Jean Toussaint Sextet Gig review by Erminia Yardley

Last month saw me propping up the bar at  Ronnie Scott’s the Best gig of the month!

Jean Toussaint and his Sextet played to a sold-out crowd which welcomed the band with very warm applause. Why the best gig of the month? I was actually asked this question as I was preparing my piece and my answer was and still is: “because, my dear (I was being questioned by a friend and colleague), with such a line-up and the phenomenal Toussaint, nothing and I mean, nothing, can go wrong!

This conversation went on for a bit, with me trying to write and my friend/ colleague trying to push me into a corner (albeit in a good way), and, in the end, I said: “just be patient and wait to read my write-up and you will understand then”.

The band opened the first set with a beautiful sambaesque rendition of a track called “Amabo” (which, as Toussaint told everyone, is Obama spelt backwards and means “I shall love”). With a start like that, anything is possible and, in truth, it was! Shane Forbes on drums with his cool underrated demeanour and Daniel Casimir on double bass were both on fire!

There were amazing tracks throughout dedicated to musicians like Idris Muhammed and one composed by Casimir himself, lamenting the lack of sleep after the birth of his baby daughter, the trumpet and trombone intertwining on a track that is beautifully written.

There was a dedication to the genius of Charlie Mingus with “Mingus Fingus” featuring a stunning Byron Wallen solo. The crowd was hooked. The second set started and it was obvious from where I was sitting that the audience was very eager and expectant. I had not seen such excitement at the Club for a while. Toussaint opened the set with a track he wrote soon after the Brexit vote in 2016… The effervescence of the music made everyone forget the pain of that particular event and it is a testament to Toussaint for writing such a significant piece. Jason Rebello on piano and Daniel Casimir on double bass exchanged brilliant moments during that particular performance.

With the track “Doc”, dedicated to Toussaint’s cousin who was himself in the audience, Toussaint demonstrated once again, how versatile he can be both as a musician and a composer. The talented Shane Forbes on drums produced a solo that could have gone on for the entire evening, as far as I was concerned, his energy was incredible.

With a rendition of the famous “Moanin’” (written by Bobby Timmons in 1959), dedicated to his mentor, the brilliant (and one of my heroes) Art Blakey, Toussaint and his Sextet made the whole evening fly.

I loved every single note and every single piece chosen.

An absolute 5 stars of a gig!!


Senior writer: Erminia Yardley
Photo credits: Carl Hyde

Line-up: Jean Toussaint – saxophone; Byron Wallen – trumpet/ flugelhorn; Dennis Rollins – trombone; Jason Rebello – piano; Shane Forbes – drums; Daniel Casimir – double bass

Last modified: July 31, 2019