Review: Roger Beaujolais Quartet at the Forge

Roger Braujolais. Photo credit: Sarkis Boyadjian
Roger Beaujolais Quartet
(The Forge, Camden Town NW1. June 18th 2013. Review by Brian Blain)


A hearteningly good crowd was at The Forge recently for the launch of vibist Roger Beaujolais’ latest CD Mind The Gap. From Weymouth rock roots, years of R’n B with the Chevalier Brothers, US success with Tony Remy and the electronic funk of Vibraphonic, to his current association with Jerry Dammers’Spatial AKA Orchestra, Roger’s roots could not be more different than  those of the majority of today’s young academicised players: and didn’t it show when he was up there with his loyal rhythm section of many years standing, Robin Aspland, Simon Thorpe and the UK’s own Roy Haynes, Winston Clifford, so clean, cool, precise  and yet powerfully swinging.

Here were tunes by Wes Montgomery, such as West Coast Blues  a gentle swinger in three, with a few fives thrown in to confuse, and Chick Corea from that glorious time in the late sixties and early seventies  when grooving blues based soul jazz, more relaxed and laid back than much of the hard bop of the time, had an appeal that laid the basis of the jazz-rock explosion that followed.

Roger writes good tunes of his own and a foray into Latin territory , with the not too subtly titled Joe Beam was a good example. Thad Jones’s A Child is Born took us out of grooveland, a classic of understated melodic music, but the standout for me was Duke Pearsons’ Cristo Redentor more a favourite back in the day with thinking rockers than Jazz players. This brought out the emotional side of the leader's playing of an instrument that can sometimes sound a little cold and distant, and was a masterstroke of programming in an evening of grooving good times. More than ‘just a ballad’ its long slow moving lines had that mesmerising effect on the crowd  that resulted in one of those two second delays at the end before the applause engulfed the room; always a sign that we had been in the presence of something special.

See also Chris Parker's CD Review of Mind The Gap

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