Not Don Weller but Iain Ballamy, Future Inn Bristol, 17th September

The inaugural jazz gig at Future Inn on Thursday saw Iain Ballamy playing with Don Weller’s rhythm section; the bearded legend was apparently indisposed. For my part that was not a serious disappointment – more because I love Iain Ballamy’s playing than any comment on the Don. We came down the spiral staircase to the first wisps of Iain’s sax (not sold out then – I guess it was a Thursday). The pleasing murmurings soon morphed into a standard (In a Mellow Tone) with a delicious,lazy, swinging pulse and that pretty much set the tone for the evening. Dave Newton on piano produced pyrotechnics on a few numbers, often inspired by stride and Oscar Peterson like bluesy inflections but not limited by them. The overall sense was of band having fun but not warping the newly minted ceiling tiles despite Iain’s occasional attempts to wind them up a bit; Mack the Knife started as a fragmentary out of time piece, which gathered pace and ascended through several keys, evoking fiery solos; Autumn Leaves was ethereal and solemn with a strange beauty. A good start for the venue. As we left, ascending those spiral stairs, the sound in the bar above was fab. If you want to check the bands out before paying your money – you can do so for the price of a pint!

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