Laura MacDonald at Edinburgh Jazz Festival. July 2007.

The Lot functions as a jazz club throughout the year, and last time I was there – back in February (which seems like an awful long time between visits!) – it was for a concert by alto saxophonist Laura MacDonald. Then, she was playing with a Norwegian drummer; this time, it was meant to be a collaboration with trumpeter Ryan Quigley, but Quigley (a fiery player who excels at hitting the high notes) had cancelled, so it was more or less a quartet date, with the Paul Harrison on piano, Aidan O’Donnell on bass and Tom Bancroft on drums – an excellent band.

Perhaps because of the missing trumpeter, the band fell back on a mixed set of MacDonald originals and old standards – including several old Charlie Parker numbers. It was good but it felt safe: MacDonald played as if perhaps her heart wasn’t really in it. Perhaps it wasn’t – most of the band were part of Bancroft’s band who were playing a later set, so maybe they felt they had to keep something in reserve.

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Individually they played really well – Harrison and O’Donnell particularly – but as a band it seemed a bit ordinary.

MacDonald brought on fellow alto player Paul Towndrow for the second set – a curious choice since adding another alto didn’t really extend the dynamics a great deal. Towndrow was excellent, though, playing some great solos.

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