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11,755 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 895 of them this year alone and, so far, 32 this month (August 9).

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Monday 10: Happy Birthday Paul Edis.

Thursday 13: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Virtuoso Jazz Trio @ The Gala, Durham - August 24

George MacDonald (clarinet); James Birkett (guitar); Bruce Rollo (double bass)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Brian Ebbatson)
As an advertisement for this weekend's Ushaw Jazz Festival a lunchtime concert at the Gala Theatre featuring genial George MacDonald and friends James Birkett and Bruce Rollo - themselves affable types - proved to be just the tonic as prescribed by our mutual friend Dr. Jazz.
The Gala's monthly jazz concert invariably attracts a capacity audience and this appearance by the Virtuoso Jazz Trio wasn't about to buck the trend. All seats occupied, Mr. MacDonald said they would begin with two tunes written by George Gershwin...one up to the VJT with the first note yet to be played! 
But Not For Me, then Somebody Loves Me - splendid. MacDonald and Birkett seated, Rollo standing to their left, the trio's easy going, obvious musical compatibility shone through. Canadian ex-pat MacDonald, a long-serving, founder member of the Northern Sinfonia knows his jazz onions and it was with relish that he launched head-long into a swift take on After You've Gone

MacDonald is a Benny Goodman man who takes great delight in recounting the story of the American's rise to fame following a year-long, coast to coast tour with invaluable radio broadcasts along the way. As BG arrived in Los Angeles the queues went around the block, just as they did eighty years later here in Durham with fans eager to hear the VJT. Stompin' at the Savoy and Flying Home evoked something of Goodman mania as our bandleader challenged guitarist Birkett and bassist Rollo to keep up. They did...but only just! 

'And now a bossa nova', said MacDonald. A good guess would be Jobim - yes, Wave. 'We have to play some Cole Porter' our man continued, and, as sure as night follows day, we got it - Night and Day, that is. The clarinetist's setlist is never less than the epitome of taste and he knows how to pace matters. We knew that another two or three numbers would take us up to the hour so a thrilling finale opened with It Don't Mean a Thing, continued with A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and reached a crescendo with a hot 'n' crazy I Got Rhythm. The rhythm boys - Birkett and Rollo - had their moments in the Gala's spotlight, yet, somehow, the Canadian octogenarian rightly occupied centre stage. Afterwards, Mr. MacDonald chatted happily with members of the audience saying to one perhaps he and his Virtuoso Jazz Trio bandmates would make a return visit in twenty years...don't bet against it!      
Russell

1 comment :

Lance said...

George MacDonald is playing a duo set with pianist Ken Irvine at St. George's Church, Morpeth this afternoon (August 25).
The hour-long set begins at 3pm and is preceded by a strawberry Tea at 2:30pm.
Details in today's listings.

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