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Recital Room, 21st February 2010

This was a chance for me to reacquaint myself with the playing of a couple of musicians I’d heard quite a bit in the mid-eighties before they largely moved off the Scottish jazz scene, altoist Forbes into teaching and pianist Newton down to London. I was curious to hear how well their work would stand up at a time when the standard of the average journeyman player is much higher than it used to be. They acquitted themselves pretty well. It was scheduled to be the launch night of Stewart Forbes’ debut CD called, if I remember correctly, High Five, but unfortunately the copies hadn’t arrived from the factory in time.

I was very taken by Forbes’ playing, and in particular by his lovely pure tone – irrespective of the notes he played, he had a very impressive sound. David Newton played some very good crisp clean piano. I thought he had something of Teddy Wilson’s ability to play elegantly and swing fiercely at the same time. Brian Shiels (another player we don’t hear as much of as we used to) was on bass, and the almost omnipresent Alyn Cosker on drums. Very occasionally there was a slight problem with the drums overpowering the rest of the band – the Recital Room always makes drums sound very loud, and Cosker’s not the quietest of players – but generally they blended well as a unit.

None of the material came from the band. It was mainly standards, plus tunes by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering going on, but it was an enjoyable evening of high-class mainstream post-bop. Now, can someone tempt that other stalwart of the 80s scene Brian Keddie down from the Highlands to put a new version of his Octet together? They were a fine band.