Fleece Jazz at Stoke by Nayland Hotel©

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Dave's Notes, 15 May 2017 - Alex Merritt
Alex Merritt provided us with a cool, clever and often passionate programme of contemporary jazz, supported by superb musicianship of the piano trio. Alex covers the full range of his tenor sax, with a lovely smooth tone. John Turville completes something of a residence at Fleece Jazz, and we are always delighted to see and hear him. Calum Gourlay was a dep on bass, and did what some deps can do - be in the mind of the band. His flawless intonation must have helped with this. On drums, we had Jeff Williams, who I consider to be one of the top drummers world wide.

Much of the well designed programme consisted of standards, but with a very contemporary feel to the arrangements. Alex is a fan of 12 tone music, being not bound by chord progressions. He uses this in such a way as to make you feel that he is chordal. Magic. A few pieces were his. I was much impressed by the first tune in the second set, which I think he called "Meditation".  Without being pretentious, it started out like an om, each musician bringing their own breathing into the mix .

There were so many standout moments to the evening; For me, the best was Alex's arrangement of the great Billy Strayhorn's last composition, "Blood Count", written as he was in hospital dying of cancer. John floated through this piece with fast light runs. Jeff's brushes felt almost sinister. Alex's tenor and Calum's bass told a story. Stan Getz, who also died of cancer, said of this tune, "You can hear him dying". The band got this.

That kind of evening, then? Nope. Lots of joy. The evening started with Charlie Parker's blues "Cheryl", proper  jazz. It was hard to take your ears off of Jeff's accompaniment. Washington and Young's "Stella by Starlight" showed Alex's tenderness and John's sensitivity, just lovely.

Excellent gig.

Next week we get a blast of the Partisans, with
Phil Robson guitar, Julian Seigal sax, Thaddeus Kelly bass, Gene Calderazzo drums. John Fordham says "Partisans were the highlight of the festival, jazz that makes you blink in its glare". Miss it not.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 1 May 2017 - Pete Oxley and Nic Meier
An array  of 9 guitars greeted our audience last Friday as they came in to hear Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier. I don't thing some of them were prepared for the level of musicianship, the synchronicity and passion that they heard and saw.

Ours was the last of a 35 gig tour promoting their "The Colours of Time" album. Many of the tunes were from that album, written by Nic or Pete (and in one case, both). In some ways, the instruments had equal starring. Pete played a 12 string, and three different 6 strings. Nic played fretless 12 string and 6 string, oude, a seven string and a fretted 6 string. I think. Holler, Nic, if I got this wrong. The important point is that they played music from a range of genres: Straignt jazz, blues, Turkish, Arabic and hot club.

I loved the cross-rhythms they employed on many of the songs. They moved from head to solos seamlessly in all of the tunes. The energy and passion were vivid. Watching them work together was amazing. They gave us a great gig.

The photos are mine, Peter Fairmain being away.

No gig next week. On Friday 12 May, a superb quartet will entertain us: Alex Merritt tenor sax, John Turville piano, Sam Lasserman bass, Jeff Williams drums. See you at the club.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 23 April 2017 - Theo Travis: Double Talk
Friday's gig at Fleece Jazz was about power, diversity and accessibility, a combination only possible if the musicianship is top class.  And so it was, with Pete Whitaker on organ, Mike Outram on guitar, Nic France on drums, and the flute, saxophones and compositions of the leader, Theo Travis.

Nic brought his rock kit, and drove the band in stunning fashion. Groove after groove he played in  selection of time signatures. It was a fascinating performance. He didn't get a proper solo, but he was at the heart of the band in every number. In Theo's "Fire Mountain" his  multiple grooves and power were superb.

Mike is one of the very best guitarists in the country. Whether plectrum or classical, soloing or accompanying, he is a delight to hear and see. The see part is important for all four musicians. They are patently aware of each other's musical thoughts. Mike's solo in Theo's "Sure Thing" ("Shore Thing"? help, please, Theo). a lovely 6/8 ballad, was memorable, but all his solos were excellent.

I do love the organ, particularly when played with the skill and musicality that Pete displays. And there were so many worlds in which to display. Theo's jazz/rock powerfuj "Glad" and the encore, the gospel based "Sweet Emma", showed the virtuosity and thoughtfulness of  Pete's playing.

Lots of our audience were committed Theo groupies, and with good reason. I have mentioned some of his great tunes. His presentation and connection with the audience were clear, honest and fun. But the power of his playing, whether on tenor, soprano (only once) and flute is quite amazing. I can't find a single solo as better than another: they were all special.  That is the word I want: he gave us a special evening to stand in the memory.

If you are a lover of the guitar you will not miss next weks's show at Fleece Jazz. Two top guys with about five instruments each will be with us to delight us with a range of musical influences and a lot of pure joy and fun. Two of the best about, Nicolas Meier and Pete Oxley will be with us, and I hope you will be with us too.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 April - Solstice
Solstice is a true co-operative. All 6 of them write, arrange, and play beautifully. Two of them compére, and I have no doubt that they all can. They are:
John Turville, brilliant as always on  piano, He is having a bit of a residency with us. He did the speaking in the second set.
Tori Freestone played tenor and soprano saxes and flute. It was her debut, and we must have her back.
Guitarist Jez Franks was also new to us. Superb solos and accompaniment from him. He kept us informed in the first set in the first set.  
Brigitte Beraha is a vocalist and instrumetalist, the latter in the sense of Norma Winstone, with whom she is compared.; she was a lead singer for some songs and parts of songs, but mostly uses the voice as an instrument, which I love., Brigette was with us in 2012, with Chris Allard's band.
Dave Mannington is a bassist, composer and arranger, He came with the Loz Speyer band in 2014., He is a very accomplished bassist.
George Hart drummed for us last in 2016 with the Matt Ridley band. That was a stunning gig, with George providing, as he did last night, power and delicacy, density and sparseness they were needed..

I think my greatest joy with jazz is watching the interaction between the musicians, that very special listening skill that fine musicians have. Last night it was very visible, In my favourite number of the evening, "Solstice" by George, we had some free jazz that held its coherence as each of them concentrated on their colleagues. The encore was Porter's "Everything I Love". I don't think they were prepared for an encore, so the listening really had to be there. That was the only standard of the evening, and an excellent way to send us home.

This kind of music is not to everybody's taste, but it certainly is to mine, and to the audience who hollered for the encore. But it has to be written, arranged and played very well. It was.

Next week, a short rest (gardening leave?); But on the 21st of April, Theo Travis brings his Double Talk band to Fleece Jazz,
Theo will bring his saxes and flutes, Mike Outram his guitar, Pete Whittaker his Hammond B3, and Nic France his drum kit. "Travis' tenor is a warm, mellifluous instrument and together with the luscious, bluesy Hammond organ they create something rather unexpected...a prog-rock/jazz/blues hybrid of genuine power and excitement" - Guy Hayden

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 1 April - The John East Project John East provided us with a most enjoyable gig last night at Fleece Jazz. He is a Hammond buff, and knows a lot about the instrument's history. He is also an accomplished vocalist.

We had two deps who did what deps do: become part of the band very quickly. Paul Robinson arrived with drum kit about 6pm (we wish Fletch a speedy recovery) and drummed up a storm and a half. Paul Higgs didn't get to us until 7.16. He and his green trumpet were A12ved No matter, you wouldn't have known he was a dep if you were not told.

Most of the arrangements were by trombonist/pianist Daniel Hewson. The front line was completed with two instrumental wizards: Dave Lewis, whose tenor playing wowed us when he came with his  1UP band, and did again last night. The guitar playing of Carl Orr is amazing, whether accompanying, or in his brilliant solos.

The foundation provided by bassist Neville Malcom was pretty well perfection. Neville had a short excellent solo  and duo with the drums in the last number of the night which caught the ear, but other than that he wasn't given a chance to blow. The others all had superb solos. The evening was a great success with the audience (and me).

I want to say a couple of other things. Gerry's sound was immaculate, and drew compliments from the musicians and members of the audience. It was a big rig, and we couldn't start work until quite late, but we had lots of help. JJ was there for us, and the hotel staff got the large stage floor ready for us quite quickly. Particular thanks to the Smith family, mére, pére et fils, who made it all go smoothly, and gave us a record quick derig.

Next week we have something rather special. Solstice is led though it is a true collective,  by John Turville, who is a prodigiously talented pianist. He recalls John Taylor's playing to John Fordham With Tori Freestone's robust tenor playing, Bridgitte Beraha who has been bracketed with Norma Winstone and Flora Purim, the staggering improvisational force that is Jez Franks, and the superb back line of Dave Manington and George Hart, this promises to be a special gig.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 25 March 2017 - Tim Kliphuis
If the phrase "world class" has any meaning at all, last night's music at Fleece Jazz was just that. This will be a shortish note, because my dictionary of superlatives is far too short.

One very important thing; Tim Kliphuis, Nigel Clark and Roy Percy have been working together for 10 years now, but as well as superb musicianship, they bring a freshness and great humour to their work. They have a drum-tight connection to each other and to the audience as well.

Tim's facility with his violin is amazing. His programme design was spot on, with a few of his on tunes, some standards, and suites and segues covering a huge range of classical and other genres. We got Copland (lots of it), Bach, Paganini, Pachelbel, Oscar Peterson, John Lewis... and it all had that swing so it meant a lot. Many little details made fascinating listening. For example, in the Pachelbel, Roy switched to ground bass.

One expects a violinist withTim's reputation to play tunes on natural and bridged harmonics as apparently easily as normal fingering. But to hear Roy do it on bass was a revelation. His variety of techniques, including some spectacular slap bass delighted the audience (and me).

Nigel also displayed a wide range of techniques on the guitar. We got classical, plectrum, rhythm, all popped in to the playing when needed.

If Tim's playing was enthralling, his discussions to and with the audience were very much enjoyed. Like a good standup, take it and us it; George Formby indeed. I do wish he had announced the name of all of the songs, though.

One thing is certain. They will be back.

Back next week is the John East Project, with 7 fine players to delight you. John is on Hammond organ and vocals, Mark Fletcher is on drums, Neville Malcom on bass, Carl Orr on guitar, Dave Lewis on tenor sax, Dan Priseman on trumpet and Daniel Hewson on trombone and piano (probably not at the same time). It will be quite an evening

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 March 2017 - Sam Crockatt Quartet
Proper jazz, this gig was. Yes, there were some charts of some very skillful writing and arranging, but the gig was properly impromptu all through, not just the excellent solos.

The writing and tenor playing was by the leader, Sam Crockatt, who had brought Ivo Neame on our piano, Oli Hayhurst on his bass, and Jon Scott on the drumkit.

Sam's excellent phrasing and tone were evident all through the gig. After a most enjoyable sound check, I expected the set list and plans to have been fixed. Nope,Sam had new ideas as to the flow of almost every tune. There was tons of blowing room for every one, and all the solos were great.

We had not heard Ivo in some time. What an amazing left hand the man has! In one of the standards, Ivo and Sam  had 8 bar sections in which they played in different unrelated keys, very funny. In the opening number in the second set (if I counted right),  the sax and piano were in 3/4, ballad speed, and the bass and drums were in 6/8, bop speed. Amazing.

We even got some free jazz, in Sam's "Mels Bells", with the English bell ringing cadences dancing through.

I loved both Oli's and Jon's playing, soloing and accompaniment. Both Oli and John had extended intros.

It was a most enjoyable gig., There will not be a gig next week, but the stunning violinist, Tim Kliphuis, will be with us on the 24th of the month. He brings Nigel Clark guitar and Roy Percy bass. It will be a wonderful eveining of Gypsy and Hot Club jazz.

Take care,
Dave

Stamford Corn Exchange Jazz Show, May 14 2017, 3pm
This theatre (charity number 1092736) has a show 'Cry me a River" The Fittzgerald, Holiday & Armstrong Songbook starring Miss Scarlet Black & her Live Band.
We are pleased to support them. More information at their website.

Dave's Notes, 4 March 2017 - Josh Kemp's Hammond Quartet
There is an argument from some (not me) that standards are easy to understand, and self-penned compositions are difficult. Not when Josh Kemp writes them. Last night Josh's Hammond Quartet treated us to a varied evening in two respects. It was his stuff and some standards, and we got bop, blues, ballads and more. We got a very happy (if a bit small) audience as well. That the musicianship was great is a given.

Much good new music (at least to me) has come off of Josh's pen. The exception, but only that I have heard it before, is the beautiful "Angel of the North", an evocation of a statue on the Tyneside A1. The music encompasses you like the wings of the statue. The joyful "Happenstance", the politically accurate "Spin" and the excellent 5/4 number "Effervescence" opened the first set. The scary (if you are Josh's son) "Turn on the Dark" was a bit of a monster. But we also had the Bernie/Pinkard/Casey  "Sweet Georgia Brown", Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on my Mind", and Clifford Brown's "Sandu" for the encore. Lovely mix.

The stage was dominated by the Hammond B3, complete with Leslie, Ross Stanley in the drivers seat. It so fascinated one audience member that he took dozens of pictures of it: hands, manuals, stops, pedal board. Leslie and all. But it seems to me that to Ross, the thing is a single entity, all parts usable simultaneously, which is truly amazing to watch, and wonderful to hear. I think Josh wrote "Home Cooking" (corrections welcome), and  Ross made the point by playing with no hands for a bar.

Josh's sax tone has the rough and the smooth, and he uses both and in between in his solos, They were used with particularly effect in "Spin".

Steve Fishwick and Josh had some superb horn choruses, and an excellent trading of 4's in "Home Cooking". Picking out solos to comment on is difficult  but I particularly liked  Steve's solon in "Effervescence".

The very young drummer in the first row of the audience concentrated on watching Tristan Mailliot as a superb accompanist and exciting soloist. It was his first ever jazz gig, and a winner. Tristan showed most of the spectacular stuff in  Josh's "Suck it and See". For me, listening to the perfection of the accompaniment  whether supporting the head or solos was the thing.

It was a fine gig, and will be followed by another. Next week,
saxophonist Sam Crockatt brings Ivo Neame piano, Oli Hayhurst bass, Jon Scott drums. Two quotes tell the story:
"Haunting lyricism" - John Fordham.
"Performances full of power and invention, delivered with precision, poise, and grace" - Helen Mayhew
I hope to see you there.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 February 2017 Will Butterworth Quartet
An awful lot of people missed out on hearing a stunning gig from Will Butterworth's Quartet. Fine musicianship, terrific writing and arranging were three of the reasons that it was such a good evening. The first set was an uninterrupted (except by applause)  suite based  on the Oscar Wilde tale, "The Nightingale and the Rose", and the second mostly  consisted of  standards with fascinating arrangements by Will. Great playing all round from Will on piano, Seb Pipe on alto, Nick Pini on bass and Pete Ibbetson on drums.

Will provided the audience with a booklet with short descriptions of each of the sections of the suite, but I think the music stood happily on its own. Even if you read the descriptions as the suite progressed, the music seemed to avoid the programmatic. I was struck by Will's pianism in the first piece, a ballad in the garden looking for a rose. The second section, in 3/4 time, reminded me of Ravel.

All of the sections left lots of room for blowing, and sometimes the changes between improvisation and writing were so smooth that one hardly noticed them. Not so much in the third section, "Blues for a Cynical Lizard", It had a Mingus-like intro from Nick on the bass. Everybody had solos on this one, all hit the mark.

Will has a penchant for lots of time signatures, sometimes two or three all at once. The Nightingale songs had their melodies snuck out of long introductions, in this case in 7/4, but with cross-rhythms and ground bass sections. Really excellent. The fifth section "Philosophy and Metaphysics" was an up-tempo screamer in which it seemed that each of the four had their own time signature, but it all worked - almost shocking.

The suite finished with a beautiful piece about love and death, disappointment and resolution. Will used just the piano trio in several places, and he ended this section with just the three.

What a contrast to the second set. We had the same level of playing and arrangements, but with one exception, they were standards. We got Gershwin, Wes Montgomery, Coots and Lewis ("For All We Know"), "Pure Imagination", from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and one tune from Will.

Bricusse and Newley's "Pure Imagination" was the prize, with Seb's superb solo and the piano trio. Will's original was a song about the birth of his very young son, called "Johnny Marr". That is the song title, not the kid's name. If you want to hear why it was called that, mes amis, find another gig in this long tour and go. You won't be sorry.

No gig this week, quel domage, But the week after that, the unmissable Josh Kemp Hammond Organ Band will be with us, with Josh on tenor,  the top organist, Ross Stanley, Steve Fishwick on trumpet, and Tristan Maillot on drums. See you there

Take care,
Dave



Daves Notes, 11 February 2017 - Brandon Allen Sextet
I would have paid to be at the sound check for that one. Hang on, I was. Stunning stuff from Brandon Allen's band in quick rehearsal. I am doubly privileged. Every sound check I learn a little. With a band this good, and fun, I learn a lot. I also  get to hear ideas sketched out in rehearsal  come to full glory in the gig.

This is partially because of the quality of the personnel: we had Brandon, with his power and range; Paul Booth on alto, with his Getzian technique and sensitivity; huge stuff from Mark Nightingale on trombone; Tim Lapthorn inhabiting the piano in solo and continuo; Dave Wickford providing the foundation on bass; and on drums, physically quiet in the background but drumming a storm and a half, Matt Home.

So the playing was tight, fun, and made the listening Fleece Jazz audience vocal. The sound of the horn chorus in full cry is  just stunning. But the thing for me was Brandon's arrangements of primarily  standard works. He left plenty of room for blowing from everyone. He provided a structure in each tune around which the solos worked. It wasn't just the standard head, solos, head arrangement for most of the tunes.

Some of the horns on the  heads, and (don't know the proper name for this) intermediary choruses were partially unison, but mostly big fat chords. Some were fugal, which I really loved. They had three horn (and piano and bass) melodies, all different and sounding almost free. One song, Michel Legrand's "You Must Believe  in Spring", had the saxes doubling and the trombone playing an obligatto which tied the section together.

All in all, the arrangements gave us a huge range of textures. We had lovely piano trios, immensely satisfying solos, and those wonderful written bits. I really don't want to pick out favourite .bits.  Thank you, Brandon, Paul, Mark, Tim, Dave, Matt, for a truly great evening.

Next week, Friday 17 February,  one of my favourite pianists is coming with a special project and a special team. Pianist Will Butterworth is coming with his quartet: Will on piano, Seb Pipe alto sax, Nick Pini bass and Pete Ibbetson drums. They will be playing Will's suite, from Oscar Wilde's "The Nightingale and the Rose". Will has brought music of this kind to us before and it has been jaw-droppingly good.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 4 February 2017 - Damon Brown's International Quintet
The tone that Damon Brown produces on the trumpet has a strong classical feel. Its is like the tone that a fine classical trumpeter gets in the Haydn concerto (Wynton Marsais has played this). Not that he can't growl and hoot when needed, but the beautiful tone is always there, and lovely to hear.

Damon brought his International Quintet to royally entertain us last night. We had Damon on trumpet, flugel and vocals. He is British, now resident in Seoul, Korea; on alto we had the estimable Christian Brewer, who is English. Our Scottish pianist was Paul Kirby, on bass was American Sean Pentland, and on drums, the German Manuel Weyand. Paul, Sean and Manuel are also Seoul residents, and have their own group, the Resonance Trio, that I would love to hear.

Damon gave us an evening of superb music, some standards, some his own. The group was very generous with their time, and played well past 11pm to a delighted audience. The programme was nicely balanced. We started off with a tune of Damon's, an ode, he said,  to a Monglolian camel. The tone in the head and solos what caught my ear. It was a good tune, too. His solo in "Kit Kat", another tune of his,about his sister, had a memorable solo from Damon.

He has also become an accomplised vocalist, with great phrasing, intonation, and articulation. Our extended encore was Bobby Timmins' "Moanin'", great solos by everybody, audience participation, and Damon's vocals. In the first set, Jack Segal's "When Sonny Gets Blue" showed us Damon's excellent phrasing and love of the words.

Christian Brewer we knew, and much admired his playing, whether alto or soprano. Among his fine solos was his in  Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty".

The rest of the band  were new to the club. Paul Kirby was a revelation. He had intro and solo in Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine" that was special. Sean Pentland had bass solos in this and many others, impossible to pick out a favourite, the guy is just very good. He tells me that he has a borrowed bass,and was not entirely happy with it, but I thought his playing was exemplary.

Manuel Weyand had super solos all through the evening, with "Moaning'" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" in my memory.  Essentially, the five of them played their asses off, had a lot of fun, were tight,  and we loved it.

Next week, a sextet, with a starry set of personnel. We will have Brandon Allen leading on  tenor sax, Paul Booth on  his sax, Mark Nightingale trombone, Tim Lapthorn piano, Dave Whitford bass, Matt Home drums. You cannot miss this one.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 29 January 2017 - Phil Hopkins' Toots Thielemans Tribute
I am a great fan of the music of Toots Thielemans, and grew up with the music of Larry Adler around me. I was particularly excited to be at Fridays gig.

Phil Hopkins is a consummate chromatic harmonica player. This is not an easy instrument to master, and he has not only done so, but he makes the instrument speak. His solo on the Paul Simon ballad "I Do It For Your Love" was special. Phil gave us lots of information about Toots' career, without descending into lecturer mode (I know about lecturer mode). As to the programme, it was well constructed and balanced, with good arrangements with lots of blowing space. It was fascinating to hear "Stardust" with Toots' chords, rather than Hoagy's. I loved his solo on "Coiga Fieta" (hope I got that right).

Phil did do me a disservice. He told me about an interview with Toots on Youtube. When I got home from the gig I gave it a quick look, and was caught; watched the whole thing and got to bed far too late. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_UlWWSF-FM. It gets worse. There is a terrific interview and music (about an hour) on NPR with Marion McPartland.

John Paricelli is in demand in the jazz world and outside of it. He doesn't have genre limitations. Something to do with really fine musicianship. As usual, trying to pick a solo to comment on is a bit silly, but Joe Raposo's "Sesame Street" was especially tasty.

I was a little disappointed that Martin France did not play the part of Animal on "Sesame Street". Didn't matter: his accompaniment and soloing were both stunning, particularly in the Latin numbers.

Our piano suffered a bit from temperature change (we do tune it every day it is used). Jonathan Gee overcame the problems with his usual brilliance. He provided lovely solos and great accompaniment.

If you hear four notes from Paul Morgan, you immediately know who is playing. His bass has a very particular tone, and with Paul's speed and range, it makes for a perfect foundation for the band. For an encore, we had a piece by Phil, "Blues for the Baron" (Toots was ennobled in Belgium). Everybody had great fun with that, and Paul's solo I particularly enjoyed.

A really good gig.

Next Friday, Damon Brown brings his International Quintet. We have Damon on trumpet and vocals (England), Christian Brewer sax (England), Paul Kirby piano (Scotland), Sean Pentland bass (USA). Manuel Weyand drums (Germany). It will be special. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 21 January 2017 - Ben Crosland plays the Ray Davies Songbook
There are great gigs and then there are great gigs. Musicianship at this level is rare, and that includes the playing, the arrangements and the original tunes of Ray Davies.

Ben Crosland is a superb arranger (and composer, for that matter: tunes from his Threeway band stand in the memory), and an excellent bass guitarist. He has turned the Davies tunes into very varied jazz. The evening encompassed bop, blues, bossanova, and contemporary jazz. I think one of the nicest things was the dynamic range of the pieces, but it was immensely satisfying jazz.  He left lots and lots of rooms for the musicians to blow.

And blow they did, and with this lineup, that is not a surprise. With Ben on bass, Sebastiaan de Krom on drums, Steve Lodder on piano and keyboards, John Etheridge on guitar and Dave O'Higgins on tenor and soprano saxes, you would expect no less. In fact, we got more. They had a grand time, played out of their skins and we all just loved it.

Seb had a few solos, all superb. The best was probably in "Well Respected Man", which started the second set. Seb is a master at dynamic range and control. His accompaniment was spot on always.

John had a solo on "All Day and All of the Night" which was stunning. He had some minimal stomp boxes, and used fuzz on this one. He also had a heavy wah way box on some other numbers, but the natural guitar sound he used on most tunes. Again, the accompaniment with rhythm guitar and other timbres was exceptional.

We had not seen Dave at the club for far too long. Whether on tenor or soprano, he excelled. Like the others, he had beautiful solos with energy and sparkling ideas, and I couldn't pick out a single one to say I loved it best.

Ben's playing is immaculate. He provided the foundation perfectly, as bassists should, but his solo work was fine too, all through the evening, but perhaps particularly on the most known tune, "Waterloo Sunset".

And then there is the key's guy. Steve has got to be one of the most powerful pianists and keyboardists about. I can watch his left hand forever. It is like there were two of him with complementary ideas. His solo "Everybody's gonna be Happy", will stand in the memory. Whether on piano or keyboard, whether soloing or accompanying, the density of ideas that few could execute was amazing.

Last, the tunes of Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, CBE were a joy, whether headliners like "Waterloo Sunset", or B side tunes like "I Need You".  Thank you, Ray, Ben, Steve, John, Dave, Seb for a great evening.

And to come: Toots Thielmans is a jazz hero, making the harmonica a first class instrument. Phil Hopkins is a superb harmonica player, and his tribute to Toots is something special, not least because of the rest of the crew. We get Jonathan Gee on piano, Martin France on  drums, John Paricelli on guitar and Paul Morgan  on bass. Do come along Friday. You won't regret it.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 17 January 2017 - Jim Rattigan's Pavillon
Apologies for the lateness of this report. I was tied up in DIY at home, an occupation I do not relish. What I did relish was a great band playing music and arrangements by Jim Rattigan which hit the spot. The arrangements were excellent and innovative, and the playing superb. Just look at these names:

Jim Rattigan ~ French Horn, Composition and Arrangements
Martin Speake~ Alto Sax    
Andy Panayi ~  Tenor Sax
Mick Foster ~  Baritone Sax
Steve Fishwick ~ Trumpet
Robbie Robson ~ Trumpet
Percy Purseglove ~ Trumpet
Mark Nightingale ~ Trombone
Sarah Williams ~ Bass Trombone
Hans Koller ~ Piano
Dave Whitford ~ Bass
Gene Calderazzo ~ Drums

To give you a quick idea of the arranging intellect of Mr. Rattigan: the encore was a blues ("Mung Beans") in which everybody got to blow. Each group of 3 horns had a section with each player playing in sequence, then two together, then all 3 in improvisational counterpoint. Fascinating.

It was also great to have them play just about acoustically. There was a bit of micing on the piano, bass and french horn, but it was very gentle.

I am not going to talk about individual solos. Everybody had them, and not a bad apple on the tree.  My favourite tune (other than that encore) was "Forever", which started off the second set. It had some amazing chords in interesting sequences. The timbre of the french horn was new to some, but it was beautifully played by Jim.

All in all, a great gig.

Something special on Friday. When a band leader and composer brings John Etheridge on Guitar, Dave O'Higgins on sax, Steve Lodder on piano and Seb de Krom on drums, and is himself a consumate bass guitarist, we are in for a great treat: thank you, Ben Crosland. See you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 January 2017 - Fletch's Brew


If you want to start the year off with a glorious bang, book this band. Fletch's Brew brings, as advertised, seamless explorations of  funk, bop, fusion, reggae and rock! Not to mention great musicianship and a barrel of fun. Not a quiet introspective evening.

The group is led and powered by top drummer, Mark Fletcher. The amazing Mornington Lockett is on tenor sax. Ross Stanley brought his Fender Rhodes, and also played piano. The eminent bassist  Laurence Cottle provided the foundation. All four guys were visibly enjoying their colleagues work, and (using Peter King's phrase), played there asses off.

Mark's range is huge. In John Scofield's "Peculiar" he outplayed the Muppets' Animal: great power and intensity. In the ballads, his brush work was subtle, but still intense.

Mornington played a feast of quotes in his "Peculiar" solos. He has rare, absolute command of the top (altisimo) register of the tenor, way into the coloratura range. The band had some fun with Ornette Colman's "Law Years".  They began with some free jazz, Mornington playing split chords on his sax, everybody else doing the free thing, before it resolved into the tune.

The first set ended with Coltrane's "Giant Steps" which I particularly loved. There was a duo between Mark and Laurence in that one that was beautiful.  Laurence visibly had such a good time.  I was also taken by his solo in Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes".

Which leaves Ross Stanley to talk about. He usually brings his Hammond B3, but this time, the Fender Rhodes. In a non-musical aside, both instruments require the assistance of his powered sack barrow with stair climbing abilities. The man is prodigious on either instrument and on the piano. His solo in Metheny's "Timeline" was particularly fine, but all of his work was excellent, as it always is.

Great gig, that one, and more to follow. A 12 piece jazz band next week awaits you, led by the top jazz french horn player, Jim Rattigan and 11 excellent friends. We are in the Devora Suite for that one. You will be sad if you missed it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 25 December 2016 - Alan Barnes Octet: A Jazz Christmas Carol
Alan Barnes brought a superb band to play his suite following closely  Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", with the music interspersed with readings from the story, and comments thereupon. We know at least three things about Alan. He is a truly fine reed player; he is an excellent composer, as this suite and others like the Conan Doyle suite testify; he is a superb standup comedian, and like his music, he knows how to improvise his patter.

The  band played the suite, and some surprising Christmas songs, to give a big crowd a great evening.

Lets just name the cast of this evening of beautifully arranged and played music. We had Alan on tenor, clarinet and bass clarinet,  Nathan Bray trumpet, Mark Nightingale trombone, Robert Fowler baritone and tenor sax and clarinet, Karen Sharpe baritone and tenor sax and clarinet, David Newton piano, Simon Thorpe bass, Clark Tracey drums. The arrangements included every possible horn combination you could think of.  Nathan was a dep. Everybody played out of their skins, but in the first number, "The Start of It", Nathan's trumpet rang out like Gabriels.

Between each number of the suite, Alan read from the Dickens. It was sometimes serious, but mostly hilarious. His treatment of the text was honest, but his interaction with the audience was exceptional, very funny. There was reaction with the band in the readings as well, some friendly insults, and some caused by the member of the band with a practical joking reputation. Next time, Alan, lock away the script.

There were too many highlights and great solos to write about. You can always buy the CD by going to www.woodvillerecords.com/A-Jazz-Christmas-Carol.htm.
It is excellent, and much of the commentary is in the booklet. It misses the jokes, which is a pity. Almost all of the suite is on the disc, and two of the carols from the end of the second set.

There was fun and joy in the composition and in the soloing. Who but Alan would combine "Blue Monk" with "God Rest You Merry,  Gentlemen"? Some of the quotes were outrageous, and very funny.

As usual, I wish I could say more about this superb gig, but I need to finish it with thanks to a grand band, great writing, and a lovely audience.

No gig next week, of course, but brace yourselves for Fletch's Brew on the 6 of January, with Mark Fletcher drums, Ross Stanley organ and piano, Mornington Lockett sax, Laurence Cottle bass. They will blow you away.

Merry Christmas  and a happy, healthy and fun New Year to you all.

Take care
Dave




Dave's Notes, 18 December 2016 - Sarah Jane Morris
What can I say about this wonderful gig? Sarah Jane Morris gave the best of a history of superb gigs at Fleece Jazz, and got a standing ovation from the crowd. And if that wasn't enough, I could have happily listened to a concert with the two instrumentalists, Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield, both on acoustic guitars.

I would like to talk about the two gentlemen first. The interplay between the two guitars was just so beautiful. It wasn't just that one played rhythm while the other played lead, although there was a lot of that. Not to denigrate rhythm guitar: it is one of those things that you don't hear so  much, but without it, the music seems almost bereft. The thing is, they sounded like one complex instrument, with the interest not doubled, but squared.

Tony is an educator and composer. In fact, much of the night's programme was co-written with Sarah Jane. He is a world class blues player, but can turn his hand to just about any genre, a skill needed on the night. His intro to "Looking for the Water in a Deeper Well" was a blues joy.

Tim is a top class session musician. To those who don't know, it means he can play anything in the right groove on arrival at the studio. Couple that with the fact that he has worked with Sarah Jane and Tony many times, and knows the music, and you get some amazing playing. His duet with Sarah Jane in "Mrs. Jones" was such a delight. I'm gushing again, but it was that kind of night.

And Sarah Jane. After the gig I must have heard 20 people say that they had never heard her better. She first played the club in 1994, and has been with us every year since then. She had to catch a plane for Rome very early in the morning, but still gave us a long second set.

The lyrics she writes are not always easy to listen to: she feels strongly about important humanitarian issues, and writes and sings about them clearly. She writes about personal matters, too. "Betrayed" is about her divorce, very powerful. In terms of power, she uses the full three octave range of her voice with immense strength and great delicacy at need.

A wonderful evening of terrific music will be followed next week by something completely different, but no less terrific. Alan Barnes is bringing his Jazz Christmas Carol Octet, with words and songs. Eight top players having fun. Unmissable stuff, folks.

Take care, and have a great holiday and a happy, healthy New Year.
Dave




Dave's Notes, 10 December 2016 - Sarah Gillespie Quartet
One of the problems of a Friday gig on the Essex/Suffolk borders is that south London musicians sometimes have a hell of a time getting here. But when they do, we get wonderful gigs. Or even before they all do.

Sarah Gillespie just keeps on getting better, from a very high starting point. Much of the material is hers, with some Bessie Smith songs. We got a lot more of her excellent guitar playing this gig, finger style and strum. On her "Oh Mary", we got a rare, lovely guitar solo. This was one of two solo songs to begin the second set. Sarah holds the stage and the audience in her hands and voice.

This was followed by two poems set to music, both funny. The second one was set to a standard blues, and was about lonely hearts columns, very funny. I cannot imagine that Sarah actually knows a bald round addiction adviser seeking not similar.

It is a cliché, but no less true for that: Sarah is an original, in her writing and in her singing. She is always interesting and interested. We want to see her back soon.

