Organ Failure feat. Jean Toussaint | Review
Black Box, Belfast • Saturday, 11 March ’17
Brilliant Corners Festival • By Stephen McGurk
There’s a single spot-light beamed across the stage of The Black Box which silhouettes Jean Toussaint against the curtain to the side of the stage. With a trilby hat and the tenor saxophone at his lips it encapsulates the classic jazz-man posture.
Nigel Mooney (guitar and vocals) claims that the guys are all feeling beat from the previous few nights of touring accompanied with a lack of sleep, but it’s not evident on stage – the high level of musicianship and the groove of the music sees the group having themselves a time in The Black Box.
When Nigel begins to sing ‘Close Your Eyes’ and ‘á la mode’ it seems like his jukebox voice is coming from a place other than him. People in the crowd are noticeably impressed and turn to each other with nods of approval and surprise. His relaxed and smooth crooner voice with highlighted diction provide an easy mood for the afternoon.
The band are on the money all afternoon with subtle flamboyancy that continuously leaves space in the music for the other instruments. They all openly appreciate each other’s sounds and solos on stage. There’s a fantastic swing to every song and if Nigel isn’t playing guitar he’s admiring something that Scott Flanagan is playing on the organ or nodding along with Jean Toussaint. Then when Jean isn’t playing he’s fingering the keys of his Tenor Saxophone along with Nigel’s solo and sometimes even checking his watch – hopefully to make sure there was still time left to play more songs and not in anticipation of the end.
There’s a sweetness tinged with pain in Nigel’s voice on ‘I Want A Little Girl’ and on the bluesy number ‘Since I Fell For You’, then the band gets raucous when playing a little mambo tune and Scott Flanagan floats his fingers across the organ with pumping bass notes and flirty runs & slides.
It’s an absolute pleasure to witness someone of Jean Toussaint’s stature and fame in the jazz world live on stage. His wide spanning career and experience speak for themselves and his playing is flawless.
Nigel brings the crowd in for the last song of their set and with the raise of his hand he signals for the band to drop out and has the entire room shouting ‘South Wes’.
An encore of is simply demanded by the crowd and the band hardly get down the steps of the stage before being cheered back on through waves of applause and whooping. They finish the afternoon with a version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ that in both its simplicity and perfect delivery ended a show which provided highlight after highlight.