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Glasgow Art Club, Thursday 18th November 2010

Most of the jazz concerts I’ve been to recently have mainly featured original material. This one dug back into the tradition to give us a set of jazz standards dating mainly from the late 40s to the early 60s. There was a freshness to it, though, because alongside the old warhorses we got a selection of less familiar pieces which deserve to be heard more often. The quintet played Monk and Bird tunes: but instead of “Round Midnight” and “Anthropology” it was “Think of One” and “Quasimodo”. And is it just me, or does “Gertrude’s Bounce” always sound as if it’s about to morph into “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”?

Considering that this was a band put together at fairly short notice, after Andy Park had to withdraw due to illness, it gelled remarkably well. (Of course over the years Colin Steele has had regular working partnerships with pianist David Milligan and bassist Brian Shiels). This was the first time I’d heard Colin Steele for a while. He’s a fine lyrical trumpeter, who hasn’t been heard much through in Glasgow recently. Forbes’ return to more regular active gigging after years concentrating on teaching jazz is a boost to the local scene – Carla Bley was right to describe him as “one hell of an alto player”. He’s got a rich full tone, a bit like a bebop Johnny Hodges, which sets him apart from the other leading local altoists.

Individual highlights? Forbes’ first solo on “Lush Life” was so good that they should really have stopped immediately after it; David Milligan’s funky, swinging solo, driven along by Tom Gordon’s drums, on Clifford Brown’s “Sandu”; and Steele’s plunger mute work on “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable night of straightahead modern jazz, and it was good to see a decent turnout for it.