It’s always a gamble throwing together musicians who don’t really know each other. And, although American tenor man Houston Person and British multi-instrumentalist Alan Barnes had shared front-line duties on Saturday night’s all-star sextet gig at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival, they still seemed a little uncertain of each other at the start of their Sunday afternoon concert.
It only took a few numbers, however, and this pair were cooking. “We’re going to do something we haven’t done this weekend,” announced Person, in his longest song introduction. “Stay sober?” quipped Barnes. “Well, you can … We’re going to go down, so far down,” explained Person, as he led the band into a sensational, funky, downright dirty blues which threatened to blow the roof off the hotel conservatory and inspired brilliant playing from the two saxophonists and, in particular, pianist Paul Harrison whose solo worked the audience into a frenzy of enthusiasm. Later on, they whipped the crowd into a further frenzy with a storming Lester Leaps In and revisited the funky blues territory with a terrific take on Sunny.
Harrison and Barnes are regular collaborators and it was a treat to hear them together on Barnes’s own tune The Hawk – a lovely, uptempo, twist on Out of Nowhere. Person’s balladeering prowess was showcased several times, most successfully on a sumptuous and characteristically majestic Fools Rush In, which also boasted an exquisite baritone solo by Barnes. Unfortunately, Person’s earlier ballad, When I Fall In Love, had been spoiled by drummer Doug Hough’s intrusive cymbals.
(First published in The Scotsman, Monday October 3rd)
Unfortunately, my memory card ran out during the next tune but I figured it was worth sharing anyway…