A last-minute replacement for Alex Clarke, local saxophone star Chris Bowden led an exhilarating set of jazz standards and rarer material when he played at Lichfield’s Blues and Jazz Festival.

The Chris Bowden Quartet

With accompaniment from double bassist Mike Green, Miles Lenin on drums and Tim Amman on piano, the set list included a series of longer pieces that varied in mood and intensity, as well as some shorter numbers that allowed all of the players to play solos that showed of their musical pedigrees.

Set opener Speak Low was a sonic blunderbuss of a piece, with shifting tonal moods and complicated playing that took both stamina and full concentration to play, while East of the Sun was a softer, gentler reverie.

Set closer I Hear a Rhapsody was a catchy, short little tune that was buoyant in mood and execution.

The second half featured some shorter pieces, such as Almost Like Being in Love, the softly-played ballad Everybody’s Song But My Own by Kenny Wheeler and the light relief of Tea for Two that finished the concert.

With less than four day’s notice, the ensemble was able to put together a set and play it effortlessly in a way that would have impressed both jazz aficionados and more casual music fans.

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