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Friday, November 19, 2010

Gerry Richardson's Big Idea @ Corner House, Newcastle. Thursday 18th November

Gerry Richardson's Big Idea: Gerry Richardson (Hammond), Rod Sinclair (guitar), Graeme Hare (drums), Garry Linsley (alto saxophone), Stuart Johnson (tenor & soprano saxophones), Sue Ferris (tenor & baritone saxophones, flute), Mark Webb (trumpet & flugel horn), Dave Hignett (trumpet & flugel horn), Keith Norris (trombone) Hammond maestro Gerry Richardson reconvened Big Idea at the refurbished, if not salubrious, Corner House Hotel. Guitarist Rod Sinclair was on top form and drum dep Graeme Hare was so good that the fixture that is Paul Smith wasn't missed at all!
Stone Church opened proceedings. Blues for Big Red was a feature number for Sinclair (Rod was once upon a time a redhead) and Another Dark One revealed Hare's excellent sight-reading skills as he negotiated a convoluted drum 'n bass pattern with Stuart Johnson's soprano playing setting the standard.
Richardson's 'greatest hit' (aka African Sunset) was just about guaranteed to be in the set and Arturo Sandoval, Michel Camilo and Paquito D'Rivera were honoured with a cracking Autumn in the Barrio (no surprise then that the trumpets - Hignett and Webb - were to the fore). Richardson's late night saloon bar tune Think I'll Lay Waste to Myself Tonight is made for the bandleader's down beat Mose Allison style delivery - this was GR at his vocal best. Take the Tee Train, a Richardson classic, closed out the first set.
The interval meant a trip to the bar. There was a queue a mile long. It was the band, they had beaten me to it! Refuelled (eventually), the second set provided yet more highlights including Big Jazz Club in the Sky and Gil Scott Heron's Lady Day and John Coltrane. The latter number is a favourite of this reviewer. It exemplifies the very spirit of Big Idea.
Two sets of good tunes with plenty of solo opportunities for all - altoist Garry Linsley knows the material inside out, Keith Norris had a blast and the diminuitive Sue Ferris yet again produced a big sound on tenor, muscular baritone and free-flowing flute. A good session.
The versatile Rod Sinclair can be heard in another context on Sunday evening with fellow guitarist James Birkett at the Bridge Hotel as they play the music of the likes of Charlie Christian, Carl Kress and Dick McDonaugh. Russell

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