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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Debra Milne Ensemble – Emptyshop HQ Durham November 22

Debra Milne (Vocal) Stevie Glendinning (Guitar) Paul Grainger (D. Bass) Rob Bates (Drums).
(Review by Kath Jobes).
A new venue for Jazz in Durham proved to be a little gem!  Parking was ‘fun’ on the steep and narrow Crossgate Peth just up from Framwellgate Bridge… and finding the venue could have been tricky had it not been for one  of the Musicians being outside for a ‘breath of fresh air’!  I was quickly ushered up the stairs and into an intimate and unpretentious bar area to meet up with a small group of musicians and friends who led me into a larger room, set up for a night of two and a half sets of entertaining Jazz…
The first set commenced with a Milne/Glendinning tribute to the greatly missed Keith Crombie in the form of The Jazz Café Song, quickly followed by a lively Devil May Care.  The next tune, Midnight Sun by Lionel Hampton, lyric by Johnny Mercer was new to the repertoire but beautifully sung by Debra Milne with a lovely instrumental interlude, followed by Horace Silver’s Pretty EyesDon’t Come Round Here Anymore exhibiting the versatility of Mr Paul Grainger on Double Bass with a most agreeable solo. I hesitate to say ‘nice’ … but it was! 
The next number, Equinox by John Coltrane,  began with a drum and double bass intro, joined by the skilful playing of Stevie Glendinning on Guitar, boy can that guy make it sing! A sprightly Billie’s Bounce celebrated the talents of this tight quartet, and the scat from Debra along with solos from Stevie and Paul were truly delightful; What was even more captivating was the seamless segue into the George Michael number – Faith.  An original by the Milne/Glendinning song writing duo – Stay… what a charming tune, with a superb solo from Stevie, supported as ever by the solid rhythm section.  The final number of this first set was more Horace Silver - Signor Blues.
The second set opened with an original (and beautiful) song, Show Me the Man. Miles Davis’ Four brought forth a grand set of 4’s including some scatting from the talented Debra and she excelled as she took on the Gershwin tune, It Ain’t Necessarily So. A cool Betty Carter number - Tight, progressed nicely into Just You, Just Me with a vocalize section written by Milne cleverly integrated into the tune.  Temptation was tremendous and the instrumental Stella by Starlight, simply stunning … what a tight unit this trio is!
A call went out to the audience, “any Jones’ in the house” and yes … there was Dan… so an amusing take on the song, Have you met (Miss) ‘Dan’ Jones resulted in a huge round of applause. Dusty Springfield’s Spooky was groovy as was the next number with words written by Debra to the Benny Golson tune - Killer Joe… and renamed ‘Relax’.  Another poignant original, Blame Game, was  followed by the ballad Save Your Love For Me. The set closed with Duke Ellington’s Caravan… after a debate about tempo… which made little difference - as we all know that as a Caravan goes downhill it gathers speed!
After a short break, the final short set was initiated by an instrumental,  Midnight Voyage and Debra re-joined the trio for How Insensitive and a sassy, It Don’t Mean a Thing to end… but the crowd, which had grown over the course of the evening were begging for more… so an encore followed… No More Blues… and yep there was no way anyone could be blue after that! 

Kath J.

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