Photographer Monika Jakubowska was down at the 606 taking pictures of the quintet of Toku (vocals and flugelhorn), Tim Whitehead (tenor sax), Giovanni Mirabassi (piano, also the label boss at Jazz Eleven), Dave Whitford (bass) and Milo Fell (drums). This was the first ever UK show by Toku.
Monika in this photo gives the viewer a puzzle to unravel, with Tim Whitehead’s focus and urgency caught directly in the right of the picture, and reflected in the inside of the 606’s Yamaha on the left. Toku and his flugelhorn are still as they listen patiently to Tim’s stories evolving, building…
Toku made big waves in Japan with some ubiquitous TV commercials. Kurt Elling has called him: “my friend Toku over in Japan – a really great singer, flugelhorn player, a beautiful cat,” and Toku has a rasp in his vocal timbre similar to Elling’s. He plays flugel with thoughtful fluency and a great sweetness of tone.
Giovanni Mirabassi is a fabulous jazz pianist and is always worth hearing. He has an amazing sense of organic build in a solo, throws out a load of joyous rhythmic challenges to the bass and drums. Lucky Boys which he and Tim Whitehead released in 2006 was such a great album.
Monika has caught all the focus and control and also the flamboyance in Milo Fell’s drumming.
And thanks to Monika’s eye and that shiny piano lid again, we get to reflect on the thoughtful presence of one of this country’s great bassists, the Cornishman Dave Whitford.
This picture is a reminder of how the decisions, the shape of what happens is fixed in the moment at a jazz gig. Toku and Tim Whitehead are both utterly capable leaders, for trivia addicts they are both from port cities (Liverpool and Niigata) but here they are, agreeing something in the moment.
One of the tunes (set list below) has a great shoe-pun in the title… Tim Whitehead’s tune Heal the Soul stands as a good description of what five great jazz musicians like these are capable of doing for the rest of us.
SET LIST (courtesy of Giovanni Mirabassi)
She comes back again (Sarah Lancman)
Strolling in Paris (Toku)
After you. (Sarah Lancman)
What is this thing … (Cole Porter)
Bolivia. (Cedar Walton)
Night & day. (Cole Porter)
Love is calling you (Toku)
Heal the soul. (Tim Whitehead)
Des jours meilleurs. (Giovanni Mirabassi)
I think I love you. (Toku)
Still in love with you. (?)
Fly me to the moon. (Bart Howard)