The annual six-concert series which serves as London’s summer jazz festival kicked off with the all-star supergroup of Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Pat Metheny.
The event was interesting on several counts: It found DeJohnette in an uncommonly populist mood, with much of the evening’s material drawn from his Parallel Realities album; it featured Dave Holland several times – and rather awkwardly – on electric bass, an instrument he hasn’t played with any prominence since he was with Miles Davis 20 years ago; and it confirmed the suggestion on recent albums (Gary Burton’s Reunion and the Metheny/Holland/ Haynes Question And Answer) that Pat Metheny is ready to blow swinging if overwrought modern jazz.
After a modest start, and despite the RFH’s unforgiving acoustic, Herbie Hancock proved to be the evening’s star soloist. Using a strap-slung keyboard, he stole the show with a torrential workout both onstage and among the audience on his own Blue Note classic, Eye Of The Hurricane.
Later in the week, hard bop of a similar vintage received a rather more perfunctory reading in the hands of the McCoy Tyner Trio with Freddie Hubbard and Ralph Moore. The saving grace of a directionless set was Tyner’s solo rendition of Someone To Watch Over Me, but still one wonders what happened to the unique stylist of the Coltrane quartet.
The Tyner group was half of a double header with Stan Getz, and one might imagine that the jazz muse was late arriving at the RFH, because by the time Getz took the stage, magic was in the air. Getz played masses of lithe, compelling tenor, whether accompanied by the trio of Kenny Barron, Terri Lyne Carrington and the enormously versatile bassist Alex Blake or the trio plus synthesists Eddie Del Barrio and Frank Zottoli. The bigger group promoted three numbers from Getz’s new Latin American album, Apasionado, and provoked either spattering, lukewarm applause or resolute silence from the purists in the audience. They were there for the velvet and iron Getz of Voyage and Anniversary and got it in relatively good measure, although at something under an hour, the set seemed little more than a showcase.
Other events in the week featured BB King, Dr John, David Sanborn, Lee Rite-nour, The Yellow Jackets, Dave Brubeck and George Shearing.