Steve Gadd for Sligo

Not many details so far but clearly booking Steve Gadd is a coup for the Sligo Jazz Project summer school and festival. The festival have put an early bird suitably ''mother of Gadd'' summer school offer together for the 2020 summer school. The …

Published: 11 Dec 2019. Updated: 8 months.

Not many details so far but clearly booking Steve Gadd is a coup for the Sligo Jazz Project summer school and festival.

The festival have put an early bird suitably ''mother of Gadd'' summer school offer together for the 2020 summer school.

The headline concert is described by the organisers ''as a trio'' presumably Blicher Hemmer Gadd as the trio are featured in the picture the festival has posted alongside the news. Gadd is known for his incredible time keeping and among other things his signature Mozambique groove heard on Paul Simon's 'Late in the Evening' just for starters. With Grover Washington Jr on Winelight he is on one of the most feelgood grooving jazz flavoured records ever to have scored big popular success. And then there is his epic duo with Wayne Shorter on 'Aja' to name but a few that feature his incredible touch.

Gadd was last in Ireland in Dublin back in the autumn when he delivered a packed out masterclass in the JM Synge theatre of Trinity College. Gadd's work adorns records by you name it: Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney ('Tug of War'), Grover Washington Jr (Winelight inc. the wondrous 'Just the Two of Us' featuring the vocals of Bill Withers), Chick Corea, Patti Austin, George Benson (Good King Bad on 'Em' (Paul Simon on '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover'), James Taylor and Steely Dan.

Steeped in jazz history the American great, who grew up in suburban Rochester, New York state, talked at Trinity about how nurturing legends like Gene Krupa and Dizzy Gillespie were in his early days. He said Buddy Rich was good to him and he knew all the stories! He recalled how both Chuck and his brother Gap Mangione were friends from his youthful years and his and their families knew each other. On Chick Corea, their fairly recent record Chinese Butterfly is excellent, he said he could really understand what he wanted from a drummer when he heard Chick himself play drums. And tantalisingly and with no little humour an eye roll and a grin rather than a drum roll he confessed with a shake of the head meaning that the stick click on his famous drum solo with Wayne Shorter on 'Aja' was hardly deliberate.

Next night at the Lost Lane formely Lillie's Bordello tucked in off Grafton Street, Blicher-Hemmer-Gadd were joined briefly by the head shaven extra percussionist Eddi Jarl familiar from the previous day's masterclass who this time contributed tambourine (effective especially on the title track of Get That Motor Runnin') and later shakers.

As for the trio band of brothers they play brilliantly together, Gadd just groovin' all night long and Michael Blicher (switching between alto and tenor saxes) wailing when he needed to and keeping the vocabulary of his solos down to the minimum because he didn't need to over elaborate and this was all about the feeling.

Dates for Sligo in 2020 are 21-26 July. Festival website, see Instagram for offer. At Trinity in the mother of Gadd masterclass, above, taking questions. Percussionist and drum technician Eddi Jarl is pictured on the left. Photo: Dave Keegan.

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Exodus, Pizza Express Jazz Club

First published in 2015. Moses Boyd led his four-piece Exodus for this largely standards-based winner’s gig that began with the young drummer’s composition ‘Axis Blue.’ Boyd told the audience later that he first played the Dean Street club as a …

Published: 10 Dec 2019. Updated: 8 months.

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First published in 2015. Moses Boyd led his four-piece Exodus for this largely standards-based winner’s gig that began with the young drummer’s composition ‘Axis Blue.’ Boyd told the audience later that he first played the Dean Street club as a 17-year-old with trumpeter Abram Wilson. Since then besides Exodus – in which the drummer was joined by tenorist Binker Golding, tuba player Theon Cross and by guitarist Artie Zaitz – Boyd has become well known for drumming in MOBO-winning singer Zara McFarlane’s band, having studied at Trinity Laban, appearing on McFarlane album If You Knew Her and on pianist Peter Edwards’ Safe and Sound and the drummer clearly has plenty of poise and power whether working with singers or instrumentalists.

With a stick in his right hand and a small hard mallet in his left during the first number soaked in spiritual jazz and scaled in a Coltranian Locrian modal frame Boyd’s approach is an amalgam of modern jazz drummers, in the more orthodox passages like Elvin Jones perhaps but certainly in the big duo feature with Golding on Wayne Shorter’s ‘Footprints’ going more free into Rashied Ali territory.

The pair have recorded a mainly free-jazz album, Dem Ones, recorded for Gearbox at Mark Ronson’s Kings Cross studio, a LP that is about to come out, and with the right wind blowing should put them firmly on the map. It’s as exciting a sound as you could dream of hearing at the moment in terms of new jazz records. Yet it was interesting to hear them here in a standards setting, the evening’s set list dominated by Ellington and Monk classic material. The river runs deep no matter how wild and free after all.

In the first set, ‘Perdido’, and best of all ‘In A Sentimental Mood’ came off best, Golding overcoming pre-gig teething problems with his saxophone just back from the repairers. And he showed what a fine interpreter of melody he is. ‘Epistrophy’ was more of a chance for Zaitz to shine, his style willing to push beyond the strictures of the harmonies, and sometimes during the set the buzzy guitar lines channelled early rock ’n’ roll with a bluesy lilt to his playing, his use of pedals in his judicious deployment of distortion contributing to a fairly edgy sense of attack.

With Cross after a while you actually forget that it is a tuba player and not a double bassist playing given the role in the music and most people now are only dimly aware that early jazz used bass brass rather than string bass even though Exodus don’t play early jazz at all. Cross’ contrapuntal nimble presence and strong harmonic sense deep down despite the potential unwieldiness of the instrument was striking in extended play and his main feature arrived with a fanfare on the gently insistent strains of Monk’s ‘Green Chimneys’. SG. pic marlbank