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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Triffid, (formerly known as the Harley Johnson Trio) /Take It to The Bridge @ The Chilli Jan 12

Harley Johnson (keyboards), Ivan Scutt (electric bass) & Rob Bates (drums) We don't hear much of Harley Johnson these days. I think he's been in the woodshed. We know him well from his excursions into the world of Thelonious Monk. What would this appearance at the Chilli reveal?
Well, Monk is still a guiding light but now there is a contemporary element to his playing .The influence of Esbjorn Svensson springs to mind. All the Things You Are (with Rachmaninoff decoration), a re-working of So What and Take the A Train were in the hour long set list. Bassist Ivan Scutt knows his way around the fretboard and drummer Rob Bates is inventive with a good sense of time. The undoubted highlight was an original composition titled The Sage Tune (entries on a postcard suggesting a better title). Title not withstanding, this number was the business; excellent small group musicianship, exhibiting flair and verve with confident, trusting smiles between the three musicians on the stand. Take It To The Bridge: Dave Weisser (flugelhorn & vocals), Barrie Ascroft (keyboards), Dougie Fielder (tenor saxophone), Jim Crinson (guitar), Ivan Scutt (electric bass) & Rob Bates (drums) Dave Weisser's workshop session has been going many a year and from time to time it unearths welcome new talent. Currently, five string electric bassist Ivan Scutt is in attendance as is drummer Rob Bates (they were on double duty with Harley Johnson). The material changes from week to week. This week, plucked from a well-thumbed bulging pad, we heard Tadd Dameron's Good Bait with a round of solos to warm up the band. Like Someone in Love was taken at a leisurely pace with relaxed vocals from band leader Weisser. Tenor man Dougie Fielder called Summertime. Mutterings from the band ensued...what's the key? do you know the chords? Weisser suggested keyboards' stalwart Barrie Ascroft simply shout out the chords (easy when you know how!) and the sextet negotiated its way through the changes with Jim Crinson playing some tasteful lines.
A second set high point featured Weisser playing flugel on Loverman (Where Can You Be?)
Next week's workshop session features...well, who knows. Go along and find out, there is always something worth hearing. The Harley Johnson Trio can be heard next week at the Sage in the Schmazz Factor competition (Thursday 20th). Russell.

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