We haven’t had tenorist Benn Clatworthy in far too long. The wonderful pianist John Donaldson delighted us recently, and again last Friday. Simon Thorpe, with his bass and grin, is always welcome. New to us was Darren Beckett, a drummer of style, dynamic and tonal range on a very small kit. The audience loved the Benn Clatworthy Quartet.
Benn constructed a very good programme, varied in mood, speed and tone. He plays mostly in the upper registers of the tenor sax, with big changes in timbre. Some examples: the opening number of the first set was his “The Pursuit”. His tone was weighty, perfect for this tough up tempo number. The next number was Strayhorn’s “My Little Brown Book”. This was a 3/4 ballad, and Benn’s beautiful solo had a lightness and sweetness that was delightful, He also has a good rapport with the audience, having fun, but telling us what we need to know.
The programme left tons of room for the trio to blow. People who knew were anticipating wonders from John, and were not disappointed. His solo on Ellington’s Latin up beat “Angelica” was very special.
Darren had an excellent solo on “Angelica”, but the one that caught my ear was Benn’s “Bolivian Odyssey”. Darren has all the speed and technique, and fast streaming ideas, but he is not afraid of being very sparse with the notes.
Simon’s accompaniment is always special. His work, solo and accompaniment on Tyner’s “Search for Peace” was outstanding. He had a great duet with Darren on “Blues for Dicky” (I think by Torolf Mølgaard). Simon watched the others closely, often with a big grin on his face.
The song of the night for me was “Search for Peace”. It had superb solos and accompaniment from all, but more important, you felt what Tyner was writing about.
A special gig to be followed by another. We will gather together (in the Garden Room, please note) for “A Portrait of Cannonball“. This is a super band. We will have Alex Webb on keyboards, Tony Kofi on alto sax, Andy Davies on trumpet, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Dave Ohm on drums.
“An absolute blast, one of the most exciting gigs of the year … a brilliant all-round package.”- London Jazz New
“Kofi’s spirited approach was supported by a tight rhythm section and Andy Davies, whose trumpet solos were sharp and clear.” – Jazzwise