Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jamil Sheriff Quintet, Seven Arts, Leeds February 3rd 2013

Jamil Sheriff Quintet, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds Sunday February 3rd 2013

It is often an integral part of the creative process that personal life experiences can be drawn upon to help shape the finished product. Leeds College of Music course leader and pianist Jamil Sheriff brought a new quintet to Seven Arts in Leeds and showcased a set of mostly new material, some of which was influenced by his life with his young daughter. Supported by Richard Iles on trumpet, Matt Anderson on saxophone, Sam Vicary on bass and Sam Gardner on drums, this quintet of contemporaries and ex-students cut through a grey and wintry Sunday afternoon with disparate set of compositions of such density and warmth that the outside world could be forgotten for a few engaging hours.  Opening with a Sheriff composition “Pink Triangle” (not as uncouth a title as it may sound), each piece helped to highlight the number of influences at work at any one time, from Latin-American flavoured phrases, to classical composition, to dark, baleful passages of melancholy. At times the character of saxophonist Wayne Shorter shone through, whilst at others the playing of McCoy Tyner seemed to illustrate the mood.

The second set of the afternoon could be argued to have been the more dynamic of the two with “Matticulous” (?), in particular, managing to infuse its lines with wit and eccentricity. “Sfumato” saw Sheriff produces passages that were not only reminiscent of Keith Jarrett, but make the facial expressions and noises that brought that virtuoso pianist to mind. Sfumato, it seems, is a painting technique often associated with the artist Leonardo da Vinci and refers to the fine shading that is used to create soft transitions between colours and tones. Not only an afternoon of thoughtful music but also an education it seems. With song titles that allude to his relationship with his daughter, such as “Porridge Head”, an intimacy and empathy was created between composer and audience, which goes some way to bring the two together. Throughout each tune there was a palpable sense that the musicians were confidently enjoying the music which again, translates to the audience.

As the last unlucky raffle ticket was discarded the afternoon closed with a Miles Davis “Nefertiti” inspired “For T W”, which featured a repeating expression over which Gardner’s drums added the dynamics to push the tune forward, and one could be confident that the fifty or so members of the audience were not only happy with the afternoon, but expectant of what else Sheriff has to offer in the future. 

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