Take 4 [Jazz (instrumental), 4 piece]
Take 4 have reformed and were back on home Turf (The Point, Exmouth). Composed of the core of Just Misbehavin' and an earlier incarnation of Take 4: Ted Draper on drums, Paul Barnham on keys and Mike Thorn on electric bass. Marius Rudnick being the new recruit.
Marius came armed with Tenor and Alto saxes, Clarinet and Flute and he led on most tunes with one or the other, sometimes switching instruments mid flight. He also acted as the MC, introducing each tune with an amusing line of chatter and provided occasional“vocal accompaniment” eg “Lovely Day” the Bill Withers classic.
This proved to be the band's first outing in the new format and they did admit to having rehearsed a few times! But they put together three sets, each of which flowed nicely, the changes of pace and style complementing one another. Whoever put the programme together did a good job.
I was surprised to see Mike Thorn eschewing his stand up double bass for the guitar. He explained that he needs to build up finger strength after the long lay-off. He underpinned the work of the soloist with a range of fluid and inventive riffs. And when called upon to play a solo he came to the fore with some mellifluous sounds.
The only member of the band I have seen playing during the pandemic was Paul Barnham. A stalwart of the Exmouth music scene from his schooldays. A few weeks ago he was playing with Martin Nicholls, Bobby King and Charlie Hearnshaw. He mentioned this gig and I said he'll have to play "Happy Birthday".......And he remembered (much to my embarrassment). He is the perfect accompanist. Always listening to the rest of the band and underpinning their efforts. And each of his solo breaks brought something new, and appropriate, to the tune. It wasn't just a case of play fast and hope.
And driving the band along on drums, Ted Draper. His beatific smile showing how much he is enjoying the music. Never too loud, frequently subtle, he ensures that the whole ensemble is together, on time and swinging.
The musical fare would have been familiar to most of the audience but there were some surprises like Charlie Parker's “Little Suede Shoes”
The inclusion of “Route 66” was welcome. Flagstaff being one of the answers to a crossword I was struggling with. And it is such a great sing along, Marius was not the only vocalist through that little treat.
There are a number of “standards” which I think really test the quality of our local jazz groups. “Nature Boy” is one. But on the night in question “Summertime” provided the challenge. One to which Take Four rose magnificently.
And, talking to Marius about a great Sidney Bechet track I had heard just that afternoon "Blue Horizon", he said, "As it is your birthday, we'll change the set and put in a Bechet version of "St Louis Blues" And it proved to be a rousing conclusion to the evening. I have not had the pleasure of hearing Marius heretofore. He proved to be an amiable host and a very talented musician.bill Bailey, Saturday 23 October 2021
Thank you Bill and Cherrill for such a complimentary and perceptive critique.