If you're going to call your band 'Grooveyard' you'd damn well better be sure you deliver the goods. A few tunes into his group's set Gareth Lockrane says as much, almost as an apology that they just can't resist a good groove, and the mood switches from 'straightahead' to something with a bit more backbeat and the band relax into demonstrating the reason behind their moniker.
There's soon an acknowledgement of soul-jazz pioneer Eddie Harris who's own grooves are the inspiration for the Lockrane original 'The Strut', but rather than electric sax the tone is set by Lockrane's flute. There's a distinct 60's vibe about some of the compositions, not as any kind of pastiche but rather that somewhat slinky vibe present back in the day when playing a groove was a more relaxed and organic affair. Lockrane's compositions work this to the max, moving with a sense of purpose and building excitement as they go. Interesting is how the band solo within the tunes, using them less as a launch pad for personal improvisations but more a collective effort to add to the piece as a whole. 'The Strut' proves an apt title and more, starting as a lively stroll and finishing as a frantic car chase of a tune full of breathless chord changes, groovy Hammond organ, and propulsive drumming from Tim Giles.
As my co-reviewer for the day is my 12 year old son an unusual instrument or two doesn't go amiss and Lockrane delights by picking up a bass flute announcing it as some plumbing he found outside the Spa. The slightly awkward looking instrument adds a sultry touch to the next piece, further enhancing the cinematic feel of the music. The real joy of the afternoon though comes from Ross Stanley on Hammond organ - the first time my son has seen one played live - in particular his introduction to a blues piece entitled 'Slowburner'. His hands dart around the drawbars and stops of the instrument as much as the keyboard like he's trying to get every possible sound out of it - it swooshes and roars and grinds through this amazing improvisation and, with the large video screens above the stage zoomed in on the instrument, it's not just my son who is enthralled by this almost otherworldly musical moment but the whole audience holding its breath and then erupting in a cheer as the band launch into the tune proper.
There's another chance to see Gareth and Tim as they work with the 'EASY band' youth jazz orchestra later in the afternoon (the ensemble in fine form as ever with some great young soloists), but as this set ends Grooveyard have no need for another explanation about their name - they've more than lived up to it.
Adrian Riley also compiles 'Jazz Thing' each week for Radio Scarborough - it can be heard on Thursday nights at 11pm (repeated on Monday night at the same time).