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Monday, March 25, 2013

Compassionate Dictatorship @ The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle.. March 24, 2013

Tori Freestone (tenor saxophone), Jez Franks (guitar), Dave Manington (double bass) & James Maddren (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Another freezing ‘spring’ evening. Will the big freeze ever end? Perhaps global warming has plunged us into twenty thousand years of sub-zero temperatures. Oh, well, the Bridge Hotel’s heating (30 centigrade) did the trick and the hard-core audience turned out to hear Compassionate Dictatorship. It comes to something when just about everyone is on first name terms!
As for the band, co-leaders Tori Freestone and Jez Franks hadn’t been up to Newcastle for a while, bassist Dave Manington’s CD Hullabaloo was reviewed recently in these pages by Debra Milne and first call drummer James Maddren has been to Tyneside so often of late that Honourary Geordie status could soon be conferred upon him! The frontline pairing of Franks (guitar) and Freestone (tenor) write the material and on this occasion the new CD Entertaining Tyrants provided the bulk of the tunes across two sets. Franks’ Ratios and Bubble and Squeak (named after drummer Tim Giles’ children – no, they’re not called that) opened the programme with a first solo for bassist Dave Manington on the latter number. Freestone’s The Chophouse (the name of a pub in Manchester) was written for trumpeter Neil Yates (soon to be heard at this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival) and further illustrated the band’s forte - a cohesive group sound, largely devoid of up-front soloing. The first set concluded with Franks’ Anger Management, a tune inspired by a saxophonist. I wonder who it could be? Freestone’s tenor was politely angry - a case of successful anger management!
The interval raffle was re-drawn as the winning ticket holder was thought to be downstairs at the bar (hard luck Bill!) and we cracked-on with the second set. Frank’s Mushroom Effect led to Freestone’s Pottering Around (name the influential tenor player…) which featured a Maddren drum solo. A Franks’ ballad - Sit Tight - confirmed the guitarist’s command of his Gibson. Universal 4, dedicated to the virtuoso vibraphonist Jim Hart (he counts in everything in 4/4 regardless of the time signature - good for a laugh!), ended an enjoyable evening. An encore was called for and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now (arr. Freestone) captured the spirit.  
Russell.             

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