Jean Toussaint, Norwich

DAVID WAKEFIELD Anyone looking for a relaxing evening should have steered clear of this concert at Norwich Arts Centre, for although Toussaint's playing is many things, relaxing it ain't.

DAVID WAKEFIELD

Anyone looking for a relaxing evening should have steered clear of this concert at Norwich Arts Centre, for although Toussaint's playing is many things, relaxing it ain't.

Now living in London, to whence he came by way of the Virgin Islands, his birthplace, via the famous Berklee College in Massachusetts, this saxophonist's playing is full of restless energy and vitality.

Heavily influenced in his playing by Sonny Rollins, Jean Toussaint, a former member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, is the kind of player who explores every nuance of a tune, defying the efforts of any onlooker to “pigeonhole” it.


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It is said he was struck, when coming to Britain, by the blend of ethnic influences here, and certainly this exciting quartet reflected it.

Held steady by the rock solid bass playing of Orlando Le Fleming, it gave Toussaint just the platform he needs for his explorations

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I was also mightily impressed by pianist Andrew McCormack, one of the most talented young keyboard men I have heard in ages.

There was a slight irritation in that Toussaint introduced only a few of his numbers; but no need with two familiar tunes, Ellington's In A Sentimental Mood, and an incredible closing version of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, in which the interplay between members of the band was both humorous and musically relevant.

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