Blowing hot in Bath with Charlotte Ostafew, John Law and Kevin Figes

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The temperature may be creeping up and the tourists thronging the streets, but jazz is continuing to bubble in Bath. Two gigs across the weekend caught the attention. Baritone player Charlotte Ostafew (pictured), best known for her writing and playing for brass and drums outfit Dakhla, joined the Jazz House Trio at the long running Jazz at the Vaults, home team plus guest session. It exposes an interesting side of visitors as they join an established trio for the evening and Charlotte’s visit was no exception as love for a few Dexter Gordon classics and choice standards revealed itself. Her punchy rhythmic approach and earthy sound on the bari fitted ‘Cheescake’ to a tee. 

There were turns at the mic as well with a skipping latin feel underneath the vocal ‘You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To’ before another sizzling solo from keys man Vyv Hope Scott on top form.  Astonishingly, given the reputation Dakhla are building, this turned out to the composer-saxophonist first gig as a soloist in front of a band. Promoter and bass man Wade Edwards engineered the performance who, as well as luring a steady stream of top class visitors (Alan Barnes, Jim Mullen, Art Themen Jason Rebello have all been down this year), is beginning to make sure fresh talent gets a spotlight. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on this cellar bar. 

A couple of days later a pop up gig, this time on Sunday evening in Green Park Brasserie, saw the peerless and ever inventive John Law conjure up a quartet to re-invent some contemporary favourites and originals. The locally based pianist with an international reputation, unleashes an unstoppable flow of ideas with whatever band he puts together, constantly trying new things. On this evening, he was putting alto player Kevin Figes through his paces with a rhythm section of Pete Maxfield and young drummer Eddie Jones West. Kevin was relishing the alternating time signatures and dizzying turns. Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Everyone’s Song But My Own’ gave full rein to lyrical exchanges, as did a gorgeous rendition of Jarrett’s Innocence. Michel Petrucciani’s ‘Looking Up’ had the samba chops flying and a sighing lament of an original ballad, For Becky written by Figes produced fine playing all round. This was a top class treat on a summer’s evening.

– Mike Collins