Live Saxophone Gigs attended by Mark Archer

We have recommended and indeed taken Blowout Sax students to London’s Jazz Café in Camden Townto see Lou Donaldson and Manu Dibango.

Lou Donaldson
This man swings his axe with an almighty boogaloo groove. He has a distinctive voice on alto with a solid be-bop phrasing drenched in the most soulful funk sound. His is a voice which is direct, stylish and definitely unique to Poppa Lou D.Mr Blue Note live
At the age of seventy-seven, the stellar presence of Poppa Lou D arrived at London’s Jazz Café where he was greeted with rapturous applause. He launched into his playing. And suddenly the Café was full of the sound of Lou D. It was the sound that I’d heard on record and taught in the School and yet it spoke to us all so simply and conversationally. His technique was strikingly effortless and very precise. Lou himself was quick to grin and was a very together funky old dude.

Manu Dibango
We saw Manu and his ‘gang’ live on stage with the London Community Gospel Choir at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2001. The mix of the Manu’s singers and the choir of 21 years standing sounded like a single instrument. It was obvious that the singers were united in their spiritual and musical faith. As an original choir member Jenny Latouche noted: -- ‘you can’t fake it. It’s easy to sing something and sing it well, but when you sing and have belief, as we do, it adds something to your sound.’ That huge sound fused with Manu’s charisma through his voice, silver sax and smile over African vibrant rhythms uplifted and took us to an elevated plane, on a Sunday afternoon in Cheltenham Town Hall.

Manu’s secret of successful performing?

The spontaneity of Manu Dibango’s performances is the product of hard work and careful planning. Every detail of the music is guided by Manu’s intense vision.

We work like crazy in rehearsal since our efforts shouldn’t be apparent in concert. The band manoeuvres like chess players, even with the audience. A concert is held like a dissertation, with an introduction, theme and conclusion. It has its high points…while we take our turns singing, something is happening every second. Each in turn -- the band, the audience -- makes its next move on the chessboard…over the years, the band became my instrument, a vehicle to realize a vision I could share with others.

And we saw his at London’s Jazz Café 2008 which was a good gig but never came close to that experience in Cheltenham. Both extracts From Blowout The Grandpappys of Boogaloo and Soul Makossa Sax book.

And at Bath International Festival I have seen The Rhythm King of the Sax.Sonny Rollins Three times I’ve seen him live, twice in London and once at The Forum Bath. Sonny Rollins live is one helluva performance and I have always been struck by his muscular and powerful tone and whirlwind movements, as he swings the horn through the air. With astonishing energy he just plays and plays and plays.

There are certain parts of the room where the horn just projects better, where the sound is more friendly. I’m trying to find the ‘sweet spot.’ That’s very important….they are those where the horn talks back to you -- and you can hear what they’re hearing.

Even as one of the ‘grand old men’ of the saxophone he is dynamic as ever, improvising endlessly, pacing the stage searching for the elusive ‘sweet spot’.

From Blowout Sax Madmen.

Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek in concert is a must-see. I’ve seen him 4 times over 14 years and each time his precise technique, perfection of note placement, and his very, very personal Scandinavian sound has transported my imagination to a timeless place. Part of this magic is Garbarek’s choice of themes that are simple, folk-like, and unforgettable. Garbarek’s improvised soloing often includes very ethereal and subtle phrases before returning to the main themes of the composition. Garbarek's double bass player Eberhard Weber, an Obelix look-alike, produces an amazing sound on electric double bass together with Garbarek, combine to produce their unique sound. From Blowout Saxology.

Other greats we have told Blowout Sax students to see and hear

Maceo Parker -- Mr Funkoverload Showman extraordinaire
Maceo launched his famous catchphrase ‘2 per cent jazz, 98 per cent funk’ on his live album Life on Planet Groove. He keeps to his funk groove by ceaselessly touring over 320 days a year bringing his top notch, ‘skintight’ band to the masses. As Maceo puts it: ‘I like going where people like me. They like me everywhere, so I like playing everywhere.’

