Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Red Lion Blues.

Had to get the results of my blood test today (see 13th of the 13th), you may remember I’d decided to get someone else to give the blood for me – it was the only way I could think of to beat the rap. Turns out he was even more ill than I was. Drat, now I’m really in trouble.

It didn’t go very well. The rest of the day wasn’t so great either.

9 hours later and I’m driving along the Great West Road just the same as in the morning, past West Mid just the same and parked on the same road, just a bit further up. Spooky.

When I got in The Red Lion,www.red-lion.info was packed even though I was early. There were more photographers than musicians. The seams were bursting. You could sense the excitement.

It was only a quartet, which I prefer and it started big and bouncy with Alan Barnes on his alto or bass sax (I can’t tell the difference, it’s just big) ‘You do something to me’. Then a very sparse and thoughtful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with very delicate piano from Dave Newton interspersed with Trevor Tomkins light cymbal work adding up to a dream.

‘You and the night and the music’ was a standard with zing – so much so that Barry fell off his chair and my glasses steamed up from laughing. Phew, what a night!

Then back downstairs with ‘Laura’, a beautiful, mournful track. I’ve got a Don Byas CD recorded in Paris in the 1940’s, it was written for a movie. Anyway it worked for me. ‘We’ by Dizzy Gillespie followed on hot n’steamy and then it slowed down again for ‘Lament ‘ by J.J.Johnson.

The second set was, as promised, better than the first with Johnny Mandel’s ‘Close enough for love’ bringing out the best of Alan Barnes sax (the little one this time) and on ‘Two for the road’ by Henry Mancini he was really fine on Clarinet.
Then, as a bonus, we got Warren Vachet over from the States to tour with Alan Barnes, guesting on Trumpet. Camera flashes popping off all over – here’s mine;

Three numbers and an encore – a blues in B flat: The Red Lion Blues as Trevor called it.

I was close enough to hear the trumpet ‘breathing – and the sax too. Trumpet and Clarinet together never sounded so good. Paul Morgan was very solid on bass, with a bit of a flourish too.

It was a good night, music to die for. And I know what I’m talking about when I say that.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
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