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Glasgow Art Club, 7th April 2011

There’s an old joke about the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist being that a rock guitarist plays three chords to an audience of thousands, whereas a jazz guitarist plays thousands of chords to an audience of three. Well, Glasgow Art Club might not be able to hold thousands, but they were turning them away at the door from this sold out performance.

This was only the second time Jim Mullen had worked with this band, the first being their Edinburgh performance the night before, but it didn’t show. If Mullen himself was the star of the show, Steve Hamilton, Mario Caribé and Alyn Cosker certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, with Hamilton’s right hand only solo on the closing boppish number being one of the highlights of the evening.

Mullen himself is a superb guitarist. He’s got a lovely tone, a great technique, and the ability to conjour up genuinely moving playing, as on his splendidly expressive version of “You’ve Changed”. He’s also heir to the old jazz tradition of working incongruous quotes into his solos: at various times in the evening we got allusions to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “My Favourite Things” among others.

If you missed the concert, or want to hear more, there’s a solo session from Mullen on The Jazz House on Radio Scotland tonight: it will be available via the iPlayer for the next 10 days.

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