Review: Buck Clayton Legacy Band

The Buck Clayton Legacy band (Pizza Express, Dean St, 24th March 2011, Review by Peter Vacher, photo above taken at Holywell Music Room, Oxford)

The late, great Basie trumpeter Buck Clayton was also a fine composer and arranger. Years back, he passed a box of original music to bassist-publisher Alyn Shipton who had helped him with his memoirs. Its contents form the repertoire of Shipton’s nine-piece tribute band which made its London debut last Thursday, rightly earning an ovation from the house-full audience.

Concentrating on swing and ensemble colour, Clayton’s compositions call for solo enterprise and strong ensemble playing, both in evidence here. Visiting saxophonist Matthias Seuffert had reshaped Clayton’s originals for the nonet, while he and Shipton recruited players who know the swing lexicon off-by-heart and wanted to give their all. And so they did. With Seuffert on tenor and the omni-present Alan Barnes on alto, flanked by a brass trio of trumpeters Menoo Daams and Ian Smith, and trombonist Adrian Fry, the assembled company did full justice to Clayton’s canny charts, handling up-tempo, jaunty things like ‘Party Time’ or ‘Outer Drive’ with commendable verve before easing down on ‘Smoothie’ where the Hackett-like Daams excelled. Add in a the foot-tapping capabilities of ex-Barber drummer Norman Emberson, Shipton’s bass, the guitar of Martin Wheatley and Martin Litton’s sparkling piano and you have quite a force for good. Ideal for a festival or club near you.

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