Sun Ship burns and fans the Flames

“It’s always nice to play a gig close to home,” said Alan Skidmore, “they are very rare and then like the buses, two come along at once.”

In his sixtieth year in the business, tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore has travelled far and wide making his unique contribution to modern jazz music – Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Aylesbury, Huddersfield, Llandudno, London – and that’s just this year. Then in October he played twice at the Herts Jazz Festival 2018 in Letchworth all of half an hour’s drive from home. They were two gigs that showcased the amazing versatility of the veteran tenorist.

For the first gig he was the guest star with the Paul Dunmall Sun Ship Quartet which showcases the music of one of John Coltrane’s last albums, Sun Ship. This is post-bop jazz with fire and pace and fury from the classic Coltrane quartet in 1965 and it sounds as fresh, vibrant and spiritual today in the hands of these devotees of John Coltrane.

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Howard Cottle, Paul Dunmall and Alan Skidmore play Sun Ship

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Alan giving it some ‘welly’

 

As Skid says:

“It’s great music and gives you a chance to give it some ‘welly’ on the tenor.”

That welly results in streams of notes that make you wonder how anybody can play that fast or with such inventiveness. Very impressive blowing from all three.

 

 

 

Then the closing set of the Festival on Sunday 7 October saw Alan joining the line up with Georgie Fame’s New Blue Flames of which he’s been a member since 1970. Slightly less ‘welly’ is involved in the polished arrangements for the front line that surround Georgie Fame’s bluesy vocals. It is always a festival show-closing hit and Alan’s solos were met with great acclaim by a large and enthusiastic audience.

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Georgie Fame Hammond Organ, Alec Dankworth bass (hidden), James Powell drums, Guy Barker trumpet, Alan Skidmore tenor saxophone, Tristan Powell guitar (hidden), Anthony Kerr vibraphone

Photographs: Graham Mullett