Review: Don Weller at Lowestoft

GARRY BOOTH salutes the bruised but unbowed sound of no-nonsense tenor saxophone campaigner Don Weller on a rainswept night in Lowestoft

3 TenorsAnyone that can get people out to Lowestoft on a wet Sunday night is doing something right. Veteran saxophonist Don Weller, playing with the impeccable Chris Ingham Trio, pulled around 100 people to the Milestones monthly jazz club in the town's Hotel Hatfield at the beginning of March.

What is it about the gruff south Londoner's playing that people find so attractive?

Like his pal, pianist Stan Tracey, Weller has an oblique and also obtuse approach to a tune, whether his own composition or a Tin Pan Alley standard. He doesn't hurry and seems to coax the melody, a little crumpled, from his horn like it was reluctant to give it up.

I'm not familiar enough with Weller to know how, or if, his sound has changed over time (he's 64), but right now it is a thing of rare, expressive beauty. He didn't mess about with long introductions or trade gags at Milestones but stood – behatted and bearded - straight on to the audience, his back to the band. "This next one is for my wife who died in 2009," he said bluntly, before tenderly exploring an original piece that brimmed with feeling.

Chris Ingham (piano), Mick Hutton (double bass) and George Boulder (drums) would be worth the £7 entrance on their own, sparking off one another or spinning out the sort of solos that elicit spontaneous shouts from the audience. But what they did best was put the focus on Weller and his bruised but unbowed sound. The show would have been a real treat any time of the year. But on a rain-lashed night in a battered seaside town that's seen better days it was perfect.

Pictured: Don Weller (far right) as one of the superb 3 Tenors grouping on Trio Records. See April Jazz Journal for a feature on Art Themen, another outstanding British tenor player, seen in the centre of this picture.


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