Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance - Glasgow Jazz Festival - The Scotsman




ARNIE Somogyi's Ambulance were billed as a quintet in the jazz festival brochure, but arrived on stage minus one of their two regular saxophonists, Paul Booth.

Even in quartet format, though, the bass player's fine band packed a punch, and it was a shame that so few turned up to check them out, especially given that they are currently promoting an excellent album issued on the Glasgow-based Linn Records.

Ambulance focuses on a relatively orthodox but imaginative strain of post-bop, drawing mainly on original compositions by Somogyi or pianist Tim Lapthorn. These were augmented by a sparkling version of one of Thelonious Monk's less frequently covered tunes, Bright Mississippi, and a trio version of My Foolish Heart which saxophonist Rob Townsend sat out.

The musicians were in fine form, and served up a single long set of intelligent and probing contemporary jazz, with plenty of variety in the way of mood and tempo.

Their music revealed an engaging freshness and sense of invention, whether in contemplative mood on Lapthorn's Solace or in spiky up-tempo excursions on Somogyi's Captain Courageous or Lapthorn's Walking Wounded.

The former tune incorporated some sound effects from Rob Townsend's laptop, prominently positioned on stage, but otherwise scarcely used. He did employ both tenor and soprano saxophones to good effect, while Lapthorn's fluent and inventive pianism was always compelling.

Kenny Mathieson

The Scotsman
25 June 2008