Edinburgh International Festival music review: All Rise – A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock
Thank heavens for the dancers, who made their presence felt at just the right time.
The informality of these late-night Hub Sessions is a welcome addition to the landscape of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, but the atmosphere still wasn’t as relaxed as it should have been in the early section of this show. Playing his tribute to the music of Harlem jazz pianist Fats Waller – released on record last year – Texan musician Jason Moran was in the mood for a party. For a while, it was unclear as to whether he would get it.
“We do this in devotion to him,” intoned Moran solemnly, taking his place behind a Steinway piano by one hand and an electric organ by the other. He was joined by drummer, bassist, trumpeter and vibrant vocalist Lisa Harris, although sadly not Meshell Ndegeocello, the original lead on this project. There was also a papier-mâché reproduction of Waller’s head, whom we were introduced to early, as if he were in the room.
As suggested by the title, the pace rarely slipped below joyous through Yacht Club Swing and an exuberant burst of the iconic Ain’t Misbehavin’.
At one point, a club beat split the air and the sense was that the audience mood was shifting, many itching to get up, others unsure of what was happening.
This wasn’t a straight recital, said Moran. “I ain’t gonna sit down a whole lot,” he said, gesturing to the stage. “You can get up here if you want, it’s on you.” The band played with fierce energy, filtering elements of funk and acid jazz into Joint is Jumpin’ and the woozy Jitterbug Waltz, and the bait was finally, gleefully taken by those dancers.
Published in The Scotsman on 15 August 2015
Edinburgh Festivals 2015: complete coverage
• Get everything on our Festivals homepage – on desktop, mobile or tablet
• Looking for reviews? Check out the latest Scotsman reviews – or browse all the reviews ranked by star rating
• Watch all the latest videos from the #WOWwagon
• Get distracted by our Festival Blog
• Check out today’s half-price ticket deals
• Follow our social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – and join the conversation with #WOWfest