The 606 hosted an evening (28 October 2021) in celebration of saxophonist Christian Brewer, who died in February this year, in the presence of friends and family. Monika S. Jakubowska‘s photos capture the spirit of a special concert, with memories of an admired and universally liked musician. The music which Christian wrote (first set, details below) and and the music he loved (second set) expressed the fellowship, the joy and the positive energy which he brought to London’s jazz scene…in a life which has ended far too soon.
The way MSJ has constructed this first shot expresses so well what the evening was all about. Leon Greening is at the microphone, remembering his close musical collaboration over decades with Christian Brewer. We see saxophonists Alex Garnett and Sam Mayne listening. But the focus of the shot is on – and only on – Christian Brewer.
Grieving for someone who really still should be out there among us is normal. These things take time and it is only right that they should. Leon evoked a special memory of playing with Christian in the Jamboree club in Barcelona, as an introduction to playing Christian’s composition El Sueno (the dream). Leon Greening‘s piano solo on that tune brought out some great playing, with a wonderful, magical, dreamy way of floating away from the bar line.
Such an evocative shot from MSJ here, capturing an unselfish moment when the front line of Sam Mayne (reflected in the piano) and Alex Garnett hunker down behind their music stands.
Adam King is a fine bass player, with a superb strong sound. He really shone in a bass feature in the first set closer The Leopard. The tune was the only one by Leon Greening rather than Christian Brewer, but it was the habitual set-closer in the days when they played together.
Sam Mayne and Alex Garnett are both prodigiously technically equipped saxophonists, yet expressive too. Sam Mayne’s first solo on In the Spur of the Moment was a Sonny Stitt-ish adventure at prodigious speed, and Alex responded with gravity-defying flights up into altissimo. One highlight of the evening was Alex Garnett’s cadenza at the end of Isabella, a ballad which Christian Brewer dedicated to his daughter, who was in the room. It was a total masterclass in pacing and poise.
This shot captures the alertness of one of London’s first-call drummers, Matt Skelton. He propelled the tune Thanks But No Thanks and played a commanding solo on it too.
This last shot shows an appreciative audience, happy to listen intently, but also to applaud and create the atmosphere that exists in these special places. The 606 is one of the clubs which sits at the heart of London’s jazz community. One audience member tweeted: “Had such a fantastic night (…), what absolutely incredible performers, especially in such a fabulous, intimate club – thank you! My very first visit to the 606 but it definitely won’t be the last! Loved every minute.”
SET LIST (all compositions by Leon Greening except where stated)
In the Spur of the Moment
Thanks but no thanks
The Last Word
The Leopard (Greening)
SECOND SET: Album re-creation: Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago
LINK: RIP Christian Brewer with several tributes
We miss Christian, too – a great musician but also a wonderful, generous human being. We were so thrilled to have his quartet (with Jim Hart, Leon Greening, Tristan Maillot) performing at Rydal Mount for husband Ian’s 60th birthday back in 2004. Beautiful shots, Monika! You clearly captured an event filled with love.
Sorry, I forgot to mention Phil Donkin on bass!