Zoe Rahman Octet at the Watermill, Dorking

Graham Thomas heard the Tyner-influenced, modally inclined pianist lead a band including Rowland Sutherland and Gene Calderazzo

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From top left, clockwise - Mark Armstrong, Gene Calderazzo, Tori Freestone, Zoe Rahman. Photo © Brian O'Connor

Zoe Rahman appeared at the Watermill with her octet to perform selections from her last album, Colour Of Sound. She started with Dance Of Time, which contrasted a hypnotic left-hand bass figure against cascading right-hand lines, reminiscent of McCoy Tyner. The five horns of the octet reinforced Zoe’s melodies and the arrangements added effective colours to the group sound.

Rowland Sutherland’s flute blended well with Helena Kay’s clarinet to produce unusual tones. Helena also played strong solos on alto sax, along with Tori Freestone on tenor sax. Mark Armstrong contributed powerful trumpet and flugelhorn solos which reminded me of Woody Shaw at times. On trombone Rosie Turton played with rhythmic energy and character.

Alec Dankworth’s bass interlocked well with Zoe’s piano grooves, and on drums Gene Calderazzo laid down propulsive power behind the octet. His use of fiery cymbal sounds and intricate hi-hat patterns was especially effective.

Zoe remarked at the end of the evening that she enjoyed playing with the octet so much that she wanted to go on all night!

Zoe Rahman Octet at the Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking, Surrey, Tuesday 12 September 2023