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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

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Today

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.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kenny Wheeler's 80th Birthday Big Band Concert @ The Sage

Kenny Wheeler (flg), Derek Watkins, Henry Lowther, John Barcley, Nick Smart (tpts). Dave Horler, Mark Nightingale, Barnaby Dickinson, Dave Stewart (tmbs). Ray Warleigh, Duncan Lamont (alt), Evan Parker, Stan Sulzman (ten), Julian Arguelles, (bar). John Taylor (pno), John Paricelli (gtr), Chris Laurence (bs), Martin France (dms), Diana Torto (vcl) and Pete Churchill (MD).
Given another name concert (The Frank Vignola Trio) was on at the Customs House just ten mile downstream and that the 'Toon' (Newcastle United - a local soccer team) were in Carling Cup action at home to Arsenal it wasn't, perhaps, surprising that the numbers in The Sage's Hall One were pitifully thin. Even so, it was still difficult to understand as, in jazz terms, this wasn't Carling Cup it was Premier League verging on Champions League and, whereas Arsenal went away with a 4-0 victory, those jazz fans who attended Kenny W's 80th Birthday bash were at a concert where nobody could lose.
An all original program written and arranged by the birthday boy himself kicked off with a quartet number which let us know that his melodic ear was intact. Blowing flugel he kept to the middle/lower register in the manner of Chet Baker and the sound was mellifluous the tone full and bright and round like a Hunter's Moon in a cloudless sky.
Gradually the other musicians wandered on and the scene was set.
Using the voice as an instrument isn't new - from Duke onwards it has been experimented with - Michael Garrick and Norma Winstone being a typical example.
Diana Torto was a new name to me but has she got ears! Soaring above the ensemble or wordlessly soloing, her pitching and timing are immaculate. One minor crit - I felt she went a little over the top in the final piece. Having said that, others thought that this was her finest moment so who am I to argue!
Apart from KW, until the finale, the saxes had had the brunt of the solo's each putting his brand on the particular opus.
The actual last number finally allowed the trumpets and trombones to have their say and say it they did!
Am I wrong in thinking Mark Nightingale and Henry Lowther were deserved of a little more space?
John Taylor, apart from helping the aging flugel hornist to his chair, also played fine piano and the rhyhm section were superb all-round with Martin France's drumming right on the money.
Lance.

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