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Dominic J Marshall Trio - Brighton Dome Studio Theatre - 19th May 2015

Dominic J Marshall Trio - Brighton Dome Studio Theatre - 19th May 2015

With a list of accolades as long as your arm, a successful side project going from strength to strength and world class musicians at his beck and call, Dominic Marshall has already achieved a great deal in his 25 years on the planet. An intimate set in the Dome Studio Theatre (formerly known as the Pavilion Theatre), saw the Dominic J Marshall Trio push the limits of their songs and take the audience on a number of journeys.
 
They opened the set with Elephant Man (dedicated to David Lynch’s film), which had an abstract, playful beginning, smoothly moving into syncopated yet velvety grooves and opulent chords which seemed to span jazz, hip hop and border on funk with apparent ease. Leaves Dance followed as a slow builder, gradually taking shape and picking up pace as it morphed into a jazz juggernaut with the seeds of its theme sewn throughout; its beginning and end nicely reflecting the song title.
 
It was obvious after a couple of songs – actually a couple of bars – that the players on show were in the extraordinary category. Marshall has already won multiple plaudits, but this is very much a trio – no-one is making up the numbers – everyone is here to shine. Bassist, Sam Vicary, provided dextrous, nibble fretwork and some lovely counterpoints to Marshall’s piano, and drummer, Sam Gardner, was in danger of stealing the show with a display of incredible versatility and invention behind the kit. How lovely it was to hear a jazz drum kit, too – with only two overhead mics you catch every nuance and get to hear the wonderful ring that all of the drums have been tuned to create.
 
The first half of the set concluded with a track about St Petersburg – a lively number with a theme that did have something distinctly Russian about it – I can’t put my finger on what, but maybe that adds to the charm? In many ways, it was the most impressive tune of the set far as the focus was set on deconstructing the song and stripping it down to a few bass notes. As that built into an exploratory solo that was in danger of outstaying its welcome, I realised that drums and keys were not only back in, but at full pelt and everything was cooking nicely.
 
The second half of the set had a more consistently groove-orientated feel about it as Windermere effortlessly went through the gears: half time, swing, double time. It felt like a selection of mini chapters to tell a story and its shuffling riff provided a nice focal point.
 
A.T Gamble Road (I think I heard the title right) had a laid back funkiness to it, provided by slinky tambourine and featured some fine piano skills – cheeky phrasing, cool, close chords and interesting patterns which then segued into a dreamy sequence; both meditative and soothing. Its conclusion saw the drums being played as quietly as humanly possible, yet not a sound was missed as the audience were transfixed on Gardner’s phenomenal playing.
 
Fictions was another great composition with lyrical piano playing reminiscent of Mercury nominee, Gwilym Simcock, in a song that swelled and fell repeatedly before once again leading into more astonishing drumming skills where Gardner’s fleet of hand and foot was mind blowing, but even more impressive is the fact that no detail was ever lost, even at higher volume.
 
Set closer Blue Lotus saw the band visibly relaxed and playing beautifully – interacting and feeding off each other as their playing became ever freer and more liberated. Needless to say there was another spellbinding drum solo for the road and everyone left knowing that their hunger for spicy stickwork had been well and truly taken care of.
Adam Atkins
 




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