by John Fordham
The young pianist Barry Green has been a well-kept secret on the British jazz scene for the past five years. Classy musicians such as the saxophonists Martin Speake and Ingrid Laubrock, or the singers Ian Shaw and Anita Wardell, could vouch for the erudite Green's knack for generating the deftly apposite phrase that make their works sound even better. But Green has contented himself with an eclectic accompanist's role until now. His current trio is augmented by the character young saxophonist mark Hanslip – and the emphasis is on original materials, rather that the rugged, prodding reassessments of standard songs featured on the pianist's new CD, The Music Of Chance.
Early in the group's first set at the Octave, a penchant for melodically skiddy, Ornette Coleman-like themes on brisker pieces was established by Oli Hayhurst's fast bass walk against the excellent Tim Gile's floaty cymbal patterns, Green's chiming chords and Hanslip's dolorously hooting tenor sax. The sound-system somewhat favoured the piano over the saxophonist's patient exposition, but Hanslip's pensive fluency grew ion longer, gracefully weaving lines as the set developed. Part of a suite inspirited by Raymond Carver's short stories began with a bass rumination reminiscent of Charlie Haden's haunting overtures, soon complemented by porous piano chords and then a melody of softly falling phrases. Before the break, the energy level rose in the odd, hopping theme of Oh Dear.
The quartet kept up this edgier pressure with an exchange of fragmented, free-jazzy motifs to open the second set, gradually turning this initially nervy dialogue toward a funkier groove. The classic I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face was a confirmation Barry Green's fastmoving imagination, in its evolution from revealingly fresh harmonies to a garrulous collective improvisation. His is music for close listening – the closer you get, the more you hear in it.