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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Off the Leash @ St.Chad's College, Durham. Musicon Jazz Festival Day 2 Afternoon.

Off the Leash: John Steele (ten/sop); Paul Beck (keys); Doug Kennard (gtr); Katy Trigger (el bs); Stan Praszczalek (dms).
Festivals usually have early starts - Sunderland's big band extravaganza and Gateshead's international weekend marathon are but two regional examples of this phenomenon - but this, the inaugural Musicon Durham Jazz Festival, took things at a more leisurely pace.
The second day got under way at four o'clock thus allowing the jazz visitor to have a wander through the historic city of the Prince Bishops. A browse in one or two book shops, a pilgrimage to Durham Cathedral - taking a pew for a few minutes - then there was a vacant pew in the near by Shakespeare pub and a pint of Deuchar's Over the Bar proved to be a good choice.
So, to the jazz. St.Chad's, one of the many colleges of Durham University, played host to the concert performances. An enclosed court yard with licensed bar was a most pleasant setting for Off the Leash, formed by key members from the remnants of Different Worlds, to open proceedings. Veteran reeds player John Steele and the similarly experienced Paul Beck (seated at a Yamaha grand with electric keyboards to one side) were joined by two musicians who have been around the block a few times - guitarist Doug Kennard and drummer Stan Praszczlek - and a new name to this reviewer, electric bassist Katy Trigger.
From Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage to Pat Metheny's Midnight Voyage this band is all about jazz fusion, jazz rock, call it what you will. The Yellow Jackets and Steely Dan just about sum up what the listener can expect to hear. The material was at the melodic end of the genre and, ironically, rarely did any one cut loose or strain at the leash.
Steele played some good soprano (why is that tenor players seem to be so adept on soprano?), pianist Beck squared up to his electric piano, Kennard soloed tastefully using pedal effects and bass and drums had it down.
Running concurrently with the concert schedule was a workshop up on Palace Green. Sandi Russell with the excellent Paul Edis Trio and tenor wunderkind Vasilis Xenopoulos held court in the cloistered environs of the Music School. Students included vocalist Gaby and pianist Colm working out on Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise. The tutors gave encouragement and suggested this and that - just as it should be.
The evening concert featuring Vasi, Paul, Mick and Adam has been reviewed by Bebop Spoken Here's Editor in Chief and reluctantly I opted out of the late night jam session (last trains and all that).

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Off the Leash were followed by a band with no name put together by five students just for the occasion. I doubt any of them were over 21 but they played jazz with enthusiasm and talent. When young people are doing this there's hope for the future of jazz.

Their repetoire ranged from Ellington to Lennon/McCartney - to them its all old music.

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