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Led Bib - Led Bib, The Full Moon, Cardiff, 15/02/2017. Rating: 4-5 out of 5 "Led Bib once more provided ample food for our musical souls. I exhort you to go and hear them playing live". Guest contributor Sean Wilkie enjoys the Led Bib experience in Cardiff.

Led Bib

The Full Moon, Cardiff

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

I exhort you to go and hear Led Bib playing live.  The band have just released a sixth studio album, “Umbrella Weather”, on RareNoiseRecords, and a promotional UK tour - in two parts, with a European interlude - kicked off in Cardiff last week.  Originally scheduled for the upstairs room at Dempsey’s, where the band have played three times in the past eight years, the gig was moved some thirty yards down Womanby Street to the Full Moon.

The Latin expression, sui generis, means ‘of its own kind’.  Led Bib have been placed into a number of invented genres in the past, but under the powerful effect of two sets of their new music, I would argue that it’s time to admit they are something unique.  What part is played in this by the group’s consistency?  Led Bib still comprise the same five original band members from 2004.  I’d hesitate, however, to say that they were the same musicians, as each has developed aspects of their playing (and writing) over the eight or nine years that I’ve been listening.  This is a band so loyal to each other that a one-off short performance last year with Elliot Galvin depping for keyboardist Toby McLaren causes them concern; they shouldn’t really have done it (the incident was discussed in a feature article in Jazzwise last month.)

Prog or prog-rock is one of the genres with which some have wrestled in their efforts to understand Led Bib.  If memory serves, the group’s leader and drummer, Mark Holub, once mentioned to me that he was unaware of the band, Van der Graaf Generator, until enthusiastic comparisons from audience members lead him to investigate it further; a disclaimer which seemed wholly appropriate given his age.  But ‘prog’, if understood as shorthand for ‘progressive’, isn’t such a bad name for this music, particularly if the ‘rock’ suffix is dropped (because, if rock and jazz are your categories, Led Bib will always file under the latter).  Led Bib’s music often progresses from one thing to another, and at least some of it lends itself well to being experienced as episodically as certain titles suggest. In this regard, I am particularly fond of “Call Centre Labyrinth” from Sensible Shoes, and “Recycling Saga” from the Neighbourhood album; both from the pen of Holub.

The leader was also responsible for two new pieces in this mould – “At The Shopping Centre” and “On The Roundabout” – which were for me the particular highlights of an intense first set, and the only two pieces whose names I managed to catch, eavesdropping on the stage chatter due to my happy proximity to the narrow raised platform upon which, under a low ceiling clad in colourful wallpapered bombs apparently heading for them, the band lined-up in a ‘V’ or 1-2-2 formation, with Chris Williams playing alto sax on the left (our right) in front of bassist Liran Donin, and Pete Grogan playing alto sax on the right (our left), in front of keyboardist Toby McLaren.

“At The Shopping Centre” was a thrilling escapade driven by a clarion-call theme and a heavy groove upon which we were served the night’s first taste of Chris Williams’ fast and fiery soloing, which soon morphed into some Led Bib-trademark dual-sax cross-riffing.  When a slow and stately line of melody, repeated over and over, gradually emerged in the aftermath of all that, it was as if, from out of a mist, appeared the Shangri-La we were unaware we’d sought.  Was this the reason we were there, had we found the store we’d come to shop in?  Are there, as the music hinted, even more interesting things to do at the Shopping Centre?

The titular roundabout of the other piece was surely a large and busy one; no sooner had we entered, than we ground to a temporary halt.  Or perhaps it was a complex structure of interlocking mini-roundabouts: either we didn’t come round again for ten minutes or else, when we did, it wasn’t the same place.  Toby McLaren shone during this one, making some complex manoeuvres on the electric piano, leaping octaves and sculpting a handful of miniature cut-glass figures, interspersed with some considered mashing of the keyboard, his restraint further flavouring a fulsome brew.  It was the sort of display that usually draws enthusiastic response from the Jazz at Dempsey’s audience who’d relocated here, but McLaren brought us down so gradually that, by the time it was apparent that we wouldn’t have been interrupting this passage with our applause, something else was already occurring.

Everyone in the band seemed raring to go.  Pete Grogan took the night’s first saxophone solo, on the opening piece, “Insect Invasion”; it was instantly sharp and searing, with pointed angular lines that briefly evoked Jackie McLean.  Chris Williams is now I think widely appreciated as a distinctive voice on the British jazz scene, and he still carries (slightly) the majority of the individual saxophone soloing in the music.  But Grogan’s voice has grown in Led Bib over the last couple of albums, and there is far, far more dual-saxophony in this music than there are ‘turns to blow’.  Whether it be riffing in unison or counterpoint, duetting improvisationally, or spurring each other’s playing with second lines, riffs and new ideas, the saxophonic front-line of Led Bib seems stronger and more capable than ever before.

