Denys Baptiste, Norwich
DAVID WAKEFIELD To bring on ace guitarist Martin Taylor late in the game was a masterstroke, even though the maestro was on unfamiliar musical territory.
To borrow hackneyed soccer punditry, this was a show of two halves. Second half first: to bring on ace guitarist Martin Taylor late in the game was a masterstroke, even though the maestro was on unfamiliar musical territory.
Not that it mattered: it just added to the enjoyment. Denys Baptiste, on soprano and tenor saxophones, came to Norwich with the kind of reputation that few Brits enjoy; he has been lauded as one of the best to emerge from these isles, and, on this evidence, the critics are right.
If the second half was the more enjoyable one, simply because of its variety, then the first was the serious stuff.
Baptiste only announced one number: the rest flowed into a kind of microcosm of small jazz stylings, from the avant garde to some gentle soul rhythms.
In the end it didn't really matter if it was several numbers or a kind of mini-suite, for it was in this period that he showed what he could do, with pulsating backing from his rhythm section, driven along by a quite remarkable young drummer, Tom Skinner, and his other instrumentalists, Kevin Robinson (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Harry Brown (trombone) plus vocalist Juliet Roberts.
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Certainly a concert with a difference.
t Denys Baptiste was performing at Norwich Playhouse.