Caught a trio of great gigs from the Birmingham Jazz and Blues Festival over the past few days starting with Saxitude’s outdoor bash at the Mailbox on Saturday, then Rebecca Downe’s blues belter of a show in Victoria Square and finally Pete York’s Big 5 last night in The White Horse (Harborne). The latter was a particular treat. For those not in the know Pete was a founder member of the Spencer Davis Group before going on to form Hardin & York (see the amazing clip above...Pete's the one with slightly less hair) and returning to his first love, jazz.
In the intervening years he’s played with the likes of Dr John, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts, Jon Lord and Cozy Powell (not too shabby eh?) and cemented his position as one of the true jazz drum greats. Last night he was on superb form, cracking jokes in between numbers, telling the odd celebrity tale and, naturally, giving a sublime demonstration of the find art of drumming. The rest of the band (including York’s friend of more than 50 years Ron Hills) were equally top notch, despite a couple of them being drafted in at the 11th hour. You’d have to have had tin ears not to have loved their rendition of If I Only Had Brain from The Wizard of Oz and the traditional jazz thang of giving each member a solo drew appreciative rounds of applause throughout the two hour set. As a bit of a bonus I even shared a hand dryer in the men’s loos with the legendary Muff Winwood (the dude who produced Sparks Kimono My House album). Somehow I refrained from singing this dryer ain’t big enough for the both of us...
Anyway, Pete York’s got several other gigs coming up over the next few days including a drum workshop on Friday at the Conservatoire. Check out the Festival's Facebook page for details on this and everything else that's going down.
PS: And here’s a more recent clip of Pete than the one above. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No...it’s Krupa-man!