REPORT: Peter King Benefit Night at Pizza Express Dean Street

L-R: Julian Arguelles, Peter King, Jeremy Brown, Jean Toussaint
Peter King Benefit night at Pizza Express Dean Street
Photo credit: Melody McLaren
Peter King Benefit Night
(Pizza Express Dean Street, 29th June 2015. Report by Sebastian Scotney)

Tributes and well-wishes to Peter King had come in from far and wide last night: from Jon Hendricks "you are the best of the jazz community", from Phil Woods, "fight the Eb fight," from Charles McPherson "keep going!", from clubs in Sheffield and Barcelona, from Charlie Watts, describing the "pleasure and the honour" to have played alongside the great British saxophonist whose health has been giving way in the past few years.

And yet, when King took the stand and played, and that sound, that beauty, that logic and clarity take over, it is easy to forget the pain he has been going through. I Can't Get Started was his first feature. This was the moment to forget the idea that playing over changes can ever be repetitive, or constraining, or been-there done-that. The sheer variety of vocabulary, the ability to land, to suggest new time-feels (quickly picked up on by a trio of Tom Cawley, Jeremy Brown and Stephen Keogh) to float a phrase as a question, as a warning, as a was wonderful to share, to be so close to, and to hope it continues.

There was an awed and admiring atmosphere on the stand, not least from saxophone brothers and willing and devoted acolytes Jean Toussaint and Julian Arguelles, which conveyed itself to the room. Others who made significant contributions were Pete Churchill, Tina May, guitarist Augustin Mas (spelling?), bassist Arnie Somogyi (who also ran an auction), drummers Matt Home and Steve Brown...

These people all come and give their services in order to support an artist they revere, and that speaks volumes.  They are busy people, as a quick sample of my conversations around the room last night can testify:

- Pete Churchill will have new arrangements performed this Thursday when Quincy Jones collects a doctorate at the Royal Academy of Music. He will also launch a lovely new album of his songs with Mishka Adams, Ben Barritt, Mark Lockheart and Adriano Adewale next Wenesday (LINK)

- Tina May had just returned from touring in France and has a new album out with Enrico Pieranunzi

- Stephen Keogh will be running the August Global Music Foundation course in Certaldo    

- Julian Arguelles is preparing a tour with his quartet


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