Tag Archives: Count Basie

Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2017: Tom Gordon 7 – Count Basie

Tom Gordon 7: Count Basie, Rose Theatre Basement *****
 
Drummer Tom Gordon has emerged in recent years as the go-to guy for a terrific Count Basie-themed gig. When his specially formed septet played the Edinburgh Jazz Festival a couple of years ago, it was a great concert with a horn section drawn from musicians who had performed in an Ellington tribute the night before.
 
The 2017 incarnation of the 7, as heard in the sweltering basement room of the new Rose Theatre venue, had an entirely different horn section – and, thanks in particular to the inclusion of the irrepressible English trumpeter Enrico Tomasso who is a veritable jazz dynamo, it was even more sensational than the last time.
 
Once Tomasso was unleashed for a solo on the opening number, the Basie theme, One O’Clock Jump, it was clear that we were in for a treat. The energetic trumpeter’s hot solo seemed to light a flame under the rest of the band; one which took hold properly about halfway into the gig when the cool, slick, sumptuous sounds of such classic Basie ballads as Silk Stockings and L’il Darlin’ gave way to a series of fiercely swinging numbers peppered with spicy, punch-packing solos from Tomasso and his fellow front-liners, Phil O’Malley (trombone) and – especially – Ruraidh Pattison (tenor saxophone).
 
Lady Be Good, Royal Garden Blues, Dickie’s Dream and Jumpin’ at the Woodside were all knockouts, with Ruraidh Pattison’s powerhouse, Illinois Jacquet-like, solos bringing the house down and the exciting little riffs cooked up by Tomasso to play with Pattison or O’Malley during solos helping to make this one of the best, most swinging, gigs yet in this year’s festival.
 
* First published in The Herald, Thursday July 20th
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Edinburgh Jazz Festival: Les Doigts de l’Homme

LES DOIGTS DE L’HOMME, THE HUB
***
With their witty pun of a name, Les Doigts de l’Homme are, evidently, a playful bunch out to entertain as much as impress. On Wednesday night, they were greeted like long lost copains by a crowd which had undoubtedly heard them last year and been won over by their Gallic charm. “We’re back by popular demand,” explained the leader. “That’s what I read in the programme. So are you the popular demanders?”
For the first-time listener, this four-piece band (three guitars and bass) seemed to be more about style than substance as it wheeched through super-fast versions of Blue Skies and Ol’ Man River, as if to prove how quickly les doigts of these particular men could operate – and possibly to compress the very late-starting first half so that it didn’t overrun.
Over at the Queen’s Hall, there was no point in organisers hoping that the gig wouldn’t overrun. With a star-studded band, in the form of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra, playing a programme of Count Basie music, there were lots of musicians to be featured and, in the second half, the ego of singer Dennis Rowland to be accommodated. And boy did he like the sound of his own speaking voice.
His slow-drawled announcements suggested that he thought this was his show, and his limelight-hogging body language – even during instrumentalists’ solos – was beyond annoying. Joe Temperley, who was conducting the band, was almost frozen out. It’s testimony to the musicians’ self-restraint that none of them biffed him when he stuck his face into theirs as they soloed. Luckily, his singing helped make up for the irritation – and, despite him, the band swung beautifully.

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