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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ian Carr - Celebration of a life in music. Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London.

I'd forgotten just how brilliant Nucleus were but at tonight's celebration of the life of Ian Carr Nucleus Re-visited & guests gave the packed auditoreum a timely reminder. Led from the piano/keyboards by Geoff Castle they produced a powerful sound that raised the bar out of sight and that is no reflection on the great music that preceded Nucleus of which more later. I'm not going to list all the pieces but the opener - Mr Jelly Lord - told us we were in for one helluva finale. Tim Whitehead, who'd performed earlier on soprano and bass clarinet with Guy Barker in Ian's Northumbrian Sketches, had some blistering tenor solos but for me Mark Wood's blast on Roots stole the night although perhaps I'm letting parochial pride colour my judgement. Ray Russell came on and 'burned' Midnight Oil whilst John Marshall joined Nie France for some powerful percussion on Lady Bountiful a 5/4 explosion. The final Things Past began reflectively before breaking loose with Tim and Mark once again cooking. On trumpet, Chris Batchelor had the unenviable role of Ian Carr - he did it faultlessly. Likewise Phil Todd on soprano and flute also had moments to cherish. Rob Statham was more than just a bass player. For me he was the standout on the Northumbrian Sketches suite. The evening began with Dorian Ford playing Ian's Icarus on the bar area grand piano. A very complex piece played well. More solo piano kicked off the concert proper. Nicki Yeoh, a former student of Ian's played her own Two Bears Dancing and The Healer. A very talented young lady watch this space. Michael Garrick Sextet were next up. Michael Garrick (pno), Norma Winstone (vcl), Henry Lowther (tpt), Art Themen (ten), Dave Green (bs), Trevor Tompkins (dms) and, later, Don Rendell joined on tenor and flute for an updated look at their pad from way back. In particular, Webster's Mood, dedicated to Ben had some outstanding Art on tenor, Don on flute and an expressive vocal by Norma. The delights were too numerous to mention but an uptempo piece appropriately entitled The Torrent got the ventricles pumping. Which just leaves the Northumbrian Sketches. Introduced by Morse's sidekick, Kevin Whately, the strings, led by Sylvia Slany and conducted by Mike Gibbs, were sumptuous enveloping the listener in a reverie of seascapes and pastoral landscapes. I imagined the view from the top of Garleigh Moor near Rothbury or waves on the beach at Bamburgh. The solos from Guy and Tim were excellent yet... it didn't fully connect with me. Possibly it was because I'd had a long day's travel and got rather wet in the process but overall it was a little too soporific for me. And yes, I know it was me not the music - I was tired (please feel free to select your own alternative!) Even so, nothing could detract from what was a perfect tribute to a musician and a gentleman. Lance.
PS: I should also mention that the biggest round of applause from both the musicians and the audience was accorded to Coleridge Goode. Wheelchair bound Coleridge now aged 94 and a former colleague of Ian's beamed with delight at the recognition given by all present.
PPS: Tonight it's the Spice of Life - lots of variety.

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