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Monday, May 13, 2019

Keswick Jazz & Blues Festival: Basin Street Brawlers - May 11

Pete Horsfall (trumpet, vocals); Ewan Bleach (reeds, vocals); Malcolm Earle Smith (trombone, vocals); Dave Archer (guitar); Colin Good (piano)
(Review by Russell)

Festival regulars know a good thing when they see one and Saturday's midday performance by the Basin Street Brawlers found some forming an orderly queue at eleven o'clock. By half past the hour those who had yet to join the queue were unlikely to be admitted to the Skiddaw Hotel's Greta Suite with all seats and standing room spaces snapped up and still they queued in the corridor hoping one or two would, for some inexplicable reason, choose to leave.

The Brawlers are mega popular in London (Kansas Smitty's and elsewhere) and the word is clearly spreading. Trumpeter Pete Horsfall is an admirer of Henry 'Red' Allen and Ride, Red, Ride! opened the first of two sensational sets. The frontline - Horsfall, free spirit Ewan Bleach (reeds, vocals) and the urbane Malcolm Earle Smith (trombone, vocals) - received sterling backing from the vastly experienced pianist Colin Good and Dave Archer, guitar, depping for the indisposed Martin Wheatley. 

Horsfall and Bleach are the Brawlers' principal vocalists (Midnight Blue's harmonies a lasting memory) with the five-piece outfit consistently impressive whether it be on a seriously hot number (the first set closer Mahogany Hall Stomp featured Bleach's impossibly hot soprano sax) or a take-it-down ballad. 

The second set maintained the standard and the pace with no one in the room going anywhere. Rosetta (Horsfall's killer vocals) took up where the Brawlers left off winning yet more vociferous applause and that's how it was throughout the afternoon - from Hoagy's Two Sleepy People to Bleach tearing it up on High Society. The Basin Street mob would be doing it all again on Sunday - some contemplated forming a queue.   
Russell  

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