Review: The Paul Garner Band – BB’s Blues at Alexander’s, Chester – 30 Jun 2011

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 9, 2011

BB’s Blues Club at Alexander’s, Rufus Court, Chester: 30.06.11

One of the best gigs of the year appeared to slip ‘under the radar’ last week at Alexander’s, with a debut visit from the truly excellent Paul Garner Band – the few hardy souls who turned out were the lucky ones as the London-based trio – Paul Garner (guitar and vocals), Claudio Corona (keyboards) and Jason Ribeiro (drums) – delivered two quite stunning sets of blues, funk, jazz and more from their current album “What Colour Will You See”, and a few choice covers.

The New Zealand-born Paul Garner is one of the capital’s most in-demand players, having recently recorded with blues legend Lazy Lester and gigs regularly with British harmonica ace Steve ‘West’ Weston, and has stints under his belt with The Cadillac Kings and The Dirty Robbers. The trio attack the music with a refreshingly modern and inventive style, not for them the tired old blues cliches . . . although the set does feature a radical reworking of the Muddy Waters chestnut “Hoochie Coochie Man”.

Garner is a quite marvellous player, making his Fender Jazzmaster ‘sing’, his guitar work characterised by some stinging solos and a great tone, and he is ably assisted by a pair of complementary musicians in the form of the dynamic Hammond C3 of Sardinian-born Claudio Corona, and the fine drumming of Jason Ribeiro, who are both given plenty of space and opportunity to shine. Corono seemed to have all styles covered, from some jazzy runs and funky solos, with his left hand responsible for bass duties.

With the two sets of the highest calibre, they kicked off with the swinging, jazzy “Should Have Thought Twice”, with other highlights being the funky “Smooth Operator” and the strutting original Garner tune, “Louisiana Blues” . . . not the Muddy Waters tune as he was quick to tell us. This is one outfit not afraid of taking chances, as evident on an unrecognisable Bob Dylan classic, “Lay Lady Lay”, which the trio turned into a rambling slow blues, with plenty of Garner’s classy guitar work on offer.

It was a crying shame only about 15 people were present to see the band . . .  however after this they were off to Leeds, Dundee, Edinburgh and Harrogate . . . where I’m sure  they will have gained many more new fans . . . a truly great night, and possibly ‘gig of the year’ so far,  that will take some topping.


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