Roger Beaujolais burst onto our stage in hirsute splendour, and full of energy. The first song of the first set, Lane/Harburg “Old Devil Moon” had an almost shocking beginning, and spendid solos by all four of the band. The evening continued in that fashion, with the band having such fun up there.
Roger, of course, was on vibraphone, Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Dave Barry. on drums.
It was a tumultuous week for the band. Both Robin and Winston Clifford had car troubles, Winston’s extending to this gig. Dave was pretty new to the band, having played only one gig with them. As usual, (but see the comment about the encore) no-one could tell.
The evening was planned, or rather happened, with great standards and some fine tunes by Roger. There was something common about them all: you could hear that all four had grown up with the blues as their foundation. Sometimes it was loud and clear as in the funky blues by Roger, “Admission Impossible”, but always there. Roger and Dave had exceptional solos in the latter.
Everybody loves Jobim, and the band’s take on “How Insensitive” was just beautiful. But if one tune is to stick in my mind from the evening, it would be Montgomery’s “Full House”. The head of this 3/4 tune had all four playing different riffs, making a four times cross-rhythm that was magical. Maybe I mean cadence, not riff. Don’t care. It was stunning.. Simon had a wonderful solo on this one.
Robin was his usual intense listening self. His solo in Roger’s “In the Meantime” was exceptional. Roger’s cadenza on this one was exceptional.
The enduring memory of the gig was the fun that the band, and therefore the audience, were having. Every quote, every invention, brought smiles or even giggles (or groans in the case of a quote or two) from the players. This showed most strongly in the encore, Grant Green’s “Jean de Fleur”, chosen after some discussion. Roger, Robin and Simon had this one more or less in their muscle memory. Dave had never played it before, and their were no charts. Not to worry, Roger scatted a riff for Dave, and away they went. You know how musicians cue each other with subtle movements, or by returning to a resolving riff? Not on this one. Simon did some body directing while soloing. It was a riot. It was also fine music.
Next week, no gig at the hotel on Friday, but on Sunday, 24 June the great Jacqui Dankworth, her husband Charlie Wood, and our own Chris Allard will be playing at St. Peters on the Waterfront in Ipswich as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festivall. 7:30 for 8pm as usual. Don’t miss it.
We will be back home on the 29th with Freddie Gavita’s band.