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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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Saturday, 26 January 2019 19:11

Tony Kofi Quintet, Portrait of Cannonball, 15th January, Fleet

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Tony Kofi and his Quintet deliver an impeccable performance fit for an international jazz festival.

A last-minute decision found me rushing to the small town of Fleet in Hampshire, to see Tony Kofi on a school night.

As I was driving down the motorway, I was already locked into Tony’s latest album Point Blank.

I arrived at a packed car park. The car park is never packed. And once inside the venue I was told it was standing room only. It was filled to the rafters with possible 150 to 200 eagerly awaiting music enthusiasts. 

“I remember Tony’s first appearance, almost five years ago,” announced the compare. “In fact, it was the very night a saxophonist, you may not have heard of by the name of Denys Baptiste forgot to turn up. We were all in a panic, and one of the band members calls Tony who was at home watching football. Anyway, the music commences, and without any hesitation, Tony walks onto the stage and plays into the first song without dropping a beat.”

Me and the crowd were very excited as the venue drowned in a sea of thunderous applause. 

I cannot recall a local performance where the outer edges of the hall were filled with photographers all silently clicking away. It was like The BAFTAs had come to town and the word had got around. The audience was treated to a surprise guest and winner of the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition - Deelee Dubé.

This performance featured a fantastic line-up of artist including songwriter Alex Webb (piano), Italian drummer Alfonso Vitale, upright bassist and networker extraordinaire Marianne Windham; and Andy Davies on Trumpet.

Tony Kofi delivered a soliloquy A Portrait of Cannonball for the opening piece over a melodious backdrop of soft infills. This was soon followed by 16 tunes over the 2 sets with a nice balance of vocal tunes sung by Deelee that include: Once I Loved, Little Unhappy Boy and Work Song

The band’s performance was tight and well-rehearsed. My only criticism is the microphone was not well equalised for Deelee's vocals.

This performance may not have been possible without the tremendous effort and energy of Marianne Windham who is the champion advocate for this and many other live music venues.

If you like this style of music you may also be interested in Point Blank - Tony Kofi, Julian Adderley Quintet -  Portrait Of Cannonball and Sarah Vaughan - In The Land Of Hi-Fi


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