Launching her new album Padme in New York, pianist Caili O’Doherty took to the Dizzy’s stage back-lit by the stunning city glow stretching out behind panoramic windows. It’s a grand setting for any jazz musician and a challenge they seem comfortable rising to.
The music is tight — melodic, accessible and with excellent arranging for the non-conventional quintet elements that includes Alex Hargreaves on violin. Caili’s compositions create solid bedrock for the soloing to flourish, she has a Neil Cowley-esque understanding of groove, looping strong bass progression doubled by Tamir Shmerling.
Things really started to kick off in the van Gogh-inspired ‘Ravine’ and were cooking as the band eased into ‘Stump Town’ with drummer Cory Cox pushing and pulling the heartbeat of the charts with ease. His dementedly brilliant expression in ‘Tree of Return’ was equally beautiful and harrowing.
In the soloing department, Ben Flocks on tenor saxophone comes to the fore. His carefully picked lines balanced with an ability to tear into the meaty middle of an improvisation. The feeling and burn of an individual tune came alive when he led from the front, knitting together Caili’s skilled composition with a fire and immediacy that made this a momentous New York debut for a promising young group.
Padme is out now on ODO Records.