Perhaps the words ‘melody’ or ‘melodic’ are regarded as old fashioned by some jazz lovers, but this Friday session at the Portbello was full of melody. That does not mean that it wasn’t also overflowing with foot tapping swing and inventive jazz, it was.
John Hallam joined Remi Harris who had with him Caley Groves on rhythm guitar and Mike Green on bass.
A friend who was with me always complains that jazz can lose itself in inventive music and in the middle of any tune you would be hard pressed to know what that tune was. Even he admitted that you could, as Mel Torme once sang, recognise the tune.
With excursions into the music of Gerry Mulligan and many of the great songwriters, John Hallam’s saxophone and clarinet playing was as silky smooth as ever while Remi’s guitar playing explored the compositions of Wes Montgomery. In fact the balance between Montgomery and Mulligan versus Reinhardt and Grappelli was very respectable!
John’s links to the music were funny and also interesting. Especially when he explained that the easiest way to empty a room was to announce a composition of certain musicians. He then proceeded to say that he would be playing something by Charles Mingus – to a chorus of murmurs and shuffling feet. But no one ran for the door which was fitting, because he then played Mingus’s tribute to Jelly Roll Morton which was both delightful and melodic and not at all what the audience expected.