Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A four way split

I was really lucky, I managed to get out and saw the band. I was up at the front - someone took pity on me and gave me a seat – ringside.

No Stan Sulzman, he didn’t show. So, it was a four piece, but the no-show put some tension in the air and it buzzed. I like a quartet anyway.

It all started as they meant it to go on, with Ornette Coleman’s  ‘Turnaround’, accelerator down to the floorboards. His, ‘The shape of jazz to come’, is an all-time great album.

Jim Hart on vibes was fronting for a change – I’ve seen him before and he was better. He had the space to play. Ross Stanley was coming at Jazz by way of the Blues via keyboards and together they set each other off. With Mick Hutton on bass and Trevor Tomkins on drums, it was a four way split.

So ‘Four’ by Miles Davis was good, but even better with Trevor’s memories of playing with Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vincent, who really wrote it and didn’t want anyone to forget that Miles stole the melody from him. It was hard and fast – ‘four’.

Then Milt Jackson’s ‘I’ve lost your love’, slow and straight out of MJQ.

Then there were flying drum sticks to go with ‘Lazy Bones’ by the ‘Trane.

The first set was gone in a flash and the second? Well that’s a bit more of a blur. I remember Thelonious Monk’s ‘I remember you’, and then ‘Soul Eyes’ by John Coltrane, with a rather sheepish Stan (I’ve got lots of excuses but none of them are true) Sulzman, stepping in just in time and adding his sax into the mix, getting a warm welcome from the crowd and me.

The three numbers he did made it all worthwhile. I remember ‘Moose the Mooch’, which someone said was Charlie Parker’s dealer – not someone who contributed much to the world except giving his nickname for the number.

It was a great night. I heard someone say how lucky we are to have such great musicians turning out to play for us. No, I was the lucky one.

Everything ached as I dragged my way home. I was playing UB40’s first album in the car, ‘Signing off’, and the track ‘Reefer Madness’ was a pretty good soundtrack to a West London Monday night; quiet and late. A bright new moon and no frost for the first time in as long as I can remember. 

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
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