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Tony Lee Trio

Live: The Station

by Ian Mann

June 01, 2006


A real feel of symbiosis, everybody is having a good time. This is a very enjoyable album.

This is another live recording made at The Jagz Club at ‘The Station in Ascot’ following on from a CD by the Allan Ganley Quartet.

This hugely enjoyable session was recorded on 4th June 2000, and features three stalwarts of the British mainstream scene. Pianist Tony Lee has been a professional musician for over forty year, and he is joined by his long term associate Tony Archer on bass, and by the great Ronnie Verrell on drums. Verrell first made his name back in the 50’s with the Ted Heath Orchestra.

There are no real surprises here. The trio improvise on standards, most of them tried and tested, but do so with a swing and joie de vivre that is irresistible. After a slightly tentative opening “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” they really hit their stride with “All The Things You Are” featuring some dynamic signature drum fills from Verrell, a device he deploys throughout the session. Archer also contributes a swinging, melodic solo.

“Stomping At The Savoy” keeps the pot bubbling and features Lee’s sparkling piano and Archer’s swinging bass.

“Cry Me A River” is a solo feature for Lee in which the mood varies from the reflective to the playful but the playing is always rooted in the blues and is constantly inventive.

“Get Me to The Church” is an unusual choice and adds a dash of humour to the proceedings including a quote from “The Pink Panther Theme”. The playing though is still excellent with more fireworks from Verrell.

With this being a live “warts and all” recording the false start to “How Could You Do A Thing Like That” is lovingly kept in. An apt title perhaps, but a good-humoured audience didn’t seem to mind at all and the main performance of the song is well worth waiting for.

A stately “Laura” features Verrell on brushes and shows the more restrained side of his musical character.

“Fly Me to The Moon” includes a wonderfully resonant solo from Archer which masterfully combines melody and swing. Verrell drives the whole thing along effortlessly and throws in more of those drum fills.

On “When I Fall In Love” Verrell is given greater solo space. Incorporating tribal rhythms he really hammers the tubs. The moods of this piece change quickly and the whole trio negotiate these changes with aplomb.

The closing “Cute” follows a similar path and that man Verrell is at it again upping the ante with yet more pyrotechnics. This solo is even more dynamic than it’s predecessor and while it’s true that Verrell steals the show he and Archer are still a great foil for Lee throughout the album.

The audience at the Jagz Club clearly loved it and their appreciation and enthusiasm is evident throughout the recording. Their mood quickly transmits itself to the players and there is a real feel of symbiosis, and of everybody having a good time. This is a very enjoyable album from three seasoned campaigners who still find a child like joy in their music making. Long may they continue.

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