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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

John Pope Quintet @ Gosforth Jazz Club - Feb 8

Faye MacCalman (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Jamie Stockbridge (alto saxophone); Graham Hardy (trumpet); John Pope (double bass) & Johnny Hunter (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photo courtesy of Ken Drew)
Gosforth Civic Theatre, formerly Gosforth Civic Hall, is home to the recently established Gosforth Jazz Club. Audience numbers have been encouraging and the turn out for this latest concert was heartening given that it was a cold winter’s evening. The band – the John Pope Quintet – elected
to play on the floor of the auditorium. This was a good move as the musicians were that bit closer with the stage concealed behind a red curtain.
Tyneside based John Pope recently assembled a quintet to play his compositions and one or two by some of the bass player’s favourite musicians. Pope and trumpeter Graham Hardy engaged in an opening dialogue gradually drip feeding the quintet’s other members into the developing drama.
Those other members included alto saxophonist Jamie Stockbridge of Taupe fame who, during the evening, made a great impression on those hearing him for the first time initially tearing up Ornette Coleman then going on to take no prisoners across the two sets.

Trumpeter Hardy pulled a pocket trumpet from his pocket. In truth he picked it up from the floor and surprise, surprise, the man played it as if it was his first instrument! Perhaps it is. Bandleader Pope referenced Misha Mengelberg and Graham Collier in the same sentence as the quintet set about a Mengelberg-inspired improvisation of JP’s titled Misha a Miner.
Faye MacCalman switched from tenor sax to clarinet as the band dug back ninety years to perform a selection from Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera with the ensemble moving seamlessly from free to structured bop-like swing sections and back again. A Pope original titled Pleato for no other reason than the composer liked the word rocked out with drummer Johnny Hunter taking it out. A Spanish or Latin feel developed out of a bass and drums improvised opening to Pope’s Ancestor with Hardy nailing an extended section on pocket trumpet. The evening drew to a close with In Heaven, a tune Pope first heard listening to American alt-rock band Pixies which was used on a soundtrack by filmmaker David Lynch. It will be interesting to see what John Pope the composer comes up with next.    Russell
Ken Drew photo album.

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