Robert Balzar Trio,
Jazz Bar, Edinburgh
Bands don't routinely get encores at the Jazz Bar. The quick turnaround between mid-evening and late sessions often means that there's no time anyway. It really wouldn't have been right, though, if the Robert Balzar Trio hadn't played one and if they hadn't played the selection they chose we would have missed something truly special.
Bassist Balzar and his fellow Czech musicians, pianist Jiri Levicek and drummer Jiri Slavicek had already demonstrated a talent for teasing camouflage. Earlier, out of a contemplative introduction by means of a familiar phrase here and a hinting chord change there, a gloriously inventive reading of You Don't Know What Love Is had gradually emerged and the fractured lines of All the Things You Are suddenly coalesced into a romp so fresh and exciting that it could have been brand new rather than a jazz staple.
They maintained this level of intrigue and invention through two sets, with Levicek producing solos of extraordinary creative stamina, wondrous touch and tonal range and the three of them playing with dynamic variation and a thinking-as-one mutual understanding. Just as Secret Love, taken at a frightening pace, was thrilling, with a cheeky 'Thelonious Monk in the belfry' coda, Levicek's Snow in the Backyard was a deliciously sub-meditative ensemble effort.
And then there was the encore. Born in the abstract and painstakingly developed, it ultimately revealed itself as a number played possibly by every student of jazz over the past 60 years although not in this form: the magnificent Solar adagio.