2018 Reviews & Pictures
by John Hellings
Tom Hill Trio
David Newton Trio
Tom Hill Trio
Jazz has always been a fun music, but there are those who take it very seriously and musicians sometimes need to careful and decide whether their talents are better used playing music as distinct from telling jokes.
But there are those musicians who can mix the two. And they do it so well with excellent timing and their funnies do not detract from the music. One of these is Tom Hill and with Al Gurr playing keyboards and Charlie Wright on tenor sax, the team for making music is complemented by the humour.
This was the basis of the first Monday evening in February when the trio came to play. And the evening was not just an endless landscape of the great American songbook and many other tunes that we had all heard a dozen times before. No, this two hours took in the unusual and obscure. For instance, Grandma’s Hands and a dedication to the NHS, New Cross. The former was sung by Tom and it was a Bill Withers composition about his grandmother and written and recorded in 1971. New Cross was written by Tom and he explained how he had undergone heart surgery a couple of years ago and how grateful he would always be to our NHS. His introduction was delivered with great passion and the tune was made more moving after that explanation. New Cross is the hospital in Wolverhampton where Tom had his surgery.
In amongst the unusual and obscure there was still a lot of good music which everyone seemed to enjoy. There was a superb version of Mood Indigo and a fascinatingly different I’ve Never Been In Love Before with an original piano introduction then some interplay with Charlie Wright’s tenor and then some delicious bowed bass.
Altogether it was a cracking evening of jazz with some fun which kept the evening going at a brisk pace.
David Newton Trio
David Newton and his audience go together like they’ve always known each other for years. Like neighbours who can chat over the fence about anything and everything and are comfortable in each other’s company. He doesn’t tell jokes. He has no clever links between the music. He is just a nice, down to earth guy who has this phenomenal talent – he plays superlative jazz piano with notes that entertain and leave everyone spellbound.
His evening started with about three tunes without any links between. When it came to tell everyone what he’s played he remembered the last one, but forgot the first two. It didn’t matter. We all felt we knew him enough that it didn’t really matter. So everyone laughed and we carried on with the next number.It really did feel like an intimate evening with friends where everyone knows everyone else and no one has to be careful what they say and do.
Every time a new number started, someone in front of me mouthed the title. It was almost like a competition, a guessing game which was good fun. There were also times when the excellently empathetic bassist and drummer, Clive Morton and Terry Howard would have to pick up after a long introduction. They did, and did so faultlessly as if they had rehearsed that part a million times and yet it was still so spontaneous and fresh.
There were also wonderfully inventive versions of well known songs. The Girl From Ipanema springs to mind. That started as just a ‘bossa’ and then morphed into what it was supposed to be. Where does all that creativity come from? The audience as they were leaving were nothing but complementary and although the evening was a great success musically, the attendance wasn’t as good as expected. Perhaps that was due to the change of date or evening that the night was more than chilly. Whatever the reason, it was obvious that those who were there really enjoyed what the trio had to offer – and they said so.