After the Watermill Jazz Club on Thursday 14th Nov, Keith Loftis and I headed up to Darlington for a rehearsal with the Durham County Youth Big Band on Friday evening. Keith and the regular band leaders, Shaune Eland and Ian Robinson were preparing them for their support act as part of the Saxophone Giants tour the next evening at Bishop Auckland Town Hall.
Last May, Abram returned to the North East to work with the Durham County Youth Big Band. They performed with him for a half hour slot before Abram’s quartet took centre stage. It was an incredible and unforgettable evening for all involved and Saturday night was no different. The legacy that Abram left behind was clear to see and it was very moving to witness his long-time friend and musical associate build on what Abram had started all those years ago when he first began working with the Band in 2005.
One of their alumni, trumpeter and composer, Matt Roberts, who was in the Band when Abram first taught them back in 2005, arranged one of Abram’s tunes from his debut recording, Soul Vibe which Keith played on. The tune was called Gut Bucket Blues and Keith recalls it was one of the first ever tunes they rehearsed. Hearing it come to life in a big band format was incredibly special and brought back a lot of fond memories for Keith.
A little later on Jean Toussaint, Reuben James, Dave Hamblett and Mark Lewandowski joined Keith for an intense performance paying tribute to the saxophone giants.
As the head of music education for Durham County Council, Adrian Biddulph said, “Abram would have been proud and one happy man looking down on how those corner stones he laid down have been the solid foundation to numerous compelling jazz experiences for our young people in their future lives – Keith ensured that the legacy lives on and that the challenge, visioning and passion for our young students is sustained”.
On Sunday we headed down to Brighton Dome for another sell out gig and a fabulous audience. We’re now taking a break for a few days to focus on the Tribute to Abram Wilson gig at the Purcell Room on Wednesday 20th November. The Americans have all arrived now and Abram’s music is sounding incredible. Looking forward to seeing some of you there!
Photo Credit: Adrian Biddulph