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Friday, February 15, 2019

Svarc, Hanley, Longhawn @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall - Feb 15

Nik Svarc (guitar); Steve Hanley (drums); Martin Longhawn (organ)
(Review by Russell)

It was a warm, blue sky Friday in County Durham with Bishop Auckland looking at its best. The Town Hall's café/bar performance space accommodated a near-capacity lunchtime audience for the visit of Svarc, Hanley and Longhawn. 

The Leeds-based trio of Nik Svarc, guitar, Steve Hanley, drums, and Martin Longhawn, organ, arrived in good time, pulling up outside Bishop Auckland Town Hall, off-loading and setting up with the minimum of fuss - true pros are SHL. There Will Never be Another You opened the one hour programme. A familiar tune, for sure, but in the hands of SHL they're apt to take a good look at it, take it apart and skillfully put it back together again.
Longhawn's Larry's Groiner (from the new album SHL 2) hit on a Hammond groove and didn't let go as Svarc referenced Sco and Frisell along the way. Carla Bley's Lawns served as the day's ballad - exquisite playing all round with Svarc all but making his Telecaster sing. Bloogie (another cut from the new album) fairly 'bloogied' along. The trio's arrangement of a standard is a strength (one of many!) and Seven Steps to Heaven was masterful - the head in there somewhere (they got to it eventually!), Longhawn brewing up a storm with, perhaps, a fleeting reference to Singin' in the Rain encouraging Svarc and Hanley to up their game with yet more blistering top drawer work.

As the two o'clock finish approached Svarc thanked Hanley and Longhawn for their sterling efforts and took time to acknowledge promoter Mick Shoulder for making possible today's concert. In suggesting that members of the audience were welcome to get up and dance, SHL went out on Kool from John Scofield's 1995 Groove Elation album. It had been an afternoon of top-class modern to contemporary jazz.
Russell.  

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