KEN MATHIESON’S CLASSIC JAZZ ORCHESTRA & DUKE HEITGER PLAY LOUIS ARMSTRONG, JAMHOUSE
Ken Mathieson certainly knows how to pick his musical collaborators. Last year it was multi-instrumentalist Alan Barnes who joined the CJO for a concert of Benny Carter tunes; this year it’s American trumpeter Duke Heitger who proved to be the ideal guest star for a programme of mainly Louis Armstrong-associated music. Heitger, no stranger to Edinburgh audiences, is an excellent trumpeter with a majestic, proclamatory style of playing which recalls the great Satchmo’s sound.
On Sunday night at the Jamhouse, which this year has been given over to the traditional and classic jazz strand, the CJO and Heitger gave the audience a taste of what’s on their new Celebrating Satchmo CD, as well as such extra-Armstrong treats as Duke Ellington’s Happy Go Lucky Local.
This band seldom fails to impress – and no wonder: it has some of the best Scottish players in its front line, notably, on Sunday, Dick Lee and Martin Foster on clarinets and saxes (on Coal Cart Blues in particular). And it’s as strong on its ensemble playing as it is on its soloists’ contributions.
For his part, Heitger served up his own, inspired, takes on the “breaks” with which Armstrong dazzled listeners on such classic Hot Five and Seven tunes as Wild Man Blues, Savoy Blues and – especially – Potato Head Blues, which Mathieson, ever the wag, dedicated to Wayne Rooney.