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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Jazz Café Jam Session - June 5.

Bradley Johnston (guitar); Paul Grainger (bass); Tim Johnston (drums) + Ray Johnson (trumpet); Marcus Tham  (piano); Ian Forbes (drums); Julija Jacenaite (vocals); Matthew MacKellar (drums); Chira ? (vocals); John Pope (bass); Joe Davies (trumpet); Michael X (alto); Hazem Mohammed (drums); Chris ? (drums); Ifede Osiyemi (vocal); Pete Gilligan (piano).
(Review by Lance).
As has become the norm, the Jazz Café jams (first and third Tuesday of the month) never fail to deliver the contrast and variety associated with such impromptu performances. Last night was no exception. From the relatively sedate beginning by Grainger and the unrelated Johnstons to the wild, no holds barred, finale by all those still standing it was yet another evening to remember.
Bradley had left his Metheny hat at home. Tonight, at least for the overture - Satin Doll; Giant Steps and Old Folks. Joe Pass held sway, Tim Johnston brushed and Paul Grainger's face took on that of a benign bishop surrounded by believers.
Ray Johnson took many choruses on I Get a Kick Out of You and we got a kick out of him when he followed up with Dizzy's Tour de Force (lovely chord sequence). 
Marcus Tham was at a disadvantage. The piano was unamplified, he had his back to the rest of the band. bass and drums were between him and Bradley with the end result that neither could hear the other resulting in some confusing moments.
Nevertheless, his four in a bar, on the beat, takes on C Jam Blues and I Got Rhythm was compatible with his chosen style.
The legend that is Ian Forbes took over on drums, adding a touch of humour to his drum breaks on Honeysuckle Rose.
A legend in the making took centre stage - Julija Jacenaite. Julija, who has just released her first album of original compositions (see previous post for review) played safe with Duke Ellington. Not that this lady ever plays safe! Her Take the A Train threatened to come off the rails at every bend but never did. Introducing Mood Indigo, the Lithuanian singer said, "This one's as slow as summer comes to England". In other words, pack your Factor 30 and head for the Baltic Sea instead of Majorca.
We didn't and by the time the tune ended the temperature in the Jazz Café was semi-tropical. There would be more from JJ later.
Another future legend behind the kit, Matt MacKellar, and that good old jammer All the Things You Are. Bradley's solo intro made it worthwhile hearing the Jerome Kern moneymaker yet again. 
Interval time gave Paul Grainger a chance to soak his fingers in vinegar and Bradley and a young lady who I think may have been called Chira, or something phonetically similar, did a couple of duo numbers. Dindi and Dream a Little Dream of me. On the latter number, we held our breath as she attempted the minor sixth jump up to the middle 8... She made it and we relaxed, as no doubt so did she! 
Joe Davies had played here before but the young alto player whom I'll call Michael X was a first-timer. When I encountered him on the Metro platform he was reluctant to give me his name. Understandable as, if a stranger had approached me on the local underground and asked me my name I too would have been hesitant. Both players struggled a bit with There Will Never be Another You although they got to grips ok with I Wish I Knew How it Felt to be Free. X told me later that he was primarily a blues player.
By this time, Mo was on drums and Paul Gowland had unpacked his alto for There is no Greater Love and Solar. A masterclass in saxophone playing.
Chris, somebody else whose full name I didn't catch, was on drums before Ifede Osiyemi sang Straighten Up and Fly Right. These Osiyemi's sure can sing!
And so to Le Grande Finale!
Julija was back, Pete Gilligan on the penultimate eve of his return to the mystic east, Ray Johnson, Paul Gowland and the rhythm boys gave us You'd be so Nice to Come Home to. If JJ was wild then The Gilligan was even wilder! Look out Thailand, he's on his way back!
Quite a night but, then again, when is it not?
Lance.

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