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Steve Fishwick Quintet

Thursday 22 Mar 2007 on stage 8pm
Bonington Theatre
Tickets £10 concs £8 students/children £5

Steve Fishwick/Osian Roberts Quintet

Featuring: Steve Fishwick (trumpet) Osian Roberts (tenor) Olivia Slama (piano) Dave Chamberlian (bass) Matt Home (drums)

Read Review of this gig

The current quintet started out as a rehearsal band consisting of the Fishwick brothers and Osian Roberts with a group of like minded of French musicians then living in London.Soon these creative sessions blossomed into regular gigs across the capitol gaining much praise along the way and cementing their reputation as one of the hippest jazz groups on the scene Although some slight personnel changes have been made the groups ethos has remained much the same and with the added bonus of material written by both Steve and Osian

Rhymically assured, confidently played and hugely pleasing, this is old music re-made by young men. And what's wrong with that? (PV)

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Concert Review: The Osian Roberts/Steve Fishwick Quintet, The Chickenshed Theatre, Southgate, London N14 4PE, 26 January 2007

The Chickenshed at Southgate was lucky to catch trumpeter Steve Fishwick and tenor sax player Osian Roberts before they left to join Steve's drummer twin Mat in New York to record with former Jazz Messenger Cedar Walton. Any 1950s Cardiff or Manchester girl could have taken these neatly suited and haircut young men home to Mum with pride. Most of the audience remembered that innocent age when the first exciting bebop EPs crossed the Atlantic the other way and were embarrassingly reminded of this by compere Berny Stringle.

Roberts (in Cardiff) and Fishwick (near Manchester) were born 20 years on in 1976 and the pair came together in the mid 1990s at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The tightness of their playing has the ease that comes with years of familiarity and hard practice. The concert featured many of their own compositions with period titles like 'Blackout', 'Too Much!' or 'The Knife', the latter dedicated to Roberts's baritone sax hero Pepper Adams. These were 'classically' hard bop in style with angular up-tempo unison intros leading to flowing solos. Fishwick carried out impossibly long fast and fiery runs, then still had the breath to come back for more explorations of the higher register. Roberts hooked and upper-cut low phrases before producing free-flowing cascades of middle-range notes. The two slim young men just stood up straight and blew. They slowed down for Gershwin ballads 'I Loves you Porgy' and 'Someone to Watch over Me' without losing their fluency.

Toulon based pianist Olivier Slama's more louche looks might have raised a few more mothers' eyebrows, but he fitted in musically with jagged right hand runs interspersed with lush block chord choruses. He was particularly good at prompting tuneful bass solos from Dave Chamberlain and the whole band was driven along by drummer Matt Holme who excelled in swapping four bar breaks with the two horn players and played as convincingly with brushes as with sticks. Most importantly, the quintet swung, even when playing Fishwick's inexplicably titled 'A Pocket Full of Grease' in waltz time and the ferociously fast final 'I Want to be Happy'.

As I left, I overheard a comment that it's unusual to hear a band with two equally good front men. That goes for all five players on the night, there were no weaknesses, no fluffed entries. Fishwick and Roberts have played with some greats like Dave Cliff, Scott Hamilton, Anita O'Day and the late Bill Le Sage. Their invitation to record with Walton shows they are gaining the recognition they deserve.

Listening to the band at the Chickenshed, I heard hints of previous giants, Red Garland's chords, Dizzy Gillespie's runs, Art Blakey's punctuation, Sonny Rollins' and John Coltrane's angularity, the tunefulness of Wilbur Ware and the tight arrangements of Shorty Rogers, but these young men are more than mere retro-copyists. They sit on the shoulders of giants and come out as their own men. And they are good; very, very good.

Submitted by Huw Jones, retired Professor of Computer Graphics

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