Neil Angilley: The Spin, Oxford
By Paul Medley - Oxford Times
Neil Angilley has worked with musicians as diverse as Ben E.King and Vanessa Mae, for whom he accompanied the violinist in both her pop' and her classical repertoire. This wealth of experience and necessary technical control was evident within the first bar of his evening at the Spin. On a samba from his new album Havana Club, his playing had the assurance, dynamic control and rhythmic assertion that immediately captures an audience's attention. Add to this a depth of musical imagination and you have an outstanding player.
Through the evening, Angilley played a wide range of jazz melodies, including the Bill Evans classic My Romance, Wayne Shorter's Footprints, Dizzy Gillespie's Night in Tunisia, his own more pastoral compositions and the ballad You Don't Know What Love Is. In each number he stamped his own personality on the melody, often with a complex solo introduction and moving into improvisations that always had the freshness of unpredictability This was maintained by a diversity of musical ideas and the ability to move from simple, sweeping statements into fiercer more complex territory, thus continually recreating the tension rather than reaching a certain level and remaining there - a shortcoming of many musicians with more technically ability than musical depth.
This was also a somewhat historic evening in that Angilley was backed by a spin duo instead of the usual trio. While this placed more weight on Raf Mizraki, on bass, and Mark Doffman, on drums, it also left a clear field for Angilley, which he was clearly able to fill. Mizraki and Doffman, meanwhile, rose to the occasion, laying down a solid yet multi-textured rhythmic ground. Mizraki, as usual, played some masterly solos, particularly on fretless electric. Doffman seemed to have found another gear in Footprints and really let out all the stops on Night in Tunisia. Angilley generously drew attention to the rhythm section after each number and rightly picked out Doffman for his intricate and powerful soloing.
This was a memorable evening with a soloist who has the virtuosity, maturity and musical intelligence to forge something new and surprising out of even the most well-trodden standards.