John Burgess Salutes Louis Armstrong
Outhouse, Edinburgh Rob Adams GLASGOW HERALD
John Burgess is at pains to insist that his new series of tributes to the jazz pioneers will not be formal lectures – and knowing him and having witnessed the first instalment, your reviewer can confidently back him up. Formal? He can’t be. Lecture? He wouldn’t. What Burgess does do, and do very well, is share his enthusiasm for the music very generously indeed and season his band’s interpretations with wittily imparted detail and some endearing personal memories.
His story of his mum buying a ticket to see Louis Armstrong’s Edinburgh gig in 1957 because she thought local hero Alex Welsh was the support act, and being sorely disappointed, was typical deadpan Burgess and his own musicianship, with a clarinet style that’s essentially vocal and tenor saxophone playing that exudes warmth and tenderness, brings the spirit of an earlier era directly into the here and now.
The Outhouse’s recently refurbished loft offers the perfect venue for informality – there’s no PA and only minimal amplification – and while a programme including classics such as The Weary Blues and Panama had been carefully planned, spur of the moment decisions, such as drummer Tom Bancroft switching very capably to washboard (“if you must”), added to the fun and character of the presentation.
Campbell Normand’s resourcefulness, on electric keyboard in the absence of a piano, Ross Milligan’s warm, fluent guitar lines and authentic-sounding deep south banjo chording and Bancroft and double bassist Bill Brydon’s marshalling of the rhythm behind Burgess’s serially lyrical, hot, blues-drenched and gently commanding extemporisations all combined to suggest that the next subjects, Bix Beiderbecke and Jelly Roll Morton, will be similarly and suitably celebrated.
released February 6, 2016
Ross Milligan Banjo and guitar
Campbell Normand Piano
Bill Brydon String bass
Tom Bancroft Drums and washboard
John Burgess Clarinet and tenor saxophone