Usually you hear Paul Moran and Mez Clough in Van Morrison's band. In fact it was only last December at the Powerhaus in Camden north of the river that I heard them with yer man last. That time the rhythm section included the formidable Teena Lyle, so was a very different sound but Moran steers the ship. Important in Van's sound on the road for years Moran sometimes plays trumpet but resisted the urge down the Lots Road for this online occasion. By the way vanithologically-speaking Latest Record Project Vol 1 has a different set-up, with Richard Dunn for instance on organ on the first lead-off track. But that's another story. Van, in a distant man cave, is probably itching to return.
The 606 continues to be one of the few top London jazz clubs to fully embrace live streams and while I am not a fan of streams at all was surprised how simple this was to access. Moolah-wise it's not going to bankrupt anyone either. The club does these regularly. The camera work was pretty good and the sound even on my basic laptop absolutely fine. Length-wise the set was OK as well. I don't think I could sit down and watch a 4-hour stream but curiously in a club can quite contentedly sit for hours. Reason? Because hearing jazz in a club is just better. Pet, it is hardly rocket science.
There was a Geordie connection as both Paul Moran on the Hammond B3 – the leather-jacketed bespectacled groovester referenced his family and all northerners' connection to coal mining, when the band rendered Allen Toussaint's 'Working in the Coal Mine,' a hit in 1966 for Lee Dorsey – and guest singer Jo Harrop is also from the north-east. Jo joined the band for several numbers at a time before disappearing into the inky 606 darkness. She was best on the more classic jazz Ellingtonia not so much the soul stuff although not at all shabby.
Grizzly Glaswegian ''the esteemed,'' noted Moran respectfully, Jim Mullen, on guitar and of course Clough, who reminded me of the style of former Van drummer Neal Wilkinson, completed the band. The only problem with this gig was the lack of audience given the ban something you can blame solely on Lockdown because soulful Hammond trios thrive on audience badinage and the odd ''yeah,'' ''cookin','' etc.
But we did get lifted somehow. Harrop, wearing a hat in deep purple, was least good singing Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going on' but was more in the zone interpreting Stevie Wonder's 'Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)' thinking of Aretha. Moran came into his own when he channelled Richard 'Groove' Holmes who he told us was one of his favourite Hammond players. I'm a bit tired of hearing 'Work Song' much as I love it but you hear it a lot. But the band did it justice. Mullen was best on 'Blueberry Hill'. Highlight? The take on Rodgers and Hart's 'Where or When'. Acid test: would I go hear the Smokin' B3 really-live on this evidence? Oh, yes. SG Moran's Still Smokin' is out now
Jim Mullen, top left, Jo Harrop, Mez Clough, Paul Moran. Photo: 606 stream