Old Concert Review – Tony Kofi Quartet – Lichfield Guildhall – 6th October 2006

Tony Kofi Quintet– Lichfield Guildhall – 6th October  2006

The Lichfield Arts 2006 Jazz season was started in good style when Tony Kofi, one of the country’s foremost Jazz Alto Saxophonist bought his trio to play in the City’s Guildhall.

The trio was joined by guest soloist Trumpet player Byron Wallen to play music from his most recent critically acclaimed album ‘Future Passed’. The trio of Tony Kofi on Alto, Soprano and Baritone saxophone, Ander Olinder on B3 Hammond Organ and drummer Robert Fordjour had an incredibly rich and full sound, with the organ providing bass, chords, and melodic counterpoint over the precision playing of the drums.

The playing of Tony Kofi such other players as Jan Gabarek, Candy Dulfer, David Sanborn, Wayne Shorter (particularly during the episodes which featured soprano saxophone) while the more technically dazzling episodes owed a lot to such names as Paul Desmond, and to a certain extent Charlie Parker.

Much of the music’s style owed a lot to the west coast sound of the 1960’s Organ Trios, particularly such pieces as ‘The Journey’, ‘Suibokuga’ and ‘Blue Pavel’. Caribbean music styles were also represented in such numbers as ‘Zambia’ and ‘Jubiliation (For Boo)’ whereas more thematic pieces such as the slow ballad ‘A Song for Papa Jack’ allowed for some emotional playing from all members, with an open trumpet solo from Byron Wallen which allowed a lot to a young Miles Davies. The whole of the playing in this piece would not have sounded completely out of place on Davies’s famed ‘Sketches of Spain’ album.

More upbeat pieces such as ‘As We Speak’ allowed for modal playing and complex lines to be played by the musicians, with the rock solid drumming of Robert Fordjour providing a valuable underpinning to the fast themes, and the talent of Robert Fordjour providing Hammond Organ stabs with one hand, whilst playing the complex bass parts with the other hand.

The concert was over too soon, but not before the band played the types of encore that give groups like this their reputations as live ensembles.   

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