Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Georgie Fame with the guy barker big band Ronnie Scott’s 10/9/22

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It’s always a momentous occasion to see Georgie Fame live, especially at Ronnie Scott’s- his spiritual home. I tend to think of him as the quintessential 60’s man the guy who put the swing in that era and tonight, revved up by a sell out week at the club, he did not disappoint.

Guy Barker’s big band was the vehicle for Fame’s eclectic repertoire and they warmed up proceedings nicely with an instrumental version of the Ray Charles staple ‘ I Can’t Stop Loving You’ before Georgie hit the stage bursting into ‘Yeh Yeh’ which he informed us had originally been an instrumental by Cuban Congolero Mongo Santamaria before one of his idols, Jon Hendricks put words to it. They approached it with gusto and augmented it perfectly with a robust tenor sax solo courtesy of Alex Garnett.

The sound was excellent too and the main man was in fine fettle regaling us with stories about his career and influences King Pleasure & Eddie Jefferson to name but two.

It’s startling to think he’s been going 60 years plus! He has been a fixture in Soho since the early Sixties, famous for his all-night residency at the Flamingo Club which he talked fondly about.

‘Blues At The Bull’ (an ode to The Bull’s Head Barnes) was perhaps where his foray into songwriting and jazz started saw guitarist Jim Mullen pull out some great Kenny Burrell style licks - highlighting his tone which was phenomenal. Trombonist Barnaby Dickinson also featured with a hot solo all of his own too.

It was good to see special guest Zoot Money acting as wingman on a couple of tunes especially the funky James Brown classic, ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ made even more exciting with two sax solos played simultaneously ( Garnett again and Graeme Blevins ) before he was ushered off and
told not to miss his last bus home !

Jokes aside Fame also still has his tear jerking faculties in order - this man can sing a ballad ! The extremely lyrical ‘Sometimes I’m Happy’ was, in essence, a showstopper.

Members of the big band such as piano player Jim Watson got their chance to shine on ‘Vinyl’ and alto sax player Ben Castle ( son of the late great Roy Castle ) also on the same tune props also must go to the rhythm section Chris Hill on double bass, laying it down like granite and Georgie’s son James Powell on drums.

Bonnie and Clyde got an airing too and I was surprised to hear he doesn’t hold it in particularly high esteem ( CBS forced him to sing it ! )but I’m glad he did it, with a swinging big band arrangement courtesy of the late Chico O’Farrell - Basie style! Suffice to say all in all,
a top night in Soho from one of its most enduring legends.

Words Emrys Baird

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