It was a wild night at the Anthology Lounge on Auckland's K Road last Wednesday with Keith Price's Double Quartet presented by the Creative Jazz Club.
Keith Price is a Canadian-born jazz guitarist who moved to New Zealand last year to join the faculty of the University of Auckland Jazz School. Price brought to Aotearoa the evocative sounds of his home state Manitoba especially the sounds of Winnipeg, also the birthplace of Neil Young and Lenny Breau.
Breau was a scandalously under-appreciated guitarist who is now being evaluated among the greats. He was a big influence on Price. In all of them there is the unmistakable echo of the vast plains and Canadiana, but with the Price quartets, add an overlay of Miles Davis fusion + grunge. He is happy to embrace freedom as well and out of this mix comes an original sound. These particular bands would have received a good reception at Bill Graham's famous Fillmore concerts.
There are interesting contrasts in the music, and the interplay between the stylings is especially appealing to those who like adventurous music. I have always been a fan of two drummer gigs and with the advent of the 'New Thing' and 'Hard Bop', doubling up on keyboards, bass or drums happened more often. The configuration added heft as well as texture. Ornette Coleman was an early adopter and many examples can be found on the Impulse label.
The original, Price Double Quartet was formed and recorded in Canada. There is an eponymous album of that name still available. Now, the Price D4T has been re-formed as an Auckland based band. This new iteration conveys raw power. Price summed it up with a tongue-in-cheek comment on Wednesday. "I couldn’t make enough noise with a single quartet".
It was certainly loud but it was also interesting. Drummers blending as if one, or finishing each other's sentences and crafting a tight rhythmic polyphony. The keyboards kept out of each other's way but added accents alternatively. There was an upright bass and an electric bass and rounding off the ensemble, a guitar and tenor saxophone.
It is unusual to see Olivier Holland on the electric bass, but he obviously relished the chance. The audience enjoyed it also. Instead of pedals, he feeds his bass through a laptop. This gave him some interesting options and he deployed them enthusiastically. The blending of Holland’s electric bass and Cam McArthur’s upright was also seamless. Many of the tunes had a deep-funk feel, driven by those punchy interwoven bass lines.
When Kevin Field took his piano solos, Joe Kaptein, on keys, laid out, and when Kaptein solo'ed, he brought a classic 70s analogue vibe to the proceedings. The pairing created texture, and best of all, the fabulous club Yamaha piano was back. With Ron Samsom and Malachi Samuelu on drums, and with Roger Manins doing saxophone funk, you were cocooned in a spacious soundscape.
Of course, Price guided these interactions, as he cued the musicians. While not quite free jazz, it was freedom within walls, and it sounded free. The springboard for the solos, the solid grooves sitting underneath the lead instruments. Price provided an interesting contrast as his playing was deliberate and seldom at high volume. When he ran unison lines with Roger Manins it set up the mood.
At times the volume overwhelmed my video recording, but I have posted a clip from the gig titled "Grunge". The Canadian album is available on Spotify. recommended.
"Old Market Square" which is an early morning memory of Amsterdam and Riot, the latter, a musical account of a pitched battle that occurred in 1930s Winnipeg, between Nazi Sympathisers and Socialists (spoiler alert; the socialists won and the Nazis fled the city forever).
Copies of the Canadian album are available from the artist or from his label. His current recording label is Rattle, and he released an album last year titled Upside Downwards. That is available on Bandcamp HERE
Keith Price Double Quartet Auckland
Keith Price: guitar; Roger Manins: saxophone; Kevin Field: piano; Joe Kaptein: keys and synthesiser; Olivier Holland: electric bass; Cameron McArthur: upright bass; Ron Samsom: drums; Malachi Samuelu: drums.
Keith Price Double Quartet on CD is also available from www.keithprice.ca
Click here to stream or buy
Released: 23 Jun 2017