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Monday, September 03, 2018

Bruce Adams w. Al Wood Quartet @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington - September 2

Al Wood (alto/baritone); Bruce Adams (trumpet/flugel); Martin Longhawn (piano); Garry Jackson (bass); Tim Carter (drums).
(Review by Lance).
A most enjoyable early evening gig when this blog really did deliver what was on the tin. Bebop was most certainly spoken here in the form of Al Wood and Bruce Adams who played as if they'd been born and bred on 52nd St or, in the case of Wood, The Haig on Wilshire Boulevard. 
The Haig was the small club in LA where the original Gerry Mulligan Quartet first became known. I doubt if it was as big as Darlington's St. Augustine Parish Centre, the temporary home for Darlington Jazz Club, but for a couple of hours last night, the two venues were interchangeable.
The overriding theme was Gerry Mulligan and, in Al Wood, we had a baritone player more than capable of taking the lead role. On alto, Charlie Parker was the influence whilst Wood's' worthy constituent - Bruce Adams - played notes Chet Baker could only dream about. Dizzy was more his man.
To the rhythm section, Dizzy, Chet etc. were probably just names from the history books like Beethoven, Bach or Liberace. However, Longhawn, Jackson and Carter knew their history and they provided the two veterans out front with a launchpad. 
Apart from the well-known Bernie's Tune and Lullaby of the Leaves, Wood chose to cast his net further afield than tunes from the original quartet album so we had: Reunion; Swinghouse (written for the Kenton Band); Blueport; As Catch Can; Ode to a Flugel Horn and Motel
Away from Mulligan we also heard; Opus de Funk; Funk in  Deep Freeze; Groovin' High; Dat Dere and Friends Again; all played on alto, an instrument on which Wood is equally fluent.
Needless to say, Adams was his usual flamboyant self. No note too high - are there any better British trumpet players?  If there are I could count them on one hand after doing a blindfold test in a sawmill.
Apart from the leaders, the trio, despite being given limited solo space, seized the moment with Longhawn particularly outstanding.
100% perfect? Well, let's say 95%. I'd like to have heard Adams blowing flugel on a ballad, which I know he does so well and, likewise, Wood putting in some balladic baritone blowing. 
Apart from that minor observation, it was an excellent evening.
Lance.

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