Saturday, December 08, 2007

All that jazz

Art Themen is reputedly one of the most gifted saxophonists in the world today. The saxophone is my favourite instrument, so I was delighted when the MM told me he had tickets for the Art Themen Quartet concert at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple. I was surprised that someone of that calibre would play such a small venue but surprise turned to disbelief when we arrived last night to find that he wasn't playing in the theatre itself but in the Gallery Bar, which only holds about 50 people.

Despite the fact that there were only 47 of us in the audience, the quartet gave a world class performance and, like all jazz musicians, had a great deal of fun giving it. The highlight of the evening for me was my introduction to the sopranino saxophone; although I must have heard it on recordings, I hadn’t seen it played before last night. It was magical, especially in the hands of such a master.

I can’t say much about the other members of the quartet, except that they were excellent musicians. Being a gig rather than a concert, there were no programme notes and all I picked up was that all three had played in Ronnie Scott’s band, albeit in different decades; the pianist treated us to a selection of Ronnie Scott’s jokes.

It was a good evening with a BUT. The music was not my favourite kind of jazz, it was technically brilliant and my head was fully engaged in appreciation of the artistes’ skill but my heart was rarely touched. I had hoped for some Blues, after all that is what the saxophone can do better than any other instrument in my very humble opinion.

I'll post Thelonious Monk playing my kind of music on saxophone. (I'll have to do it as a separate post because I haven't mastered the art of embedding!)


  1. I think I need to revisit jazz, M. Tried to get into it in the '60s and again in the the late '80s but never quite embraced it wholeheartedly. But I did like Roy Budd, Erroll Garner and Miles Davis so maybe there's hope for me yet.

  2. There are so many categories, sub-categories and overlaps that it is virtually impossible to select what to listen to, these days, D. I was brought up on Trad and Blues and I like some modern but in small doses.
    We really noticed the absence of SMOKE at the gig last night - wonderful for the lungs but it took a while to work out what was wrong with the atmosphere!

  3. Modern jazz is an aquired taste but i think worth the effort.

  4. Thank you, Semiquaver. I've acquired an appreciation, I'm still working on the taste!


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