Rick Margitza at Jazz Hastings

Graham Thomas enjoyed a powerful set from US saxophonist Margitza, who denied getting anywhere near the intensity of Coltrane

Rick Margitza and band at Jazz Hastings, 23 January 2024. Clockwise from top left - Rick Margitza, Will Barry, Stephen Keogh, Mark Hodgson. Photos © Brian O'Connor

A good-sized audience braved the seafront wind and rain of Storm Jocelyn to see tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza at Jazz Hastings. Accompanying Rick were Will Barry (piano), Mark Hodgson (bass) and Stephen Keogh (drums).

I last saw Rick 30 years ago giving a powerful performance at Peter Ind’s Tenor Clef club in London, and it was good to see that he is still playing as well as ever. He started with Body And Soul, going straight into a long improvisation which did not reveal the original melody until the end. This was followed by Jitterbug Waltz, then the ballad Cry Me A River, showing his more lyrical side. The first set concluded with Ornette Coleman’s blues Turnaround.

The second set started with two tunes composed by Rick, the angular Street Of Thieves followed by Walts (an attractive waltz, as the title suggested). On these tunes Rick played long, complex lines in which the influence of Coltrane and Michael Brecker could be heard, but his attractive tone sounded softer than theirs.

This was followed by the bossa-inflected Love Dance, by Brazilian composer Ivan Lins. Here Rick did not stray far from the melody, leaving most of the solo space to his sidemen.

By way of contrast, the final tune was E Jones, Rick’s uptempo tribute to Elvin Jones. On this tune, the whole band excelled themselves. Stephen Keogh supplied explosive Elvin-style drumming to perfection, while Will Barry and Mark Hodgson matched him in intensity. Rick played an incredible solo, gradually building in power and complexity over a long trajectory, until it could go no higher.

Afterwards I congratulated Rick and said it felt like listening to the Coltrane quartet during the final tune, the intensity and level of the playing was so powerful.  But he just laughed modestly and said “Oh no, that was Coltrane-lite!.”

Rick Margitza Quartet at Jazz Hastings, East Hastings Sea Angling Association, The Stade, Hastings, TN34 3JF. 23 January 2024