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Friday, May 10, 2019

Keswick Jazz & Blues Festival: Michael McQuaid Trio - May 9


Michael McQuaid Trio: Michael McQuaid (clarinet, alto sax); Andrew Oliver (piano); Nick Ball (drums)
(Review by Russell)

Horniblow's Hot Three it said in the programme however David Horniblow was unavoidably detained in London (he'll arrive in Keswick Friday) and, by chance, Michael McQuaid was on hand to step into the breach. The London-based Aussie fronted the 'Michael McQuaid Trio' but this wasn't a last minute, thrown together outfit. Not only has McQuaid worked on gigs with pianist Andrew Oliver and drummer Nick Ball (two-thirds of Horniblow's Hot Three) as a trio they've released a CD and, conveniently, he brought along copies with him. 

The all-seats-taken Skiddaw Hotel mid-afternoon concert presented McQuaid with the opportunity to play numbers by some of his favourite clarinet players...nice work if you can get it! The roll call included Benny Goodman, Johnny Dowds, Barney Bigard, Pee Wee Russell, Darnell Howard and Leon Roppolo. The composers, the compositions, the instrumentalists referenced by McQuaid tripped off the tongue - Bix, Duke, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Rex Stewart, Howdy Quicksell. 

Pianist Andrew Oliver plays piano in any style, from any era (the American gigged at Newcastle's erstwhile Jazz Cafe in the most contemporary of contemporary bands) and on this Keswick engagement he dazzled the room, frequently winning applause for his efforts. Nick Ball is a rarity - a young musician inspired to research and perform the music of the great early jazz drummers - and on this occasion offered a fascinating insight into the 'bock-a-da-bock' which was the prototype of the modern jazz drummer's hi-hat. Nick said he wished he owned one of the vintage pieces of handheld kit but in its absence, he made one himself! 

The tunes were largely familiar including I'm Walking Through CloverBlues in ThirdsLost in MeditationSorry, a couple of Ellington's many compositions (Lost in Meditation and FinesseWillow Tree and Old Fashioned Girl. The festival was well and truly up and running. On to the next concert...             
Russell

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