The Adrian Cunningham Quartet Performs to a Standing Ovation at Wesley Institute
With his familiar flair and dry wit, opened the evening at a cracking pace with an upbeat original composition. His band was, of course, more than equal to the task, but the wry looks cast between band mates clearly showed that they were pushing the limits with the opening piece.
Cunningham then introduced us to a quartet of horn players, including two trumpets, a trombone and French horn, who joined him for the next four songs. From the haunting Middle East inspired tune "Bethlehem," with the lead line played on a snake-charmer-like soprano saxophone, to the gutsy "Fields of Gold," upon which one music student remarked, "This should be called 'Pirates of Gold'!," due to the lilting feel of the drums, reminiscent of Hans Zimmer's work on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, the extra horns added several layers of depth to already outstanding pieces. Each member of the horn section also showed off his jazz chops with strong, and sometimes playful, solos throughout the pieces.
Finally, an audience request of "Georgia on My Mind" was granted and the Quartet blew the crowd away with their impressive handling of this classic. As always, the powerful drum solos of Gordon Rytmeister had everyone cheering, not just the drummers in the room, and Bill Risby's work on the keys left people scratching their heads asking, "How is it possible for someone's fingers to move so fast?! " Dave Pudney's double bass solo in "Georgia on My Mind" was smooth and sultry, giving some in the audience a clear new-found appreciation for the instrument.
In a gig that was more of a clinic than a straight-line performance, as the ensemble workshopped a few of the tunes on stage, taking us through the rehearsal process, Cunningham showed yet again why an intimate gig such as this can be far more engaging and entertaining, particularly for students from the School of Music, than a full-scale concert. The ensemble's ability to draw the crowd in and wow them with virtuosic skill and panache, not to mention their openly friendly manner in chatting with the audience after the performance and explaining specific nuances of songs to Music students, left everyone keen to hear more. Come back soon, Adrian Cunningham!
The Adrian Cunningham Quartet features:
Saxophone/Flute/Clarinet: Adrian Cunningham
Piano: Bill Rizby
Double Bass: David Pudney
Drums: Gordon Rytmeister
Wesley Institute’s School of Music is privileged to feature David Pudney and Gordon Rytmeister as instrumental tutors within the Bachelor of Music.
For more information on the Adrian Cunningham Quartet, click here.
Written by Bachelor of Music Alumnus, Wil New