REVIEW: Teignmouth Jazz Festival 2012

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By PGStrange | Sunday, November 18, 2012, 17:13


IN HIS programme notes to the Teignmouth Jazz Festival 2012, event chairman Colin Trigger describes jazz as "difficult to define", ranging from "traditional to contemporary and with so much in between".

That's certainly the case at this year's 23rd Festival. Spread across five of the town's venues, acts range from trad (Roger Marks Cornish Armada Band) to contemporary (Julian Costello Quartet) with much in between (New Orleans style from John Shillito's Select 4, flamenco jazz from Eduardo Niebla, dinner-jazz and blues from Louise Parker and hard bop from Pete Canter and Greg Abate).

Within this eclectic mix were a brace of acts showcasing the music of two mainstream jazz giants. In their second set at the Carlton Theatre, the Mike Outram Trio highlighted the work of guitarist Wes Montgomery, especially his forays with Hammond organist Jimmy Smith.

Outram, a fluid, melodic, economical and accomplished guitarist, had Montgomery's distinctive blend of single notes, octaves and block chords off to a tee, while Mike Owen was equally adept – often dazzling with twisting runs – on his Nord C2 Hammond "clonewheel" organ. Meanwhile drummer Matt Home kept things sublimely crisp and dynamic. In short, it was a cracking trio, each member complementing each other perfectly.

Breezing through a blend of ballads ("Polka Dots And Moonbeams"), standards ("Baby It's Cold Outside") and cool jazz ("West Coast Blues"), highlights included "Mr Walker" – with its strutting head and Latinesque theme –and the set's finale, "The Trick Bag". The trio tackled this difficult piece with aplomb, especially the complex stabbing head and repetitive guitar/organ vamp with rolling drum fills, bringing roars of approval from an appreciative audience.

Art Pepper tribute

In the second performance of the evening, the work of American alto saxophonist Art Pepper came under scrutiny from a talented quartet of British musicians, spearheaded by saxophonist Alan Barnes, backed by Craig Milverton (piano), Al Swainger (double bass) and Nick Millward (drums).

It took a while for the musicians to settle, but even from the opener, "Chilli Pepper" (based on the "Tea For Two" chord sequence), it was clear we were in for a treat. Barnes was terrific on alto, producing a smooth, languid tone for a beautiful "Gone With The Wind", cutting loose on the Latinesque "Miss Who" and delighting with some contemplative blowing during the moody 5/4 blues "Les Cuevas de Mario". He was clearly enjoying playing Pepper, and was pretty much on the mark all night.

Milverton, as ever, comped perfectly in his distinctive, understated manner, but fired up brilliantly when soloing, producing some of the evening's most memorable moments. Meanwhile Swainger was super-smooth, locking effortlessly with the bubbling and reliable Millward.

By all accounts this has been a memorable Teignmouth Jazz Festival. Both performances I witnessed tonight at the Carlton Theatre were stand-out. Bring on Teignmouth Jazz Festival 2013!

Paul Strange

More pix: GALLERY Teignmouth Jazz Festival 2012



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