The Osian Roberts / Steve Fishwick Quintet

PERSONNEL:

  • Steve Fishwick Trumpet/Flugelhorn
  • Osian Roberts Tenor Saxophone
  • Olivier Slama Piano
  • Dave Chamberlain Bass
  • Matt Fishwick/Matt Home Drums

Since its inception in 2002, The Osian Roberts/Steve Fishwick Quintet has built a strong reputation as one of the most consistent and exciting live acts on the U.K. jazz scene. They've toured extensively throughout Britain, performing in some of the country's most renowned jazz clubs (Ronnie Scott's, The 100 Club, Charlie Wright's, The 606 Club etc.), as well as appearing in many International Jazz Festivals (including Brecon, Swanage, London, and Scarborough). The quintet's repertoire is largely original (both leaders are prolific composers, and more recently, pianist Olivier Slama has contributed to the band's pad), but they also play their own arrangements of standards, and throughout the programme, the emphasis is on swing and improvisation.

Steve Fishwick, his brother Matt and Osian Roberts first became friends 1994, when they met on the jazz course at The Royal Academy Of Music in London. Since then, the three have worked and rehearsed together on a regular basis, both in their own groups, as well as in the ranks of other bands (Mike Carr's Blue Note Quartet; The Matt Wates Sextet etc.). In 2001 they met a group of French musicians living in London who shared the same musical tastes, and began to congregate weekly for an informal jam session to rehearse and play arrangements from their favourite records. Eventually, the group started to perform regularly in and around the capitol. That group laid the foundation for what was to become the current quintet, although the line-up has changed since those early days; the only remaining Frenchman is the pianist Olivier Slama, who is joined in the rhythm section by bass virtuoso Dave Chamberlain.

In 2003, drummer Matt Fishwick moved to New York, where he gained the invaluable experience of working with many of the jazz world's most respected musicians, including legends Joe Wilder, Frank Wess, and Bob Cranshaw; as well as the younger generation of jazz heavyweights such as Jeremy Pelt, John Colliani, Harry Allen, and Frank Basille. It was during this time that Matt Home stepped into the breach, and since Matt Fishwick's return to the U.K. in 2008, both drummers have worked with the group in turn. 

The quintet is featured on the following HBR albums (click on titles for album info):

HBR33001 "Too Much!"

HBR33003 On The Up And Up

HBR33006 ...with Cedar Walton!

 

  PRESS REVIEWS (OF THE BAND'S LIVE PERFORMANCES):

"Advance publicity for the quintet fronted by Steve Fishwick and Osian Roberts, loosely places them "…in the tradition of the great hard bop bands of the 1950s and '60s." On the evidence of tonight's performance, though, they stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest quintets of that period. As predicted, they opened our Autumn season with a bang, and with just one standard in their repertoire, they treated a spellbound audience to a whole succession of originals that would have drawn nodding approval from Horace Silver himself. Backed by the outstanding French pianist Olivier Slama, with Dave Chamberlain on bass and Matt Home on drums, Steve (tpt) and Osian (tenor sax) re-acquainted us with the very roots of modern jazz, with a sound that continues to excite audiences throughout the land. No question about it: their rating as one of the best hard bop quintets around is fully justified."

Robin Paterson (Peterborough Jazz Club 19/09/08)

"THE blending of trumpet and tenor-sax has over the last 50 years produced one of the purest, organic and durable sounds in modern jazz, popularly known as the "Blue Note" style because of the record label that promoted it and still continues to do so. But it was enormously refreshing to an audience - which included a large number of Nottingham hard bop stalwarts who cut their teeth on this music - see and hear a band of youngsters not only emulate the Blue Note sound to perfection but write their own material as well. The result was classic hard bop with great interaction between the front-line men, the group's French pianist Olivier Slama and the continually bubbling and effervescent rhythm team of Dave Chamberlain (bass) and Matt Home (drums). Steve Fishwick's fresh, cool trumpet and Osian Roberts' robust, beautifully controlled tenor-sax kept up a continual barrage of inspired creation, rounded off by Slama's harmonically and rhythmically supple piano. Chamberlain's bass sounded every bit as good as it looked; a beautiful instrument, impeccably played with a warm, bouncing tone; Dave also produced some amazing sounds with his bow. Matt Homes' drumming underlined everything; with a basic seven-piece kit his steely top cymbal, chattering snare and Art Blakey-type press rolls, contributed to the quintet's tight swinging rhythm section."

Trudie Squires  (Bonnington Theatre, Nottingham 22/03/07)

"The Chickenshed at Southgate was lucky to catch trumpeter Steve Fishwick and tenor sax player Osian Roberts before they left to join Steve's drummer twin Matt in New York to record with former Jazz Messenger Cedar Walton. Roberts (in Cardiff) and Fishwick (near Manchester) were born 20 years on in 1976 and the pair came together in the mid 1990s at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The tightness of their playing has the ease that comes with years of familiarity and hard practice. The concert featured many of their own compositions with period titles like 'Blackout', 'Too Much!' or 'The Knife', the latter dedicated to Roberts's baritone sax hero Pepper Adams. These were 'classically' hard bop in style with angular up-tempo unison intros leading to flowing solos. Fishwick carried out impossibly long fast and fiery runs, then still had the breath to come back for more explorations of the higher register. Roberts hooked and upper-cut low phrases before producing free-flowing cascades of middle-range notes. The two slim young men just stood up straight and blew. They slowed down for Gershwin ballads 'I Loves you Porgy' and 'Someone to Watch over Me' without losing their fluency.

Toulon based pianist Olivier Slama fitted in musically with jagged right hand runs interspersed with lush block chord choruses. He was particularly good at prompting tuneful bass solos from Dave Chamberlain and the whole band was driven along by drummer Matt Home who excelled in swapping four bar breaks with the two horn players and played as convincingly with brushes as with sticks. Most importantly, the quintet swung, even when playing Fishwick's inexplicably titled 'A Pocket Full of Grease' in waltz time and the ferociously fast final 'I Want to be Happy'.

As I left, I overheard a comment that it's unusual to hear a band with two equally good front men. That goes for all five players on the night, there were no weaknesses, no fluffed entries. Fishwick and Roberts have played with some greats like Dave Cliff, Scott Hamilton, Anita O'Day and the late Bill Le Sage. Their invitation to record with Walton shows they are gaining the recognition they deserve.

Listening to the band at the Chickenshed, I heard hints of previous giants, Red Garland's chords, Dizzy Gillespie's runs, Art Blakey's punctuation, Sonny Rollins' and John Coltrane's angularity, the tunefulness of Wilbur Ware and the tight arrangements of Shorty Rogers, but these young men are more than mere retro-copyists. They sit on the shoulders of giants and come out as their own men. And they are good; very, very good."

Huw Jones (The Chickenshed Theatre, London 26/01/07)

 

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