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Excellently Contrasted

MIKE WHEELER listens to
tenor saxophonists Don Weller and Bobby Wellins,
backed by a rhythm section
and a string quartet from Sinfonia Viva


In the first of what promises to be a series of collaborations, promoters Derby Jazz teamed up with Sinfonia Viva for an evening that featured tenor saxophonists Don Weller and Bobby Wellins backed by a rhythm section -- and a string quartet from Viva (Darwin Suite, Assembly Rooms, Derby UK, 23 April 2008).

The two leads make an excellently contrasted pair, the mellower Wellins balancing Weller's rawer, more edgy sound. The evening included some of the tracks from their album Nine Songs. Standout numbers included Wellins' soulful treatment of Harold Arlen's 'Cabin in the Sky', and Weller's moody solo in 'Killing me Softly'.

The two leads' exchange of short phrases in 'Raunchy' was particularly ear-catching, and together they whistled up a storm in Cole Porter's 'What is this Thing called Love', and in the Tadd Dameron standard 'Good Bait'.

If there was one disappointing factor in the evening it was that the strings players from Sinfonia Viva didn't have more to do than just provide a background wash of tone. But as the Derby Jazz-Viva relationship beds down perhaps there will be greater opportunity for them to break out of their supporting role.

Copyright © 6 May 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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