Back in 1997, the Glasgow Jazz Festival staged a special concert celebrating Stan Tracey’s 70th birthday. We wondered then how much longer the pianist would continue to perform. The answer is that he is beginning to look indestructible.
Regularly dubbed the Godfather of British Jazz, Tracey now has a more formal title to his name. He was made a CBE in 2007 in recognition of his services to the music, but perhaps a more telling honour came much earlier in his career, when he was the house pianist at the then new Ronnie Scott club in Soho in the mid-60s, and had saxophone giant Sonny Rollins asking all and sundry if people here realised just how good he was.
Tracey’s stylistic debt to Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk is often cited, but the truth is that he developed an individual style that long ago went beyond any such indebtedness. His deadpan demeanour and dry wit cloaks a razor-sharp musical intelligence.
In an era when artists routinely have their own record label, the pianist was a pioneer of that trend back in the days of vinyl with his Steam Records, now re-vitalised as ReSteamed, dedicated to issuing and reissuing his recordings (the latest offering is a 2-CD set featuring his Hong Kong Suite and Amandla Suite for an eight-piece band).
As well as his jazz festival date with his quartet (with guest appearances from Ryan Quigley and Martin Kershaw), Tracey will also play in Haddington the following night.
Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Wed 23 Jun