The three serious, unemotional men faced one another uncertainly in a tight triangle – insular, and disconnected from the audience. Simon Golding (guitar) mumbled about ‘me’ and ‘my’ (never ‘our’) music, and insisted on wiping himself thoroughly with a towel after every song like he was playing an arena rock show. Julian Jackson marked time on bass, head in chart, and Simon Pearson on drums was distinctly nondescript, except for over-thin crash cymbals that sounded like he was breaking them every time he so much as tapped one. ‘Lots of notes but no music’: this refrain recurred in my head over and over, although I tried not to let it – it’s pretty rude. But there it was. One very earnest and studied guitarist (with chorus pedal), leading his passenger bassist and drummer through a selection of medium-tempo identikit funk tunes with all the charisma of the matched grey suits they were wearing. Each cut had a meandering head played by Golding, with lacklustre accompaniment from the two hired guns who, I’m sure, didn’t know the tunes well. The guitar solos became so predictable by the fourth song that I was getting annoyed: guitar plays semiquaver for a chorus; a second chorus of semiquavers, louder; third chorus is sweep-picking and bodily swaying; fourth chorus, quaver six-string strumming, to fade before restating head. Yawn. If Metheny or Frisell had played these songs, it might have been a great gig – passion and endless variety from the one, bluesy, soulful angularity from the other. But alas, it was just boring. Maybe it’s unkind to compare Rough Ramblers to modern jazz all-stars, but I don’t think so – this was Ronnie Scott’s. Quite the disappointment.

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