Live Review: Pete Hill Quintet at The Verdict
Pete Hill Quintet
The Verdict, Brighton
Friday 31st August, 2018
Drummer Pete Hill made a name for himself on the Brighton scene as an experienced, contemporary drummer and since moving to London he’s continued to develop both his playing and the variety of bands he performs with.
Performing as part of the excellent New Generation Jazz series, the quintet began the first set with Ben Williams’ arrangement of Woody Shaw’s Moontrane, which sets the tune in the framework of a straight-eighth feel giving it a more upbeat, contemporary sound. Saxophonist Johnny Chung used a subtle range of pedalled effects in a tasteful way. He has a keen sense of melody, combining technical fluidity and a deep knowledge of the jazz tradition. This was evident on the tune Spam-Boo-Limbo, from EST’s Good Morning Susie Soho album. Guitarist Ed Riches was given the opportunity to display his compositional skills and absorbing solo playing over his own original, whilst keys player Jack Stephenson-Oliver displayed his impressive technique on Nicholas Payton’s The Backward Step.
With Nate Smith’s tune Bounce, they began the second set in a similar vein to the first. Pete Hill’s original, Numb, contained contrasting sections that gave each soloist room to improvise freely and build up tension. This illustrated Hill’s excellent bandleading skills as he either drove the groove forward or was happy to hold back and give the soloist room to explore the melodic possibilities of the harmony. The combination of Gary Bartz’s composition Libra with a contemporary arrangement (in the style of Kneebody) worked well, as did the closing number, Radiohead’s Bloom.
Pete Hill is a creative drummer who listens and responds to what’s going on around him and his sensitive playing blended with the other members of the band. What also stood out was the quality of the musicians he had assembled, and his ear for less well-known contemporary repertoire.
Johnny Chung, saxophone; Jack Stephenson-Oliver, piano & keys; Ed Riches, guitar; Rhys Lovell, bass; Pete Hill, drums