Open less than six months on Railton Road in Herne Hill, south London, on the site of Jazz on the Hill, is Victor Greetham’s Agile Rabbit, a sister restaurant to the Brixton Village birthplace of the pizzeria, the joint’s logo inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the trilby-wearing Victor explains to marlbank, as bassist composer Liran Donin and alto saxophonist Chris Williams who make up two-fifths of the 2009 Mercury-nominated Led Bib join forces with the Zara McFarlane drummer Sam Jones and reach full flow.
Donin, who this year picked up acclaim for 8 Songs (Cavalo Records) — John Fordham writing in The Guardian describing the folk/experimental jazz breakthrough as “an exceptional album” — has a mobile highly elastic style that in this context summons a Charlie Haden-like looseness and sense of adventure that matches Williams’ modern version of the musical innovations of Ornette Coleman to harness the ache of the blues and the scalding ferocity of avant bop.
Newcomer Sam Jones completing the trio is also to be heard at the hip Prince of Wales late-night Thursday sessions in Brixton, and here with his impressive affinity for a free-improv situation leans towards a John Stevens-type role involving that brittle touch and open ended sense of time and razor-sharp response associated with other British improvisers that followed in Stevens’ wake.
It is not often possible to experience free-jazz/improv in a congenial neighbourhood restaurant when the music on offer otherwise is often so dispiritingly bland. The word clearly is rapidly getting out about the quality of the scene and it was good to see Jazzwise editor Mike Flynn in the house digging the vibe. SG
More Rabbit than Sainsbury’s: Liran Donin top left and Chris Williams at the Agile Rabbit. Inset: Agile Rabbit owner Victor Greetham who is stimulating a jazz scene in Herne Hill by opening up the space. The Rabbit session is on Wednesdays. Info.