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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Clark Tracey Quintet @ The Globe, Newcastle, November 1

Clark Tracey (dms); Chris Maddock (alt/ten); Henry Amburg Jennings (tpt/flg); Harry Bolt (pno); Daniel Casimir (bs).
(Review by Lance/ photo courtesy of Ken Drew ).
This first major gig by the Jazz Co-op was a major coup for the organisers. We've got a Jazz Club!
The lift installed and operational, the table and chairs set out and occupied, drinks served, lights lowered, and strategically draped curtains to soften the somewhat garish colour scheme, the scene was set. Not surprisingly there were several drummers in the audience and so there should be given that we were in the presence of one of the country's finest. Steve Crocker of NORVAL drove up from Leeds (and won a bottle in the raffle) begging the question as to why those members of the North East jazz hierarchy who live somewhat closer weren't!
However, that was a question for another day for now it was time for the Clark Tracey Quintet, smartly suited and neck-tied, to roll.
And roll they did in the time honoured tradition of bands such as the Jazz Messengers; Clifford Brown/Max Roach and those treasured Blue Note albums so beloved of so many (myself included).
Maddock, Casimir, Bolt emerged during Tracey's tenure as a tutor at Birmingham Conservertoire whilst Amburg Jennings has been active on the London scene practically since he was a babe in arms!
Clark Terry's A Pint of Bitter - written originally for Tubby Hayes - gave a foretaste of what was to follow. No instantly forgettable originals, but known, albeit not hackneyed, tunes from the masters. Cedar Walton's Ojos De Rojo (Red Eyes) a typical example.
Despite their youth, the soloists have a mature edge to their choruses. Not the bull in a china shop approach favoured by so many players rather a probing, tentative, feeling out of the tune, searching, absorbing, allowing the tension to build until, suddenly, the air is full of dancing arpeggios, stabbing chords, percussive punctuations, bass notes from the cellar, saxophone harmonics reaching for the moon, trumpet on fire.
This isn't The Globe on Railway Street - it's The World on 'Trane Street!
Moments Notice, by the aforementioned "Trane" had the drummers' mouths hanging open (and those of the sax, trumpet, keys and bass players too) as the leader rubber stamped his credentials as numero uno.
Time to relax with a sumptuous ballad featuring Maddock - I Thought About You. Delicious! The set concluded with Cannonball's The Sticks
The room was quite full and I wondered how many more could be slotted in and just how viable such a small space is.
However, tonight it's musical notes not banknotes that are uppermost in my mind!
An ethereal opener - Twilight - was followed by the only "warhorse" of the evening, Bobby Timmons' Moanin'. I'm not moaning though, I never tire of hearing it and Tracey was at his most Blakey-like which to me is tops. Trumpet evoking the spirit of Hubbard/Morgan, tenor in Mobley mode, keys like Kenny Drew (not to be confused with our KD!) bass as cool a dude as Chambers or Brown and Le Tout Ensemble magique!
Amburg Jennings slowed things down with a beautiful rendition of We'll Be Together Again and the show culminated with Jimmy Deuchar's Suddenly Last Tuesday
It had been my intention to stay for only one set and then nip over to Pink Lane for James and Ian at the Caff but this was just impossible to leave!
Sorry guys.
Many of the pieces played were from the band's new album - Meantime - which will be reviewed here shortly, or rather in however long it takes to play it a million times!
Lance.
PS: Only negative aspect of the evening was the strange bar pricing system - 3 bottles of ale and 3 different prices!

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