Last week saw the welcome return of Canadian born guitarist Kieth Price to the bandstand. This time with his re-formed Double Quartet. The question that immediately arises, is an octet a double quartet? If you were looking for a point of difference, it is hard to find in dictionaries, as the terms are generally interchangeable, but a doubling up of a particular voice is often indicated for the latter. That brings us to the Kieth Price Double Quartet: two drummers two keyboards and two bass players. A big sound.
Two drummer gigs are well established in the lexicon, becoming more prominent with the arrival of the New Thing and Hard Bop; similarly with the doubling up of keyboards and bass. Ornette Coleman had a notable double quartet. Doubling up like this can be tricky, but skilful writing and good musicianship mitigate such difficulties. Loud and strong, but not leaden, is the aim.
The Canadian recorded Double Quartet and the contemporary Auckland unit, both convey raw power. Price summed it up with his tongue in cheek comment on Wednesday.
‘I couldn’t make enough noise with a single quartet’.
It was loud but it was also nuanced, drummers blending as if one or finishing each other’s sentences, crafting a rhythmic polyphony. The keyboards keeping out of each other’s way, but adding accents throughout. The upright and an electric bass taking different roles, balanced against guitar and a tenor saxophone.
While not strictly fusion, the band had a funky fusion feel and would have been welcome at Bill Graham’s Fillmore gigs. There were interesting contrasts in the music, and the interplay between the stylings was especially appealing to those who like full-on adventurous music.
It is unusual to see Olivier Holland on the electric bass, but he obviously relished the chance. The audience enjoyed it also. Instead of pedals, he fed his bass through a laptop. This gave him interesting options and he deployed them enthusiastically. The blending of electric bass and Cam McArthur’s upright was seamless.
Many of the tunes conveyed a deep-funk feel, driven by punchy interwoven bass lines. When Kevin Field took his piano solos, Joe Kaptein, on keys, laid out, and when Kaptein soloed, he brought a classic 70s analogue vibe to the proceedings. The pairing created texture, and best of all, the fabulous club Yamaha piano was back. With Ron Samsom and Malachi Samuelu on drums, and with Roger Manins’ channelling a wild saxophone funk, you were soon cocooned inside a spacious and warm soundscape.
It was Price’s deft hand guiding all of these interactions as he cued the musicians. While not quite free jazz, it was freedom within walls, and it sounded free. The springboard for the solos, the solid grooves sitting underneath the lead instruments. Price providing an interesting contrast as his playing was deliberate and at a lower volume. When he ran unison lines with Roger Manins crazy it set up the mood for what was to follow. It was a good gig to catch.
Keith Price Double Quartet, Canada (CD):
available from www.keithprice.ca
Keith Price: Guitar
Neil Watson: Alto saxophone
Jeff Preslaff: Keyboards
Dallas Nedotiafko: Keyboards & synthesiser
Marty Thiesson: Electric Bass
Julian Bradford: Acoustic Bass
Jamie Carrasco: Drums
Kevin Waters: Drums
Keith Price Double Quartet ( Auckland)
Keith Price: Guitar
Kevin Field: Piano
Joe Kaptein: Keys & Synth
Roger Manins: Saxophone
Olivier Holland: E-bass
Cameron McArthur: upright bass
Ron Samsom: Drums
Malachi Samuelu: Drums
The Auckland gig took place at CJC, Anthology, K’Road Auckland, 15 July, 2020
For a fuller version, go to Radio13 – Portions of the above have been excerpted from that article which can be located at Radio13.co.nz