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Monday, May 06, 2019

Darlington Jazz Festival: Quakerhouse - May 4

Graham Hardy (trumpet); Dean Stockdale (piano); Mick Shoulder (double bass); Abbie Finn (drums)
(Review by Russell)

By mid-afternoon, on Saturday the 2019 Darlington Jazz Festival was well underway. Hot-footing it from the New Century Ragtime Orchestra's concert at St Augustine's Parish Centre to the Quakerhouse the first two of three sets - Josh Arcoleo Quartet and MGB - in the Mechanics' Yard pub were done and dusted. Arriving just in time to hear a scratch quartet conclude the afternoon's programme, the CAMRA award-winning hostelry was doing good business. 
Due to one of the bands pulling out earlier in the week festival organisers acted quickly to plug a gap in the schedule. Trumpeter Graham Hardy, in town to lead his Northern Monkey Brass Band in a street performance in less than hospitable cold and blustery conditions, readily agreed to play a set with three of County Durham's leading musicians. 

Setting up with a minimum of fuss, Hardy, pianist Dean Stockdale, bassist Mick Shoulder and drummer Abbie Finn played for three-quarters of an hour or so, choosing and agreeing on numbers as they went. Blue Skies (if only!) opened their set. Solos from trumpet, piano and bass with a regulation bout of fours set us up nicely. Tynesider Hardy has long-since been one of the region's foremost trumpeters but of late seems to be playing better than ever. 

Moanin' and, by way of stylistic contrast, In My Solitude brought out the best in the quartet notwithstanding a ragged ending here and there - ah, the perils of gigging without rehearsal time to top and tail a set list! Cherokee, taken at a leisurely pace rather than the often favoured 'eyeballs out' tempo, took on a New Orleans' shuffle feel set up and maintained by one of the festival's busiest musicians, the in-demand Abbie Finn. It had been well worth making a b-line to the Quakerhouse.   
Russell

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