This was the event of the year. Not the event of 2020, but one from 2019. Quite simply this gig had been arranged in June last year and ever since there has been a mixture of anticipation and the usual dread wondering if everyone who were saying they wanted to come would actually come through the door. Would the weather turn nasty? Would there be a January snow storm which could put a stop to everything. As it turns out there was no need to be concerned. All was well on the night.
The quartet could have been returning from their day job in the City. It wasn’t a uniform, but they were all dressed in dark suits. Their shirts were as white as the snow that we thankfully didn’t have and their ties were extremely conservative, with a small ‘c’. Presumably so that the audience paid attention to the music and not the dazzling patterns of exciting ties! But dressing like that is always about presentation. And their shoes, all black, would have caused excitement at the Cherry Blossom factory.
With the presentation sorted, musically, we were well rewarded. There was nothing new, nothing that would mark this out as a different musical experience but it was the quality of the musicianship that was in front of you and stayed there throughout the evening.
The menu was varied in that we drifted from standard fare to specific jazz numbers. We were fed Newley and Bricusse with Pure Imagination to a Benny Golson composition and then to Body and Soul. There was also a Dizzy Gillespie composition as well as On A Clear Day plus the obligatory Sweet Georgia Brown.
Whatever was played was immaculate. Like most quartets, these four had an affinity, but this was a special bond which meant they were able to charm the audience and hold them captivated.
The whole evening was based on there being light and shade, variations in tempo and style and above all a genuine desire to please. The cynics amongst us might declare that these musicians do it every night and they are used to playing these tunes one after the other and they know exactly what they are doing. But it is interesting that when you talk to them afterwards and say how much you enjoyed their playing they always reply with genuine humility and a pleasure that says they appreciate the remarks. Not only do you sense that, they actually say that.
John Pearce, Dave Green and Steve Brown together with Scott Hamilton gave us a superb evening of top quality jazz. I wonder if they’ll come again. I’m convinced there are many who would say a resounding ‘yes’. I know I would.