Live reviews

Nigel Price Organ Trio at St Mary’s Sessions in Dorking (first night of a major tour)

Nigel Price Organ Trio
(St Mary’s Sessions, St Mary’s Church, Dorking. 9 September 2023. Review and photos by John McGloin)

Nigel Price. Photo credit: John McGloin

This concert, the first of a forty-three date British tour being undertaken by Nigel Price, took place inside a lovely Edwin Lutyens-designed church. It was probably the hottest night of the year, but the trio still managed to raise the temperature with a dynamic performance. Ross Stanley had originally been scheduled to appear playing Hammond organ but Jim Watson fitted in seamlessly.

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After commenting on it being “so damn hot,” the trio ironically opened with “Indian Summer.” Price recounted how it had a personal meaning – it was his entry for a Sky Arts guitar competition some years ago but he was rejected as being “too old.” Ah well, their loss.

Aside from a Henry Mancini ballad and Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”, described by Price as a “proper jazz tune,” the music was hard-driving and swinging.

In homage to Wes Montgomery, the trio featured “Jingles,” played as a samba, and a ferocious take on “Four on Six, which contained a couple of jaw-dropping moments with an incandescent solo from Price and a stunning drum solo from Joel Barford.

Jim Watson was given room to show his mastery of the Hammond and lead on Shirley Scott’s gospel tinged “Hey Shirley.”

A scorching “Booze Blues,” apparently written after a visit to the Ely Beer Festival, was the last tune of the evening and resulted in a standing ovation with the applause echoing off the church walls. Price paid tribute to the band and said, “This is what my life is about.”

The inevitable encore, Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me,” was played as a tribute to Joey DeFrancesco.

The band performance was simply superb and compelling but mention has to be made of Joel Barford. His drumming had echoes of Bill Stewart, ranging from delicate brushwork to driving, swinging bebop. A standout performance.

You really do need to see this band on this tour. Not just to support local jazz but to hear some wonderful, dynamic trio music.

L-R: Nigel Price, Joel Barford, Jim Watson

Nigel Price: Fibonacci guitar; Jim Watson: Hammond organ; Joel Barford: drums

LINK: Tour Feature/Interview with complete list of dates

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