Who was playing….? The US Band
…and the full line-up? With leader Herbie Flowers on bass were Big Jim Sullivan on guitar, Derek Austin on keyboards, and drummer Malcolm Mortimore.
Playing what kind of material? Variety, musicianship and entertainment are the keynotes of the band’s music. Not all their music is jazz either in content or in style – much would best be categorised as fusion.
What were your favourite numbers? There were several of my favourite jazz standards played with flair and considerable drive: ‘Killer Joe’ by Benny Golson; a waltz arrangement of Clifford Brown’s ‘Jordu’; and the excellent ‘Joy Spring’, a composition by Clifford Brown. Derek Austin’s arrangements – one of the biggest strengths of the band - were distinctive but instantly recognisable.
Derek Austin’s solo feature was extremely impressive, showcasing mainly standards such as ‘Georgia On My Mind’, ‘ Foggy Day’ (twice), ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, and ‘Tea For Two’.
Two of Derek’s own compositions brought the very best out of the whole band. I’d heard both before: the catchy ‘Fourplay’, commissioned some years ago by Channel 4 as the theme music for a drama series, and ‘Lucy’, a lovely, lyrical tune dedicated to his daughter.
The evening was special, in part at least, because of the occasion - a Fundraising Concert, held in the large and impressive Assembly Room, to raise money for the Jazz In The City festival. I felt that this lifted their playing, both individually and collectively, and brought an extra tension and drive to the band’s playing even when compared with their excellent sell-out performances at the club in past years. It is hard to use the word ‘unique’ but that is the quality brought to the band by the often eccentric humour and wit of Herbie Flowers, who - to use a phrase that I’ve also heard from a few of Georgie Fame’s sidemen – always wants the band to put on a show.
Generally, what did the audience think? The audience applauded warmly every single number and responded passionately at the end of the performance to the Mayor’s closing words of thanks to the band.
How many were in that night? There were only a handful of empty seats in the 220-seat auditorium.
In your view, should we have the band back to play CJC? Definitely yes. They are so popular, not only with jazz devotees but also anyone who wants to enjoy well-played and lively music.
Guest Reviewer: Barry Boyce