Iain Ballamy’s Anorak XL

Iain Ballamy, Nathaniel Facey, Freddie Gavita and Kieran McLeod (Photo © John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk)

Iain Ballamy, Nathaniel Facey, Freddie Gavita and Kieran McLeod (Photo © John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk)

Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Jazz Festival

In an ideal world, the 30th anniversary reunion of Loose Tubes at the festival would have been expanded into a whole host of other gigs by the individual Tubes, but aside from a guest spot by Julian Arguelles with Tricko-Tareco, this was the only spin-off on offer. It was an appropriate one, however, as saxophonist Iain Ballamy’s Anorak, with Gareth Williams on piano, Martin France on drums and Steve Watts on bass (originally Orlando Le Fleming), had first appeared at the festival many years back playing music commissioned by Cheltenham.

Expanded by three players from a younger generation – Nathaniel Facey on alto, Freddie Gavita on trumpet and Kieran McLeod on trombone – it was one of Anorak’s earlier pieces that opened the gig: Tribute To Alan Skidmore’s Tribute To John Coltrane, Ballamy neatly including a quote from A Love Supreme into his solo.

There followed a thoroughly satisfying programme of Ballamy originals which took a particularly British look at the core jazz values of strong horn harmony writing, lithe and flexible, swinging rhythms and lots of solo space.

Ballamy, who had mentored Facey and also met McLeod through his teaching at the Royal Academy (originally the trumpeter was to be Reuben Fowler but another RA graduate, Gavita, had stepped in at short notice), was generous almost to a fault in handing over the solo space to the youngsters. I don’t say that because they didn’t deserve it – all were terrific, Gavita blazing on One For Gary, McLeod “doing things trombones aren’t supposed to do” in Ballamy’s words on Chomping At The Saveloy, Facey brightly eloquent at length on the closer – but it would have been nice to hear more of Ballamy himself.

Categories: Live review

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