A genuine gig that serves as a reminder just why there is nothing quite like getting out and hearing some live music.

Audioguido Records – available from Bandcamp

Guido Spannocchi (alto saxophone); Danny Keane (piano & electric piano); Ruth Goller (electric bass); Pete Adam Hill (drums)

Recorded 9 June 2022

Vienna born and now London resident Guido Spannocchi has released five acclaimed studio albums under his own name, but as fine as they all are I’m not sure that they are quite as good as this excellent live set.

This as a live recording is the real deal. The band are not playing for themselves, and everything is geared to giving a topflight performance for the assembled audience at Vienna’s Porgy & Bess. The quartet are thoroughly engaged with both the music and the audience and without compromise deliver on all counts.

All the compositions are by the saxophonist and a varied bunch they are too. This ensures interest is maintained throughout, and there is not a dull moment on the album. Guido’s writing is prone to place the emphasis on the empathy and interplay of the band, and in the case of ‘Don Ron’ and ‘Ganbette’ can be quite sparse.

The themes are almost skeletal and set up a mood or particular feeling for the quartet to work off, and they do so brilliantly. Guido’s setting up of ‘Ganbette’ allows him to ease into an excellent solo that provides as seemingly endless flow of ideas, and all delivered at a considered pace from one phrase and idea to the next.

However, the real joy of the music is the lack of virtuosic show boating. The quartet are constantly listening and supporting each other, and following the alto solo bass and drums lift the music up a gear in providing support for pianist Danny Keane.

The tension and release in each of the seven pieces is as natural as breathing as the bass and drums drop out to let the pianist play alone before rejoining at just the perfect moment.

It is this splendid use of tension and telepathic interplay that produces such excitement and variety. This is also evident on the beautiful ‘Das ist die Frage’ with Spannocchi’s exquisite sound on the alto saxophone with Danny Keane’s delicate touch at the piano.

The two weave a spellbinding duet before being joined by bass and drums, and then the altoist giving way to Keane’s gently unfolding solo.

The bass and drums partnership of Ruth Goller and Pete Adam Hill is particularly effective, with two musicians working superbly together. Hill’s drumming is tight yet fluid, and Ruth Goller seems to be able to second guess what the soloist requires and what the drummer is about to do at every turn.

The bassist also takes a fascinating and absorbing solo on ‘Carezinho’ which can be taken as the calm before the storm that is…

‘Cto me Yelo’ begins with a quiet saxophone motif with the gentle rumbling of the bass guitar. The piano is heard in the background gradually fading away as Goller begins to play melodic lines on her bass. Gradually these subside into fragments of melody with a hint of distortion and effects before the bassist is strumming at the strings producing chords that battle with the electronic effects.

This heady stuff that never falls in the realms of noise as Goller constructs a low register rumble for the drums and saxophone to enter and build up the tension still further. This is as far out as the music goes, in a controlled jam that is packed with incident.

As if realising that they have taken the audience on an exhilarating ride, the quartet conclude this excellent set with the lilting yet funky theme of ‘Strutting in Six’ with Keane switching to electric piano and Spannocchi’s more expansive composition and less urgent delivery bringing the music down a notch or two.

A lovely relaxing piece that gives us all time to catch our breath, with an alto solo that takes a lyrical solo that explores the horns range from the bell notes to the upper register.

The album concludes with another catchy tune from the saxophonist with ‘Nighttime in Soho’, a tightly arranged piece that is a perfect way to bring the concert to a close. A genuine gig that serves as a reminder just why there is nothing quite like getting out and hearing some live music.