People tell me they don’t “get” jazz. They should have been where I was sitting last night, watching the interplay, the communication, the smiles, of Tony Kinsey and Pat Bettison.
Kinsey was at the drums for the final, packed WayOutWest gig at the RamJam in Kingston, before they move to Richmond after five years and 200+ gigs.
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Kinsey is now 81. He played with..er... Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Buddy DeFranco, Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson, and Sarah Vaughan. The concentrated expression when he sits at the kit (above) has broadened over the years into a knowing grin. It’s understandable. He plays drums because he wants to play drums. So would you or I, if we could bring the life to a drum kit which Kinsey does. Yes. Still. At eighty-one.
Standing over him, most of fifty years his junior, was bassist Pat Bettison, clearly inspired, gobsmacked, playing as he would want to play in bass heaven, while the rest of the band (Kate Williams, Chris Biscoe, Pete Hurt, Vassilis Xenopoulos, Katriona Taylor) sat out. The tune was Kinsey’s Mellow.
Earlier the band- with Gary Willcox on drums- had played George Russell’s deliciously mind-bending Blues in Orbit, played as a tribute to the great man- Pete Hurt and Chris Biscoe are both Russell alumni. These are guys who can put their hearts, and their souls, and all their feelings of sadness and loss…. into a blues with 5/4 and 3/4 bars chucked in.
Way Out West starts its new life at the Orange Tree pub in Richmond on September 16th…
Ah what memories that LP cover brings. 1958, national service RAF. Everyone seemed to be listening to skiffle then, out of the blue, in came a drummer friend, (Dave Garner – contact lost years ago)with the above disc. Joe Harriot, Bob Efford, Bill le Sage and of course Kinsey and Pete Blannin? We practically wore the record out and had the satisfaction of seeing at least one of the skifflers converted to modern jazz.
Thanks Lance. He's still AMAZING !