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Total Vibration

Total Vibration, Livestream from The Green Note, Camden, 15/11/2020 (Part of EFG London Jazz Festival).

by Ian Mann

November 19, 2020


The online crowd for this Green Note livestream loved the quartet’s blend of energy and sophistication. An absorbing and enjoyable watch and listen. All that was missing was a live audience.

Photograph sourced from the EFG London Jazz Festival website

Total Vibration,

Livestream from The Green Note, Camden

Part of EFG London Jazz Festival

First streamed 15/11/2020

Chris Batchelor – trumpet, Laura Jurd – Trumpet, Ruth Goller – electric bass, Corrie Dick – drums

This performance constituted the second of four EFG London Jazz Festival events to be screened from the Green Note by London based promoters Clonmell Jazz Social.

The previous event, first streamed on Friday 13th November and featuring alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and his quartet, has already been reviewed on the Jazzmann. Link here;

Once again CJS had teamed up with Undular Productions (sound) and Freeze Productions (video) to present this performance from Total Vibration, a quartet boasting the unusual twin trumpet front line of Chris Batchelor and Laura Jurd.

Jurd and Batchelor were joined by drummer Corrie Dick at the drums and Ruth Goller on electric bass, the latter replacing the advertised Tom Herbert.

I was drawn to this event because the Total Vibration quartet had performed at one of my regular jazz haunts, The Hive Music & Media Centre in Shrewsbury back in January 2019. I had been obliged to miss this show, promoted by Shrewsbury Jazz Network, as I was attending a memorial event in my home town of Leominster. Tonight’s livestream performance from one of my favourite London venues at least gave me the chance to get a glimpse, albeit remotely and belatedly, at what I had I had missed out on.

All four musicians were previously familiar to me from other contexts, but this was the first time that I had ever seen this particular line up play together.  Given the essentially chordless instrumental configuration it was perhaps not totally surprising that the quartet chose to present a performance centred around Ornette Coleman compositions, several of them from his 1987 double album “In All Languages”. The only other compositional voice to be heard was that of the late pianist, Geri Allen.

The quartet opened with an energetic and free-wheeling rendition of Coleman’s composition “Peace Warriors”. Blazing in unison Batchelor and Jurd stated the theme before diverging to exchange phrases and to engage in sophisticated displays of counterpoint and polyphony. The front line pair were propelled by Goller’s driving electric bass lines and Dick’s powerful but consistently creative drumming. As the rhythms became more fractured Jurd took the first authentic solo, the sound of her open horn shadowed by the vocalised sounds of Batchelor’s muted trumpet, the pair eventually changing roles as Batchelor took over as the soloist. The performance also incorporated a drum feature from Dick, his circumnavigation of the kit supported by Goller’s muscular but highly mobile electric bass lines. Finally we heard a further series of trumpet exchanges between Batchelor and Jurd, a great start.

Next we enjoyed a lengthy segue of Coleman and Allen tunes, beginning with “Feet Music”, also from Coleman’s “In All Languages” recording. There was no let up in the energy levels as the unison head was followed by solos from Jurd and then from Batchelor, this time with Jurd providing growling, muted counterpoint. On the accompanying social media thread Andrea Christelis had already made reference to Goller’s “amazing bass lines” and the bassist’s playing was thrown into even sharper relief with a bass feature that incorporated some almost guitar like sounds, heard in dialogue with Dick’s drums.
This provided a segue into “Lonely Woman”, arguably Coleman’s best known composition, with its bluesy twin trumpet theme statement and subsequent Batchelor solo, incorporating both open bell and plunger muted sounds.
A Dick drum feature developed into a full on solo, this providing a link into the Geri Allen tune “Skin”, which, with its combination of skittering melody and playful dissonance fitted in just perfectly with the Coleman material. The muted trumpets of Jurd and Batchelor duetted impishly above Goller’s propulsive electric bass grooves.

After this substantial triple excursion the band paused for breath before rounding things off by returning to the “In All Languages” album for a performance of Coleman’s “Latin Genetics”, effectively an encore. Here the twin trumpets combined to evoke images of New Orleans, the home city of Coleman’s long term drummer Ed Blackwell, with Batchelor emerging as the principal soloist. “Ending on a BANGER”, read one comment on the inter-active thread. Quite.

As the piece ended the lack of applause was almost deafening. “And the crowd goes wild”, dead-panned Batchelor, which did at least provoke a bout of sporadic clapping from the film and audio crews, not to mention his fellow band members.

I had loved the performance, it had been joyous and energetic and the quartet had succeeded in transmitting that joy and energy to the observer. But the fact that no music fans were there to see it in person just made me feel so sad. This was a performance that would surely have drawn a rapturous reception from a full house. I’m sure that the audience at The Hive must have loved Total Vibration back in 2019. The Shrewsbury crowd has earned a justifiable reputation for being more adventurous than many provincial jazz club audiences.

Certainly the online crowd for this Green Note livestream loved the quartet’s blend of energy and sophistication. The interplay between the two trumpets was consistently inventive and the use of mutes to vary the sounds and textures added greatly to the richness and variety of the music.

Jurd and Dick work together in the trumpeter’s Dinosaur quartet, making the drummer the perfect choice for this ensemble, and his playing was both powerful and inventive throughout.

Although a late addition Goller fitted in perfectly, quickly establishing an excellent rapport with Dick. Her fluid, mobile but muscular bass lines were consistently imaginative and seemed to inspire the trumpeters. Goller’s combination of power and grace on the electric bass is rare and distinctive, and something to be treasured.

Total Vibration was an absorbing and enjoyable watch and listen. All that was missing was a live audience.

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