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Saturday 13 November 2010

Hugh Jazz

The last of couple of nights have been spent at two very enjoyable gigs on the South Bank: John Grant at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday, followed on Friday by Hugh Masekela (or Philip McCartney Jr. III to give him his real name) at the Royal Festival Hall.

If you haven't already got John Grant's "Queen of Denmark" you can certainly find many of the tracks on other blogs - I know I did - so we'll go straight to Hugh. I was lucky enough to see him play the Festival Hall once before, back in the 1990s, and age has not withered his charm. If anything he is even more of a showman than he used to be.

Hugh was backed by a very tidy five piece band, with a stand-out performer in John Cameron Ward on guitar. It took them all a couple of numbers to get warmed up but once they had done so they were excellent. My only minor moan was that on a couple of occasions when they had a real groove going and had got the audience on their feet, they slightly spoiled the mood with an extended bass solo (or, worse still, a bongo solo). That's jazz, I suppose.

Hugh played some old standards like "Stimela", "Lady" and, of course, "Grazing In The Grass". They finished on real high with a rendition of "Thanayi" that was decidedly cooking, as I believe the jazz buffs say, then encored with an exceptionally funky "Ashiko". Here are the recorded versions of both songs, which seem a little sedate by comparison.

"Thanayi" - Hugh Masekela

"Ashiko" - Hugh Masekela

We were also treated to a short but sweet support set from the Mahotella Queens, who having only been together since 1964 are novices compared to Hugh. The youngest member, aged 65, got a bit over-excited towards the end and started showing off. Kids, eh?

Here are the girls in action in 1991 with Mahlatini.

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