Standing ovations for ‘Dealing in Swing’ – 13 November 2017

David Alston

11/13/2017 14:23:57

David Alston reviews Tony Yoko’s latest jazz concert held at The Theatre on the Square, Sandton. Jean van der Lint (double bass, vocals and occasionally piano) and Dirk van der Linden (piano, Hammond Organ Sk2 and guitar), first appeared in South Africa in February 2015 as part of Producer Tony Yoko’s ‘Jazz and Blues Weekend’. Their enthusiastic reception led to another invitation and, nearly two years later, they were back at The Theatre on the Square last week – still playing up a storm of good old-fashioned jazz standards and well-known tunes from The Great American Song Book. Part of a group known as ‘The Swing Dealers of Antwerp’, who’ve been around the European scene for a long time, Jean and Dirk proved both their versatility and musicality to two capacity audiences. Accompanied by veteran saxophonist Justin Holcroft and Tony himself on drums, they received standing ovations for their sets which were the epitome of swing and at the same time demonstrating clear enjoyment for the genre in which they specialise.

Jean’s ability to keep the pulse of the numbers, whilst singing and scatting in a manner reminiscent of Mel Torme, was truly impressive. Dirk was equally at home on the Hammond and guitar, with his piano playing – which reminded me of Oscar Peterson’s legendary ‘Exclusively for my Friends’ sessions in the mid nineteen-sixties – being a highlight, building each solo to a climax with just a touch of Red Garland’s ‘blocked chord’ sequences thrown in for good measure. Justin once again showed just what good accompaniment is all about, while getting off some great solos of his own, whether on tenor or soprano, and Tony saw to it that the beat kept coming sure and steady, without the ‘sound and fury’ that ‘signifies nothing’ of some of the more contemporary drummers.

So what of the music? The Group settled into an immediate groove with George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘Our love is here to stay’, written in 1938 for ‘The Goldwyn Follies’ — but immortalised by Gene Kelly serenading Leslie Caron under one of the Seine’s bridges in the 1951 film ‘An American in Paris’ — with good solos all round. Jean then scatted through Count Basie’s ‘Shiny Stockings’ – penned by tenor man Frank Foster in 1955 with lyrics by Ella Fitzgerald – the quartet somehow getting the big band sound on the ‘out’ chorus. Dirk switched to the Hammond for a funky version of pianist Bobby Timmon’s ‘Dis here’ from his debut album in 1960 with Sam Jones bass, and Jimmy Cobb drums, which quickly became a jazz standard. Cole Porter’s ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ – written in 1936 but reprised with interest by Frank Sinatra in 1951 on his best-selling ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers’ album – followed, and another ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ classic from his pairing with Count Basie in 1964: ‘Fly me to the Moon’, originally written in 1954. Fine piano playing by Dirk, and imaginative scatting by Jean who even had time to apologise to Justin for jumping his solo on ‘Moon’ without missing a beat.