McCrary Sisters / Troker

McCrary Sisters                    Edinburgh Jazz Festival

A sell-out crowd at the Spiegeltent in St Andrew’s Square were treated to what must be the most joyous, uplifting event of this year’s Jazz Festival.

From the moment they arrived on stage to the last note of the encore, Ann, Deborah, Regina and Alfreda McCrary entranced the audience with a set that peaked with the first number and maintained the high all the way through. I gave up noting which songs were stand-outs, as it would have meant this review would simply have been their set list. But I will mention “Hello Jesus” “Let It Go” “Victory” and a sublime “Blowin’ in the Wind” as moments that will linger long in the memory.

As daughters of the Reverend Samuel McCrary, whose singing with legendary gospel group The Fairfield Four made him an inspiration for B B King among others, they’re steeped in the traditions of the music they grew up with.

But it is the blend of four very strong individual talents who have worked across the musical spectrum – Regina spent, I think, around 8 years with Bob Dylan’s band – that provides the underlying strength that lifts them into the category of something quite special.

How special is illustrated by a friend of mine who saw them while holidaying in New Orleans and was so impressed he went back the next night to see them again. In fact this gig was the fourth time he’s seen them this year.

Having heard them for myself, I can fully understand why. Glorious music, proving, if proof was needed, that the devil does not have all the best tunes!

Troker            Edinburgh Jazz Festiva

Mexican band Troker arrived here with a fair reputation, having gone down a treat at Glastonbury for the past couple of years. But while their melting pot of musical influences certainly went down well with the younger members of the audience, there was something of a lack of individuality about this six piece outfit.

Whether it was that with so many different styles incorporated in their sound it all became something of a swamp, with a lack of definition to much of what they did, or if it was down to a lack of memorable tunes in their repertoire, may be debatable. However, it came out sounding like they were trying to cram just too much jazz, funk, hip-hop and more into structures that just could not contain them.

There was also a dated feel to much of what they played, redolent at times of what Gong might have sounded like had they been jamming with Hawkwind circa 1973 (OK, not necessarily a bad thing!) and the drum solo sounded like it could have come from a heavy rock gig of the same era.

Not that this was a bad gig by any means, just that when it was over, it left little trace in the memory. Perhaps they are more suited to festival fields than festival tents. Or maybe I’m just getting old…

Jim Welsh