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Monday, February 17, 2014

Emcee 5 Remembered by the Safe Sextet @ Bridge Hotel Newcastle

Don Forbes (tpt); Paul Gowland (alt/ten); John Rowland (ten); Dean Stockdale (pno); Paul Grainger (bs); Paul Wight (dms).
(Review by Lance/Photo by Ken Drew).
Newcastle's Emcee 5 achieved local acclaim playing late night sessions at the Down Beat Club. National acclaim followed with the release of a critically well received EP and they were given an international seal of approval when no less an authority than Count Basie pronounced them the most swinging group in Europe after members of the Basie Band had sat in at the Down Beat.
The band broke up soon after, each member going on to greater things in London and beyond.
Fast forward 50 years. To the Bridge Hotel and the Safe Sextet.
That the Emcee 5 were remembered was evident by the respectable sized audience. Some of us had been around the first time, others hardly born. One enthusiast had a copy of  an LP belatedly issued in the1980/90's which contained many, if not all, of the pieces played this evening.
Unfair to compare events that take place either end of a half century time-scale other than to say that respect was paid and that the legend wasn't tarnished with this - the first ever? - re-creation. 
Don Forbes today is certainly a more commanding trumpet player than Ian Carr was at that stage of his career although Carr's Milesian muted trumpet which added greatly to the original version of The One That Got Away wasn't utilised tonight. Gowland and Rowland offered contrasting tenor styles with the former also scoring on alto.
Stockdale, Grainger and Wight made for a compatible rhythm section and I think it's safe to say that the original members of the Emcee 5 (only Mike Carr and Gary Cox are still with us) would have approved.
Lance.

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