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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gerry Richardson Quartet @ Gala Theatre, Durham - July 15

Gerry Richardson (organ/vocal); Rod Sinclair (guitar); Paul Smith (drums); Garry Linsley (alto).
(Review by Steve T/Photo courtesy of Paul Edis).
For the first time in ages, empty seats at the Gala, down to about seventy. Nothing whatsoever to do with the band but on-going traffic chaos in Durham and the holiday season with nothing on in August.
I turned up at the end of the second piece Everybody's Cryin' Mercy   having missed Mel Tormé’s Comin’ Home Baby, a big hit on the acid/Jazz dance scene championed by DJ Giles Peterson in the eighties and nineties.
Steve Kuhn’s Chicken Feathers to settle into and a bit of a panic when he seemed to omit Soul Shadows from the programme in favour of All About McGriff. His tribute to Jimmy McGriff - widely considered second only to Jimmy Smith on Hammond, though I prefer Larry Young at least to either - it actually reminded me of our own Alan Price, who both Richardson and Smith have worked with.
Relief when he introduced Soul Shadows as a history of jazz song by Crusader Joe Sample and long-term songwriting partner Will Jennings (Randy Crawford, BB King).
No mean feat to replicate the wonderfully distinctive, warm, soulful voice of Bill Withers but - excepting DJ Rogers - this was as good as you're gonna get, with a slight ellipsis in the chorus and Linley’s alto substituting for the (underrated, soulful, post-Trane) tenor of Wilton Felder superbly.
It was during Duke’s Just Squeeze Me I remembered we didn't have a bass, Richardson doing a grand job maintaining both parts keeping the bass simple without ever missing during comping and soloing.
African Sunset followed, another Richardson original, and all concerned, but particularly Sinclair, displayed real feel for West African music.
With time running out he jettisoned another original and Gil Scott Heron’s Lady Day and John Coltrane from the programme going straight to Jimmy Smith’s Back at the Chicken Shack. When I saw his Big Idea nine-piece a while back I felt they were a great dance band and once again it felt like people should be heading for a dancefloor. Perhaps if they play again I'll take Mrs T and kids and fulfil our obligation to humiliate the latter with our moves.
Soloing was great throughout from all concerned but Sinclair, occupying the blues end of North East Jazz guitarists, saved his most gut-bucket solo ‘til the last piece and the leader raised a rousing, roaring solo to bring it all to a close.
Another great set at the Gala on a Friday afternoon and a suitably enthusiastic and appreciative audience. 
Steve T. 

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