Tim Whitehead Quartet
The Verdict, Brighton
Friday 17th August, 2018
It’s been a while since Tim Whitehead performed in Brighton so it was a joy to see him performing with his longtime associate Milo Fell on drums and eminent local bassist Nigel Thomas.
Beginning with a latin version of Invitation, followed by What Is This Thing Called Love, this could easily have become just another standards gig but for the original arrangements and absorbing solos which made it an engaging and enjoyable return for the Loose Tubes saxophonist. Whilst Whitehead’s original tune, Heal the Soul, veered into smooth jazz territory, it was saved by a beautiful solo by pianist Jonathan Gee.
Although Whitehead often arranges pop and soul tunes in the jazz idiom, as he did on his 1999 album Personal Standards, his roots are very much in the bebop and post-bop tradition. Not suprisingly he ended the first set with the Charlie Parker classic Scrapple from the Apple, and took a solo that illustrated his extensive knowledge of the bebop tradition.
Whitehead began the second set with a Paul Simon tune, Still Crazy After All These Years (the original of which featured a saxophone solo by Michael Brecker) that worked reasonably well as a jazz ballad. The standout tune from the second set was a Trane-style rendition of the ballad My One and Only Love with some inspired piano playing from Jonathan Gee and some lovely, slow, lyrical playing from Whitehead. This gentler side to Whitehead’s playing was further evident in later tunes, including a latin version of Burt Bacharach’s Reach Out For Me and a funky version of the Roberta Flack classic Feel Like Makin’ Love, that featured a masterful solo from bassist Nigel Thomas.
The band ended with a bluesy tune, Soft Shoe Shuffle, that included a strong groove and brief interplay between Gee and Whitehead.
Photo by Lisa Wormsley
Tim Whitehead, tenor sax; Jonathan Gee, piano; Nigel Thomas, double bass; Milo Fell, drums.