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12,535 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 254 of them this year alone and, so far, 105 this month (Feb. 24).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pilgrim Street Set @ Hoochie Coochie. January 14

Richard Burns (trumpet), Gary Turner (tenor), Paul Edis (keyboards), Paul Susans (bass) & Rob Walker (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Mid January, credit card max-out, blowing a gale, raining – every excuse/reason not to get out to a gig. Hoochie Coochie, one of Newcastle’s classier music venues, was open for business. A few turned-out to hear the ‘house band’, five of the north east’s busiest and best musicians calling themselves the ‘Pilgrim Street Set’.
Main Man Paul Susans absented himself from the opening number – a dodgy bass amp               necessitated a dash across town to pick up a spare – leaving the other ‘Main Man’, Rob Walker, to get the funking thing going. And this is one funking great band! Mid tune (a Paul Edis number titled We All Get Along) Main Man Susans returned, shuffled-off his winter coat, tracing some funking dance steps as he did so to orchestrated cheers (front man Richard Burns had set us up!), plugged in and was instantly in the groove!
The Main Men of the band – Sly and Robbie/Susans and Walker – are funk merchants par excellence. Susans (sporting a winter beard) probably didn’t miss a beat during his short absence (it’s as if he’s wired-in) and Walker probably hasn’t missed one funking  beat in his life! Some of the band’s material comes from seemingly unlikely sources. A bop number or two, yes, then Art Pepper, Ornette Coleman and Gong! Gong? The PSS (Pilgrim Street Set) can turn anything into a groove. Out front Richard Burns plays free Miles (and muted Miles, and some focused Burns’ trumpet playing). Alongside Aussie Burns is the PSS’s secret weapon. Gary Turner (tenor) lurks in the shadows, avoiding a Hoochie Coochie spotlight whenever possible. When called upon he steps up, tenor sax locked-on to a mic. Turner thinks a solo, the listener can almost hear him thinking. The noise is awesome, blowing away any wannabees in the audience (back to the woodshed).
This is a band full of Main Men. Susans and Walker, Burns and Turner. Then there is a fifth Main Man…Dr Paul Edis. Funking Horace Silver of course and some swinging jazz piano (Susans and Walker ever willing). The PSS are in residence third Thursday in the month. Date for your diary – Hoochie Coochie, February 19. What’s your excuse?          
Russell.                 

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