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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.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Greg Abate w. Paul Edis Trio @ The Black Swan - Nov. 7

Greg Abate (alto sax/flute); Paul Edis (piano); Andy Champion (bass); Russ Morgan (drums).
(Review by Lance).

It’s dead simple really – they don’t get any better than this! Not now, not ever! A strong statement I know but this was the best alto playing I’ve heard since Sonny Stitt at Gateshead Town Hall over 50 years ago - apart from on Greg's previous visits to Newcastle that is. On that occasion, Stitt was with the Malcolm Saul Trio. Tonight Abate was with the Paul Edis Trio who have built on the legacy of the late Malcolm Saul and the domiciled Bill Harper – the keys of the kingdom are in good hands.

Apart from his alto playing, Abate’s fluting is equally world class. I have a theory. Flautists who don’t play sax tend to have got into jazz as failed classical musicians. They have the technique but their initial grounding shows when they start blowing jazz whereas the fluter who began as a saxer (my word) already has the jazz feel – just a thought and I know there are exceptions to disprove my thoughts.

Getting back to the gig, I sat in awe wondering why every alto sax player in the world wasn’t sitting there applauding – hopefully they were at home practising. Likewise the flute players and, of course, the aspiring pianists, bassists and drummers because the trio behind the great man are no mere mortals either as most of us know very well.

I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of each tune – I mean, how many times do you want to read “This was great”, “This was fantastic” “This was Napoleon Brandy”?

When I first took an interest in sax playing, I’d talk to the old time dance band pros and mention someone who, I thought had a good technique. “Ah!” they would say, “But does he have a tone?”

Greg Abate has ‘a tone’ and the technique to match.


Recorda Me set the standard. A 5000 npm (notes per minute) blast on Charlie Parker’s Steeplechase had the juices near boiling point. They simmered on Farewell to Phil Woods - a gentle bossa dedicated to the late Phil Woods. Airegin had me breathless. Hazy Moon saw the great man switch to flute for this original inspired by his wife. Inner Urge by Joe Henderson was a joy to behold. Can anyone play that many notes and still produce a meaningful solo? And what about the trio? Despite a keyboard that seemed to have a couple of clinky notes Edis didn't let it cramp his style proving him to be a star in his own right. Champion the Wonder Bass retained his title and Morgan the Mighty was merely magnificent.

Second set - like the first - another one to write home about. Sleeping Bee; Angel Eyes (flute);  a fast bopper by Bird that I should have identified but didn't; On Green Dolphin St. (flute); An Afro Cuban original in 6/4 time. Greg blows Andy the bass line, Andy picks it up and we're off to the races; Star Eyes then, to finish, Gratitude which is also the title of his current CD. It will be reviewed here shortly - once I recover from being shell-shocked!
Lance.
Link to some great photos courtesy of Ken Drew.

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