Swedish Jazz Kings & Bob Barnard

Swedish Jazz Kings and Bob Barnard, Linlithgow Primary School, Linlithgow

****

The first Scottish date on the Swedish Jazz Kings’ short British tour didn’t get off to the most auspicious of starts – thanks to the acoustics and a dodgy-sounding piano. Mind you, we were lucky to get to hear them at all: Europe’s premier purveyors of hot jazz had originally been booked to appear at the local town hall but due to the fact that the building work there had not been completed, the Linlithgow Jazz Club had to find an alternative venue for Saturday night’s concert.

By the third number, ears had become attuned to the acoustics and it was possible to enjoy the programme of music associated primarily with Clarence Williams, Louis Armstrong. With their line-up of trumpet, soprano sax/clarinet, piano, banjo and sousaphone, the Jazz Kings produce an often thrillingly authentic sound; the superb trumpet and reeds work of Bent Persson and Tomas Ornberg respectively is really the icing on the cake.

Persson is a master of the jaw-dropping hot “breaks” with which Louis Armstrong made his name, while Ornberg – an eccentric (he looks like an impish intellectual) who, on Saturday, had two horns hanging from his neck and two sets of glasses on his head – is a graceful sax and clarinet player. The addition of the majestic Australian trumpeter Bob Barnard, on what he says will be his last European tour, was a delightful bonus.

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