Friday, November 13, 2009

A Little Ray of Charles

A Tribute To The Music Of Ray Charles: Sassoon, Bentley And Friends, Cinnamon Club, Bowden, Manchester, 30th November 2009

I couldn't make it to this one, so here's a guest blog post from the lovely Mrs Ring Modulator:

The Cinnamon Club provides a rather unlikely location for catching up with some of the local jazz talent. The large hall often echoes to the sounds of cha cha chas or waltzes, with the ever-popular ballroom dancing classes. But it was recently turned over to an evening paying tribute to the legendary Ray Charles. For those who attended the Manchester Jazz Festival, there was a similar event in St Ann's Square, which went down a storm. This was essentially a repetition, but being covered, there was no change of any other kind of storm dampening the scene.

The evening commenced with a set by Jem Sassoon and Paul Bentley, long-time collaborators. They have an album coming out and they ran through some of the classic tunes that they have recorded, including 'Amazing Grace' and 'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel (To Be Free)', which is the TV theme tune for the Film programme lately hosted by Barry Norman. This was fairly standard fayre. It got the evening going nicely, but was a little tame for me. However, the highlight was our first taste of the full compliment of musicians on a rockin' version of the 1970s Spiderman cartoon theme tune. I used to watch the cartoon when I was young, and the theme tune was really the best thing about it.

My biggest gripe about the evening was the very long interval. We started thinking we might give up and go home when the band eventually appeared at about 10.30. It was worth staying for. The arrangements by Iain Dixon were really superb, sometimes giving the impression of a much larger horn section that the two saxophones, trombone and trumpet and achieving a fine balance between all of the component parts of the band. I particularly enjoyed 'Let the Good Times Roll' and the whole thing stepped up a gear when the backing singers came on to give a particularly fine performance on 'Hit The Road Jack'. One of the highlights for me was Mike Walker's guitar solo on 'Heat of the Night'. The sound was beautifully sweet and immense and the playing was, as usual, awesome. But all of the musicians really gave it some and their enjoyment of the music really came across to a very receptive audience.

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