After the gig, I heard from the retiring audience: “Best gig this year by far”; “One of the best gigs I have ever been to”. Which makes it very difficult for me to find standout details in a standout gig.
The front line was Graeme Flowers on trumpet and flugel, Greg Heath on tenor and soprano saxes and Jason Yarde on alto and baritone saxes. The back line was John Donaldson on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Tristan Banks on drums. The music celebrated McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku. Most of the arrangements were by John Donaldson. He gave us an immense range of instrumental combinations and solo patterns as well as beautiful heads. All six of them had fun, played beautifully and with soul and a strong blues base.
Take Bheki’s “Joy”. Graeme was on trumpet, Greg on soprano and Jason on alto. John had arranged one or two chorus interchanges between pairs of musicians. Wonderful variations and sharing of ideas.
Jason wrote a song for McCoy, and the lesser-known (pity, that) Andy Hill. The two have very different compositional and playing styles. He introduced the song, explaining the title and the pun: “Hill Walking on the Tyner Side”. The music worked beautifully! Not so sure about the pun…
I am going to stop now, or I would have to write 20 pages more, I think. It was a really extraordinary gig, everybody at the very top of a very high quality game.
We were lucky to have quite a few young people in the audience, at least two of whom were musicians. The two very young drummers kept their eyes on Tristan throughout the show, and Tristan kindly chatted with them for quite some time after the gig.
No gig next week, but on August 9, John Etheridge is back with “Blue Spirit”. John on a whole bunch of guitars, Pete Whittaker on organ and George Double on drums. It will be a stunning gig, don’t miss it.