Gig Report: Second Line Jazz Band @Jazz Club 90 4-11-18

Sunday 4th of November provided a youthful influx of Jazz musicians into Jazz Club 90 with the Worcestershire-based band Second Line which is fronted by siblings Pete and Rose Johnson and Matthew Hadden. The band partially originated in the Worcester Youth Jazz Orchestra and have been a fixture at the Best of Youth Jazz tent at the Upton upon Severn Jazz festival for at least four years.

On this gig I was accompanied by my partner Heather who attempted to blend in with the rest of the audience’s age group by merrily sitting in the corner knitting some gloves, I mention this because the last time Heather came to a Jazz Club 90 gig and did her knitting the trumpet player was late.

Over the last year there has been a major change in the front line of the band with Tenor Sax player Ramsey having married and moved to London to enjoy his nuptials, so his position in the band has been filled by the supremely talent Kate (surname I didn’t note) on Tenor and Baritone Saxophones and a greater sense of maturity to the band.

The band kicked off in fine swinging form with newbie Kate on the Baritone Sax for Billy Strayhorn’s signature theme for the Duke Ellington band “Take the A-Train”, band frontman Pete dedicated it to trumpeter Matthew Hadden with “had he taken the train, he’d have been here,” his car having broken down. The band moved from swing to gospel-infused hard-bop for Horace Silver’s “The Preacher” on which Kate switched to Tenor saxophone and keyboard man Graham Irving had an extended solo. Despite the gospel rhythms throughout the tune, “The Preacher” is not sourced from the pulpit but a pint-pot as it is loosely based on the traditional drinking song “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. With two numbers of an instrumental nature under their belt it was time for the delightful Rose to demonstrate her vocal talents with “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, a number which she also switched her Alto Saxophone to put the tip of something long hard and black on her lips, yup you are quite right: her Clarinet. Having performed a gospel-infused hard bop piece, the band next went into gospel infused soul jazz and asked if any of the audience were fans of the great alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderlay to which a certain Sandman raised his hand. As suspected the coming number was “Mercy Mercy Mercy” and I was wondering if the band were going to be doing a instrumental or vocal version as I had heard them do both, on this occasion they went for the more traditional instrumental. The band swayed back into Dixieland and Trad material for the next number which was Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur”, a pretty little number which featured Rose doing her Monty Sunshine bit on Clarinet. The next number was another feature for Rose, this time purely on vocals and the band was stripped back to the rhythm section and she gave a haunting rendition of that beautiful song “Valentine Moon”. With no doubt a desire to liven up the audience and keep them on their toes, the band’s next choice of song was a surprisingly modern one by Pablo Nutini called “Pencil Full of Lead”, which may seem like an unusual choice for a Jazz outfit but I myself have always thought the song reminiscent of the type of material performed by Wynonie Harris and their arrangement very much proved this. The vocals were, of course, supplied by young Rose. The band had a slight reshuffle with Pete jumping on the keys and Graham taking the mic for the penultimate number of the set which was the Jazz standard which was made immortal by the late great Julie London and later Frank Sinatra, it was of course “Fly Me to the Moon.” The band returned to their usual positions for the final number which was a lively little number called “Havana” and turned out to be the only number of the set that my Heather was familiar with, which was quite the reverse of me. The first set closed with Pete announcing that the Band had donated a prize to the raffle, now often a band will offer a CD or free entry as a prize but Second Line did something a bit different: their prize was an inflatable Pineapple Backpack…. unsurprisingly that was the last prize to be drawn.

As with the first set, set two kicked off in Ellington territory with “It Don’t Mean A Thing” which really swung along, this was followed by another trip into the Blue Note Records Hard Bop Catalogue with Herbie Hancock’s seminal classic “Watermelon Man”, a song Hancock composed when he was a mere whippersnapper of 21. Rose lent her vocals to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” which was the next number up, which was followed by “Concerto for Cootie” otherwise known as”Do Nothing ’til You Hear Me”. Rose then had a brace of vocal numbers, “All of Me” with the full band and Tom Waites “Take Me Home” with the rhythm section. Evidently feeling a bit over shadowed by his sister, Pete lent his voice to a cheeky take on “I am Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” with cheerful call and response from the Band and (some of) the audience, thankfully no one in the band mooned the crowd at lyric “a lot of kisses on the bottom”…. this time.

The band ventured to Blue Note Records Hard-Bop catalogue with what many might consider to be the Hard-Bop anthem: Bobby Timmons’ composition “Moanin'” which will forever be associated with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Rose came up to the mic to close the set with the band’s favourite number “Mr Zoot Suit”. After much applause, the band obliged us with an encore of Duke Ellington’s “Night Train”.

All in all this was a most excellent gig and proves that the future of Jazz is in capable hands.

Second Line will return to Jazz Club 90 in the new year, dates to be confirmed.

For more information on the band please visit their website

Jazz Club 90 is hosted at Albrighton Sports and Social Club 90.

Admission price is £6.00 on the door

Gigs run from 1pm until 3pm. Fresh Rolls are available at £1.50

There is a raffle and a football card as well, proceeds of which help fund the jazz.

Details of gigs and contact information for Jazz Club 90 can be found at the Jazz Club 90 website.

This blog site is in no way affiliated with Jazz Club 90 and all opinions on the post are my own and do no reflect the views of those who run and organise Jazz Club 90.

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