Home General Greg Lyon and The Hip Operation – October 11th 2019

Greg Lyon and The Hip Operation – October 11th 2019

‘We’re putting the band back together. We are on a mission….’

Tonight, the mission is to launch an album, ‘A Tribute to Ray Charles. Live!’, that was recorded at the Brisbane Jazz Club in November 2018.

And what better spot to hold the launch, than the place that big-haired, leader of the band, Greg Lyon, described in his introduction, as ‘THE coolest Jazz Club on the planet!!’

Thanks Greg and your great band, The Hip Operation, for ensuring that the BJC lived up to that reputation tonight.

Regulars will know the extent to which the atmosphere, the vibe, the feel, of our cosy little, red-black, river-side home, change in response to each new line-up of musicians, style of music and appreciative audience.

Well, tonight the atmosphere was Downtown Night Club. The vibe was Party, Party. And those oh-so Good Times just kept on rolling, on a night when anyone who couldn’t find dancing space, was dancing in their seat.

This was a happy, smiling night.  This was a night of great musicianship. This was a night of absolute class.

With a couple of changes to the original CD line-up, tonight’s talent-brimming combo were Greg Lyon on electric bass and lead vocals; Brendan St. Ledger on keys; Matt Hanley on guitar and vocals; Shannon Marshall on trumpet, flugelhorn and vocals; Mark Spencer on tenor and baritone sax; Martha Baartz on alto and tenor sax and flute; Scott Hills on drums; and The Raelettes – Martine Monroe, Vanessa Baker and Kristy Turner – on backing vocals.

And what an explosive sound this 10-piece, mini-Big Band delivered. Top-flight musicians at the top of their game, and a wonderful selection of classic Ray Charles songs.

From their party-starting, opening number, ‘Let The Good times Roll’, to the final, roof-lifting ‘Shake A Tail Feather’, every tail feather in the house was a-twitching!!

And across the night, the band mixed and matched through several different combinations.

For some numbers, the Horn Section sat it out. Some songs were with, some without, The Raelettes. Vocal and instrumental solos were generously and effectively shared around.

Greg was lead vocal on numbers such as ‘Mess Around’, ‘Busted’ and ‘Hallelujah, I Just Love Her So’ and ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’. Shannon was there for ‘Marianne’ and ‘I’ve Got A Woman’.

It was Matt on ‘Hit The Road Jack’, ‘Shake A Tail Feather’ and ‘Georgia On My Mind’, (which featured a beautiful flute solofrom Martha).

Martine gave us sweet, soulful versions of ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and ‘Unchain My Heart’. And ‘Night Time Is The Right Time’, featured a soaring solo from Vanessa.

Horn solos were shared between Shannon, Martha and Mark. And we loved Matt’s wailing, weeping guitar, Brendan’s jelly-rolling keys, Scott’s steady, driving drums, and Greg’s classy bass lines. (Just how DO you play a bass line and sing a melody at the same time?)

Greg, who was initially turned on to the music of Ray Charles by Georgie Fame, with whom he played in the 70’s and 80’s, loves playing at the Brisbane Jazz Club. His mission is to present music that touches people; music that makes people happy.

Well Greg, it sure worked a treat tonight. Tick. Tick. Tick, Mission Fully Accomplished!!

And if you want to relive the joy, or get a taste of what you missed, get yourself a copy of their CD, ‘A Tribute to Ray Charles. Live!’ And be sure to catch them next time.

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club