These words are mostly by Steve Jordan, with a few additions from Dave Lyons. It is a longish read, but I think, a good one.
Last night, we were treated to an eclectic selection of numbers from various genres, from classical music to early ‘70s rock through to the jazzed up celtic soul of Van Morrison and the disco funk of Earth, Wind and Fire interspersed with plenty of popular jazz songs and instrumentals from the 1930s through to the 1970s.
The arrangements were wondrous and often quite complex, effortlessly held together by John Law’s prodigious skill and invention on the keyboards with the spirit and talent of each member of the band shining through, not least in the “solos”. The arrangements were melded such that it was difficult to applaud individual solos, we were just carried through the transitions.
Invariably, John Law begins the first set of a performance with a classical piece and tonight was no exception; his background in classical piano shone through with Claude Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’. Dave would have expected Bach, but loved the Debussy.
The evening quickly developed into a game of ‘Name That Tune’ as John challenged the audience to identify each one, hiding his sheet music from us and himself. Heads were nodding along to the music or in recognition of the original tune, masked by the arrangement, gradually and teasingly revealed by the band as the song developed.
The rendition of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ had our audience baying in appreciation at the end, before the all-too-familiar theme of Miles Davis’ ‘So What’ played in. At one point, the combination of John’s electric piano and Henrik’s double bass produced harmonics eerily like those from Jaco Pastorius’ fretless bass guitar! How does that happen?
For me, Cavatina was a challenge, but not for others as they sang the lyrics of “He Is Beautiful”, added by Cleo Laine in a later version. Although it is best known as the theme from ‘The Deer Hunter’, Stanley, Myers originally wrote it for piano, rewriting it for classical guitar at the request of John Williams in 1969, long before ‘The Deer Hunter’ was released. [Thank you, Dave, for serenading me afterwards, but you knew what it was. As did Dougie, it seemed. The same was true of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, but I much prefer Sinatra!]
The second set began with the band playing the highly recognisable introduction to the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ‘Take Five’, with its unusual 5/4 time signature, as the last few winning tickets were called on the raffle. It was a good combination, almost like a rap. Now you wouldn’t get that at Ronnie’s!
The next song was, John informed us, “for the ageing rockers in the audience”, so I was ashamed to say that I guessed it pretty quickly from the original guitar riff – Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’. Sam Crockatt’s plaintive tone on soprano sax made ‘Moonriver’ instantly recognisable – audible sighs of pleasure were heard afterwards.
The pace accelerated as the set drew to a close, first with the old Broadway show classic, ‘You and the Night and the Music’. The urgency of the playing was offset by the easy swinging tone before the concluding song, ‘September’, from those masters of classic 1970s disco funk, Earth Wind and Fire. A joyous celebration dedicated to frazzled parents across the land as the kids go back to school!
No set like this would be complete without a number by Dylan, so we were treated to a straight rendition of ‘Blowing in the Wind’ as a very generous encore from a hard-working band who gave us their all.
Just to add that the band drove to and from Devon. There is dedication to the music. Also, many thanks to Webby from the Ipswich Drumming shop for the provision of John Parr’s legendary drum kit.
- Clair de Lune (Claude Debussy
- Moondance (Van Morrison
- So What (Miles Davis)
- Cavatina – Theme from the ‘Deer Hunter ‘ (Stanley Myers)
- Fly Me To The Moon (Bart Howard)
* * * * * * *
- Take Five (Paul Desmond)
- Smoke On The Water (Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover, Paice – the members of Deep Purple)
- Moonriver (John Mercer/Henry Mancini)
- You and the Night and the Music (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz)
- September (Maurice White, Al McKay – two members of Earth, Wind and Fire)
- Encore: Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan)