Thursday 08th December

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Tom Gamble: CD + London dates

| Culture, Free events, Hidden London, Music, Special Events, Things to do, Venues | 28/07/2014

Tom Gamble at Jazz Club Soho, London.
Tom Gamble at Jazz Club Soho, London.

Classically-trained guitarist Tom Gamble recently played a solo set at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, going down a storm with the assembled literary crowd at the Playerist Comedy Night. He’s soon to leave these shores to further his studies abroad so catch him while you can. Meanwhile, music lovers will be more than satisfied with Mr Gamble’s fantastic début Jazz CD Rooftop Music. Recently graduating with a First from Trinity Laban Conservatoire in Greenwich, the maestro leads the Tom Gamble Ensemble at the South Bank Centre on August 8. He then departs with fitting flourish as Director of the Quiet Nights Orchestra at a very special gig at the National Portrait Gallery on August 22.

Rooftop Music commences with an original composition, Head on Through. It’s a corker, reminiscent of James Tormé’s Passin’  but with its own personality. The exquisite guitar playing cleverly interweaves with the forces of this dynamic ensemble (including James Dancer’s Morello-ish drumming) effecting a completely satisfying infusion. Steven Arrandale’s vocal-chords intoxicate whilst retaining a tannic quality. His singing is fluent and expressive on a cover of Comin’ Home Baby, and its Blues-ier edge allows the guitar to shine. An excellent cadenza from Aleksander Maundrell on piano lifts the entirety, and James Dibble’s flute trills in joy.

Tom Gamble at the Poetry Society, London. Photograph by Martin Slidel.

Interlude benefits from a great sound mix allowing enough earthinesses to filter through. You can catch the performer’s breath, all the better for it, a tender yet glorious improvisation to take your breath away. Tom has literally allowed things to breathe in the best spirit of a first album, piano and guitar in perfect ‘harmony’, it’s one of my favourites. Hot on the heels comes an extrapolation of Reinhardt’s Douce Ambience, kicked-up with an almost-Latin-like flavour (recording levels hitched-up too). Light, breezy brushes compliment Tom’s deliriously adept fretwork. The piano dips into recognisable elements of Swing mid-section, eventually rejoined by the banjo-ish guitar.

It’s followed by another original, Nostalgia Song, the most Jobim-like number yet, transposing us to Brazilian shores, salty breezes blowing. The guitar takes centre-stage with deft support from gentle piano, flute, and the percussive equivalent of a soft-shoe shuffle. No vocals but you’re humming along before you know it. Becoming increasingly tuneful, it lulls the listener to a seeming sense of familiarity, like a bottle of exceptionally good wine. Tears also inhabits that easy familiarity – but are these tears of gain, pain or rain? Or simple irony? At 22, Gamble achieves what seasoned Jazz performers take a lifetime to. I wonder whether he’s going to set out to the experimental.

Rehearsing the Quiet Nights Orchestra.

Nuages could easily be renamed Nuances – Mr Gamble sending his listeners to a state of serene restfulness. Should I crave for things to be turned on their head it’s happening already; riffs getting slightly tensed-up here and there, splitting into a pleasing skittishness midway. Its masterful exposition is deceptively rendered as the easiest thing in the world by this skilful set of musos. And no better close than the classic Jobim serenade Desfinado. The vocals, rustic and ripe, afford the perfect tone for the lyric. A fresh, zesty number to top-off this superb collection. The CD also features Diccon Cooper on bass; Cameron Smith, cello; Robert Campkin, violin, and Wesley Frankel on sax.

If you’re serious about Jazz and enjoy that just-right blend of cocktail-esque refreshment with killer musicianship then Tom Gamble is the name to watch. I’ll certainly be spending many a pleasurable evening listening to Rooftop Music with friends and a tipple. Cheers, Tom.

Tom Gamble Ensemble @ South Bank Centre, August 8.

Quiet Nights Orchestra @ National Portrait Gallery, August 22.

Tom Gamble official website

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