Moses Boyd at Frieze
It’s Frieze week in London, meaning that the streets of the more fashionable quarters of the city are thronged with art people. Last night some of them made their way to a party thrown by the Timothy Taylor Gallery in a Soho basement beneath the Phonica vinyl record shop on Poland Street, where the music was provided by a quartet under the leadership of the drummer Moses Boyd.
I’ve written about Boyd’s much-praised duo with the tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and, more recently, about his contribution to Orphy Robinson’s salute to Bobby Hutcherson, but this was something very different. Completing the quartet were Golding, the guitarist Shirley Tetteh and the keyboardist Niji Adeleye, and they started as they meant to go on: with Moses setting a groove that got the room moving, and the others joining in at full throttle. That’s where they stayed for the best part of an hour of unbroken music, with the groove shifting gears a couple of times but the volume and the intensity staying high.
If you can imagine a cross between the wildly distorted noise of the early Lifetime and the sophisto-funk of those Grant Green albums recorded live in 1970-71 at down-home joints like the Cliché Lounge in Newark, New Jersey and the Club Mozambique in Detroit, you’ll be part of the way to imagining what they sounded like. There were rough edges all over the place, but in a good way. Shirley Tetteh’s playing sound like it might be heading towards an interesting blend of Green’s plain-spoken bluesiness, the fluid rhythmic stutter of Hux Brown from Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One rhythm section, and the floaty lyricism of King Sunny Adé’s guitars. It’ll be interesting to see where she takes it.
Anyway, they blew apart any notion of what a conventional Frieze week social occasion organised by a high-end Mayfair gallery might be. “Party” is what it said on the invitation, and a party is what they made it. If the four of them can get the sense of unstoppable energy on to a record, you’ll be able to have that party in your very own home.
Richard, just wanted to say, after reading a lot of these blogs, how much I enjoy them. Thank you.
Wish I’d been there. The Lifetime/GG comparison makes for an intriguing prospect. There certainly seems to be a buzz about Boyd at the moment (he makes me think of Ed Blackwell sometimes which can’t be a bad thing) and it will be interesting to see where he goes next and whether he gets any of the music recorded. I was taken by the Exodus project. “Dem Ones” was good but not quite as original as some of the claims made for it (not by you Mr. W I hasten to add). Mind you it’s a tough field, sax/drum duets, to debut in
Sounds like fun.
Shirley Tetteh – I have seen her play live a couple of times, most memorably when she formed part of band led by the trombone player Robin Eubanks at Ronnie Scott’s a year or so ago and closed the evening with a scalding guitar solo of real quality. I also saw her at the South Bank in a large(ish) band led by the bass player Gary Crosby, performing music from the Motown song-book; again, Shirley (along with the very fine sax player, Camilla George) made a contribution that has lingered long in the memory. I do hope that the band led by Moses Boyd (what a drummer) featuring Shirley reconvenes soon; she’s a real talent.