Dani Perez Trio at Robadors 23 – 26 Jan ’15

Dani Perez (guitar)
David Mengual (bass)
David Xirgu (drums)

I like watching guitarists. Maybe because it’s the only instrument I have even a passing familiarity with, I have an appreciation for the skill required to wrench some music from the damn thing! Anyway, Dani Perez is a guitarist worth watching. Mostly for his inventive and nimble techniques, but also for his setup: the unusually-shaped Klein headless guitar and a classic Vox amp (sorry – I used to be a guitar geek). DP’s partners for the set are – like him – pretty well-known locally and can be seen (and heard on recordings) in any number of line ups and combinations. So, that’s three quality musicians for 4€, not bad…

The opening number was very reminiscent of classic 60s guitar jazz – a melodic, swinging riff forms the basis of a relay of solo improvisations. What I liked most was the faint undercurrent of disjointedness – as if while playing as a trio, they were each playing different versions of the tune, the three instruments rubbing up against each, sparking, creating nuances and unexpected overtones. DP is a player who deals in fragments – the tune was fractured, implied, inverted, hinted at… Meanwhile, the support from the Davids Mengual and Xirgu was supremely tasteful, exercising restraint without sacrificing impact.

The next three tunes were at a slightly lower tempo, very song-based in form and each based on a fluid, apparently complex, and almost pretty riff. It was all very listenable and beautifully executed but, if I’m honest, by the third piece it was getting a little same-y. However, variety was at hand, and next up was an intriguing cover of the classic Pete Seeger song, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” – beginning with a play-along to the recorded lyrics (kind of a reverse karaoke) and then Pete’s voice faded out and the band took the opportunity to dig into the tune – nice. By this point, what I’m realising quite clearly is that it’s the passages of improvisation and free-er interplay when the playing really seems to lift off. It’s all nicely done but it was when they started pushing at the boundaries – and each other – that the magic started to happen. Happily, after a distinctly country-sounding tune that could well have been an inside-out Eagles song(!) they finished on a bluesy, swinging blowing session with another nicely-disassembled theme that, at times, seemed to beg for a diversion into more overdriven fusion territory. But despite not taking that diversion, the at-times quirky Monk-like phrasing was a high point to leave us on.

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