Will Vinson – Take 2 at the Cori Tap, Bristol, Tuesday 23rd July

It felt the same (hot, sweaty and packed), it smelt the same (let’s not go there), it even looked a bit the same (James Maddren in the corner, a red Nord keyboard facing him, James Gardner Bateman organising, hovering nervously and warming his horn up to join in late on in the evening). But there was one big difference from almost exactly a year ago.  No unforseen delays, no Spanish air controller strikes, Will Vinson was in the house. Anticipation was high. Had any of the band been taken ill, there were at least a handful of able deps for each in the audience,  one or two with international reputations of their own.  As James (Gardner Bateman) stepped up to sit in on the last number ‘ The End of The Love affair’, I’m sure Will said something like ‘let’s not go too mad (with the speed)’ , so presumably the burning tempo he counted in is what passes for a stroll in the park in New York. As he and James traded first whole choruses or more, and gradually worked down to fours, the lightening runs, boppish riffs, squeals, squawks and swoops mounted up and I think the visitor almost broke sweat. It was blood fizzing, adrenaline rush stuff from both, but it was all to clear why Will is getting plenty of work in New York from world beating band leaders. There’s a smoothness of phrase and easy clarity of articulation at the most blazing of tempos that hints at the technical facility, but the warmth of tone and swing feel carries an emotional charge that’s special. It really came through in the second set as a floating, straight feel under ‘All or Nothing at All’ allowed space for some soaring lines before a segue into a heart stopping reading of Henry Mancini’s ‘Dreamsville’ had everyone sighing. The first set had rolled in on the triplety African feel of keyboard meister Sam Crowe’s composition ‘Bad Science’ and rolled out on another triplet flavoured composition ‘Cherry Time’ this time one of Will’s.  Both drew fine solos form Calum Gourlay on bass and gave James Maddren plenty of opportunities to tease and disrupt with all the implied metres buried there. Somehow the first set felt like a streching of limbs and settling in of the band, they really caught fire after the break culminating in that furious work out to close. What a treat for the sardines in the Cori Tap – three cheers to James Gardner Bateman for reprising the booking and not even the ’10 year’ storms of the previous evening could conspire to deny us again.

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