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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alter Ego @ Blaydon Jazz Club. April 20

Keith Robinson (alto saxophone), Niall Armstrong (tenor saxophone & flute), Dave Hignett (trumpet & flugelhorn), Andy Hawking (keyboards), Tony Abell (double bass) & David Francis (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Jazz Messengers were to be heard across the Tyne on Easter Day. Down river at the Bridge Hotel, Messenger Pete Gilligan preached the Gospel of Silver (H.Silver), up river Alter Ego the torch bearers for Blakey (A.Blakey). Two cracking bop outfits a matter of three or four miles apart on the same night - an impossible choice. Why Blaydon? No reason, one was sure to be as good as the other.
Numbers by Dexter Gordon, JJ Johnson, Johnny Griffin, Horace Silver (that man Silver!) and Bobby Watson peppered the first set. Cheese Cake featured beefy alto from Keith Robinson, In Walked Horace (that man Silver!) lean tenor from Niall Armstrong, tempered trumpet from Dave Hignett, authoritative bass playing from Tony Abell and on Nice and Easy Armstrong dispensed a full measure of mid-tempo bluesy tenor. Bobby Watson, one of Alter Ego’s favourite composers, is a fixture in the set list (this Black Bull date heard three or four of the ex-Messenger’s tunes) and before the interval a Latin piece doubled up with Moon Rise (the latter featuring some proper, line-the-bar-and-listen trumpet playing from Hignett). The set closer – The Soulful Mr Timmons – featured Robinson’s alto and the soulful Mr Andy Hawking (piano).
Hit and Run began the second set, Robinson prominent, so too, Hignett. Bobby Watson’s Wheel Within a Wheel showcased the immaculate dovetailing of the horns, beautiful textures (Hignett’s flugel) and Hawking’s mesmeric piano motif. Monk as Messenger. Why not? Think of One. That’ll do. A band original – Boudini – received its first public airing (a world premiere, said drummer David Francis) with tenor, flugel and piano in the spotlight. Gate-crashing dancers ‘entertained’ the room on Get Back In until they got bored and went back out. Bitter Dose brought the house down before the house lights went up – superb piano playing (Play on!), killer muted trumpet playing, all preaching the gospel of Alter Ego.           
Russell.                

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