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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

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Today

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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Alter Ego @ Blaydon Jazz Club - May 21

Keith Robinson (alto saxophone), Niall Armstrong (tenor saxophone & flute), Dave Hignett (trumpet & flugelhorn), Andy Hawking (keyboards), Tony Abell (bass) & David Francis (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Roly Veitch).
You can hang your pork pie hat on some bands - Alter Ego is one of them. An accomplished sextet with a pad of original compositions and smart arrangements of classic material, Alter Ego play gigs for the fun of it with a commendable no nonsense approach. Alto saxophonist Keith Robinson pulls together a set list confident that his band mates will be up to the job with some of them contributing one or two charts which proudly take their place alongside tried and tested numbers. This Blaydon Jazz Club date found the sextet in fine form.
Lockjaw DavisRed Snapper dusted off the cobwebs - the horns blowing, the rhythm section driven by the ever-reliable David Francis. A Latin feel to Get Back In allowed Dave Hignett to warm-up his flugelhorn with the Tyne Valley Big Band MD switching between trumpet and flugel throughout the evening. JJ Johnson’s In Walked Horace heard from Niall Armstrong (tenor), Hignett’s trumpet, and the amiable Andy Hawking (keyboards). The writers in the band bring tunes to rehearsals and they invariably make it onto the set list. One such, Armstrong’s Mustard Mash, another, Andy Hawking’s Scriabin Scraps (likely as not inspired by Alexander Scriabin’s investigations into atonal concepts) and bassist Tony Abell’s Llangranog Blues worked a treat. It would be interesting to hear how other bands (regional or otherwise) would approach these tunes. Perhaps Robinson and co could offer to loan out a tune or two?
Tenor man Niall Armstrong plays an occasional flute. Sudden Samba presented an opportunity to play it and he did just that with Hawking weighing in on keys and Francis rattling a samba rhythm.  The sextet’s take on Coltrane’s Naima perhaps lacked something of the intensity associated with that of its composer, whereas Armstrong’s Undertone worked brilliantly revealing a multi-layered tonal exercise demanding the full concentration of all on the stand. Budini returned to the familiar, similarly Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar and two enjoyable sets came to a close with Bobby Watson’s fascinating ‘perpetual motion’ composition Wheel Within a Wheel.
Blaydon Jazz Club’s June concert (Sunday 18) presents the brilliant guitar duo James Birkett and Bradley Johnston playing anything and everything from Eddie Lang to Chick Corea to a handful of original compositions. World class jazz guitar on your doorstep…who would believe it?   
Russell.                 

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