Dave & Rob.jpg

Dave O'Higgins /Rob Luft Quintet - Pluto

Friday 10 Nov 2023

Dave O’Higgins – tenor saxophone, Rob Luft – guitar, Jim Watson – piano,
Misha Mullov-Abbado – bass, Rod Youngs - drums.

This is a group at the top of their game! They played us music largely from
“Pluto”, released early last year and this was the 33rd gig of a 45-gig tour.
Not only are they superlative musicians individually but you can imagine how
well integrated they have become and how their performances have
developed during a tour of this length. They’re clearly loving every minute of it
and they played with a joyousness that was responded to by a large and very
enthusiastic audience which in turn, I think, enhanced their enjoyment.
They began with the album’s title tune, Pluto - written by Dave - an upbeat
number with Rod demonstrating his intention to prod and prompt to great
effect throughout the evening. Dave’s excellent solo was followed by Rob’s
typically fleet-fingered one, his guitar singing to us with a beautiful tone that
he aims, in his own words, to be “clean and liquid”. His formidable technique is
added to by judicious use of reverb, delay and echo.
The second number was a bossa nova written by Rob as a tribute to Stan Getz
and called Gyetski – Stan’s original surname. Rob’s solo was flowingly melodic;
I wrote “like quicksilver” in my notes. Dave’s calming solo led to a very nimble
one from Jim whose style is often as impressively fleet-fingered as Rob’s.
Dave’s Vague Recollection followed; this number showed huge originality in
their interplay, supported by Misha’s deep and warm-toned bass - his skilled
playing making a major contribution to the evening - and ended with a long,
dramatic drum solo from Rod. Round Midnight led to Grant Green’s Jean de
Fleur played like it was fun with long solos including a particularly fine one
from Jim and ending in a form of “controlled chaos”!
After the interval, they played Dave’s One For The Six, one of only two blues
numbers on their set list, which had a real bebop feel to it and included a
complex solo from Jim, an imaginative bass solo by Misha which earned
prolonged applause and another excellently constructed solo from Rod. Rob’s
South Wind continued to show the terrific level of understanding within the

group and Randy Weston’s Little Niles contained a long, brilliant solo from
Coltrane’s Naima was a Rob “special” with an extended demonstration of his
playing, in almost ethereal style, followed by an appropiately lyrical solo by
Dave. We were back to the blues again with Harold Mabern’s Rakin’ ‘n Scrapin’
and an amazing piano solo from Jim, totally in the blues tradition with strong
encouragement from Rod and then a “tour de force” solo from Rob before this
“rockin’” number ended. The audience continued to applaud until Dave and
Rob brought the band back on stage for an encore, which was Coltrane’s
This was a wonderful night of vibrant and uplifting playing by a quintet of
individual and collective brilliance and the audience knew they had been
treated to something very special.

Photos from the event

Click on a photo to enlarge it