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Friday, March 26, 2010

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Stan Tracey Octet

Guy Barker (tpt), Mark Nightingale (tmb), Sammy Mayne (alt), Mornington Lockett (ten/sop), Simon Allen (ten), Stan Tracey (pno), Andy Cleyndert (bs), Clark Tracey (dms).
I've always thought the octet to be the ideal setting for Stan Tracey and tonight's concert didn't prove me wrong.
With a veritable A-team line-up on stage a crowded Hall Two audience showed their enthusiasm unreservedly and, deservedly so.
It was a game of two halves with the first set based around his Hong Kong Suite and the second the Amandia Suite.
Both were superb works showing the soloists off to perfection. All 3 saxes played their butt off but Mark Nightingale was slightly under-miked in the first set. He made up for it in the second.
Guy Barker played some nice things whilst Andy Cleyndert was a tower of strength on bass. On drums, Tracey fils drove things along without being over-bearing as well as soloing with his usual dexterity.
As for his dad, Stan played very little solowise but what he did came across as meaningful whilst his comping gave the soloists a cushion to blow on
The Amandia Suite was a rather strange idea being commissioned by NALGO to celebrate the union merging with UNISON. I'm led to believe NALGO Gruppenfuhrer at the time, Paul Bream, was behind the decision to approach Stan Tracey and it certainly paid off with some exciting ensembles, riveting solos  and interesting themes.
The crowd demanded more and they got it in the form of a quick blast and a couple of choruses all round on Blue Monk
They won't come much better than this.
Earlier, Alyn Shipton had interviewed Stan on his life in jazz which included a long stint as the house pianist at Ronnie Scott's backing a wide range of visiting Americans. He also revealed that he had a lot of time and admiration for Acker Bilk which probably surprised a few people.
The Festival opened with a percussion ensemble - Principle 3 - doing some lively latin things.
They were popular and gave off good vibes for what was to follow.
Lance.
Click here for weekend programme in full.

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