At one point during this debut performance in Leeds, Ed Motta took a moment from his mastery of the keyboard to dedicate one of the songs to Magnum, P.I. The figure of Tom Selbeck circa 82, with bushy moustache, Hawaiian shirts and aviators in tow should tell you something about the kind of smooth, breezy 80s aesthetic Motta is paying tribute to on his newest record AOR, from which most of the songs in this show were from. The music was rooted in the kind of showy jazz fusion and smooth jazz which takes its cues from figures like Grover Washington Jr and Roy Ayers. Thankfully, though, the band managed to display their considerable talent on their respective instruments while never straying into the kind of crass self-indulgence that the words ‘jazz fusion’ may conjure up for many people – Matti Klein, on piano, was particularly impressive with his glittering solos
There were also tracks that showcased Motta’s love for the pop music of the era he was growing up in, something made explicit by the title of ‘1978 (Leave the Radio On)’ – in which catchy hooks and a radio-friendly groove make tribute to the likes of Stevie Wonder. The only point in which this pop sensibility was indulged slightly too much was perhaps when a solo passage of impressive scat-esque jazz singing, accompanied by keys, descended into beat box renditions of Deep Purple which was a bit too reminiscent of an entry to Britain’s Got Talent. That said, though, it was still a great set in which the P.I. inspired, musical virtuosity of this band at the top of their game was allowed to shine in the consistently clear and impressive sound at The Wardrobe.