Review: Bristol jazz festival day 3

Bob Weir sees Pee Wee Ellis, Arturo Sandoval, Andy Sheppard, Clare Teal and more at the impressively varied first Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival

Photography © John Watson

Day 3
The Bateman Brothers Jazz Band (pictured right) kicked off the festival's final day with an entertaining tribute to the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Alan and Ian take the music seriously but present it in a suitably lighthearted way. The emphasis was on the popular Pops – Now You Has Jazz, Cabaret, That's My Desire etc – but with enough quality blowing on numbers like Back O' Town Blues to remind us that latterday Louis was always more than showbiz joviality. The Brothers were ably assisted by the versatile Craig Milverton on piano and the engaging Maggie Reeday doing a creditable Velma Middleton. A polished, professional and fun way to start the day.

It was only proper that local-boy-made-good Andy Sheppard with his Trio Libero should have an important place at the festival. Their programme of mostly slow and cerebral originals, marked by delicate interplay and understated instrumental virtuosity, was thoroughly absorbing. Andy was relaxed and consistently inventive, French bassist Michel Benita was a tower of strength both in ensemble and solo, and Seb Rochford demonstrated yet again why he is the percussionist of choice for so many of the most creative bands on the current UK scene.

The large crowd turning out for the penultimate concert by Pee Wee Ellis and Clare Teal certainly had their money's worth. Pee Wee was supported by an all-female quartet featuring guitarist Deirdre Cartwright. Pee Wee balanced straightahead jazz – Cannonball Adderley's Sticks was outstanding – with reminders of his glory days with James Brown on some stirring funk/soul. Clare's guest spots started with a gorgeous Georgia On My Mind, her bubbly personality immediately connecting with the audience, and she just got better and better. It was party time in Bristol and everyone shared in the uplifting experience.

So the scene was set for the closing session by the Arturo Sandoval band (pictured left) – direct from Ronnie Scott's. The trumpeter's phenomenal technique is intact, matched by his energy whilst filling-in on keyboards, percussion and infectious scatting. They played lots of Dizzy Gillespie numbers pepped up with exciting Cuban drumming by Alexis Arce and Samuel Torres. Altogether, a rousing and highly enjoyable conclusion to a successful festival which deserves to become an annual fixture.

See other Bristol festival articles here, here and here.

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