Gig review: Ryan Quigley Big Band


MAYNARD FERGUSON is trumpeter Ryan Quigley's hero, and the opportunity to lead a big band tribute in front of a packed crowd in his adopted home city was a chance he was not going to throw away.

Both Quigley and the audience were fortunate that he was able to call on a ready-made band for the occasion – two-thirds of the players were Quigley's bandmates in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the additional personnel – including a couple of guests from his native Ireland – proved equally up to the job.

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Quigley is noted for the kind of high-note acrobatics that made Ferguson's reputation, but there is a great deal more to both players than the ability to hit – with accuracy and conviction – improbable notes and phrases.

He drew widely from Ferguson's repertoire, from early swing and blues arrangements to the later rock-influenced covers of pop hits, including MacArthur Park, Gonna Fly Now and Joe Zawinul's iconic Birdland.

Highlights included Slide Hampton's languorous Frame for the Blues, and the fearsomely no-holds-barred Cruisin' for A Bluesin' – and, just to remind us that it wasn't all about energy and fire, a lyrical reading of Embraceable You.

The band were superb on the rich, brassy, trumpet-led arrangements. Quigley was in magisterial form, and other strong soloists included saxophonists Konrad Wiszniewski, Martin Kershaw and Paul Towndrow, trombonist Karl Ronan, trumpeter Tom McNiven, and pianist Steve Hamilton.