Friday, 27 June 2014

Graeme Taylor - Fat Sax

Piers Green - Alto saxophone
Ahead of us are so many obvious pitfalls that I will endeavour not to afflict upon you too many cringeworthy metaphors, nor make this journey to odious. Despite having 9 musicians and an elephant in the room at Twickenham Jazz Club (19/06/2014) Graeme Taylor's Fat Sax still had room to swing the modest audience by their coat tails. The elephant in question shot himself in the foot midway through the performance with the aid of two goals from Luis Suarez. Yes, this was the night of England's game against Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup. I will not say anything more it, for all our sakes.

Damian Cook - Alto
Graeme Taylor's Fat Sax project tips its hat to the world's most classy tribute act of all time, Supersax. Created in 1972 to honour the iconic bebop music of saxophonist Charlie Parker. It went on to feature a ever changing role call of talented musicians, including a personal favourite, Blue Mitchell. Taylor has kept true to the original format of 2 alto saxes (Piers Green, Damian Cook), 2 tenor saxes (Sam Walker, Toby Stewart) and  baritone (Ollie Weston), trumpet (Sid Gauld) and a rhythm section of bass (Rob Hutchinson),  drums (Mike Bradley) and the man himself on piano.

Sid Gauld - trumpet
The early exchanges surprisingly weren't dominated by the saxophone, this was reserved for trumpeter Sid Gauld. He was the lone herald on a battlefield, playing with clarity while the cavalry's steeds pawed the ground behind him. Gauld certainly wasn't cannon fodder and his 'hammerhead' approach broke through our defences with power and grace. On the 3rd tune, John Coltrane's 'Moment's notice' he stood proud, but we were starting to feel charge of the saxophones.

Toby Stewart - Tenor Sax
It was a overwhelming sensation to be sat in front of the Fat Sax wall of sound. It was not only their broad shoulders that blocked out much of The Bloomsbury 'atmospheric' lighting but the rolling wave of music that dominated the rest of the night. Often playing as one organic force they resembled a manly waterfall. Bud Powell's 'Tempus Fugit' epitomised this fast and furious approach, where the saxophones seem to fire all together yet spray off in their own jets of pleasure. A little like 5 men synchronised at an urinal but with much sweeter consequences.

Graeme Taylor - piano
Graeme Taylor broke into the rush of joyous and swinging saxophones with his own up-tempo artistry. Taylor is hard to capture in the sketchbook, he looks both muscular and light of foot and his eyes seem to have the sort of permanent twinkle reserved for American sitcoms and Casanovas. He is one of the movers and shakers at The Gunnersbury, where Big Band's perform on Sunday lunchtimes including his very own the Hot Waffle Big Band. Modest as always he lurks in the background but let me shed just a little light on his talents as a composer and arranger. You can now gets your hand on his 'charts' at Big Jazz Face, which isn't a euphemism but an invitation to play White Sand, his fast, furious, fantastic Latin composition with your own big band.

Sam Walker - Tenor Sax
The second set was equally attack minded with Sam Walker's tenor proving a talking point amongst the modest, attentive and knowledgeable crowd. Attributes (I do not know about modesty) displayed by Walker himself, for no other performer listened more keenly at his comrades playing nor applauded more generously. 'Moose the Mooche' gave us the shot in the arm that is Rob Hutchinson on bass but also a vocalising scatting interlude by polymath and drummer Mike Bradley.

Mike Bradley - drums
The over-riding theme of the night was the interchange between the Brass' togetherness and each individual's skill. Dexter Gordon's 'Cheese Cake' was the manifestation of this theory, compositionally switch-hitting between pace and personnel. Continuity kept on taking a cigarette break while the aforementioned Hutchinson and Bradley decadently blew smoke rings in our direction.

Ollie Weston - Baritone Sax
It is hard to single out one performer from the united line of saxophones but Ollie Weston's baritone was at it's most lyrical during Fat Sax's rendition of Charlie Parker's 'Confirmation'. Weston was nimble and light footed whilst negotiating the tune's complex chord changes. He was the gate that let me enter Fat Sax's wall of sound and sit up in my ivory tower as I watched the desolate England football fans sadly trudge below.

Rob Hutchinson - bass

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