Tag Archives: Tom Gordon
Tom Gordon Basie 7, Festival Theatre Studio ****
One of the recurring themes of this year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival has been the lack of information in the programme – both the brochure and the website, even at the eleventh hour – about the line-ups of bands specially put together for their festival concerts. Which means it can be a bit of a lucky dip for punters who take a chance – on Friday’s set by the Richard Pite Hot Five, for example, which turned out to have such stellar talent as trumpeter Ryan Quigley in its front line, or Sunday’s set by the John Rae Experience, which had an unadvertised Brian Kellock (the same unadvertised Brian Kellock who had played with singer Anita Wardell on Friday) in its ranks.
Just as with those bands, nobody other than the leader of the “all star” Tom Gordon Basie 7 got a namecheck in the festival bumf and, again just as with those earlier gigs, drummer Gordon’s could have been better attended. His band turned out to comprise a front line mostly made up of musicians from Sunday night’s Ellington celebration: trumpeter/vocalist Georgina Jackson, trombonist Gordon Campbell, saxophonist Stewart Forbes and guitarist Duncan Findlay.
The septet served up a delightful couple of sets which elegantly evoked the sumptuous sound of small group Basie, with Euan Stevenson doing a great job in the Count’s role. As with Sunday’s Ellington show, the Basie one benefitted from the lovely, breathy vocals of Georgina Jackson, especially on a gorgeous L’il Darlin’ and God Bless the Child, and the uptempo numbers were terrific, with Tom Gordon powering the band from the back of stage and the horns swinging in perfect synch.
* First published in The Herald, Thursday July 23rd
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)
It’s You Or No-One
Sweet and Lovely
Body and Soul
I’ve Got the World on a String (without JT)
In a Sentimental Mood
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)
If Ken Peplowski and Brian Kellock send in notes from their mothers to excuse them from the rest of the jazz festival, it would be perfectly understandable – given the amount of energy and sweat expended at Tuesday night’s concert of the music from West Side Story.
For clarinettist and tenor saxophonist Peplowski, as musical director, the pressure was on to pull off a series of challenging arrangements of Leonard Bernstein’s notoriously tricky and demanding music. (“On second thoughts, I should have told the jazz festival we’d do the tribute to Kid Ory,” he quipped, as he mopped his brow after the exhilarating opener, Prologue.) It’s safe to say that they succeeded – though some of the arrangements worked better than others.
For Kellock, who barely had the chance to pause for brow-mopping, the concert called on him to unleash his inner pianistic demon. “Representing the Jets – Brian Kellock,” was Peplowski’s introduction, and the pianist certainly seemed to be in killer mode, particularly on the electrifying Jet Song; America, where singer Clairdee’s renditions of the verses were broken up by frenzied, feverish attacks on the ivories by Kellock, and I Feel Pretty, one of the numbers which showed everyone off to best advantage and boasted a terrific solo by Peplowski himself.
Leonard Bernstein’s music is notoriously tricky and demanding, so it was no surprise to find that the Peplowski Ensemble comprised some of Scotland’s best jazz players – notably Stewart Forbes, who turned in a superb alto sax solo on Jet Song, trombonist Phil O’Malley and drummer Tom Gordon.
(First published in The Scotsman, Thursday July 28th)