So Stu Brown needn't have worried about playing so much new material in this first performance by a new group. Indeed, although some numbers would surely blossom further with the luxury of another few gigs, the drummer's response to an invitation to fill a slot in Bridge Jazz's regular Thursday series at relatively short notice constituted quite a feat.
Brown is, if you'll pardon the expression, big on colour. Alongside Mario Caribe's considerable presence and his own finely detailed yet assertive drumming, he introduced the impressively resourceful Brian Molley on soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute and the splendid Tom Gibbs on piano and piano accordion. This instrumentation endowed Brown's variously intricate, yearning, jerky-of-rhythm and frankly groovy compositions with a great variety of shadings to match an assortment of inspirations that ranged from the rampaging, klezmer-styled opening number Dhansak Ransack through the lightly waltzing Little Egret, with its echoes of Brad Mehldau, and on into The Keystone Connection, which captured both a family tie to the silent movie-era comic cops and the tempo of their flickering capers.
If the general mood was entertaining, the musicianship was serious in thought and deed, with the quartet as a whole capturing the summery vibe of one cover, Tom Jobim's Favela, and a piano trio, then eventually all four imbuing another, Daniel Johnston's True Love Will Find You in the End, with a balladeer's sensitivity, and Brown's own Last Dram for a Drunken Swan finishing with brilliant, stop-on-a-sixpence precision.