Music review: Dick Lee & Brian Kellock: The History of Jazz
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Dick Lee & Brian Kellock: The History of Jazz at Valvona & Crolla (Venue 67), reviewed by Jim Gilchrist
It’s not every day that a delicatessen has a boogie named after it, even amid the Fringe, but audiences at Lee and Kellock’s intimately convivial hour-and-a-quarter romp through more than a century’s worth of jazz history in a certain well-known deli were treated to the (alleged) premiere of the Valvona & Crolla Boogie.
Like many tunes in the genre, it had a faintly familiar ring to it, although it was delivered by pianist Kellock with characteristic panache, as was much of the music is in this show, which aims to range through jazz’s various phases over its next five dates.
This first gig saw reedsman Lee, on clarinet, soprano sax and bass clarinet, and Kellock perform their introductory session with much droll repartee.
Lee, who delivers his lecture between numbers, ums and ahs a bit, in the manner of an absent-minded don, but redeems himself with his fine playing, with some deliciously liquorice-toned clarinet in items such as High Society, while his frequent resort to the mighty bass clarinet ranged between fluid lyricism to the kind of bassoon-like grumble which evokes images of anarchic sorcerers’ apprentices.
The habitually ebullient Kellock, relatively restrained in the earlier sections dealing with the likes of ragtime, was increasingly able to cut loose as they ranged through bebop and modal jazz, particularly in Lester’s Leap and in a surprisingly satisfying pared-down duet version of Miles Davis’s famous So What?
Even the daunting onset of free jazz (cue holler of “Lock all the doors” from the pianist) was tackled in an accessible manner, Ornette Coleman’s Round Trip perhaps not quite coming round full circle, but leading on to the closing and contrasting number, a limpid ballad composed by Lee and named Hill House, after Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famous creation. How many shows offer you ragtime, boogie-woogie and art nouveau architecture as well?
MORE INFO: Dick Lee & Brian Kellock: The History of Jazz at Valvona & Crolla (Venue 67), until 24 August
Originally published in The Scotsman