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Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Early Bird Band @ The Jazz Café - Dec 9

James Metcalf (trumpet), Matthew Downey (guitar), Ben Lawrence (keyboards), Alex Shipsey (bass) & Rory Gardener (drums) + Paul Edis (tenor saxophone & flute) 
(Review by Russell)
One or two changes to the usual line-up today – the Thompsons weren’t available due to recording commitments and guitarist Matthew Downey would soon dash to a show engagement. Busy young men are the Early Birds! Occasional drum dep Rory Gardener made good use of the house kit and pianist Ben Lawrence sat at the Caff’s Nord keyboard. MD Paul Edis informed the audience that in today’s setlist there would be a Christmassy element…bah humbug!

 Five tunes in half an hour with the band in good form, sharing the solos, the Early Bird’ workshop is continuing to deliver the goods. Trumpeter James Metcalf sounded great on Autumn Leaves (Miles muted, then open horn), Horace Silver’s Song for My Father heard more from Metcalf followed by a seated Matthew Downey, guitar, and the similarly sedentary but in no way pedestrian Alex Shipsey on bass guitar. Downey a picture of concentration reading the dots, Shipsey spot-on throughout, as in-the-pocket as you like, with a first-rate solo to boot.

This being the bah humbug time of year the Early Birds went out on a jazzy Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The laconic Ben Lawrence knows his way around the keyboard, that’s for sure, but due to sporting a dodgy Christmas jumper two marks were automatically deducted…only joking! Drummer Gardener did just fine, particularly in his use of brushes, and as and when a dep is required Rory G is one of several talented musicians Dr Edis is able to call upon.

The Early Birds will be out and about in 2018, but, before then, one or two of the lads could well put in an appearance at the Jazz Café’s final jam session of the year on Tuesday 19th December. Pink Lane promises to be busy long before the eight o’clock start, arrive early, and look out for the Early Birds.

 Russell.           

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