The first two songs of the first set were trio songs, as drummer Eddie Hick was trapped in London traffic caused by multiple accidents. He arrived during the second song, and built the fastest, if minimal kit. 3 minutes, I timed him. Of course we were treated to superb drumming. In the interval, Eddie built the rest of the kit. He had some stunning solos, not least on the Darnell/Wilson song, "Do Your Duty" which Bessie Smith made famous. The arrangement for this was fascinating: lots of tempo changes.

On this one, Frank Harrison had one (of many) terrific solos. He does love his quotes, and juxtaposing Bach with rock anthems was very funny.  I love his accompaniments. On "Babies and All That Shit" (written before Sarah's child was born) the duet with Sarah was particularly fine. Maybe because he understands the problem?

I really like bowed bass, and we got some of that from Ben Bastin, both rough accents where needed and lyrical flow, as in the encore, "Mean Men" (if I heard correctly).  Jimmy Cox wrote "Nobody Knows You when your Down and Out", and Ben had one of his fine solos on this one.

Next Friday, Sarah's good friend and ours, Sarah Jane Morris will be with us. Two true originals in a row. Sarah brings two great guitarists with her: Tony Remy and Tim Cransfield. If you know Sarah, you will be there. If you don't, come and find out what you have been missing.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 7 December 2016 - Jazz at the Movies
Late again with a note on another great gig. We have had Jazz at the Movies before, but it is always new, filled with wonderful songs and cinema history. The performances are special.

Chris Ingham has many virtues. His knowledge of the material is vast, and his presentation  of that knowledge, while quiet, is engaging. He is an excellent pianist and backing vocalist. [ I left the "c" out of "backing" the first time I typed this. Does that mean that if the room is warm, Chris's voice rises?]

I love Joanna Eden's  voice and presentation. Her slinky rendition of Sondheim's "Sooner or Later" was a prize. It was followed by Bricusse and Newley's song "Pure Imagination", and it was if a different, gentle,  vocalist up there. A third vocalist sang Joss Stone's "Alfie" with such passion. Wonderful stuff from Joanna all through the gig.

We don't see the marvelous clarinetist/tenorist Mark Crooks enough. His backing of Joanna on ballads was a delight.   In the encore, we had the 1934 Coots and Gillespie song, "Santa Claus is Coming to town". Mark did a superb Goodman on that one, following George Double's Krupa.

When the drummer asks for a vocal mic, one does worry a bit. No need, As well as being a fine drummer, George is an excellent backing singer.  

Arni Somogyi is such a fine bassist. I wonder if he sings. His solos have that lyrical quality.

It was great to see a big crowd for this gig. Three more left in this season, all crackers. On Friday, the true original, Sarah Gillespie, is with us, with Frank Harrison on piano, Ben Bastin on bass and Eddie Hicks on drums.
Then the amazing Sarah Jane Morris with stellar guitarists Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield, and bassist Henry Thomas. They are bringing a Christmas concert.
And our last concert is an Octet led by Alan Barnes, with a Jazz Christmas Carol.

Three wonderful gigs to end our season. See you there.

Take care,
Dave

I have missed a couple, and will try to get back to them.


Dave's Notes, 20 November 2016: Paul Baxter: Seven Pieces of Silver
Proper Jazz. The music of Horace Silver played with style, power and joy.

The seven pieces of silver wre a delight. The group is led by bassist Paul Baxter, who either transcribed or arranged the music. He included one of his own Silver inspired tunes in the excellent programme. The superb Andrzei Baranek was our pianist. The presentation was done by trumpeter James Lancaster, who set the periods for us, and had some funny things to say about his colleagues. The trombonist was a last minute dep, Brian Archer. How do they do that? He was terrific: one of those players who seems to inhabit the instrument, great fun to watch. The fine tenorist John McKillup and Stuart MacDonald on alto and baritone  completed the front line. Paul Smith is a stunning drummer with big ears very big ideas.

A big front line, particularly in a small room, can sound pretty ordinary if they don't get the entrances dead on. From the first chorus in the first tune, the early  "Camouflage", these four horn  players hit us with beautiful, spot on chorus work: it was a wonderful sound. I loved the variations in the arrangements for the horns. We got lots of great unison choruses, lots and lots of great solos. We got additive arrangements as in "Song for my Father": first alto, then alto and trumpet then... you get the idea. "Jody Blues" gave us a jazz battle, trading 8s and 2s among the saxes. That piece had a memorable solo from Andrzei .

The second set opened with "Peace", in which Paul Baxter gave us a wonderful extended bass entry.  Paul Smith is a drummer I want to hear again. To finish the first set, we had "Yeh". Paul used a microphone to get tonality out of the kit of a kind I have never heard before. If I was listening blind, I imagine that what he did was the result of hours of work programming a synth. Live is always better.

Next Friday, the great American drummer, Jeff Williams, brings an unusual and very tasty quartet.  The multi-prize   Arcolio is on Sax;  another superb American, John O'Gallagher is on Alto. The bassist is the excellent Sam Lasserson. It will be a fascinating evening. Try hard not to miss it.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 12 November 2016 - Alice Zawadzki Trio
I wish I could write forever about this gig. I wish it had gone on forever. We expected a great evening, but not one so full of surprises.

Take the opening number, Tizol/Ellington's "Caravan". Alice Zawadzki is a beautiful straight forward jazz singer, but we didn't know she was a percussionist, using hands and feet to give this standard an extra kick. There was a lovely entry with Alice and bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, with a superb solo by Phil Peskett on the piano. Lots of singers try to scat. Alice knows how.

Or in the second set, a beautiful song in the Ladino language (the language of Sephardic Jews in Spain, and a trade language). The song was full of tempo changes, and the band, particularly Phil, were spot on. Misha provided a classical ground bass for this one. It was followed by a very funny Polish song, "If I Had a Guitar". Alice's love of the words made a  song sung in Polish clear to us.

Of course we got blues. Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" had all the gentlemen wait for a bit before they stood up. The Witherspoon/Ford "Times are Getting Tough" was a classic blues beautifully sung.

I can't go through all of a varied programme which started high and just kept getting better. We had beautiful singing: Alice has a lovely voice and a range of timbre, She was brave enough to sing totally off mic in one song, and it worked. We love her consummate violin playing, and presentation. She has a real connection to the audience. Phil and Misha were excellent accompanists and soloists. They had a great time. So did we.

The only down side was the size of the audience. Why people have missed such a special evening I do not understand. Frankly, there is a limit to our ability to handle the losses on gigs.

Next week, the music of Horace Silver, with Paul Baxter's Seven Pieces of Silver. This excellent bass led band has Paul Baxter ~ Bass, Andrzei Baranek ~ Piano, James Lancaster ~ Trumpet, Matt Ball ~ Trombone, John Mckillup ~ Tenor Sax, Stuart Macdonald ~ Alto/Baritone Sax and Paul Smith ~ Drums. Do come allong for an evening of "proper jazz".

Take care,

Dave  


Dave's Notes, 5 November 2016 - Jay Phelps Quartet
It is such a pleasure to be back af Fleece Jazz after my knee op, even if only in the audience. And what a terrific band to be back for!  The Jay Phelps quartet was terrific. The old adage, if they have a good time so will we, applies.

Jay was playing in NYC the night before. Oh, to be young again! He has a very natural communication with the audience, playing or speaking. He is also a very generous leader, giving everyone huge opportunities to blow, and did they just. His programme was well designed, with blues, standards (often thinking of Miles Davis) and originals. I loved his "Everyone is Ethnic", a beautiful unifying song in which he added his own vocals. He has the knack of sculpting the timbre of the instrument to suit the song and the phrase. His work with the Harmon mute on Frank Loesser's "If I Were a Bell" was wonderful.

John Scott was a dep on drums, and had seen the music for the first time in the sound check/rehearsal. I was there for some of that, and he picked up the grooves session quick, and played the room beautifully. He provided solid accompaniment, excellent solos,

Rick Simpson has a strong left hand, which I love. He can do the Tracy "right number of notes", or send out cascades of notes at speed, but it is all coherent and clear.

Without a solid bass line, no quartet is complete. Mark Lewandowski provides that and a lot more. His intro on Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" was a treat. He traded 4's with John on Dizzy's "Night in Tunisia" was something special.

It was such a pleasure to be there. Too many people were not there to enjoy music of such quality and joy.

I keep saying that next week will be special. My superlatives dictionary has run out of words to describe Alice Zadowzki. She is truly something amazing. A beautiful voice, stunning violin playing, great presentation are there. She brings the fine pianist Phil Peskett and bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado. Her choice of music and interpretation is unique. MOJO calls her a phenomenon, and Jamie Cullum says "Uncategorisable, beautiful ,,, a real force to be reckoned with". Unless your house is on fire, you should be there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave is in the process of acquiring and exercising a new knee, so there will be a hiatus in these reports.


Dave's Notes, 24 September 2016 - Kate Shortt
A woman of many talents, prized above rubies, Kate Shortt entertained us royally last night.

As billed, we had fine music and great comedy.  To hold an audience for two hours with comedic material must be hugely challenging. No problem for Kate.

Last night was definitely a night for adults. She played Bach's "Air on the G String" (second movement of his Orchestral Suite no. 3) beautifully, but added lingerie lyrics. I loved the story about the errant sat nav interrupting lovemaking.

Her own songwriting is excellent, lyrically and melodically, I particularly liked the ballad "Slow Joe",  "Itch", about a woman dumped by text was a riot. She claims that her cat wrote "Chicken Soup For My Soul", a very Jewish cat indeed. Oy Veh.

I don't know how to write about comedy. Suffice it to say that whether playing piano, cello or keyboard, she is stomach aching funny.  But it comes from a very good voice with a big range of pitch and timbre, and excellent instrumental musicianship. Her encore was "Piano Lessons", in which she would rather be elsewhere playing something else. I believe that not at all.

I just wish that more people had the chance to experience such a terrific evening.

Another great evening awaits us next week, with the amazing Barb Jungr, who  brings Barry Green on piano and Davide Mantovani on bass. She is bringing music from her new CD, "Shelter from the Storm. Not to be missed, folks.

Take care,
Dave

Alison Rayner Quintet - 16 September 2016
What a treat  last night at Fleece Jazz. Alison Rayner brought her excellent quintet and a vastly varied and interesting programme of music. Most of it was from her new album, which sold very well indeed, and people report back that it is a stunner.

I was a bit busy with mixing the live show, recording the evening and making videos of some of the songs, so this will be a (for me), shortish note. So what is important?

The people, to start with: excellent musicianship from everybody. The quintet is led by Alison Rayner on bass, The tone from that lovely instrument is amazing, and we got some bowing, which I love. Alison wrote most of the music. Diane McLoughlin played tenor and soprano sax, and wrote wrote one of the songs. She is a superb player. Deirdre Cartwright brought two guitars, one to rock with, and did she just. I would pay the money just to hear Steve Lodder, and I was not disappointed. He wrote some of the songs.  Buster Birch was our drummer. He is one of those with "big ears", understands the room and the music and listens like crazy. Well, they all did.

I love music and musicians who tell stories, and this lot does. The programme Alison arranged was varied and fascinating. We had "The Trunk Call", an homage to an Indian elephant, evocative and funny, with an appropriate elephant gate and raga overtones. Also balladic were "Elegy to Art" and "Friday's Child", about Alison's parents. A fast, rocking "May Day" had them and us clapping. Steve's "Queer Bird" and Alison's "String Theory" gave us lots to think about - superb songs.

Everybody had brilliant solos, I will only mention one, because some of it is still in my head. Steve's solo in "Queer Bird" was something very special, world class stuff. Part was on his own, part accompanied by the others, He inhabited every bit of the piano, As I said, this is a listening crew, but during this solo, they all turned to Steve, grinned with shining eyes. The CD is excellent, but live music is better.

Next week, a very special talent will grace our stage. Kate Shortt is a fine classical and jazz cellist, pianist and vocalist. She is also the best sit down comedienne ever. Musically it will be an evening of standards and Kates own writing. Comedically it could go anywhere.  Do not miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 September 2016 - Ryan Quigley Quintet
The musicianship at Fleece Jazz has always been superb, but last night we were treated to something in another realm. The Ryan Quigley Quintet. gave us a gig to savour, to remember, to recall well into the future.

Although all but one of the songs were written by Ryan, this was a band of people who love each other's playing. They were drummer Clarence Penn, a legend in his native New York; bassist Michael Janisch, also an American, working and producing in London; Grammy nominated pianist and composer Geoffrey Keezer on piano; the multi-award winning tenorist/composer/producer Paul Booth; and Derry born trumpeter/educator/composer Ryan Quigley.

Ryan's music is thoughtful and beautifully constructed, leaving lots and lots of blowing room. Everybody gets  to provide extended intros.  When the band is grinning and deeply listening to their colleagues, even when they are not playing at that moment, then you know they have caught fire. They get to giggle at some of the outrageous quotes.

The evening had power and speed, as in "Say What  You See" in the second set. It had intensity and meaning, as in "What Doesn't Kill You". The encore was a piano/trumpet duo,  the Gershwins's  "Embraceable You", soft and deep.

It is really difficult to describe how good this evening was. If you were not there, note that this is a CD release tour, and buy "What Doesn't Kill You" from http://www.whirlwindrecordings.com/. Not quite the same lineup, and not live, but a great CD.

But live music is better. And live music of this quality available outside of the metropolis is rare. We provide such every Friday. Where are the crowds beating down the door to attend?

Well, next Friday, another great band. The Alison Rayner Quartet, with Alison on bass, the wonderful Steve Lodder piano,  Deirdre Cartwright guitar, Diane McLoughlin saxophone, Buster Birch drums. You should not miss it.

Take care and come to gigs,

Dave




Dave's Notes, 27 August 2016 - Derek Nash's Sax Appeal
With Derek Nash's Sax Appeal, we usually get 5 songs each set. These eight wonderful people got so fired up that we got only three. A big audience gave two standing ovations for what will probably be the gig of the year.

The magic started with the first tune, Derek's "Funkadeen" started us off. Now we had two deps: Alec Dankworth on bass, and Matt Wates on alto and soprano saxes. The band hit the blast chord after the intro with microsecond accuracy, and continued that habit for the evening. Derek's music is complex, but there was never a written note out of place.. So 10 seconds into the gig, the band was having huge fun. They got freer and more adventurous through the evening. We had mostly Derek's tunes and suites  (one lovely tune from his father, Pat). They all had plenty of blowing room, and did they blow! Detailing great solos would take forever.

Just to remind you who the band doing all those solos were (from left to right):
Pete Adams, superb on the Roland keys;
Mike Bradley on baritone sax, bass flute, flute and piccolo;
Matt Wates on alto and soprano sax;
Derek Nash leading, conducting, dancing, alto and soprano sax, percussion goodies, Yamaha echo box (our piano);
Alec Dankworth on bass;
Vasilis Zenopoulis on tenor sax;
Brandon Allen on tenor sax;
Mike Bradley on drums.

I can't but mention two items in the second set. Derek was commissioned to write a suite for the Dorking Watermill jazz club. The Watermill pub burned down some years ago. Derek gave us the tirst two movements of the piece. The first was backed by the fireworks from the wedding in the hotel, which was pretty appropriate, as it was called "Spark", and detailed the fire from start to fierce to finish. Mike had a great solo backed by a superb horn riff repeat chorus. There was a terrific Coltrane backing chorus in there somewhere as well.

The second movement, "Ghosts", recalled the music the burned out shell had heard over the years, with some amazing quotes, both written and improvised. Watching the musicians grin and laugh at their colleagues invention was special.

By the way, you can hear the "Phoenix Suite" on Youtube in three parts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hHxMZAkBjE (Spark)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKYKBpiAI0s (Ghosts)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB38kQXLxRs (Celebration)



In "Shakin Blues" (is that right, Derek?) we got two old fashioned cutting contests, with the two tenors warring, then the two altos. Stunning.

So there is a taste of a truly great night. The videos are great, but we had much more fun.

No gig next week, but
on 9 September, the amazing trumpeter Ryan Quigley, brings his quintet. We have Paul Booth on  sax, Geoffrey Keezer on  piano, Michael Janisch  on bass, Clarence Penn  (the NYC king, on drums. I hope to see you all there.

Take care,

Dave


Dave's Notes, 13 August 2016 - Robert Habermann sings Berlin
Irving Berlin was born Israel Isidore Baline; in 1888 in Tyuman, Russia, about 2500 km east of Moscow. He died 101 years later in New York. Last night, Robert Habermann gave us a programme of song and story that beautifully illuminated Berlin's amazing career. He, and excellent pianist Trevor Brown, delivered 41 songs and almost as many stories. The other star of the evening was an audience who loved the music, and with encouragement, sang along. And no, they were not all oldies like me. Much of Berlin's music lives deep in our memories. To listen to the beautifully sung and played songs in the context of the composer's life was quite lovely.

But what made it work so well was a very carefully constructed programme, mostly strictly chronological. As Berlin often reused songs, absolute strictness would not have been possible, and Robert made that very clear. Berlin was also an excellent businessman, although he had the famous deficiency of only being able  to play in F#. He had a piano made with a moving keyboard so it could play the black notes in all 12 keys.

It would be silly to try to pick out highlights of such a high quality show, but there was one song not written by Berlin. The encore was something of a premiere. Having been angered by the use of technology in concerts by an audience, Robert wrote "Mobile Phone", which Trevor's piano doing ringtones substituted for the last line of the chorus. Very funny and deeply felt.

So the fine duo of Robert and Trevor left us laughing, and happy with remembrances and excellent performances.

Next week, no gig, but on Friday 26 August, a blast and a half with Derek Nash's Sax Appeal. Five saxes, Piano/Keyboards bass and drums. Jazz at its joyous best. See you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 30 July 2016 - Asaf Sirkis/Sylwia Bialas International Quartet
This was an evening that was special for all kinds of reasons, but of course, particularly special for the music.

We know Asaf Sirkis and his skill and intensity, as well as his composing skills. Kevin Glasgow is a 6 string bass guitarist of international accomplishment. John Turville's inventiveness and power have often delighted us. But new to us was the vocalist, Sylwia Bialas.

Sylwia sings from the heart and the soul. The fact that she sang only in Polish meant that she had to give us the meaning of the songs with tone colour and intensity, She did not only use language: there was a lot of scat, some written, some beautifully improvised. She whistled made drum sounds, She also composes. Her work  was something new to me, and very special. The voice has a huge range of pitch, and she is blessed with a beautiful instrument.

One example: in the second set, her song, , "A picture of a Polish wood" ended with some beautifully accurate bird calls, and there were bears about in some of the scat.

Asaf played a somewhat enlarged kit, with a set of disk bells arranged piano fashion. That is not the only instrument he used. In one upbeat song, he sang drums sounds a capella, and his finishing solo echoed those sounds, Power with immense content: you really had to be there. Then there was his song, "Silence", in which i was reminded of Connie Kay. Asaf spoke of the sound between the strikes of the stick, and his playing made us hear the music between the notes.

We don't see enough of Kevin, Nowadays he plays places like Dizzy's Coca Cola in New York, and no wonder. The 6 string lifts his solos into a more tenor range, and he had several beauties. In the encore, Sylwia's "Free Willy" his guitar was singing.

John is not the groups normal pianist, Frank Harrison is, but Frank is dealing with a 4 day old baby (congrats!). The amount of information obtained in a short rehearsal was amazing: as was his pianism and magic left hand. John played both piano and keyboard, and solos on both were special.

The other new thing about the gig was that the band brought ALL of their own sound gear. JJ and I were to have a really easy time. This until JJ tells me that he has severe eye problems (now ok, thank you), and cannot come. So the bald bearded Canadian on sticks has a problem. Or not: the band, and wonderful Paul from the hotel mucked in and it all got done easily.

No gig next week, then a feast of Irving Berlin from Robert Habermann, with Trevor Brown on piano. This is a very popular gig. See you there.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 16 July 2016 - Nigel Price Trio + Vasilis Xenopoulos
Four guys who know each other well, playing great and having fun: a grand night at Fleece Jazz, .Guitarist  Nigel Price led a band with Ross Stanley on organ, Matt Home on drums and Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor sax. You can tell by the entrances, which were microsecond sharp.

Much of the music was Nigel's, but we had a few standards. He set the scene with Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big", which showcased brilliant musicianship from all four. In the van Heusen/deLange "Darn That Dream", Nigel had a truly beautiful extended solo intro, and the sax solo by Vasilis was stunning. Here I go, picking out solos again. There wasn't a dud in the evening.

Nigel's own music enthused the audience as much as the standards. A few of the tunes were built on the chords of other songs. He used "Midnight Blue" (Lou Gramm?) for a song called "Smokescape". Ross made full use of the organ on this one.

A couple of things about the organ. We were expecting a B3, but with almost no sleep, Ross brought his keyB dual manual. I was surprised at how much it sounded like the B3, and at it's versatility. We had a new helper to rig (Dave did a lovely job for us), who was wondering why Ross needed stereo monitors and a bass monitor, thinking it must be overkill. After watchng Ross manipulate the stops  both fiercely and delicately, he knew why Ross needed to hear so clearly. Ross pulled out all the stops (figuratively) for Nigel's "Blue Jeans" (on the Janine chords), and on the bluesy encore. He is always spectacularly good.

Matt Home is an immaculate drummer. He doesn't show a lot of emotion on stage, but he listens like crazy, complementing and driving the other three. Whether in the up tempo "Parker 51" samba with the canon form head, or the gentle ballad, "Indian Summer" (Victor Herbert), whether soloing or accompanying, the man was right there.

A very good night. Next week won't be, we don't have a gig, but on the 29rh, we have something rather special. Asaf Sirkis, that stunning drummer, brings his International Quartet, with Sylwia Bialas on vocals, John Turville on keyboards and piano, and Kevin Glasgow on bass. It will be an evening to remember; I hope to see you there.

Take care,
Dave,


Dave's Notes, 12 July 2016 - Side by Side for Refugees Fundraiser
This was an important day musically and also financially for an important cause. I have made a chronicle of the day at www.fleecejazz.org.uk/benefit100716notes.shtml with lots and lots of pictures. It will give you a taste of a wonderful day.

Dave's Notes, 2 July 2016 - Don Weller
Last night, a legend graced our stage. Don Weller was with us, with  a wonderfully supportive back line of Chris Ingham on piano, Andy Cleyndert on bass and George Double on drums.

Don told us he was just out of hospital, and not very well: he would need to sit down for the gig. Nevertheless his unmistakable big round tenor sax  tone was solidly there, and his deep baritone voice gave us song names and composers. It must have been a long evening for him (not for us), but at the end, he gave us an extra, his own C minor blues, "Half Twist". My favourite piece was "Just one of those things". Don started it off with a riff, which the others picked up, and developed till it merged into the Porter  tune. I also liked Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge".

George Double had a delightful brush solo on "Chelsea Bridge" Don was smiling through the whole solo. His  work throughout was exceptional, particularly as an accompanist that listens intensely (as did Chris and Andy).  On Waldron's lovely ballad, "Soul Eyes", George used a mallet as kind of a pile driver to get the muted tone from the snare.

Andy Cleyndert is one of the very top bassists (as well as being a hell of a record producer).  Not everybody warms up in the sound check with double stopping Bach.  He and Don had a good, tough duet in Mingus' "Dizzy Moods".  There was a rare and delightful bowed solo in "Chelsea Blues".

I love the way that Chris Ingram builds a solo. He seems to move from elegant simplicity to a full on orchestration on the piano. But I loved best his intelligent and observant accompaniment. The same is true of Andy and George.

No gig next Friday, but on Sunday the 10th of July, Something very special. Starting at 1.30pm, a feast of some of the best musicans about giving of their time for a great cause: Side by Side Humanitarian Aid for Refugees. Lots of information on  our website, but as a little taster: Ian Shaw, Tina May, Kate Williams, Alice Zawadzki and 11 others will be there to entertain you, and all the funds go to the cause that they so strongly support. I hope to see you there. Tickets are available by phoning David on 01787 21186 or at WeGotTickets.com.

Take care,
Dave

Colchester Jazz Club - Janet Seidel Trio: Dear Blossom
Our good friends at Colchester Arts Club have a great gig on Sunday, 3 July at 7pm for 7:30
with a poster here.

A Tribute to Blossom Dearie
Dubbed Australia's most popular jazz singer and acknowledged as that country's first lady of jazz, apart from being a sublime vocalist, Janet's also a pretty mean piano player.
If you dig Peggy Lee, Doris Day and Blossom Dearie (to whom she'll be paying a heartfelt tribute), you'll definitely dig Janet!
With Chuck Morgan (Guitar), David Seidel (Double Bass) and Cyril Bevan (Drums)
"She sings with a seemingly effortless and swinging grace." - Jazz Journal
"A delicate and engaging tribute to a truly eccentric music talent." - Adelaide Advertiser on 'Dear Blossom'
Tickets £14/£12, Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club
As a special offer, tell the box office that you have seen the gig on the Fleece Jazz site.
www.colchesterartscentrejazzclub.com
Colchester Arts Centre, Church Street (off Head Street)
Box Office: 01206 500900. Online Bookings: www.colchesterartscentre.com


Dave's Notes, 25 June 2016 - Liane Carroll
Last week, we had  a singer new to us, who surprised us with her range, beautiful voice and flexibility. Last night we had Liane Carroll who we know and dearly love. And she surprised us with her range, beautiful voice, flexibility, superb pianism, vocal improvisation and humour, fresh as the proverbial daisy with wonderful stories to tell.

This is a difficult one to write. It was Liane. It was wonderful.

I had forgotten how fine a pianist she is, both accompanying herself, and soloing. Solos are often joined with quiet vocalisations: something about what John Etheridge said about all good instrumental playing comes from the voice. I loved the way she counted the band in, then realized they weren't there and burst into giggles. Her husband is a fine bassist, and her left hand is pretty good too.  Not that she would ever admit to a double meaning. If she wants to make a raw comment, she makes it, and the audience dissolves in laughter.

Highlights? I just floated through the gig, very bad for a sound guy to do.  Maybe Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", the last song in the set. She loves the words, and gives them so much meaning. Liane opened with Porter's "It's All Right With Me", up tempo, exciting, just right to start off an excellent programme.

The set list sounded as if it had been carefully crafted, but of course, this is Liane Carroll, and she sang what she wanted to sing in that moment. We had "No Moon At All" (Mann/Evans) as a tango, segueing into a beautiful bluesy "Stormy Weather" (Arlen/Koehler) then into the Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me".

Here excellent CD sold a lot of copies.

So what is next week? The huge power tenor of Don Weller will be with us. He brings Chris Ingham on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and George Double on drums. It will be a storming gig.

And on Sunday 10 July, a very special day. Side by Side with refugees and Fleece Jazz will be having a benefit to raise money for this humanitarian cause. Luminaries including Ian Shaw, Tina May, Kate Williams, Chris Allard, Alice Zawadzki will be there. I do hope you will be there too.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 18 June 2016 - John Etheridge and Vimala Rowe
Two and a half years is far too long for us to have heard John Etheridge at Fleece Jazz. It was a debut for Vimala Rowe, and what a debut! The gig  was heralded by a super review from John Fordham of their album,  and it more than lived up to it.

John started each of the two sets with two solo tunes. Sonny Rollins' "Doxy" was a perfect first tune. The second was special, even for John. One of my favourite tunes, Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", was made into something intensely emotional. John uses looping with considerable subtlety, and pretty well unmatched accuracy. Some of the work became orchestral in depth. His accompaniment and solo work in the Syrian Aramaic "Lords Prayer" had an amazing and appropriate orchestral sound to the song, about which more later. He seems to be singing the solos: he remarked that it all starts with the voice.

John's accompaniment was wonderful. It had to be: Vimala is an accomplished singer in a double  handful of genres. The two worked together with obvious enjoyment, in each other's minds.

Ellington's "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" was the first song Vimala sang. The second, the Ellis/Frigo/Carter "Detour Ahead", and we were delighted that she is a very fine jazz singer. She seems to sing with her entire body. The voice is beautiful and very flexible, her intonation superb and most importantly, she clearly loves the words, and knows how to interpret them.

But not just jazz. Her blues singing has a touch of Bessie Smith, with the growl and the big round tone. "Dark Shadows" (Colman/Henry) was stunning blues singing from both Vimala and John's guitar.

"Dark Shadows" sat in the programme between a Hindustani traditional song, "Ya Kundendu", a prayer to the goddess of creativity, and a Swahili lullaby, "Malaika", meaning 'angel'. The first of these could only be sung well with much training from Hindustani masters. She sang it more than well: it was very moving. I loved "Malaika" as well.

So she can do all of that. Can she sing quietly? Martino's "Estate", a love song to summer, was such a delight. Vimala sang the English lyrics. Few people sing the original Italian ones, too depressing.

But the last song of the second set was the prize. On a very difficult day, with the death of Jo Cox, she ended with the Lord's prayer. She sang it in Syriac Aramaic, a dialect of the middle eastern lingua franca of 2000 years ago and before, but still alive in a few places in Syria. Very moving.

And they took us home with Fields/McHugh's "Sunny Side of the Street".


Next Friday, another legend. There is only one Liane Carroll. She has won a slew of awards: one of the great singers, fine pianist, and terrific raconteur. Do not miss it.

Take care, Dave


Dave's Notes, 11 June 2016 - James Pearson
Among his many other sterling attributes, James Pearson knows how to design a programme. We are sitting quietly, Carole announces the band, and then BOOM, Ellington's "C Jam Blues" at speed and intensity. Instant rapport with the audience, who are fully engaged.

And the evening went on like that. Mandel's "Emily" was a delightful 3/4 ballad. We had a mini lecture on Jobim's "Corcovado", with drummer Dave Ohm presenting bossa  and swing rhythm's and then combining the two.

In the second set, which started off with Ellington's "Night Train" which had a beautiful bowed solo from Sam Burgess.That was followed by a spectacular and hilarious  lecture on the differences in technique between Peterson, Shearing, Garner, and the vocal talents of Glen Gould and Keith Jarrett. Only someone as skilled (and funny) as James could carry it off. It was seamless. James' left hand is amazing.

This is a trio of top people who know each other well (even though Dave was a dep). I got to play my favourite game  of watching the musicians listen to each other. Stupendous solos abounded.

The encore started off with a cappella "Maple Leaf Rag" sequed to "Sweet Georga Brown" and two other songs. Funny, intense, perfect ending to a great night.

Another great night beckons next Friday 17 June with John Etheridge and Vimala Rowe.  I'll just pop the Guardian Review in here. "Young singer Vimala Rowe took the role of Billie Holiday in Alex Webb's music-theatre show Cafe Society Swing, but though flawless tributes to the great jazz vocalists are a speciality of hers, she is also an award-winning original composer, a sometime rap artist, and a world musician trained in Hindustani classical techniques. This beautiful album pairs her with chameleonic British guitarist John Etheridge, who has worked with Stéphane Grappelli, Soft Machine and John Williams. The pair sweep across musical horizons here: from the terrifying Nina Simone-like opening and quietly impassioned intimacies of Blue Breeze; the imploring east African ballad Malaika, sung in Swahili; to an Aramaic prayer given a haunting treatment of almost motionless power; and an effortlessly resonant account of Detour Ahead."

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 4 June 2016 - Philip Clouts Quartet
How is it possible for deps to do what they do? Tim Fairhall was our bassist last night for the excellent Philip Clouts Quartet, and he was stunningly good. Some of you might remember that he played for us once before, in 2013, with Dorian Ford.  His whole body seems to be playing the instrument. Somehow, a few minutes in the sound check, and he is perfect rhythmically and tonally,  playing the complex African and other rhythms that Philip uses in his music.

Philip gave us a nicely balanced programme of jazz standards and his own work. People complain sometimes about the unfamiliar, but all of Philip's writing, while complex, is very accessible. So we had Rogers/Hart "Have You Met Miss Jones", in which Sam Eagles had a lovely solo. His alto tone is warm and clear. On this tune, Dave Ingamells, a drummer capable of real power, showed the very quiet use of sticks.  And we had "Taranto", a Tarantella based tune with fascinating cross-rhythms, particularly between bass and drums.

I particularly liked Philip's "Walking in the Starlight". It is a great tune, excellent arrangement, and the four of them went wild on it.

Everyone played beautifully. Philip is an exponent of the Stan Tracy adage, "right number of notes". He had solos both thoughtful and powerful. Dave's drumming was exceptional throughout. Sam is a lovely player on alto and soprano. But what caught the ear of many of the audience (and me) was Tim's bass playing.

Next Friday, we are in the Devora Suite for a special trio. We have been trying to coax James Pearson away from Ronnie Scotts for years, and we got the whole trio: James on piano, Sam Burgess bass and Ian Thomas drums. Come and hear the best of Ronnies without a train trip.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 29 May 2016 - John Law: New Congregation
One of the things you should not do if you are going to make a note about a concert is leave your notes behind at the venue. In fact, I don't care, because I am still floating after that masterly gig. In fact, John Law was at Colchester Arts Centre on Thursday playing the Bach Goldberg Variations. I am still floating from that one too.

I am not alone. Our photographer, Peter, writes, "What an amazing and exciting performance last night.
I do believe that that is the best I have heard John Law play. H e was on fire with his own music. I could see and feel that he was actually "Inside his music" . That must be a wonderful thing to be able to do but can only be done when a chosen instrument has been truly mastered. John has certainly done that. He can express whatever he feels". Our chairman Michael said something similar after the gig.

John played piano, iPhone, keyboard, synthesizer and glockenshpiel, and it seemed as if sometimes he was playing them all at the same time (alright, not the glockenspiel, that was played on its own). The musicianship and emotional investment was at times almost overpowering. The music was all his, and the use of the ambient music to lead into and often through tunes was fascinating.

He could not do it alone, and the Congregation was superb. Sam Crockatt was last seen with us in 2011. He played soprano and tenor sax, He is a beautiful player.

James Agg had his debut at the club. He also had a 6 hour journey from hell getting to us from Cheltenham. Unusiually, James brings stomp boxes to bass playing, but with subtlety, and sometimes doubled by John on keyboards, to give a big tonal range. Great player.

