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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Wednesday, 18 November 2015 22:45

Gary Bartz Quartet - 9th November, Ronnie Scott’s, London

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Gary Bartz and his Quartet light up the night sky at Ronnies.

Line up: Gary Bartz - alto & soprano sax, Barney McAll - Piano, James King - Bass, Greg Bandy - Drums

The man who has played with some of the greatest names in the jazz constellation is playing Ronnie Scott’s.

As they start to play, Gary says there is normally no set list for them - they just play continuously and “if you hear a pause, that’s called a rest!” Seeing is believing. Gary and his quartet will play on and on to a super appreciative audience who seem to know his music very well.  

Gary’s long white hair contrasts with the shiny yellow saxophone in his hands. He plays it with ease, and one can hear the Coltrane’s influence. It’s a full flowing notes parade!

Barney McAll on piano - how to talk about a man whom in the space of a nanosecond lights up the air with full, sunny jazz moments? There is a quiet accord between Gary and Barney. Silently they read each other faces, they know what to play and how.


Then Gary picks up the tempo again and it’s all systems go. One has to love the way the quartet play together, such tight unity, but it is Gary, being the wizard, who leads the music and the timing of it all.  

Let’s imagine one of Van Gogh’s most treasured and admired paintings of all, “Starry Night”. The Quartet’s music is emotive, evocative, but also fast-paced and slick. 

Mr Bartz makes time fly in the smooth opening piece, leaving us enraptured in a vortex of notes. 

And let’s not forget smiling, of course. Gary Bartz's smile goes a long way, his head nods along to Barney McAll’s piano, following his every note on the keyboard, the refreshing sound of a jazz piano being played with cool panache.

Gary Bartz, a young looking 75 year old jazz saxophonist, but age has no relevance here tonight when one is faced with such a legend. His playing is of a higher stature, reflecting decades of learning and assimilating, creating his own inimitable style.   

And what’s even better is that the audience knows it, cheering and applauding at every chance, Gary modestly smiles thanking for such reception.  


Words: Erminia Yardley

Photos: Carl Hyde 


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Rob Mallows

London Jazz Meetup owner and fan of ‘plugged in’ jazz.

Erminia Yardley

Freelance journalist & writer. Jazz mad. Art lover. Photography freak.

Simon Cooney

By day a full time Londoner in tv news. By night jazzaholic



Fernando Rose

I love my jazz and I bless the funk. I play percussion for all and sundry and go by @Mr Cool.

Hilary Robertson

Jazz-obsessed freelance writer and saxist.



Grae Shennan

Laboratory scientist with a love of evolving music that defies boundaries.