The Comet Is Coming

Stereo, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

five stars

THE future sound of jazz crash-landed in the packed basement venue of Stereo in Glasgow’s Renfield Lane with an hour-and-a-half of searing dance-funk. The Comet Is Coming is the result of a fortuitous collision between the synthesiser and drums duo of Dan Leavers and Max Hallett with tenor saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Trading as Danalogue, Betamax and King Shabaka, the trio is poised to release the follow-up to the Mercury-shortlisted Channel The Spirits album, Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, on March 15, and this was the first is a series of dates to launch it, with all three musicians tearing out the blocks full-pelt.

The jazz antecedents here are Sun Ra and Pharaoh Saunders, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul, but there is muscle-power from other genres as well. Leavers produces an astonishing range of sounds from two Roland keyboards of around 30 years vintage with a bass sound that recalls Dusseldorf electro-punk duo Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, while Hallett’s compact two-cymbal drum kit would have been familiar to Ringo Starr (or more appositely Charlie Watts) in 1965 – and plainly that is all any sticksman really requires.

But if it is dancefloor fist-pumping energy that floats your boat, and eat your heart out, Calvin Harris. When The Comet hits a groove, the whole venue is aboard, moving as one. King Shabaka might be improvising up a storm, spooling out sinewy lines of ear-grabbing eloquence only possible through entirely un-ostentatious circular breathing, but equally he might be pinning down the riff as Danalogue journeys off as a cosmic synthesiser surf-rider. Technology here was limited to the linking of those keyboards, every other rhythmic nuance was down to the ears of the musicians – trigger ye not!

There were a few more placid moments, like Unity from the forthcoming set, but mostly this was about the irresistible pulse of the new album’s lead track Summon The Fire and Blood Of The Past, which features performance poet Kate Tempest on the recorded version. The new album is a sure-fire future classic – and the live experience was sensational.