“Barbican Summer Jazz, (follow the link for the full programme), part of the Blaze Festival, kicked off last night with David Sanborn’s American band with veteran soul singer Sam Moore.
Next up will be Martin Medeski and Wood on July 8th, and the series culminates on July 24th with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
Whether he’s playing or speaking, Sanborn gets straight to the point. When he’s playing you get instant recognition stuff, a point well made in Kevin Le Gendre’s thoughtful programme essay about how the great saxophone solos on pop records work. It’s that particular art of “making a statement” in a very few bars. The column of air going down the alto is under pressure, one of the core sounds in Sanborn’s head is the high sustained wail, that reminiscence on saxophone of the electric guitar solo.
And when Sanborn spoke last night it was -in the circumstances understandably – in reverence for Ray Charles’ saxophonists Hank Crawford and David “Fathead” Newman, both of whom have passed on this year. Sanborn said that they had both made a huge impression on him as an eleven-year old in St. Louis. “That’s a nice job,” was what he remembers thinking abou them as a youngster. Sanborn’s latest CD “Here and Gone” carries thanks to Hank Crawford. If the playing was heart on sleeve, the sentiments were heartfelt.
The latest CD has an impeccable, stellar band consisting of Gil Golstein on Keyboards, Steve Gadd on drums, Russell Malone on guitar and Christian McBride- in town next week – on bass.
Sanborn’s Barbican band had his regular touring collaborators such as his keyboardist Ricky Peterson, and Gene Lake, also from St Louis, on drums. All were impressive. They wisecracked to each other beyond the reach of the microphone from the moment they arrived on stage. They frequently built intensity over a four bar looped phrase, and they generally generated the crackling energy of a Chicago blues band with panache and professionalism.
Sanborn mainly shared soloing duties with guitarist Nicky Moroch. There was a VERY impressive joined-up trumpet solo on Dizzy Gillespie’s Tin Tin Deo from a man named in the programmme as “Nicholas Gardel” . My Friday morning Googling skills are failing me. Who is he? He’s VERY good!!
Support band-leader YolanDa Brown has a great platform manner which a lot of young musicans could learn from. She admitted that her story to date is a very short one. The band is evidently adding new material and working on and absorbing some interesting songs. When the band was at full complement- including a trio of good backing singers- the texture began to feel a bit overfull for my ears, but this is a band which is clearly developing all the time and will go places.
There are so many different types of audience. Last night I found myself part of an impeccably behaved crowd which clapped virtually every solo dutifully. I was generally surprised by how little people were moving in their seats. Blame the heatwave, I guess.
But I also couldn’t help noticing that, at the end, when veteran soul singer Sam Moore came on for a couple of songs- “I’ve got news for you”, from the record, and a purportedly unrehearsed (yeah, right….) “Come on and come over” , we all seemed to come to life a lot more, and the gig ended on a definite high.