Edinburgh Fringe 2016
With a composition and playing style that’s very much their own, Stevenson and Wiszniewski are rapidly establishing themselves as a force in the jazz world, stretching far beyond the confines of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Back down to what is rapidly becoming a favourite haunt, the Jazz Bar in Chambers Street which seems to have pulled in a Rolls-Royce list of headline acts this year, including this evening’s offering from the award-winning New Focus Quartet, featuring Euan Stevenson on piano, Konrad Wiszniewski on saxophones and support from guest musicians on percussion and bass.
And what a set we had. As co-leaders, Wiszniewski and Stevenson’s compositions are refreshingly inventive resulting in some incredibly spontaneous sounds with Stevenson’s sure touch on the piano being complemented by the (at times) wild, frenetic playing of his partner on tenor and alto-sax. Bass and percussion supported these leads with real empathy but were no slouches either when given the opportunity to jam it up.
Focusing mostly on music from their latest CD, numbers included Air in D Minor, Song Writer, Sophie’s Song, Green Park, Little Allegory and Piano Interlude. The wonderfully titled Career Change was a tumbling, chaotic number with jamming discords and stress indicative minor keys all completely in keeping with the turmoil that normally ensues when anyone embarks on a career flip. And Leonard’s Lament was a nicely executed piece and a tribute to Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist and, if my ear remains true, contained a few riffs redolent of Chuck Mangione, whose heyday as a flugelhorn player was in the late 1970’s.
With a composition and playing style that’s very much their own, Stevenson and Wiszniewski are rapidly establishing themselves as a force in the jazz world, stretching far beyond the confines of the Edinburgh Fringe. Where they’ll get to I guess no-one knows, so how appropriate it was that they sent their appreciative, foot-tapping audience out into (yet another) damp squib of evening with a rendition of Destination Unknown. Catch them at the Jazz Bar next week if you can.