May 17 – Ferris/Lee/Weir

If you enjoy the music of Hammond B3 master Jimmy Smith or Larry Goldings, then if you weren’t there, I must tell you that you would have enjoyed the second April session at Severn Jazz. The only reason for two concerts in the same month was to avoid a local clash. Messrs Ferris Lee and Weir is in fact an organ trio in the true sense. David Ferris is the organist while Ben Lee the guitarist and Billy Weir the drummer.

They knew their tunes. They played quite a few well-known numbers and although they did include a number of compositions by various members of the trio, I felt that the amount played wasn’t too many. I know there are some people that do not appreciate any of this ‘own composition’ nonsense, but without them there would be nothing new. The band also played a request, quite happily, and they knew what it was and how to play it.

I was also impressed by their stagecraft. The links were succinct and they had their programme planned out. They knew what they were going to play. There was none of the muttering at the back of the stage trying to figure out keys and what comes next as if they were making up the order of events as they went along. They were across it and David Ferris who was the link man was good at introducing the tunes. He got a few laughs and the audience liked him.

Ferris Lee and Weir are all ex-students at the Birmingham Conservatoire and they are seen and heard in other bands as well as this trio. Despite their competence, it seems that as soon as unknown youngsters appear on the jazz scene, the regulars, or at least some of them, stay away. The audience on Friday was somewhat smaller than usual and I do feel it is so sad, especially when older jazzers are always bleating about the lack of youngsters at these sessions. But surely if supported, younger musicians might well attract a younger audience?

The evening was approached by some in a rather circumspect way, but it was soon evident that the band meant business and they were out to make sure everyone enjoyed their music. And they did. As one ‘mature’ member of the audience said in the bar, ‘now that is my kind of jazz.’