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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.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Darlington Jazz Festival: Locomotive Rhythm & the Vocal Collective - Sunday April 30

Community Choir and Loco Wheels Show Jazz is on the Right Track.
(Review by David Gosling)
This double bill Darlington Jazz Festival event took place at The Friend Meeting House on Sunday afternoon to a packed audience – and stage.
The Vocal Collective, a Darlington based community choir, having only been in existence for 6 months turned up with forty or so of their members to perform this, only their second, gig. Led by Liz Shevells (piano) and Katie Hibbard (conductor) the ensemble soon steadied the nerves with a joyous and lively version of George Gershwin’s Summertime. If this opening number was apt given the beautiful day we had on Sunday the choir’s second number was even more so as they would be followed by Locomotive Rhythm who would pay homage to Darlington’s railway heritage. The choir launched themselves into Choo Choo Ch’boogie.
Goodnight Sweetheart brought a little doo wop into the repertoire before the Vocal Collective completed their set with three traditional into modern music medleys. The folk blues song Black is the Colour seamlessly blending into a Fleetwood Mac hit after a beautiful Siobhan solo. Cold Play then got into the act as they were mixed into the gospely Magic and they finished off with a mix of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams and Adele’s Rolling in the Deep entitled Rolling in the Dreams.
A superb performance from a fledgling outfit which promises much more for the future and for me the stand out number was a Jim Papoulis song entitled Can you Hear? in which a delightful solo was delivered by Judith.
Locomotive Rhythm turned out to be a project for ‘Darlington railway heritage buff’ and drummer Graeme Robinson in which he teamed up with his old school pal, multi-instrumentalist and composer Phil Taylor to improvise music inspired by railways and Graeme’s newly cast railway wheel cymbals. The sight of Graeme’s drum kit was worth the entrance fee on its own.
Fittingly the first notes of the set came from the five specially cast steel, alloy and bronze loco wheels before Graeme launched into a five minute drum solo introduction to Loco Wheels.
References to Darlington’s railway heritage abounded in the song introductions as well as their titles. Stone Sleepers, Myers Flat Battery, Forty Foot Road, A DME Leaving Boro Station were tracks all paying homage to the town’s industrial past – I believe!
Myers Flat Battery featured Kevin Eland’s muted trumpet and brought back memories of the Miles Davis sound from his ‘electric’ era. For the most part the funky fusion sound was more reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band than as suggested by Jazz North East’s Paul Bream in his weekly ‘Jazz Alert’ communication that Locomotive Rhythm would be akin to the more blander of The Crusaders output.                                                                                         
I did, however, hear a little of The Crusaders in the track Forty Foot Road as Phil Taylor on keys, Graeme on his drums and loco wheels and some great sax work from Alex Baker brought the tune to life. And as if by magic a tune appeared later in the set that ended on the Crusaders riff for Put it Where You Want it to prove Paul Bream right about the likeness in sound but on this showing definitely not the blandness.
This band, Graeme Robinson - drums, Phil Taylor – keys, Kevin Eland – trumpet, Alex Baker – sax, Gavin Bell – bass and Chris Rutherford – guitar produced a great sound for the first outing for Locomotive Rhythm and this for me was most evident in Grey Horse a tune we were told was named after a pub at the end of a horse drawn carriage link to the railway in Darlington.
The finale saw all forty members of the Vocal Collective take the stage with Locomotive Rhythm to wow the audience with a song dedicated to an 1800’s social housing experiment called Hopetown – Built on a Dream. The wonderful music produced by the band, forty voices and the loco wheels was a fitting tribute to, not only Darlington’s railway heritage, but also the vibrant jazz scene that thrives in the town today.
David Gosling,
Cumbria.

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