Young Lloyd Haines came to us with John in 2014. He was scary then and is scary now. Maybe it is just me getting old, but it was like watching young musician of the year..

Thanks to all four for such a wonderful gig. And thanks to the members of the audience who helped our understaffed crew put things away.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 May 2016 - Antonio Forcione
The guy has a world wide reputation. And he is fun. Antonio played to adoring fans who were not disappointed. They bought lots and lots of his CDs and all of his videos.

The first thing I noticed is the tone of his three guitars. He is meticulous about setting the sound, and it shows (more on this later). The next thing that overwhelms is his technique. He uses a plectrum, he fingers classical style, he uses the body as a multi-tone percussion instrument, he has a fabulous hammer technique. He has in front of him a small array of stomp boxes which he uses subtly. Importantly, not one of them is a looper. If you hear a note, a chord,  a scrape, a bang, a slur, it is because his fingers make it.

And he can write. Take his piece, "Alhambra". I haven't been in the palace in maybe 30 years, but he walked me through it. I could hear the pools, the decorations, the architecture, in the music. Really beautiful. Or the very funny "Cool Cat", referencing "The Pink Panther", which he played with an invisible drummer. You had to be there.

He can design a programme. Each individual piece was a treat, but the collection built a coherent evening. It ended with a double encore. First a lovely ballad, then a hilarious showpiece, the guitar as orchestra.

There was one flaw in the evening. One of my on-stage bits of kit (a DI box) went into hiss mode, and I didn't hear it in my corner. Very embarrassing. It got fixed, but not nice while it lasted. Apologies.

Next week will be special. John Law always is. His New Congregation are John on piano, keyboards and more, Sam Crockatt sax, James Agg bass and Lloyd Haines drums. Exciting thoughtful music is what we will get. See you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 May 2016 - Gilad Atzmon and Alan Barnes: Lowest Common Denominator
We were all prepared for an exciting evening. And then they ripped into the first number (Alan's "Fat Cat") and our expectations were exceeded. What a gig.!

What a jolly, funny group as well. We had Chris Higginbottom commanding the drums, Yaron Stavi amazing on bass, Our pianist was a dep, and what a dep: Ross Stanley excelled. And the front line? Gilad Atzmon on soprano and alto saxes and bass clarinet, Alan  Barnes on baritone and alto saxes anc clarinet. No problem with tonal variety then. Oh, and two comedians, Alan and Gilad in competition, and some dancing, first by an audience member and later by Gilad. Everybody played and joked their asses off, including a bit of scatology (in the medical sense).

There were too many magical moments to chronicle. However I doubt I will ever forget the battle between Gilad and Ross on the standard they played in the penultimate tune of the first set. It extended over several choruses. The looks of joy and astonishment on the audience's faces was wonderful. It was a very special moment. Alan's "sun, moon, stars, rain", taken from an e e cummings poem, was lovely, and had superb solos.

It was an evening of excellent music played with power, filled with ideas, and with stunning solos from all 5. I regret not recording it very much.

Next Friday, (when we are in the Garden Room), the world class guitarist, Antonio Forcione with a collection of his guitars and humour, is with us. Do, join us.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 7 May 2016 - Georgina Jackson
Georgina Jackson has a great voice and a love for the words,, is an excellent horn player, and designed a most enjoyable programme for us last night. For me, her major attribute is that she is a consummate entertainer. She said at one point that she was not used to working so close to the audience. In fact, she was in our living room, very comfortable, and with a very close contact to the audience, whether singing, playing, or talking.

The programme was mostly familiar songs. She took advantage of arrangements from iconic others. Three examples for you. There was  a powerful trumpet piece on the Gershwin/Duke "I Can't Get Started", using a Bunny Berigan arrangement. She has a clear pure tone, and played this off mic. It drew people from the wedding next door.

She caught the spirit of Anita O'Day ( did anybody know that she changed her name from Colton to O'Day, I guess because she was making more dough, and understood pig latin) with Ben Bernie's "Sweet Georgia Brown", in that amazing first slow chorus, before slamming into the upbeat section. This was a real tour de force. And her work with Peggy Lee items was just lovely. Her "Smile" (Charlie Chaplin) ended the official programme. It was a duo with Chris Ingham on piano, and a delight.

The trio of Chris, the legendary (him, not the bass) Dave Green, and George Double on drums was excellent. Tight as one of George's drums they were with Georgina. They opened both sets with upbeat numbers. The solo work in these and in the rest of the evening was excellent,  There were lots of tempo changes, stops and other movements, and the four of them were like a single complex instrument.

What can I say about next week? Expect the unexpected is the best I can do, when two totally top reed players, Gilad Atzmon and Alan Barnes front a superb back line of Frank Harrison on piano, Yaron Stavi on bass and Chris Higginbottom on drums. The band is called "Lowest Common Denominator". They will do  a really big number on the whole, not a fraction, of the tunes of the evening. Do come along.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 23 April 2016 - Matt Andersons Wild Flower Sextet -1
I love the music of Wayne Shorter. So does Matt Anderson's Wildflower Quintet (I will explain the number later). Last night we had a superb programme of tunes by Matt, and songs related to or by Shorter. These guys were all debutantes at Fleece Jazz. We are sure to have them back: they played there asses off.

We had two changes from the advertised lineup. Laura Jurd was in Bremen doing big league showcase work with her Dinosaur band, a wonderful opportunity. We want to see her back at the club on a night when she doesn't get a major award. We had Will Harris on bass. Will did what a dep should do: became tight with the band.

I like Matt Anderson's writing. He uses tempo and groove change a lot, and he reflects the variety in Shorter's writing beautifully.  He is a considerable saxophonist on both tenor and soprano. I wasn't quick enough with a pen to get the name of his second set tribute to the current Shorter band, in which he and Alex Monk had some stunning duo work. I loved his work on both instruments in "Loch Lomond Mist", which had some classical rounds in it, wonderful to hear.

Alex Munk plays a mean guitar. He had a solo on the opening number of the second set, "Sfumato", which refers to paintings without lines or borders, one area flowing into the next. Here, Alex's idea flow matched the name of the tune. This was just one of many fine solos.

Jamil Sherriff is an educator as well as a very classy pianist. I think he believes in the Tracey "right number of notes" rule, because he does so much without drowning us in notes. His solo in Shorter's "Three Clowns" was superb. But not just in rock ballads from Weather Report. There was a beautiful solo on Shorter's "Ponta De Areia".

I love sound checks. It is partly here that a dep turns into a tight band member. Will Harris did that. Matt's writing is not easy, but Will was visibly having a great time. He had some quite splendid solos. I particularly remember his work throughout the atmospheric "Burning Man".

On drums, Sam Gardner is an original. When accompanying or soloing, he keeps the basic groove going across the entire kit, while driving the idea forward with accents. He also has the sound man's blessing. He plays the room. Lots of dynamics, but nothing had to be raised to compete with him. The encore, "Blues for Wayne" gave him a solo opportunity which he took with both hands, both feet and a very musical mind.

Five new guys, an excellent gig, and I do hope they will be back.

Next Friday 29 April: a trio, but what a trio! Led by trombone master Dennis Rollins,  with Ross Stanley and his Hammond B3 Organ (is there a better organist in the country?), and the amazing drummer, Pedro Segundo. Don't miss this one. The Velocity Trio is very special.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 20 April 2016 - Bryan Corbett Quartet.
Here I am, still glowing over Friday's gig, sitting in my daughter's livingroom trying to find time among the DIY tasks set for me to write a note about a gig which was overwhelmingly good. I left my notes at home. I am going to use our photographer, Peter Fairman's words, and remember, we have had some smashing gigs this season.. "Well, What a truly amazing gig !!

That was the best one this year. I could have done that all again and in the same order. It was that good. Because they played some different stuff I think that could have made a further excellent Album.

That Group is so so good. Bryan's thought process while playing is astounding. The notes and phrasing he naturally chooses are often very beautiful.

This Group could hold themselves in any Jazz club/Festival/Venue anywhere in the world. For me they are world class." I know some of this music inside out, as I recorded it, and have done a private mix (the CD was my recording, Bryan's mixing). The first song was unannounced, and I knew it from the first bar. The surprise was that it was fresh and new throughout.

Bryan sculpts the sound of his horns in such a varied and interesting way. Each note seems to have meaning. The four of them seem to have a single mind, they listen so hard. As to solos: Al Gurr on piano and keys is an amazing idea factory. Neil Bullockis technically superb in any combination of sticks, brushes, hands, mallets. His solos had huge range of dynamics, techniques and even tempi.

Chris Dodd (sorry for the bad fb tag on the last submission) was a dep. Well, he didn't have to sing, as did the dep last week. From his playing, who would know? He was tight to the group (as were they all). He had lovely intros and solos.

Next week, a sextet with the focus on the work of WayneShorter . We have Matt Anderson leading on sax, the multi award winning Laura Jurd trumpet, Alex Munk electric guitar, Jamil Sheriff piano, Sam Vicary bass and Sam Gardner drums. See you there. Take care, Dave


Dave's Notes, 9 April 2016 - Matt Ridley Quartet

Our photographer, Peter, said, "Absolutely a stunning gig last night. Great musicians great programme. Normally I would like a few well known standards to be included to give a variety and relief BUT the quality of the group's playing as a unit and as individuals was so absorbing I didn't notice the absence of any 'standards'. Marvelous Jazz . The CD is Brilliant"

Yup.

Start with the writing. Matt Ridley seems to have all the skills. The tunes are interesting, the orchestrations (yes, that is an appropriate phrase) are superb, and the ideas work. And what ideas! We began with a stunning pavane, "Theme and Variations". We had a canon between sax and piano., "Yardville's Canon". We had an Iranian Jurjina ( it's in 10/8, 3,2,2,3).  We ended with a double encore, peace, and anger. Those are some of the grooves he wrote in, and everything was absorbing. He leaves lots of room for solos.

While we are talking about Matt: he is a considerable bass player. We so rarely get bowed solos, maybe a scrape or two at the end of a ballad. Not with Matt. His instrument is a classical one, with the extra low third on the bottom E string. The bowed and plucked solo in "Labyrinth" will stick with me.

Jason Yarde bowled us over as one would expect from him.  He played soprano except in one number. As well as his speed and huge musicianship, he has the ability to change the horn's tonality. In "Lachrymose" it was almost trumpet-like. You could mistake it for an oboe in a couple of the ballads. But what was most impressive was the passion.

We are lucky to have pianist John Turville with us quite often. In "Mental Cases", his left hand drove the solo, and drove Jason's wildness. I will remember his beautiful introduction to "Sid Harper". His improvisations swerve all over the place, and yet are coherent.

George Hart brought quite a big kit to drive behind the band. No fear, the man knows how to play the room. He also knows how to accompany and listen (so do all four, of course). Great solos on "Sid Harper" and in the second encore, where he showed quietness and delicacy, changes of tempo, and huge power, as appropriate to the idea of anger. Behind Jason's powerful playing the accompaniment was perfect.

I liked it. I am very much going to like next week as well. The Bryan Corbett Quartet has played before, and people thought it the gig of the season, some thought the gig of the year. We recorded that one, and you can buy the whole two hours on a CD, but Bryan has new things for us. The band is the same. Bryan on trumpet and flugel,  Al Gurr piano, Ben Markland bass, Neil Bullock drums. This is really an unmissable gig.


Dave's Notes, 2 April 2016 - Pete Churchill and Mishka Adams
Pete Churchill, Mishka Adams and Loz Garratt had stories to tell in a delightful gig, and so do I.

The music was mostly Pete's, a song from Paul Simon and Jack Segal's "I Keep Going Back to Joes". These people write nontrivial stuff, interesting melodically, chordally (is that a word?) and rhythmically. Of course, the difficulty is completely hidden by three fine musicians.

And that was a special surprise, because Loz (on electric and standup bass) was a dep, stolen for the night from Jamie Cullum, and as I write, is in Vienna for a gig. Who in their right mind would dep on a gig with tough music, and sing harmony backing, when they had not seen the music before? I have to say I enjoyed the extended sound-check where they got in a bit of rehearsal. Loz is a superb bassist, a very good backing singer, and one hell of a reader.

I loved Mishka's voice when I heard it online. In person, she is terrific. The instrument is excellent, and  her phrasing and passion drove the evening. Her work singing "When Words Fail" and "Ocean" was particularly fine. Like all good singers, she loves the words. Without this, an evening of storytelling in song would just not work.

Pete is an excellent composer/pianist and passionate singer. He made the Segal song his own, and there is a story about that. I remember September of 2002, when Pete's trio and the late and very great Mark Murphy came to the heart of darkest Suffolk (or so it must have seemed to him) to sing in a pub. His power of a true improvising singer sticks with me. Pete visited Mark in Englewood, New Jersey at the Lillian Booth home, shortly before Mark died. Mark wanted to be near a piano, so he was wheeled to the house instrument, and Pete spent hours singing and playing for him. Pete showed us his passion throughout this lovely gig.

What about next week? Matt Ridley is a consummate bassist and a fine composer. Of his band, Jazz Views says "highly creative and exciting, four talented musicians who have developed an almost telepathic musical understanding.". We have Matt on bass, Jason Yarde sax John Turville piano George Hart drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 26 March 2016 - Zoe Rahman
This will be a quick one, as we have intermittent internet in the area, and I am ducking and diving around it's availability. What a pity. I could write forever about this wonderful pianist.

Zoe Rahman plays with a huge set of ranges. She brings in music from  much of the world. She varies from huge washes of notes, using the whole piano like no other, to the Stan Tracy idea of "the right number of notes". She uses a range of tempi, sometimes within individual songs. She exploits the full range of dynamics available to her. The flow of ideas is just amazing.  I love her playing, and forgot to take many notes.

You cannot get better backing than Alec Dankworth on bass and Gene Calderazzo. on drums. Watching Alec is always a pleasure, but when he takes such delight in his colleagues work it is special. Gene's drums arrived very late. His accompaniment utilized the range of the kit. Both had excellent solos.

We had a big crowd for Zoe who loved the gig. Next week we have a gig that deserves as big an audience for some very special vocal music. We have the eminent Pete Churchill singing and on the piano, and the superb Mishka Adams on vocals. They have stories to tell. You will want to hear them.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 March 2016 - Oh La La
When we get deps, we get great deps, but this was more unusual than most. Oh La La's violinist couldn't make it, so we got  on short notice Alex Garnett on tenor sax. More surprises to come, folks, at a hugely entertaining gig.

Fifi la Mer is such a delightful presence on the stage. Some singers put a lot of acting into their performances, With this lady, it has no sense of artificiality, and makes the evening flow. Her natural interaction with her musicians and with the audience is great fun. She sings in French and English, with a clear love of the words and their meanings. She plays a button chromatic accordion, a fascinating instrument with a big range.

Fifi's programme was varied in tempo, instrumentation and subject matter. I loved what she did with some standards ("Tea for Two", "After You've Gone"), and many of the French numbers whose names I didn't catch. Je suis un Canadien. Je ne parle pas francais. Quelle domage.

Colin Oxely is such a fine guitarist, either soloing or as an accompanist. His solo in "C'est Ci Bon" was very fine. He is the instrumental heart of the group.

Julian Bury is a bassist that loves his bowing. I love it when the bow is used not just for emphasis but for tone and effect in a solo, as in "After You've Gone".

So can a sax sound like a violin? No, but it can play violin music beautifully in the hands of someone like Alex Garnett. The music was entirely new to him (except for a night's transcription), not that we would know that, listening to him. He had great solos all through the evening. The delightful surprise was "Ain't I Good for You", when he and Fifi sang a down dirty duet.

As a treat, Alex gave us a musician joke that was new to me.
A beautiful princess is walking through the woods, when a voice on the ground says "don't step on me". The princess looks down and sees a little frog. She picked up the frog and said "you can talk!". "Yes. I was a jazz musician and a wicked witch cast a spell on me. I can only be a jazz musician again if a princess kisses me". She replied "Don't be silly. I can make a lot more money with a talking frog".

Friday 25 March, we we have the stunning Zoe Rahman on piano, with Alex Dankworth on bass and Gene Calderazzo on drums. It will be a very special evening, so do book early.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 March 2016 - Marlene Verplank
My wife and I have been following this lady for years, even to the wilds of New Jersey. Marlene Verplank just keeps getting better. Unfortunately, my wife had a streaming cold, and couldn't attend the gig. At least I brought her the CD. "The Mood I'm In"  has many of the songs she sang for us last night, and the same trio: John Pearce on piano, Paul Morgan on bass and Bobby Worth on drums. It take a trio that good to do justice to the amazing arrangements that Marlene brings.

I have a real difficulty talking about the gig: my book of superlatives runneth under. I am going to cheat, and quote from the liner notes on the new album. Leon Nock is a journalist and lyricist. He wrote the lyrics for Billy VerPlank's "My Impetuous Heart".

He says in part:
The CD "is a typical VerPlank album, which means, as any of her fanbase will testify and new admirers will soon discover, a blend of acknowledged standards, a sprinkling of the neglected, forgotten, obscure, invariably the work of heavy hitters, plus a smattering of newer material."
"... when it comes to interpreting the Great American Songbook, and if it comes to the lesser American Songbook, Marlene not only wrote the book but also edited and published it"
"... if Marlene were a movie she'd be Casablanca. Better than that it doesn't get".

I won't single out any songs. But what a trio! John, Paul and Bobby are about the best singer accompanists you will find anywhere, John gave a  subtle flow of ideas and command of the difficult arrangements (they sounded easy, which is the real art). Paul is one of those musicians that you can recognise in two bars, his tone is beautifully woody, and his intonation perfect. Bobby is an acknowledged master.

The trio, a great singer, and a wonderful selection of music gave us a great evening. Buy the CD at www.marleneverplanck.com/discography.html, and marvel at her discography.

Next Friday, "Oh La La",  Jazz in the French manner. They went down a storm on their previous visit and we can be sure that the charm and skill of this delightful and fun loving quartet will captivate us once again. Fifi La Mer vocals/accordion, Colin Oxley guitar, Louis D'ince violin and Will de Biste bass.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 5 March 2016 - Marc Cecil Quintet
I am a happy guy. Marc Cecil asked me to record last night's gig, and I am listening and rough mixing it now. I will have this on my hard disk forever, and listen to it often. It was a lively, lovely gig. We had five guys having fun and playing their asses off, with the music of Dizzy Gillespie and others in a nicely arranged (and dynamically re-arranged) programme.

We began both sets with a trio; Gunther Kurmayr on piano, Dominic Howles on bass and Marc on drums. They warmed us up with a fine blues, Tommy Tucker's "Hi-Heal Sneakers". Then on came James Arben (baritone, tenor and alto saxes) and Paul Jayasinha (trumpet, flugel and slumpet) to deliver Dizzy's "Groovin High". So the evening started great and just got better.

You had to ask, didn't you. A slumpet is a piston valve trumpet with a slide. Paul says that four had been made, and the name is Paul's. We hear it in the second set.

Just a few notes about these guys. Marc is a superb drummer and arranger.  He opened the evening with a demonstration of stick technique leading to the blues. This is a band that listens, as all bands should, but they do it with such joy. Marc's accompaniment was always inside the other player's heads. His solo on the Bossa version of "Round Midnight", and "Night in Tunisia" were special. His trading with others always connected.

Dominic is also a great accompanist, with a grin on his face whenever his colleagues did something special, which happened a lot. He had some delightful intros and solos, and I particularly loved his work on Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle".

Paul is a standout player on any of the three instruments. He had  gorgeous solos on "Eternal Triangle" (trumpet), "James" (flugel) and Grover Washington's "Winelight" (slumpet). The slow, latin arrangement gave Paul plenty of opportunity to demonstrate the slide limits. He didn't, thank the heavens. He used the slide with appropriate delicacy, for a really special solo.

Someone (I will have to look it up) wondered if James had to replace his saxes every gig, because he melted their insides. What a powerful, moving player! And I do mean moving: the man plays with his entire body. From the baritone growls in "Manteca" to the tenor lyricism in "Nostalgia" he was wonderful to hear and watch.  James is a stunning player, and I hope we see him again soon.

The horn harmonies in the heads I will remember.

On the Fleece piano was a revelation: Gunther Kurmayer. Some of his solos  were amazing. He must be very well read in all the musical genres because I caught references from classical and early music, pop, rock, and of course, jazz. Not that he is a stringer of other peoples ideas together, far from it. He is a true improvisor. I loved his solos in the two trio numbers and in "Round Midnight", and his engaged, no, immersed accompaniment.

Next week we are in for another special treat, but of a very different kind. Marlene VerPlanck is considered to be the finest American Song Book singer about. She brings arrangements that only a top trio can handle, so she has Barry Green on piano, Paul Morgan on bass and Bobby Worth on drums. This is a gig not to be missed. See you there.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 27 February 2016 - Renato D'Aeillo Quartet with Deelee Dubé
I do love a singer that loves the words. Deelee Dubé had her debut at Fleece Jazz last night, and boy will we have her back.

This was a beautifully organized programme of fine music by the Renato D'Aiello Quartet with Deelee. We had Quartet numbers, vocalist numbers, and a piano trio number, with well varied material. Some of the songs were standards, some composed by Renato and one by Deelee.

I had forgotten how fine a pianist Sean Hargreaves is. He says he spends most of his time producing, these days. Well,  the chops are strong. The second set started with a piano trio number, the Kern/Hammerstein "All the Things You Are". Sean had many excellent solos, but the one in the trio number was exceptional.

Nicola Muresu is ill, and couldn't make the gig. We wish him a quick recovery. Do we get some great deps! Simon Little was our bassist,, and he played up a storm. Watching him, it is if he lives inside the instrument. He had the most lyrical, beautiful solo on Bruno Martino's "Estate".

Pier Paolo Pozzi is a stunning drummer, and an amazing accompanist. He does the first thing: he plays the room, never too loud, always supporting. Whether with brushes or sticks, he varies the tonality to match the music. His major solo opportunity was in the trio number: superb.

Renato was his usual brilliant self. He has the tone, the phrasing, and the ideas. He also has some very funny little quotes! That tenor tone is unmistakable. It is mellow, but with real bite at need. He had a solo on the Bruno Martino "Estate" that was gorgeous.  We started with one of his compositions, "So Far, So Near". He has a knack of writing melodies that are new and interesting but feel like they ought to be standards. They are in the vocabulary that we expect, but still excite as new things.

And Deelee? She has a lovely voice, with the ability to change tonality and phrasing style to fit the song. As I said, she loves the words, and tells the story. Highlights? Lots. Two particularly, I think. She sang  "Estate" ("Summer"). She used the beautiful English lyrics (help! were they by Jon Hendricks?), not the also beautiful but really depressing Italian ones. Her own song, "Rainy Day Blues" was a lovely funky blues, with the quartet driving dirty triplets. Having shown that she is a considerable standards singer, she now shows that she is an excellent blues singer. In the first set, she sang "Tenderly" (Walter Gross). The tempo was very slow, so the phrasing had to be very exacting and varied to hold the story. As I said, Deelee loves the words. It was a terrific rendition.

Deelee is a teacher of singing in many genres. Her students are very lucky people.

Next Friday, March 4, we have the Marc Cecil Quintet, which wowed us the last time the last time they were with us. They want us to to record, so come and be part of it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 February 2016 - Mike Paxton Quintet
I was fascinated last night by the writing of our leader last night, Mike Paxton. He led from the drums, and is a excellent drummer, and his four companions who we know well as being at the top of the game were at the top of theirs. The music Mike gave them to play was a joy: not easy, not simple. It was varied and full of interest throughout.

This was the first live outing for the group. They had made a CD some months back with this music, but they tackled the songs with energy and a visible sense of enjoyment, in sound check, rehearsal and performance. We had Mornington Lockett on tenor, Martin Shaw on mostly flugel and trumpet, Robin Aspland on piano and Alec Dankworth on bass: you cannot get much better. It seemed that as each solo came along, I thought 'that I can write about', but along came the next, making it hard to pick out any one or two.

Well, there was one. A cross improvisation between Mornington and Martin on "Samara Gorge" was spectacularly good.

I could play my favourite game of watching the musicians interact: Mornington smiling and concentrating as others played, making 'yeh' noises; Martin and Alec loving the particularly good bits from the others and themselves; Robin inhabiting the piano. I couldn't see Mike well from where I was sitting (Gerry did his usual excellent job on the sound desk).

Many of the tunes were like part of a travelogue, and evocative of place: "Sacred Mountain", "Samara Gorge", the ambient head  of "Sound of the Even Dunes", "Acra", We had lots of different time signatures, tempi, and I am told some pretty weird chords. The chords all sounded good to me.

Next week, the mellow tenor sax of Renato D'Aiello, and the beautiful voice of Deelee Dubé, with  Sean Hargreaves piano, Nicola Muresu bass and Pier Paolo Pozzi drums.
We are in the Devora for this one while they put a new carpet in our normal rooms.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 13 February 2016 - Zoe Francis and Jim Mullen
"No piano? No drums? Well at  least there's a sax" said a guy to his lady on entering the club last night. When he left at the end of the gig, he said "what a wonderful combination of 4 instruments".

Zoe Francis is a superb vocalist. Jim Mullen is a master guitarist. We know Stan Sulzman's great work on tenor sax. Arnie Somogyi is a frequent and welcome visitor to the club. Think of them all as instruments with their own range of timbres and pitches. How well do they orchestrate?

Well with this group, beautifully.

Zoe has a voice capable of many timbres. Her articulation and intonation are excellent, and her mic technique is subtle. These are a matter of craft. Her phrasing is special. I know it is a hobbyhorse of mine, but I love a musician who tells a story. Zoe does. If I have to pick out a single song to comment on, it would be Jobim's "Quitet Night", mostly for the phrasing. Her ballads were lovely, and the up-tempo stuff was fun.  She can change the timbre of her voice subtly to add to the story. When she is singing, the trio lays down a solid and often fascinating platform for her to work on, full of interest itself:  not distracting from the story, but adding to it..

Jim had some cracking solos. The anti-love song, Harburg/Arlen's  "Down with Love",  gave him an up-tempo solo opportunity which caught the ear. He loves the odd quote.  But for me, the accompaniment was the thing, whether for Stan or Arnie's solos or for Zoe. It was varied, interesting, and just in the right part of the spectrum to enhance the song.

Stan, the same. Some great solos, but his comping behind a solo was excellent. I loved his solo on the Comden/Green "Lonely Town".

I love Arnie's playing. He was a dep for this gig, though you would never know it. Again, superb accompaniment. Like the others, lots of good solos, but I particularly liked the one on Ellington's "Love You Madly".

So what do we get next week? A quite exceptional quintet, lead by Mike Paxton on drums. He brings Martin Shaw on trumpet and flugel, Mornington Lockett on tenor, Robin Aspland on piano and Alec Dankworth on bass. We are recording, so come and be a part of a special gig.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 6 February 2016 - David Gordon's Alex Scriabin Ragtime Band
I hope David sees this and corrects the attributions. I want this to be perfect. The gig was stunning, hilarious in parts, original, exciting ...  I need more words.

David Gordon has taken music of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, who died in 1915, and music associated with that year, and built a programme full of interest, depth, jazz  and joy. Now such a title as "Alex Scriabin Ragtime Band" has a propensity to put people off, as does the idea of a piano trio ("where's the saxophone?").  This is such a pity.  They do not know what they are missing on either count.

Take the second piece of the first set, Scriabin's prelude op51 #2, which is marked "lugubre" (dismal), and the composer refused to play it. David made this huge piece very clear and powerful, with immense builds, and amazing chords, and while clearly jazz, displayed the technique of a classical musician. Paul Cavacuiti played mostly on soft sticks, but his dynamic range matched the builds in the piece. Jonty Fisher on this one,  did what a bassist does, provide the foundation and the tempo, with perfect intonation.

Or Scriabin's morsel "Nuances", op56 #3  in which Jonty played acoustic bass guitar, Paul played tambourine and stick, and David played Melodica (a keyboard you blow into). where they sang the musical structure of the piece in three part harmony and slides. We needed more aisles for the audience to roll in. It moved into a rollicking piece on their more usual instruments.

Or take  Debussy's "Golliwog Cake Walk". Scriabin disliked Debussy, reason enough for David to put him in. Now we have one of the pieces rhythmically based on ragtime, with lovely changes and solos from all.

This trio is such a solid unit that talking about individual solos seems silly. I must mention that Jonty played with the bow on one piece: we don't get enough of that. . All three soloed, and beautifully throughout.

Speaking of beautiful, the second last number, "The River" (opus number, David, please), was the wonderful combination of jazz ballad and classical song. It was exquisite.

Enough. I haven't even mentioned all the great mazurka's.  I like this group. See them whenever you can.

Next Friday, another masterly group: Jim Mullen on guitar, Zoe Francis on vocals, Stan Sultzman on sax, Mick Hutton on bass. Zoe has a beautiful voice and exquisite taste, backed by three of Britain's finest and most experienced musicians. You can't do much better than that.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 30 January 2016 - Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet
And a very good time was had by all.

Which is always the case when Derek Nash brings his Acoustic Quartet. Derek came with four saxes, a beautifully thought out (some on the fly) programme, and three great guys: our Presidente, David Newton on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass, and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums. These four had such a good time on stage, and the audience was whooping and shouting. Quite a spectacular atmosphere for the very fine music. The four were so familiar with the music that they could take quite astonishing risks, and they all came off. I could write forever.

But I can't, so I will give you a few highlights, which is really unfair to the band.

The second number was Derek's "Time Lag", which had a Latin flavour, with Derek on Soprano, moving, encouraging, laughing. David's solo was special: inside the constraints of a Latin rhythm, his ideas, harmonics, melody, intensity, and rhythm, were memorable.  One of many great solos from David.His accompaniment on this one was  a lovely feather bed for the others to solo over. One more: his a capella work n Dereks Chet Baker tribute, "I'm Getting Temperamental Over You" caught the ear. Derek on baritone for this one.

Geoff was having more fun, and more enjoyment of his colleagues work than I have seen in a while. I particularly loved solo on the Webster/Fain "Once I Had a Secret Love", and his work on his own "Vertigo" (rephrase that?) was wonderful.

Seb was just his usual magnificent best.. From the New Orleans power in Derek's "Voodoo Rex", to the delicacy of the brush work in Derek's "Swing Thing", he would always surprise us. I hadn't heard so much variation in dynamics from brushes before. He was also very funny with some of the riffs.

And our leader? Composition, storytelling (in both the compere and musical senses), solos, accompanying, encouraging, percussion toys - the complete package, our Derek. He uses power and tons of notes on some solos, like "Voodoo Rex". I listened to our youtube video of that a few days ago, and loved it. This was better. The Observer's Dave Gelly called Derek's "Let Some Things Go By", an "achingly beautiful ballad", and so it was, with Derek's tenor a lovely plaintive voice.

Many of the songs, including the last mentioned, are quotes from Thelonious Monk, includind "You Gotta Dig It to Dig It, You Dig?". Man, did we dig it.

Next Friday, a band that I love, and as always with a new twist. David Gordon's Alex Scriabin Trio will look at the 20s in a way only he can. We are guaranteed a great deal of fun, some stunnng music, and  great musicianship from David on piano, Jonty Fisher on bass and Paul Cavaciuti on drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 23 January 2016 - Alex Merritt Quartet featuring John Turville
Half a gig is better than none. I didn't want to leave my new knee wife alone for too long, so I only came to the first set of the Alex Merritt Quartet gig. If the second set was as fine as the first, it was some gig. I knew what to expect from the wonderful John Turville, and Sam Lasserson is a considerable bassist., but I knew not Alex or the drummer, Jef Williams.

The first number was right down my street: I love to work at listening to the music, seeing what works, what doesn't (not a lot of that), hearing new harmonies and discords. The piece was called "Cohn Artist". Alex said he now plays a Selmer, but it is a nice pun, and Alex is an artist.  He can play with a very clear but soft tone.

We has a couple of Monk tunes, John's piano solo on the ballad "Ask Me Now" was terrific.

Sam Lasserson's work got appreciative applause for each solo. My ear was caught by his solo on Lennie Tristano's "Two for One". Jef WIlliams played with a hush using ordinary sticks on that one.

Why did I not know about Jef Williams? His discography is pages long, and the American has played with everybody. His stunning solo on the set closer, Joe Henderson's "Isotope" was spectacular.

Maybe I will get to all of next week;s gig. I hope so, because it is Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet, with Derek on saxes, David Newton on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and Sebestiaan de Krom on drums. See you there.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 17 January 2016 - Theo Travis Double Talk Quartet
I wish I could talk about this gig. People tell me it was excellent. Me, I was driving back and forth from home to Ipswich where my darling wife is having her second new knee installed. She was actually walking today with a frame. Tomorrow, handstands.

But what about bandstands? All I can tell you is that the gig was that people enjoyed it, and we had a reasonable crowd. Gerry did report that it was really good fun, especially a jazz/acid version of the Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play".

I am looking forward to next week. I might not get to rig, but I will get to see the gig. It is the kind of music that I love, and truly think it will be standard work in a few years time. It is the Alex Merritt Quartet, featuring the wonderful John Turville on piano, Alex on tenor, Sam Lasserson on bass and Jeff Williams on drums. Some new music? Absolutely. Difficult inaccessible music? No way. See you there, I hope.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 January 2016 - Fletch's Brew
I drove Saturday morning to my darling daughters' in Luton, so this is the first chance I have had to talk about a wonderful gig, so says everyone there (except for the guy who doesn't like fusion). Mark Fletcher had two new members in the team, bassist Laurence Cottle (a master of his instrument if ever there was one) and the delightful keyboardist, Jim Watson on both piano (which he wasn't expecting) and his keyboard. Freddie Gavita played mostly flugel, some trumpet, and his usual array of stomp boxes. Mark had his jazz kit, not the big Ronnie Scott kit.

