Brighton Year-Round 2019
Rob Luft’s quartet – Luft on guitar, Dave O’Higgins (tenor sax), Scott Flanigan (Hammond organ) and Rod Youngs (drums) perform a mainly Theolnius Monk programme, with a little John Coltrane.
This was exhilarating and in fact a real jazz composers profile. Dave O’Higgins and Rob Luft’s quartet for want of a better term, consists of BBC New Generation Luft on guitar, O’Higgins (tenor sax), Scott Flanigan (Hammond organ) and Rod Youngs (drums). They perform a mainly Theolnius Monk programme, with a little John Coltrane.
Coltrain’s ‘Like Sonny’ started the set. A preppy up-beat but laid-back number is called on the ensemble with a strong tenor sax solo. Apparently Monk wrote 73 tunes and this ensemble intend to play all of them on their tour, about two per set.
So here we are with the 49th, ‘Little Rooty Tooty’ dedicated to Monk’s son and indeed a signature tune for Radio 3 jazz programme Late Night Line-Up. It’s a boppy up-front piece with a naggingly memorable three-chord keyboard phrase at the end of each verse.
We reverted for the final time to Coltrane, ‘Naima’ being a signature piece with the same laid-back sax DNA, rippled through by the other instruments.
Monk’s ‘Ugly Beauty’ is a starker affair, and the guitar’s more to the fore here. His ‘Think of One’ is arresting, strange, dissonant. Then his great signature tune ‘Round Midnight’ also used on Radio 3, with its great melody makes everything stand still. That is until the built-in encore ‘Trimble Tinkle’ which buzzes out on a high. It’s wonderful to have such a concentrated set of modern jazz, just two welcome Coltranes varying the already heady Monk.
Luft’s clearly already on his way, and his unusual lead from a guitar does him no disservice at all as a band co-leader. O’Higgins is a beautifully toned sax, Flanigan neat and emphatic on his Hammond and Youngs drumming exemplary – indeed there’s a wonderful pay-off between expressive panache and neat precision in this ensemble. They often commented on the wonderful acoustic bloom. But they disturbed it in exactly the right way. Immensely satisfying in this repertoire.