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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Graeme Wilson Quartet @ Ushaw, Durham - August 25

Graeme Wilson (reeds); Paul Edis (piano, flute); Andy Champion (double bass, flute); Adam Sinclair (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Graeme Wilson, reeds. It doesn't tell half the story. A one-time major figure on the north east jazz scene until relocating north of the border, north of Hadrian's Wall being home to the affable Scot, Wilson has maintained links with the region, not least running his quartet comprising three Sassenachs - Paul Edis, Andy Champion and Adam Sinclair.  

This first concert of the second day of this year's Ushaw Jazz Festival drew a standing-room-only audience to the Francis Thompsom Room. Scottishness, if there is such a thing, permeates Wilson's compositions in subtle and often humourous ways. Hyvot Hill began with drummer Sinclair evoking a Scottish jig - or was it a reel? what's the difference? other than folk music degree students, who cares? - before the quartet went headlong into some serious, heavyweight jazz playing. Complex, constantly changing time signatures, this was the music - and compositional talents - of stellar musicians.  
Wilson is a literate, not to say, academic fellow, and favourite authors and books, often provide inspiration to Wilson. James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner provided the material for an intense exchange between bandleader Wilson and pianist - and Ushaw Jazz Festival director! - Edis, thus establishing the benchmark and the standard didn't slip across two sets of utterly compelling music.  

The Bings...never heard of them? Join the club. Wilson hadn't, then he did, they're a product of Scotland's 19th-century oil boom. What 19th-century oil boom? Further reading required! Wilson's composition was an Ushaw exclusive, a world premiere, no less. How best to listen to this stuff? Be open to it, expect the unexpected and immerse oneself in the sound of it all. 

The Honourary Scot - that's Mr G Wilson - plays multi-reeds. Here at Ushaw, he utilised tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet and flute. Golden Gate - more gospel quartet of renown than iconic West Coast feat of engineering - found Edis at a Korg synth and Andy Champion playing bass guitar - as they reprised a tune of Wilson's first heard on Tyneside in the days of John Warren's Splinter Group. Tremendous stuff, complex, intense, shot through with left-of-centre humour.

Second set and the Francis Thompson Room remained packed, no one was going anywhere. Anyone wandering in could be forgiven for thinking Rahsaan Roland Kirk had risen from the dead. The three flutes of Wilson, Edis and Champion resumed matters suggesting many things: Township jazz, perhaps Asian influences, and drummer Adam Sinclair's sampled drum pad intervention evoking a Gamelan-like soundscape. Joyous is the word.

Edis' Korg came in handy on Why Are You Staring at Me? Demented, humourous, add Champion's funkin' bass lines and you've got a typical - there's no such thing! - Wilson composition. The quartet's hugely varied set drew to a close with A Dwindling - as Wilson switched to bass clarinet he said he couldn't recall the title's origins - and The Bold Sammy (check out author James Kelman) reaffirming the Graeme Wilson Quartet's imperious jazz - and beyond - credentials. 
Russell
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