Bassist Liran Donin brings a strong right hand to this music: eschewing the plectrum wedged into the bass guitar, his fingers looked rubbery in the blur when he strummed across all four strings.  He often seemed spurred to heights of funkiness by the trajectory of Williams, who was playing in front of him; although the influence might well have been the reverse.  Donin emerged as a composer within the band on their last album and he has followed this with two more fine pieces on the new collection, both of them performed at The Full Moon.  “Women’s Power” closed the first set, highlighting the power of the band, and with Holub and Donin spurring him on, Chris Williams wholeheartedly embraced this cause.

The second set flew by, featuring one tune by each of the musicians.  Spacily atmospheric at the outset, Williams’ “Marching Orders” pulled Grogan into a conversational two-step, with the band in perfect file behind them.

Holub’s “The Boot” walked upon skittery rhythms and a fragmented theme with a brooding tone, centre-staging the bass and drums.

Donin’s “Goodbye” was introduced by Holub as “a quiet one”: the drummer has a very personable stage presence and the impish humour in his remarks isn’t absent from his face when he plays, although that was hard to see due to the set-up and the shape of the stage at the Full Moon.  In any case, I doubt whether anybody felt badly deceived when the wistful melody of the bassist’s tune provoked another fiery saxophonic duet as the music built to its tumultuous crescendo.

Grogan’s “Skeleton Key to the City” sent Williams again to the heights and Donin back to Funkytown, before the set closed with Toby McLaren’s “Ceasefire”, renamed “Cheesewire” for the night.  After negotiating a long but cogent theme, this piece developed over a groove so taut it would have cut through even the strongest cheese.  There were a few calls for an encore, but most of the crowd seemed satisfied that Led Bib had once more provided ample food for our musical souls.

SEAN WILKIE

Upcoming Led Bib UK gigs:

20 February 2017 The Bell Inn, Bath, UK
21 February 2017 The Canteen, Bristol, UK
22 February 2017 Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple, UK
23 February 2017 Hidden Rooms, Cambridge, UK

then,

3 May 2017 Vortex Jazz Club, London UK
4 May 2017 Vortex Jazz Club, London, UK
5 May 2017 Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, UK
6 May 2017 Fuse Art Space, Bradford, UK
7 May 2017 The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle, UK 
8 May 2017 Bramley’s Bar, Canterbury, UK

Led Bib, The Full Moon, Cardiff, 15/02/2017.

Led Bib

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Reviewed by: Sean Wilkie

Live Review

4-5 out of 5

Led Bib, The Full Moon, Cardiff, 15/02/2017.

"Led Bib once more provided ample food for our musical souls. I exhort you to go and hear them playing live". Guest contributor Sean Wilkie enjoys the Led Bib experience in Cardiff.

Led Bib

The Full Moon, Cardiff

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

I exhort you to go and hear Led Bib playing live.  The band have just released a sixth studio album, “Umbrella Weather”, on RareNoiseRecords, and a promotional UK tour - in two parts, with a European interlude - kicked off in Cardiff last week.  Originally scheduled for the upstairs room at Dempsey’s, where the band have played three times in the past eight years, the gig was moved some thirty yards down Womanby Street to the Full Moon.

The Latin expression, sui generis, means ‘of its own kind’.  Led Bib have been placed into a number of invented genres in the past, but under the powerful effect of two sets of their new music, I would argue that it’s time to admit they are something unique.  What part is played in this by the group’s consistency?  Led Bib still comprise the same five original band members from 2004.  I’d hesitate, however, to say that they were the same musicians, as each has developed aspects of their playing (and writing) over the eight or nine years that I’ve been listening.  This is a band so loyal to each other that a one-off short performance last year with Elliot Galvin depping for keyboardist Toby McLaren causes them concern; they shouldn’t really have done it (the incident was discussed in a feature article in Jazzwise last month.)

Prog or prog-rock is one of the genres with which some have wrestled in their efforts to understand Led Bib.  If memory serves, the group’s leader and drummer, Mark Holub, once mentioned to me that he was unaware of the band, Van der Graaf Generator, until enthusiastic comparisons from audience members lead him to investigate it further; a disclaimer which seemed wholly appropriate given his age.  But ‘prog’, if understood as shorthand for ‘progressive’, isn’t such a bad name for this music, particularly if the ‘rock’ suffix is dropped (because, if rock and jazz are your categories, Led Bib will always file under the latter).  Led Bib’s music often progresses from one thing to another, and at least some of it lends itself well to being experienced as episodically as certain titles suggest. In this regard, I am particularly fond of “Call Centre Labyrinth” from Sensible Shoes, and “Recycling Saga” from the Neighbourhood album; both from the pen of Holub.

