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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Alter Ego @ Queens Hall, Hexham - Friday 2nd July

Keith Robinson (alto sax); Niall Armstrong (tenor & flute); Dave Hignett (trumpet & flugel); Andy Hawking (keyboards); David Francis (drums); Ken Marley (double bass) (up from Stockport as sub for Ian Paterson).
They were the 1st band I blogged, at the same venue, for this site early last June. With Keith Robinson very much present this year both on alto and as leader, no guitarist (a plus for me) and a stand-in double bass player, Alter Ego gave a wonderfully honed and spirited performance. Maybe due to the combination of barbeque weather, football & tennis, the turnout was a sparse twenty odd, yet dedicated fans, including Terry Ellis, jazz guitarist of Last Exit fame.
Bobby Watson's Love Remains demonstrated fully for me how far Alter Ego have come since June 2009 - David Francis chose the soft sticks on the toms, capturing a sultry Latin feel, as the piece moved off against the fading Caribbean light. Hignett's flugel danced tantalisingly in front of the band followed by Niall's deft flute solo, while Keith's alto swayed in silhouetted harmony with the flute, bass and palms. The arrangement reminded me of Gil Evans' late 40's phase - La Paloma-esque - but this time with Andy Hawking providing a subtle, Bill Evans on holiday in Cuba, touch on keyboards.
Building on the holiday theme, a more contemporary surprise came in set 2 - a Les Hooper piece from 1987 called Coastal Breeze; not an easy one to pull off in a faster rumba style but this band has really worked things out: such an expressive control of the waves, the rise and fall, ebb and flow, created what was a distinct scent of ozone as Ken Marley's bowed bass solo seemed to move longingly over the perfect contours of a sun-kissed beach!
This year, after prolonged loud applause, we got that well-deserved encore - a short but sweet delivery of Pam Watson's Ms.B.C. dedicated to Betty Carter and 1st recorded by Art Blakey's JM in 81.
In June 2009 I awarded man-of-the-match to Dave Hignett on trumpet and flugel horn ; this year is no exception but, like the German football team, Alter Ego play so well together with their heads up, they all scored goals - a fine game ; 6:0!
George M.

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