Friday, 25 June 2010


When the Godfather sees fit to make a visit - you go along to pay your respects. Simple as that. And, as you would expect, there are representatives of the various "families" along doing likewise.
The "Godfather" is, of course, the legendary Stan Tracey "the Godfather of British Jazz", and he was playing not 15 miles down the road from my bit so there as never any doubt that I would be there.
St Mary's Parish Church in Haddington is probably as far removed from most peoples image of a jazz venue as it's possible to get, but for a warm summers evening it's cool interior made a welcome change to the usual stuffy conditions that prevail.
The audience was modest but incredibly enthusiastic and appreciative, and their numbers included representatives of the Rae and Bancroft families of Scottish jazz luminaries.

At 7:30 sharp Stan sauntered out onto the "stage" looking surprisingly lively and chipper for a man of 83.
After a few words of introduction they set forth with a number called "Iddle-I-Po", a relatively quick boppish number.
This was followed by the tune "Afro Charlie Meets the White Rabbit. Originally from the 60's album Alice In Jazzland, but now also "re-done" on his latest quartet offering "Senior Moment" this has a distinct 60's psychedelic edge to it, but is infused with wonderful, heavy, "Monkish" block chords that give it a feeling of underlying menace.
Then, for me, came the tune of the evening. If "Stan Tracey's" music could be distilled and analysed it would be 30% Monk, 30% Duke Ellington and 100% Stan Tracey. I know that's 160%, but then again Stan is no ordinary pianist. After the Monk-ish Afro Charlie, things were brought down with the Ellington ballad "Come Sunday". Now, while I am no fan of "the Church" I do like "churches" - especially when they are being put to good use. And you couldn't have asked for a better setting for a wonderful rendition of this tune. Simon Allen on sax, stole the show here and had the crowd eating out of his hand. To sit in such a nice place with the sunlight streaming through the large arched windows and to be witness to such a great piece of music was probably one of those moments of live music that will stay with people for some time to come.
After another offering from the new album ("Duffy's Circus") Stan and the band took a well earned rest while the audience took tea and biscuits (very churchy).

The second half was again, mainly stuff from the new album, including the number Stemless and another Monk inspired piece "Rocky Mount". The ballad "January's Child" was wonderful, but didn't (couldn't?) quite live up to the opener's Come Sunday.
However, the calypso style "Triple Celebration" had everyone showing their appreciation as the musicians took it turn to solo. The outstanding solo here was Clark Tracey's "brush free", "sticks free", hands only solo. Fantastic.

The show ended with the old standard "Autumn Leaves". Only not as you know it. If these were Autumn leaves they were leaves that had been blown from the trees in one mighty sudden gust and were blowing about your feet in a mad rush of colours! Simon Allen again stole the show here and sounded a little more like Stan Getz  than may be wise when in the company of Tracey, knowing his thoughts on that particular sax player.

A wonderful gig and a rare chance to see such a talented player so close to home.

No comments: