Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Jazz-meisters and the odd crisp packet weave a unique tapestry

A GUEST appearance by internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist Alan Barnes is an assured guarantee of a

A GUEST appearance by internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist Alan Barnes is an assured guarantee of a good-sized audience and superb music with the added promise of his sharp wit and good humour.

“We’re going to create a tapestry of sound,” he announced as he took to the stage in the tightly packed marquee of the Flowing Spring at Playhatch, as traffic whizzed by on the busy Henley Road and the audience took time to settle. “A unique blend of jazz, cars, the clatter of knives and forks, and the rustle of crisp packets.”

Thoughts of such extraneous noises were soon dispelled as Alan took up his alto saxophone and blew the first sublime notes of

Beautiful Friendship
— his light, breathy playing contrasting beautifully with the bright and incisive trumpet of his front-line partner, Stuart Henderson.

Graeme Taylor’s “all over the keyboard” approach at the piano added further heat and tension to the mix, well supported by Esther Ng’s bass and the drums of Simon Price.



A GUEST appearance by internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist Alan Barnes is an assured guarantee of a good-sized audience and superb music with the added promise of his sharp wit and good humour.

“We’re going to create a tapestry of sound,” he announced as he took to the stage in the tightly packed marquee of the Flowing Spring at Playhatch, as traffic whizzed by on the busy Henley Road and the audience took time to settle. “A unique blend of jazz, cars, the clatter of knives and forks, and the rustle of crisp packets.”

Thoughts of such extraneous noises were soon dispelled as Alan took up his alto saxophone and blew the first sublime notes of

Beautiful Friendship
— his light, breathy playing contrasting beautifully with the bright and incisive trumpet of his front-line partner, Stuart Henderson.

Graeme Taylor’s “all over the keyboard” approach at the piano added further heat and tension to the mix, well supported by Esther Ng’s bass and the drums of Simon Price.



It was a perfect start to a swinging evening of jazz. Barnes switched to clarinet and Henderson flugelhorn for an exquisite

Gentle Rain
from Brazilian composer Luiz Banfá, followed by a truly stomping

Stompin’ at the Savoy
.

Firmly anchored by the earthy tones of Barnes’s baritone saxophone and the firm New Orleans-cum-boogaloo beat laid down by Simon Price, it featured a magnificent “growling” trumpet solo by Stuart Henderson. Toots Theileman’s delightful

Bluesette
came next — all the more welcome for being so rarely heard these days — before Stuart Henderson took centre stage for his beautifully expressive solo feature,

Nancy With the Laughing Face
.

The first set concluded with a wonderfully straight-ahead swinger with overtones of the Blue Note record label, Hank Mobley’s

This I Dig of You
.

The second set opened with Clifford Brown’s classic composition

Joy Spring
, with its effervescent sense of joy and energy, and sad reminders of how the life of a great jazz talent was cruelly ended in a car accident at the age of 26.

One can only speculate as to how his talent might have continued to grow. With this in mind, Antonio Carlos Jobin’s reflective

Quiet Nights
, with fine solos from Barnes on alto and Henderson on flugelhorn was perfectly placed in the programme.

Stuart Henderson lit the touch paper to ignite

Ow!
, an explosion of bebop that set the pulses racing and the feet tapping.

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise
kept them tapping — to a samba beat, conjured by Esther Ng’s bass and Simon Price’s drums, who laid the foundation for an absolutely knockout solo by Graeme Taylor, drawing on the rich tones of his Fender Rhodes keyboard.

Alan Barnes lowered the temperature for his gorgeous solo feature

We’ll Be Together Again
— a little known tune dating from 1945 by Carl T Fischer with lyrics by Frankie Laine.

Take the ‘A’ Train brought the evening to a rousing conclusion. Thanks are due to Flowing Spring landlord cum sound/lighting engineer cum stage manager cum man of a thousand essential roles, Nick Wilson, whose imagination and generous support made the concert possible.

The next gig at the Flowing Spring takes place on Tuesday, May 17, with the Rebecca Poole Quartet featuring Stuart Henderson on trumpet and Hugh Turner on guitar.

And on Saturday, June 11, it will be holding a one-day jazz festival with an exciting line-up soon to be announced.

Review: Trevor Bannister



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