Lichfield Jazz and Blues kicked of their Autumn season with the up and coming saxophonist and composer Liam Brennan and his talented group Abacus.
With Brennan on alto saxophone, the rest of the ensemble was trumpet player James Borland, James Romaine on alto saxophone, double bassist Josh Vadiverloo, Simeon May on tenor saxophones and bass clarinet, and Kai Chareunsy on drums.
With no chordal instruments in the line-up, the music took on more of a chamber jazz, orchestral sound, with the strong arrangement skills of the group leader shown to particularly good effect during some of the evening’s quieter, more refined moments, such as the original Lull or in John Coltrane’s famed ballad Naima.
The evening started with Joe Henderson’s Black Narcissus, while John Lennon’s Julia was slowed down to let the melancholic feel of the track breathe. Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments was a lesson in tone building and close harmony.
Abacus, a long multi-part piece that opened the second half, found many moods with the musicians swapping instruments, while the ballad In February by John Taylor was also a highlight of the evening.
The lively closer Four or Six proved that although the strengths of the band lie in quieter reflective moments, they still know how to fire on all cylinders when it is called for.