That kit was enough. Not a quiet night (although you should hear Mark delicately and tastefully accompany a singer). He had lots of solo work, but the hands intro to Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" was a delight. I remember also Marks collection of grooves on Hancock's "Fat Albert Rotunda", and his entry on toms to Tony Williams' "Sister Cheryl". He can play sparse too: on "Mr. Clean", the solo had a lovely delicate section. Freddie did some interesting stuff on that Freddie Hubbard tune.

With all the stomps, he can do truly wild things to his trumpet and flugel, but he keeps it in bounds: some wah wah, chorusing, harmonies, various reverbs and echos, all appropriate to the music, although a little surprising the first time you hear it.

The Weather Report tune, "Young and Fine" had Jim on the piano with a lovely solo. He is an amazing keyboard player, and is happy with both at the same time.

The person looking as though he had most fun was Laurence, really enjoying his colleagues work. The "Mister Clean" solo will stand in the memory.

Just so we know they could, the encore was straight jazz, immense solos all round, to make a great evening complete.

This Friday, in the Devora Suite, we have the amazing reed and flute player, Theo Travis, with his Double Talk Quartet, featuring John Turville on piano, with Mike Outram on guitar and Nic France on drums. This will be a fascinating gig. Don't miss it.

I will miss it, I am afraid. My wife enters the kingdom of the second new knee on Friday, so I will be with her.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 2 January, 2016 - The Horn Factory
The Horn Factory blew us away.

I will start with a bit of an apology. I didn't take proper notes for this gig, for two reason. I was on the sound desk, and with 9 soloists in a body of 18 musicians, I was a busy boy. For a sound guy I enjoyed it too much, and didn't have time to make tnotes., So I cannot remember composers. Bob Airzee, the musical director and percussionist, gives credit to composers and arrangers always. But this band, bless them, supplies us with a gig list, which is very rare. So where to start?

The first thing one notices about a big band: entrances. These gals and guys were spot on, and seeing as some of the music was new to them, that is a real achievement. The second thing to notice was whether the band was having fun. There is this rule: the band has fun, we have fun. They had abundant fun.

The nine soloists were:
Gilly Burgoyne on alto and soprano saxes and flute,
Charlotte Beattie on baritone sax,
Jonathan Farnhill on tenor sax,
Paul Little on trombone,
Richard Stewart on trumpet,
Tamas Farkas on guitar,
Keith Monk on piano,
Bob Airzee on congas and other bits,
and Emma Barnes on bass.

The band takes risks, and is always searching for new music and vibes. We had a hip-hop based song, and a township song. All of the evening was enjoyable, but the last number was special. It was "Night Owl Suite", a three movement peace thematically following a jazzer through his evening, night, and then his sleepy morning as the city woke. It was beautifully played. The piece was new to us, and it was it's first public outing with the band. We wouldn't have known if Bob had not told us. Forgive me, I don't remember the composer.

So thanks to the Horn Factory for a great evening, with that amazing big band sound filling the Devora Suite with joy.

So next week? Something completely different? You betcha. Fletch's Brew was thought by many to be the gig of the season last year.The band is Mark Fletcher drums, Freddie Gavita trumpe,t Jim Watson piano/keys, and  Lawrence Cottle bass. It won;t be quiet. It will be huge fun.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 31 December 2015 - Alan Barnes Quintet
What a wonderful way to end a season!

In 2003, Alan Barnes brought his brilliant Conan Doyle suite to Fleece Jazz, and one member of that octet was Rob Fowler. Anecdotes abound, then and now. Here is one from then.

Alan insisted on having a hound of the Baskervilles in attendance or he claimed he couldn't play. Well a blind friend of mine brought along Fergus, who lay under her chair, wagging his tail to the music. The dog (sadly no longer with us) really enjoyed the gig, but otherwise was a total failure. He didn't bite anyone or bark at all. Alan played in cape and deerstalker hat. The music was great.

As it was last night.  

We were firmly in the '60s with some familiar and some not so familiar music. The arrangements for two horns and trio were excellent. The musicianship could not be beaten. We had Alan on clarinet, alto and baritone saxophones, and Rob on tenor sax and clarinet, and they played in all of the combinations, including songs played by just one of the front line.

The back line would grace any stage anywhere. Our club president, David Newton was on, in and through the piano, full of invention and listening. Dave Green on bass, having fun, solid and driving, and Dave Ohm on drums, with that lovely subtle touch.

Highlights? So many. Rob's "Body and Soul" with that smooth tone was full of invention. Dave Green had a brilliant solo on that one. Alan's speed and range of ideas on "Cottontail" completed  the second set. David Newton on just about all of the pieces, ranging from sparse to full of the right notes, with rhythmic and chordal adventures that left one breathless. Matt Home drum solo on "Jubilation". The chorus of two clarinets.

The new season starts tomorrow, with The Horn Factory. We are in the Devora for that one, and a dance floor has been made available. Do join us for that.

See you there, and if not, have a happy, healthy and very musical New Year,

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 December 2015 - Frank Williams' African Jazz Quintet
Frank Williams' African Jazz Quintet brought joy to Fleece Jazz.

There is something special about the riffs and grooves from Township music that gets to the heart and the dancing muscles. If the musicians don't feel it, the audience won't. This group of fine musicians has it in their souls.

A song usually starts off with Frank or one of the others laying down a groove. One by one the rest pick it up,  build on it, play with it until it is irresistible. Most solos start the same way: an idea is produced, elaborated, inverted, driven sideways... I don't know what I'm talking about, but the musicians know. And do they ever know how to build.  They were having so much fun up there, so we were too. Watching the audience was like watching reeds swaying in a rhythmic wind.

Frank is a superb tenor saxophonist, and very generous as a leader. His solos were fresh and alive. Well, you could say that about the five of them.

The guitarist was Cameron Pierre, who was a last minute dep. As usual, his musicianship made it look like he had been with the band forever. I particularly loved his solo on "Jeremy's Song". Michael Bailey had a wonderful bass solo on that number. He plays a five string bass guitar, holding the groove and playing with it.  Michael is one of the very few big enough to sit on Julie Walkington's bar stool.  

The musical director, Richard Bailey, had a solo on the penultimate number, "Wanna talk about it" that was stunning. His brother, Robert Bailey on piano was a revelation. The solo that stuck in my mind was on "Humpty Dumpty".

Peter Fairman, who does our merchandising, reports that at least 20 CDs could have been sold, if Frank had any CDs. Two promises.
1. They will be back.
2. I will record.
They deserve at least that.

No gig next Friday (something to do with it being the 25th), but on Wednesday the 30, a special gig. The wonderful, funny, Alan  Barnes brings his saxes and clarinet, and another player or four. Robert Fowler brings more saxes, David Newton plays the Fleece Jazz piano, Dave Green brings his beautiful bass and Matt Home supports the band on drums. You can't miss that, can you.

And our spring programme is out very soon.

Take care, have a superb Christmas,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 12 December 2015 - Alex Garnett: Jazz Messangers
"But that's what good jazz musicians do"

Last night, Alex Garnett brought his jazz messengers to Fleece Jazz. This excellent sextet were a late change in our programme. The music they played had terrific arrangements by Alex, hand written (no Sibelius), and most of them had never seen the arrangements before. No rehearsal, and a minimal sound check. Disaster?

They played like angels, fresh and exciting, and the fact they were reading the heads and charts was pretty well not noticeable. I said this to my wife, as an amazing thing. Thus the quote. Of course, Alex could not resist making a joke of it: he announced a "short song", then unfolded this monster chart. The very first entry from the band (the song was "Up Swing") was perfect, and they went on from there.

James Gardener-Bateman was new to us. I enjoyed his lyrical tone, speed, and soloing on alto. Robbie Robson was with us in 2010, playing trumpet and flugel. His solo on "Brain Dance" (my pen ran out, didn't get the composers) was a delight, as was his flugel playing on the ballad "Quintessence"

Alex announces material with humour and real information. David Newton's alternate professions has him as a Turkish bath attendant. I like Mafia funded comedian. Oh, yes, the playing. He is a master, with the very top of the tenor sax being just as fluent as the lower registers. It is not a trick up there, just part of the instrument's range. This was particularly apparent in his solo on "The Highest Mountain".

Chris Higginbottom's breaks on this one were amazing. The solo on "Lydia" was memorable. Sam Burgess was strong all through. I particularly remember his duo with Ross Stanley on "Poor Butterfly" (Hubble/Gordon: I looked it up).

Having Ross with us is always wonderful, The man inhabits the instrument (piano tonight, hopefully Hammond soon). Whether a thoughtful ballad, the Adderly/Feldman "The Chant", or J.J.Johnson's "Enigma", or accompanying, he is thoughtful, hugely varied and exciting.

Good gig.

Next week: the ever popular Frank Williams brings his African Jazz Quintet. We have Frank on sax, Kari Banaman guitar, Robert Bailey piano, Michael Bailey bass, Richard Bailey drums. See you there.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 5 December 2015 - Ian Shaw and Sarah Jane Morris
This was a gig that made me want to throw away my dictionary of superlatives as being inadequate. The big audience would agree, even though they made us work: audience 3 part backing harmony?

I could just say that we had Ian Shaw on piano and vocals, and Sarah Jane Morris on vocals. That is enough to tell you about the musicality, storytelling and fun.

It was a varied programme in two senses. We had Dylan, Cohen, Waits, Wonder, Mitchell, jazz standards and Sarah Jane's compositions. We also did not have a totally fixed set list: they often had a wonderful time deciding what to do next: very funny.

There was a serious side to the gig. Some of the songs were directly relevant to Ian and Sarah's extensive work for (and in) Calais with refugees. The strength and commitment of these two people is amazing.

Highlights? The evening started high and just got better, with more surprises. Ian sang Cohen's Hassidic wedding song, "Dance Me to the End of Love" was done upbeat. Sarah Jane opened the second set with her "I Don't Want Heaven" a cappella. The clear love and respect that they have for each other was no surprise.  

I think I will leave it at that. Any more description would dilute the joy and the fun.

Next Friday: Alex Garnett brings his Jazz Ambassadors to Fleece Jazz, with Alex on alto, Robbie Robson trumpet, Ross Stanley piano, James Gardner-Bateman tenor, Sam Burgess bass, Chris Higginbottom drums. It it will be a sparkling sextet. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave




Dave's Notes, 29 November 2015 - Simon Spillett Quartet
Simon Spillett is an acknowledged expert on the life and times of the great Tubby Hayes. Simon's excellent book, "The Long Shadow of the Little Giant: The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes" is deservedly selling well, and will be in paperback in the new year. Snap one up.

And snap up this fine band celebrating Tubby. Three of the quartet have played with Tubby, All of them played their asses off Friday night in a programme of music loved by and sometimes written by Tubby. They left an audience floating home, grinning, and making comments like "... proper jazz".

This is a band that puts its heart into its work. Simon inhabits his horn. There are times when you cannot see the fingers moving. In Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" the tempo was extremely fast, and I swear that  he was playing triplets on top of the beat. The really interesting thing is that at that speed, the ideas flowed coherently, even including some quotes. That is one quick musical mind. Not to say he can't do ballads, as his solo in Tubby's "Seria" showed (I have surely got that name wrong, correct me, someone).

One more thing. He presents the material with humour and a clear knowledge of the material. Refreshing.

And then there's Critch. John Critchinson played with Tubby (and Ronnie and just about anyone else of note), Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heaven" gave him a stunning solo opportunity, taken up with both hands, especially a strong left hand. He is always a joy to listen to, but on Friday he was deeply immersed in the music and the work of his colleagues and having so much fun. His solo in the weirdly constructed "Opus Ocean (Clark Terry) was very special.

Dave Green can basically do no wrong, On Friday he was at the top of his game, enjoying the work and his friends. He had lots of superb solos, but the one in the opening number, Tubby's "Off the Wagon" (subtitled No More Pints?) was special.

"Seven Steps to Heaven" gave Spike Wells a solo opportunity which he took with both hands, feet and a very musical mind. I like his kit. Each instrument has its own sound, and they come across clearly and cleanly in the hands of a master, as Spike surely is.

A good night to remember four fine musicians honouring a fifth.

Next week, two contrasting singers, both superb, will be with us. Ian Shaw will be on piano and vocals, and Sarah Jane Morris on vocals. Sarah bills this as the Fleece Jazz Christmas Special. Not to be missed, folks.

Sorry for the delay in writing this. Darling Daughter is home for a visit, time flies...

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 22 November 2015 - Tina May
Tina May loves the work of Mark Murphy, who sadly died this month. Mark was a real improvising jazz singer, one of the best. So is Tina.

She does a terrific ballad, telling the story, Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima (all of them) wrote "Sunday Kind of Love", Some singers like to lead the phrasing, some lag: Tina does both to drive the story. When up-tempo, as in Clifford Brown's "Daahoud", her articulation is bell clear. D'Ambrosio's lyrics are not easy, Tina made them sound so. She can do the instrumental thing, too. She sent us floating home with Davis' "All Blue", amazing scat, trading 4s

One more thiing. She presents a programme which varies as the mood strikes, and has such fun with us and her colleagues.

It doesn't hurt to have a fine instrumental trio with you, with superb accompanying and some lovely solos. Nikki Iles has total command of phrasing, including the use of silence. She is the epitomy of "the right number of notes", as Stan Tracy once said. In the third number, the lovely Styne/Green/Comden "Make Someone Happy" duo with Tina, the phrasing and interaction were breathtaking. Lots of great solos, where the ideas flow, but they flow as well in her accompaniment.

All four musicians listen and react to each other. Jeremy Brown, of course is a master at this. Strayhorn's "A Train" gave just one example from the evening for Jeremy to solo. Lovely stuff. In "C'est Magnifique" by Cole Porter, he even gave us a bit of slap base. Tina had us singing along in this one.

Matt Fisher was a last minute dep on drums. He started out listening with a look of severe concentration. By the third number he was listening with a grin on his face. His duo with Tina in "Comes Love" (Sammy H. Stept, Charles Tobias, Lew Brown) was gorgeous.

We had a very happy audience. Can you all please come back for next week's excellent quartet? Simon Spillett leads sax, John Critchinson piano, Dave Green bass, Spike Wells drums. If you like bop, you will love this one. Roger Thomas of the BBC says, "He's stood old head and young shoulders above many of his contemporaries as a live performer for several years...gets five stars ".

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Note's, 14 November 2015 - Geoff Mason Sextet celebrating Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
You can always tell its a good one when Tim Wells grins.

Geoff Mason's Sextet was Geoff on trombone, Steve Fishwick trumpet, Simon Spillett sax, John Horler piano, Trevor Tomkins drums, Tim Wells bass. The music was all related to the Messengers, with excellent arrangements. Much of the music was familiar, with audience members nodding with approval as tunes were announced, and everybody said "yeh" when the second set opened with Bobby Timmons' "Moanin".

The back line (in fact, all of them) were great accompanists to solos. One of my favourite things about jazz is watching the musicians listen, and fire off of one another, a requirement for those not soloing, I think, and not always present. It was sure present last night!

In a big group, talking about individuals is difficult. They all soloed with flowing ideas, the odd subtle quote, and power or delicacy where needed. In trombonist Curtis Fuller's "A La Mode", John Horler's hearing of the group was so clear, and his solo was spectacular. Small problem. In my section of Canada as a kid, "A La Mode" meant dessert with ice cream.

Freddy Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" drove Simon Spillett to a spectacular ballad solo. The man is coming back to us in two weeks with his own quartet, and you won't want to miss that.

Our leader, Geoff Mason, was with us for the first time, and I certainly hope not the last. His duo with Tim Wells in "Up Jumped Spring" was lovely, somewhat  fugal, always coherent. They both had some excellent solos.

Steve Fishwick doesn't show much externally when he plays: we got a raised eyebrow at  particularly good moments. His playing made it clear what was going on inside as the ideas flowed. His tone is so pure. I missed the name of the encore tune: Steve's solo on that was was great.

Which leaves the drummer. Don't leave this one. Trevor Tomkins listens like crazy, accurately plays the room (a delight for the sound guy), The chances for cliché in Benny Golson's "Blues March" are pretty high. Not a one from Trevor except for cues.

We had visitors from Mildenhall, well traveled and well versed in jazz. They loved the evening. So it wasn't just the regulars - it was a very good night.

Next week, top singer, top pianist, top back line. Tina May brings her quartet: Nikki Iles on piano, Jeremy Brown on bass and Stephen Keogh (back after far too long) on drums. Do come along. We need you.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 7 November 2015 - Maciek Pysz Trio
How am I supposed to take notes for this when the music takes your whole attention? We had three true masters of their instruments doing beautiful things.

The band was led by Maciek Pysz on two guitars, acoustic and classical. Yuri Goloubev was on bass, and Asaf Sirkis on drums. The programme was varied in theme, groove and tempo, all but one written by Maciek. Many people are afraid of what they don't know, and shouldn't be, but in this case the melodies were all lovely, interesting, and accessible. Those that did know traveled from as far as Southampton to hear the band. The band  used time signature and key changes so smoothly that they  didn't signal "new difficult work". They took us on a journey, eponymic  to the new CD they brought with them.

Maciek switches from classical to plectrum invisibly. I still haven't figured out where he hides the plectrum, and he showed me. He brought some stomp boxes with him, but only to make small tonality changes. He wrung massive tone differences out of the instrument without their use, from percussion to sustain. It seemed to me that his dynamics were like a fine classical pianists: varying volume on a finger by finger basis. The transitions between solos among the trio were played so cleanly that people wanted to hear them, not clap at the end of each solo.

Yuri is noted for intonation as good as it gets on the bass. His bowing was a delight, rich, lovely vibrato, subtle dynamics. In Horace Silver's "Peace", his jumps from bottom to top of the instrument were seamless. At speed, as in "Water Street", he made a happy liquid solo.

Asaf brought an udu with him This is a very big African clay pot, tall, wide at the base, narrow neck. I expected a huge sound from it, but it is a gentle contralto percussive instrument. He used it in the solo, and in the tango "Paris". He somehow contrived to make his rim shots in that  piece varied in tone, from sharp cracks to almost mellow strikes. As always his solos were wonderful, but watch him as an accompanist. The level of concentration, listening and enjoyment you will see will amaze you.

Good band, huh? Oh yes.

Next week, completely different. Celebrating Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers means that the music will be great, and Geoff Mason's Sextet will give us the joy, musicianship and swing that it needs. Geoff Mason trombone, Steve Fishwick trumpet, Simon Spillett sax, John Horler piano, Trevor Tomkins drums, Tim Wells bass.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 31 October 2015 - Sarah Gillespie
Caught on the A12, sound guy having troubles (that's me), baby teething,  and Sarah gave us a stunning, powerful gig.

The programme that Sarah Gillespie gave us was half her own writing, music, arrangements and lyrics, and half other material. Her love of Bessie Smith was shown with three numbers. Her delivery of "Pigfoot", a story of a prohibition era party woman, was memorable. Of her own material, I particularly loved "How Mighty Fall".

Sarah's voice is powerful and flexible. Someone said it had some Dylan and Joni Mitchell. True, but it is her own, and she can sing straight jazz. Critics have overlooked her guitar playing: her technique is not standard but it is solid, accurate and interesting.

Tom Cawley's piano solo on "How Mighty Fall" was exceptional. Well, he always is. His verbal interplay with Sarah was fun.

Accompaniment from the bass is key to most vocal music, and Ben Bastin is excellent. What a delight to get a bowed solo from him in the encore.

Eddie Hicks is a drummer of power, but with the ability to play the room, not overpower the rest of the band. The solos were excellent, particularly in Bessie Smith's "Do Your Duty", and "St. James Infirmary".

Next Friday, three true masters of their instruments will be with us. Maciek Pysz on acoustic and classical guitars, Yuri Goloubev bass and Asaf Sirkis drums. They will be presenting music from the critically acclaimed new album 'A Journey' released on Dot Time Records. Expect an unforgettable evening of world music, jazz and fusion combined with heart touching melodies.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 24 October 2015 - Phil Meadows Group: Lifecycle tour
Oh, gosh, another young group whose combined age is not that much more than mine, who are full of talent, writing, top class musicianship and fun. A wonderful evening on the last tour date of Phil Meadows Group's Lifecycle tour.

The music was written by Phil Meadows, whose tunes are excellent, and whose arrangements (orchestrations, really) are really enjoyable to hear. Lots of writing, but plenty of room for improvisational solos and trades: even some unison improv. Lots of room for tempo and time signature changes as well.  Phil plays alto and soprano sax, and flute. He had lots of fine solos, but I particularly enjoyed his solo on his  "little folk tune", "Moving On". Phil tells a good story about the songs and their relationship to his life and life view.

Sharing the front line with Phil was the amazing Laura Jurd on trumpet. The song "5 More Minutes" is about the snooze button on your alarm. Laura's solo was frighteningly evocative, sleeping, snoring, waking up. She, like the others, clearly enjoyed the work of her colleagues, and played like she did. In "Runner" she showed us the whole range, pitch and tone, of her instrument. I hope we can have her back at  the club playing her own material.

Elliot Galvin is a "right number of notes" pianist: spare or, full of notes at need. His solo and accompanying work in "Runner" showed both of these, with some spectacular cross-rhythms in the two hands. Elliot is one of those that seems to inhabit the piano, using it as both a percussive and a lyrical instrument.

Flo Moore had the intro to "Drummer" on her double bass. There seems to be a fashion of using long bass intros, maybe a Coltrane influence, and they don't always work. This one more than worked. She used the electric bass for "The Dragon of George" in which she had a memorable solo.

I loved Simon Roth's work (lets face it, I loved the whole gig). I loved the variations around the ground rhythm of "Moving On", and his solo on "Captain Kirk". Simon pulls some interesting tonalities out of a standard jazz drum kit.

This was an exciting night in all of the good ways.

Next Friday, we have the pleasure of welcoming Sarah Gillespie back to our stage. If you haven't seen her "The War on Trevor" on Youtube, you should. Sarah on vocals and guitar, Tom Cawley piano, Ben Bastin bass, Eddie Hick drums.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes - 18 October 2015 - Theo Jackson Quartet
Where does all this talent come from? We had four guys new to us who gave us a brilliant gig. People should be less afraid of something new. Most of the music was familiar, and the original stuff was accessible and very fine. Heads were written, but there was a lot of improvising about solos and trading 4's.

The Theo Jackson quartet is a very fine group. Theo is an improvising jazz singer, with the ability to make the story of his songs clear. He works on and off mic, which really engages the audience. His instrumental scatting is excellent. And he is fun. On the serious side, his own "Bella's Coming Home", a ballad about a street sleeping girl, was quite beautiful. Theo has a light touch on the piano, again appropriate to the story. He worked quartet, trio and duet, so we got lots of tonality changes. Theo's piano solo on the Eden Ahbez tune "Nature Boy" was a delight.

Lots of strings. Giazon Royes was our 6 string electric bassist (the standup wouldn't fit in the car). He was the rock the band stands on, as a bassist should be. His solos were all interesting, with the pitch range that 6 strings give you. I especially liked the work on Theo's "George" (about the last of his race of turtles), where he used organ-like sustain in the solo. Can't do that on a standup. Oh yes: he was having such a good time.

Marco Quarantotto is an excellent young drummer. His solo on Brubeck's "Take Five" could have been a cliché, It was not. He varied intensity, and particularly groove, throughout the solo.

The revelation for me was the 7 string guitarist, Jo Caleb. He tells me he makes his living producing in the pop field, but his love is playing jazz. The guy's techniques (note the plural) are  stunning. Whether in ballad duo mode with Theo in the Styne/Cahn "I fall in love to easily", or L,H and R's "Centerpiece", where his phrasing drove the story, he enthralled the audience. Great technique and great improvisation don't always come in the same person. They do with Jo.

Special thanks to members of the audience who helped a very short-staffed Fleece Jazz to clear up after the gig.

Next week, something I have been especially looking forward to: Phil Meadows Group contains five award winning players. Do not miss Phil Meadows sax, Laura Jurd trumpet, Elliot Galvin piano, Flo Moore bass, Simon Roth drums

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 October 2015 - Gareth Lockrane: Grooveyard Unplugged.

One of the problems of recording a gig is that you need to concentrate on the technicals. You don't just get to listen. So let's start off with what Peter Fairman, our photographer said.

"What a gig last night. Great stuff. Audience thoroughly delighted,  from the comments I was hearing at our sales table from the guys forming an orderly queue purchasing the groups latest CD. Me included and playing now whilst sorting the photos.Great CD as expected."

What i did notice was the quality of the arrangements. I thought I would get used to the quality of the musicianship, week after week. but not so. These guys are really good, and tight together as a drum.

Gareth Lockrane on lots of flutes, and Alex Garnett on tenor sax and clarinet are the originators of the various versions of Grooveyard.  Much of the music was written by Gareth, but I gather that both had a hand in the very fine arrangements. There were lovely written heads, but lots of room for the individuals to blow. Lots of unison and trading work between the two horns During "Whistleblower" and  "Slow Burner" in the second set, the two had a very special improvised collaboration.

If you want excitement from a musician, Ross Stanley's your man. His work on organ is always great, and he is  an amazing pianist. We got both! Ross especially showed his mastery on the  "Slowburner".intro

Bass lines are very important to this band, and Dave Whitford is a fine player who complements the band perfectly.

Tim Giles' drum solo  on "Whistleblower" caught the ear for its range of tone and groove.

The up side of concentrating on the recording is that I will have this great gig on my hard tisk to listen to whenever I want, and I will want to often. With luck and if Gareth wishes it, it may even appear on more public media.

Next week, four debutantes to Fleece Jazz, but not to the rest of the jazz world. The Theo Jackson Quartet, Theo on  vocals/piano, Jo Caleb guitar, Huntly Gordon bass, Marco Quarantotto drums, all have solid reputations. Theo garners press quotes like "One of Britain's finest jazz musicians and singers." - Michael Wilson, JAZZ FM and
"a genuine jazz talent . . . it is safe to say he has a bright future." - JAZZ JOURNAL.

Dave's Notes, 3 October 2015 - Jazz at the Movies

Storytelling is key to great singing, and Jazz at the Movies had storytelling in speech and singing in abundance. Combine that with fine musicianship and a huge sense of fun, and you get quite a gig.

Chris Ingham loves music from movies before 1980. He even likes bad movies that have great songs (and he used an acknowledge stinker). His presentation of the songs, their background and that of their composers/lyricists was fascinating, funny, a wee touch crude at times. He is an excellent pianist to listen to, and to watch. He is one of those that seems to inhabit the piano. He had lots of fine solos. The one that particularly caught my ear was from "Get Carter".

I wish we got to hear Joanna Eden more often. Well, we kind of did last night: she has a facility to alter her tonality to fit the tune, so we got a lot of singers in one last night. Intonation was perfect, and oh, boy can she tell a story. Picking a couple of songs out of an evening of fine singing: "Alfie" is not easy, and her rendition is now a touchstone for me. "Sooner or Later" had a great multi-groove arrangement, and she used her tone changes, from sweet to rough to tough, big and small, throughout. She is also a very funny lady. A beautifully over the top "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" included slithering up to Alan, whose clarinet had an erection. In the Pink Panther tune "It had better be tonight" we got her Spanish (we think) and a wow performance.

Alan Barnes is always an entertainer. I will never forget his Conan Doyle suite, years ago at the club. He turned up in cape and deerstocker hat, having insisted on a hound of the Baskervilles being present. The best we could do was a friend's guide dog. Failure. No biting, no barking, and the dog loved the music.

Alan's solos in "Sooner or Later" had stunning phrasing, in some places really dirty phrasing, as was appropriate. We got some Goodman in the riotous "Aristocats", to go with Georges  Krupa. Alan's "Green Dolphin Street" solo was special.

George Double is fun to watch. He rocks with the music.  His hand solo in "Daddy" had a touch of the double entendre about it. Accompanying a singer is not easy for a drummer, and George is expert at it.

Our bassist, the Reverend Andy Brown, had some beautiful solos. He uses vibrato on chords, which enhances songs like "Summer Winds", in which he had a lovely solo. His "Green Dolphin Street" solo was also excellent.

We need to have them back next year.

Next week: Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard Unplugged has got great reviews, and so it should with the personnel in the band. We have Gareth Lockrane flutes (note plural), Alex Garnett sax, Ross Stanley piano and Hammond B3 organ (yes , both), Dave Whitford bass, Tim Giles drums. We are recording this one, so come and be a part of it.

Dave's Notes, 26 September 2015 - Peter King Quartet

There are gigs and there are sensational gigs.

I have a couple of Peter King CDs that stay very close to my player, and hear them often. Hearing the man live is just different. Peter arrived after a 4 hour drive, not well. As expected, when the gig started (on time, not jazz standard time) he spoke to us in that beautiful baritone voice, put the alto in his mouth and played like an angel. In the second set, he played his a capella party piece, Strayhorn's "Lush Life", saying before he began that he needed luck to get through this. I have heard it dozens of times. It was familiar, but fresh, with new interest and ideas. The phrasing on his solo in Jobim's "Wave" was wonderful. All through, the ideas flowed and flowed. His solo in his own "World of Trane" was amazing.

Everyone played their asses off (to quote Peter). Mike Gorman we know as a very fine pianist, but this is the first time I have heard him with this kind of material. His own piece, in trio form, was an improvisation around the second movement of Beethoven's Concerto for piano #8 (Pathetique). It could have been just clever. It was beautiful. His work in the central movement of "World of Trane" was breathtaking. Our bar lady was new to jazz, and you could see her, mesmerized.

Geoff Gascoyne can always be counted on for a solid performance. Last night, his long intro and solo in "World of Trane" were very powerful. I loved his solo in Mike's Beethoven piece.   Geoff is a wonderful accompanist. It is interesting to watch him listening. He doesn't emote much on stage, but you can see his appreciation of his colleagues work.

Mark Fletcher arrived with a brand new drum kit (joke as he took it out of its cases for the first time - "it's too loud"). He had a spectacular improvisation in the last part of "World of Trane", He is one of the few drummers that make the continuity of trading 4's (8's, 2's) work well, as in the trio piece, and Peter's "Getting On" The solo in Coltrane's "Persuasion" was very special. Mark grabbed a sandwich and a coffee and ran, after the gig: he had the midnight show at Ronnie's.

I would give my eye teeth to have recorded that gig.

Next week is a week for movie lovers. Joanna Eden and Chris Ingham bring "Jazz at the Movies" again to the club, after a sellout last time. With Alan Barnes on sax, Arnie Somogyi on bass and George Double on Drums, this will be a joyous evening.





Dave's Notes, 19 September 2015 - Georgia Mancio

It is always a delight to have Georgia Mancio at our club. Last night, the context was special. She came in trio form, with Nigel Price on guitar, and Julie Walkington on bass, and made the club into our living room. So a quiet gig, with limited tonality. How did it work?

It worked beautifully. Her voice was at instrument level, not out front "singer" level. Her intonation and articulation are pretty well perfect, otherwise it would not have worked, Excellent arrangements helped as well. She sang Kurt Weill's "My Ship" in duet with just bass accompaniment, and a couple of pieces with guitar only. If I had to pick one thing that stood out from a very good crowd, it would be the second set medley: Jobim's "Bonita", Mancini's "Charade" and Artie Shaw's "Moonray".

There were times where the combination of Nigel and Julie reminded me of Charlie Bird tunes with his bassist (who I think was Keter Betts, but might have been brother Joe). It had a special fugal quality that I love. They did a lot of trading 4s, and in Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields "I Cant Give You Anything but Love", the three of them traded 4s, 2s and 1s, which got whoops from the audience.  Speaking of trading, Georgia traded 4s with Julie, whistling. I wish I could have hung some reverb on that.  

If you want to see Georgia in a totally different context she is in the Apex,  Bury St. Edmunds on Tuesday, with Alan Broadbent, Oli Hayhurst and Dave Ohm.

Next week. Oh, my, next week. the great Peter King, probably the finest alto player around and for some time, will be with us. This is not a gig to be missed. He brings Mike Gorman piano, Geoff Gascoyne bass and  Mark Fletcher drums to the party.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 September 2015 - Big Screen Trio
When we get deps, we get the best. Matt Skelton finds himself on a televised prom with the John Wilson orchestra, and we get the wonderful Steve Brown, enough of whom we do not see. Our president, David Newton was leading on piano, and Tom Farmer on  bass. What a great piano trio!  They had so much fun up there.

The Big Screen Trio treats movie music as jazz. Some of the choices were surprising. Picking the theme from "Chariots of Fire" was interesting. Vangelis only used three chords for the theme. David made it about 30 in his intro and solos. Steve was memorable on this one: right hand brush running the race, left hand mallet accenting the piano, through the whole song.

David's phrasing and dynamics are exceptional. In the  Mandel/Mercer "Emily" from the Americanization of same, David used a minimum of notes like a gorgeous line drawing, making you see what was not drawn. Lerner and Loewe did not write "Heather on the Hill" from Brigadoon as a jazz tune. David, Tom and Steve made it so. David's choice of chords was exciting in this ballad. Oh, he can use lots of notes too, as in "Get Me to the Church on Time".

Tom is a superb bassist, particularly when he is having a good time. He moves with the music, and will conduct bits of other peoples solos when they tickle him. His solo on Raskin's "Laura" particularly caught the ear. On that one, Steve used mallet, brushes, sticks and hands to vary the drum tonality to accent the other players.

They did fast stuff too, but this is long enough, now. A wonderful gig.

And another next week. Georgia Mancio sings in Portuguese, French, Spanish. And English. She brings with her Nigel Price on Guitar, and Julie Walkington on bass. It will be a stunner. Be there.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 September 2015 - John Critchinson: Ronnie Remembered
I was worried that having to delay this note until today, I would forget about the gig. Not a chance. This was one that will stand in the memory.

All of the songs played were favourites of Ronnie Scott, flavoured with a few Ronnie jokes. "Son, if you do that, you will go blind". "Dad, I'm over here". The band had all played for Ronnie Scott, and many times in the club. They gave us a wonderful evening. They were John Critchinson piano, Mornington Lockett sax, Dick Pearce trumpet, Tim Wells bass, and Trevor Tomkins drums. John and Mornington shared the compere duties.

