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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Paul Gowland & Bradley Johnston @ The Jazz Café. August 15

Paul Gowland (tenor & alto saxophones) & Bradley Johnston (guitar)
(Review by Russell)
The rain stopped, the sun came out, as hundreds made their way along to the Tyne Bar. Sitting, standing or lazing on the grass alongside the Ouseburn, listening to a barbecue-smoked big band session, the sun-kissed were having a ball (see LL’s Strictly Smokin’ review). Some were out for the duration.
The Jazz Café’s summer season drew to a close with Paul ‘Strictly Smokin’’ Gowland playing a few tunes with Wearside-based guitarist Bradley Johnston. Standard material and one or two original compositions enthralled the front row audience. 
A bar-stool bar fly couple were there to listen. An end of term affair, Gowland, on tenor, and Johnston, seated with his trusty Ibanez, opened with Have You Met Miss Jones? Gowland’s tenor explored a much-loved tune as Johnston played the first few of many chords during the evening. However many chords there are in the Advanced Book of Jazz Guitar Chords (does such a tome exist?) BJ seemingly knows them all! John Hick’s After the Morning and Wayne Shorter’s The Albatross heard more authoritative tenor, complimented by a fearless Johnston (don’t forget, he knows all the chords).
Final year music student Johnston writes tunes. Pat’s Waltz, in homage to his (and many others) favourite guitarist Mr P Metheny has become a fixture in BJ’s set list. Gowland, the senior man in the partnership, played it with due respect, as indeed he did with all of the material. A moment of some poignancy arose as Gowland (on alto) went straight into Requeros. Written by the late Ray Truscott – respected musician, friend to Gowland and liked by everyone who came across him on the jazz scene – the number surely brought a tear to the eye.
This being a Saturday night in Newcastle the entertainment wouldn’t be complete without the usual distractions of the p*****. Pink Lane attracts its fair share of them. Partying the night away with a traffic cone on one’s head is nothing new. If the bloke with the hang-over is wondering where he put it [the traffic cone], it’s on top of the wardrobe. Our Balkan street musician friends passed by. We knew they were coming – their signature tune heard a mile off: Oh When the Saints (altogether now…), go marching in. A pie-eyed one stepped inside. Keen to continue a karaoke session from a neighbouring watering hole (I’ve got you under my skin...), mine host Kay handled the matter expertly. Whatever was said, the pie-eyed one got the message and shut up!
Second set. More Shorter. More great playing, the two men hitting it off after little more than one rehearsal. Two highlights – Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Gowland, tenor) with BJ in the spotlight and PG switching to alto on Scrapple from the Apple. Swift, altissimo, more frantic fretwork (bass lines to boot!) than is good for one’s health. Phew!!! The Jazz Café reopens for business on Tuesday September 1 with the first of two regular monthly jam sessions. It just so happens Gowland and Johnston will be on the stand. Be there.          
Russell.

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