This was the fifth and final gig in the Top Studio Jazz series at The Other Palace. The whole megillah was conceived and organised by Chris Ingham, who also performed on piano in all five. I’m delighted to say that this Ellington evening with Barnes on saxophone and Price on trombone maintained the high standard set by the very first concert, Jazz At The Movies, back in March.
I say this with feeling; people who review live performances on a regular basis are often thought of as privileged but we still have to make our own way to the venue often in inclement weather when even Little And Large Live from the Essoldo in Scunthorpe on Freeview seems a tad more appealing than the Harlesden Hotshots Salute Acker Bilk at the wrong end of a force-nine gale with refreshments down to the reviewer.
For this reason reviewers value shows like this, put together thoughtfully and with care, designed to appeal to a wide audience and featuring the cream of available musicians. Top Studio Jazz has featured a vocalist, a violin, a trumpet, a flugelhorn, a trombone, a tenor, alto, and clarinet over the five months supported by the best rhythm sections available. On this final gig Chris Ingham’s piano was supplemented by Dave Green’s bass and Matt Home’s drums.
There were 11 tunes with no encore but the majority of the numbers were extended with everyone getting to strut his stuff. Most of the material was well-known to Ellington/Strayhorn buffs – Take The ‘A’ Train, Mood Indigo, Cottontail, Time’s A Wastin’ – laced with things like Chelsea Bridge (a showcase for Jeremy), Squeeze Me, But Please Don’t Tease Me, In A Mellotone, Caravan and Prelude To A Kiss which showcased Chris.
For the first – and only – time in the five concerts Chris sat back and let Alan Barnes handle the MC chores which included the droll asides at which Alan proved as adept as Chris. All in all it was a fine finale to a fine series and speaking as an occasionally jaded reviewer I can only hope the Mr. Ingram puts together a similar series before too long.
Alan Barnes and Jeremy Price: The Music Of Duke Ellington And Billy Strayhorn. The Other Palace, Palace Street, Westminster, 25 July 2019.