Julian Argüelles

Capstone Theatre, Liverpool
4th November 2015

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Julian Argüelles is an amiable sort of guy with a very relaxed stage manner. Tonight the leader and saxophonist fronted a band which comprised Kit Downs (piano), Sam Lasserson (bass) and James Maddren on drums, all accomplished musicians themselves. Tetra is his latest CD, which he is showcasing on the quartet's current national tour.

The sophisticated purple uplighting on the stage hinted at the suave performance that was to follow. The evening started with tentative piano, bass and drum rattles introducing some breathy tenor sax, before the tempo gathered pace in a Sting-like whetting up exercise.

The people on the mixing desk were asked by Downes to up the ante on his instrument before he sashayed into some formulaic bluesy stuff. The rest of the collective held sway, the tin can contrived extravagance on drums and upper register sax being the most expansive, before they were all given their head in a warm down that was interrupted by some noisy latecomers.

Hugger Mugger was followed by Yada Yada, a commemoration to South African pianist Chris MacGregor,with Arguelles having the courtesy to stand out of the limelight when not actually puffing out his cheeks. Hurley Burley was a Whicker's World all in, with the leader on alto this time, after some Downes meandering and bass and drum joined up synthesis.

Argüelles then explained how, when at a gig in Nottingham, a first time attendee at a jazz concert was so impressed by his combo's playing that she commissioned a work from him. Brenda, A Life Long Moment duly followed, as the noisy smoke generators whirred above some solo laid back sax, after Maddren's self indulgent sash introduction and Downes's middle 'C' no hands show. The intensity never reached Hydron Collider levels but Brenda won't mind.

Spanish music has always interested the London based ex-sideman of Loose Tubes and Asturias, a folksy transposed key tribute to the Catalan region, followed. Mention must be made of the stretched spider hand playing of Lasserson, before a late entry crescendo from Arguelles.

All too soon it was over. 'First time in Liverpool and I love it', he intoned, as they dipped their toes into a finale that reduced to a thoughtful rejoinder.

The single set had been an easy-paced, easy-going occasion, which was rewarded with warm applause at the end.

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