Moonlight Saving Time Flying High at Bristol’s BeBop Club

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Moonlight-Saving-TimeIt was a hometown gig at Bristol’s BeBop Club for Moonlight Saving Time to launch the long Easter weekend. A standing room only crowd turned out to hear their distinctive take on an eclectic group of songs and tunes, blending tight grooves with breezily handled, layered arrangements and fluent improvising.

They were straight into their re-working of ‘Afro Blue’ to set the tone. The odd meter groove and funky bass riff gave the familiar standard their typically individual twist as Emily Wright’s vocal line blended effortlessly with Nick Malcolm’s trumpet. A shift of harmony, a cute little turnaround here, a catch your breath bass riff there from bass player Will Harris, and familiar material was finding new life. ‘Skylark’, ‘Footsteps in the Dark’ (an old Isley Brothers hit), ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat’ all had the treatment and were warmly received. 

There was new material too and the sense of an established band maturing and stretching out. Keyboard player Dale Hambridge’s ‘Desire for Nothing Known’, had an as yet wordless vocal line with a rich harmony underpinning it, providing a platform for some great soloing and then a real climatic moment as voice, trumpet and bass were soloing and grooving collectively. Some of the most affecting moments were when they stripped things right back. ‘Tide Moves’ provided an electrifying moment as voice and bass locked and implied a much bigger sound. Piano and voice launched the second set with ‘Sea Fever’, their version of John Ireland’s setting of the Masefield poem, every movement in the room stilled by the intensity.  

The excitement ramped up as the end approached. A storming arrangement of Calvin Harris’ 2009 hit ‘I’m Not Alone’ with a singing emotional solo from Nick Malcolm had everyone sighing. They were whooping as the set closed with a cover of Chick Corea’s ‘Open Your Eyes You Can Fly’. Lloyd Haines on drums, depping for the night, was a revelation, skittering and driving the pulse all evening and pulling out a delightful melodic solo on the closer. 

There are plans for another album and plenty of gigs in the book, including a London Jazz Festival appearance in the autumn, so expect to hear more from this cracking band.

– Mike Collins