Live: Kairos 4tet, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London
It was a slightly different Kairos 4tet appearing in Soho. On a baking hot evening it didn’t however seem like a roast for imaginative bassist Sam Lasserson deputising for the MOBO-winning band’s regular low-note man Jasper Høiby. In a good-humoured showing leader Adam Waldmann showered praise on a smiling Lasserson later in the evening joking that they’d play ‘J-Hø from the Block’ dedicated to the absent Høiby.
Kairos 4tet play complicated yet ultimately melodic modern jazz with a huge amount of improvisation developing between the quartet members especially beyond the bridge in the more open passages. Waldmann has been quoted as saying he “looks for the pictures songs paint in my head and very emotive, unique communicators”, and the songs though structurally dense bear this claim out, finding their own intricate ways of connecting via the band’s expressionistic canvas.
On the 4tet’s latest album Everything We Hold the band were joined by a number of singers including regular collaborator singer Emilia Mårtensson who appeared, splendid in a long floral gown, in both sets “a thousand per cent more attractive than us,” Waldmann ad-libbed. In the second set Mårtensson, whose album Ana has been a real highlight of the year so far, sang ‘Song for the Open Road’ a number soul singer Omar interpreted on the album itself. Waldmann, whose evocative gutsy sound emerges from the heart of the Wayne Shorter tradition, played both tenor and soprano saxophones last night slightly hampered by a finger injury producing what he called “the squawker” for more intimate effect (“anyone know the range of the soprano?” he wisecracked to the audience before answering: “Fifty yards”).
Drummer Jon Scott drove the band along attentively adding extra energy and choppy momentum when the material called for it, swapping to simply drum with his hands at one point. Pianist Ivo Neame who is about to enter a west London studio to record a new album for Whirlwind with his quintet was very fluent throughout drawing out the warm sound of the Pizza’s fine Steinway and linking with Lasserson in key moments for that extra rhythmic sense of urgency. A stimulating showing all in all. Stephen Graham