What stood out in an evening of excellent and excellently played music? Well, Mornie convinced Dick to pull out his Bb baritone horn and he got out his soprano. The combination of tonalities was a delight, but when they started trading 1s, would you believe, it was fugue come to life: memorable. They had such fun. Everybody traded 4s with Trevor, and they built a structure to play with which was stunning.

In Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heavan", both Critch and Tim had solos that will be remembered.  The piano solo on Kern's "All the Things You Are" was also in the stick in the mind variety.  On the next number Mornington had the most amazing cadenza, and an intro to the song which involved him chording. On a saxophone. How do you do that?

This Friday, we have  the Big Screen Trio, led by Matt Skelton, who appeared a couple of weeks ago on a BBC prom, and earlier with the John Wilson prom, about movie music.  Matt brings presidente David Newton on piano and Tom Farmer on base, each one a prize winner. We will be winners too: the prize is hearing these guys do movie music.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 22 August 2015 - Basil Hodge Quintet: Ten Pieces of Silver
Well, there were actually 11 pieces of Horace Silver compositions, as we had the traditional encore, much called for by a very happy audience. Basil Hodge led a delicious band, true to the hard bop legacy of Horace Silver.

I am going to start with the bassist, Larry Bartley. As always, the bassist is the foundation and beat of the group. But Larry's accompaniment is exceptional. If you listen it is  musically complex, but always perfect for the moment. His solos on ballads were beautiful.

The drummer, Matt Fishwick, was a late addition to the group. As a non-musician myself, I marvelled at his ability to have the perfect accent at the right moment all through the evening. I loved his solo on "Nutvillle": intricate, with cross rhythms and fun.

Basil Hodge is an excellent pianist. with a penchant for the staccatto, which suits the hard bop material very well. That is not to say he cannot be lyrical, but his solo on "Blowin the Blues Away" I really loved. I like his announcements: just the right amount of information.

What a front line! Tony Kofi and Steve Fishwick blew their asses off. There were some superb solos. Both had solos on "Bagdad Blues"  that caught the ear. But what I enjoyed most was the harmonic work on heads, and particularly the trading of 2s in "Blowing the Blues Away".

We have the last summer rest next week, and in two weeks time, our new programme begins with explosive stuff. Remembrances of Ronnie Scott are brought to you by 5 guys, four of whom played a lot with Ronnie. Don't miss Mornington Lockett tenor sax, John Critchinson piano, Dick Pearce trumpet, Tim Wells bass and  Trevor Tomkins drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 July 2015 - Robert Habermann sings Gershwin
Last night Robert Habermann gave us a superbly structured show, rather than a gig. It was an evening's story:  his love and deep knowledge of the work and history of the Gershwins and his ability to communicate it in both song and speech made the evening work well.

A word about the arrangements. They were excellent, written for Robert, and not easy at all. The pianist was Bunny Thompson, who was a dep. He is an excellent accompanist. He had one solo number, a somewhat reduced piano reduction of "Rhapsody in Blue" which is amazing to attempt as a dep, and was as moving as that piece always is.

Robert took us through the growth and troubles of George and then Ira. We started with a very early joke song, "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em", written when he was 18, through to Ira's "Our Love is Here to Stay" after Georges death.  We got some songs written for Astaire ("Shall we dance", "They Can't Take That Away from Me", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"). We got music from the Pulitzer prize winning Porgy and Bess. We got his biggest moneymaker, "Swanee". Each song was prefaced by a little history and anecdote. Robert engages with the audience very well, and even got us to sing.

No gig next week...
But on Friday, 21 August, something special. Basil Hodge Quintet: Celebrating Horace Silver. It's got Basil on piano, Tony Kofi saxes, Steve Fishwick trumpet, Larry Bartley bass, Rod Youngs drums. You won't want to miss it.

Our September to December programme is now out. Please see our website.

Dave's Notes, 25 July 2015 - Kevin Flanagan and David Gordon: RipRap
Much of last night's music was written to accompany poetry readings. Even with no poets present, the music stood beautifully on its own - evocative, varied, and exquisitely played. This quartet of players is quite exceptional.

It was lead by Dr. Kevin Flanagan, on tenor and soprano sax. His dynamics and phrasing were always interesting, sometimes surprising, . In "The Old Year", written for a poem by Seamus Heaney described as "twisted kids music", the cartoon scariness was just right. His solo on Tyner's "Blues on the Corner" was special. I loved his trading twos with David.

David Gordon is a composer, harpsichordist, and stunning jazz pianist, with a left hand better than most people's right. On a Sonny Rollins tune, we had the trading twos, and David's trading with Tom on drums in his "English Isobars" was very funny.

Tom Hooper caught the ear and eye of the younger members ot the audience (we had quite a few). He has absolute control of intensity and volume. I loved his hands solo on "Our Lady of Guadalupe".  I enjoyed his brush work under Joel's solos.

The bass  playing of Joel Humann who we last saw with Robin Phillips in February, was something of a revelation. It ranged from a prayerful solo on the 3/4 number "A Personal Helicon" (again for a Seamus Heaney poem), to a driving up tempo solo on the Tyner number.

Oh did they have fun up there, enjoying each other's work, and playing their asses off. They had a great time. So did we.

Our next gig is on 7 August. Weekly gigs resume in September with a powerful programme. But till then, come hear the love songs and stories of Gershwin sung by Robert Habermann. You won't regret it.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 11 July 2015 - Mark Crooks Quartet
Last night, the wonderful Mark Crooks Quartet played to an audience which included 8 university students from Oklahoma. They really enjoyed listening to music which was popular before their parents were born.

And so did the rest of the audience. Mark has a love of the Great American Songbook, but he did throw in one original (more later).

Mark on clarinet has incredible phrasing and subtle dynamics. Listening carefully, each note seems crafted (of course, the technique is invisible as it should be unless you concentrate on it). He is a Getzian powerhouse on sax. I love the way his body moves with the music.

He and Colin Oxley on guitar had some stunning duos. Some were accompanied by bass and drums, some not. In the one origin number they played,  "Hollow Alto", based on  "Strike up the Band" chords, the two had beautifully accurate high speed unisons and terrific counterpoints on the original line. The duo on Evans' "Since We Met" was lovely. Colin had some excellent solos, of course. The on on "Mr. George caught the ear.

Jeremy Brown is a "go to" bassist. His solo on "Skylark" was perfect. As an accompanist, he is superb.

We are amazingly lucky in the deps we get. Josh Morrison had his debut at Fleece Jazz. He is an excellent drummer. He had a fine solo on a Jobim number, and his accompaniment was exemplary.

Next week, we have a rest, but the week after, Kevin Flanagan's RipRap, with Kevin on sax, David Gordon piano,Joel Humann bass and Tom Hooper drums. Totally different, lots of humour, great jazz. See you there.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 July 2015 - Jacqui Hicks Quintet
When a singer is also an instrumentalist, you expect (and we certainly got) a sensibility about the music above the average. Jacqui Hicks has a fine voice, is an excellent story teller. Technically she managed difficult intervals as if they were simple, and she had that rare ability to sing accurate and tonally varied high notes quietly.  It was a lovely gig to work on, and the audience was most complimentary.

Her choice of music was mostly familiar. Clapton's  rock ballad "Wonderful Tonight", and Jacqui's hit "Monday Monday" i guess were exceptions to jazz standards, and beautifully sung they were. The upbeat numbers were a treat. I hope we see her back at the club.

I loved it  when in the Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay", bassist Dave Green was watching Jacqui with a grin of approval. His playing was, as always, sterling. The solo on "Masquerade is Over" particularly caught the ear. Always a pleasure to see him.

Martin Shaw had two quartet band pieces, "Secret Love" and "But not for me". His use of both flugel and trumpet, the latter with varied mutes from time to time is just superb. He is a great accompanist as well,  

With Chris Ingham on the piano you are always in safe  hands. Thoughtful accompaniment and excellent soloing expected and received.

George Double as always seemed to be enjoying himself on the drums, rocking with his body as well as sticks and brushes. He only had two extended solos, and a few trading 4's and 2's, which wer fun and exciting. The rest of the time he was an accompanist, and superb at it. A drummer who plays the room.

Next week, an instrumental group that we have not had at the club for far too long. Mark Crooks, brings clarinet and tenor sax, the wonderful ,Colin Oxley on guitar, Jeremy Brown bass and Ed Richardson drums. I would travel a long way to hear this group.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 20 June 2015 - Clare Teal at the New Wolsey Theatre
If there is anything better than seeing a full house of over 400 people at the lovely New Wolsey theatre, it is being present at a Clare Teal gig. And not just because she is such a consummate performer with a huge range. She is just so funny. Her stories to the audience, and musical jokes with the band had us full of laughter. The ballads were breathtakingly beautiful, and the drive in the upbeat numbers was intense.

And what a band! How wonderful to hear Jason Rebello again after far too long. Simon Little is a superb bassist. Jason and Simon were excellent backing singers. Well not always. In the Roberts/Fisher Ink Spot song, "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", Simon took the first lead vocal to great applause, and we discovered that Clare is a very good backing singer.

The drummer was Matt Skelton. Matt was a dep. How do you do that? In performance, he was spot on, and displayed his big range of technique, using all of the implements, and his hands both on the drums and clapping.

It was a lovely gig, and I hope a great start to the Ipswich Jazz Festival. It is also worth noting how helpful and professional the Wolsey staff were - just a delight to work with.

No gig next week, but on 3 July another fine singer Jacqui Hicks, comes with a stunning band: Jacqui on vocals, Martin Shaw trumpet, Chris Ingham piano, Dave Green bass, George Double drums. You will love this one.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes = 13 June 2015 - The John East Project
John East brought to Fleece Jazz a popular and classy sextet. In fact,, you could think of it as nonet with all the doubling going on.

John East plays a beautiful Hammond, Leslie and all, beautifully. He has an excellent baritone voice, and sang with great phrasing and articulation - there was a song that I had never understood before last night, and John's storytelling made them clear. I will never hear "God Bless the Child" again without thinking of the financial implications. 'Mashing' it with "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was a bit of genius.

Scott Baylis is also a Fleece Jazz newbie. He plays trumpet, flugel and piano, sometimes switching from piano to trumpet in a single bar. An excellent player on all three instruments.

The rest of the band we know well and love. Dave Lewis gave us the power and range of his tenor sax, I remember his 1Up band with real pleasure. Carl Orr's consummate guitar playing, pure tone or overdrive growl, was a joy. Steve Pearce drives the band from the bas guitar: his sound lifts the band (John made a comment to that effect).

With a really big range of songs, Mark Fletcher had the opportunity to show how inventive he is. Amazing, fun, and appropriate.  His level matched the band perfectly.

I would be delighted to see any of these guys back at the club. I think so would the audience. Quite a bit of money was raised for one of the local churches from this gig.

Looking forward. Wow. Clare Teal at the New Wolsey in Ipswich is sold out, but don't forget the Ipswich Jazz Festival, with some great gigs over  the next two and a bit weeks.. And on July 3, Jacqui Hicks brings a quintet that will blow you away.

Take care,

Dave


Dave's Notes, 6 June 2015 - Will Butterworth Quartet
If you have not heard a musician for a while, you forget how very good they are. Just doing the sound check for the Will Butterworth Quartet was a pleasure. As important, they are a unit that hear each other anew, yet know the material well. The partnership is such that you don't want to comment on a particular musician.

But I will.

The first set was entirely Will's music. There were two extended pieces covering an amazing range of genre (bop, blues, gospel, bordello...) in  a similarly amazing range of time signatures. They also showed the range of talent of the musicians. Will is a "right number of notes" kind of pianist. If you listened critically, the delicacy of his phrasing and dynamics shone. No flash, just talent.  Chris Nicholls is not the band's usual drummer, but that was not apparent from the performance. He draws  a larger than usual range of tone from his kit.  Seb Pipe is  a faultless and interesting altoist. His tone can sound like the great Bobby Wellins (I hope Seb isn't pissed off by the comparison).  Seb, Will and bassist Nick Pini had a great time with some lovely tunes in the two pieces, which made the music accessible to the standards only crowd.

I hadn't heard Nick in quite a while. The guy's bow technique is excellent. Terrific and thoughtful solos and intros were arranged for him.

The second set was entirely standards. We had van Heusen's "Like Someone In Love", Coltrane from Parker's "26-2",  Redman and Razaf's "Gee Baby Ain't I Good  to You" ... Great fun, interestingly arranged, and chances for all musicians to shine. Which they did.

Next week, quite a big band, with the John East Project. We have  John East on Hammond organ and vocals, Mark Fletcher drums, Steve Pearce bass, Carl Orr guitar, Scott Baylis trumpet, flugel and piano, abd Dave Lewis tenor sax. Tickets are going very well, so do call if you want to come to this gig. The proceeds are going to Edwardstone church.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 23 May 2015 - Barb Jungr: This Wheel's on Fire
I sat there so absorbed in the music that I didn't take any notes. When Barb Jungr sings, or tells a tale, she demands your total attention. Our photographer, Peter, said that he was fortunate to have been there to witness such a gig.

There was a fuller sound than her duo gigs, with Barry Green on piano, and Davide Mantovani on double bass. Barry was new to the music, which made the sound check fun and truly educational for Gerry and me. As a non-musician, it always throws me how little communication musicians need to relay complex musical ideas. Of course, the performances were faultless.

Every great singer has to be a storyteller when singing, and so Barb is. Not every one is a raconteur of such skill. Her chat between numbers was hilarious, and meaningful with it.

Barb has a great tool-kit. Her pitch range is surprising, low baritone to damn near coloratura. Her tonal range is also huge. She uses it so naturally to build the story of a song. I will pick just two.

Jimmy Webb's "Witchita Lineman" was not what I thought of as one of the great love songs until I heard Barb sing it. Thinking back, I can hear her careful use of tone and volume to bring home the longing and need of the poor guy up a power pole somewhere. Listening, the technique is invisible, as it should be.

Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind". is familiar to us all, and Barb said she had to revisit it carefully to include it. Now here the story is in words we all know, and Barb made their meening clear for us.

If you missed last night, she is at the Brighton Festival onthe 27th with "This Wheel's on Fire", and in Cambridge on th 29th with the "Hard Rain" material.

No gig next week, but...
Rising piano star Will Butterworth is with us on June 5th, with , Seb Pipe alto sax, Nick Pini bass, Chris Nicholls drums. Will's playing and writing are a revelation.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 9 May 2015 - Jim Hart's Cloudmaker Trio
You can count on Jim Hart bringing something new to the table every time he comes. Last night, it was so new it was learned in the sound check, more on this later, but in summary: a wonderful gig by three superb musicians.

The piece in question was Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun". It was partly in 5/4, with solos in 3/4, and the 5 bars had a complex cadence. Gerry and I learned a lot from the process, and from the performance. The audience got what sounded like a finished piece that they knew well, and they loved it. Michael Janisch's solo on this one was exceptional.

The star in the first set was Monk's "Epistrophy". Jim had a long, fascinating intro. His left hand was doing a ground bass in cross rhythm with his right, which was a candenza ending with the Monk tune. It will stand in the memory. James Maddren had a solo which was almost melodic. Well, all his work is good, and he has such a good time, grinning away.

There was lots of Jim's writing, but we had standards too. The encore was Shearing;s "Conception", sending us home in just the right mood.   But we had beautiful ballads as well. Jim's "Sponges" was special. On the wild side we that Jim's "Post Stone", where he used bows, toys, top mutes, lots of stuff. No need for fancy electronics. This was difficult music, right down my street.

No gig next week, we are having a quieter summer, but on 22 May, the unmissable Barb Jungr and Simon Wallace, with their "This Wheel's on FIre" gig. She is cabaret and jazz singing at its best. Don't miss it.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 2 May 2015 - Ant Law Quintet
People have said to me that they don't like contemporary jazz because it hasn't got any tunes. Proof that they were dead wrong is common, but exemplified by the Ant Law Quintet, who played a stormer of a gig last night. They even made it worse. Not only was some of the music new: three of the band had their Fleece debut last night.

Let's start with the musicianship. Ant is an amazing guitarist, totally in command of his instrument. He moves from plectrum to finger to both at the same time. His writing is stunning. He displayed both memorably on the second number, "Mishrajati" (sp?). The south Indian themes and rhythms were amazing. I loved his solos on most numbers, but particularly that one.

That is not to say that they cannot play standards. On a beautiful arrangement of "Skylark", Michael Chillingworth made his alto fly. His bass clarinet solo on "Waltz" caught the ear during the first number.  He had a duo with James Maddren on the first number of the second set had the audience hooting with pleasure. James will be with us next week as well, so if you love great drumming, be there.

Tom Farmer treated us to a rerity: extended solos bowing. We don't get enough of that. Tom appears to dance with the bass: he is having far too good a time up there.

Our pianist, Sam Leak, as well as being new to us, was a dep for the first time with this music. As accessible and tuneful as the music was, it was complex and difficult technically, The art is to make it look easy, and Sam did that. His solos on "Rhythm a Ning" and the beautiful "Entanglement" were a joy.

For astronomy buffs, "Entanglement" is about the love story of Epimetheus  and Janus, two moons of Saturn that swap orbits every four years. The tune is spacey and very evocative.

One more thing. All five of them were playing their asses off, and clearly loving it.

Next week, we welcome back vibraphonist Jim Hart, with his Cloudmaker trio; Michael Janisch on bass and James Maddren on drums. Again, contemporary jazz with lots of tunes, folks. See you there.

Take care,


Dave





Dave's Notes, 12 April 2015 - Chris Ingham Quartet: Celebrating Hoagy
Sorry for the delay in writing this. Not the gig's fault. It was a delight.

Of course, I love the work of Hoagy Carmichael, but only 4 exceptional musicians and very good research could have produced such an enjoyable evening. We had the familiar, but not always as we know it:  "Old Rocking Chair" was  clearly about death, and "Heart and Soul"s over-familiar chords (except for the bridge) got special treatment, Eric Morcambe fashion.

Chris Ingham has a voice eminently suited to Hoagy's music: expressive, accurate and down to earth. Couple that with his excellent pianism, and his fascinating patter and it could make a great solo act. He gave us a superb history of the man, some sad, some funny, and even a lesson in chord construction.

But when you have a band  as good as this, things get even better. Paul Higgs on trumpet, used his mutes and plunger with just the right intensity for each song. I have not heard him an a while, and have forgotten how good he is. The trumpet makes a point as well, as Hoagy and Bix Beiderbecke were great friends. Paul played a blinder, but his solo on "Skylark" was soaring.

George Double had a solo on "Old Hong Kong" that was terrific, very funny in places. His work throughout the gig was spot on.

The Reverend Andy Brown was the boss on bass, driving the band, with some excellent intros and solos. My favourite piece (it always has been) was "Baltimore Oriole". It was a duet between Andy and Chris, with Chris standing away from the piano. Tough and sad, but with an enigma. The straying lady is an Oriole, the two-timer is a Jaybird. What kind of a bird was the narrator?

Well follow that. How about the Bryan Corbett Quartet, with Bryan on trumpet/flugel, Al Gurr piano and keyboards, Neil Bullock drums and Ben Markland bass. We are recording this one for them, so come and be part of a great evening of jazz.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 28 March 2015 - Tom Green Septet
Seven young musicians came to us last night and enthralled us with their musicianship, the writing and arranging, and the stunning music that they gave us. It was a busy night, with us recording the sound, and Rob making a professional video of the evening. The combination of those will appear on Youtube in due course, for those who missed this excellent gig.

All the music except one tune was written by our leader, Tom Green.. It is not surprising that Tom wins writing awards. The music has that rare combination of tightly written, beautiful harmonies and rhythms, and yet lots of room for the individual musicians to blow. And blow their asses off they did.

I will not go through each guy, as they were such an equal team: I will just name them.
TOM GREEN ~ Trombone
MATTHEW HERD ~ Alto and Soprano
SAM MILES ~ Tenor
JAMES DAVISON ~ Trumpet
SAM JAMES ~ Piano
MISHA MULLOV-ABBADO ~ Bass
SCOTT CHAPMAN ~ Drums
I would have any of them back to the club, singly or in any combination.

As the family DIYer (and hating it), I loved their scary, raucous "DIY".  Really scary groove, with tough trades between Tom's trombone and James' trumpet, and Sam's tenor and Matthew's alto.  Tom has a thing about atmospheric conditions. Both "Arctic Sun" (a phenomenon I know well) and "Winter Halo" had moments of stunning beauty, to me, descriptive. The variations in the use of the horn chorus worked so well.

So we had  (another) brilliant gig last night. Follow that?

Oh, yes. The one and only Liane Carroll sings and plays for us next week, Friday 3 April. I suggest you book for that one. She is a 5* lady with vocals and piano, and a presentation that is always surprising, often very surprising.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 March 2015 - The Derek Nash Picante Latin Band
Dancing at Fleece Jazz? You bet your twinkle toes!

Derek Nash and Dominic Ashworth got together to build a  Latin "Library" album. That is one that media can use for themes, extracts, etc, and pay royalties for (and there have been some). They had so much fun recording it that they now have a new gigging band, the Derek Nash Picante Latin band. Our evening was filled with joyous music by Derek and Dominic (and two by Derek). We got vibrant, exciting, beautifully written and arranged Latin music from across the Latin spectrum played by a wonderful sextet. It is going to be hard to pick out favourites, the whole evening was so absorbing. Maybe "The Bexley Social Club".

Derek Nash played baritone, tenor, alto, soprano. I love his interaction with the band, and his showmanship and easy connection with the audience. It is clear why he wins awards. If I had to pick out a solo, it would be his on "Bexley Social Club", about more in a bit.

Dominic Ashworth played semi-acoustic and "fiddle" guitars. His solo on Derek's "Seville" was breathtaking.

Robin Jones is an amazing percussionist. He played a full conga set, as well as some delightful toys. The Cuíca looks like a bongo, but is a "laughing gourd", making squeaks and scrapes at various pitches. Whistles, a tambourine like instrument whos name I have forgotten but was amazingly expressive, all contrubuted. I think he is the best in the business. His solo on "Corona" (think "tequila") was stunning, but the accompaniment was just perfect. A little audience participation here.

Neil Anguilly played piano, organ and synth on his wonderful Korg beast. His hands move in a blur: I was afraid for the instrument. But the music ranges from delicate and lyrical to pounding and powerful, always appropriate. I guess the "Bexley.." solo was my favourite.

The bass guitar of Andy Staples did what it was supposed to, and more. His accompaniment was spot on all evening, and his solos were inventive and interesting.

I thought that Mark Cecil might get lost behind Robin, but not so. He is a strong and accurate drummer. There were several memorable solos, but I liked the "Bexley.." one best.

Derek had been on a tour which seemed to shadow a "Buona Vista Social Club" tour. He and Dominic wrote "Bexley Social Club" in their mode, and it was the hit of a very fine evening. Everybody soloed on it. By this time, several people were dancing. Derek did a deal with the audience: "No dancing, no encore". No problem. about 40 people found an inch or two of space in the crowded room to dance to the one cover of the night. It was a memorable evening.

Next week will be as well. We have a young band who sound wonderful, with interesting and accessible music. It is a septet, and sounds like a big band. Tom Green leads the band on trombone, with Matthew Herd alto and soprano, Sam Miles tenor, James Davison trumpet, Sam James piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado bass, Scott Chapman drums. We are recording so come and be part of it.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 14 March 2015 - Tim Whitehead: Turner and the Thames
First, J.M.W. Turner painted his beloved Thames, in major paintings and in tiny colour sketches in a little book.

Then Tim Whitehead went to the locations, and blew a cappella solos. These provided the structure, line, and indicated the harmonies for his quartet arrangements.

And if that sounds academic, you should have been there. This was exciting, accessible, new music from a great band. Tim projected the Turner sketches and paintings for us, and short videos of the solo performances. That and his clear commentary made the well constructed evening flow beautifully.

Tim is equally the master of tenor sax, soprano sax and bass clarinet (the range of the latter always amazes me)., I particularly liked the arrangements and Tim's solo on tenor for "Isleworth Ferry". His work and interplay with Jonathan Gee was quite wonderful.

It was great to have Jonathan back a the club. He has a way of getting into the heart of the music. In "Burning of Parliament", the interplay in this almost free piece was quite frightening. But like Tim, Jonathan can be lyrical, even sparse at need. That's Stan Tracey's "right number of notes" again.

Oli Hayhurst is a favourite bassist. His solo on "Thames at Waterloo Bridge" was memorable.

The drummer, Eddie Hick, we were told, was playing this music in public for the first time. We would never have known. How do they do that? There wasn't much opportunity for extended drum solos. That is, until the encore, which was a rip-roaring "Temptation". All four just let loose and blew.

This was a gig to savour. If you were not there, buy the CD.

Next week Derek Nash arrives. He always provides exciting music, but this time looks a bit special. it is his Picante Latin Band, and he bring some amazing people. Robin Jones has to be the best Conga player about today. We will have .Dominic Ashworth guitar,  Marc Cecil drums, Neil Anguilly keyboards, Andy Staples bass. It will be a wow evening.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 7 March 2015 - Christine Tobin
Christine Tobin loves words. She cares deeply about the lyrics and poetry that she sings. Her articulation is a good as it gets: every word is clear. It doesn't hurt that she has an excellent voice, and the imagination to us it, both in arrangements and while singing. Watching her, she seems to sing with her whole body.

She gave us a programme of standards, Leonard Cohen songs and Brazilian songs sung in Portuguese , nicely varied through the evening. It is hard to pick out favourites, but Cohen's "Famous Blue Coat", and Strayhorn's "Sophisticated Lady" particularly caught my ear. The opening number, Rogers and Hart number "I Didn't Know What Time it Was", was arranged partially in half time, partly normal time. In the latter, Christine scatted. The audience applauded as they would do an instrumental solo - that good.

It also doesn't hurt to have a first class band behind you if you are a singer. Gene Calderazzo is a wonderful accompanist, particularly fine in "Famous Blue Coat". Lots of good drum solos as well. "Yesterdays" (Kern/Harbach) was a particularly good example of excellent solos from all three instrumentalists.

Dave Whitford plays bass like he wants to move into the instrument, rocking with the beats he maintains.  The improvised intro to Cohen's "Tower of Song" was special, but he had many special moments fast and slow.

All four musicians seem to be in each other's minds while playing. This was particularly true with the guitarist Phil Robson. Phil doesn't show much, (except when he and Christine grin at one another: remembered quotes?), but the intensity of his playing was notable. His technique is so immaculate, with simultaneous  plectrum and fingering. He and Christine had fun trading 4s with Gene in Kern's "I'm Oldfashioned", in which he had a particularly  fine solo.

It was a lovely evening to too small a crowd. We need to do better.

Next week, Tim Whitehead's tribute to the painter Turner and his Thames paintings will be our gig. The lineup is Tim on sax, Jonathan Gee piano, Oli Hayhurst bass, Eddie Hick drums. This will be a memorable evening. Do join us.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 February 2015 - Josh Kemp Quartet


I was fussing with recording equipment for the first couple of songs of this superb gig, and didn't really get to enjoy the music for those two songs. It doesn't matter. I will have my mixes on my hard disk, and will listen to them often.  With luck, you will be able to hear and see some of the gig on youtube in a month or so. No promises.

Josh Kemp  laid out a programme of standards and  his own compositions, and a few surprises. Bach was not normally a jazz writer, although I think he swings like crazy. We got a lovely interpretation of the "Air on a G String".  My favourites from Josh's writing was the ballad, "Angel of the North", and the up tempo "Shrift".

Oh, yes, Josh plays. Does he ever. He has a big warm tone on the tenor, His soloing was always lyrical and inventive, even on high speed nimbers like "Shrift".

Dick Pearce has been a favourite trumpeter of mine since first I heard him. His flugel playing somehow makes that warm instrument even warmer. His solo on "Angel..." was beautiful, and evocative. Dick and Josh had some amazing improvised harmonic moments together; some lyrical, and some staccato,  as in "You'd be So Nice to Come Home To". Dick has an autobiography out, called "Dizzy Gillespie was At My Wedding". I bought it last night, and it turns out not to be good bed-time reading. It is far too funny and interesting.

A proper Leslie makes the organ so much better, and Pete Whittaker brought his to the gig. He is such a consummate player.  As an accompanist, he is superb, with his bass driving the songs. His solo in "You'd be so nice..." was a delight.

Josh stole Chris Higginbottom away from the Ronnie Scott  Allstars for the night. He is an awesome drummer that listens like crazy when accompanying. I can't pick out a favourite solo from the night: they were all great.


Next week, Christine Tobin graces our stage with "It Might As Well Be Spring". She brings , award winnng Phil Robson on guitar, Dave Whitford bass and Gene Calderazzo drums.

Please note a very special gig: we are hosting Clare Teal as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festival, at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich on June 19. More info at www.fleecejazz.org.uk/clareteal/

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 February 2015 - Robin Phillips Trio
Ok, not enough of our people have heard of Robin Phillips. They should have. We had a most enjoyable and varied gig last night with this excellent singer/pianist., thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

The trio (Joel Humann on bass, Alex Best on drums) gave us a well designed and varied programme. They were standards, mostly, but Robin's arrangements and interpretation was fresh and very interesting.  For example, Robin loves verses, and sang for us some very rarely heard introductions to well known songs. As he said, the verse places the song in the book of the musical from which it came. The verse from "Green Dolphin Street"  (great  song, crap movie) was lovely.

He also loves vocalese, that strange art of writing lyrics to an instrumental solo. My favourite was Eddy Jefferson's words gto the Dizzy solo on "Night in Tunisia". We got some vocalese from the art's originator, King Pleasure, and one excellent one on "It Could Happen to You", which Robin wrote.

But mostly, we got an excellent voice, big range, lots of depth, and a wonderful feel for the story of a song. His piano playing is first class. Towards the end, he worked just with bass and drums, standing to sing.

Joel and Alex were fine accompanists, both with "big ears", moving their dynamics and phrasing with the singer. Neither had extended solos, but the all the  solo work they did was a treat. Joel's work in " Besame Mucho" caught the ear, and Alex work with hands in the smokey Latin "Temptation" did as well.

Next week, the welcome return of saxophonist Josh Kemp. with Josh on  sax, Pete Whittaker organ, Dick Pearce trumpet and  Chris Higginbottom drums. Josh is an inventive, warm-toned and lyrical player, and should not be missed.

As you know, we are hosting Clare Teal and band on June 19 at the New Wolsey in Ipswich (part of the excellent Ipswich Jazz Festival).  This very special event has tickets available from today, at wolseytheatre.co.uk/shows/clare-teal/. The earlier you buy, the cheaper the tickets!

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 February 2015 - Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier
Two guys, 9 guitars, world class technique so they can play whatever they can think of. And they have  the imaginations to think of great stuff. What a gig!

Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier are touring their new album. I bought it, but I am loath to listen to it for a day or two. I want to keep last night in my head, even though the album reviews are excellent. Much of the music of a very well designed programme is from the album.

It 's hard to talk about them individually, because they played as one. There were several times, like in Peter's "Lauder Jumped In" and the encore, Corea's "Spain", where the solos wove between them, crossing in very few bars. It reminded me of the Bach Concerto for two violins, the way the top voice moved between them. The  "Lauder" number, an upbeat jazz number written for Steve Lauder, was composed on the chords of Gershwin's  "I got Rhythm".  "Spain" was spectacularly fast in places, with amazing unison playing and popping from 4/4 to  3/4.

Nic's "Riverside" was played on an 11 string fretless guitar, modeled on an Oud, with Pete playing a 12 string. 23 strings took a bit of tuning, but the result was beautiful.

Enough. I could write about each of the 12 songs played, ballads, bossas, Latin, Turkish. If you missed the gig, I am sorry for you, but on Sunday, the next date on their tour is at the Fludyers Hotel in Felixtowe gives you another chance. Don't miss it again.

Next week, we have a top London entertainer in Robin Phillips, who plays piano and sings such that Jon Hendricks loves him. He will bring Jay Darwish on bass and Alex Best on drums. I hope to see you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 7 February 2015 - Tammy Weis and Tom Cawley
Vocalist Tammy Weis, pianist Tom Cawley, bassist Julie Walkington and drummer Dave Ohm have graced our stage before last night. They gave us a great gig then, (and a Youtube video). They gave us a better one last night.

Both gigs gave us lovely compositions and excellent lyrics, great musicianship all round, and a well balanced and interesting programme. Both programmes mixed writing by Tammy, Tom and others with standards. So what was the difference?

The band just seemed tighter and more relaxed. Even Tammy and Tom's "Keep Coming Back", which they worked on in the sound check, and  played in public for the first time, was seamless. The emotion of the song was pitched at just the right level. Tammy's storytelling ability and phrasing was very fine. It certainly doesn't hurt that she has such a strong contact with the audience, and often makes eye contact with us.

Tammy has a bearutiful voice for ballads, but she also has the ability to put some grit in it: the Burk/Webster song "Black Coffee" was as tough a blues as it should be. There was a different kind of provocative grit for the Rasaf/Redman "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good for You".

Peter King has a phrase for a gig that went well:, "they played their asses off". Just right for last night. The solos were excellent, duos (voice/bass, voice/piano, bass/drums) gave us a lot of variety, and the accompaniment was spot on. Dave's brush solo in the encore, "Route 66" caught the ear, as did Tom's solo on the same number. Julie had a couple of beautiful intros as well as excellent solos such as the one on "Cheek to Cheek".

No question about them coming back. If they don't get too famous for us.

Next week, two of the greatest guitarists playing in the UK will be with us in duo mode. Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier ask us to expect the unexpected. My guess is that there will be South American and Turkish influences in there somewhere, It is guaranteed to be a special evening. Do join us.

Take care,
Dave




Dave's Notes, 31 January 2015 - Simon Spillet: Tubby's Anniversary
On 30 January 1935, Tubby Hayes was born. On 30 January 2015, Simon Spillett came to Fleece Jazz to celebrate his music. What a joyous evening it was!  You cannot get a better band than Simon on tenor, John Critchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums.

