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Recital Room, City Halls, Thursday 5th November

Whether it was the rival attraction of the Portico Quartet elsewhere in town, Guy Fawkes Night, a Celtic European game being shown live on TV in some pubs, or winter having well and truly started this week, I don’t know, but the attendance at this concert was woefully poor. But if you like jazz and weren’t there, you missed out.

The line-up was:

  • Mark McKnight guitar. He’d a lovely clean sound: from the lightly-amplified Joe Pass / Jim Hall school, but making subtle use of effect pedals from time to time.
  • Will Vinson alto. One of the most expressive-sounding young players I’ve heard for a long time.
    I thought there was the odd hint of Johnny Hodges in some of his playing, although overall he didn’t sound like Hodges at all
  • James Maddren drums.
  • Ross Stanley Hammond organ.

They were all very good individually, particularly McKnight and Vinson, but what they excelled at was playing as a group: this wasn’t just four guys on stage at the same time, it was a band. Three passages exemplified this: Maddren’s drum solo which built from nothing over repeated figures from the band during the coda to one piece in the first half; the long drum and alto duet in one piece in the second half; and McKnight and Vinson playing guitar and alto solos in tandem towards the end of the set.

If I’m vague about the titles of the pieces, it’s because McKnight didn’t use a mic when speaking to the audience, and I couldn’t always make out what he was saying. They played three standards: an excellent “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”; “Solar”; and one of those Charlie Parker tunes whose name always eludes me. The rest of the set was McKnight originals.

I didn’t make a conscious decision to go to this rather than the Portico Quartet. I’d simply bought my ticket for this before discovering the other gig was on. But based on Rob Adams’ review of the Portico Quartet’s Edinburgh concert, I seem to have made the right decision. He was at this one too, but I haven’t seen his review yet. Euphbass certainly enjoyed it.