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Laique

The humidity and heat are stifling and oppressive on this Thursday evening as the gibbous moon, threatening and leering in melancholy, emerges.

Rolling clouds part and a refrain of lilting banjo and fiddle passes across the ear in the riverside refuge of the Brisbane Jazz Club.

The woes of metropolitan life ease, as the wistful and upbeat Laique have grown and evolved in the three years following the release of ‘Cravin’ Just A Little Misbehavin’ (2010). They are currently in the studio for their new album, due out early 2014.

In that vein we find the evolution in presentation from the group as they presented a much more mellow and well-travelled feel to the pieces.

The hot jazz and gypsy folk styles employ a powerful and driven instrumentation, which in the case of Laique is a diverse and qualified delight to hear; each member fulfilled various roles and aspects of the arrangements, using many skills and techniques which added to the marvellous blend of styles.

With personality and drive in every measure, this group have spliced and corded the energy of Parisian hot jazz, western European and Australian folk traditions into a steady torrent of smooth tunes, blended and arranged with a very personal twist.

Vocalist Kylie Southwell sweeps us along in a jaunt through manifold tales, “mostly of alcohol and love, or mainly a lack thereof”, we are indeed enfolded in a very personal and emotional night of music encompassing loss and regret, with irreverence and jollity fitting counterparts.

The soaring and visceral flamenco and pastueno style solo from Gerard Mapstone (improvised from a meditation in a local church. That day, no less) and an amazing mini-continuo on violin from Michael Patterson cut a finer slice into the night’s music, throwing a bright contrast to the more recreational convention.

Laidback and free in their movement, this group stirs much more into café jazz, by dipping into the more worldly styles, yet keeping a distinctly local sound; none the worse or even slightly pastiche in its composition.

The thunderous bass of Samuel Vincent, hand-in-hand to the flighty kit of Will Eager and the fiddle of Patterson, were all seemingly passive in their roles until the urge and the pocket took their fancy, when each would strip it out and rework a whole new feel into the section, be it a piece blown from the smooth and glassy vocals or the haunting blend in the varied string combinations.

While maintaining the kick and joie de vivre of the great acts of the ‘20s and ‘30s, Laique seem equally capable of extravagance and control, in the grounded and attentive manner of those with real passion and respect for their art and the artists of their inspiration.

Laique played at the Brisbane Jazz Club October 17 – Benjamin Stewart