The music was all either written by or loved by Tubby. In the latter category were Sonny Rollins' "Oleo", "Blues in Bb" (Miles? Coltrane?), Clark Terry's "Opus Ocean".  Tubby's own "Grits, Beans and Greens", "Serpent", "Royal Ascot".

Simon's playing was exceptional. Speed and accuracy on the fast ones, lyricism on the ballads. After the Landesman/Wolf "Spring can Really Hang You Up the Most", my wife commented that his playing was inventive but never losing the tenderness of the melody line. "Oleo" was taken at what seemed like triple time, but the blowing was always coherent.

John is, of course, a consummate accompanist. His solo on "Serpent" was exceptional, and appropriately, just a bit rude.

Alec is amazing to watch. The solos that stood out for me were on "Blues in Bb" and "Alone Together". The latter solo was a duet with Clark on drums - delicious.

Listening to Clark with eyes shut, one hears hugely complex rhythms and tonalities (but as his father said, "the right number of notes"). Open your eyes and he seems the most efficient of drummers: no motion wasted. You can also see him listen. There was lots of trading 4s, and even 2s and 1s, and ideas  just seem to flow from musician to musician. I particularly liked the solo in "Opus Ocean", which had a 12,12,8,12 pattern which he played with, but the listener never lost.

It was a standout gig with standout players.

Next week, Tammy Weis returns, partnered by Tom Cawley, Julie Walkington and Dave Ohm. Tammy is a stunning singer/composer/lyricist, and Tom is one of our favourite pianists and arranger. It will be a fine gig. The pleasure of your company is requested.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 24 January 2015 - The Georgina Jackson Show
There's something about jazz. Serious problems arise, and unexpected terrific gigs ensue.

Don Weller and Mick Hutton were stuck in Cockfosters with a dead car yesterday afternoon, and no possibility of travelling to the club. Drummer George Double and pianist Chris Ingham had to do some instant booking. BBC Big Band and Ronnie Scott Allstar vocalist and trumpeter Georgina Jackson was having a night off, or so she thought. and Rob Palmer was available on bass. Last night was the Georgina Jackson show, with an excellent band working as if they were together every day.

I had not heard Georgina before. She presents with humour and interest.  I was delighted to discover she is a belter: Her "Sweet Georgia Brown" was delivered at speed and proper volume, and was great fun. George did some lovely work with hands on the drum in this one.Georgina is a ballad singer. "H(sh)e's Funny That Way" showed a tender, lyrical and warm side to her voice. Georgina  can scat, aided by really excellent intonation..

And she can play the trumpet, with a lovely clear tone and a hint of warmth, or with the Harmon mute. There was a fine solo in  "Squeeze me (please don't tease me" using  the Harmon mute. Actually, all the trumpet work was excellent.

Chris Ingham is an excellent and thoughtful pianist., sharing the varied moods called for by the singer. In duo mode, as in "Smile", it was nice to see equal partners in the production of the song.

George Double is fun to watch (and great to listen to). He rocks quietly to the music he is playing. He had a standout solo in "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", which was played as a heavy tango. I do mean heavy: great fun.

Rob Palmer was what a bassist should be. Good solos, solid rhythm and pitch, and clear enjoyment of the music.

We will have Don Weller with us as soon as it can be arranged. But next week, we have a tenorist who is also more than special. Simon Spillett will be celebrating the work of the great Tubby Hayes. And what a band: John Chritchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. Beat that.

Take care,


Dave





Dave's Notes, 17 January 2015 - Oh La La
Oh La La is led by Fifi la Mer, who sings in French and English, which gives me a problem. Je suis un Canadien. Je ne parle pas francais. Quel Dommage. Well, her storytelling is excellent, both in presenting a song and singing it, so no problem there, then. She has lovely phrasing, and the arrangements are interesting, quirky in places, and fun.

Fifi is a busy lady, singing, presenting, and playing the very difficult traditional French button accordion with great skill. In the opening number, the Beatles' "Michelle", she also whistled. The song was a charming start to a good gig.

Not only did the band had fun up there, but the playing was excellent. Kit Massey on violin was new to us. I had never heard a jazz violinist use a mute before, which he did on "La Vie en Rose" to close the first set. It changes the timbre into something soft and lush.

Colin Oxley we know as a fine jazz guitarist, and so it proved last night. He had several great solos: I particularly llked the one in "Tea for Two". Colin is also an excellent accompanist in all the necessary styles that the evening produced.

The bass is the foundation of most music, and Julian Bury (who we also know) did an excellent job. He also had several fine solos, including one on the bow, which was a delight.

It was a most entertaining evening, and the audience had a great time, even when asked to sing along. In French. On "Je ne Regrette". They did.

Next week will be a bit special. Tenor legend Don Weller leads Chris Ingham piano, Mick Hutton bass, George Double drums. It is deservedly a Guardian pick of the week. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 January 2015 - Alex Garnett Quartet
We haven't seen Alex Garnett at the club since 2009. On last night's evidence, a big mistake. Great gig.

One of the joys of a Garnett gig is his presentation. His standup technique is informed to some extent by Ronnie Scott. He gives us a lot of information about the music, particularly his own compositions, which is helpful, and in his case very funny.

But it is about the music. That  beautiful husky sax tone was perfect in his solos for the lovely "Andromena" bossa nova. He has phenomenal speed, shown in the encore "The Core", a bebop cutting contest dizzy ride. And only Alex would write  a song for a malaprop producing colleague with "Delusions of Grandma".  I also loved "Charlie's World", which Alex claims was co-written with his two year old.

As a special gift he sang Ellington's "Lucky So and So". In the sound check, James Maddren said, "I have never heard you sing before". He should do more. The audience loved it.

Watching James work is a delight. You can see his ears grow - a listening drummer. My favourite solo of the evening was his, in "I've Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm", which was played very fast. The brush work on Getz's "Early Autumn" was stunning.

Liam Noble had a terrific solo on that song as well, as well as others. He is one of our favourite pianists, finding progressions that are unusual and just right.

Michael Janisch worked with a (very good) borrowed bass last night. His reputation is well deserved. His solo in "Autumn in New York"  was beautiful.  

We must have this group back soon.

And now for something completely different. We have French chanson and English jazz from this excellent group: Fifi La Mer vocals and accordion, Kit Massey violin, Colin Oxley guitar, Julian Bury bass. I hope to see you there

Take care,
Dave


Dave's (well, Peter's really) Notes, 3 January 2015 - Fletch's Brew

These won't be my notes, but Peter Fairman's, our photog. I was home looking after a knee. Boy, am I sorry I missed it!
Fletch's Brew was Mark Fletcher drums, Carl Orr guitar, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Jim Watson organ, Steve Pearce bass.

Peter says:
You missed a really good gig. They were good last time but this gig had the addition of the organ. It was  amazing. Full on!! Every solo and every number had the audience applauding with gusto.
We had a good size audience too and at the end of the gig there was a standing ovation for the musicians.
Brilliant gig and I think the audience would have stayed for another session. That good!!

We had several tweets echoing Peter's sentiments. One was from Freddie saying how much fun the band had. Gerry and David report the same. I will see them next time. There will be a next time.

Next week, the dark, husky sound of Alex  Garnett, with Alex on sax, Liam Noble piano, Michael Janisch bass, James Maddren drums. See you there.


Dave's Notes, 21 December 2014 - Ian Shaw

Sorry for the delay in writing this. I brought my darling daughter home yesterday, and have just turned on the computer. And the washing machine.

But Friday's gig is indelible in my mind. Some gigs stand in the memory. Ian Shaw always does.

Ian has usually played solo for us, but he is on tour with a truly fine young pianist, Jamie Safirudden. Jamie is one of those pianists who seems to inhabit the piano. He also has amazing listening skills (Ian after all is one of the best improvising singers).

As usual, Ian provided an eclectic programme. Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother" and Don Henley's "Desperado" contrasted with DePaul and Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight", and Rogers and Hart's "I wish I were in love again".  Ian's use of his amazing vocal range is so natural, it only became in your face when he hit a high note and said that the originator of the music couldn't do that.

My favourite song was one Ian wrote for Liane Carroll, I think called "Let's Stay 42".  It had a combination of trouble and fun that matched the two personalities, and was beautifully sung and played. In fact intonation and articulation were perfect, and the technique invisible all evening.

We are taking a break next week, but on January 2nd, Mark Fletcher is back with "Fletchers Brew". Expect an evening of funky, often raucous, brilliant jazz from Mark on drums, Carl Orr guitar, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Jim Watson organ, Steve Pearce bass.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,

Dave

Dave's Notes,13 December 2014 - Sarah Jane Morris
It is difficult to find words that haven't been said about Sarah Jane Morris. Here are a few phrases: brilliant, powerful, force of nature, political, great presence and presentation, fun,  The music was about politics, love, death and joy, mostly written by Sarah Jane in collaboration with others (like Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield). Much of the music was from the superb "Bloody Rain" album now out. A lot of songs had an African feel and rhythm.

We had four acoustic instruments on stage: Sarah's three and a half octave voice, the two guitars and the bass. The musicianship was astonishing. Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy have different styles, but as the lead moved from one to the other it seemed like one instrument. They each had soloing opportunities, and they were terrific. Tony's intro in "Deeper Well" was particularly good.

The mighty Henry Thomas plays acoustic fretless bass guitar. He once told me that he was not a great soloist. Yet again he is proved wrong. He takes over the stage and the zone.

All three instrumentalists sang backup, Tim and Henry more than Tony, and very fine backup it was. Tim had a duo part with Sarah Jane in the hilarious Condom Song. You can see them in a delightful cartoon on youtube and on her website.

We had  a lovely big audience who were contributing and taking part when asked. Next week we have another superstar, and your presence is requested. Ian Shaw is one of the finest jazz singers in the world today, and at the top of the tree for improvisational jazz. His piano playing is excellent. He is also very funny.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 6 December 2014 - Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats
What do you get when Gilad Azmon comes to town? You get power. You get a huge range of tonality (how does he do that?). You get gentle lyricism and pounding upbeat. The man is a marvel.

You also get a few good quotes, and hints of middle eastern minor riffs.

Our photographer, Peter, was a little dubious about the Organ/Drum/Gilad format, but was totally won over by the gig. Enzo Zirilli was a dep, He was deep into the music, and contributed arrangements as well as superb drumming on his somewhat minimal kit.

Does the Hammond B3 fit with Gilad's alto? Oh yes. Particularly if it is Ross Stanley in charge of the beast. At least last night he didn't have to rush away to be at a 1a.m. Ronnie Scott gig. Again, the expressive power of the B3 was shown to us by Ross. Closing my eyes during  a solo, the changes in tonality and register were surprising and natural at the same time. With eyes open, the man is a marvel with only two hands and two feet.  Oh, and yes, I know that a sound guy should NEVER close his eyes: you never know what a musician may demand of you.

The set list was very well constructed. A lyrical "Body and Soul" was followed by a heavily interpreted "Giant Steps". The first set ended with "A Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square", which itself had a range of tempi, and went from lyrical to stacatto.

They gave the impression that neither of the the three knew what to expect from each other (particularly Gilad). Yet somehow, accompaniment underscored solo perfectly all evening.

We follow that with another force of nature. Sarah Jane Morris leads our next gig on Friday 12 December. Two great and very different guitarists, in Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy, and the mighty Henry Thomas on bass. Sarah's new CD is quite wonderful. Tickets are going very well, so do book for this one.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 29 November 2014 - Jim Mullen's Organ Trio
My big problem in writing these things is that my dictionary of superlatives is running out. I lovely crowd just ate up what Jim Mullen, Ross Stanley (depping for Mike Gorman on his real B3) and Matt Skelton provided for us.

Jim's thumb does the work of the whole hand of most guitarists, faster and more accurately: except  that in the Jobim number Samba de Aviao he used pure classical technique in the intro.  The man is a rock up there, in ballads, up-beat, Latin: doesn't matter. And he can find a way to get a quote in just about anywhere, so much that he made Matt jump at one point in the theme song from University Challenge. I counted 23 quotes in that one alone.

Something else about Jim other that the superb musicianship and enjoyment in his colleagues work. He tells us clearly and simply what they will play, with lots of extra info. He played Bernstein's "A Lonely Town" from the stage version of "On the Town". It missed the film, because the moguls don't like minor chords. And who knew that Jimmy van Heusen wrote a swing musical on "Midsummer Night's Dream". They played "Deep in the Dream" from that.

On that one, Matt had a beautiful balladic solo. The brush solo on "University Challenge" was a delight. His skill at accompaniment is very high: really big ears. In the beautiful "Estate" (summer), the variety of tone and rhythm, while still keeping the basic rhythm visible, was really exciting.

Ross was a dep. No one could tell. That big beautiful Hammond B3 in its van showed up, and Ross played above his usual storm. On Toots Thielemans' "For my Lady", he showed us the range of tone and expression  of that incredible instrument. I wonder what he will do next week when he is back with Gilad? I loved Jim's reaction at the beginning of "You've Changed". Ross came in with a wash of sound under Jim's intro that made Jim grin wide.

They all played their asses off, and they loved each other's playing. I think the quality of the performance has a bit to do with the quality of the audience, who listen carefully and applaud and hoot appropriately. The musicians sense the audience, and love ours. Thank you, audience.

Next week: Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats. Yes, another organ trio, with Ross, and Asaf Sirkis. They will be playing mostly standards, I understand, but this is Gilad we are talking about. He will have his own personality deeply in the music. It will be great, folks, come along.

Take care,
Dave

ps. My wife says that this note is too long. She is right. It is hard to stop writing about great gigs.

--> Dave's Notes, 22 November 2014 - The Moscow Drug Club
For a totally addictive evening of music and joy, try The Moscow Drug Club, the band who were with us last night. This is Cabaret at its best, great musicianship, great singing, great presentation: great fun. The joint was rocking.

Katya Gorrie is a Canadian singer with perfect intonation and articulation (now there is a mouthful). Denny Ilett plays stunning guitar. Andy Crowdy we know as a consummate bassist. Mirek Salmon is as good an accordionist as you will hear. Jonny Bruce blows a mean trumpet.

Oh, I forgot the backing singers. That would be Denny, Andy and Mirek, (Jonny sang when he didn't have a trumpet to his lips). Lovely harmonies, not just unison singing.

And then the trombone player. That was Andy, with Denny on bass.

And finally, on percussive things, Katya.

The music ranged from Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love", a really scary "Temptation", and the theme from the animated film "Triplets of Belleville (don't miss it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwb81iynyAg, and thank you, Katya). We ended with the best audience participation.

It was a lovely evening, enjoyed by a big crowd who we hope will return for treats to the end of the year. Next up, Jim Mullen Organ trio, with Jim on guitar, Mike Gorman is the organists, and Matt Skelton drums. There follows Gilad, Sarah Jane and Ian Shaw. Pretty good, huh?

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 15 November 2014 - Paul Baxter's EYESHUTIGHT
We were struck by fog at Fleece Jazz last night, so we had a happy but very small audience for a great young band. This is the kind of jazz I really love: it requires me to listen.

And listening is the key. Eyeshutight are Paul Baxter on bass, Johnnie Tomlinson on piano and Kristoffer Wright on drums but they play as one instrument. You can see the listening happening, and the pleasure that they take from each other's work. The material was all original (which puts some people off), and all intriguing. They played effectively two     two-part suites in each set, so lots of time for the music to develop.

I will start with Kris. We recorded the gig at the request of the band. I think for the first time ever I could actually raise the recording levels on the drums during the gig from what they were after the sound check. Almost always, I have to reduce them. His mallet solo in the last number, "Forthought" was special.

Paul is the band leader, but he shares announcing duties with Johnny, whose turn it was last night. Johnnie is a delightful pianist, with an educated left hand, with which he can improvise as well as (or in combination with) his right. He loves the dynamic range of the pianoforte and uses it superbly. He also likes quotes, but doesn't hint at them. We got the most beautiful "Finlandia" in "The Thaw" in the second set, for example.

When a standup bass player brings stomp boxes, one worries a bit. Paul loves to vary the tonality of his instrument, which he does to great effect without the stomps. With them, as in "The Precipice", he adds a little bit of grit, or some chorusing. All quite subtle.

I loved the band's intelligent control of tempo, dynamics and interplay of rhythms. I hope we have them back for the audience size they deserve.

Next week will be a wow. We have the wonderful Katya Gorrie singing, Denny Ilett guitar, Andy Crowdy bass, Mirek Salmon accordion, Jonny Bruce trumpet. The band? The fabulous Moscow Drug Club. Great music, great cabaret. See you there.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 8 November 2014 - Tim Richard's Hextet
I am glad to be back from a holiday, which was wonderful, but almost music free.  To come back to the spirit of Tim Richards and his Hextet was just grand.

There was music written by five of the musicians. We had very varied styles, but the music always carried heart and power, and often fun. The arrangements were a delight, with unison harmonic and fugal patterns, particularly between the horns.

Our photographer, Peter, says " Just love listening to Dick Pearce (under recorded). He is becoming a living legend in British jazz. And such a very modest man." In the second set he played a duo with Tim that was just beautiful. We need to see Dick back soon.

Ed Jones is an old friend of the club. Every good musician (Ed is a lot better than good) has the music bubbling inside. Ed shows it to us with his body language as well as his superb musicianship. Lots of good solos, but again, the duo with Tim in the first set was lovely. His on composition, "Clandestine", has some weird and wonderful harmonies, and an amazing drum solo with a continuo of vibes, piano and bass.

Tim is such a thoughtful pianist.  It seems that, even for his own compositions, he is searching for new ways to drive across the theme of the song. In the Suite "Lucid Dreaming" this showed in both his soloing and his accompanying. The suite had a segment which was just horns and high hat which I particularly enjoyed.

I have to admit to undermicing the vibraphones a little. Nevertheless, Ralph Wyld's debut at the club aws excellent. His own composition, "Storebaeltsbroen" (water bridge?) had seamless 3/4 to 4/4 and back changes, and was very evocative.

Peter Ibbetson is an accomplished drummer. I mentioned his solo in"Clandestine". We are promised an Ibbetson composition next time. The solo in Dominic's "Ease up was my favourite.

When Tim announced that there would be  a Dominick Howles bass solo, Someone in the audience hollered "It's about time!". Indeed it was and is in two senses. Bassists tend to keep the time and chords in jazz groups, and , of course, Dominic does this superbly. I loved the excellent solo in (I think) "Discovery", as well ha his work in "Ease Up"

It was a great night to come home to. For once, the band next door was real quality (there was a ball in the hotel last night). They came in for our second set and had a grand time. So did we.

Next week, we have a unique blend of accessible, melodic, fiery compositions, expansive improvisation, and an engaging, enjoyable stage show, with Paul Baxter bass, Johnny Tomlinson piano and Kristoffer Wright drums. Join us if you can. You won't regret it.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 25 October 2014 - Jazz at the Movies
Jazz at the Movies  is an excellent stage show. It is also a fine jazz gig. A big audience agreed.

Chris Ingham was the  compere and the pianist. We know his excellent pianism. As a compere, he is dry, very funny, very knowledgeable. He told us about each tune, the movie, the people involved if that was relevant. We enjoyed the fun he poked at his colleagues. All in all, a beautifully thought out and arranged programme.

The singer was Joanna Eden, who deserves much more prominence in the country. She is blessed with a lovely and flexible voice, but you have to be able to tell a story with it, and she does, voice, body and clearly, soul. From gronchy "My Heart belongs to Daddy" (not the filthiest song in the repertoire, "Honeysuckle Rose" is), to the Weill/Nash "Speak Low". she handles them with ease and great presentation. She also has terrific articulation. Every word is clear, but it is not overdone. This is an art many great singers do not have.

It is always a pleasure to have Alan Barnes about. Last night he was an accompanist, with some terrific solos and very funny accompanying riffs. He and George on drums even through in some "Sing Sing Sing" into the encore. He played tenor and clarinet.

George Double thought up the idea of "Jazz at the Movies". He sways like a willow when he drums. Chris intimated that his work on "...Daddy" amounted to a hand job. It did show George's skill with hands, sticks and brushes.

The Reverend Andy Brown was a dep on bass. He did what bassists are supposed to do: hold the beat, keep the intonation perfect, and perform good solos. Full marks.

Next week: Partisans are well known to us. The musicianship of Phil Robson guitar. Julian Seigal reeds, Thadeous Kelly bass, Gene Calderazzo drums is stellar.  Do note that we are in the Constable Bar for this one.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 October 2014 - Damon Brown's International Quintet
Some musicians arrive late, no sound check, we start late.

And then they begin to play and the  music hits the heart. Entrances perfect, glorious head, wonderful solos, the musician's joy in playing flows off of the stage.

It was really like that, for Damon Brown's International Quartet. The opening number, "I'll Close My Eyes", featured a solo by Fredrick Carlquist on tenor. This was Fred's debut with us. He has a tone very reminiscent of Bobby Wellins, warm and full. His "Rogue Planet" had a lovely and unusual structure. It started with a horn duo, and built in stages to include bass, then drums, then piano.

The other debut at Fleece Jazz was Adam King on bass.  Adam seems to sing as he plays. He graced us with several fine solos. In Fred's "Frolicking on the Roof", he phrased like a singer, lead and lag. At the end of the solo he was back to controlling the beat. Lovely.

Leon Greening was our pianist, and I have praised him before, No change here: powerful left hand, totally absorbed in the music. His invention in Damon's "Song for Sarna" was exceptional.

We had a dep for a drummer. Well, not really, Matt Skelton played on the CD, so knows the music. Quality solos of course, but I was delighted with his accompaniment. The guy has about the biggest ears in the business. His work under Damon's solo in "Janine" was wonderful.

And Damon? He played his ass off. He travelled the stage to play with each colleague individually. The "Janine" solo was huge. I don't understand how he can have such cue control and still give the players such freedom. Maybe it is because he knows that they listen.

Next week, you should book early. "Jazz at the Movies" is coming, with Joanna Eden vocals, Alan Barnes saxophone, Chris Ingham piano, George Double drums, Arni Somogyi bass. "When Harry Met Sally" to "The Ipcress File": great music in store.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 11 October 2014 - Sarah Moule
There are lots of good singers about. Very few can dig into the marrow of the lyrics and music the way Sarah Moule can. It is no surprise that praise comes from other singers, as well as from the critics. Barb Jungr loves her, and I am sure my star, Marlene VerPlanck would too.

Of course, the lyrics and the music have to be worth it. But we are talking about the collaboration between lyricist Fran Landesman, among others, and composer/arranger Simon Wallace, so we are in for a winner.

So she has a lovely voice. But she also has amazing phrasing that drive the story, before and after the beat, or on it. Her body tells the story as well. Bessie Smith's hit "I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl" was hardly open to interpretation. Simon and Fran's "Men Who Loved Mermaids" was the sad tale of guys seeking unobtainable women. The accompaniment  had underwater echos from the band, leaving Sarah to move her phrasing freely to tell the story.

And the band? Simon on piano, brilliant and often understated. You need to listen to his solos: he is good at digging out the  marrow too. Mick Hutton as always holding the  rhythm, with terrific intonation and thoughtful solos.  Paul Robinson's range of techniques with sticks, brushes, mallets,  softsticks, hands and combinations was wonderful to watch. Paul will hit anything. He brought his own music stand, and I think it was tuned.

It was a lovely gig. We have something special for you next week too. Damon Brown is bringing a superb international crew. Damon on trumpet and flugel, Fredrik Carlquist on tenor, our favourite Leon Greening on piano, Adam King on bass and Marc Miralta on drums. Come along, and bring friends.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 October 2014 - Ben Crosland's Threeway
The time just flew past too quickly for this superb gig.

Someone said to me, "no drums, I'm not coming". Well, he and too many others missed a delight. Ben Crosland's Threeway has been a favourite of mine for years for its writing, its unbelievable musicianship, and for the gentle joy of their approach to live music.

Each in turn: Ben Crosland plays a fretless bass guitar, arranged to have a lovely deep tone. No, it doesn't sound like a standup bass. Most of the writing is his. He has the knack of writing themed music without it being programmatic. A great example was the first piece, "Corridor of Uncertainty". It was clearly aimed at current war related news items, but it didn't describe. One small thought that affected me: the tune ended very abruptly. It just stopped. Just to be clear, the rest of the music was pretty joyful. Take "CQD", the original form of SOS. Or a wonderful up-tempo "Secret Love". In both of these, Ben's solos were terrific. His music is filled with great ideas: take "My Funny Valentine", written in two keys! Fascinating.

On the piano and keyboard, who better than Steve Lodder? All that early classical organ must have provided some of his technique, but the ideas just come at you endlessly. On his own composition, "Across the Land", his playing on the keyboard was lovely, and very complex. He used the variety of tone available to him with subtlety. On the piano, few people have the left hand facility that Steve displays. On "Across the Land" he used both, one had on each, with the left on the piano taking the lead.

Steve Waterman also writes. The second set started with his "Firefly", in which he played with a Harmon mute in his trumpet. This is a great tune.  On the flugel, he produces the most beautiful dark tone. I love this instrument, but particularly when Steve is playing it. There is of course the spectacular. His "Destination Unknown" ends with 2 minutes or more of a beautiful continuous  obbligato. It is achieved with circular breathing, but you don't notice the technique, only the music and the virtuosity. But his solo work on "Blue Butterfly", for example, is breathtaking in its own way.

I loved this gig.  I am going to love next week as well. When you get  the amazing, sometimes acerbic and funny, sometimes quite devastating, lyrics of Fran Landesman, along with the composer, Simon Wallace on piano, it has got to be good. The gig is fronted by the wonderful singer, Sarah Moule. The gig is part of a tour promoting her five star rated album, "Songs from a Floating World". To have Mick Hutton on bass, and Paul Robinson on drums is a real treat.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 27 September 2014 - Dennis Rollins's Velocity Trio
Put three superb musicians on a stage, and give them freedom to both interact and personally express. A glorious evening ensues.

Dennis Rollins' Velocity Trio  is: Dennis on trombone, Ross Stanley on Hammond B3 organ, and Pedro Segundo on drums. Let's just note that the ensemble work was tight, the arrangements were interesting and innovative,  they listened to each other like crazy, and they had such fun up there. I want to talk about the opportunities for individuality the freedom gave them.

This is the first time I can remember Ross having the chance to give his beast a chance to show its range. The B3 is a complex instrument, with a huge range of tonality. There are two manuals, a pedal board, tons of draw bars, an expression pedal and that switch that controls the speed of the Leslie speaker spin. Ross had everything at his feet and fingertips, pulsing the Leslie, changing the tone, all with the appearance of effortlessness. He is a master. Just as one example. In Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance", he had an extended solo that walked the range of the instrument. It was all integral and appropriate, nothing for its own sake, but it was spectacular. Trading 8s with Dennis was great fun.

Pedro Segundo uses hands, fingernails, sticks, brushes, tambourine, and  toys that whine, squeak, cry.  They are fun and sometimes funny, but somehow always in place. People left commenting "Great evening... and that drummer: wow!). And he can play simply: in a number remembering the pain of Portuguese dictatorship, he played the northern Portugal rhythms with much feeling. The song is special for him.

Dennis comes with  a pile of stomp boxes, looper, cup and Harmon mutes, He does not overuse them. The first number, "Samba Galactica", used a harmonizer, but mostly the sounds he chose were natural and appropriate.  His straight trombone solos were stunning. I am thinking of two: the full funk "Boneyard" had us down and dirty, and a lyrical and gentle solo in the gospel encore, "The Rose", sent us home. That also gives you an idea of the range of music Dennis had programmed for us. His presentation is lovely, giving us the information we need with his natural humour.

What? Another trio next week? It is one we know well and love. Ben Crosland's Threeway is not a standard trio, being bass, piano and trumpet/flugel, but in the hands of Ben, Steve Lodder and Steve Waterman this is music that I listen to often. Come and hear  these superb musicians next Friday.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 20 September 2014 - Sarah Gillespie
Piano, bass, drums and Sarah Gillespie: what a fascinating gig!

Sarah's vocals have a way with tonal change and phrasing that drives and enhances the stories she tells. And boy, does she have stories. She sang her own material as well as Bessie Smith songs. I particularly enjoyed "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've seen", and her own "Soldier's Song".  

Her finger style guitar accompaniment and soloing was excellent. She started the second set with solo work. Her own "Oh Mary" was a real treat, both vocally and with the guitar solos. She announces the songs with just the right amount of information - a rarity.

Any time Tom Cawley wants to play on my piano he can. Most of his work was accompaniment, of course, but they were complex, interesting and perfectly supported the singer.

Ben Bastin is a consummate bassist, plucking or bow. His bow work on the ballads was really beautiful. He was also a backing singer.

It is fun to anticipate what kind of kit Enzo Zirilli will bring to a gig. No bass drum. He used a Cajon, a box you usually sit on and hit, but he had a kick pedal, and used it as a kick drum. It sounded great. He had quite a few opportunities to solo. I loved the entry choruses to "Pigfoot", which ended the first set.

Well, follow that. Ok, another big personality and fine musician, Dennis Rollins, will be with us. He is thought by many to be the premier trombonist in the country.  The other two members of the Velocity Trio are not too shabby either. We have the brilliant Ross Stanley on Hammond B3, and Pedro Segundo on drums. Do come along.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 September 2014 - Alec Dankworth's World Spirit
How do you make a class trio even better? Make it a quartet.

Alec Dankworth's World Trio became World Spirit with the addition of Emily Dankworth on vocals, to complement Alec on bass, Ben Castle on tenor and soprano saxes and flute, and percussionist Paul Clarvis.

Emily does something both dangerous and difficult. She sings simply. She does it very well. When you sing without vibrato and a lot of decoration, for instance, your intonation, phrasing and tone change are exposed, and have to be just right: and they were. She sang on about a third of the tunes in each set. She has a range, too, with Latin numbers like "Live to Dream", Scottish folk ("Black is the Colour"). She scats well. Mostly she was an up front singer, but often she would drop back to being a band member: for example, harmonizing with Ben's flute on "Vera Cruz".

It was such a pleasure to see Ben back after far, far too long. This guy is a really fine player on any of the three instruments, with flowing ideas, and close listening. His intro and solos on "Africa -> Ishmael" were particularly beautiful. He was also great fun on stage.

Paul Clarvis is a serious, international percussionist in the jazz, classical and rock fields. He has such a visible joy in the music. Of course, the instruments (lots and lots of them) are showy, but he is charming with them. He listens like crazy too.

To the boss. I don't think there is a better bassist about than Alec. He played electric bass on this gig, but it was still fascinating to watch the left hand spider over the fingerboard on beautiful solos and solid, varied accompaniments. He presented the music with humour and style.

Just about everyone thought it was a top gig. There were a couple for whom "trio's don't do it for me". I have talked about this before, I know. There is a cure for this disease. It isn't always easy to do. You need to LISTEN to the music, not just let if flow through you. When it is live, you can get cues from the musicians smiling at something special from a colleague. There was a lot of smiling last Friday.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 6 September 2014 - Dylan Howe's Subterranean, with Andy Sheppard
For Gerry and I, this wonderful gig was made even better for working the sound check and exended rehearsal for this, the first of the Subterranean tour dates. You cannot buy a better musical education than that. Oh, and Gerry's sound was perfect.

The evening was music from Dylan Howe's "Subterranean" CD (plus download, vinyl to come). Dylan's interpretations were wonderful jazz, but true to the Bowie/Eno spirit. A video loop to one side of the stage was appropriate, and interesting, but not distracting.

As Peter King would say, they played their asses off. Dylan led from the drums, no visual cues that I could see, but he was leading. How you make drumming like that both extremely well thought out and spontaneous at the same time, I will never understand. His solo on "Weeping Wall" will stay with me.

Having Andy Sheppard back with us was such a joy.  He played soprano, and a tenor made specially for him by Trevor James, and sold as the AS Signature. There will only be 100 of these, and the reviews in the sax geek press have been ecstatic. Of course, he played like an angel. He is one of the very few who can do a 2 minute circular breathing phrase, varied and complex,  in "All Saints" without the audience noticing the breathing technique.

Ross Stanley says he loves our piano. We love him on piano, keyboards, B3, anything he wants to play. The solo on "Neukoln - Night" was particularly good, spiky and full of dynamics, followed by a Dylan solo in the same mode.

"Some Are" gave  Steve Lodder a chance to have an extended solo. The man is a master. His synth playing was central to the feel of the entire evening. It must take great timng and sensitivity to do that.

Without a great low register supporting the music, it can sound weak. No fear here, with Dave Whitford on stage. It was fascinating to watch that left hand move like a spider on the fingerboard. He almost occupies the instrument. On "Art Decade", the dark solo was memorable.

We had a big crowd who loved the evening, and clearly the musicians were having fun on the first of their tour dates. Lucky lucky people who get to see a show from the rest of the tour.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 30 August 2014 - Loz Speyer's Time Zone
I have always wanted to go to Cuba for the music. Loz Speyer's Time Zone brought the music to Fleece Jazz (and a lovely big crowd).

But this was great contemporary jazz. Loz incorporates many of the Cuban rhythms into his writing, If we had room for people to dance, they would have.

That the musicianship was of a very high order usually goes without saying, but a special word is needed for this band. From left to right across the stage:

Stuart Hall plays a pure electric guitar, and pulls amazing sounds from it without the use of any stomp boxes. At one point, he made it sound like an Udu, He can play in any style, and playfulness was part of the pleasure of hearing and seing him.

Dave Mannington does what bassists do (or should). He holds the beat and the chords. His solos included double stopping, which he does with ease. The tone and intonation were superb.

Loz Speyer plays both trumpet and flugel, choosing the two tonalities carefully. He is also that rare thing, a musician who presents his music in an interesting and engaging way.

The drums seem to me (except for the solos) an accompaniment  to Loz's music, Andy Ball performed both of these functions with real joy: lovely drumming.

