Tuesday, 19 November 2013

I was dreading April in New York.

There are some good Doctors, I thanked a good one on Monday morning.

Monday evening and I was watching another one – Art Themen, retired orthopaedic surgeon. There was nothing retired about his Saxophone work.
Monday night was always going to be quiet, we clashed with a tribute to Stan Tracey at The 100 club. All the greats of British modern jazz were there including Peter King and Cleo Laine. We also lost our bass player and were lucky to have Steve Watts take over.

This really was Thelonious Monk night with loads of his numbers starting with a bright and sparky ‘I mean you’.

A couple of tunes later and we had a treat from Henry Lowther on trumpet, playing his own composition ‘Mataya Sleeps’, dedicated to a neice who was asleep while he wrote it. More Monk closed off the first set – ‘4 in 1’.

The second set brought us a Henry Lowther solo on a beautifully played ballad; ‘It never entered my mind’, and then Art Themen took over but with a segué into ‘April in New York’. I’d caught sight of the music and was dreading this sad and sentimental song. I didn’t need that on Monday, not after hearing bad news, but I was lucky to hear it torn apart and then reassembled without any fake sentimentality.

There were a few familiar Art Themen setpieces; Dexter Gordon’s ‘For regulars only’ and a Clifford Brown blues to finish giving John Donaldson a chance to shine on piano. It was still a great night of modern jazz from the greats, played on a quiet Monday night.

I should add that Stan Tracey was for many years the house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s and in that role he accompanied the greats of the jazz world. I remember seeing him several times in the early 1980’s, entertaining another local club, with some fairly experimental jazz.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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