Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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ADAM GLASSER’S SA & BEYOND : Spice Of Life Soho 20/06/18


Good to see the much loved Spice Of Life run by promoter and singer Paul Pace still thriving after nearly twenty years in business deep in the very heart of Soho. The quality of Jazz and Jazz related acts is still very much in evidence as typified by the zestful pianist and harmonica player Adam Glasser who tonight paid tribute to the late, great Hugh Masekela,who was rightly revered as one of South Africa's finest musicians, a gifted trumpeter and Flugelhorn player who fused jazz with SA styles and who took part in political activism and was ultimately exiled for his beliefs.

Glasser and his excellent band,tore through material with applomb,the earthy 'Ndize Bonono' was an exceptionally gripping number with a head made all the more joyous by three instruments playing it (soprano,piano and guitar) a device used later in this comprehensive and extensive set. Saxophonist,Jason Yarde was blowing up a storm and generally led processions with his fiery presence and attack.The major key blessedness of 'Shebeen' was a highlight too and an inspired choice from HM's album 'The Union Of South Africa '(Ironically recorded in The US), a special mention must go to drummer Tim Giles whose understated funkiness throughout was a major asset to the quintet.

The regaling of tunes from the entire spectrum of his career was beginning to mesmerise the audience and the second set got off to a terrific start with the driving and propulsive 'Nomali' a fierce composition that reminded me rythmically of Les Mc Cann's 'Compared To What' again another perfect sounding post for the alto playing of Yarde who I think I'll christen,Yard Of Hard! Not to be outdone guitarist Mike Outram stepped up to the plate with an absorbing and highly melodic solo full of runs,trills and what blues guitarists call the Texas whip! His improv,interplay with Yarde on 'Part Of A Whole' really caught my imagination too,just two great players vibing off each other with devastating effect.

It was certainly seat of the pants,on the edge stuff,gripping for any musician in the house to witness.Glasser's enthusiasm and knowledge of the compositional stories ramped up the energy and the medium swing lushness of 'Blues For Hughie' saw him give a flourishing piano solo and it was clear to see his enthusiasm for this project was infectious. The choppy sounding 'Scullery Department' added some light relief and with Glasser's melodious harmonica it somehow reminded me of the score from Jacque Tati's 'Mon Oncle' a whimsical affair stirred further with an imperious and hefty bass solo courtesy of the man underpinning the whole show,Steve Watts whose pulse is set in granite as opposed to quicksand!

I guess no tribute would be complete without playing his major hit 'Grazing In The Grass' being performed as the last number and Glasser and co were happy to oblige in what turned out to be a unique evening of township Jazz and beyond.A joyous affair and resounding success,a good starting point for the curious and a touchstone for the longtime fan,Bo Masekela indeed!
Words Emrys Baird

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