Thursday, 6 March 2014

Terence Collie the Conkerer

Jac Jones - Tenor Saxophone
All too often we cannot see what is right under our noses and I'm as guilty as the next man. Last month (16/02/2014) I took the long train ride down to the south coast to see South West London's Prison Break at the Southampton Modern Jazz Club. Again it is with regret that I do not venture out enough to hear live music in these rich pockets beyond the M25.

A series of near misses had whetted my appetite for Prison Break, a long list of dates including Terence Collie on piano had evaded me but it was the boss of the SMJC, Ted Carrasco, that persuaded me to go the extra mile and see the quartet. For me it was a 4 tune set that chose equally from their 2 album/, "And Again" and "Doing Time".

Terence Collie - Piano
Straight-in was Jac Jones, thick and meaty on "Jinxed". An uncompromising gambit and a showcase for a talent that is unassuming, even apologetic in its demeanour. The Bent Brief, where the SMJC resides was modestly full, with an equal share of the sexes it was neither edgy nor buzzing but respectful.

There was more sparkle up next in the lyrical piano of Terence Collie on "One Year On". Smooth and effortless, it was almost a homage to the engineer (and altoist) who originally helped record it at Clown's Pocket Studios, Derek Nash. Repeating melodies on saxophone cast salty waves over us and reminded us that the sea lurked somewhere nearby in the dark. It was Collie who started to shine through. He has a gaze that wilts you at a thousand paces when he is in the zone, the term furrowed brow does not do him justice, more corrugated in its intensity.

John Sam - Drums
My attention was taken by the night's drummer on "Prison Break Blues", whether this says more about his powerful presence than the tune I do not know. Joe Sam has a deceptively subtle edge for a man who looks like he has been in a few scrapes, but with a brow to match Collie you wouldn't want to get caught in a staring contest between the two.

Joe Sam - Bass
The most impressive tune was "Niner Blues" which features the rich and energetic bass of Joe Sam and just enough touch from brother John on drums. Deceptively mysterious with a whiff of North African wonder in sax melody it builds from a gentle Terence Collie solo until it couldn't contain itself any longer. Thrusting and direct by the end, the bass of Joe Sam had an earthy thumping tone like a 5 ton horse chestnut falling from a tree. If this tune was indeed a conker it would be far more than a Niner, it would be pickled in vinegar and baked in the oven before reaching triple figures at least. Collie has every right to prowl the playground with this tune in his pocket and a composition in a head that resembles the bronze patina of a prize nut.

A few more trips are planned to the SMJC this year, I see that Paul Jordanous plays there on the 22nd June. Unfortunately I'll be missing the TW12 Jazz Festival (3rd August) this year where you'll be able to hear Prison Break at their best.


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