Rhythm Sticks 2006 – Roger Beaujolais Sextet

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Roger Beaujolais (vibraphone)
Mark Lockheart (tenor & soprano saxophones)
David Newton (piano)
Simon Thorpe (double bass)
Winston Clifford (drums)
Ollie Savill (percussion)


Reviewed by: Rob Witts

Reviewed: 21 July, 2006
Venue: Purcell Room, London

The Roger Beaujolais Quintet last year released “Sentimental” (StayTuned Records) which showed Beaujolais’s vibes in their most mellow setting to date. For this live date, percussionist Ollie Savill added atmospheric, Latin-tinged percussion, recalling the leader’s acid jazz past and adding to an already broad palette of colours; the album features the full band on just one number, and this set was similarly varied.

The band responded to the stifling heat in the Purcell Room with a sultry rendition of “Black Narcissus”, Savill adding a wash of rustling seashells under Beaujolais’s floating chords. The group plays this 1960s’ Blue Note repertoire very stylishly, with supple support from Simon Thorpe’s bass and Winston Clifford’s drums, and a beautiful rippling riff springing up in piano and saxophone.

Replacing Robin Aspland on piano, David Newton contributed an incisive, McCoy Tyner-ish solo to a hard-swinging “Old Devil Moon!” with Latin overtones. Mark Lockheart (of Polar Bear and Perfect Houseplants) caressed the melody of “What’s New” on tenor sax, before raising the temperature with a torrent of sound on “Highway One”. At the centre of the group was Beaujolais himself, shaping a phrase with a subtle and varied touch, or igniting the band with a furious flurry of notes.

If the players lacked a little focus in the first half, they hit their stride in the second, taking an obvious pleasure in their classy and assured music-making in spite of the heat.



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