Johnathan Kreisberg Quartet on a roll at The Spin


The synergy between ex-prog rock guitarist Johnathan Kreisberg’s quartet and The Spin audience in Oxford was palpable during what was only one of three UK stops on his European tour. No surprise, perhaps, Kreisberg declared, ‘We love The Spin’, before recommending the local ale. But this wasn’t just hyperbole – there’s a track called ‘The Spin’ on Kreisberg’s 2014 release, Wave Upon Wave.

Throughout a captivating performance Kriesberg’s rich tone and stunning virtuosity combined with his sharp imagination – chords inserted at the most unlikely of moments, with judicious use of effects pedals. The bandleader’s body language betrayed his passion for the music. He clearly feels it and wants us to feel it too, whether it’s the fierce groove of ‘Wild Animals We’ve Seen’, or when the ensemble takes a more reflective turn, as on their respectful deconstruction of ‘Stella by Starlight,’ or while lyrically dancing their way through Kreisberg’s new composition ‘Vagabond’.

The guitarist’s virtuosity was matched by the outstanding David Kikoski on keyboards, the pair exchanging extended solos which never sagged. On the footloose, jazz-rock influenced ‘Stir The Stars’, Kikoski’s smoking runs were followed by a cascade of brilliant guitar. The Spin’s cosmos was indeed stirred.

Wherever the main soloists went, the backline was there and right on it. But Rick Rosato and Colin Stranahan created more than just a platform for the guys up-front. The former’s nuanced double bass was a pure sonic pleasure, while Stranahan’s powerful African pulse at the start of ‘Until you Know’ was as unexpected as it was thrilling. An extremely beautiful version of the standard ‘We’ll Be Together Again’, served as fitting love letter between artist and audience.

– Colin May 

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