The Riviera Quartet, live and online 20 September 2020
Review by Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here
Pete Tanton (flugelhorn, trumpet, vocals, shakers); Mark Williams (guitar); Andy Champion (bass); Russ Morgan (drums).
It was a great feeling to be at a live, indoor gig in an actual jazz club. The ever forward thinking Jazz Co-op have kept the jazz flame burning in the northeast with a regular programme of live streams featuring both local and national names since lockdown began. However, this was the first actual jazz gig at the venue where a small, socially distanced, credit card wielding audience of bottled beer drinkers and wine connoisseurs ventured forth into the redecorated, refurnished, refurbished and more spacious ground floor bar.
They couldn’t have chosen a better band for such an auspicious occasion (which was also going out via the usual streaming channels to a global audience – no pun intended!) than the Riviera Quartet.
The Alabama born Northumbrian revealed that, as of October, he will be a UK citizen. He should have hung on for a couple of months – his vote may have swung the election!
Many instrumentalists double on vocals and some vocalists also play an instrument but few are equally adept both ways. Pete Tanton is an exception – he does both better than most.
It was a storming set from start to finish with Tanton playing, mainly flugel, an occasional number on trumpet and some great vocals. All but two of the selections were his own compositions including lyrics where applicable. The two exceptions were No More Blues, a number he first heard on an album by Dizzy Gillespie – Dizzy on the French Riviera. This was a game changing moment for Pete and ultimately led, many years later, to the band’s name and much of its music. In the year of Charlie Parker’s centennial it’s good that Dizzy too is remembered even though he would have hit the 100 mark 3 years earlier.
The other non-Tanton original was guitarist Mark Williams’ Booze Blues, a number we’ve heard Mark do in many different settings. Tonight, it must be said, he played an absolute blinder (does he ever do any other? Probably, but never when I’ve been present!).
For the rest we had engaging vocals from Pete on To Heaven Overnight; When Monday Came; I Fall in Love; Tell me When It’s Safe to Open my Eyes. Sizzling instrumentals inc. Turf War; Barbados; The Wait and the loudly demanded encore – The Cat’s Reply.
Needless to say it wan’t just Pete and Mark who were at the top of their game, Andy and Russ too showed us how it is done. Bass solos don’t usually thrill me over much but Andy is one of the rare exceptions and tonight was one of those exceptions. On the aforementioned Booze Blues, after Pete’s tightly muted trumpet solo and Mark’s blast it was as if nothing could possibly follow which was vastly underrating Andy who added a further dimension and that was that – or was it?
Come in Russ the Brush! Morgan began his solo deftly flicking brushes – a drum solo doesn’t have to be all Flash! Bang! Wallop! That came later, gradually building up. Brushes, brush and stick, stick and stick and we’re off to the races! No wonder the fans wanted more. They got it with The Cat’s Reply. Another killler no less because of Pete’s introductory patter describing the actions of his own cat (and just about every cat in the world!) which inspired the tune.
A splendid conclusion to a most enjoyable evening.