The debut of Good Vibes came about as result of a late change in our schedule to accommodate Herbie Flowers’ US band for the March 10 fundraiser in support of the Jazz In The City festival that figures prominently in the News section of this website.
January 6 at the Pallant Suite was an opportunity for many of our large audience to renew their past acquaintance with the Good Vibes musicians, who are very much ‘stalwarts of the Sussex scene’. The evening was a happy occasion, successful both for its warm, friendly atmosphere and decent music enthusiastically played – a lesson that CJC doesn’t always need top London musicians to please its audience?
The music was well chosen and varied, demonstrating that the band has moved away from its early predominantly swing remit into mainstream and modern jazz. The programme included some of my Clifford Brown favourites (Jordu, Dahoud, and the perennial favourite Joy Spring); Benny Golson’s Whisper Not; the latin standard Estate; Victor Feldman’s lovely Azule Serape; Oscar Peterson’s Hymn To Freedom; and a rich, lyrical composition Green In Blue by the band’s guitarist Frank Taylor.
So how was the band? They demonstrated the cohesion and polish that many years together have brought them and, apart from one obvious glitch, successfully introduced four numbers that they’d never before played in public. Overall the music would have benefited from the variety of one more solo voice but Chris Macdonald on reeds was not available at such short notice.
I found Dave Jones on vibes the most interesting musician. Playing well with a mixture of passion, humour and sensitivity, he moved around the stage in eccentric fashion. Collisions were avoided; was his whole performance choreographed? I nearly forgot to mention that Dave wore the standard black shirt that the rest of the band was wearing - but his had a bright red, floral pattern. Difficult to follow Dave but Frank Taylor was in fine form on electric guitar. His solos were interesting and well played - as were his duet passages with Dave Jones - and he was an effective member of the rhythm section. The best of Frank’s playing was on his own composition Green In Blue. Pianist Pete Godfrey must have played at CJC more than any other musician and made his usual solid, undemonstrative, attractive contribution to the evening. He was a little distracted for this visit because he had recently, for the first time, played three weeks on a Caribbean cruise ship. To quote him, ‘I got paid as well.’ The highlight of his evening in wintry Chichester was his solo on Whisper Not. On bass Godfrey Shepherd played well and unobtrusively in his support role. His occasional solos were equally well played and were relevant, fitting the mood of the number, and never exhibition pieces. To complete the rhythm section, leader Peter Burton played drums in a generally discreet and unobtrusive way and his occasional solos and breaks were effective. His introductions were brief, informative and quietly amusing.
The band was well received. I enjoyed it though I prefer my music more ‘in your face’. To paraphrase Bill Shankly, speaking in quite another sphere, ‘ If they’re not interfering with the music, why are they on the bandstand?’
I’m certain that we will welcome back the Good Vibes musicians, both as a band and individually, in the years to come.