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Finally it was the turn of the 'legendary' Geno Washington, introduced by Georgie Fame, who recalled sharing a stage with him in the mid 60s. His appearance with a bluesy soul hat and never pausing in full movement across the stage, swirling around, seemed something out of the past, yet there was no doubt of the immediacy of his magnetic stage personality and voice. He radiated a cool swing beat to all the musicians on stage, yet had some caricature mannerisms, pointing to soloists, using his hands a lot, dancing, yet with an ease and relaxed spontaneity which seemed to speak of decades of experience, notably as leader of The Ram Jam Band in the 1960s, when he had shared the stage with support groups such as Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

Another change of style followed in the second half with Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebels, a group comprising electric violin, wind controller, with lyrics clearly projected, cleverly sung with lots of dramatic silences in which he held the audience in the palm of his hand. Then it was the turn of Andy Fairweather Low who sang sixties numbers including the Gospel song I shall not be moved and Ray Charles' Hit the Road Jack, conveyed with the weighty propulsion of a veteran, going through myriad solos and variants before coming to a stylish stop. Cheers greeted each number, and the audience was by now warmed into clapping, swaying and dancing in the isles. It was the now the turn of Georgie Fame to take over the limelight, his cool energy and eloquent musicianship bringing power and swinging expression to several jazzified numbers, with Martin Taylor projecting some riveting guitar solos in Champagne.

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Copyright © 26 April 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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