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Live review: Alex Garnett quartet, Vortex

The veritable reincarnation of Tubby Hayes, a Rolls-Royce tenor saxophonist of that extraordinary calibre born to play, needless to say the Vortex audience reassuringly knew how and where to clap in the right places and yet this was a straightahead …

Published: 25 Jun 2021. Updated: 27 days.

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The veritable reincarnation of Tubby Hayes, a Rolls-Royce tenor saxophonist of that extraordinary calibre born to play, needless to say the Vortex audience reassuringly knew how and where to clap in the right places and yet this was a straightahead invasion of the east London venue given how little of the idiom is played in the club, the dyke is breached. Finely moustachioed Alex Garnett himself the son of a swinging saxophonist and hewn into the bricks and mortar at Cooke-era Ronnie Scott's as an omniscient senior certainly called 'Always' to begin. That's deep. Irving Kaufman, Josephine Baker, 1926 deep. A song picked up by Benny Goodman a decade later and subsequently run with by Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday in the 50s you gotta go back to understand the appeal and above all the genius of Irving Berlin who wrote the song, still peerless in the tower of song. My favourite version of 'Always' is Houston Person's with Ron Carter and Garnett's flickered luminously among the many extant versions. Garnett was here with relative newcomer pianist Chris Eldred who has fast hands and can stretch; double bassist Conor Chaplin heard last month down here on the corner of Dalston's Bailey Place and Gillett Square with Tom Ollendorff; and, completing the line-up, Matt Home, a very disciplined and technically accomplished drummer, who knows his Kenny Clarke. A jaw-dropping masterclass in timing above all, Garnett playing chorus after chorus to rotate like the windmills of your mind, Monk was one theme, 'Work' simmering most. Garnett's own 'Lydia' was only let down by the sound mix. 'Reflections' another Monk was a high point getting later on into the set. Oscar Moore piece 'Beautiful Moons Ago' won the day. SG

Alex Garnett's London Supersax Project is at Ronnie Scott's on 30 July

Tags: Lives

Album of the week: Introducing... Ruben Fox, Rufio ****

Cast your minds back only to February and so hello Mary Lou and Zodiac from pianist Chris Pattishall on which saxophonist Ruben Fox appeared. That was a thrill. One of the records of the year. A Londoner in New York the saxist's Introducing… Ruben …

Published: 25 Jun 2021. Updated: 28 days.

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Cast your minds back only to February and so hello Mary Lou and Zodiac from pianist Chris Pattishall on which saxophonist Ruben Fox appeared. That was a thrill. One of the records of the year.

A Londoner in New York the saxist's Introducing… Ruben Fox has an array of fine vocalists on board and it's cleverly sequenced so that instrumentals and vocals have parity and even a little classical in the selections is filtered by Fox's hand snuck in among the retro-jazz stylings. There is plenty of room for players to blow and fully improvise beyond the heads.

Pick of the vocals numbers is 'When Snow Falls on New York' sung by New York-based South African singer Vuyo Sotashe also released as a single some months ago who sounds like a Carmen McRae in the making. Now that is very exciting. Of the Fox originals 'The Dance of the Twins' tops all with a dazzling piano splash and tap dancer-like steps giving it a 1930s Harlem renaissance kind of dash and panache. Elegant three-part harmony from the album's three singers Vuyo, Samara Joy and Shanel Johns on 'So Much Joy' that comes up with a bright Township-hinting blend (think Ekaya with Abdullah Ibrahim a bit) in the horn unisons and then Fox's retro solo streams in like sunshine and he's dreaming of being Prez.

A live version of 'The Swan' in the video

Classical choice tastefully arranged and appealing is the arrangement of Saint-Saëns' 'The Swan' ('Le Cygne'). Fox goes into a tender space winningly. 'Zorro,' another fox, completes what's a swashbuckling statement of considerable intent.

Out today on Rufio Photo: Ruben Fox site