PAUL BOOTH QUINTET
Bonington Theatre, High Street, Arnold - Thursday 25th September 2008
By Trudie Squires
HERE was a band that glowed with energy, wit and enthusiasm; so much so that their positive approach and formidable skills rubbed off on the audience at a very early stage bringing whoops of delight from all present. It is seldom that a band really enjoys itself as much as this quintet did.
Leader Paul Booth, playing tenor and soprano saxes collaborated beautifully with guitarist Stuart McCallum; their ensemble playing produced accurate blends of sound and their experiments with electronic wizardry was both tasteful and effective. I have long been an advocate of the piano playing of Mike Gorman; I know personally he loves the Bonington's magnificent Steinway and last night that love affair was resumed. He was just incredible; his boundless flow of ideas; his use of the whole range of the piano, were a joy to behold. The quintet's rhythm team were no less skilled; bass player Mike Janish was replacing Phil Donkin, but he remained undaunted and he seemed to have ten fingers on each hand. His left hand was a blur as he soloed in the higher register, all played with a rich, woody tone. Meanwhile Dave Smith, the group's percussionist used his lightening quick reactions to propel things along. Using only a basic kit his unique drumming style was neat and uncluttered
The quintet played Booth originals, with contributions by Joni Mitchell, Cole Porter, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Both Sides Now was played as a ballad, featuring the leader's passionate tenor-sax. An original, as yet untitled, featured Booth building up a multi-track rhythm via an electronic box and improvising impressively over the top.
A steaming intro from drummer Dave Smith launched the band into Coltrane's Lazybird with Paul playing tribute to its composer with a beautifully constructed solo. The theme was taken up by Mike Gorman who tossed it around in a frenzy of ideas. Cross Channel, another original, had a beautifully laid out chord sequence, which once again, was a showcase for Gorman's pianistic skills and Stuart McCallum's gorgeous flowing guitar. Cole Porter's I Love You was a source of amusement for bass player Janish, probably because of its outrageous time signature. It presented him with no problems, however, as he soloed brilliantly as did Gorman, skating gracefully over the chords. All good things have to end, but the end came with a flourish on Charles Mingus' Better Git It In Your Soul, which endowed a great session with a rousing finale featuring all the players.