17 October 2018


Tuesday is jazz jam night at the Jazz Bar. Ever hopeful, I went along for a listen and perhaps to play but first up I was taken aback by the band. Not that they were poor, but that they were anything but: this was clearly and scarily an excellent trio. I wondered if it left much confidence for sit-ins but then I just decided it was a high level session. Jams exist at various levels of competence and this just looked like a top-level outing. Peter Johnstone led from the piano, all skill and speed and invention, spaced and slippery and reminding me of Keith Jarrett, and followed nicely by a most excellent bass from Andy Robb, all syncopations and thumb positions and flexibility and deliciously interesting phrasings. Who might sit in here, I’m thinking. Doug Hough on drums initially seemed more laid back but his solos, too, were unexpected, discursive, easily inventive, so the night was looking like a classy trio with perhaps a hot horn to sit in. That’s OK but more awesome concert than jam. Then a break and a series of guests: Ken Rose on tenor; Teddy Lyons on drums; Dylan Turner on another tenor; another trumpet. All capable and interesting but not quite as fearsome as the host trio. Then I met Rob Anderson who put down a pocket trumpet (Bb, small) on my table while readying to get up, so we chatted. He was from Perth (Australia not Scotland). We chatted of WAAPA and local players and the jam styles and instruments had me more relaxed and ready to chance my arm and anyway I wanted to try out Andy’s bass. He had a bass extension mounted and that interested me (he’d played some classical in the past but little now). So I was up, for the final two tunes. The bass was nice and the amp excellent. The host trio had worked on various standards including Skylark, Celia, Nobody else but me and they had treated them very freely, open in timing and harmony and deliciously tangential. The jammers were more evident while doing a perfectly capable job, again on standards like I’ll remember you and Softly. My two were Monk’s dream and Bye bye blackbird. Monk’s dream was a nice medium up, comfy and swinging. BBB was called by Rob for his wife when he got up and was quick. I enjoyed the feels, with so-capable Pete for both and Doug for the final tune. The groove was steady and driving and there were some smiles in the back line and some adjustments for at least one groove that moved a little. But that’s all part of the fun and fun it was. These were excellent players to play with. I’d admired the hosts’ opening set hugely and enjoyed the blowing and finally got a few tunes and a feel of the bandstand. Great fun and a great memory and an awesome host band. Thanks to all.

The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, hosts a jazz jam each weekly on Tuesday nights. The host band changes but this night was Pete Johnstone (piano), Andy Robb (bass) and Dough Hough (drums). Sit-ins were Ken Rose (tenor), Teddy Lyons (drums), Dylan Turner (tenor), Rob Anderson (pocket trumpet), Eric Pozza (bass) and another unknown trumpeter.

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