Thursday, March 07, 2019

Arturo Sandoval at Ronnie Scotts

Soho, London. Thursday 07-March-2019.

Packing in visits to Ronnie's while we were in the UK. This time, as it is a weekday, we got a support act as well as the main act.

The support act was the Kate Williams trio: Piano, bass and drums. They were fine but didn’t really excite. We have heard a number of similar trios and they’re all good and competent musicians playing jazz standards well but what makes one stand out from the other. I couldn’t put my finger on it but they did not really do it for me although the Guardian thinks otherwise: "Kate Williams is a very good jazz pianist anyway – crisp, incisive and totally at one with the rhythmic ebb and flow."

The drummer had the most minimal drum kit I have ever seen: A snare drum, bass drum, normal (crash?) cymbal and a hi-hat. I have realised that I am, for some reason, irredeemably biased against the wire brush approach to jazz. I tend to associate it with late night, easy listening jazz. Not that it’s lazy drumming, it goes back to the 1920's and clearly involves a lot of skill and technique but it just doesn’t appeal to me.

Arturo Sandoval and his Cuban band were superb. Arturo gave us a masterclass in trumpet playing and general band leading. The band were certainly high energy especially the drummer who was doing his best to resemble Animal from the Muppets.

At some point they played a tune which I eventually recognised as "The windmills of your mind". I only knew it as a novelty single from Noel Harrison (1968). I was surprised to learn that it has some heritage being written by prolific French composer Michel Legrand as the theme tune to The Thomas Crown Affair.

Another song which I recognised but could not have named until now was The Peanut Vendor which I had to look up on Wikipedia:
"Together with "Guantanamera", it is arguably the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician. "The Peanut Vendor" has been recorded more than 160 times, sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78 rpm single of Cuban music." 
You live and learn.

I hadn’t fully appreciated how steam punk an instrument the saxophone is. All those levers and valves and certainly this band's sax was not a gleaming and polished example of the instrument. It looks straight out of some typically Steam Punk themed anachronistic Victoriana.

Another fine evening. Ronnie's never disappoints.

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