any of the best jazz musicians around – regional, national and international. Working on a shoe string budget, hoping audiences will materialise from one gig to the next, it’s largely a thankless task. On an occasion such as last night at the Black Bull there was a feeling that it was worthwhile, more than worthwhile.
Johnston opened each set with a solo acoustic guitar piece. A Norah Jones’ number – Don’t Know Why – held the audience rapt. Johnston invited Peter Gilligan to join him on Bill Evans’ Time Remembered. Double bassist Paul Grainger and Tim Johnston (drums) stepped onto the dimly lit stage to form the quartet in time to play Johnston’s Pat’s Waltz. A varied programme included Steve Swallow and Ellington. In a Sentimental Mood was a first set highlight; fine, sensitive playing, Tim Johnston working the gig almost exclusively with brushes, Gilligan commendably restrained, Grainger the imperturbable figure at the back. Michel Petrucciani’s Looking Up brought the first set to a close with the (no relation) Johnstons in the spotlight – Bradley with a marvelous solo, Tim taking it out in spirited fashion.