What: The Children of the Light Trio – Danilo Perez, Brian Blade, John Patitucci,
Where: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Frith Street, Soho, London
When: July 14, 2014
Writing reviews of jazz concerts can be a difficult ask – especially when the artists communicate little with their audience. Here I am in Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London and I’m scribbling notes – mental and written – but those pesky musicians won’t give me song titles to hang my thoughts on. What can I say? Tonight was a night of beautiful music. Here are some random thoughts I came away with but they won’t make the most coherent review.
Danilo Perez. John Patitucci. Brian Blade. The Children of the Light Trio. They are perhaps best known, working together, for their music made with Wayne Shorter in his “Footprints” quartet. One of Shorter’s best known pieces is “Children of the Night”. Patitucci is an elder in a church in New York, Blade is the son of a pastor and has a faith of his own. Perez has spoken of being a Christian, in conversation with me, and Patitucci is godparent to one of his daughters. From “Children of the Night” to “Children of the Light”. Just my thought but it doesn’t seem too long a stretch.
The show tonight is divided into two sets. Both of these are mainly made up of long improvisational pieces. I don’t recognise most of them and I know most of Perez’s albums very well – which either means that these are new compositions or that the improvisational nature of the show and the blend of instruments which is different than you would find on most of Perez’s albums where he is the lead (titled) artist make for a very different sound.
In many ways, they share the suite like quality of Perez’s recent release on Mack Avenue “Panama 500”. on which both Blade and Patitucci are featured musicians on half the record. Ironically, the one piece which I know is definitely from “Panama 500” and which is played tonight is “Melting Pot (Chocolito)” which on the record features Perez’s other trio of Adam Cruz and Ben Street. Tonight, this is the Children of the Light’s closer to the second set and and featured Patitucci on bowed double bass and Perez on plucked piano strings as well as the more conventional (in jazz circles) use of their instruments. The artists and audience alike enjoyed the interplay between the musicians – particularly as Patitucci and Perez echoed each other’s melody lines and Blade forced them in new directions.
The performance alternated between the gentle and melodic and the more aggressive virtuosic elements of the soloing work of all three musicians. It also touched upon the more experimental and avant garde elements of modern jazz. This was particularly evident in the latter section of the first set when Mr Perez seemed rather to run with his imagination.
Brian Blade is one of the very few drummers around who can move from the gentle, feather-like touch to sudden tremendous noise which sounds like a bullet from a gun. He shows this in his percussive, cymbal work and rim-shots and there was very little chance that even those who did not really “get” this music could be slumbering.
Patitucci is equally adept at both six-string bass and double bass and makes fascinating patterns in his music and for the audience who are fascinated just watching his hands and fingers flying around the neck and frets.
Blade looks like a young Ron Carter sitting at the wrong instrument. Patitucci looks like a conservative college professor. Perez looks like a citizen of his beloved homeland of Panama. Together they are a curious sight but obviously perfectly comfortable in each others’ company. They interact marvellously and their music is a delight. Someone ought to catch this show for a live album before it is gone because I’m thinking that the studio recordings (as good as they are) do not really capture what is going on here. And some things are too good to miss.