In the UK, yesterday was the hottest in April for 70 years, though not in Devon – weatherwise, that is.
But it was hot with full sun all day. It was also hot and as usual at The Blue Vanguard Jazz Club in Exeter last night where the house band heated it up expertly [read previous reviews here], and guests trumpeter Andy Hague and saxophonist Ben Waghorn burned up some great solos and then glowed warmly on a couple of sweet ballads.
Opening on Dexter Gordon’s Hanky Panky, the evening was set for a summery swirl of jazz, and for once I was sitting with the EDMC posse [yes, only members would know what that means but still cringe at the trendy nomenclature] next to an open window and door so cooled by the breeze as much as – excuse the paradox – the playing.
And whilst being playful, it would be remiss not to pause and seriously stress I can’t overstate the consistently stellar jazz played at this venue. This was further exemplified in the next two numbers, the standard The More I See You and then Jim Rotondi’s Voodoo – solos from all the players sustaining genuine heights and highlights.
The first balladic number of the set was Hague’s Tranquil Moment, a bossa nova with the sweetest horn harmonies, and this was followed by another Hague song Lost and Found where he and Waghorn delivered rousing solo spots.
After the break we were treated first to Ellis Marsalis' Swingin at the Haven, then to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Look to the Sky, a new arrangement by Hague who played flugelhorn – this number graced with a wonderful bass solo by Al Swainger, and there were some subtle sax and flugelhorn lines over the excellent keyboard of Craig Milverton.
This was followed by another Dexter Gordon, The End of a Love Affair, then another Andy Hague song, the beautiful Ballad for Someone. The night finished on Blue Mitchell’s I’ll Close My Eyes and Kenny Dorham’s Blue Bossa. I mention all of the songs played to demonstrate the rich range on the night, and because I made notes.