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Bebop Spoken There

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jack DeJohnette Group/Polar Bear @ The Sage, Gateshead.

Jack DeJohnette (dms); Don Byron (ten./sop.clt); George Colligan (keys/tpt); Marvin Sewell (gtr); Michael Mondesir (bs).
(Review by Lance)
DeJohnette took his seat (throne?) behind the kit and made various adjustments as the audience sat in hushed silence awaiting to hear the great man speak. This he eventually did, introducing the members of the band by name before setting the ball rolling with a drum introduction to his own composition - Blue. In fact all five extended pieces were DeJohnette originals.
Colligan was the first up to the plate blowing a pocket trumpet from which he produced a big fat sound. I'd liked to have heard more trumpet from him but, for the rest of the 90 minute set he concentrated on the assortment of keyboards he was surrounded by - occasionally playing different keyboards simultaneously as well as the concert grand. 
Byron impressed on tenor but I was somewhat surprised that the regular Down Beat poll winner on clarinet seemed to be playing exclusively in the higher register - or was it a soprano clarinet? From where I was sitting way back it did appear to be shorter than the standard Bb instrument.
Marvin Sewell played some powerful solos and former Jazz Warrior Mondesir was equally impressive.
Unusually for a drummer/leader we weren't overpowered by a barrage of drum solos. Where DeJohnette really came into his own was in his ability to vary the pace and the mood to suit the soloist. 
It was a good gig that, if it didn't set The Sage on fire, certainly kept it warm and was surely deserved of a larger audience.
Programme: Blue; One For Eric; Tango African; Lydia (dedicated to his wife); Ahmad the Terrible.
Earlier, British experimental band Polar Bear - Seb Rochford (dms); Mark Lockheart, Pete Wareham (ten); Tom Herbert (bs); Leafcutter John (electronics) - played an opening set that was well received by most of the audience.
Lance.

1 comment :

John Moles said...

I have to say that at least on the night I thought 'Polar Bear' was the better band: more 'composed through' (or at least 'arranged through' compositions), more variety in all departments, better bass (moving to see the old upright form playing such a varied and pivotal role), better group interaction, and better solo-ing (maybe also better drumming). De Johnette's group was 'jazzier' (not that 'Polar Bear', despite funkiness, wasn't squarely within the tradition) but lacked solist distinction (essential in such contexts). The keyboards were OK (certainly not helped by back facing the audience on the grand), the guitarists competent but undistinguished, Byron surely a major disappointment. Though the clarinet imported interesting and distinctive sonorities, the soloing itself wasn't great and the man himself seemed an ironic and detached figure. We had to leave at 10 (train to catch) and perhaps it got better, but the 'London Jazz Review' was surely way over the top.

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