Hadn’t planned on this one, but no problem getting late tickets. Glad we did. This is a nice project, if a little too buttoned down in the first half to capture what I (doubtless stereotypically) see as Spanish exuberance. Unusual line-up, Spanish strains aside, with violin, guitar, bass – only Mark Lockheart’s saxes stopping it being an all strings line-up apart from the percussion. Convincing jazz violinists are thin on the ground (Mark Feldman was the last one I heard), but Christian Garrick is definitely another. Great tone, and some fine soloing there. The violin sound didn’t always blend well with Lockheart (the “all acoustic” policy is generally welcome, but when it means the guitar, violin and bass all come amplified, they should probably give in and let the horn player have a mike as well).
The real revelation was Dankworth’s bass playing. I’ve heard him before on sideman gigs (bass players get around) but not as a leader. He’s world class, and obviously having a great time with this music. His first solo intro created a mood which left me fully expecting to hear Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra kick in when he brought in the ensemble – really that good. Well, no Charlie, no Orchestra (be great to hear them in this venue, but don’t suppose that will ever happen). But a rewarding evening, especially in the second half, with a bit more heard from Phil Robson on guitar, and some nice treatments of Chick Corea, and of Miles’ Flamenco Sketches. The audience wasn’t huge, but listened intently- as they do at St G’s – and responded warmly throughout.
Courtney Pine next at St George’s – bet he pulls them in.