Last Saturday I spent time in Woolwich, south east London, listening to the Abbie Finn Trio featuring Abbie Finn on drums, saxophonist Harry Keeble alongside bass player Paul Grainger. The event was held at the Woolwich Works in a square with a glorified sandpit, complete with beachside deckchairs, a very smokey BBQ wafting dark air across the setting while the ‘Rumpypumpy Bar’, playing suitable party style music, served beer, wine and rum based cocktails – not quite the setting I am used to but the sun was shining and I went with it.
The two sets were made up of material from the first album, Northern Perspective, the as yet unnamed follow-up album and a cover or two. I have admired this trio since first hearing their debut album and the two live performances I have attended have done nothing to diminish that admiration. The trio are tight knit, use a range of tempo’s, styles, and tones to convey their message and, above all, really do seem to enjoying playing together. Abbie’s drumming is compact, which I like, and she solos with brevity, which I really like. Harry Keeble on sax makes good use of the range of the instrument whether he is playing lyrically or with punch and attitude while Paul Grainger just sits in behind the other two adding his own colouring to the tune being performed.
New tunes like ‘The Labyrinth’, with its slow Bossa Nova style rhythms and wonderful bass playing around which Harry wove the melody, or ‘Big Old Spice Cabinet’, with its punchy, upbeat sax lines (and some wonderful notes in the lower register) and its drum sax trades suggest that the follow-up album will be good to hear. ‘On Pink Lane’ is a terrific track with very enjoyable uses of tempo, volume, and rhythm changes – a multi-textured tune full of tonal colour variations that kept me guessing as to where the tune might go next. The standout number of the evening has to go to the wonderfully titles tune ‘The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers’ written by Steve Kuhn. It was so easy to imagine this being the tune to an animated film along the lines of Belleville Rendez-Vous(do check it out!). The storytelling ebbed and flowed beautifully and Paul’s bass solo really was something to enjoy!
This was a very good evening out and I look forward to hearing more from the Abbie Finn Trio whose follow-up album should be released early 2023, with a single or two being put out in the lead up to the release date. I also look forward to hearing the Harry Keeble Quartet at some point in the future with what I am told is a different sound to that he plays in the trio setting.