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Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pete Tanton's Riviera Quartet @ Gala Theatre, Durham - October 11

Pete Tanton (trumpet, flugelhorn); Mark Williams (guitar); Andy Champion (bass); Russ Morgan (drums).

(Review by Brian Ebbatson/Photos courtesy of Malcolm Sinclair).

It’s not often that a band arrives with a mission statement, but that is the case with the Riviera Quartet, who arrived to play the Gala Studio Friday lunchtime set, but found themselves transferred to the main theatre with its spacious stage, sophisticated lighting and ample room for the 100+ audience. And they spread the magic of their music in accordance with their mission. Which - in case you missed it - is “to bring the combined energy of bossa nova, blues and bebop to new listeners and to build a broad audience. Imagine driving along the highway from Nice to Monaco, or even Los Angeles to Monterey, in a convertible – this is the music you would listen to.”

Pete Tanton opened the set with Chega de Saudade (aka No More Blues) in direct tribute both to “our spiritual guide”, composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, and “our musical inspiration”, Dizzy Gillespie and Lalo Schifrin’s 1962 album Dizzy on the Riviera. Pete’s opening trumpet gave a taste of what was to follow, clear fresh tones, melodic improvisation, a tight, driving rhythm section and inventive guitar work. A suitable scene-setter for a series of originals from the pens of Tanton and Williams, none of which failed to meet the mission statement criteria and all of which sat well with the Jobim/Gillespie/Schifrin classic.

Barbados – a track from their CDfollowed. A catchy melody with a Caribbean lilt, giving space not just for Pete’s trumpet but for extended guitar work by Mark. Turf War (also on the CD) followed, a Horace Silverish opening theme, countered by Mark’s smooth chords, leading to relaxed flugel and guitar solos.

Pete switched to muted trumpet – more cool Miles than Dizzy – for the third CD track, Mark’s There They’re There. With Russ weaving his patterns on brushes and Andy just doing what he does best, Mark again strode out on guitar and Andy showed he too can improvise melody. Drums, bass, guitar and muted trumpet exchange eights, before Mark and Pete roll the music to an atmospheric close.

Time for Pete to reveal another aspect of the quartet’s playing – his voice - in three numbers. First To Heaven Overnight, a sort of celebratory love song, lyrics and composition both by Tanton, to be released as a single next year. Very Jobimesque lyrics – "To heaven overnight, please take me there ….. come with me tonight .. carry us away on its wings…." . Then One Kiss, a single now available on Spotify and iTunes, a distinctly Brazilian feel, particularly the theme of loss and desertion (shades of Chega de Saudade – “Não há beleza é só tristeza e a melancholia – look it up!). “I kissed her lips just yesterday, but now she kisses someone else today”. Another – happier – love affair is told in I Fall in Love, again a Latin rhythm featuring Mark on guitar. “I fall in love every time you are near me. I fall in love every time you whisper to me ….)
Before the final number Pete paid tribute to Mike Furlonger, a close friend and jazz enthusiast who passed away last year after a diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease and invited the audience to express their appreciation in a collection for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MDNA).  Whether Mark’s Booze Blues was an appropriate title is open, but the boppish number certainly gave the band the opportunity to stretch out with flowing solos – all enthusiastically received – by Mark, Andy and Russ (the loudest applause of the set) and Pete, a great close to a great gig.

A great reception too, many in the audience wanting them back, saying it was the best concert yet in the series, a complement repaid by Pete’s “What a lovely crowd to play for. It was a real pleasure to play here.” This was a polished performance, each player standing out. The musicians know each other inside out and it shows. OK, the A1(M) through Durham is not the highway to Monterey or the autoroute du midi, but the music was what it says on the tin - fresh, melodious and different – and you want to hear it again. Mission accomplished.
Brian E
PS Over £200 was raised for MNDA. If you want to add your support, follow this link 

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