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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Jeff Barnhart & Tom 'Spats' Langham @ St Augustine's, Darlington - September 8

Jeff Barnhart (piano, vocals); Tom 'Spats' Langham (banjo, guitar, vocals)
(Review by Russell)
Darlington New Orleans Jazz Club is on a roll. A return visit by American piano virtuoso Jeff Barnhart working with Tom 'Spats' Langham attracted a record attendance to St Augustine's. 

The affable Barnhart thought it appropriate that their first number should be All Alone... all alone in a standing-room-only hall of more than one hundred jazz fans! The equally affable and virtuosic Spats Langham entertained the audience with tales of prodigious drinking sessions working with Tommy Burton in the days of Pebble Mill at One - somehow the band always came up with the goods in front of the watching millions!


No fewer than four Irving Berlin numbers opened the programme -the aforementioned All Alone; I Love a Piano; After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It and How Deep is the Ocean - interspersed with Barnhart's recollections of first meeting a then younger Spats at Bude Jazz Festival...Spats just happened to be wearing a traffic cone on his head!   

Barnhart claimed to be a little bit rusty when it came to playing 12th Street Rag suggesting the duo would play it 'largo' rather than, as indicated on the sheet music, 'presto'. The jovial American began 'largo' but we knew he was kidding...bang! Off they went - 'presto' alright - Barnhart at St Augustine's piano, Langham brilliant on banjo. For the benefit of BSH's Editor-in-Chief, that's 'brilliant' and 'banjo' in the same sentence!

Tunes associated with the likes of Armand Piron's New Orleans Orchestra, Ukulele Ike (aka Cliff Edwards) and Al Bowlly further entertained the lunchtime gathering. Jelly Roll Morton could hardly be excluded and he wasn't, and, with Spats Langham revving the motor for a quick getaway - an evening gig in the Cotswolds beckoned - the duo went out on a red-hot Stompin' Em Down followed by a take-it-down I'll See You in My Dreams. Yes, Darlington is on a roll and the next installment is this Saturday (Sept. 15, 12:30pm) when Barnhart makes a double quick return to present his one-man Silent Comedy Film Festival. Our  American guest will play piano improvisations as accompaniment to the screening of some classic Buster Keaton silent films.   
Russell

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