough Fair' and he had a sound throughout like an early Mike Ratledge toying with his genres.

Tim Thornton -
Eddie Hick was constantly confronted by Atzmon's alto playing, I'd like to say musically but I mean physically. The drums between them only saving Hick from hand to hand combat. How he retains his serene expression only a black belt zen master would know.

Kelvin Christiane -
Baritone Saxophone
This was my first close-up view of the rapidly rising Tim Thornton on bass. I had sketched him before during my Bull's Head residency but he hadn't shone then (admittedly neither had my drawing) and early signs didn't do him justice either. It might be his shear size that requires momentum but his sharpness of mind would more than account for that. I fear it is the popularity of Thornton that had worn him down a little, the late nights at Ronnie Scott's and relentless work load.
These sentences are unfair in many ways because by the second set he was excellent, the head bobbed, the jaw slackened and he grasped the nettle and we were stung by his dexterous solos.

A Twickenham Jazz Club night wouldn't be complete without Kelvin Christiane, and his baritone saxophone had the desired effect on the afore mentioned 'genetalis' of Gilad Atzmon. They faced each other, blowing hard and locking horns like two stags in nearby Bushy Park. Impressive in its spectacle and it caught the eye of the audience, but mine we're fixed on Frank Harrison and the gentle twinkle of his crown jewels in the background.


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