Mike Nock on piano and Niko Schauble on drums at Memorial Hall
What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts, so if I found Sylent Running a tad soporific, I was engrossed from the moment of arrival at this gig. Simplicity in the line-up was reflected in the music they created with such apparent (and probably real) ease. Schauble is my favourite drummer, so I was anticipating a treat. Couldn’t help contrasting his playing style with that of Ari Hoenig — the latter being much more the showman and Schauble most of the time seeming to be utterly lost in the music, unaware of anything or anyone else. But of course he was well aware of Nock — the communication was tangible, though it was achieved through no visible means.
This was music to fill the soul and totally occupy the attention, so that you wanted to be nowhere else but there, in the moment. I found myself smiling, though there was no patter and no gimmickry. Variations evolved without hurry, with textures and timbres valued by each player. I heard Art Blakey’s words (as recalled by Charles Tolliver) in my head: This was music to wash away the dust from our everyday lives. As the set evolved, there were periods of swing, of substantial force, of great involvement (of audience and the players). And at times Schauble was so delicate it would break your heart. Is that what makes drummers great … the ability to release sudden force, yet at times to be so restrained?
I have not said much about Mike Nock’s playing, but it was superb. Leaving this gig felt like returning to Earth after a trip to some space beyond. A space of immense satisfaction.