Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2014: Conal Fowkes Solo/Stephanie Trick Trio

Conal Fowkes/Stephanie Trick, Tron Kirk, Wednesday July 23rd ****

Two pianists headlined the late afternoon programme at the Tron Kirk on Wednesday, and brought back memories of classic jazz festival “Pianoramas” which highlighted diverse styles of playing on that instrument. Mind you, all diversity was focused into the first session, by Conal Fowkes, who plays piano in Woody Allen’s traditional jazz band.

Fowkes opened his solo set with Take the A Train – the A Train being the line that went to Harlem – and then took the audience on a whistlestop tour of the legendary piano players who emerged from that neighbourhood. Like Dick Hyman, his predecessor as chief musical collaborator on Allen movies, Fowkes is an expert on the different early piano styles and he evoked such greats as James P Johnson, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington in a personal way, with a loose, laidback approach.

The highlights were the last four numbers – all from the Ellington canon – and they included a mesmerisingly lovely Lotus Blossom (the more moving for Fowkes’s explanation of its background) and two 1920s compositions not usually played as piano solos – the gorgeous ballad Black Beauty and the spirits-lifting closer Jubilee Stomp.

Stephanie Trick, who took to the same stage a little later along with clarinettist/saxophonist Engelbert Wrobel and drummer Bernard Flegar, also took the audience to Harlem but she got stuck at Fats Waller. Every tune – whether uptempo or ballad (and even ballads were taken at a brisk pace) – were given the stride treatment, though the all-important left hand was not very strong and she didn’t seem comfortable when she wasn’t playing solo. It’s tempting to say she’s a one Trick pony, but it’s early days – she’s not yet 30 years old.

First published in The Herald, Friday July 25th

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1 Comment

Filed under Concert reviews, Edinburgh Jazz Festival reviews archive

One response to “Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2014: Conal Fowkes Solo/Stephanie Trick Trio

  1. Liz

    I think the comments about Stephanie Trick were actually unfair as this was a trio and is being compared to a solo performance by Conal Fowkes (which I also attended and he was also excellent). I would advise that she is an excellent solo pianist as I was at this concert by the Stephanie Trick Trio but I was also at her solo concert earlier in the afternoon which was at the Royal Overseas League. The two concerts were vastly different and the solo concert obviously showed off her solo abilities and versatility. She also showed some humour and invited her husband (they are recently married) to join her at the piano.

    However, the early evening performance at the Tron Kirk in the evening also showcased two other artistes who were also excellent and also had their solo time in the spotlight and she was not showboating at their expense. The venue was packed which says it all really!

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