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Happy Birthday Katy Trigger & Mia Webb.

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Vieux Carre Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. Tel: 0191 691 7090. 12 noon. Free.

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Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00pm - 10pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pianos and how to break ‘em! - Paul Edis Trio @ Ushaw - May 18

Paul Edis (piano); Andy Champion (double bass); Russ Morgan (drums)

(Review by Jerry)
We were lucky to find a parking spot in front of this imposing old building and even luckier to find a seat inside. The Francis Thompson Room was packed and more chairs were being carried in right up to the gig’s start time. It is truly heartening to see so many people on a Friday, forsaking the bars, eateries (barbecues, even, on such a glorious evening!) or comforts of home to listen to live jazz. They arrived expectant, they left buzzing after a piano-themed feast served up by musical master chefs, Edis, Morgan and Champion! The trio, then with Adam Sinclair on drums, had given a similar master-class in Fenham last month (see review by Russell).
As then, they opened with a personal favourite, It’s Only a Paper Moon, with solos and fours giving all three musicians the chance to introduce themselves to the audience. Nat King Cole’s influence on other pianists was the link to Moten Swing, here performed in a manner which would probably have raised approving smiles from Messrs. Thigpen, Brown and Peterson. Another disciple was Bill Evans who, in turn, is a massive influence on tonight’s pianist – thus it is that music evolves. Like Someone in Love opened with an almost classical piano intro and included more fours, later, with Edis singling out tonight’s drummer, Russ Morgan, for additional applause at the end.

Snakes and Ladders and Lucky Eleven, two Edis originals, followed – the justification of their inclusion in the “history of jazz piano” being as inventive as some of the composer’s own solos on the night – but great tunes both. Lucky Eleven is a beautifully melodic, reflective ballad while Snakes and Ladders is either “a philosophical narrative about life” or “a tune which goes up and down” according to the listener’s preference!

Timeout for the interval was signalled by Unsquare Dance, appropriately from Brubeck’s 1959 album, Time Out. Infectious 7/8 time, rhythmic clapping and drumming and dexterous piano-work make this a crowd-pleaser but, as Russell commented after the Fenham gig, it’s really Andy Champion’s bass which holds the pyrotechnics together. It certainly pleased this crowd who seemed almost to be expecting an encore even though it was only the end of the first set!

That elation was quickly re-established by the up-tempo Edis original, Whiskers with big applause for the bass solo and for great brush-work (“whisker-work” maybe?). There was amazing piano on Lullaby of Birdland with a sustained two-handed tremolo (trill?) moving almost all the way up the keyboard. The bass solo and cheeky ending were also noteworthy. More Evans followed with the “complex harmonies” of Very Early, a tune Edis uses as an exemplar with his degree students.

The Long Way Round is a catchy tune which really grows on you. Inspired in equal parts by Jobim and the Tyneside Metro, I particularly liked the bass part tonight and the crescendo and “snap” finish to the piece. The ballad, Lush Life – Billy Strayhorn via (a name to conjure with) Phineas Newborn Jnr – followed and then it was time for Monk…

Talking of names to conjure with, this is one I have to google every time: Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are – as quirky and as brilliant as the man himself! In between intricate runs and piano tricks, some of Edis’ hammered, finger-jabbing notes reminded me of the person living below Monk’s apartment who complained about the man upstairs demolishing pianos! Champion, not to be outdone, elicited whoops and cheers for his solo while Russ Morgan, starting with brushes, then hands (and elbows!??), then sticks and loadsa bass-drum, whipped up a storm! How, as an encore, do you follow that? With a kamikaze-paced Edis original, Lines, that’s how!

As I said earlier, the audience (big enough almost to call it a crowd!) were buzzing and, had the gig gone on for two days, as Edis jokingly threatened at the start, no-one would have left.
Jerry

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