Pee Wee Ellis – Bristol jazz festival, The Lantern

Sunday 18th March

My second gig of the day, my fourth of the jazz festival. I only decided to add this to my weekend plans a few days ago. I’d gone back and forth about getting a ticket and then just thought, well why not, its not like I’m doing anything else early Sunday evening.

It proved to be the right decision. Pee Wee Ellis reminded me of how I got into jazz in the first place, how that first jazz gig (also in the Lantern) had made me feel. Happy, energetic and playful with sounds. This was funky jazz and blues with a dash of soul thrown in for good measure. The 90 minute set flew past and despite the cold (seriously Colston Hall sort that out. Please) the music was warm. The drummer, Julie Saury, was superb as was pianist Jason Rebello. They were ably aided by Alec Dankworth on double bass and of course Pee Wee on sax. I’m not being unkind in saying that, at 76, his best  days are behind him, but he can still play a mean tune. I was smiling most of the way through and my foot was tapping. This was more straightforward and traditional jazz and as part of my learning and introduction to the genre a pretty fine way of genning up on some of its history.

He invited a talented young sax player up to join him, right at the end of the set. A former pupil, who had outgrown him he said. I have forgotten the lad’s name (I’m sorry, its been a long day) but he was very good indeed. It added another layer of depth to the sound and was a nice touch, the old master, handing the baton to the young pretender.

It was good to have a reminder of how vibrant and joyous jazz can be.

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