Adam Rudegeair Quintet live on 8 October 2014

This is Jazz at its best. Virtuosic. Irreverent. Dangerous.

On 8 October at the Paris Cat, Adam Rudegeair and his band played the tunes we like, but not how we like them.

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Oh yes, they were David Bowie tunes. But not as you know them. They weren’t covers. They weren’t even ‘reimagined’. More invention than reinvention, band leader and master jazz arranger Adam Rudegeair deconstructed a selection of Bowie’s songs from all eras (include a few cuts from Labyrinth) into their raw musical building blocks. And then rebuilt them from the ground up as daring jazz arrangements.

The process was somewhat similar to pulling apart the lego castle into individual blocks and rebuilding it into a spaceship. Sure, you might recognise some parts here and there (if you know what you’re looking for), but what you’re looking at is something entirely new.

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And jazz arrangements like this would be nothing without a master jazz band to do them justice. Rudegeair put together an impressive fivesome for this performance. Leading from piano, he was joined by Djuna Lee (upright bass), Thom Mitchell (drums), Daimon Brunton (trumpet) and Luke Carbon (saxophone).

Brunton and Carbon deserve special mention as the band’s front brass section. Trading solos all night, the pair’s brilliant technique threatened to burst their very instruments. At times it felt that Carbon’s sax was physically twisting and shifting to invent brand-new notes that hadn’t been heard before.

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This is Jazz; we play the tunes you like, but not how you like them.

Rudegeair himself was astounding on piano. And astoundingly broad. He knew when to hold back – giving the band just enough support and space to show off. But he also knew when to lay it down like a boss. He deftly took the grand piano at the Paris Cat from a teasing whisper-quiet to a riotous roar. He played gorgeous melodies. He played complex and intricate harmonies. He mashed the keys to produce smeared percussive effects that most pianists wouldn’t dare to dream. At one point he even reached inside the piano to pluck the strings directly, producing a ghostly and otherworldly sound.

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Adam Rudegeair regularly plays jazz gigs at the Paris Cat. To make sure you don’t miss the next one, get the skinny on his Facebook page:

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