Leo Green, QT Bar, Covent Garden

''Requests? keep them to yourself!’' joked Leo Green not at all harshly, the powerhouse tenor saxophonist and bandleader kicking things off during his new Friday and Saturday ''Green Room'' residency at Great Queen Street hotel basement spot the QT …

Published: 31 Oct 2021. Updated: 33 days.

''Requests? keep them to yourself!’' joked Leo Green not at all harshly, the powerhouse tenor saxophonist and bandleader kicking things off during his new Friday and Saturday ''Green Room'' residency at Great Queen Street hotel basement spot the QT Bar tucked inside the Middle Eight Hotel. The pre-Simon Cooke era Ronnie Scott’s artistic director is well-known for his rapport with Van Morrison on Days Like This. Van was actually there in the QT among the audience chilling to hear Leo and his fine band on a few numbers sat back a few tables from the stage in front of Leo. Superb soul singer Beverley Knight was also in the QT a few tables further back. Take That’s ‘Let it Shine’ opened both sets followed by U2 song ‘I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For’ with fine gospellised exuberant vocal from featured singer Katy Eckland. A romping 'Stuck in the Middle With You’ was just about the best thing in either of the sets. Also in the vocals front line Emma Hutton standing next to Leo was also a real soulful personality throughout the evening. Of course this was a Saturday night know-the-songs-from-the-radio sort of set for a casual general music loving crowd and nothing wrong with that. But it was surprising what was snuck in and the band all have serious jazz chops so the pop numbers are served up with a twist and the band can certainly groove. As for the charts the transcriptions, not Leo's arrangements, were by Nick Taylor, according to the band’s very fine keyboardist Trinity College, Cambridge alumnus Liam Donachie of the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra chatting to marlbank a little during the interval and who channelled his inner Scott Bradlee in some of his best spots in the sense of playing ragtime to a pop tune. Meghan Trainor's ‘All About That Bass, no Treble‘ was another strong suit Leo interpolating ‘New York, New York’ effectively. Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ against all odds worked. Riffing on flugelhorn or switching to muted trumpet ex-Van Morrison hornman Matt Holland was simpatico with Leo and also sang a little backing vocals. Days like this? You bet. The residency continues on Friday 5 November. Venue and tickets. Leo Green, top

Tags: Lives

Vels trio, Celestial Greens, Rhythm Section International ***

You have to wait until the end for the title track and its handsome main melody from this happily grooving synth trio, a futuristic veneer to the lounge jazz sound giving a certain slickness. It may be the strongest melody but this highly confident …

Published: 30 Oct 2021. Updated: 34 days.

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You have to wait until the end for the title track and its handsome main melody from this happily grooving synth trio, a futuristic veneer to the lounge jazz sound giving a certain slickness. It may be the strongest melody but this highly confident trio know to mine even more. But ignore tracks 3 and 10 which are just interludes and total less than a minute taken together (track 7 is also over before it's begun). As an album for this and also because the tunes are so digestible and poppy it may seem a little skimpy. And yet there are surprises and the thumping almost 1980s feel to 'Quick Zeus' lights things up. A firm impression is that Celestial Greens is an update on 70s and 80s jazz-rock fusion steered via the agile beat of bass guitarist Cameron Dawson. Think Bob James a bit with touches of Chick Corea folded in. The up-for-it Jack Stephenson-Oliver on keys has fun but maybe needs to woodshed more to move beyond the lick and his tendency to cruise inside the groove to fully embrace an improvisational journey. I didn't come away from the record blown away by any solo passages. Drummer Dougal Taylor isn't subtle but stamps his personality on the record a good deal. 'The Winter Games' stretches out a bit more and on 'Pop Stuff' that Yussef Dayes-like weighty groove from Taylor is very listenable and the record certainly puts Vels trio on the map. Stephen Graham