It was clear from the start of this two-set gig, even before he explained his long-standing love of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s seminal ‘Jazz Samba’ album, that saxophonist Brian Molley was an ideal person to re-interpret this beautiful music, his warmth of tone being much like that of Stan Getz himself.
Molloy’s bandmates too are all established figures on the Scottish Jazz scene and leaders in their own right, and as expected they too did the music ample justice in both ensemble playing and when soloing.
Bassist Brodie Jarvie took on the role of Ketter Betts and John Byrd in the original recording, confirming he is one of our most able up-and-coming young bassists here in Scotland. Tom Gibbs on piano similarly was hugely impressive, perhaps especially in his solos while exceptional drummer Stu Brown (more on him in another review coming later), sometimes using his hands on the drum kit skins, showed his great ‘multi-cultural’ drumming chops. Guitarist Ross Milligan, taking on Charlie Byrd’s mantle, did so with a deftness that was a great pleasure to witness.
Molloy’s explaining each tune beforehand was very helpful, and his calm, centred persona (one even wonders, is he possibly a practitioner of meditation?) contributed strongly to the overall feeling of serenity, in interesting contrast to the ebullience of the material.
In recent times there has seemed to be a widespread and increasing appetite for revisiting musical gems from the past. Whilst this is in general regrettable (as mostly on-the-money music commentator Ted Gioia has expounded lately in his The Honest Broker substack), Molley deserves nothing but applause for these luminous interpretations.
For Molloy is a really great saxophonist, arranger and composer, clearly classically-informed and with a highly attractive, lyrical style and mellifluousness of tone. His latest covid-era album ‘Intercontinental’, in collaboration with Indian Krishna Kishor, is a gem. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the music played tonight could be recorded too, for posterity?