Byron Wallen live at East Side Jazz Club. 1st July 2014

East Side Jazz Club hosted yet another attractive gig as part of the weekly series at Tommy Flynn’s on Leytonstone High Road. Byron Wallen was featured but before I saw him I had to take care of the inner man as I was hungry. Thankfully the pub serves food downstairs (I’m glad it’s not available in the music room) and I was tempted by their very good battered cod, served in a huge portion with a freshly dressed salad and some proper chips. The new landlord is carrying on with a good menu and I’ll be eating here again.

After that I caught the end of the first set from Byron Wallen (trumpet) Simon Purcell (piano), Gary Crosby (bass) and ever-present Clive Fenner (drums). Bye Bye Blackbird, brought to mind the version on Miles Davis’s In Person Live At The Blackhawk, which was followed by a good solid rendition of Blue Monk.

Several days after the gig and the initial posting of this piece I realised that Byron Wallen opened the Meltdown performance of A Love Supreme with a Tibetan Horn and a fine trumpet and bass duet which you can read about here.

During the interval, on the big screen in the downstairs bar, the Belgium v USA World Cup match was heating up, but when the musicians returned, the fare upstairs was even better. The second set opened with a second Thelonious Monk composition, I Mean You, with each of the performers given space to express themselves. Indeed it was a very open and welcoming bandstand with Alexandra (surname awaited) guesting on alto saxophone on Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee.

I am fond of On Green Dolphin Street, when it is played well, as was the case tonight. There was even more of a treat when Cuban, Yelfris Valdes was invited to join in on a second trumpet. Byron’s playing had been very good up to that point but the addition of another excellent horn player pushed him on even further. His remarkable willingness to share the spotlight with such a talented exponent of the same instrument spoke volumes about Wallen’s great self-confidence and it leads me to ask you, the readership…

A question!

…Can you recall and inform us of any instances of Miles Davis allowing another trumpeter to play alongside him in an equal role? I know the famous story about Wynton Marsalis being told where he could go to when he attempted to take to the stage that Miles was ruling. There’s lots of space for comments here at downwithit, so don’t be shy.

Afterword: There’s a picture of Miles and Dizzy Gillespie playing together here-although I assume that Miles was the guest on that session.

Caravan was a tour de force with both leads trading ideas and alto player, Alexandra, growing in confidence with every note. Sadly though the clock turned and it was time for the closing number, the Billie Holiday ballad, You Don’t Know What Love Is.

This was another memorable visit to East Side Jazz Club, which was rounded off with a final, non-musical treat as I watched the captivating extra-time conclusion to the Belgium v USA game.

A further 7/10 performance rating is merited and somehow I expect that we won’t see many months pass without having witnessed Yelfris Valdes as featured artist at ESJC. For those of you that can’t wait there’s a small taste on YouTube:

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