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Fergus McCreadie Trio

Fergus McCreadie Trio, The Glasshouse, Gateshead, 12/05/2024.

by Colin May

May 26, 2024


Guest contributor Colin May enjoys a performance by the Fergus McCreadie Trio during a recent visit to Tyneside.

Fergus McCreadie Trio
The Glasshouse, Gateshead 12 May 2024

Fergus McCreadie: Piano,
David Bowden: Double Bass,
Stephen Henderson: Drums

Award winning pianist composer Fergus McCreadie has featured several times in these pages. Putting the jazz mann fergus mccreadie into a search engine it will bring up the links.

He was at The Glasshouse, the new name for The Sage, on the south bank of the Tyne opposite Newcastle to promote his new studio album ‘Stream.’

Sitting on the piano stool, he starts by explaining that after 10 years and four albums, he and his band mates are so familiar with each other that they keep it fresh by going on stage not knowing what they are going to play, so he’ll tell us what they did play at the conclusion of the first half. “Hopefully the tunes will emerge. Let’s see what happens.”

What happens is a first half of 45 minutes played without a break in which the telepathy between the three means they transition seamlessly from one tune to the next. When they reach the end McCreadie tells us that on a tour to promote the new album they’ve played no tunes from it.

The trio started with McCreadie playing solo and immediately finding a balance between a repeated rhythm in the left hand and an unfolding melody in the right. After about two minutes Bowden and Henderson joined and the longer this particular tune went the more joyous McCreadie’s pianistic trills became. Retrospectively we learn the tune was ‘Across the Flatlands’ from the trio’s second album ‘Cairn’. One could imagine the ostinato rhythm was a walker striding along and the piano trills were his, her or their pleasure with the landscape they are passing through.

The other two tunes in the first half were from ‘Forest Floor’, McCreadie’s third album which earned him a Mercury prize nomination in 2022, and the award for best Scottish album that year. The trio danced around and over the earworm of a riff that is ‘Unfurrowed Field ’ playing the theme and some quite abstract variations, with Bowden’s double bass sometimes in the lead and all the while driven on by Henderson’s propulsive yet not overbearing drumming.
Then it’s the more introspective sounding ‘Morning Moon’ also from ‘Forest Floor’ with the notes seeming to hang like individual raindrops on branches before they fall to earth.

The second half is all tracks from ‘Stream’ starting with the catchy ‘Stony Gate’ that was released as a single ahead of the album. The piano and Bowden’s double bass dance in sync, and then the excitement builds with the double bass momentarily sounding Arabic with finally the tune quietly resolved.

Also in this half’s flow of music, there was a tune with the McCreadie hallmark of being inspired in part by his love of Scottish traditional music and at one point I heard a march that had echoes of the music of Scottish pipe bands. The other tune in the second half was ‘Sun Pillars’ which after a gentle opening the trio built to an energetic climax before it’s restful resolution.

McCreadie, Bowden and Henderson all were superb. They used a broad palette to create a fine piano trio performance. Similar to the first half the music had been played with no breaks. It was difficult to spot the transitions from one number to the next. There were no obvious visual signals. The trio’s telepathy was probably the product of sustained rehearsing.

The audience gave them a standing ovation which got them an encore, ‘Forest Floor’, the title track of the trio’s third album. It made a beautiful end to a thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable Sunday night on Tyneside.

The Fergus McCreadie Trio have a few dates left on their tour which finishes in Glasgow:

The new album ‘Stream’ is on Edition Records

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