October 30, 2011. At the Cinnamon Club, in the southern suburbs of Manchester, it was the first night of Peter White’s now customary UK autumn tour. Scheduled to play fourteen shows at six different venues he was instantly at ease in the familiar surroundings of this intimate space yet, for the excellent band that supported him, this was far from being business as usual. Yes, Marc Parnell was there on drums and everyone’s favourite bass-player Frank Felix took his usual place but new to many was outstanding keyboardist Attila Molnar and, alongside him, the rapidly emerging sax-man Elan Trotman. Remarkably, this newly formed collective had rehearsed for the first time only hours before but the enthusiasts who packed this northern outpost of contemporary jazz could have been excused for thinking they had been together for years.
In fact as Peter got the show up and running with ‘Promenade’ from the 1993 album of the same name it was Trotman who took an early chance to shine and as the band grooved through a feisty rendition of ‘Mr Magic’ it paved the way for ‘What Does It Take’ from White’s ‘Playin’ Favorites’ collection where the fulsome horn of Trotman was again to the fore.
The tempo remained high for the hugely rhythmic ‘Ramon’s Revenge’ from the latest CD ‘Good Day’ and later, when he revisited this fine album, White served up his tribute to the late Wayman Tisdale, the appropriately titled ‘Bright’. It found great favour with the engaged audience and much the same could be said of White’s much loved take on ‘Who’s That Lady’ (including a smattering of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’) where Molnar’s magical keys afforded this familiar song a fresh new vibe.
When the time came for White to generously turn over the spotlight to his supporting players, Molnar thrilled the crowd with ‘The Best’ from his own album ‘Dreams’. It is a track that previously I have described as being a melodic mid tempo charmer and when Trotman moved centre stage, his own contribution was the easy grooving ‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ from his current release ‘Love And Sax’.
With the show rolling delightfully on, an unusually funky version of ‘Walk On By’ provided a delicious contrast to two other tracks from White’s ‘Reflections’ project, the beautiful ‘My Cherie Amour’ and the equally beguiling ‘How Deep Is Your Love’. The fact he segued this latter tune with the title cut from ‘Perfect Moment’ simply added to the charm and in so doing provided a shimmering oasis of tranquillity in what was otherwise a joyously riotous occasion.
Another moment to savour was ‘Caravan Of Dreams’ from the 1996 CD of the same name but, that said, a highlight of any Peter White performance is his rendition of ‘My Prayer’ which he invariably dedicates to his mother. However, as the temperature in this intimate venue increased, the band stormed toward a glorious climax with the high octane ‘Bueno Funk’ and the similarly smoking ‘San Diego’ which White, as he often does, blended sublimely with the terrific ‘Bullseye’.
Brought back to the stage by a combination of MC (and Jazz FM on air personality) Steve Quirk and some rapturous applause, White closed out the show with a tremendous take on ‘What’s Going On’ that (complete with a few bars of ‘Breezin’) was added to in no small measure by the flute of Elan Trotman. It provided a sparkling end to a dazzling show and should ensure that when White next returns to the north of England his fans will again be out in force to see him.