Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Wonderful tribute to Fats Waller in an hour of mesmeric music from one of the best known jazz trios on the circuit.
Why can you can never find a seat in The Jazz Bar? OK, a gig in the prime evening or post-midnight slots is always going to be hooching but come on, mid-afternoon mid-week and the place is absolutely heaving, a buzz of anticipation awaiting the arrival of Brian Kellock and his trio for an afternoon tribute to Fats Waller.
Neither Brian Kellock nor the other two parts of his trio, bass player Kenny Ellis and percussionist John Rae need any introduction. So they just launch straight into a number that no-one knows the name of but that every jazz pianist, including Fats, played. Twelve bars in and it was if you were listening to the maestro himself, so clear is Kellock’s reproduction of Fats Waller’s unique style of playing. All that is missing is the hiss from the 78 (note for younger readers, ‘78’ refers to the 78 rpm records on which much of Waller’s material was recorded. Remember those? Record players with a needle? That’s what produced the hiss.)
It made for an inspired hour Fats Waller’s jazz featuring numbers such as ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’, ‘Sweet ‘n Slow’, ‘Don’t Let It Bother You’, Believe It, Beloved’, ‘Lonesome Me’, ‘Oh Suzanna’, ‘I’m Crazy About My Baby’ and many others. And don’t forget that Fats was an accomplished singer, not a skill that applied to anyone in this trio. But this worked to their advantage, allowing Kellock, in particular, to jam and riff away to his heart’s content around the original melody of each piece.
You couldn’t help but marvel at the ability of the three guys to just pick apart a tune or a rhythm and run with it, each given their moment in the sun with a solo, weaving the music seamlessly with each other as each piece built to its finale.
Kellock is a sublime pianist, as at home with the gentle and reflective as he is with the upbeat. And we got the full range of Fats’ hits allowing what might sound to the untrained ear as anarchic digressions but to the jazz aficionado are examples of the apparent telepathic talents of this top class trio to jam. Ellis knows how to get the most out of a double bass and Rae’s drumming is supportive when it needs to be, but more than capable of rising to any free-form opportunity.
We had slow, fast and just about every tempo in between and plenty of foot-tapping, stool drumming and hand clapping from the audience. And you know you’re listening to a good gig when the bar-tender is standing there, idly juggling his cocktail shaker in ever more complex throws that are all perfectly in time with the beat. It was all over far too quickly but Kellock is making frequent appearances with various musicians this Fringe, so check your programme and try and catch him on various dates up to 25 August.