Ken Mathieson Classic Jazz Orchestra

EDINBURGH JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL

Ken Mathieson Classic Jazz Orchestra Salutes the Kings of Jazz

(Salon Elegance – Tuesday 24th July)

Jazz is at an interesting time in its evolution over the past 100 years. Hugely talented and influential musicians of the first half of the 20th century are in danger of being forgotten or even dismissed. Trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke is one such talent. He came to prominence in the 1920’s but died of alcohol abuse in 1931 at the age of only 28.

Arranger Ken Mathieson has dusted off Beiderbecke’s music and given it a fresh, full and joyous sound. On this occasion, his 8 piece orchestra featured front men Billy Hunter (trumpet), Konrad Wiszniewski (tenor sax), Phil O’Malley (trombone), plus the versatile Dick Lee and Martin Foster on clarinets and various saxes. The rhythm section was made up of Tom Finlay (piano), Roy Percy (bass) and Ken Mathieson (drums, as well as providing the continuity and context of each number).

Between the Beiderbecke tunes there was an eclectic mix of music made famous by Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Hodges and Duke Ellington. Each member of the band had their impressively performed solos. My personal highlights included the tune Eccentric with Lee and Foster giving a spirited treatment, both on clarinets and Wiszniewski’s supremely melodious treatment of Idling.

Rounding off a most enjoyable concert was Black Bottom Stomp – a toe tapping tour de force.

Reviewed by Ben

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