Trumpet-Man Martin Shaw Gets Linear And Limber At Imber

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Martin Shaw-20.7

Promoter Carole Merritt has built a loyal following for jazz at Imber Court in Surrey, me included, and tends to pick a star player for her monthly events and put him or her in front of a good rhythm section and see what develops. This time it was trumpeter Martin Shaw in pole position, his band of brothers comprising pianist John Pearce, bassist Dave Green and drummer Matt Home. So no passengers there.

Shaw seems either to be submerged in the ranks of the BBC Big Band or to appear in the line-ups of other leaders. In other words, he's a jazz all-rounder and has the aptitude to step into any kind of musical situation and excel. Yet his solo outings are rare and, on this evidence, to be cherished. Broadly of the Clifford Brown persuasion, one might say, he's not a grandstand player, more a linear improviser who enjoys seeing where the creative impulse takes him.

A nicely balanced programme emerged, its variety sufficient to place Shaw among our very best practitioners, either on trumpet or flugelhorn. Pianist Pearce was in commanding form, alert to every signal, his adroit touch making me think of Hank Jones, no notes wasted, each response or solo a quiet gem. Still with the tireless Dave Green alongside and Matt Home, another who is quick to follow and enhance a soloist's direction, there was the ideal bedrock for Shaw to prosper and he did.

Opening with a nifty 'Bernie's Tune', the trumpet tone nicely centred, Shaw followed with 'My Romance' as a flugel ballad, wringing out every embellishment possible, Green's solo similarly affecting. Then it was 'Secret Love' and 'Lover Man', before Shaw fell back from all this love-making and gave Pearce a trio run at 'Just in Time'. Tightly muted for 'What Is This Thing', Shaw then tackled 'All Blues' on flugel, the familiar bass motif presaging a distinctive move away from the Davis model. That said, he shoved the Harmon back in and gave 'Bye Bye Blackbird' his close attention, the highlight a duo joust with Green.

A personable communicator, Shaw clearly relished the occasion and so did we. Get him back soon, Carole!

Peter Vacher