It is always a pleasure to hear good playing... It is a real pleasure to be in an event where it is taking place.
Today I was invited by Steve Lockwood, one of my students who is taking a music degree with harmonica as his main instrument at University in Cambridge, England to take part in a lunchtime concert.
The idea was to show the why the harmonica had developed to the students and staff ... in 50 minutes.
First special thing.... Steve had discovered a Sheng player from the Peking Film orchestra... staying in Cambridge!!!!! Second ... he had assembled a group including ... for example one of the drummers who used to play on a regular basis with groups such as Rolling Stones etc they were GOOD.
The Sheng player started and played Chinese Reed flute and then the Sheng, he played fairly simple stuff but I also heard him in the green room tearing it up !!!! Steve told us about the development of the harmonica in the 1800s and played two very early blues pieces in style with guitarist , blues musician and Producer Richard Newman. To my ears the style was bare bones and raw passion... because I don't know that era. A certain Doug Tate was introduced in suitably obsequious terms by his pupil. He explained that Steve had given him 8 minutes to cover the complete gamut of classical music from Renaissance to modern time 'and please put in some Gershwin as well' he played unamplified and did as he was told.
At this point Steve brought his band on stage ... piano, drums, guitar, bass guitar, baritone sax/clarinet.. and proceeded to magnetise the audience. There is no other word... His playing was full, imaginative, full of variety, professional, charming... you name it. he is a totally natural crowd worker with the added bonus of being a very talented player... I have to say it.... pupil or no pupil... this is some of the finest playing I have seen and heard anywhere. It demanded, and got, total involvement from the crowd. There was no need for any of the tricks bands and soloists use to get the crowd involved musically... it occurred simply because of the sheer quality of the performance.
It was a total pleasure and a privilege to have been involved in this event. I believe that it will have a VERY good influence on the thinking of the musical establishment in the University... can you imagine an excited professor ?????
Hey ... I liked it.
Douglas Tate (still exhausted)