The New Noakes International, fronted by Pete Oxley, played the Wheatsheaf to promote their latest album Blue In Black and White. New Noakes comprise bass, drums, keyboards and Oxley on electric jazz guitar and electro-acoustic. Playing a style rich and varied, the band seem to be well-acquainted with the Wheatsheaf crowd, which helped in creating a laid-back yet engaging atmosphere. It was a crowd that was a little older than one generally finds in Oxford bars, but they were not all jazz aficionados. Perhaps this is where the real skill of New Noakes becomes apparent. Alternating between the recognisable structures of jazz, and more mellow blues-infused songs, the band give the audience a real sense of the diverse sounds and moods that a four piece instrumental band can conjure up. Luckily they never completely abandon their jazz roots. A whole spectrum of genres are touched upon – from acoustic pop to straight jazz and avant-garde – but there’s no self indulgence or clever ‘intellectual’ aspirations. The solos, while clearly demonstrating proficiency and accomplishment on the various instruments, were not outlandishly virtuoustic (as one often finds with emerging jazz groups trying to consolidate their place on the scene). They nonetheless quickened the heart-beat. Worth checking out.
ARCHIVE: 2nd Week TT 2003

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