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Alister Spence Quartet + Watts & Weston Duo  -  Fri Feb 08, 2013  |  08:00 pm
Jazz North East's first ever gig at the Lit & Phil, in February 2011, featured Australian pianist Alister Spence with a quartet that included the superb Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald. We were a bit apprehensive about this journey into a new venue, but we needn't have worried; the packed audience loved every minute of a brilliant concert.

So when we had the chance to bring the group back, we didn't hesitate. A lifelong resident of Sydney, Alister combines rhythmic excitement, lyrical beauty and elements of free improvisation with such distinctive originality that he is rapidly building a worldwide reputation - a fact reflected in the internationalism of the group he brings to the Lit & Phil, which in addition to Scotsman MacDonald is composed of Canadian bassist Joe Williamson and Swedish drummer Chris Cantillo.

As if the return of Spence weren't treat enough, we're presenting him as one half of a double bill, the other component of which is the superb duo of veteran UK saxophonist Trevor Watts and pianist Veryan Weston. One of the most lyrical pioneers of British free improvisation, Trevor has also been at the forefront of exploring the use of African rhythms in jazz, so his performances constantly move in all manner of rhythmic and melodic directions. His collaboration with Veryan Weston (who, like many British improvisers, probably enjoys a higher profile in mainland Europe than in his home country) has been described as "a perfect counterbalance of two musical spirits: Weston's piano as driver and Watts' sax as navigator".

We've been trying to book the duo for several years, but their international commitments have always stood in the way. The fact that we've finally managed to get them to Tyneside is hugely gratifying: the fact that we've got them on the same bill as Alister Spence turns a treat into a sumptuous feast.