Anyone who has seen Remi Harris play knows you get a lot of guitar, and a lot of guitars – and it proved to be the case when the leading jazz and blues guitarist opened the Lichfield Arts Blues and Jazz Festival.
With music from a number of genres, well known hits from the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green, to staples from the jazz songbook by the likes of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, this concert had something for most music fans.
The attentive audience saw lively musical exchanges between Remi Harris and the equally talented bassist Tom Moore in a set that offered complex swing music, breezy pop and musical ideas made up on the spot.
Songs such as Can’t Buy Me Love saw the well-known Beatles song were delivered at a fast lick with much improvisation, as was the jazz standard, Sweet Georgia Brown.
Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy had a sonic makeover, being presented on 12-string guitar, while an electric interlude saw the musicians dig deep into the blues with an emotional reading of Peter Green’s Need Your Love So Bad.
A second Beatles song – Here, There and Everywhere – was a soft ballad, full of careful playing and emotion, before Duke Ellington’s Caravan was delivered at a slightly faster pace.
An experimental piece, that took in chords and a soft reverential feel, finally gave way to Can’t Help Falling in Love, while two pieces for ukulele showed that the little four-string instrument has a place in jazz when played by an open minded musician.
The closing medley saw a change to electric sounds, with incendiary readings of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and Freddie King’s Hideaway.
This was a great start to the festival and showed that the future of jazz is in the safe hands of these two fine musicians.