Gig review: Charlotte Glasson Band

The Red Lion, Warstone Lane, Birmingham UK
01-06-2013

The upstairs room at The Red Lion was so packed that when the time came for Charlotte to do her party piece by playing her common or garden saw (£14 at B&Q, I think she said), she had to borrow a chair from one of the audience.

Of course, Charlotte doesn’t just play the saw, she plays tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, violin, a melodica and two tin whistles at once. She is also a fine picker of fellow players.

Her brother Sam on drums is a no-brainer (the choice, I mean. I cast no doubts on his intelligence) because he easily slips into all those rhythms Charlotte wants for her compositions which are more likely to have a South African township beat, or a Balkan wedding band one, or a gentle reggae twist, rather than a straight shoobedooby jazz swing.

I suspect she meets the others on session work, for which she is in great demand, because all are highly adaptable and exceptionally skilled. They also bring great character to the band, as if Charlotte’s were not character enough.

So, in addition to the stalwart of all Glasson bands, the altogether wonderful Dave Holdsworth on tuba and pocket trumpet (£99 in Lidl, or something…), we had the legend that is Chris Spedding on guitar and, standing in for the usual Mark Bassey, Paul Taylor on trombone.

Spedding is the man who once made an appearance on Top Of The Pops singing Motorbiking, and, for all trivia buffs, plays on one track of Tom Waits’ Raindogs album, and he brings some great surf guitar sound to the band; Taylor not only plays mighty fine ‘bone but does some wry little poems as well – well, more like one-liners, really, closer to comedian Steve Wright than to Wordsworth.

The tunes were mainly old Glasson band favourites like Charlotte’s World Wide Web and When You’re Feeling Low, but there were some news ones, too, the names of which I missed. (Yes, I know the studious reviewer should be taking notes, but at a gig like this it seems to be missing the point – better to have another pint of Batham’s and enjoy yourself.)

The thing I love about this band is that they play sometimes tricky, improvisational music while also being dedicated to that so-often sniffed at concept in jazz: entertainment.

A fine time was had by all, naturally, and if you were at this Birmingham Jazz gig you will know there is the fine young trumpeter Laura Jurd appearing next, on Friday 21 June. If you weren’t there, then you know now. Get in early would be wise advice.



Categories: Live review

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  1. Charlotte the Hat Woman | JAZZ HATS

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