Gulliver Allwood, St. James Wine Vaults, Thursday 10th November

Another convivial night at the Vaults with another alto player, previously unknown to me. Gulliver Allwood has been plying his trade in Paris for a good number years and has returned to blighty in the last year (which may account for the lack of familiarity) He declared before he started that he believed in entertainment, and this translated into much banter, a few stunts like strolling through the bar whilst playing and doing mock ‘axe hero’ jumping on tables routines at the end of a blues. It was all good fun, and didn’t obscure the passionate attack and love of the classic standard repertoire of his playing. After the trio limbered up, with Vyv Hope Scott giving due notice that he was on blistering form, the first set started with a ballad, Body and Soul. It was a great start to the gig. Gulliver launched into the melody, stretching the phrases, reeling off zig-zagging, boppish fills, making his whole performance sound like a passionately embellished version of the song rather than a more conventional ‘theme – solos – theme’. Throughout the gig he showed (between the showman stunts) that he can play convincingly on swing and bop standards, but it was on the ballads (he gave Misty similar treatment) and the blues Sandu that he really forced us to listen. I’ll buy the ballad and blues album Gulliver!  The other delight of the evening was Vyv’s playing on piano. He’s reliably fluent and inventive, but in this evening the fluency of  his lines, little gear shifts of energy as he piled one rythmn on top of another delighted and one phrase seemed to spin of from the next constantly snagging the attention. all delivered with muscular energy – great stuff.  The house band of Vyv, Trevor and Wade seemed on particlularly good form. Business as usual down the Vaults then. Keep it coming!

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