Live review

Adrian Cox – Profoundly Blue at the National Jazz Archive/Loughton Methodist Church

Adrian Cox – Profoundly Blue
(National Jazz Archive/Loughton Methodist Church. 28 September 2019. Review by Sue Carrette)

Adrian Cox (Photo: Sue Carrette)

Profoundly Blue celebrates the work of clarinettist Edmond Hall (1901-1967), taking a chronological journey through his life and career from 1941 until his death, via the albums Petite Fleur and Rumpus on Rampart Street. In two packed sets on Saturday afternoon we were treated to a tour de force of musicianship and knowledge from Adrian Cox, with varied numbers (including Hall’s original compositions) interspersed with context and biography.

Faultless in its composition and arrangement, Profoundly Blue delivers its remit with energy and a real passion for the subject. The band led by Cox, with Joe Webb on Piano, Simon Read on bass and Gethin Jones on drums, work instinctively together and moved effortlessly from high energy to melodic reflection. From the opening bars of Dardanella, Cox inhabits Hall’s work with ease and understanding. The energetic High Society contrasting with an emotionally nuanced You Made Me Love You, and throughout flawlessly coaxing a breathtaking range of tempo and mood from the clarinet.

Webb’s dextrous piano work was showcased in several numbers including extensively in the first set finale Ellington medley with six numbers seamlessly segued from one to another. Jones came into his own on Dawn on the Desert with an outstanding solo and a natural duet with Cox. Read – also a regular on the London Jazz scene with other leading bands – contributed solos on several numbers including the soulful Neighbours. Communication in the band appears instinctive in particular between Cox and Webb (a writing partnership on the forthcoming album). While this is doubtlessly the product of two years of extensive touring, it also reflects an established professionalism.

Adrian Cox’s career to date has spanned two decades of touring nationally and internationally, with an eclectic range of artists including Dr John and Wynton Marsalis, yet Profoundly Blue is clearly a significant milestone in a professional journey that will grow in strength. The show has also produced two albums, Profoundly Blue – Part 1 and 2 (the first of which is nominated as 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards Album of the Year), and brought Hall’s work alive to new audiences. Indeed it was clear by the rapturous applause on Saturday that the work of Cox and Co has also gained more than a few new fans.

Profoundly Blue is coming to the end of two years on the road having toured the UK, Europe and played at Dizzy’s Club in New York. Given Cox’s thorough research into the subject and aptitude for bringing this musical era and legacy alive, it is fitting that this last performance in the London area was delivered as a fundraiser for the National Jazz Archive at Loughton.

This show is so uplifting it is hard not to hope that this is ‘au revoir’ and not ‘goodbye’ for Profoundly Blue. But all good things come to an end and as a finale we were treated to a track from Adrian’s new album (launch January 2020). Given Cox’s talent, experience and sheer passion for his music we can be sure the best is yet to come.

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