I found the truth of that when I witnessed Maceo both times in a three-hour marathon ‘stroking of the almighty groove’ at Bath ‘s The Pavilion. Using his heady mix of hypnotic music and dance, Maceo relentlessly cajoled the crowd to enjoy themselves. And they did.
As one newspaper review in the USA put it -- ‘Hurricane Maceo blew through, delivering a multihour non-stop barrage for an audience that danced itself into a frenzy before the second song was over.’
An extract from Blowout FatFunk Sax book.

Other great acts to see and hear are :
andy sheppard.jpg
Andy Sheppard at St.Michael's Hill.
Have seen Andy countless times, as he is the local Saxophone king of England, but this concert was truly astonishing. He was promoting for me his best and most contemporary album called 'Nocturnal Tourist', and his display of musical ability and musicianship was breathtaking. You see Andy had created all this music himself. The concert started with a distant sound of playing, which grew louder as Andy walked through this church playing, just him and an energetic French drummer through the audience towards the stage.
Spellbinding as was the next two hours, using every facility the sax has to cast a spell on big contemporary grooves, simple themes were laid and then the embellishments were laid on top. The music had a world journey feel , from Africa to the far East with additional French music all in the mix bubbling away with recorded samples from his travels. The CD is superb and live it went one step up again. Electric performance.
Many Blowout sax students became involved in the Brunel 200 project playing alongside the great Andy Sheppard at ‘The Living Bridge’ project.

I finally saw in Bristol 2009 Acoustic Ladyland to promote ‘Living With Tiger’...Pete Wareham sheer energy and drive is immense and this was a powerful display of brilliant themes, wild tricks and powerful high notes.

The Skatalities..At Bath’s Komedia club 2008..Sadly there is only a handful of the originals left like saxman Lester Sterling and I was there to see one of the Blowout Jamaican Kings of the Sax Cedric ‘IM’ Brooks. There was a good crowd all dancing and having a grin and definitely some high points notably ‘Guns of Navarone’ and ‘Al Capone’.

Jazz Jamaica….have been seen many years ago in a smaller line-up at The Pavilion and in big band format too at The Cheltenham Festival. They cherry-pick the marvelous material on offer and the top musicianship is required to perform to the very highest standard. They even featured Juliet Roberts (‘Working Week’) singing on a couple of jolly bop-along tunes too.

Here below is a sample of other acts I’ve seen live and enjoyed but not being a hard-core jazz saxman haven’t quite touched my inner soul and haven’t given me the goosebumps which is not to say they won’t touch you!

Courtney Pine.We saw him wearing a supercool outfit in 1993 at a summer jazz festival at Alexandra Palace and years later at the Cheltenham Festival. Awesome saxophone magician who produced every trick with seemingly consummate ease especially with his circular breathing even walking into the audience, he still couldn’t wake my friend who had fallen asleep !!!

Dave Sanborn. Also seen at the same festival at Alexandra Palace and years later at the Cheltenham Festival. Sanborn has for me the quintessential American sax sound. His standout tracks are Lisa and Lesley Ann. His accomplishment on the sax is incredible as he plays almost exclusively in the high and Altissimo registers (superhigh) and makes this seem normal and believe you me it isn’t! Top band and showman once you’ve heard his tone you know it is Dave Sanborn.
From Blowout Smooth Sax Operators.

Joshua Redman. Also seen at the Cheltenham Festival Redman became public property in a maelstrom of accolades…Some of his tracks are great live especially ‘Can a Good Thing Last forever’ and ‘Riverside’ long as he’s delivering a melody, then like a lot of saxophonists they display incredible virtuosity but the tune disappears into a storm of notes..

The Brecker Brothers.. Alexandra Palace and The Forum..Electric loud and superjazzy.The duo were interesting especially as Michael used an Akai windblower and sounded like all sorts of instruments even an electric guitar…and brother Randy on trumpet producing that American jazz fusion sound. Great entertainers, but few tunes remained in my head after.

Branford Marsalis..The Forum Bath.. Branford Marsalis first came to my attention on Sting’s first and second solo albums,’Dream Of The Blue Turtles’ with his exceptional playing on ‘If You Love Somebody Set Them Free’ and shone too on his follow-up ‘Nothing Like The Sun…’ Seen at Bath Music Festival 2009 the two excellant stand-out tunes that made me tingle live are ‘The Blossom Of Parting‘ and ‘The Last Goodbye’.

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