Saturday 17 April 2010

Reflections on Joe Lee Wilson at The Basement

[Photo by Emily Harris]

Thursday's gig with Joe Lee was a great success. We knew the pressure was on when the tickets sold out almost a week before leaving many people ticketless and, presumably, disappointed. However, from the moment Ela's band Remember April went on we would tell that the evening was going to be special.

Having played with Joe Lee a few weeks' earlier, he had clearly gained in strength and confidence in the couple of weeks spent in Paris, which included gigs with the New York band Spirit of Life.

Terry Seabrook and I had had a chance to run through a set with Joe Lee but the gig was the first time we had played with the fantastic rhythm section of Steve Watts (bass) and Martin France (drums). Like Terry, Steve has toured often with Joe Lee over years, and Joe Lee was very happy to be surrounded by such familiar faces. For my own part, it was the best band I had ever played with!

With fifty years of gigging behind him, Joe Lee knows how to the attention of an audience and he won them over from the moment he stepped on the stage. Though looking a bit frail, he has a big soulful voice and he chose material that was very accessible including standards (Violets For Your Furs), gospel (May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You) and hard bop classics (Song For My Father).

Following the gig I had lots of feedback from people who may not typically go to a jazz gig - "beautiful", "excellent", "enjoyable", "life affirming", "a great gig". This was testament to the hard work promoting and preparing for the gig by Steve Rayson of Kineo, Ela, Terry Seabrook, Jill Wilson (Joe Lee's wife), the staff of The Basement and, of course, Joe Lee Wilson.

The next Kineojazz gig is Claire Martin on 2nd June supported by the JH Trio plus guests. Tickets (£15) available from The Dome - better get in there early!

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