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Friday, July 06, 2012

Relaxin’ at Blaydon Jazz Club with James Birkett/Graeme Wilson Quintet July 5.

James Birkett (guitar), Graeme Wilson (tenor saxophone), Jeremy McMurray (piano), Mick Shoulder (double bass) & Adam Sinclair (drums) + Bradley Johnston (guitar).
(Review by Russell).
 Blaydon Jazz Club’s summer concert featured an all star line-up brought together by guitarist James Birkett. GAS book, bossas and bop charts were on the musical menu. Berlin, Gershwin, Jobim, Bird and Bud proved irresistible – They Say It’s Wonderful, ‘S Wonderful, Chega de Saudade (No More Blues), Relaxin’ at Camarillo and Bouncin’ with Bud were just some of the choice tunes on the platter. 

Tenor star Graeme Wilson, first heard by this reviewer several years ago accompanying vocalist Ruth Lambert at the old Blaydon Jazz Club venue (the Sports and Social), cruised through the gears and the changes with consummate ease, stretching out in leisurely fashion, the hallmark of a top class player. The assembled quintet had more than its fair share of soloists – Birkett’s abilities are second to none and house pianist Jeremy McMurray knows his way around the keyboard. Bassist Mick Shoulder eschews the limelight yet he too can do the business when called upon and his rhythm section partner Adam Sinclair trades fours as well as anyone you care to name – subtlety, invention and no little humour belie his youth. 
As has become tradition club regulars brought along food offerings making for a splendid banquet to accompany a bottle or two of Jenning’s Cocker Hoop. Rising star Bradley Johnston took to the stage to play a guitar duet with mentor Birkett and once again garnered plaudits for his rapidly developing talents. The duo breezed through a Birelli Lagrene number in some style of which the composer would have approved! Johnston joined the quintet during the second set for a couple of numbers and more than held his own. The jazz on offer at Blaydon comes up trumps time after time. The next session is in September (Thursday 6th) and whatever you do don’t miss it. Tenor saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos is exceptionally good and as a bonus he will be working with the exceptionally good Paul Edis Trio (the bass and drums pairing just happens to be Shoulder and Sinclair).
Russell       

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