Free Jazz sessions, Symphony Hall foyer bar
The original plan was for guitarist Jim Mullen to bring his organ trio and add Stan Sulzmann on saxophone and Percy Pursglove on trumpet. Well, it was clear a few weeks back that wasn’t going to happen. Step in Pursglove to save the day, and because the organ thing seemed an attractive drawcard, he enlisted Ross Stanley in on the Hammond and Leslie (the organ sporting black metal legs in place of the unnecessary and cumbersome wooden box – a guy I used to play with in a Northern Soul band had a much cruder and still pretty awkward solution to the transport problems of a B3; he just hacked it in half with a saw and moved it in two bits – and the Leslie on wheels – stroke of genius). Andrew Bain on drums completed the band.
As Percy explained to the audience, they were just going to play some of his favourite jazz standards – and so they did, at a cracking pace for the first couple. The slowed a little for Skylark, and then it was back up to speed with Monk’s Straight No Chaser. After last week’s good but rather reserved performance from the Sara Littlefield band, this was a real hot-from-the-start performance, all three players just raring to go and relaxed enough to have a good time, take some chances, even delay a while for between tune discussions (presumably on what to play next rather than what daytime TV they had watched earlier).
Pursglove started out playing rather too many obvious runs but started to sound much more inventive as the early evening darkened, Stanley was the reluctantly tethered racehorse until his solos came, but he also settled as a supportive soloist, while Bain began to grin and grimace in delight fairly early on and stayed that way for the duration.
It begs the question, why aren’t there more Hammond players around (like the trombone, it’s an instrument practically incapable of conveying misery – just good vibes all the way) and can we hear more of Ross Stanley in future, please?
A great little band and the enthusiastic audience response to prove it. And proof that playing standards isn’t just for boring old farts.