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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dean Stockdale Quartet @ The Lit & Phil. October 6

Dean Stockdale (piano), James Birkett (guitar), Neil Harland (double bass) & Paul Smith (drums)
(Review by Russell.photo courtesy of Ken Drew).
Heavy rain all day long, the taps ran dry late afternoon. The break in the weather augured well for Dean Stockdale’s appearance at the Lit & Phil. A good number of folk made the effort to get along and were rewarded with a first rate concert of jazz piano.
Oscar Peterson was in the house in the guise of Dean Stockdale. The Teessider presented an evening of music written by or associated with the legendary Canadian virtuoso. Quite an undertaking. Would Stockdale rise to the challenge? He gave himself every chance by enlisting the help of James Birkett (guitar), Neil Harland (double bass) and drummer Paul Smith. Blues Etude, When Summer Comes and from OP’s Canadiana Suite, Wheatland – a diverse mix of tunes affording the quartet the opportunity to stretch-out in style. The Lit and Phil’s Kawai piano the focus of attention, Stockdale spoke between numbers, giving a potted history of Canada’s greatest gift to the world.
Oh, Lady Be Good! sizzled (Dr Birkett knew this one inside out) and Stockdale’s left hand worked overtime as Harland and Smith stoked the engine on OP’s signature Night Train. An excellent first set concluded with Hallelujah Time. Yes, Sir!
The second set replicated the first in being pretty damn good! Night Time, Sushi, a quartet take on Body and Soul and a swift Cakewalk (lots of left hand) led one to conclude Dean Stockdale had the measure of the Great Man. Thanking his fellow musicians for making a great job of the music placed in front of them, Stockdale took it out on Hymn to Freedom. As an encore Stockdale played a solo piece – Love Ballad.  
The north east’s jazz scene is in rude health with an abundance of top class piano players. Dean Stockdale is up there with the best of them.  
Russell.

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