Concert Review – Tom Hill’s 70’s Jazz Funk Machine

The bassist Tom Hill led his all-star 70’s Jazz Funk Machine through a series of jazz, funk, and blues songs when he appeared at Lichfield’s Cathedral Hotel as part of Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival.
With keyboard player Al Gurr, guitarist Lee Jones, drummer and vocalist Nick Millward, saxophonist Andy Shillingford and trumpet player Ray Butcher, they played an exciting set of music, made famous by bands such as George Duke, Grover Washington Jnr and The Crusaders.
Harmony and unison brass parts, and tight playing from the rhythm section was on the menu, as was some sharp soloing from keyboards, guitar, trumpet and saxophone. The funk of George Duke’s It’s On, sat easily with the more delicate Grandma’s Hands by Bill Withers, whilst the long form Let it Flow by Grover Washington Jnr was a fine showcase for the ensemble’s musical talents.
Rodeo Drive by the Crusaders was an abject lesson in tuneful funk, whilst Bob James’s Angela, made famous as the theme tune to 1970’s television favourite Taxi featured delicate playing, and a dynamic build from all of the players.
Weather Report’s A Remark you Made and By You from the Crusaders closed the set, and showed the distinctive sides to the ensemble’s sound.

Ben Macnair

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