I have never before heard such a use of the huge range of the bass clarinet. Martin Hathaway must have got 5 octaves out of the thing, with not a note wasted. He is an accomplished saxophonist. We had the pleasure of both.

Maurizio Ravalico. is a terrific conga player. Without him this special music would have been diminished.

In case this sounds a bit academic, they were having a grand time up there: and so were we.

Next week,  Dylan Howe brings the music of David Bowie's Berlin period to Fleece Jazz. The Guardian guide thinks this will be something very special, and so do I. His starry band has Andy Sheppard tenor sax, Ross Stanley piano, Steve Lodder synthesisers and Dave Whitford bass.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 23 August 2014 - The Horn Factory
Great to be back after our summer break, and to be greeted with the sound of The Horn Factory, an 18 piece band (I lied on the website, sorry, thought it was 19) was just wonderful. 5 saxes, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, piano, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, lovely clean sound, perfect entrances, lots of joy.

Gilly Burgoyne on alto and Jonathan Farnhill on tenor had a great time trading 4s in "Zogs Jog", and Jonathan played similar lovely games with Richard Steward on trumpet. Richard had a serious back problem, and didn't stand up with the rest of the trumpeters, so was more or less invisible for all but one of his solos, on "What's New". Beautiful, it was.

We had a feature with the bass trombonist, Chris Neary, on "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night ", reworking the Sinatra version. We should get more of this instrument soloing.

The rhythm section was accurate and fun, It was clear that they were a group that knew each other, and worked together well. Bob Airzee led from the congas.

Lots of people came, and we all had a lovely time.

Here is the lineup:
Saxes
Gilly Burgoyne lead alto, Tristan Clifton alto, Jonathan Farnhill lead tenor, Mark Usher tenor, Charlotte Beattie bariitone;
Trumpets
Richard Steward lead, Ian Buzer, Steve Stone, John "Shep" Burch;
Trombones
Paul Little lead, Andy Shipp, Steve Ball, Chris Neary bass trombone;
Rhythm Section
Keith Monk piano, Tamas Farkas guitar, Emma Barnes bass, Gerry Gillings drums, Bob Airzee percussion.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 2 August 2014 - Will Butterworth Quartet
What a glorious gig before our summer break!

Will Butterworth, Seb Pipe, Nick Pini and Pete Ibbetson are a very tight group with amazing ideas. They gave us a gig in two halves. The first was an hour-long suite based on the Oscar Wilde short story for children, "The Nightingale and the Rose".  So we have the love of the young man, the lady's request for a red rose, the suicide of the nightgale to produce the rose, and then a Wilde kicker, the lady has met a prince.

Those few of us who had read the story found the musical path through the story superb, We all enjoyed an hour of beautiful composition, beautifully played, with written themes and improvisation finely melded.  I wonder whether an outline of the story would have helped the bulk of the audience.

The second half was more traditionally constructed, with some originals and some standards, all delights to hear. To me the stand-out song was Will's "In Your Place", with Seb's long sax intro to this slow 3/4 ballad, and lovely solo's from all the band.

This was followed by a very up-tempo  "All the Things You Are", in which Pete particularly shone.

We ended with an extended encore: "Blue Monk". Will had the sexiest delicate intro to this. Very subtle blues playing all round. Nick had a stunning solo in this one.

We are having a two week break, before the 22nd of August, when East Anglia's Premier Big Band shows up. Do not miss this group who love and play the big band music superbly.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 July 2014 - Gabriel Garrick Quartet
Even broken air conditioning could not put a damper on this gig. Gabriel Garrick brought a band full of fun and musicianship to the club.

The music was standards, works of his father, Michael, and one original. They were all played with gusto and bravura. The old rule applied in spades: if the band are having fun, the audience will as well. They had a LOT of fun up there.

Gabriel plays trumpet and flugel, and his trumpet tone is  warm (the flugel very mellow).  I loved his work with the Harmon mute, close to the mic as it should be. He used it on "Body and Soul". I loved the solos here.

Terence Collie is quiet in demeanor on the piano. He has a beautiful way with chord extensions, and the ideas flow and flow. This was an excellent debut to the club.

There was no chance for Paul Cavaciuti to add his anecdotal skills to his excellent drumming, more's the pity. Trading 4's and 8's with a drummer can be formulaic and a bit boring. Not in this case: Gabriel and Paul were having a ball on the stage.

Bass players can be prone to repetitive strain injury. Andy Hamell told me that early in his career, he decided to use all of the fingers on his right (plucking) hand. He must have extended his use of the left as well, because so often he was playing the bass like a guitar, with complex running chord sequences, slurred harmonics (how do you do that?), plucking above the left hand, and covering the fingerboard with what looked like gentle ease. Beautiful solos, thoughtful accompaniment.

It was very hot evening, filled hot jazz and fun.

Take care,
Dave

Daves Notes, 12 July 2014 - Frank Williams African Jazz Quintet
What a joyous gig! Our audience was sitting rapt by the township rhythms,  the superb playing and the fun. Everybody left grinning and happy.

And that includes the musicians. Its that old rule: if the musicians are having a good time, then we are. The five of them took such visible pleasure in each other, adding little driving bits to other peoples solos, and just enjoying each other.

Frank Williams' love of the music stems from his childhood in South Africa. His big voiced tenor sax was a pleasure to hear. As the first notes from the first song rang out, the rhythms just grabbed us. I particularly loved his work on "Accordian Song", written for his father who was a considerable musician. Frank is that rarity, a great story teller in composition, playing and talking to the audience.

Alistair Gavin is a master at this music (not to mention all the other genres that he plays). He played our piano, and a Wurlitzer keyboard circa 1969, or thereabouts. The keyboard was fitted with a row of stomp boxes, which Alistair used quite delicately. There was a sequence of chords in his solo in a lovely ballad to end the first set that will stand in the memory: two choruses of slowly modulated chords, almost Cage-like, had us breathless.

Pete Oxley did a build towards the end of that ballad which was immensely powerful and controlled. His passion on the final piece, "Country Cooking" was stunning to hear and watch. Pete is a superb guitarist who will be with us again soon.

Bassist Ben Havinden was difficult to research before the gig. Why? He is just out of his teens! He plays a classical double bass (his training is classical)  with the low string extra third. His technique and intonation are perfect, and he swings like crazy! There was an extended bass intro to "Cape Trip", which can be very exposing. His was a delight.

A drummer for this kind of music has some interesting problems. He has to hold and often introduce the complex rhythms, follow the improvised dynamics, provide some interesting solos, and still keep the top volume to a level which suits the room.  Daniel John is such a drummer.

We want this band back, and we want to record them. They deserve huge exposure.
Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 5 July 2014 - Clark Tracey Quartet
Clark Tracey has been, and remains, a world class top drummer. The man has the biggest ears in the business: he hears the room (for which sound techs love him) and  he hears the band, and almost anticipates a change in direction. He brought to Fleece Jazz four young and extremely talented musicians. They played without music, and were tight, coherent and accurate, with freedom and verve in the solos. A lovely gig, with some music from the latest CD, and some standards. Clark knows how to arrange a programme..

Dan Casimir is a considerable bassist. His range of technique is impressive (except no bow!). He seems totally at ease in any register, and when double stopping. To my ear, his intonation was perfect. His extended intro to Feldman's "Joshua" was just beautiful.

Harry Bolt loves our piano. It certainly sounded as if the piano loved him.  I loved the use of dynamics in his solos on Clark's "Elvin's Hug". In Cedar Walton's "Red Eyes" (sorry, forgot the Spanish), Harry provided movement from gentle warmth to a storm.

Chris Maddock played tenor and alto sax with power and lyricism. He was big and brassy on Terry's "A Pint of Bitter" (Clark told us it was written for Tubby Hayes), soft and warm on Mingus' "Sound of Love". The guy is very fast at need.

There must have been an A12 problem, because Henry Armburg Jennings arrived late. to complete a truncated first set (the second set was extended). He played trumpet and flugel, and was superb. He arrived in time to play in Jimmy Giuffre's "Suddenly Last Tuesday". The man is FAST.  He had fun trading 4's with Clark. The chorus work with Chris was lovely. An excellent player.

And an excellent gig, which delighted a (too small) audience.

Next week, the best of township music, with Frank Williams saxophone, Pete Oxley guitar, Alistair Gavin piano, Ben Havinden bass, and Westley Joseph drums.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 28 June 2014 - Basil Hodge Quartet
Basil Hodge's music tells stories, important stories told thoughtfully. There's a huge  range from  the joy of "Jobim the Boss" to the seriousness of "The 13th Amendment" (US antislavery constitution change). I think the latter is up there with Mingus's "Fables of Faubus", and should be a classic.

This is music that demands listening. With the assembled crew, that is not a problem. They know each other very well, and are top players.  Start with Larry Bartley on bass. I have heard him play the long intro to "The 13th Amendment" before. Each time sets the story on its way. Each time is different, but retains the seriousness of the story, and sets up the head for the others perfectly. Larry's intonation and double stopping are superb.

Tony Kofi played soprano and alto. The band swung into "Body and Soul" for the encore, and the sax solo was particularly good. He gave us great work throughout the gig.

There is only one Winston Clifford. Whether accompanying, soloing or making fugues with Larry, his invention was amazing.  The work between them in "Habenera" was delightful.

Basil is an excellent pianist. His solo in "Habenera" had us stomping. It was written with Horace Silver in mind. We lost Horace last week, which was mentioned by Basil, and by Derek last gig. His major contribution, though, is the music. It was fascinating during the sound check to hear them work out fine detail to push the storylines along.

What a pity more people could not have enjoyed the gig.

Well they can make it up next week, when we get the Clark Tracey Quintet, with a stunning young band. We will have Clark on drums, Henry Armburg Jennings trumpet, Chris Maddock alto sax, Harry Bolt piano and Dan Casimir bass. Not to be missed.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 21 June 2014 - Derek Nash's Acoustic Quartet
This time, I will have our photographer, Peter Fairman have the first words about last nights gig: "Brilliant gig. But that s a sort of guarantee whenever Derek Nash comes in whatever format.
He just lights up the place with his genuine enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy.An absolute first class credit to the British Jazz Scene."

Yup.

But the same can be said for the rest of the quartet, who so obviously loved being in this band. David Newton has an imagination like no other, and a left hand as powerful or thoughtful as his right. His interplay with Derek was particularly a joy.

One of the best bassists anywhere was with us. I like Geoff Gascoyne for lots of reasons, not least perfect intonation and timing, but his soloing is varied and strong.

On drums, master Sebastiaan de Krom. He gave us spectacular solos, rolling the brushes, using hands, and a lot of "less is more", which I love.  The dynamic range is huge. He uses it appropriately, but there was one perfect drum roll over many bars which started as a whisper, and smoothly grew to a roar.

We are building a video of part of the gig, and if it is considered good enough, even those not present last night will get to enjoy part of this gig.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 June 2014 - Phil Robson New Organ Trio
There is nothing, absolutely nothing like the sound of a real Hammond B3 organ, pedalboard and Leslie. No modern elecronic keyboard sounds as good in  a live situation, or probably on record. Ross Stanley is a wonderful driver of the beast.

The Phil Robson New Organ Trio entertained us royally last night. Phil is a stunning guitarist, Ross on the only instrument that I know that needs a van as an accessory, and the effervescent  Gene Calderazzo on drums. The music was mostly contemporary compositions by Phil, and standards by such luminaries as the trombonist J.J. Johnson. I didn't know he wrote for organ.

They just had so much fun up there. They obviously love playing in the band. The improvisations keyed off each other, and the accompaniment was often extemporaneous as well. The (far too small) audience loved it. The  great drummer Shakatak Roger O'Dell was there, headbanging in his chair. The amazing young guitarist Chris  Allard was there, loving every minute.

It was a joyous gig, and if anyone can follow it, it will be Derek Nash, with his Acoustic Quartet. Our president, David Newton on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass, Sebastiaan DeKrom on drums, and, of course, Derek on all the saxes.  Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 7 June 2014 - Gabrielle Ducomble Quintet
With a singer, the very first note that the audience hears has a big effect on how they receive her/him. In the case of Gabrielle Ducomble it was perfection. Gabrielle's intonation is exact, her pitch and dynamic ranges are large, and the voice is beautiful. To add to all that, she did all of the arrangements, and they were excellent.

This was primarily music from her CD, "Notes from Paris", and most of the songs were sung in French. So there was a strong Parisian feel to the evening, with delightful detours into Jobim, Tango and Samba. The emotional range was from "Padam Padam" (Glanzberg and Content) to the lovely ballad "The Shadow of Your Smile" (Mandel and Webster).

And the band? The ensemble work was seamless. Nicolas Meier is a world class guitarist. He also is a sensitive and thoughtful accompanist. Dan Teper on accordion had some fine solos. Dan and Nicolas had a wonderful fugal moment in one of the songs. Nic Kacal is a powerful bassist, on bow as well, which I love.  On drums, Saleem Raman was a sensitive and inventive accompanist, until time for his big solo, which had some of the audience standing in admiration.

So another great Fleece Jazz gig, and who to follow? Well, not just another guitarist. Phil Robson is as classy as they get. I love the organ trio music, and Ross Stanley is one of our favourite keyboarders. As is drummer, the indefatigable Gene Calderazzo. It will be great to see you at the gig.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 31 May 2014 - Jon Lloyd Quintet
Last night's gig was a joy. Well, this group always are.

Just a word about the soundcheck. John Law arrived early with Jon Lloyd. Jon went to warm up, which is worth listening to. John sat at the piano and went through book 1 of the Bach preludes and fugues, with a bit of jazz. That was worth the price of admission, and only Gerry and I got to hear it.

So no worries about the musicianship then: world class all round. Some people might think that as the music stems mostly from Jon's writing, it will be free jazz, difficult and inaccessible. Far from it.  The music, whether ballad or up-tempo, was logical without being predictable, exciting, and truly beautiful where beauty was intended.

Rob Palmer has a feel for the ambient. His solos were strong. A thing about this group and solos. The structure of Jon's songs is such (or maybe it is the way the musicians think) eases, almost crossfades from one musician to the other. They are always listening very hard, and enjoying it. This mode of playing doesn't really give the audience a chance to applaud solos: we don't want to miss transitional phrases.

We did applaud a spectacular solo from the drums. Jon Scott (too many Jo[h]ns)  playing tabla like on "Yarga". Tom Farmer appears to play the bass with his whole body. Excellent accompaniment.

The two pieces that particularly took my ear were the evening raga like "Yarga", and "5 6 7 8". The numbers refer to time signatures. They used 5/4, 6/4, 7/4 and 8/4, in a sequence through the piece, except for those bits where each guy was playing a different rhythm. It all worked out, but it was an amazing thing to hear.

Why not come along next week to hear the beautiful voice and presentation of Gabrielle Ducomble, with the amazing, Nicolas Meier guitar, Dan Teper accordion, Nic Kacal bass and Saleem Raman drums. We are in the  Garden Room for this gig.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 24 May 2014 - Gilad Atzmon: The spirit of Coltrane
Gilad Atzmon is always impressive, but what would he be like with the music of Coltrane?

Bloody marvelous, that's what. Audience comments like "Gilad always gives his all (and more last night).", and
"All the passion and technical ability of Coltrane.  Not a sheet of music to be seen".

All four excelled. The two opening numbers, "Naima" and  "Impressions" were great showcases for the talents and listening intensity of the band. They were not slavish copies of the Coltrane recordings, but beautifully re-imagined improvisation.

Behind the excitement lay amazing musicianship. Watching Asaf Sirkis grinning, then somehow adding elbowed toms and dinged cymbals in the tonic note of the chords - jaw hitting floor time. Yaron Stavi inhabits the bass, whether plucked or bowed. Frank Harrison and Gilad had a couple of choruses of duet in Giant Steps". Gilad was on alto for this one (Coltrane played alto in Dizzy's band, Gilad says); the mutual energy was huge. Frank's solos were inspired.

A stunning evening for too small a crowd.

Next week, new but accessible music from the Jon Lloyd Quintet, with Jon Lloyd reeds, John Law piano, Rob Palmer guitar, Tom Farmer bass and Jon Scott drums.  You will love it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 17 May 2014 - Spike Heatley Trio and Art Themen
Spike Heatley has been in the music business for over 70 decades. His bass is even older. Both get better over time.

We were treated to an evening of jazz classics and Spike's own compositions, with a few from the great British Pianist, John Horler. The band is  a long-standing one, and they knew each other well, so brand new material was no problem.

As an aside, they were very well organised. Gerry and I actually got a set list! This was very useful for me, as I was recording, and videoing a few of the songs to appear on Youtube.

Art Themen has a tone that ranges from the contemporary to between-the-wars lush. He is always a pleasure to hear and see. I particularly liked his soprano work on Spike's "Ranjana", and tenor on Waiting for David.

Andy Williams used his stomps with considerable delicacy: it was nice not to be overwhelmed by effects. In the classic "St. Vincent", I enjoyed  the island sound from the guitar a lot., in accompaniment and soloing, but his work all the way through was excellent

Malcom Mortimore is a considerable and considerate drummer. In one number, Spike asked for  Freddie Green entry. Malcolm raised his eyebrows, but produced that sound.

And Spike? He was the leader, not just in name. The solos were thoughtful, and the accompaniment spot on. It seemed to me that the ideas flowed from the bass outward. The solo in his "Tears for Miss Kenny" was exceptional.

Next Friday 23 May: Coltrane as interpreted by Gilad Atzmon. The reviews have been great, and the band is special. We have Gilad on the same model tenor that Coltrane played, Frank Harrison returns on piano, Ernesto Simpson on drums and Tim Thornton on bass. Don't miss this one.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 May 2014 - Frank Harrison Trio
So this "jazz buff" tells me "piano trios are boring" by which I think he meant "no saxophone".  I doubt he would make an exception for Oscar Peterson or Bill Evans (the former of which I have heard live a few times in bars). Probably because the piano trio requires you to listen.

Frank Harrison's trio played music that was intense, delicate, powerful at need. We got the familiar and the new, and both were revelations. Take "Tea for Two". It was played as a very slow ballad. Each note had a purpose, and the interweaving of melodies Frank's left and right hand was delicious. Or "I'm Oldfashioned". Not normally played in Latin mode, and if you are talking quotes, how did he get "Dam Busters" into it? Franks 'Io", about the moon's calm name, not its volcanic nature,  was improvised right out of the Radiophonic workshshop.

In "Io", Enzo Zirilli's pops and squeaks underpinned the calm, cold, slow stream of ideas. The three hear each other so well. They delight in trading 16s, 8s, 4s and even 1s! What is next, trading notes? The concentration level and grins were very high. Enzo is a great listening drummer.

Dave Whitford took part in one of the trading 1s game, and all three were having such a good time. His solos and trades in "Bye Bye Blackbird" were perfect.

So another great evening of music to too few people. Next week, we have a special treat. Spike Heatley is celebrating 7 decades in the business. This great bassist brings with him Art Themen saxophone, Andy Williams guitar and Malcolm Mortimore drums. Spike has asked us to record it, so do come along and be part of it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 May 2014 - Karen Sharp Quartet
Fleece Jazz is blessed with the musicians that play for us, known or new. On Friday, four well known British artists played a storm for us. The bebop and blues were beautifully played, but the prize was the ballads. The quartet seems to have a special way with ballads.

Two examples: Comden/Green/Bernstein's "Some Other Time" evoked the "On the Town" images strongly. Karen Sharp's shaping of tone and volume in each phrase and extended note were surprising, gentle, just right. This was in the second set, and by now we had expected the ballads to be special. In Feldman's "Falling in Love" in the first set, we had beautiful accompaniment to the saxophone solos, following the shapes of the phrases. Watching musicians of one mind is my greatest pleasure in live jazz.

Nikki Iles is always a treasure. In Evans' "Interplay", her interpretation of the broken and cross rhythms was a joy. It drove the work of the other three for this difficult tune. She seemed to have a special interplay with the drummer, and they bounced ideas off of each other all through the evening.

The drummer was Steve Brown, he of the big grin. He has the biggest ears in the business, for me. He hears so well that the musicianship (which is first class) is hidden. Phrases are not what you expect, but turn out just right.

Dave Green is just so fast up and down the fingerboard, and it looks effortless. All his playing looks easy, but he uses huge pitch leaps, perfect harmonic accents (sparingly, thank you), and the ideas flow and flow. When accompanying, he joins the three under the solo as part of a single person.

Are you getting the impression I liked this gig? So did the audience, although we could certainly use a few more people. I feel sorry for the jazz lovers that missed that gig.

So don't miss the next one. If you have a love of piano jazz, the amazing Frank Harrison is with us next week, with Dave Whitford bass and Enzo Zirilli drums. See you there.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's (sort of) Notes, 26 April 2014 - Emilia Mårtensson & Trio
I was not able to work last night's gig, a pity, as Emilia Mårtensson is a class act, with Fordham giving her new album "Ana" four stars in yesterday's Guardian. But Peter (photographer) and Gerry (sound engineer) reported an excellent gig.

For Gerry, the highlight was the opening of the second set. Emilia sang a request, Jacques Brel's "If You Go Away". It was quiet, beautiful and intense. He thought the gig was excellent. It was quiet throughout (a bit of a change from Fletch's Brew). He thought the musicianship was first class, with Adriano Adewali 's percussion on a kit with lots of African extras, catching the ear.

Peter said  "Emilia is so good, She has the audience entranced with her soft velvet yet powerful voice."  He loved the trio: Barry Green Piano, Sam Lasserson bass, and Adriano. They were great accompanists, and their solos were special. Peter also was entranced by Adriano's unusual sounds and excellent playing.

Pity I missed it. I won't miss next week. We have the  Karen Sharp Quartet. It is too long since we have heard her fine saxophone playing. Top class band, with  Nikki Iles piano. Dave Green bass and Steve Brown drums. I hope to see you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 April 2014 - Fletch's Brew
It is sometimes easy to be analytical and pretentious about music. Then along come Fletch's Brew.

The easy bit: top class musicianship from Steve Pearce on bass guitar, Carl Orr on guitar, Freddy Gavita on trumpet and flugel and leader Mark Fletcher on a drum kit kindly brought by Phil (don't remember last name, sorry). Carl had a big array of stomp boxes. Freddy had a bigger one: chorused, wahwah trumpet found the perfect context.

Well, to hammer a cliche into the ground, they blew us away, standing ovation at the end as they rushed to pack and get to Ronnies for a 1am gig.

The evening began with bebop, fast, full on, fun. These guys know each other well, but the listening was still active, and you got the sense, rightly, that they could fly off in all directions and still be tight.  We ended with Billy Cobham's "Stratus" - jazz meets heavy metal. Breathtaking.

In the middle, we had music by Carl and Freddy, and some lovely ballad work. Bronisaw Kaper's "Invitation" was lovely, and Steve shone with a great bass solo. Everybody soloed with great intesity. Freddy keeps his inside, but it was patently there.

A better review from Peter Fairman, our resident photographer: "Loud. Rocking.Swingin.Full on.In your face ...  One of our best gigs and they gotta come back.' BOOK EM, DANNO'".

Next week will be quieter, but no less good. Emilia Mårtensson has a truly beautiful voice, and uses it brilliantly to tell stories as she sings. The trio is pretty tasty too: Barry Green piano, Sam Lasserson bass and Adriano Adewale percussion. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 April 2014 - Barb Jungr and Simon Wallace
Barb Jungr declared at the beginning that this was not to be a jolly evening. After all, the lyricists were Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Well, Barb's stage presence is so compelling that it had its jolly moments, but the music was sublime.

Barb and Simon Wallace deconstructed, constructed and arranged all of the songs of the evening. She has thought deeply about the words, which she feels they  say something important about our current condition. Her control of dynamics and perfect articulation gives her a great range to use, and she used it. Up-tempo, very slow, didn't matter. Simon's pianism is amazing.

The addition of Dudley Phillips on bass gave the music a proper bottom. Dudley was clearly in the mind of his colleagues. He was so obviously enjoying the music, with a smile on his face through most of the evening.

I can't pick favourites from the set list. I was enthralled by them all. I feel truly sorry for you if you missed this gig, but there are two chances to hear it again. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk (thank you Steven Foster), and you can buy Barb's brilliant album "Hard Rain". In fact you can do that even if you were lucky enough to be there last night.

Next week: Direct (sort of) from their residency at Ronnie's, come Fletch's Brew, with Mark Fletcher drums, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Carl Orr guitar and Steve Pearce bass. Jazz power on its way to you.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 5 April 2014 - Tony Kofi and the Organisation
Tony Kofi plays a 1937 Conn Crossbar Baritone sax. It is even older than me! But oh! does he play that thing. He has amazing speed on upbeat numbers, and the sound on ballads is a delight. McCoy Tyner's "Search for Peace" was a fine example of beautiful ballad tone. Tony loves exciting runs of slowly modified repeating notes. So do I.

The sound of the baritone fits beautifully beside the sound of a Hammond organ, particularly when Pete Whittaker is driving it. He brought along a real vintage Leslie, and there is no sound like it.  You need a van as an accessory for it. Pete is a consummate  player, in solo and in close accompaniment.

We haven't heard Peter Cater in far too long. I guess he is known mostly as a big band drummer (he has his own, and plays in others). In a small group, the ideas flow and flow.

Pete, Peter and Simon Fernsby are a long established trio, with Simon as leader. Simon provided us with excellent work behind other solos, and some beautiful solos of his own.

I love watching Tony listen to other solos. He shows such pleasure in the music. Well, so did we, and a good size crowd, thank you. Luckily, Tony will be back towards the end of June with Basil Hodge.

Next week is pretty special. BBC Radio Suffolk is recording Barb Jungr's "Hard Rain" gig, the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Now that is a gig not to be missed.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 29 March 2014 - Renato D'Aiello International Quintet
Last nights gig was a marvel. There is a sour note, which I will leave to the end.

Our photographer wrote as he sent me the pictures:"What a gig last night. I thought I was at Ronnie Scotts. Wonderful stuff !! Renato we know .The rest unknown, but what musicians. Superb. Singer ? Well what can you say about him.He was absolutely on the button.
He was a class act indeed.For my money he was the best singer we have ever had.He really knows how to phrase a song. And the scat !! Well simply lost for words.More please "

Yup, that good. Renato D'Aiello's powerful weighty playing was often peppered with lines of quotes, which made everybody grin. Dario De Lecce played perfect bass accompaniment and interesting solos. Lionel Boccara played the room (the best compliment a sound guy can give), and I loved his solos which were played with a faulty tom on the kit, which is quite restricting.  On piano, Hiroshi Murayama has a light touch, amazing phrasing and huge invention.

For most of us, the evening was about the singer: Marc Thomas is truly superb. You hear something of Sinatra in the voice, then its Nat King Cole. In "Funny Valentine" it was clearly Marc Thomas, with perfect intonation, phrasing, dynamics. An upbeat "Another You" had the most amazing scat. Marc is a saxophonist, and it showed.

And they had so much fun together.

As did the audience, who listened attentively, and whooped and hollered their applause.. The pity was that there were so few of them.  The club provides world class music, but not everyone is a front page name. It is scary. Next week we have Tony Kofi, which Fleece Jazz audiences have acknowledged as being a master, very popular in past gigs. I hope we get a reasonable audience for him.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes 24 March 2014 - Ian Shaw
I was visiting my daughter over the weekend, and could not access my machines, and normally I would be a bit worried about remembering the gig well enough to write sensibly. This was an Ian Shaw gig. Absolutely no problem.

We start by asserting the obvious: the guy has fabulous control over the range, tone and dynamics of a terriffic voice. He is an excellent pianist. He also can tell a story, and some of them would be inadmissible in print out of the context of the gig. He would break into a lyric with a wisecrack that would collapse the house. The story about Mel Tormé in a piano bar....

The songs were chosen and arranged beautifully. We had "Ain't Necessarily So" as a rumba, the upbeat rudity of "Feet do your Stuff", Joni Mitchell at 17 and 50. He sang "Here's to Life", thinking about Shirley Horne., and his own "This Song is for You". His send-up of James Taylor was amazing.

There was the additional pleasure of a song by Trish Heenan. Nice surprise.

Then he was off to catch a plane: he is playing in a Zappa musical (how many singers can both handle Zappa's complexity and sing rock?). We will see him again soon.

Next week, a great quintet led by Renato D'Aiello, with an international band including Marc Thomas, a stunning French singer (singing in English).
See you there.

Take care
Dave




Dave's Notes, 8 March 2014 - RipRap Quartet
I just got the photo's from last nights gig from Peter Fairman. Peter said "Very good gig last night ... Superb musicians.
Herewith 8 photos in memory of an excellent gig.
Long live live jazz !!".
And so say all of us. The RipRap Quartet just had such a good time up there! Kevin Flanagan, David Gordon, Andrew Brown and Russ Morgan know each other very well, but the music came through as new. Watching them watch and listen to each other was a joy, and the audience was grinning with them.

The music was hugely varied. We had ballads, Like "Guadaloupe", with Andrew playing the standup bass as if it was a guitar. We had a wonderful bit of Bach, Some free jazz appeared, but this group is so together that the ideas fused. Russ has huge ears: his level was always perfect. His skill with sticks, bells, hands, brushes is a delight to watch.

I will go a long way to hear a David Gordon gig. He uses every bit of the piano, and the ideas tumble from his hands. Kevin loves McCoy Tyner, and he was superb on tunes referencing the great pianist, whether on tenor or soprano.

The soloing was great, but the ensemble work was what made it for me. Just one example: David and Andrew simultaneously  fugueing  at each other, with Kevin and Russ  supporting.

When people ask about favourite gigs, it is very hard not to say "the last one". No problem now: this one will stand in the memory.

Dave's Notes, 1 March 2014 - John Law's Boink!"
Last night, John Law, Rob Palmer  and the excellent young Lloyd Haines presented us with music out of the ordinary. Great musicianship is a given, of course, so I will talk a bit about the music and the presentation. Just to note that John played Korg and Yamaha keyboards, iPad and iPod, Rob played guitar and lots of stomp box effects, and Lloyd played totally acoustic drums.

John's wishes were that the only light on stage would be small music stand clip-on lights and the visual video presentation by Patrick Dunn. These were not canned videos. Patrick "played" the videos from a keyboard (and computer), each key triggering a different visual effect from the score of effects for that song. Most were of an abstract nature, sometimes augmented by the pulse and frequency of the music itself. Some were more programmatic: in "So Fast, So Good", it looked like driving against the traffic at speed on a rainy night.

Some of the music reminded me a bit of Phillip Glass, but being John, the odd fugue and other classical mechanisms appeared. Coltrane's "Naima" (all the rest were by John and  Rob) had an ambient feel, appropriate to that song.  "So Fast, So Good" used a baroque ground bass in 7/4 time.  "Jazz" in particular made excellent use of the electronics. It started out with crowd and traffic noises, overlaid with big band swing horns. The acoustic drums then slowly took over, and we were into the song.

I am proud that Fleece Jazz presents new music from time to time, and last night a, new presentation.. The music was not inaccessible, and the use of the visuals gave us a new way of experiencing it.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 22 February 2014 - Laura Zakian and her Trio
Laura Zakian's excellent gig last night was interesting from two points of view. Laura is a consummate musician and an excellent storyteller, who presents the songs simply to the audience - just enough information, and the odd anecdote. She brought with her a superb band.

The second interest for me were the arrangements, which varied from swing to very modern. One of her arrangers was her pianist, Steve Lodder. He is one of my top favourites as a player. He somehow pulls organ-like phrases from the piano, and throws in the odd fugue along the way. I particularly liked his arrangement of John Martin's "Sweet Little Mystery". Other arrangements were by Laura's husband ("for free", she said), and were enjoyed.

The most difficult and interesting arrangements were by the late Pete Saberton. "We'll Be Together Again" had the trio each playing in different time signatures. I loved it.

Only musicians like these can cope with that. Simon Thorpe and Nic France did more than cope, they lived it. They also had a great time trading 8s and 4s "follow that, mate" written on their faces. Good fun.

You will be able to judge for yourself in a week or three. We took a video on my mobile, and the sound is not bad at all, even though it is mono. I will set up a Fleece Jazz youtube channel and put it up, and tell you when it is ready.

Do come along to gigs. Laura and the trio deserved a much larger audience.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 15 February 2014 - The Ed Jones Quartet
Outside, the storm raged. Inside, the band played up a storm. You would expect no less from Ed Jones, Tom Cawley, Riaan Vosloo and Tim Giles. They gave us full measure.

They also made it so clear as to why we cry "keep it live". Ed seems to play with his entire body. It is as if he is controlling pitch of his tenor sax with knees and eyebrows. Sometimes, you can see a new idea coming when  he opens his eyes before a phrase, as if to say "ooh, that should be good". The ideas come in variations in  tune and rhythm. When not playing, he listens carefully to the band, smiling and nodding at particularly good bits.

Tim's listening is almost palpable. Even during drum solos, he can hear the other three come in with a bit of an idea, or a comp.

Riaan seems totally in the zone whether soloing or accompanying. He rarely uses the top register of the bass, but has such intonation control of the instrument and the possibilities of the chords that it doesn't matter.

Tom is on a bit of a season with us. He is coming later with Tammy Weis. Tom sings his solos, and seems to be playing even when he is not. His solo in the encore was spectacular. I thought we would need to buy a new piano stool, he bounced so much.

The CD's are excellent, but there is nothing like being there.

Next week: Laura Zakian and her trio. Her "Songs for Modern Lovers" album was highly praised. The trio is the amazing Steve Lodder on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Nic France on drums. I love Laura's singing, and I would come to a trio gig with those three any day. Too good to miss. No storms, no Valentines day to keep you away.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 February 2014 - The Green Quartet
Bryan Corbett and Chris Dodd build a duo album called "Green",  which got excellent reviews. The music last night was primarily from that album, but in quartet form. The musicianship of all four was exceptional. Bryan's technique on both trumpet and flugel was as good as you can get. Chris's bass work on both standup and bass guitar was delightful. We had Sean Hargreaves on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Simon Pearson on drums.

