Live reviews

The Musical World of Dave Wickins: A Celebration at the Vortex

Re-united this week at the Vortex: the Kirk Lightsey Trio with Steve Watts and Dave Wickins (Photo from 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival)
Report by Sebastian: When the jazz community in this country shows its support for a valued colleague, the sense of community, of friendship, fellowship really is something unique. You feel it, and above all you can hear it in the room. There was a fantastic turn-out of musicians wanting to support drummer Dave Wickins (complete listing of those who played below) and to contribute to help him out. Kirk Lightsey had cancelled a gig in Paris and crossed the channel especially to be at this benefit night. There was a special moment when the Kirk Lightsey Trio with Steve Watts and Dave Wickins himself played. The drummer, who is suffering from cancer, had been sitting placidly in a wheelchair and welcoming people, but when he played he completely came to life. Wickins is, to use a well-worn cliche, a musicians’ musician. Writing from New York (where his later mentors and inspirers have included Billy Hart), Douglas Marriner wrote on Facebook that Dave Wickins has “one of the truly great touches on the instrument, ever. A Master of the brushes. A life-changing teacher and generous mentor to generations of musicians in the UK”. Those sentiments are widely shared. I remember one European festival director expressing a sense of awe, delight and “how come I’ve never heard of this guy before” after witnessing Dave in action for the first time. Here is a list of those who played at the Vortex and supported the cause: Julian Nicholas (organiser) Imogen Ryall Stan Sulzmann John Parricelli Kirk Lightsey Nikki Iles Pete Churchill Steve Watts Dave Whitford Nick Smart Liam Noble Julian Siegel Geoff Simkins Simon Purcell Chris Batchelor Steve Buckley Alex McGuire Geoff Williams Malcolm Earle Smith Byron Wallen Buster Birch The Ben Wickins trio (Ben Wickins-piano and voice, Dan Hemsley-bass, Joe-Neil Solan-drums) And there was that phenomenon of the “band in the room” too. The audience included, for example, both Dominic Ashworth and Martin Speake who had come to support the cause. LINK: Podcast interview with Dave Wickins from 2017 (including memories of “studying” with Philly Joe Jones)

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