Making a welcome return to Tenby, the Bristol-based Cool Jazz Quartet played the Imperial Hotel on March 12 as part of the regular series of Jazz Lunches, writes Keith Clarke.

The playlist was mainly jazz standards, but the group likes to go its own way with a surprising take on well-known repertoire. Setting off down a familiar path, time and again the four players pared away the textures until the music was hardly there at all, creating a magical effect that really grabbed the attention.

The quartet is led by Greg Sterland, playing tenor sax, whose musical understanding with guitarist Jonny Westhorp was evident from the start. With Sterland bending notes winningly, Westhorp conjured a huge range of effects from the guitar. At the close of one number it almost sounded like two saxes duetting, and he had some especially interesting work in the upper reaches of the guitar.

They were strongly supported by Alex Goodyear on drums and Mike Kennedy on bass, each taking the opportunity to shine in solos. Goodyear would have been well able to fill the three hours alone on the drums, turning in some extraordinary work and showing what can be achieved on a small kit with no tom-toms. His stickwork and brushwork was superb, and it’s not often you see anyone take a brush to the bass drum. Kennedy was a dependable presence, putting the bass through its paces and leaning on notes nicely in solos.

Having raised the temperature with three sets, the quartet bowed out with Coleman Hawkins’ ‘Stuffy’.

The next band at the Jazz Lunches has the dubious honour of being the most postponed, having fallen foul of both Covid and Ironman. The Keith Little Trio hopes to make it third time lucky on April 16, featuring vocalist Jane Williams, ‘a local lady with a fabulous voice,’ promises organiser Chris Osborne.