I enjoyed listening to some Sonny Rollins CDs a friend lent me recently so I thought I would go and check out this live gig which is part of Playtime, a weekly platform for writing and performing jazz in Edinburgh. The upstairs space in The Outhouse was pretty full and struck me as a great space for this kind of gig. The audience was comfortably close to the band and the place had a relaxed feel to it.
Phil Bancroft was a powerhouse on tenor sax and played with Mario Caribe on bass, Graeme Stephen on guitar and Tom Bancroft on drums.
I have never seen Mario Caribe play up close so it was great to see how expressive he was. They started the night with Strode Road followed by Joe Locke’s arrangement of No Mo’ before tantalising the audience with the Freedom Suite. Phil explained that he felt this was the piece of music which summed up Rollins for him. What a piece of music, it stopped, started, circled, explored, hypnotised and then returned back to the beginning.
I love a bit of Calypso so when Phil explained they were going to play a South African calypso piece he’d written called Hubert and Cowboy Pete I was intrigued. He wrote it in South Africa after doing his medical elective there during which he met and busked in the townships with a couple of local musicians (one of whom had a tiny cowboy hat).
The audience (including a couple of wee dogs) enjoyed the music. It is fair to say that many people knew each other, the banter was good and the chat from the band also informative and amusing. Phil let us in on a secret; John Coltrane is the sax player he wants to be but Sonny Rollins is the player he is. I will take that.