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Friday, December 13, 2013

CD Launch: The River Flows at Night - Saxophonics @ The Lit and Phil

Keith Robinson (alt/sop); Steve Summers (alt/Ten); Graeme Wilson (ten); Niall Armstrong (bar).
(Review by Lance)
Much of the material played was from Saxophonics recent CD The River Flows at Night which I reviewed last month. 
This afternoon was used to launch the CD to a very well attended Lit and Phil and, if the reception given was anything to go by, they should have shifted a few. The live performance was every bit as good as the CD which is praise indeed. However, in keeping with the time of year there were some seasonal items not on the disc but which still made for good listening.
Silent Night was full of rich harmonies and splendid solos from Steve and Keith that really  opened up the carol in a most delightful way. Graeme Wilson did the arrangement as he did on all but two of the ten numbers. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen must surely be the most swinging of all Christmas carols. It was fast and furious, super solos and at times reminiscent of Four Brothers. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem was cool and relaxed but the finale - Chestnuts Etc was an extravaganza of changing moods and time signatures. I'm sure the composer, Mel Tormé would have loved it.
Of the non Christmas pieces Niall Armstrong's chunky Miner Niner was as rollicking as his Gently Does It was warm and tender. Graeme's The New Wallaw is always interesting not least because of the stories that surround it. A long derelict Blyth cinema that once had trees taking root inside has now re-opened as a Wetherspoon's pub.
The tempo would have suited the clientèle in its days as a cinema. The car chase in The Italian Job sprung to mind as the four saxes drove fearlessly down a mountain pass. Or, in its present guise, a pint of Abbott's Ale served with just the right amount of head. Both beer and music with the perfect texture.
A splendid afternoon.
Lance.

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