Richard Baker and four other members came to Severn Jazz this time last year. They came again this year, but the four other members were different this time. They were musicians who were well known to audiences in this venue and indeed in this area. The pianist was Al Gurr, the bassist Tom Hill and the drummer Nick Millward. New player was alto and tenor saxophonist Ryan West and the one constant member in this band was of course Richard Baker leading on trombone.
Now whether there are those who are not lovers of the trombone or some regulars had better things to do, there wasn’t as big an audience as perhaps there could have been – or dare I say, should have been. I know that loudness can be a problem with some instruments, but on this Monday date I thought their volume levels were spot on.
Their choice of music was also spot on. They included everything from John Lewis’s Afternoon In Paris to across the board classics like My One And Only Love and very apt for September, Autumn Leaves.
For those who are not fans of the trombone, it would be good to realise that sometimes it is a bit like food flavours. What pairings go well with plates of edible enjoyment? Apple sauce with pork, chips with fish and so on. Think Bob Brookmeyer and Al Cohn and you have a blend that can, and did, sound very smooth and quite delightful and it was the same with this quintet.
Even solo trombone can be played with great sensitivity and Richard did on numbers like My One And Only Love. Ryan West, who was a new name to the quintet and to Severn Jazz did himself proud fitting in beautifully in both solos and unison with Richard.
What can be said about the rhythm section? All known names in this area and all practitioners in the chameleon like art of fitting in with what is required by the band that is playing that night. All three are able to vary their style from mainstream or trad to funk and all points in between and I would challenge you to spot the join!
All in all I thought an excellent evening of great music.