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Monday, November 23, 2009

Mark Toomey Quartet @ The Cherry Tree Restaurant, Jesmond.

Mark Toomey (alto), Jeremy McMurray (pno), Peter Ayton (bs), Kevin O'Neill (dms).
Laid back alto playing from Mark who flew bird-like through the changes on a choice selection of standards and originals.
These included, "East of the Sun", "Autumn Leaves", "Stella By Starlight", "There Will Never Be Another You", "All The Things You Are" - complete with the now obligatory Charlie Parker intro - more Yardbird with "Parker's Mood" and finally, Sonny Rollins' soundtrack theme for the Michael Caine film "Alfie". Now before you throw-up I'm not talking about the song that Cilla used to sing but the actual film theme called "Alfie's Tune", a catchy ditty reminiscent of Rollins' "Doxy".
Talking of Rollins, there was a couple in the audience who had actually been at the great man's recent concert at the Barbican. He described it as the greatest concert ever and hopefully he will elaborate further within these pages.
Getting back to tonight, There were a few nice originals that revealed Mark to be no mean composer. The opener, "High Spirits" was one and another one, "Don't Get Me Wrong", was exceptional! As well as Mark, who played out of his skull, Jeremy too had some outstanding moments - he hit the spot on the aforementioned "DGMW" - and drew some appreciative applause when he played along with a recording of Stu Collingwood that was going out over the tannoy! Somebody ought to get these two guys together for a real live piano duet - move over Rawicz and Landauer (remember them?)
Peter Ayton gave a sound performance on bass whilst Kevin, relatively subdued because of the intimate setting, nevertheless did what was asked as well as keeping the occasional round of fours going.
Of course going to the Cherry Tree on a Monday night isn't just about music - the icing on the cake, so to speak, is the food.
Tonight I had to decide between, Cream of Leek and Potato Soup; Pickled Herring with Potato Salad and Dill; Warm Partridge, Apple and Walnut Salad; Smoked Chicken with Winter Slaw or Salad of Brie, Figs & Walnuts with Honey Mustard Dressing and that was just for starters. I went for partridge figuring we've got Bird on the stand might as well have one on the plate.
There were another 5 choices for main course but, rather than have you salivating over your pc I'll just say that I opted for Seabass with Buttered Leeks, Tarragon Crush & Mustard Butter Sauce which, like the Partridge, was absolutely delicious.
From 5 desserts I picked another winner in the Warm Spice Sponge with Plum Compote.
It's a hard life but someone's got to do it..

1 comment :

Ron Ainsborough said...

We endorse everthing said about the Mark Toomey Quartet at the Cherry Tree.A wonderful evening of jazz and a credit to the local jazz scene.
With reference to the Sonny Rollins Concert at the Barbican (14th November 2009) which we and the family had the privilege to be there.It was the best jazz concert I have ever been to,for many reasons.
"The living embodiment of a great tradition" was Geoffrey Smith's description as he welcomed the band to the stage.
How many musicians get a standing ovation before they actually get onto the stage,and at 79 years old give a performance with such enthusiasm and most of all,the creativity, was something to be seen (and heard of course).The fullness of his tone was all there and the band he had with him was first/world class.Bob Cranshaw on bass,Clifton Anderson on trombone,Bobby Broom on Guitar,a percussionist called Victor.Y.See Yuen, and a sensational drummer called Kobie Watkins,who were all having a ball and thoroughly enjoying backing the great Sonny Rollins.Having said that, Sonny was very gratious and featured all of them throughout the concert, having the great respect for each other reciprocated, not allowing ego's to get in the way of what was great music.Some of the tunes played were 'Someday I will find you''They say that falling in love is wonderful' 'St.Thomas' and of course 'Don't stop the carnival',every tune being fully explored and no stone unturned (in improvisational terms),before Sonny would finish the tune.He played one set lasting approximately 90 minutes finishing with 'Don't stop the Carnival'and again receiving his second standing ovation of the night lasting many minutes but returned only to give a wave to the standing adulating audiance.
Following that, you felt that the audiance almost danced out of the Barbican with huge smiles on their faces with the haunting melody of 'Don't stop the Carnival'still ringing in their heads, knowing that they had all seen and witnessed one of the worlds greatest musicians still playing at a level beyond comprehension. Long may the 'Carnival' continue, and we hope Sonny Rollins continues to give the world so much pleasure listening to the sound of genius improvising tenor saxophone.(Genius?)

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