Mike Stern / Bill Evans Band. Edinburgh Jazz Festival, July 2014.

My main reason for coming to this gig was to see drummer Dennis Chambers, so I was a little miffed when it was announced that he had been taken ill, and Derico Watson (of whom I’d not heard) would be taking his place. More fool me.

Watson was phenomenal, and one would never guess he’d had so little preparation. The rest of the band were pretty good, too, producing enjoyable music (some might say fusion with Stern’s electric guitar and Tom Kennedy’s electric bass – but the jazz chops were evident throughout, and there was some mighty swinging drumming from Watson) across two long sets.

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Evans playing was excellent, and both he and Stern looked like they were having a ball. Compatriots from Miles Davis’ band of the early eighties (perhaps not Miles’ finest period), they played a blend of each other’s tunes, Evans’ perhaps more solid jazz and Stern’s a bit rockier.

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Evans spoke warmly and at length of his previous experiences in Edinburgh, particularly with SNJO (he appears on their latest CD). The crowd, in turn, loved this band, giving them a standing ovation.

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