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Simon Spillett, Vic Ash quintet review.


Buckinghamshire, UK
This is a short review of the above who played at Berkhamsted on Saturday to a very enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
I have heard Simon Spillett before and really enjoyed it so I was really looking forward to the gig. I had heard of Vic Ash but never heard him play. The backing was John Critchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass, and Martin Drew on drums. Vic Ash is a very fine player, particularly shining on clarinet. His nice original re-arranging of "Bernie's Tune" was excellent. He would be well worth seeing in his own right. However the evening was dominated by the powerful Spillett. He is a big man with a lots of charisma, and lots of sound! He plays super-fast, certainly, but puts all the notes into logical and meaningful phrases, and builds those into solos that go somewhere within the context of the song, in my opinion. Harmonically, he's not all that way out, in a jazz context, but I fancy he threw in a few more "crunchy" notes than last time I saw him; but he uses them sparingly and therefore to good effect. The tempo is mostly fast with some very fast thrown in, though he showed his balladeering ability to good measure on a song by Lalo Schifrin the title of which I've forgotten. The highlight, for me, was "Lester Leaps In". Overall, he is technically a master.
The backing band was excellent, and I'd just like to say here how good I think Alec Dankworth is on bass. I have seen him many times now; he is one of those bass players whose solos you actually look forward to, but he also anchors a band so well that all the other players are freed up to give their best, so the drummer, Martin Drew, was able to be very musical rather than merely keep time (which he does excellently, of course), and he is capable of keeping up with the fastest tempi. John Critchinson was great as usual; his solos were short and understated but worth waiting for. It was a really good evening.


I saw them last Friday. Excellent evening. Catch them if you can. They are on a short tour to celebrate Vic Ash's 60 years in the business. I hope I can play as well when I'm 80.


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