Wednesday 7 June 2023

A wonderful surprise at Ronnie Scotts last night! Ben Sidran review

 Last night, I went to see one of my favourite Jazz artsits. We'd booked tickets to see the rather wonderful Mr Ben Sidran. I've long been a fan of Ben. I first got into him in the ealry 1980's. He'd been a member of the Steve Miller Band in the late 1960's and I found a solo album of his called Bulldog, with a version of the SMB song, reworked as Ben Sidrans Midnight Tango. Of course I bought it. At the time, my musical tastes were less catholic, I wasn't particularly into Jazz, but I would often listen to it, if I wanted some mellow music. 

Over the years, I've gotten more into him. I've seen him a few times at Ronnie Scotts. It is always a great show. I love the lyrics and the incidental philosophy he shares with the audience. One thing I really love about Ben is that he doesn't talk down to an audience. He is a very learned chap, but he manages to get across his love of Spanish Poet Garcia Lorca without sounding pretentious or smug. In fact, he makes you want to check out his work. He talks about the myth of Sisyphus, forever pushing the rock up the hill, only to start again the next day, imploring us to "Think him happy". He tells us that as we are at a live jazz gig, we'll go home happy and we'll be alright. 

Clare booked the tickets six months ago. 

She simply said "Do you fancy going to see Ben Sidran in June" and I said "Yep". Didn't think any more about it until last night. We turned up and I recieved a wonderful surprise. The bass player appearing with Ben was the rather wonderful Billy Peterson. If you don't know his work, perhaps the best known is Blood on the tracks with Bob Dylan, where he played bass on my favourite Dylan track "Tangled up in Blue". If you want to know just how tasty his bass playing is, Discogs says "During his extensive musical career, the permanently in-demand bassist has worked with many internationally famous, acclaimed artists, among them Carlos Santana, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Prince, Les Paul or Steve Miller, just to name a few. "

Clare, is a decent musician in her own right, playing with the BBC Elstree Concert band. She commented that she'd never seen the double bass played. We've both seen him play a dozen or so times with The Steve Miller Band, but the advantage of seeing a good player in a Jazz environment is that you can see just how talented they are, as pop and rock tends to reign in the opportunities for bass players to shine. 

The band were nominally plugging their new album, Swing State, which is a collection of decent tunes, reworked for a Jazz Trio Piano/Bass/Drums. 

As there are no vocals, you won't get to appreciate Ben's humour or insight, but it is a decent album, if you like smooth jazz. Perhaps a better insight is this Youtube clip

A measure of how good Ben Sidran was last night that there were no selfish souls talking all of the way through, which has been a bugbear at a few recent gigs at Ronnies. The show finished at around 9,45 and I was at home, tucked up in bed by 11pm. All rather civilised.


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