Sixteen-times British Jazz Award winner Dave Newton returned to the island at the weekend for a concert at the Erin Arts Centre.
It’s half-jokingly said that the reason he keeps coming back is because he likes playing the Steinway piano at the Port Erin venue.
And indeed, his comment to the capacity audience as his fingers seemed to linger on the final note of the ‘big finisher’ was: ‘You’ve got a good piano you know.’
Whatever happens, the Erin Arts Centre must continue to do everything in their power to look after the instrument. For, like reviews of Newton’s concerts often remark, he really is a master. And it’s a real treat to be able to hear musicians of his calibre to perform to an island audience.
For the first half of the concert, he was accompanied by two members of All The President’s Men, Ed Morrey on drums and Martyn Thomas on bass. Unfortunately, lead saxophonist Steve Hind was unwell.
The first half ended with a foot-tapping performance of ‘This I Dig Of You’, in which there can hardly have been a key left untouched.
He settled the audience into the second half by playing ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ unaccompanied. Almost as soon as he started playing, you could have heard a pin drop.
The band then returned to the stage and the line-up was mixed up further with two duets with singer Lauren Gray ‘Love Me or Leave Me’ and ‘Worrisome Heart’.
Newton was then joined by Jerry Carter on tenor saxophone and Jackie Morrey-Grace on trombone, creating more of a big band sound with ‘Ladybird’ (Tadd Dameron), John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’ and Jimmy McHugh’s ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’.
Newton took all of these changes in his stride.
In fact he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the audience – humming as the audience gave a collective tap of the foot and bob of the head to his more up-tempo pieces. He really put the Steinway through its paces. The setlist was mixed with slower, more wistful pieces, where you could really hear the emotion coming through.
Newton really was impressive and left the audience wanting more - even after returning to the stage with a much deserved glass of wine in hand for the encore.