There are a number of reasons why a night out with drummer Seb Rochford's quintet is such a rewarding one.
There is the musicianship of the man himself. Rochford sounds like no one else, a feat that shouldn't be so hard to achieve, but, in this world of information overload and institutionalised jazz instruction, is probably the result of an exceptional single-mindedness as well as a great deal of woodshedding. His playing is full of apparent contradictions: sloppy yet tight, cool yet energising, swinging yet funky.
Then there are his compositions - quirky and catchy, possible sound-tracks for silent comedy of the surreal kind. I suspect he may have listened to some of his late compatriot Ivor Cutler.
There is also the playing of his original acoustic band, Tom Herbert the unsung hero at the back, but Mark Lockheart and Pete Wareham the clear winners at the front, their close-harmony melodies achieving the impression of a single instrument, before they shoot off in improvisations which highlight their contrasting musical characters.
Finally there is the sound manipulator Leafcutter John, who filters the saxophone sounds or a mandolin through his laptop, or adds
crackles and clatters via a handset - surely the most creative computer gamer in the business.
My only slight gripe was that he was a little heavy-handed on Sunday evening. Still, even laptop improvisers deserve the occasional off-night.
Before Polar Bear, keyboardist Steve Tromans launched his band Church of Logick's first CD with a striking set that showed a tight band powered by drummer Carl Hemmingsley.
No cliches here - rhythms that stumbled intentionally but never fell, off-the-wall free playing at times, and some keyboard work in which Tromans firted recklessly with RSI. Good stuff.