Two amazing things, at least to me. First Simon. He was a dep, and this was the first time he had seen or heard the music. After a shortish rehearsal, he was solidly part of the band. The music included rapid changes of time signature, and very specific endings, all of which he nailed. He carried extended offbeats through some of those changes. Every time I make comments like this, my wife says "it's practice". True, but perhaps talent is also a requirement. Still, it amazes me.

The second thing was a thing - a 40 year old Fender Rhodes in great condition, driving a valve Marshal amp, and overdriving sometimes. The feel of the keyboard (I was allowed to try it) is quite different from the piano, and Sean was expert on both, of course.. I had not realised what a versatile instrument the Rhodes was.

The music varied from lovely ballads, like their "Crystal Waters" to headbanging Black Sabbath work (Bryan is from Birmingham), with lots of solid bop in between.  It delighted a much too small audience.  

Next week, Ed Jones, with Tom Cawley piano, Tim Giles drums and Riaan Vosloo bass. It will be a joy.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 31 January 2014 - The Sue Richardson Quintet
Chet Baker led a difficult life, from childhood to his death. in 1988. Our leader last night, Sue Richardson, is fascinated by Chet, and produced an evening of excellent exposition and great music around his music. He didn't write much, but loved standards. We got his jail-cell music and the standards last night.

Sue is a fine trumpeter and flugelist, and an excellent singer. Add to this a good way with words and the talent to present them.  I noted particularly the phrasing and story-telling  when she sang  "Funny Valentine", and her playing on her own tune "On a moonbeam",  derived from three notes of one of the few songs Chet wrote. Many of the arrangements were taken from Chet, some were by her.

Chet often played with Gerry Mulligan, so it was appropriate that we had Richard Shepherd on baritone sax with us.  
The rhythm section was spot on, with husband Neal Richardson on piano, George Trebor on bass and Sam Glasson on drums.  Richard was dismissed for two numbers so that we could here the piano-less format Chet often used. It was great to hear that sound again.

Sue made sure to credit Sylvia Syms and Georgia Mancio for lyrics to some of the jail numbers, and help in other ways.

We thoroughly enjoyed this group, and I am sure they will be back.

Next week, more trumpetry, with the Green Quartet, which is driven by trumpeter Bryan Corbett and bassist Chris Dodd, with Sean Hargreaves on piano and keyboards and Mark Fletcher on drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 25 January 2014 - Katie Brown Quintet featuring Leon Greening
Last night, we had straightforward, exciting, accessible modern jazz of very high quality. The sax/trombone chorus has a lovely edgy quality. The programme was very well balanced.  The playing was great, the arrangements were good, and the musicians had a ball. A small audience loved the evening,

Why small? Perhaps because Katie Brown is not well known. She absolutely deserves to be. That she has complete command of the alto goes without saying. Her arrangements are excellent. She speaks to the audience simply and clearly. And she is such fun to watch when others are soloing: big grins, bounces, giggles, applause. The music was all standards with one exception. While waiting for a sax student who didn't show, she wrote "Playing Truant", an up-tempo delight. She has a great ballad touch as well.

Leon Greening had a stunning solo on that number. The man does not so much play the piano as inhabit it. Everybody starred on Horace Silver's "Metamorphosis", but Leon's solo will stand in the memory. He hears so well when accompanying, always adding and pushing the soloist.

Robbie Harvey can make his trombone sound like silk, smooth and enticing, and like a racing car, tough and spiky. From Julian Bury, we got the expected solid bass, and fine solos, but what a treat to get such accomplished bowed solos! On drums, we had Matt Home, depping for Steve Brown (who Katie drove to the airport yesterday morning). Matt was his usual exceptional engine room.

Next week we have the Sue Richardson Quintet featuring Karen Sharpe on sax, with Neal Richardson piano, George Trebar bass and Rod Youngs drums. Sue plays trumpet and flugel, and sings. Here reviews have been superb. You might not know about her, but you should really come and find out. You will not be disappointed.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 18 January 2014 - Simon Spillet Quintet - "Standard Miles"
You get four senior British jazzers steeped in the music, Henry Lowther, John Critchinson, Dave Green, and Trevor Tomkins, led by the excellent Simon Spillett, and what did they do?

They have fun! They showed us clearly they were having a great time, So did we.

They had a lot going for them. Firstly, great musicianship. Then the music: the band is called "Standard Miles", and the music was all jazz standards that Miles Davis made famous (or actually made, that became standards). The arrangements were the bands own take on the songs, not copies of Davis/Evans arrangements.

There was an exception to that. The encore was Davis's "All Blues". It was lovely to see the audience smile, lean forward after the first few notes of the song. When Henry's muted trumpet played its first bars, you could feel the pleasure from the audience.

I could go on for hours about John's amazing pianism and left hand, Henry's control and flow of ideas, Simon's power and gentleness, Dave's brilliance made to look easy, and Trevor playing the room, the music and the drive. I won't, but it is also nice to have a leader communicate so well with the audience.

My turn for sound. Poor Trevor had immense traffic problems and a bad tooth, go there late, so there was no sound check. With guys like these up there, you want to give them your best, so some tweaking was necessary at the beginning of the gig.  

They will be back again at the club.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 11 January 2014 - Cubana Bop Octet
I wish that we had had room for a dance floor last night. Cubana Bop was so infectious, that even a Fleece Jazz audience would have been bopping. But it was lovely to see such a big crowd for such a delicious gig.

Cubana Bop is led by Terry Seabrook from the piano, and all of the arrangements for the octet were his. He is an excellent player, but the arrangements just shine. He is in complete control of build, key changes, time signature changes, dynamics and use of the different tonal forces at his disposal.

And what forces! Lets start with the vocalists. Jo Marshal, who has worked with Swingle Singers, was outstanding. She sang "Besame Mucho", getting the passionate character just right. She sang "Night in Tunisia", getting the bebop just right. In both, she could also use her voice as an instrument with the rest of the band.

Paul Roberts divides his time between the UK and the American west coast, and gets rave reviews wherever he goes. He was lead singer for "The Stranglers", and has some amazing credits. His light baritone (that is range, not power: he has tons of power) has some Sinatra about it, but his phrasing is his own. His presentation is terrific. Both singers have fine articulation, and their duet work was special, and fun.

They did a few songs from "West Side Story". The singing was great, but the band accompaniment and soloing was exceptional as well. I loved Satin Singh's conga work, and his use of triangle and percussive bits on "A Boy like That" was special. Adam Riley on drums and timbales, and Davide Mantovani on bass were a great engine room.

The horn section was a delight in its own right. Shanti Jayasinha played trumpet and flugel, as well as slide trumpet (slumpet?). He is always value for money. Ian Price played tenor, clarinet and flute. On "I Feel Pretty", his flute work with Jo was very funny: we had a giggly audience. That tune went from 3/4 to 4/4 to something I couldn't count.  It was an example of Terry's good arranging.

Next week, Simon Spillett returns with his Standard Miles band, with Henry Lowther on trumpet, John Critchinson piano, Dave Green bass,  and Trevor Tomkins drums. Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 January 2014 - Jacqui Dankworth and her Trio
We needed a big gig to open our 2014 January to April season. We got one.

We had Jacqui Dankworth, with her pianist/fellow vocalist/arranger/husband Charlie Wood. We had Ollie Hayhurst on bass and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums. A big crowd left the gig floating.

Jacqui has a voice that can sound like silk velvet, a big dynamic range. She has terrific mic technique. But more importantly, two things: you can hear every word, and she is superb at story telling. In "Imagination", from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", you could see in your mind's eye the magic world.

In the second set, she sang her own lyrics to John Dankworth's theme to the "Tomorrow's World" programme. The words were taken from a nuclear physics dictionary, and you could hear each unfamiliar one. She knows how to have fun, too. One complaint. String Theory is not clear, even to people working in the field.

Charlie's piano and arrangements were excellent complements to the singer. There was only one duet (a pity, he has a great voice),

Ollie is always a welcome friend at our gigs. His playing is not visually spectacular. It is just accurate, perfect timing and intonation, interesting solos. Seb as well is an old friend of the club. He has a lot of fun on the kit, using his mouth as a resonator with the sticks, and great use of silence. Both of them were deps, but you could never tell from their playing.

So we opened the year with a stunningly good gig, and there will be many more such to follow. Consider next week, when we have Cubana Bop, an octet playing Latin music, with Terry Seabrook piano, Satin Singh congas, Adam Riley drums, Shanti Jayasihna trumpet, Ian Price flute/sax/clarinet, Davide Mantovani bass, Jo Marshall vocals and Paul Roberts vocals. Don't miss it.

Take care, and a happy, healthy and musical New Year to you all.

Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 December 2013 - Derek Nash's Sax Appeal
Even the sound check was worth the entrance fee to this gig to end our 2013 season.
Derek Nash's Sax Appeal appealed to a big crowd of very happy people. Eight great musicians had the best time, so so did we.  I will just name them, and pick out a couple of highlights. We had Derek on alto and soprano, Brandon Allen on tenor, Simon Allen on tenor, Scott Garland on alto, Bob McKay on baritone, flute and piccolo, Pete Adams on Piano, Phil Scragg on electric and semi-acoustic bass, and Nic France on drums. And I should mention Gerry doing an excellent job on the sound desk: not an easy gig get good sound from.

I am going to miss lots of great stuff, but what caught the eye and ear and stays in the memory were...
Bob's range on the baritone, high and low, soft and tough.
Phil's solo using all the stomp boxes. My daughter said it was Hendrix on bass.
The two disparate personalities of Derek and Scott trading 4's.
Pete killing the piano with boogie woogie.
The Allen's soloing.
Nic's appropriate power.

And the fun. Derek said "Give me an A to tune my soprano". Pete gave him an a A. Simon piped in with an A flat. Bob contributed a B. The rest joined in with cacophony. The magic was that the soprano got tuned.

The music ranged around the world, and through many years of Sax Appeal recording. Some is from a CD to be released in February, so watch out for that.

Next week: who better to start the new year than with Jacqui Dankworth, and Charlie Wood, with Geoff Gascoyne and Mike Smith to back them up. Don't miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 December 2013 - Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione
Just the names, Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione should tell you that it was a great gig.

The material was mostly written by Sarah Jane and Antonio on their second get together after deciding that they could pair for some gigs. Antonio thought that this was such a good idea that he had already booked a gig. They did a couple of Sarah Jane's more familiar songs, and Antonio did some solo guitar work.

If you don't know Sarah Jane, then I cannot describe her baritone voice, presentation and style to you. She is truly a force of nature. So I will speak about Antonio, who we haven't seen for many years.

Technique. All of them. He plucks, strums, hammers, drums, plectrum. All in place and all note and groove perfect. He has an array of stomp boxes and other kit, but he uses this very subtly. An example: he will lower the bottom string into the bass range. Sometimes he will augment with a bass doubler (adding a bit of an octave lower), and sometimes he won't. Very subtle but important differences in the bass are heard. It was amusing to me that the first use of plectrum was in the solo, "Al Hambra", but beautiful, hugely polyphonic and very Spanish.

We had a big crowd who loved the gig (as did I), and had a chance to thank Stephen Foster of BBC Radio Suffolk for his help in promoting the club.

And next week: come to the kind of party that only Derek Nash can bring. 5 saxes, piano, bass, drums, and you, I hope.

Take care and have an excellent holiday,

Dave

Dave's notes, 7 December 2013 - Heads South
Our chair, Michael, began the proceedings with the announcement that Stan Tracey had passed away after a long illness. He asked for a round of applause from the audience for this great British and world musician. The band was on-stage, and the applause from all was long and heart-felt.

It was then up to the band, "Heads South", to make us happy again, and they truly did. The music was primarily Cuban in style, but drew from Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and the USA as well.

The percussionist, Chino Martell Morgan, and the drummer Buster Birch, were in each other's heads throughout the evening. Although they did a lot of trading, it wasn't competitive, but supportive. Chino's hands moved like lighting across bongos, congas and cajon, and Buster traversed his large drum kit with alacrity. They were as enjoyable to watch as they were to hear.

Any gig containing Steve Waterman will be a joy. His playing is just so inventive and passionate - perfect for this music. He must be very fond of it as well, because he has written a suite, the "Conga Suite", part of which we heard in the second set. I will be buying the whole suite. It was quite amazing.

Adolphredo Polido is a superb electric bass guitarist,. The music is part of his soul as well, and that came across clearly. During "Besame Mucho", he gave us a lyrical solo intro. His solo in that number showed his speed across the 5 strings and whole fingerboard. Lovely stuff.

The arrangements were primarily by the leader, John Harriman, who used his Nord Stage 2 rather than our piano. He needed good visual contact with all the band, and the upright would have made that impossible.  He used the keyboard's very good piano and organ to great effect, both in support and soloing. It was nice to have clear notions of composers and other information about the songs.

This was a gig thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

There is no gig next week, but the formidable Sarah Jane Morris with Antonio Fortione on guitar, will be with us on Friday 20 December, followed by Sax Appeal (with 5 saxes, lead by Derek Nash) on the 27th. See you there.

Take care,

Dave

John's notes, 30 November 2013 - Nick Page Quartet
Last night we saw the Fleece Jazz debut of guitarist Nick Page. However it felt much more like a reunion with an old friend. This may have been helped by the very familiar supporting band of David Newton, Arnie Somogyi and Clark Tracey, all great friend of the Fleece, and craftsmen of the highest order. However there is no denying the undemonstrative charm of Nick himself and his extremely attractive, very listenable playing.

His reputation came before him, so thanks to Gilad Atmon and Alan Skidmore, especially, for their recommendations. Nick, who is self taught, is indeed an undiscovered gem, who delivers familiar songs with an uplifting freshness, and beautiful, melodic, lyricism with every note confidently and perfectly delivered. There were fleeting references to other tunes, but no roller-coaster of emotions, instead he created a warm, comfortable build up of delight in the music. No need for pyrotechnics, this was gentle but profound appreciation of great melodies. He played off the Gershwins against Cole Porter, and we all won. Nick also told three cracking jokes!

This band was so perfectly in tune with each other, one might have believed they always play together. True professionalism radiated from the stand: Arnie switched off his sometimes anarchic and subversive impulses (essential to his Charles Mingus project) and delivered an assured and often gently lyrical contribution. He looked so very much at home in his blue cardigan; he could have been wearing carpet slippers! Dave Newton swings like a kitten in a hammock. His relaxed style belies the wealth of work which goes into creating inventive, polished phrase after phrase, and all whilst having FUN! He concluded the final number with just enough of Jingle Bells to make the whole band and audience grin broadly. Clark played with subtlety, and his usual intelligence, to underpin the whole delightful experience. With him behind the kit there was no chance that the night would not swing!

Two observations help to capture the evening. Firstly, there was another "function" band playing in the venue that night. Two band members came and watched as much as they were able, one confiding he could listen to Nick all night. He had to be dragged away to play his own set. Secondly, as I looked around the room, everyone's heads were gently nodding in time, and everyone was smiling. Hooray for swinging jazz!

The evening was full of reunions with old friends, but nothing stale about it. S'Wonderful was wonderful, I Loves You Porgy delightful, and Weaver of Dreams particularly struck me as simply sublime. All in all, we had a blissfully pleasant evening, relaxing, swinging and thoroughly enjoyable. If you have not seen Nick Page yet, you really out to seek him out.


Dave's Notes, 23 November 2013 - Saxophone Giants
It is no exaggeration to say that the Saxophone Giants gig last night will stand in the memory for a very long time. Put it another way. My wife and I had been in NYC a month ago, at the great clubs. I felt we were back there.

This was jazz at the highest level, technically and musically. The band gave us a history of some shining lights, They started with Jean Toussant, playing the Coleman Hawkins arrangement of "Body and Soul" from 1930  They moved through time,  Jean and Keith Loftis playing individually and together, up through John Coltrane, till we reached Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. Peter King would have said they played their asses off. Each evoked the player they were honouring. Each was their own musician, in tone and riff.

Mark Lewandowski on bass was new to us. He seems a quiet man, but plays with a passion and huge technique. Dave Hamblett on drums sat straight on his throne, watching the others like a hawk, and playing and soloing beautifully.

Also new to us was 20 year old pianist, Reuben James. He was a revelation.  Long series of ideas flowed and flowed. He has huge dynamics, plays very rich and very sparse, Looking at his body language, he is thinking musically even when he is not playing. He uses  the piano: the sustain, of course, but the sustenuto, which hold individual notes in sustain, and unusually, the soft pedal, to change the tone of the piano. The latter got a real workout.

There was dancing. Keith was dancing quietly while Jean or Reuben were playing, Jean was dancing quietly while others played. Reuben danced all the time, sitting on his bench.

Yes, it is true. If the musicians are having a good time, we will have a good time. We had a wonderful time, and the audience left glowing.

Next week, a star guitarist, Nick Page, brings with him president David Newton piano, Arnie Somogyi bass and Clark Tracy drums. Don't miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 18 November 2013 - London Klezmer Quartet
It has been a very busy two weeks, with four gigs instead of the usual weekly gig. It culminated in a sell-out doozy from the London Klezmer Quartet. This world class band entertained us royally.

They were Ilana Cravitz violin, Susi Evans clarinet, Carol Isaacs accordion and Rupert Gillett bass. All of them have reputations in the top end of other music spheres as well, classical, popular, and contemporary. The musicianship was superb. One small example: I happened to see Susi circular breathing. She did it almost invisibly, not as an effect. She just needed to hold a note for 10 bars.

Klezmer is the music of Eastern European jews, but it has a healthy second home in New York. Some of the work was written or arranged by the band members, some of it was original. It looks like Colchester and Stoke by Nayland could become homes as well.

The gig was in aid of Colchester and District Jewish Community. It was good to see so many people not of the community.

CDJC would like to thank all who worked towards making this gig a success. There was Ruth and Roy, Dave and Gerry, the Fleece committee, a great audience and 4 top drawer musicians.

This Friday, a saxophone feast with Sax Giants, who are Keith Loftis saxophone, Jean Toussaint saxophone, Reuben James piano, Alex Davis bass and Dave Hamblett drums. Unmissable.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 16 November 2013 - Matt Ridley Trio with Jason Yarde
When Roberta and I were in NYC at Dizzy's (Jazz at Lincoln Center), I was asked by a band member who played at our club. She ran her eye down the list and said, "Oooh, you get Jason Yarde".

We do indeed, and a great evening with him, and the Matt Ridley Trio. This was an evening of new music by Matt, who led from the bass. It varied from the lyrical to the aesthetic, from Bach inspired to Azerbaijan,  from raucous to melancholy (but not bathos). He has great fun with cross-rhythms and polyrhythms. There is plenty of space for solos. They played late, and the small crowd clamoured for an encore, and rightly so. This was contemporary jazz at a very  high level, both in playing and composition.

The four make a very tight band. The drummer, Nick Smalley, was excellent. He uses all the tools an lots of toys, and is superb with mallets. In the lyrical "Strange Meeting", he showed his hand skill.

Matt is an excellent bassist, and amazing time-keeper. Why mention this? Well, in the "Sid Harper" suite that ended the first set, he was working in 3/4 against 5/4 in the piano, sax and drums.

Jason Yarde's solos in that suite were huge. He has great speed, and range of dynamics on both the soprano and alto saxes. In "Bride in a Yellow Dress", an Azerbaijani number, he moved from lyrical to almost violent in his solo.

I love John Turville's playing. He is so strong in the left hand. In "Strange Meeting", the right hand reminded me of Evans.

This was an evening of non-trivial music, and may not have been to everyone's taste. To me and to the audience, it was a joy.

On Sunday, we have something else different. The London Klezmer Quartet plays Fleece Jazz at 3pm. Only a few tickets left for that.

And next week, Saxophone Giants, with Keith Loftis saxophone, Jean Toussaint saxophone, Reuben James piano, Alex Davis bass and Dave Hamblett drums. This is really an unmissable gig, folks.

Take care,
Dave




Dave's Notes, 11 November 2013 - DIVAS' DAY
How can one condense such an amazing day into a few words? The names of the performers themselves illuminate the message: Fleece Jazz's Divas' Day was a great success, musically, attendance wise, and even gastronomically (the buffet was excellent).

So lets turn on the illuminations. Barb Jungr opened proceedings with some of her lovely Dylan work. She was accompanied by Jenny Carr on piano and vocals. Barb then sang with Mari Wilson, using material from their "Woman to woman" show. Mari then did a lovely set with Jenny on piano.

Jenny also accompanied Sarah Moule, an amazing jazz singer.

Next on stage was the delightful Tina May, accompanied by David Newton. David remained on stage to receive the honourary presidency of our club, and a caricature (5, actually) by our resident artist, Doug Page.

Time to eat, breath, and do the raffle.

Sarah Gillespie accompanied herself on guitar, but for the last part of the set, she invited Kate Shortt to join her on cello. This was a song Kate had never heard, and there was no chart, but half a chorus in, and she had it, and was amazingly, soloing soon after that.  Sarah must have been channelling Janet Joplin.

Kate did the next set, a solo cello performance, quite lovely.

Gil Manly has a beautiful voice, and sang her set with huge dynamic range and passion. She was accompanied by David.

Kate popped up again to do her sit down comedy act. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to diddle my knobs (sound tech joke). What does a cello sound like. A penguin? A guitar?

David Newton accompanied the last two singers, as inventive with them as he was in the afternoon. First up was Georgia Mancio, singing in English and Italian (a subset of the languages she is fluent in), and whistling several choruses along the way.

We finished with Claire Martin, who performed with her usual power and subtlety when needed. What a send-off to a day I will never forget. Has there been before in this country a day of such exceptional vocal luminaries?

"Luminary" is a better term than "Diva", because all reported that old friends met and new friends were made. So Sarah Gillespie's definition of Divas together as "nine women, one mirror" was not correct.

Short biogs of the musicians are on our website, and an album of photographs will be available soon.

Thanks to everybody, Stu on lights, the committee, Dougy, JJ, everybody how helped. Eternal thanks to the light shone by our singers and players.

And thank you to 250 people who turned out to share this great day. I hope they note that every Friday (and the odd Sunday) we host similarly high quality music. For example...

On Friday, Matt Ridley brings his Quartet, featuring Jason Yarde, not to be missed, and
on Sunday at 3pm, the London Klezmer Quartet performs for us.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 9 November 2013 - Josh Kemp Quartet
This will be a quick note as we are gearing up for tomorrow. It deserves a better writeup, because it was a most enjoyable gig.

Josh Kemp had his debut at the club last night, with Tim Lapthorn on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and most of Matt Skelton on drums (about which more later). The music was standards and a few originals from his albums, and one from a future album. The arrangements for the standards and the originals were interesting and fresh, and the playing was excellent.

Matt suffered the worst journey to us. He arrived towards the end of the first set, having braved accidents on M25 and A12, and the complete closure of the north circular. He was hugely apologetic, but had no need to be, hardly his fault. The band played in trio form till he arrived, and Matt did the quickest drum setup I have ever seen, and played at his usual very high level (skill and feeling, that is. Matt is never too loud).

So we had a trio for the first bit, which was good fun. The first of Josh's originals, "Toothless" was melodic and had fascinating cross-rhythms. They ended the set with (what is the antonym of homage?) a disrespect of Blair, very funny.

Tim was his usual wonder, whole body piano playing. Mick is in the top drawer of fine bassists. Lots of vocal enjoyment of his colleagues.

Josh writes well, lyrically and accessibly. His tenor tone is big, but can be balledic, and the passion that he plays with is evident.  This was an excellent gig (and a reasonable crowd.

Speaking of crowds, tomorrow's Divas' Day gig only has a few tickets left, so rush to get those.

And Friday next has the return of Matt Ridley, with Jason Yarde sax, John Turville piano and Nick Smalley drums, Matt leading from the bass. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 2 November 2013 - Alex Hutton Trio
One of our audience said after the gig that it was a pity that there was such a small group to hear such a great gig. And it was an excellent evening.

There were a few standards, but some of the music was from his newest and excellent CD "Legentis". The music varied from deeply introspective through joyous swing to hugely cinematic (yes , Virginia, a piano trio can do these things). Alex Hutton plays delicately, or with great power, but always with passion. The most cinematic number was "JJ" from the second set, which opens the "Legentis" CD. I felt I could see the fight and the car chase and the love scene...

Stu Ritchie has not played for us for far too long. He uses tons of toys and gadgets, but appropriately and sparsely. He also can follow the "less is more" principle, or provide great power, somehow without overwhelming volume.

Watching the technique of Yuri Goloubev was fascinating. He uses a bow like he actually enjoys using it, with cello-like sequences. (Stu sometimes competed with a bow on his cymbals). He uses all of the fingers on his left hand to pluck the strings, and is as comfortable in the world of harmonics as in the bottom of the range. The very high notes were clear and clean. Without the passion, it is just technique. Yuri has both.

So how do you follow a gig like that? Well, on Friday next, we have the Josh Kemp Quartet, with Josh on saxophone, Tim Lapthorn on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Matt Skelton on drums. We are probably recording this first gig on an extensive tour, so come and be part of it.

And just two days later, on Sunday at 2pm, a spectacular afternoon and evening of vocal music from the best of singers. It will be a spectacular day. As an added incentive, the hotel will be selling their excellent buffet, and we will be inaugurating the presidency of the honourable (small 'h') David Newton. This is a benefit gig for the club, so see you there.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 26 October 2013 - Ollie Howell Quintet
If there is a thing musicians who play for us hate, it is the A12. Due to an accident, they didn't arrive until just after 8pm. They set up quickly and gave us a stunning gig.

They are the Ollie Howell Quartet. Ollie led from the drums, and we had some standards and his own compositions. He has a great sense of melody and (of course) rhythm, and his tunes are pretty well hummable. That doesn't mean they were weak on  content. The last number of the second set, "High Victory" had haunting melodies. They were written in hospital where he was enduring neurosurgery. Gosh.

This is a young band, the oldest being 28, but the playing was mature and solid. Ollie is a superb drummer, pulling fascinating tonalities out of the kit. Matt Robinson on piano is of the "right number of notes" school, as Stan Tracey would say. I loved the duet between him and Duncan Eagles on tenor. Duncan solos with his whole body, good to watch.

Mark Perry's trumpet playing is clean and clear. Max Luthert was on bass. In the introduction to the beautiful "For Anya", he soloed. He used gentle slurs to perfection.

So we had a great evening. We were short on staff, as our helpers (my mate Gerry being unavailable) were JJ and Dougy, and Dougy went home ill. I understand he is ok now. After the gig, many people from the audience pitched in to help put the stuff away from the Devora Suite, piano, sound monster, speakers, lighting, on and on. We are very grateful for their help.

The lighting in Devora is pretty crap. I hope Peter Fairman will be able to get some decent photos.

We have some great gigs coming up. Next week, the delightful Alex Hutton brings his piano trio with Yuri Goloubev and Stu Ritchie. And don't forget the amazing Divas' Day on Sunday 10th November.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 20 October 2013 - Roger Beaujolais Quartet
I am back to do these notes, from a wonderful holiday in NYC. We saw some great jazz, but after last night, I am just so happy to be associated with this club.

Roger Beaujolais never disappoints. Part of that is the range  of people he has worked with. While we were rigging, we were playing a Slim Gaillard disc, and Roger said "I played with him", and had a story or three. On the instrument, he is a master. I particularly loved the ballad work. Thad Jones's "A Child is Born" was delicate, moving, hold your breath stuff to listen to.

Robin Aspland uses his left hand to vary cross-rhythms and other inventions, surprising but always just right. I love trading: he and Roger had a great time trading 4's.

Musicians get into each others minds, but it was particularly evident between Simon Thorpe on bass and Winston Clifford on drums. Simon was soloing and Winston was accompanying, and both were grinning like mad men. Winston's own soloing is  stunning, whether stick, bundle, hand or brush, is amazing.

Roberta and I loved New York, We are home, now, and happy to be back at this club where great music lives. Pretentious? Maybe, but that is how it felt on Friday night.

Next week, in the Devora Suite, we have The Ollie Howell Quintet, with Ollie on drums, Matt Robinson on piano, Duncan Eagles on saxophone, Mark Perry on trumpet and Max Luthert on bass. More great music for you.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 September 2013 - Liam Noble Quintet
I was expecting the Liam Noble Quintet to play stuff from his Brubeck album, but we actually got a group of his own extended compositions. They were stunning. We had intensity and lightness, changes in tempi, time signature and groove, and that was in each tune. It is a pity the CD was not available.

The instrumentation was Liam Noble on piano, Chris Batchelor on trumpet and cornet, Shabaka Hutchings on tenor sax and the only metal clarinet I have ever seen, Dave Whitford on bass and Dave Wickens on drums and lots of hitty things.

My favourite tune was "essays in idleness", very Zen, funny in places, with terrific opportunities for slow, gentle solos: a difficult art beautifully done by each. Liam has an interesting take on tune names. The last tune of the set was called "Ask your Mother". I love his playing - real one buttock stuff, you can see the energy.

Dave Wickens is always interesting, and last night he was especially so. The kit is small, but the extras; bits of metal, whizzy things, bamboo, hand cymbals, all were used seamlessly in the music. The texture range is immense. For those pieces that needed it, his straight forward kit drumming was excellent.

The two horn players were on top form, and Dave Whitford was spot on as well. This was a fine evening of contemporary music.

Next week, we are joined by Julian Argüelles and his Quartet:: Julian is on saxophone, Kit Downes on piano, Sam Lasserson on  bass and James Maddren on  drums. This will be a good one, folks.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 September 2013 - Esther Bennett
One of the joys of Fleece Jazz is that it is a place where musicians can take risks. They can try something new, do it in a different way, and know that if it doesn't come off, it doesn't matter, we love the attempt. Only really good musicians can do this.

Esther Bennett is a risk taker and a superb communicator with the audience and with her musicians. The risks she took last night worked very well. Latin rhythms were done bebob, ballads were done samba (uptempo "Lover Man"). Her cues to the musicians are not subtle, which is great because it lets the audience in to the process.

Many of the songs were by Duncan Lamont, who has written hundreds, sung and played by the greats of the business. My favourite was "I Told You So", in which Ollie Hayhurst had a stunning solo, followed by he and Esther trading 8s. Duncan  has a lovely tone on his tenor horn, and great speed when he wants it. He also tells good stories about the songs and the fascinating people who have used them.

John Crawford is a stunningly good pianist with a huge dynamic range. Steve Taylor is an excellent drummer: lots  of great riffs in the solos and sensitive accompaniment.

Next week is a treat: Liam Noble's "Brother Face" Quintet has been gathering excellent reviews. We have With Liam on piano, Chris Batchelor trumpet, Shabaka Hutchings reeds, Dave Whitford bass, Dave Wickens drums and percussion. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

We are placing Dave's gig notes on this page, and on facebook
along with other news

Dave's Notes, 14 September 2013 - Chris Biscoe Quartet
We are just so lucky as a jazz club to attract musicians who week after week supply us with such pleasure. Last night was special, particularly if you love the work of Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus.

Chris Biscoe  brings with him a settled band, all of whom know each other and the music well: but the music sounded fresh and new. . We had Chris on alto sax, alto flute and alto clarinet, Tony Kofi on alto and tenor sax, Larry Bartley on bass and Stu Butterfield on a lovely woody drum kit. You will notice that there is not a chordal instrument in sight.

In fact, the first number (the first set was dedicated to Dolphy), we started out with unaccompanied solos from each of the band. They played during the evening in all 15 combinations: in the second set, Tony and Stu went into a very fast and pretty spectacular duet on a Mingus number.

The horn choruses between Chris and Tony were beautiful. Each has a pretty recognizable tone, but lots of variation on it.  Stu did some excellent soloing work, and he is one of those drummers with  huge ears - his volume is always spot on, and his emphasis always matches the rest of the musicians.

There is a joke about "it's the bass solo, lets talk". Not when Larry is playing, ever. His last solo had Tony with a huge grin on his face, and the rest of us with our mouths open. I guess we had a chordal instrument after all. I can't describe what he did, but it was a bit like the bass and cello section of an orchestra.

So thanks, guys for a stunning evening. Next week should be pretty tasty too, with the excellent singer, Esther Bennett, with John Crawford piano, Duncan Lamont sax, Steve Taylor drums and Ollie Hayhurst bass. They will be playing work from Duncan's very large opus.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes Delayed, 7 and 9 September 2013 - Liane Carroll
I am off to see my darling daughter in a bout 5 minutes, so I will write stuff about last night's gig with Peter's photos on Tuesday.

Except to say: it was Liane Carroll. Solo. Wonderful pianism, great and passionate singing, and some terrific stories. One to remember.

Just back from visiting daughter, and pretty tired, but not to tired to recall Liane Carroll's stunning solo gig on Friday.

John said "It was a great night. full of interesting, silly, delightful off the cuff asides, delightful playing and singing with occasional improvised scat coughing and delightfully unexpected segues (some surprising and delighting Liane Carroll herself!). Above all it was great music, sincerely delivered and it was FUN. Liane we love you."

Oh, we do. I do not understand why she says she is not a 'real' pianist. I love her playing, soloing, and of course the accompaniment. She is just about the best singer about. Good combination, and her arranging skills get the best of both talents and of the song.

Add to that surprising stories. I am still bemused about singing "Don't Blame Me" to John Prescott at an awards ceremony. Or falling out of bed and hurting her leg while sober and alone.

Peter Fairman has come up trumps with some photos. I hope you enjoy them.

Take care,
Dave


Earlier notes are available


Peter King has written an excellent autobiography, chronicling the music, the drugs, the opera and more. It is filled with stories about the musicians you love.
It can be bought at Amazon, Waterstones and others.
Autobiographies are sprouting like roses in the spring. The much missed Michael Garrick had written "Dusk Fire" which is available at www.amazon.co.uk or waterstones.co.uk.
I had a grand time reading the stories, the facts, the opinions, the poetry, the music education and politics. I admit to being delighted to find myself (Dave) on page 178, nicely spoken of, but transmuted south of the Canadian border.