Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2011: Leroy Jones Quintet

Leroy Jones Quintet, Spiegeltent, Friday July 22nd                                           ***                                                                                          The 33rd Edinburgh Jazz Festival started with a whimper rather than a bang. Why? Because the early evening gig in the Spiegeltent felt like an exercise in time-filling until something more exciting came along.

Trumpeter Leroy Jones may tick all the boxes – he’s a born and bred New Orleans musician, he’s served as a sideman to Harry Connick Jr and he’s got an entertaining stage presence which helps draw in the audience. However, the reality was that his gig was lacklustre; the playing largely unremarkable.

Sharing front line duties with his wife, the trombonist Katja Toivola, Jones offered one hackneyed standard from the trad repertoire after another. Fine for the tourists on Bourbon Street, perhaps, but, really if we have to hear another version of China Boy or Chinatown in our lifetimes, it really should be something spectacular and/or different.

That said, Jones’s peculiarity is that he sounds like a modern player – shades of Clifford Brown and Miles Davis were evident in his solos which veered between fast flurries of notes and cool minimalism – but playing in the New Orleans style. Based on the evidence onstage on Friday night, however, it’s not always a winning combination. Much more appealing were his vocal numbers, but the star of the show was his pianist-for-the-night, David Patrick, whose colourful, rollicking solos should have been the spark that ignited the band …

(First published in The Scotsman, Monday, July 25th)

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