The leader was also responsible for two new pieces in this mould – “At The Shopping Centre” and “On The Roundabout” – which were for me the particular highlights of an intense first set, and the only two pieces whose names I managed to catch, eavesdropping on the stage chatter due to my happy proximity to the narrow raised platform upon which, under a low ceiling clad in colourful wallpapered bombs apparently heading for them, the band lined-up in a ‘V’ or 1-2-2 formation, with Chris Williams playing alto sax on the left (our right) in front of bassist Liran Donin, and Pete Grogan playing alto sax on the right (our left), in front of keyboardist Toby McLaren.

“At The Shopping Centre” was a thrilling escapade driven by a clarion-call theme and a heavy groove upon which we were served the night’s first taste of Chris Williams’ fast and fiery soloing, which soon morphed into some Led Bib-trademark dual-sax cross-riffing.  When a slow and stately line of melody, repeated over and over, gradually emerged in the aftermath of all that, it was as if, from out of a mist, appeared the Shangri-La we were unaware we’d sought.  Was this the reason we were there, had we found the store we’d come to shop in?  Are there, as the music hinted, even more interesting things to do at the Shopping Centre?

The titular roundabout of the other piece was surely a large and busy one; no sooner had we entered, than we ground to a temporary halt.  Or perhaps it was a complex structure of interlocking mini-roundabouts: either we didn’t come round again for ten minutes or else, when we did, it wasn’t the same place.  Toby McLaren shone during this one, making some complex manoeuvres on the electric piano, leaping octaves and sculpting a handful of miniature cut-glass figures, interspersed with some considered mashing of the keyboard, his restraint further flavouring a fulsome brew.  It was the sort of display that usually draws enthusiastic response from the Jazz at Dempsey’s audience who’d relocated here, but McLaren brought us down so gradually that, by the time it was apparent that we wouldn’t have been interrupting this passage with our applause, something else was already occurring.

Everyone in the band seemed raring to go.  Pete Grogan took the night’s first saxophone solo, on the opening piece, “Insect Invasion”; it was instantly sharp and searing, with pointed angular lines that briefly evoked Jackie McLean.  Chris Williams is now I think widely appreciated as a distinctive voice on the British jazz scene, and he still carries (slightly) the majority of the individual saxophone soloing in the music.  But Grogan’s voice has grown in Led Bib over the last couple of albums, and there is far, far more dual-saxophony in this music than there are ‘turns to blow’.  Whether it be riffing in unison or counterpoint, duetting improvisationally, or spurring each other’s playing with second lines, riffs and new ideas, the saxophonic front-line of Led Bib seems stronger and more capable than ever before.

Bassist Liran Donin brings a strong right hand to this music: eschewing the plectrum wedged into the bass guitar, his fingers looked rubbery in the blur when he strummed across all four strings.  He often seemed spurred to heights of funkiness by the trajectory of Williams, who was playing in front of him; although the influence might well have been the reverse.  Donin emerged as a composer within the band on their last album and he has followed this with two more fine pieces on the new collection, both of them performed at The Full Moon.  “Women’s Power” closed the first set, highlighting the power of the band, and with Holub and Donin spurring him on, Chris Williams wholeheartedly embraced this cause.

The second set flew by, featuring one tune by each of the musicians.  Spacily atmospheric at the outset, Williams’ “Marching Orders” pulled Grogan into a conversational two-step, with the band in perfect file behind them.

Holub’s “The Boot” walked upon skittery rhythms and a fragmented theme with a brooding tone, centre-staging the bass and drums.

Donin’s “Goodbye” was introduced by Holub as “a quiet one”: the drummer has a very personable stage presence and the impish humour in his remarks isn’t absent from his face when he plays, although that was hard to see due to the set-up and the shape of the stage at the Full Moon.  In any case, I doubt whether anybody felt badly deceived when the wistful melody of the bassist’s tune provoked another fiery saxophonic duet as the music built to its tumultuous crescendo.

Grogan’s “Skeleton Key to the City” sent Williams again to the heights and Donin back to Funkytown, before the set closed with Toby McLaren’s “Ceasefire”, renamed “Cheesewire” for the night.  After negotiating a long but cogent theme, this piece developed over a groove so taut it would have cut through even the strongest cheese.  There were a few calls for an encore, but most of the crowd seemed satisfied that Led Bib had once more provided ample food for our musical souls.

SEAN WILKIE

Upcoming Led Bib UK gigs:

20 February 2017 The Bell Inn, Bath, UK
21 February 2017 The Canteen, Bristol, UK
22 February 2017 Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple, UK
23 February 2017 Hidden Rooms, Cambridge, UK

then,

3 May 2017 Vortex Jazz Club, London UK
4 May 2017 Vortex Jazz Club, London, UK
5 May 2017 Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, UK
6 May 2017 Fuse Art Space, Bradford, UK
7 May 2017 The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle, UK 
8 May 2017 Bramley’s Bar, Canterbury, UK


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