January 10, 1969

Ronnie Scott & The Band – 10 January 1969, Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, reviewed by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Journal 22/2 (February 1969): “Ronnie Scott’s octet paced briskly through a programme of originals: two rich ones by flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler (There’s Always Someone Watching, Sweet Dulcinea Blue), two light ones by keyboardsman Gordon Beck (Music from the Film of the Same Name, Macumba), two penned by tenor-of-fortune Joe Henderson on his recent visit (Ricorda Me, The Kicker), two features dedicated to John Surman (Mike Westbrook’s Too Late, Too Late and Laurie Holloway’s King Pete, and ‘Hymie’ Donovan’s Lord Of The Reedy River. Wheeler’s writing, like his blowing, is lucid, gentle and brilliant. Dulcinea is a pretty waltz with airy, holdback resolutions, though it slumps at the end. The thorny, shifting chorus of Watching is too long for effective repetition. The composer plays with cool distinction on both – beautiful. Though alternatively foggyand screeching on Too Late (a loping, pyramidal riff) and bullish on Sweet, Surman cut a snaky groove on Music, and was up and away on his strident soprano on Pete. Henderson’s expert compositions provided fine showcases for Chris Pyne (trombone) and Ronnie, who weaved good lines through the breaks in Kicker. Gordon Beck’s Music has lodged in my ear and won’t come out – a polished rock; on his blow-torch Macumba and Sweet his bits were facile. But for his annoying habit of slow-down cross-rhythms behind soloists, Tony Oxley stirred the soup adequately. Pete King, looking for all the world like a Velasque courtier, made some genial comments on Watching, Kicker, and was really persuasive on Macumba, the uproarious closer which had everybody in the band shouting, then everyone in the audience.”

Bouchard reviewed an undated Jon Hendricks gig in the same issue of Jazz Journal: “The most alert house group I have heard in months at Ronnie Scott’s was the octet supporting Jon Hendricks the last night of his engagement. The band got to unwind things with half a set’s worth of engaging arrangements framing generally good solos by Ronnie himself, John Surman (soprano sax) and Chris Pyne (trombone), the later two having speedily trotted over with their axes from 100 Oxford Street where, not an hour before, they had been sitting in exhilaratingly with Humphrey Lyttelton’s Homey Jazz Band and titillating the jitterbuggers. Kenny Wheeler had a delicious flugelhorn spurt on a medium Latin piece.

Hendricks came on beaming in red corduroy and rasped out some genial but preponderantly show-type stuff, featuring one or two of his juch-copied verbalized ‘horn’ solos. All numbers were delivered with consummate grace and charm. J. J. Johnson’s Lament, as a classically arranged by Gil Evans, became an intriguing and moving ballad with Hendricks following Miles Davis’ bittersweet line. A heartfelt, breathy verse on Motherless Child introduced startlingly a funky, stop-time Comin’ Home, with a heated solo for clubowner. Hendricks’ sly working into his act of three of his kids was an unexpected kick rather than a corny trick. There’s no flies on anybody in that family: Michele handled a bop solo on Shiny Stockings with hip aplomb, and was eventually joined by Charlene and Eric in an ingenious Jack Spratt (you know, the Mother Goose rhyme) while Tony Oxley (drums) and Jon (cowbell) bided good time. The set closed with a door-slamming Roll ‘Em Pete with Pete King rolling a furious cannonade on alto and an euphoric chunk of Hendrickian ‘tenor’ wailing, sublime scatting from syllabic and melodic standpoint.”