I last saw this band at the launch of Phil’s ‘Delayed Reaction’ album. That was September 25th 2011 and things have moved on apace since than. For a start the album has had universally good reviews, reasonable airplay and attracted interest from offshore. For a number of reasons it was bound to do well. I suspect that the quality of the interpretations and the musicianship of the band clinched the deal. While a number of well-chosen Petrucciani tunes are featured in the album, it is Phil’s own material that best focuses us on the diminutive masters work.
It is ironic that it has taken someone from the antipodes to put a fine lens on the inner workings of Petrucciani’s music. Step by step as the material progresses we are granted the most intimate of glimpses. Guided into a private world that only Phil Broadhurst has been able to reveal. This is the power of Jazz at its best. Being able to dive deeper into the meaning of a tune as inner forms and colours unfold. What is already wonderful is somehow made better or revealed afresh.
Petrucciani may have been small in stature but his percussive playing and unusually bold voicings have marked him out as a heavyweight. His legacy is in fact so strong as to be virtually unassailable. A few European tribute bands have recycled his compositions but there are few if any sound-a-likes (as happened with Evans). Phil and the band made no attempt at slavish imitation; they did better than that. They captured the essence of the music.
I suspect that Phil Broadhurst is one of the worlds foremost authorities on Michel Petrucciani and this is our good fortune.
We heard many of the tunes from the album, such as Phil Broadhurst’s own composition ‘Orange’ and Petrucciani’s ‘Brazilian like’. The material had not only been updated but we also heard some new material which Phil had written. The band was playing up a storm and it was great to see Roger back after a successful trip gigging in Australia. His tenor is always on fire and Phil and he sparked off each other as the night progressed. Roger always watches the others carefully during gigs. He watches them until he is ready to solo. Then he leans back and takes off like a Titan rocket, leaving an open-mouthed audience in his slipstream.
With Alain on drums delivering a flurry of beats, a fiery solo or whispering poetically on brushes the traps could not have been in better hands (he has become a favourite of mine and he will be missed when he goes overseas). Oli’s playing is always worth hearing and he delivered strong bass lines and gave the band the support they needed. He had been a little low in the mix for the first few numbers and that is a pity because what he has to say is worth hearing. Once the sound had been adjusted it was if the jazz universe had suddenly fallen into place.
This was to be the bands last outing before Tauranga. The group is finalists in the Jazz Tui awards and a play-off will occur Saturday night between The Phil Broadhurst Quartet (Delayed Reaction), The Tim Hopkins Trio (Seven) and the Roger Fox Big Band (Journey Home). I have heard and reviewed all three bands and I know most of the musicians. This will be a tough call for the judges.
The Band is: Phil Broadhurst (leader, comp, piano), Roger Manins (tenor), Oli Holland (bass), Alain Koetsier (drums).