New Generation Jazz: Ife Ogunjobi Quartet
The Verdict Brighton
Friday 26th April, 2019
New trumpet sensation Ife Ogunjobi from South London cut his jazz teeth with Gary Crosby’s Tomorrows Warriors and is now studying at The Royal Academy Of Music. Playing in a Freddie Hubbard/Clifford Brown style,
he was originally influenced by the work of the South African horn man Hugh Masekela at the age of ten. Ife brought his quartet of outstanding young musicians to perform in front of another sellout Verdict crowd. The word sensational is often overused, but certainly not this time. These guys are absolutely superb, serving up a modernised version of hard bop with a maturity far beyond the total sum of their ages, which must be less than one hundred. From Deschanel Gordon’s opening piano intro on the Victor Feldman/Miles Davis classic Seven Steps To Heaven and the leader’s intense first trumpet solo, it was obvious to all that we were witnessing something very special. The pianist who also works as part of The Abram Wilson Foundation, showcasing London’s fastest rising jazz talent, is influenced by the work of Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner, but like all members of the band adds his very individual voice to both the great jazz standards and the leader’s cutting edge original compositions. The electric bass chair is usually occupied by Seth Tackaberry, a recent finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician Of the Year contest, but in his absence Trinity Laban student and National Youth Jazz Collective member Hugo Piper took over. He not only played a significant part in the group’s overall sound but contributed a stunning solo on Johnny Green’s Body And Soul.
When it comes to creative modern jazz drumming there is little need to look further than the enormously talented Zoe Pascal. With echoes of Tony Williams within Miles’ second great quintet back in the sixties he produced a kaleidoscope of sonic patterns that not only helped drive the band to their incredible heights but also provided a remarkable aural and visual showcase all of its own. So intense was his performance that just after the interval one of his cymbals could take no more and promptly parted company with its stand to seek refuge at the back of the stage. It is no surprise that he was the youngest ever to be endorsed by a musical instrument maker when he received the accolade at the age of eleven from Soultone Cymbals.
Although all band members are already superb accomplished musicians, it is impossible to over emphasise the very unique talent of the leader Ife Ogunjobi. Although there are clearly overtones of the earlier greats, he has his very own style on trumpet, shows himself to be the leader in all things, is already a fine composer in his own right and has a very high level of relaxed audience engagement. Composing new works on a regular basis, we were treated to Movements, Soulful and the stunning Inner Turmoil. Taking on standards composed by the jazz greats of the past, owning them and making them fresh is no easy task, but this was achieved with ease by all members, particularly in the extended trumpet solos on works by Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson and Roy Hargrove.
As the gig came to its close the Verdict patrons were as one for the desire to hear more and rewarded the band with what can only be described as a very well earned tumultuous ovation. The bar has been set at the very highest level for New Generation Jazz. It may be equaled, but one thing is sure, there is a new young trumpet star racing towards the very pinnacle of British contemporary jazz.
Photos by Anya Arnold.