Zoe Rahman Trio, Old Town Hall, Gateshead
(From Darlington and Stockton Times)
By Peter Bevan
THE second of the Jazz North East/Gateshead Arts Piano Series brought another virtuoso group.
With Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Gene Calderazzo on drums, Zoe Rahman presented a stimulating mix of original compositions and fresh interpretations of more established pieces.
Having been inspired by Abdullah Ibrahim at The Sage last month, she opened with one of his classic pieces which, though familiar, I can’t put a name to. It began slowly and thoughtfully but, soon moved into energetic tempo, with Hayhurst showing off amazing finger work.
A lively second piece, as yet untitled, segued into a delightfully new and imaginative version of Duke Ellington’s Solitude, with piano solo at first before bass and drums joined in, the trio then moving into what turned out to be a Calderazzo composition with a lovely rocking rhythm.
Rahman’s J’Berg featured the first of two longer drum solos played mainly with mallets.
Stevie Wonder’s Contusion closed the first set.
Throughout, Rahman showed tremendous technique, using the full keyboard and coping easily with tempo changes and different time signatures, as indeed did Hayhurst and Calderazzo, with all three constantly supporting and boosting each other’s efforts.
The second set maintained the high level of invention, with sound balance possibly slightly better, too. It included a beautiful version of a Tagore song and a piece with another articulate bass solo, a drum feature using mainly wire brushes at first, and a lovely dark rumbling piano solo.
The audience particularly appreciated the dedication to Jazz North-East’s late secretary, Chris Yates, of Ellington’s It don’t mean a thing, in a playful, deconstructed version, and brought the band back for a well deserved encore.