Live Review: Fine Men With Foul Tongues. Piccolo, George Square, Edinburgh. Sunday 24 July 2022

Bassist Brodie Jarvie’s marvellously-monikered Fine Men With Foul Tongues (FMWFT) is certainly a fine septet, composed of some of Scotland’s most talented musicians and which, on the 24th of last month, played an highly engaging 90 minute set as part of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.
Consisting of the leader’s own compositions it was clear that Jarvie has developed his own distinctive compositional sound, to this listener’s ears seeming very classically informed and story-telling, with a measured, breathing feel in which any high-velocity musical gymnastics occurred only when the music itself required it. However, whilst there was nary a whiff of grandstanding, there was still room in his pieces for each of the musicians to have their moments in the sun.
Jarvie, as the composer and leader allowed his own instrument more prominence than can sometimes be the case for double bass, and he delivered several beautifully rendered, short and lyrical solos. Accomplished pianist Paul Harrison meanwhile contributed his usual very impressive level of technique and versatility, while new-to-this-
reviewer Amsterdam-based drummer Guy Salamon was a revelation, not least with his martial opening statement to the third tune of the night (the name of which I didn’t catch).
Notwithstanding the lashing rain outside, the quieter moments of the gig gave guitarist Ben MacDonald a chance to demonstrate, sometimes with subtle electronic effects, his not inconsiderable chops, while the ante could reliably be upped whenever the trio (yes, trio!) of saxophonists let loose, whether singly, in duo or en masse. Each of Norman Wilmore, Michael Butcher and Jonathan Chung have their own particular style of play, bringing further colour to Jarvie’s compositions.
Sometimes there was almost a big band sound going on, at other times the music seemed like the soundtrack to a romantic film, however the constants were the groove and melodies which drew one in, making it really quite hard for more than a few of us in the audience to keep still.
Hopefully nowadays wider audiences will have the opportunity to hear Jarvie and his FMWFT play live, as this is music that deserves to be heard. (One wonders also if soundtrack composing might perhaps be in Jarvie’s sights?) In the meantime, if you’re feeling impatient, their 2020 album Carefully Crafted Letters is available on digital release from Bandcamp.

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