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Monday, August 20, 2018

Zoë Gilby Quartet @ Blaydon Jazz Club - August 19

Zoë Gilby (vocals); Mark Williams (guitar); Andy Champion (double bass); Richard Brown (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Roly Veitch)
Stormy weather, no, not the tune, rather the plain English meteorologists use to make comprehensible to the rest of us a subject that goes over our heads...literally! And so it was, mid-March, with snow on the ground, Blaydon Jazz Club took the decision to call off an appearance by a north east favourite, vocalist Zoë Gilby.
Fast forward to August, the weather, if not quite blue skies, was mild and dry. Zoë and the boys arrived safely at the Black Bull ready and willing. The Gilby-Champion (that's double bass player Andy) songwriting partnership contributes to the quartet's setlist alongside standards, be they GASbook, bop classics or contemporary popular material.
Rhythm-a-Ning for starters, Love for Sale - a song for Aretha, said Gilby, followed by an original number - In it Together, three of the early highlights. Gilby's band is of the A-list variety; Andy Champion is as good as any, and better than most that you care to name; guitarist Mark Williams doesn't say much, he lets his guitar do the talking, and boy, he makes it talk. A composer and bandleader himself, Williams can strip paint when the occasion demands, on this occasion 'supreme accompanist' was the requirement and he delivered with aplomb. The quiet man at the back, drummer Richard Brown, does what is required of him, consider that a compliment, with his use of mallets on Midnight Bell an object lesson in 'less is more'. 

Second set - more of the same high-quality music, beginning with Victor Young's A Weaver of Dreams. This, and many other numbers, illustrated Gilby's expert annunciation of a lyric, all the while engaging with the audience, her stagecraft finely honed. The man at the back, Mr R Brown, had some fun on Caravan as the quartet swung it with panache. Lieber and Stoller's Some Cats Know raised knowing smiles across the room begging the question: Does anyone not know?! 

It was time to go and as we were listening to the Zoë Gilby Quartet that meant going out on the evocative Gilby-Champion composition Red City. Jazz at the Black Bull next month - September 16 - features a first Blaydon appearance by Alan Law. The genial pianist's trio will be joined for the occasion by guitarist James Birkett. Another one to look forward to!
Russell.    
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