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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mercury @ Jazz Café. Nov 25

Tom Thorp (tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet), Jim Faulkner (guitar), Richard Jones (keyboards), Gavin Barras (bass) & Johnny Hunter (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Mike Tilley)
Tom Thorp’s Mercury arrived at the Jazz Café in good time and just in time. Three of the band arrived safely, the others were delayed in traffic due to an accident on the A1. Cross Pennine traffic can be heavy at the best of times, the Friday evening commuter rush hour isn’t ideal if you’re due on stage later in the evening. Manchester to Newcastle negotiated without further mishap, the quintet set-up, soundchecked and found time to take five.

Thorp brought with him the few remaining copies of the band’s eponymous debut CD. At the end of the evening a few more would find new homes and the new album – Sea Speak – similarly did good business. Thorp, playing tenor and soprano saxophones, made a case for the bass clarinet – he had one with him – being ‘the best instrument ever’, referring to it as ‘my new toy’. Opening with Quicksilver from Mercury, Thorp revealed that this was the first tune he had written for the band. Mercury is a slow-burn affair – the atmospheric as important as any notion of flashy pyrotechnics, the new album was, understandably, to feature over two sets. Winter Brook and Hanging Gardens were the scene setters, then an energetic workout – Phalanx - featured Thorp playing muscular tenor with Richard Jones  at the Nord 2 and drummer Johnny Hunter stoking the fires.
The eponymous Sea Speak spoke to the Jazz Café faithful, a return to the first album for a reworking of If We Were There Now (Thorp bass clarinet, Hunter brushes, Gavin Barras a seated, calming presence on his custom-made six-string fretless bass) a reflective piece. A short notice dep, guitarist Jim Faulkner, last seen in these parts with Katie Patterson, read the charts as schooled musicians do. This Newcastle date was low key, but nonetheless an enjoyable evening.

Russell.           

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