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Paragon  -  Tue Oct 28, 2014  |  08:00 pm
Admission £ 8.00 ( £ 6.00 concessions)
Anglo-German quartet Paragon first played a Schmazz gig in January 2008, prompting high praise not just for the music, but also for the promoter's acumen in booking such a superb but almost completely unknown young group. They returned two years later, but haven't been back for more than four years, so this Jazz Café gig is a great opportunity to catch up with their progress.

The quartet is co-led by Berlin-based saxophonist Peter Ehwald and UK pianist Arthur Lea, who also share the writing duties. Ehwald has a prodigious saxophone technique and a fine ear, capable of wildly exciting full throttle sax attacks, but perhaps at his most distinctive in the lyrically expressive passages that emerge from even the most up-tempo numbers. Lea too paints from a wide musical palette, almost funky at times, demonstrating the fractured bop quirkiness of Django Bates at others, and always finding exactly the right approach for each number. The quartet is completed by the powerful bass playing of Cologne-based Matthias Akeo Nowak and the propulsive drumming of Jon Scott (who performs a similar function for the award-winning Kairos 4tet).

But as with many of the finest young contemporary bands, the contributions of individuals are no more important than the overall approach, and reactions within the group are so intuitive and quick that the band seems to have a collective consciousness as it moves from one musical mood to another. Despite the geographical dispersal of the four members, Peter Ehwald still regards Paragon as "a proper working band", and like the best working bands, it continues to develop. It's good to have them back.