Emergence is a loose-limbed transatlantic jazz collective whose members swap compositions, fitting sporadic meetings around busy work schedules.
At this club date they presented a classic sax- and trumpet-led quintet delivering a well-drilled programme of tricky originals that had the front line peeping surreptitiously at the sheet music out of the corner of their eye.
Much more than a pick-up band – a recording is planned for next year – they had to work hard to relax into the effortless interplay of a regular working unit, and though always engaging, it was the second set that really caught fire.
The evening opened with pianist Jason Rebello’s dedication to his wife “Justine Time” and continued the family theme with trumpeter Gerard Presencer’s daughter-inspired jazz waltz “Ballerina”. Rebello’s composition introduced the tricky-but-funky theme with a powerfully dark-toned piano vamp, whereas Presencer’s slightly meandering melody used a lighter-toned but harmonically denser structure.
In contrast, the second set began with bassist Michael Janisch’s unaccompanied and forcefully bluesey call to arms “Precisely Now” – even an outburst of cheering from celebrants in the upstairs restaurant failed to divert the audience’s attention – and continued through saxophonist Mark Turner’s “Dharma Days”, a seemingly simple melody whose bass counterpoint hovered precipitously over a wickedly fast pulse.
Although each of Emergence’s composers mine a different shade of the jazz lexicon – the spiritual modernism of drummer Troy Miller’s “A Tone Meant” finished the first set, “Redemption Reasons” the second – they deliver a warm ensemble sound through the empathetic pairing of the front line, and the barnstorming mutual support of the rhythm section.
Trumpeter Presencer and tenor saxophonist Turner are both harmonically rooted improvisers with a penchant for draping long, slightly elliptic lines over rich underlying chord sequences.
Turner, currently based in San Francisco, leavens his icy intellect with an airy tone, unexpected slurs and sudden, wide-interval leaps, and blended with the warm-toned Presencer.
The rhythm section was equally on the money, particularly when Miller upped the ante in the second set. Janisch’s firm fretwork matched the drummer’s pulse-hovering backbeats and chattering be-bop, and with Rebello, cushioned the front line before stepping confidently into the limelight.
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