New Generation Jazz: Alex Hitchcock Quintet
The Verdict, Brighton
Friday 18th January, 2019
This quintet, featuring saxophonist Alex Hitchcock and trumpeter James Copus, are a formidable frontline partnership. Both are members of Patchwork Jazz Orchestra, and bring a special chemistry to their performances with tight unison lines and an enviable musical telepathy.
The quintet released their debut last year, a four track EP of live recordings from the London and Cambridge jazz festivals but for this gig Hitchcock interleaved some striking new material with tributes to musical heroes, including pianist Cedar Walton, beginning with Cedar’s Blues.
Hitchcock’s original composition Adjective Animal featured drummer Jay Davis who proved to be precise, attentive and an exciting soloist. The band ended their first set with the Benny Golson standard Stablemates. James Copus displayed some sensitive and heartfelt flugelhorn playing on the slower numbers, but his trumpet playing, particularly on Stablemates, was similarly impressive. Likewise, Hitchcock is able to combine an old-school tone with a contemporary edge that embraces a high-level of technical fluency and a responsive ear. His solo on Stablemates was especially impressive, including a brief duet with drummer Davis.
They started the second set with another tribute to Cedar Walton, the less obvious Martha’s Prize that combined tight rhythmic unisons between Hitchcock and Copus and some lovely rhythmic bass playing from Joe Downard.
Alex Hitchcock’s original entitled A38 is a beautiful waltz written in tribute to the boat of the same name, moored on the river Danube in Budapest. They began the piece with an eloquent introduction from bassist Downard.
The Thad Jones tune Lady Luck served as a piano feature for the fabulous Will Barry who adeptly combined a variety of jazz piano styles and soloed beautifully throughout the whole evening.
This fantastic sounding quintet ended with the classic Jimmy Heath tune CTA, beginning with just the horns in unison followed by even more impressive soloing in the hard bop style.
Alex Hitchcock, tenor saxophone; James Copus, trumpet & flugelhorn; Will Barry, piano; Joe Downard, bass; Jay Davis, drums.
Photo by Lisa Wormsley.