Veteran tenor player Bobby Wellins made a welcome return (and farewell) to 'Darlo' in the stellar company of bassist Andy Cleyndert, drummer Mark Taylor and Italian pianist Andrea Pozza. Wellins played with undiminished vigour, eager to share his enthusiasm for the music and generous in support of the musicians working with him on this poignant occasion. Ellington (In a Sentimental Mood), Jobim (No More Blues and If You Never Come to Me) and Leroy Anderson's Serenata were but some of the first-set gems. Wellins referred to Andy Cleyndert as one of the finest bass players of his generation. I thought that was about right but there again he could be the finest. Drummer Mark Taylor - British born, New York resident (seventeen years and counting) - is, perhaps, the heir to Martin Drew.
Throughout 2011 the north east has heard some astounding drummers and here we are in January 2012 and Taylor continued the trend. If I formed a band (It won't be any time soon!) he'd be my first call, ditto Cleyndert. To Pozza...young, supremely gifted and a Steinway to play with. This boy has got it all. Wellins loved his playing. Accompanist, soloist, he would appear to have at his fingertips the entire history of jazz piano. A Modernist gig it was, yet Pozza dug deeper into the tradition. He was on a short visit to Britain to work and record for the first time with Wellins. Upon his return to these shores make sure you check him out. Our tenor man paid tribute to a native of these parts with Angel of the North - the Scot had a long association with the late Peter Jacobsen and it was rather apt to include it in the set list at this gig in the north of England. The curtain came down with Bye Bye Blackbird. Bye Bye Darlington.
Radio 5 (see comments).