Tag Archives: Joe Temperley

Review: Joe Temperley Quartet

Joe Temperley Quartet, The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Friday February 3rd ****

 

The Fife Jazz Festival may only be five years old but the region has long featured on the jazz map – thanks, largely, to the fact that the leading baritone player in the world hails from Lochgelly. Joe Temperley, the New York-based saxophonist in question, is not an infrequent visitor to Scotland, but a gig in his original stomping ground on the opening night of the jazz festival was bound to be a special event – and it certainly lived up to expectations.

Now in his eighties, Temperley still plays with an energy and force that belies his age. He let rip on a couple of fast blues, but it was on the slow and mid-tempo tunes that he made the strongest impression with a tone which is both tender and authoritative. His bluesy, groovy take on Sweet and Lovely was a perfect example of this.

A string of compositions by Ellington (whom Temperley described as “my hero”) were the stand-outs of the evening; the saxophonist’s sensitive – and downright seductive – take on Sunset and the Mockingbird underlining his reverence for the Duke’s music.

That reverence was clearly shared by Dan Nimmer, the young pianist Temperley had brought with him from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. An elegant player with a crisp style and more than a touch of the Erroll Garners about him, he set up Temperley’s exquisite version of Billy Strayhorn’s Lotus Blossom with a sublime rendering of Ellington’s Reflections in D, which revealed his own credentials as an Ellington disciple.

JOE TEMPERLEY (baritone sax), with Dan Nimmer (piano), Brian Shiels (bass) & Tom Gordon (drums)

I

It’s You Or No-One

Sweet and Lovely

Billie’s Β Bounce

Body and Soul

I’ve Got the World on a String (without JT)

blues

II

Tricotism

In a Sentimental Mood

Rubber Bottom

I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart

Sunset and the Mockingbird

Reflections in D/Lotus Blossom

In a Mellow Tone

My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

Take the A Train (encore)

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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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Edinburgh Jazz Festival: An Evening With Joe Temperley

AN EVENING WITH JOE TEMPERLEY, ASSEMBLY@ PRINCES STREET GARDENS
*****

It’s bad enough that a jazz event which was bound to appeal to many older jazz fans was scheduled for a venue situated at the foot of a very steep hill, but to expect said older jazz fans to go back up the hill in order to queue to get in to that venue is just ridiculous. But that’s exactly what happened on Monday. Mind you, coping with inhospitable venues (the draughty, air-con-gone-mad Hub, the over-stuffed Royal Overseas League, the Queen’s Hall with its bottom-numbing pews etc) is something of an occupational hazard for jazz fans.
Still, once everyone was in and sitting as comfortably as they could, the Evening With Joe Temperley proved to be a wee gem. Mind you, it got off to an inauspicious start as it fell to Mrs Temperley to get up and introduce her husband along with pianist Brian Kellock.
It was billed as an evening of anecdotes and memories, and although 81-year-old Temperley did a very entertaining job of telling his life story, it could have done with an interviewer to probe him further on certain intriguing points that he merely mentioned in passing.
Kellock managed to ask a couple of questions, notably one about Frank Sinatra, with whom the Fife-born saxophonist worked in the 1970s. “Was he a nice guy?” asked Kellock. “Well,” said Temperley, “the bass player who worked with him for 20 years was leaving and as he left he said to Sinatra ‘I’m off’. Sinatra replied: ‘I don’t talk to the help.’ “
Of the musical interludes, a sublime Creole Love Call – an unexpected audience request – proved to be THE highlight of the festival thus far.

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