Friday, April 05, 2019

Arthur Street Loft Orchestra: Lucien Johnson's "Party Sax"

New Zealand Jazz
I’ve been a bit slack getting this post together. On Monday night (25 March) I made the trek in for the Arthur Street Loft Orchestra. This week featured the work of Lucien Johnson and an 8-piece group (trombone, 2 trumpets, sax, piano, bass, drums & percussion). Under the title of “Party Sax,” it was indeed a night of good vibes, groove, riffage and plenty of wailing saxophone (Lucien largely stuck to tenor but he also busted out a little baritone). It was a rarity in that the set wasn’t 100% original compositions (the emphasis on the series has been on writing original work). Lucien included pieces by David Murray and Butch Morris (“Morning Song” and “Spooning” respectively) and I think there was one from Art Blakey too. The choices were very much in fitting with the overall vibe of the night. Solo-wise the emphasis was on Lucien (no complaints there), but there some other nice contributions too. James (sorry, I don’t know you’re surname!) blew a nice muted trumpet solo on the final piece of the night and Dan Hayles stretched out early on in the set I haven’t heard him playing much in a context that I dig, but he was the right choice for the piano chair tonight. Cory Anderson took care of business from the drum throne. I think this was the groups pre-CubaDupa gig, and based on what I heard, I’m sure it would have gone down well the following weekend. A fun night.

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