Glasgow International Jazz Festival, 29th June 2006

I’d expected this to be good, and wasn’t disappointed. Despite what the name might suggest, this was a quartet performance. Good though Stan Tracey and the rhythm section of Alec Dankworth and Clark Tracey were, it was Bobby Wellins who held my attention, to the extent that whenever any of the others were soloing, I kept wishing they’d keep it short so that we could hear more saxophone.

What makes Bobby Wellins so good? Firstly, it’s his tone – a wee bit like Stan Getz, but reedier and more plaintive. I know it’s conventional to say that there’s a bagpipe-like sound to his playing, but I don’t hear that at all. Secondly, it’s his choice of notes: he’s got the technique to dazzle us all with sheets of sound, but chooses not to, knowing that it’s not how many notes you play that counts, but which ones.

Oh, and one wee moan aimed at the organisers: if you’re going to use pattery overhead screens to promote the concert, at least make sure you get the musicians’ names right. It’s Stan Tracey, with an E.

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