Playlists are very important when musicians play to an audience who love their jazz. The musicians have to judge the audience; age, type etc and compile the tunes they think will be enjoyed by those who have paid their money to hear them. It’s not an exact science but so many bands that tend to play at a lot of jazz clubs know the form well. Chris Gumbley and Bryan Corbett certainly knew the form. They turned up with a fairly average list of tunes. I suppose you could call it a safe programme for this Monday evening. What was missing was any idea that the arrangements would be more than just a bit different and perhaps because they were different, more enjoyable. Not different enough to alienate, but just with some extra added variations which would add some spice to the evening.
A small for instance, Night in Tunisia had Bryan add a few passages with a growling trumpet which I don’t seem to remember Dizzy ever doing. It just added another interesting dimension to the whole thing. Then there were performances of Joy Spring. I am told that is not the easiest piece of music to get right. It might sound a fairly simple tune but if you play it incorrectly, then you soon get found out. They didn’t get caught out. Another example of inventiveness is Bernie’s Tune. It was very fresh when Gerry Mulligan introduced this tune composed by Bernie Miller in his 1952 piano less quartet, but because it’s easily memorable melodic music which has stood the test of time, you could be excused for thinking that there aren’t many other ways in which it can be served up. You would be wrong, very wrong.
This group of four with the ever inventive Al Gurr on keyboards and superb bassist Ben Markland came up with yet another, fresh version which was served up in a way that was delightful. Their A Train was a really great performance, way in front of what could be dished up by just playing it safe. All in all the evening was full of very pleasant surprises in the music on offer. The titles might have been same old, same old but the performances shouted new and original. There were of course others as well, but all in all a good evening of beautiful renditions of great jazz.