Some things annoy me. One thing that is pretty much guaranteed to annoy me is being told to enjoy myself. I’ll do what I want, thanks, and if you’re an entertainer and you feel the need to tell me that I should be enjoying myself – well, that makes me think that maybe you’re not doing you’re job. (This goes for promoters, too. Indeed, anyone standing on a stage trying to get an audience to react by bellowing “ARE YOU HAVING A GOOD TIME?” really should get another job. Because if you have to ask, the answer’s probably “NO!”)
And when you then tell the audience to lighten up and not look so serious, as Christian Scott did, well, I’m going to look like I look. And wonder if maybe I’m looking like that because you’re not entertaining me. And I really wouldn’t compound it by pointing at people in the front row of your concert.
If Mr Scott hadn’t spoken, it might have been fine. Not a great gig, but fun. But unfortunately he kept speaking. He instructed us to enjoy ourselves. He told us not to look serious. (That worked. Immediately: I changed the way I looked.)
And he spent maybe twenty minutes introducing the band. And the hilarious stories of how he met the band. And the pranks they played. And why he thought they were so great. Personally I’d have preferred hearing them play so I could make my own mind up, ta.
He also told us how he liked to mix styles. “I call it Fusion 2.0”, he said. Unfortunately, jazz has moved on to v5.7.3, and nothing Scott played sounded new, energetic or experimental. Most sessions on JazzOn3 are more challenging and exciting. It sounded like jazz-soul-funk from the 1980s – which is fine, but not what he promised. He has a lot of catching up to do.
The more straight ahead jazz numbers sounded fresher and more interesting, the band allowed the stretch out and flex their muscles. Even Elena Pinderhughes’ flute – a much maligned instrument in jazz – sounded good.
Scott’s trumpet playing was exciting, with lots of high notes pouring from his Dizzy-ing “bent” horn.
But the choice of numbers was stilted. With further audience participation, he asked what we’d like to hear for the last number, and someone shouted out “the blues!” So the band played a dragging, turgid version of “Blue Monk”. Sometimes it’s good not to give the punters what they want. It would have been sad to end the festival on that, and they pulled back with a rousing encore which barely featured Scott until his final, fiery solo.