‘We Make It All Up’: Waldo’s Gift

I was surprised that the Waldo’s Gift trio playing in support of the Ishmael Ensemble at the Hare and Hounds earlier this week announced that in their set they ‘would be making it all up’.  They did refer to improvisation and improvised music at their end of their short, but I found interesting that they used the former description with its possible negative connotations at the beginning of the set.  The audience was made up of the new young audience that is attracted by the new wave of jazz coming out of London and in this case Bristol, so perhaps the term ‘improvised music’ is seen as unfamiliar and possibly off-putting.

Waldo's gift
Waldo’s Gift

I enjoyed the set and bought the Cd.  I found it particularly interesting that the set was clearly improvised, but was using the language of the varied music that is coming out of Bristol of which the Ishmael Ensemble, the main act that night, is typical.  The music uses electronics, is ambient and has a strong groove.  It is a different language from that of improvisers such as Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall et al.  The trio has clear routines or ‘habits’ as their drummer James Vine, described them to me, and they move into different routines as a result of musical signals.  In that sense they remind of the approach of the Pablo Held Trio from Germany who do not plan their set in advance, but move from one composition to another as a result of the spontaneous initiative of one or other of the trio.  Of course, the actual music of the two trios is completely different.

As I say, I enjoyed their Birmingham set.  It perhaps could have done with more variety and more drama, but there was a spontaneity about it that I liked.  James Vine mentioned in a short chat that their set on the previous night had been completely different.  Certainly the music of their Cd, entitled simply Improvisations, although in the same musical territory, does go in different directions.

Waldo’s Gift is Alan Elliott Williams, guitar, Harry Stoneham, electric bass, and James Vine drums.  I was intrigued by the latter’s playing on drums, which made a major contribution to the musical mix.  It did not draw on jazz or hip hop drumming; James mentioned to me in our post-gig chat that his main influence comes from electronic producers.

Their Cd is on Astral Tusk and their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/waldosgift/    On the CD the music does stretch out much more than they were able to do in a 30 min set.


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