Cleveland Watkiss (vocals)
Nick Smart (trumpet)
Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone)
Jeremy Price (trombone)
Chris Allard (guitar)
Julian Joseph (piano)
Mark Hodgson (bass)
Andy Chapman (drums)
Guildhall Jazz Band
Reviewed by: Rob Witts
Reviewed: 14 November, 2006
Venue: Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London
Best known for his pioneering work with groups including Nucleus and the Rendell-Carr Quintet, and for a series of books including biographies of Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett, Ian Carr has also been a pivotal presence in jazz education. For 23 years a tutor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Carr also inspired young musicians at the Weekend Arts College. It was testament to this astonishing legacy that for this celebratory concert his music was performed by representatives of three generations of British jazz players to have passed through his class.
The current, excellent, Guildhall Jazz Band opened the concert with “Midnight Oil”, finding the right vein of stripped-back funk with precision and power. However, the majority of the music was given by a jam band of former Carr pupils, coalescing around Julian Joseph’s authoritative piano. “Persephone’s Jive”, with its typically tricky bars of 11/8 thrown in to fool the unwary, was pin-sharp jazz-rock taken from the first Nucleus album, animated by Chris Allard’s distortion guitar. In contrast, “Wine Dark Lullaby” was a slow waltz lit from within by Mark Hodgson’s bass line. Cleveland Watkiss brought sharp, funny scat to “Hot Rock”, as well as to a couple of standards with Joseph at the piano. But the star of the show was tenor saxophonist Tom Challenger, a recent Guildhall graduate who soloed with lucid intensity at every turn, especially on the closing “Bull Dance”.
Carr’s legacy to British jazz looks to be in safe hands.