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Friday, July 20, 2018

Francis Tulip Quartet @The Fox Inn, Hexham - July 17

Francis Tulip (guitar); Joel Brown (piano); Michael Dunlop (bass); Matthew MacKellar (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Thumbs up to the Edinburgh-Newcastle rail service. It was on time - why shouldn't it be? - thus enabling your correspondent to dash up to Hexham to catch the Francis Tulip Quartet's return visit to Hexham Jazz Club. 
The Fox Inn was busy. Francis Tulip & co were sitting outside making the most of the summer weather before the start of their first set at eight thirty. A Deuchar's the choice, 'hello' to Tom, Ines and Jamie, a seat, 'hello' to Mike and Pauline - they had come from all parts.
The Francis Tulip quartet is the band of the moment; all 'vacationing' - Tulip home from Birmingham, Joel Brown chilling in Whitley Bay, Michael Dunlop temporarily escaping 'The Smoke' and Matt MacKellar eyeing a return to Boston, Massachusetts. 

First set: Milestones, MacKellar first up with a solo, the standard set. By way of contrast Darn That Dream featured Tulip in relaxed mode. Hearing the quartet on a regular basis allows the listener to note subtle changes, on occasion noting giant steps. One such development here at the Fox was the introduction of original material. The 'new', the 'original' can be fraught with difficulties, in short, the composition doesn't always make the grade. It is pleasing to report that MacKellar's as yet untitled Latin piece worked just fine.  

Peter Bernstein is a current favourite of Tulip's and we heard Bones with the band leader knocking out a tremendous solo. Visions is the working title of a Tulip composition, whatever it finally ends up being called, it sounded good with piano player Brown most impressive.    
It seems that the student generation of musicians like Robert Glasper and it was the American's Rise and Shine - Tulip described it as 'hard and a bit mad' - that closed the set. Difficult? The Francis Tulip Quartet, with a superb MacKellar solo, made it look easy! 

Another Deuchar's, second set: Inner Urge (Joe Henderson), Ma Belle Helene (Kenny Wheeler) with sensitive guitar playing, Wayne Shorter's Deluge featured a short solo from the five-string bass playing of Dunlop and again on Someday My Prince Will Come and to close, Sco's Keep Me in Mind. The Fox Inn crowd wanted another one so drummer Matt MacKellar suggested they play another of his compositions, this one with a title - Transience. Excellent musicianship all round with the composer absolutely killing! The FT4 can be heard again on Saturday at Zeffirelli's in Ambleside and again a week tomorrow (Friday 27) at the Lit and Phil, Newcastle, one o'clock start. Arrive early, it's sure to be busy. 

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