Bobby Wellins was the Phil Ware Trio's special guest last Monday night in JJ Smyth's. The renowned Scots tenor saxophonist was suffering from a bout of sciatica, which meant that he had to play sitting down.
His opening number, My Funny Valentine, was subdued and melancholy. Mad About the Boy continued the sombre mood -- but things livened up for Antonio Carlos Jobim's Favela. By then, Wellins was getting into his stride, urged on by Phil Ware on piano, Dave Redmond on the bass and Kevin Brady at the drums.
After the interval the tenor player really relaxed into the music, sounding more like his usual self and inspiring the trio to new heights. Fascinatin' Rhythm featured a fiery piano solo and exuberant drum bursts.
The tempo slowed down again for Cabin in the Sky, a tenderly emotional piece enhanced by Wellins's tasty use of vibrato. By now the four musicians had achieved the right balance between spontaneity and cohesion, swinging until midnight and sounding as though they could have gone on much longer.
"Echoes of Ellington" is the title of the Cian Boylan Sextet's tribute to the Duke, coming up on Tuesday night in the John Field Room. The pianist will be joined by Linley Hamilton (trumpet), Brendan Doyle (alto sax and clarinet), Rob Geraghty (tenor sax and flute), Dan Bodwell (double bass) and Dominic Mullen (drums).
Next Saturday night at 8.30pm, Honor Heffernan and Hugh Buckley will appear together in Bewley's Cafe Theatre on Grafton Street.
It will be good to hear Honor with a guitar accompaniment again, recalling the days when she and Louis Stewart were a regular duo on the Dublin scene.
Meanwhile, it's time to start planning a trip to the Sligo Jazz Project, which runs from July 19-24. This very successful combination of summer school and festival has a wide-ranging programme this year, including Yellowjackets, the two-time Grammy winners, Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble, Soweto Kinch, Andreas Oberg and the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra with guest drummer John Riley. Cork will have to look to its laurels if this keeps up. See www.sligojazz.ie