Birdland, Neuberg, 5 October 2019
A little self-irony is all very well. Even on a jazz evening with seemingly simple, but in reality perfectly constructed and very disciplined, one could say “sophisticated” interpreted original compositions.
Alan Broadbent, a highly appraised arranger, composer and pianist, said: “Today you will be able to fall asleep well”, after this kind of music. Without friendly support from a nightcap or even small helpers offered by the pharmaceutical industry. It’s true, the Alan Broadbent Trio with the wonderfully precise singer Georgia Mancio, the subtle bassist Phil Steen and the sovereign bandleader at the piano lets the listeners come to rest inwardly, with an intense, almost intimate music. It is not rousing, for example by thundering chord sequences, exalted outbursts of singing or wild capers on the double bass. But the sound of this trio is enchanting: here three perfectly attuned artists show us the power of the gentle, quiet tones.
The Broadbent Trio has a unique selling point. The three do not go beyond a controlled mezzoforte dynamically. Instead, this trio unfolds an amazing variety of timbres and soft melismas in the world of piano or pianissimo. This is a kind of unique selling point in the cosmos of jazz and in its own way (world) class.
In the first moment one could get the impression that this is pleasant background bar music but that would be a superficial observation. In fact, these are great experts at work – especially in passages that seem rather simple purely in terms of notes. The singer Georgia Mancio leads her velvety, yet powerful voice through a series of the most beautiful ballads. The young woman from London has sparklingly clean articulation, she makes the low registers shine and doesn’t let herself get carried away to inappropriate sharpness in the high register even once. Songs like “All my Life” or “I can see you passing by” become a deep, feeling experience.
Less is more, this motto is easy to say, but difficult to realize. For the Alan Broadbent Trio, however, one could accept it completely. Nobody pushes themselves forward, nobody throws themselves too much into virtuosity, which also sometimes goes in the direction of deception. Alan Broadbent is great on the grand piano. The bassist exploits the sonorous beauty of his instrument with ease. The compositional art of the bandleader provides Phil Steen with the ideal model. Musicality and thinking are more important here than dexterity. And what Alan Broadbent himself has to offer on the Bösendorfer grand piano is simply great. Compositional, because he puts the structure of a classical big band in the Birdland cellar with just a few notes. The combination of vocals, bass and piano are condensed into chamber music.
And through a feeling that makes crazy modulations float just as much as the loose swing and wit of rhythmic ideas. Some people might have waited for the man at the piano to really reach out and indulge in some groovy outbursts, up and down the keyboard. Alan Broadbent knows why he does without it. And anyone who has heard his interpretation of the Miles Davies classic “Solar”, in duo with the double bass, could feel how much power lies in the limitation to the essential.