What a wonderful gig, loved by our listening audience. They really do listen.
You learn something new every gig. A bigsby is a lever on a guitar that can raise or lower its pitch by a bit. Rob Luft make beautiful use of his. He added timbre to individual notes as well as using it for tremolo or other effects. Rob was one of the leaders of the band. What a stunning guitarist he is. He writes well too, see Steve’s setlist entry below, “Gayetski”. I loved watching him use the bigsby and magically switching from plectrum to fingering. It is not often an intro gets hoots and applause, but two of his did.
The other leader was Dave O’Higgins, and it was such a pleasure to have him back with us. His tenor style suited the very different styles of the Coltrane and Monk music that they played. His blues “One for Six”, about his residence at the 606 club was my pick of the evening. Like on all the tunes, everyone got a chance to blow. It just seemed to me to be the cherry on a very good cake.
The two leaders shared the announcement mic with stories about the songs, very interesting and often very funny. I won’t say that they could have a career in stand-up comedy, but they were very entertaining.
Ross Stanley was trapped in Spain, so on the very morning, Jim Watson got a request to play piano for us. The music we had was far from trivial, but Jim handled it with aplomb. He had to read, of course, which from time to time left his accompaniment a little stylistically different from his colleagues. His solos were grand, and met with loud approval from our audience.
Luke Fowler is embedded in the band. You could see him concentrating, often with a big smile, on the soloist. But also, on the accompaniment. There is a real rapport between him and the drummer. He showed us again what a fine soloist he is, but he is so strong as the heartbeat of the band.
There is a very sensitive side to the drumming of Rod Youngs. Like Luke, he was watching each member of the band like a hawk. I do love a drummer that plays the room so accurately. He had a couple of spectacular solos. His use of brushes (both ends!) is amazing.
That left the sound to talk about. We had rigged micing all of the instruments except the drums, with talk mics for Dave and Rob. All but Luke had fold-back speakers. We ended up with the only visible mic was the shared talk mic. The band was totally acoustic except for a tiny boost for the piano. The monitors were still in place, but Daves was unplugged. It sounded lovely.
The next gig has Simon Spillett and Pete Long doing the Jazz Couriers two tenors thing. Rob Barron will be on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Pete Cater on drums. We would love to see you with us.
O’HIGGINS & LUFT: “PLUTO”
SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 26/07/23
- Pluto (O’Higgins)
- Gayetski (Luft) – a composition dedicated to recently deceased, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz and Astrud’s husband, João Gilberto, all of whom famously collaborated on The Girl From Ipanema. Getz, was born Stanley Gayetski; his grandparents were Ukrainian Jewish refugees who migrated to Whitechapel in the East End of London to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms.
- Vague Recollection (O’Higgins)
- ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk)
- Jean De Fleur (Grant Green)
* * * * * * *
- South Wind (Luft)
- One For The Six (O’Higgins)
- Naima (John Coltrane)
- Giant Steps GTI (John Coltrane)
- ENCORE: Green Chimneys (Thelonious Monk)