George Huxley is one of the finest traditional jazz practitioners in the land. Martin Longley checks out his new club night in Solihull.
Solihull British Legion
For years, the veteran reedsman George Huxley presented his monthly club night at Silhillians in Knowle, but the session has recently relocated to the Solihull British Legion, which is already a well-established home for the local traditional jazz club.
Huxley alternates between soprano and (white plastic) alto saxophones, but favoured the clarinet during this crowded pair of Thursday evening sets. As a youth, it’s certain that the bulk of his vinyl collection was taken up with Sidney Bechet platters, an influence that remains dominant. Huxley’s soprano tone captures the essence of that distinctive Bechet vibrato, and his lively negotiations just seem to get better each time he’s witnessed at a gig, naysaying any expectations of greater age dwindling the powers.
Fidgety Feet set the pace, which was frequently dashing. An invitation was made to dance, but the floor remained curiously empty for most of the evening. Perhaps the Huxley tempo was a touch too accelerated, and his repertoire sometimes turning away from familiar chestnuts, picking out some lesser-aired delicacies, such as Kid Ory’s (and Louis Armstrong’s) Savoy Blues.
John Penn’s piano had a lively ragtime-y jangle, a kind of pert dancing across the keys. Passport To Paradise was delivered as a duo with Huxley and Penn, then Eccentric, as laid down by Muggsy Spanier, featured a flighty clarinet solo, buoyed by the riffing trots of trumpeter Gordon Whitworth and trombonist Ron Hills.
The varied arrangements kept on coming, with Whitworth fronting a quartet for his vocal version of I Can’t Get Started. Towards the end of the second set, Penn played a completely solo Chevy Chase, an old Eubie Blake number, chased up by Coal Black Shine, with Huxley paradoxically bright and shiny on soprano horn.
The next Solihull session will be on Thursday the 24th of September.