Thoughts on Art Themen Trio: Dizzy Moods, 23 November 2022

When Art Themen, Pete Whittaker and George Double roll into the club we are always due for a treat. Last night they caught fire and produced a wonderful evening.

I will get to the music in a moment, but it is important to note that presentation is an important part of entertainment. Art’s acerbic comments in his bass voice about his colleagues and other comments were very funny. Who thought of Pete as being a serious ecclesiastic? More importantly, he told us simply and accurately the names and (a few times with help), their composer. Thank you.

And one cannot forget George’s passionate peroration for purchasing CDs. 

There is something classic about the organ trio: in this case, organ, drums and Art’s tenor and soprano sax. Oh and claves, see Which, of course annoys George, he is the percussionist, who feels that Art is sticking it to him. All good fun.

I loved every bit of this gig, but Ibraham’s “Water from an Ancient Well” will stand in my mind.

Steve has produced the annotated set list.

  1. Hanky Panky (Dexter Gordon
  2. Sweet Emma (Nat Adderley) 
  3. Brahms . . . I Think (Zoot Sims) Zoot’s tune is actually based on Ständchen, a love song by Schubert embellised by Liszt; suggesting Zoot’s apparent uncertainty when naming the tune was the result of his being “Brahms and Liszt”.
  4. Mad About The Boy (Noel Coward) is about the female adulation heaped upon the 1930s Hollywood matinée idol, Tyrone Power.  This version was influenced by Bobby Wellins who played it as a bossa nova.
  5. The Cape Verde Blues (Horace Silver)
  6. Bye, Bye Blackbird (Henderson/Dixon)
  7. Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn)
  8. Laying Eggs (Dick Crouch) gives full rein to George in funkster mode

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Captain Bacardi (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 
  2. Dizzy Moods (Charles Mingus) a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, based on his composition “Wouldn’t You?”
  3. Water From An Ancient Well (Abdullah Ibrahim)
  4. I’m an Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer) 
  5. The Ruby and The Pearl (Nat King Cole)
  6. Soppin’ The Biscuit (Roy Hargrove)
  7. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (Maschwitz & Sherwin)
  1. Chilli Peppers (Duke Pearson)

     Encore: Tea For Two (Youmans & Caesar)

On Wednesday, 26 April, Alex Clarke Quartet – £18

Alex Clarke Saxophones/Flute

Rob Barron Piano

Dave Green Double Bass

Clark Tracey Drums

“strong and full sound .  .  .  .  swinging, melodic and refreshingly cliché-free . . . . leaves the listener captivated by every phrase and nuance.”     Jazz Views

As a finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2020, winner of the Rising Star category in the 2019 British Jazz Awards and nominee in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2021, Alex Clarke is known to be one of the most in-demand and versatile young saxophonists emerging on the British jazz scene.  

Praised for her extensive repertoire and intelligent ear for harmony, she brings a youthful, intuitive approach which sounds authentic in a variety of musical settings from New Orleans to bebop. Alex’s musical voice is steeped in the tradition of jazz; her deep respect for the heritage of the music can be heard in a swinging, melodic approach reminiscent of Scott Hamilton and Lester Young, with strong influences of Phil Woods and Cannonball Adderley.  

As well as leading her own projects, Alex works with local bands and house rhythm sections up and down the country, performing alongside notable names such as Roy Williams, Bruce Adams, Enrico Tomasso, Gilad Atzmon, Greg Abate and Art Themen.  Her quartet is completed by a top-flight rhythm section: Rob Barron on piano, Dave Green on double bass and Clark Tracey at the drums, a veritable ‘who’s who’ of British jazz.

“One of the U.K.’s finest young jazz talents.” The Jazz Rag


On Wednesday 22 February Tommaso Starace’s “Power of Three” – £18

Tommaso Starace Sax

Jim Watson Piano

Luke Fowler Bass

“This is the sound of a trio having ‘serious fun’ and that sense of enjoyment readily transmits itself to the listener.” Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann

Born in Milan, Tommaso Starace first came to the UK in 1995 to study jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire, before undertaking post-graduate studies at the Guildhall in London. He has led working bands in both Britain and Italy and has recorded albums with both. 

Tommaso’s latest project represents a return to roots and getting back to basics with all three players recording as in a jam session, in the same room at the same time, allowing greater interaction between the musicians, the true “Power Of Three.” As Tommaso explains: “I wanted to explore a more intimate setting .  . . . the trio setting allowed all instruments to be lead players, stretching out and aiming to be more adventurous in improvisation.”

Of the trio’s choice of material Starace comments; “The choice of music was also important to me. I wanted to include a variety of styles from past to present composers, as well as music not confined to the jazz tradition.”  Among the composers featured are the late Ennio Morricone, Bobby Timmons, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Michel Petrucciani and Charlie Parker.

“It was good to hear Tommaso in a trio setting .  .  .  .  giving full reign to his improvisational talents. Combined with this were the sometimes-explosive skills of the wonderful pianist Jim Watson providing some sizzling solos with Tommaso throughout the two sets, making it a stimulating concert.” Review of a gig at Chichester Jazz Club, Oct, 2022

On Wednesday, 12 April, The Alan Barnes/Andy Panayi Sextet – £22

Alan Barnes Alto Sax

Andy Panayi Tenor Sax

Robby Robson Trumpet

John Donaldson Piano

Simon Thorpe Bass

Pete Cater Drums

Alan Barnes has been at the forefront of British jazz since 1980 and his musicianship and sense of humour have made him hugely popular in jazz clubs and festivals across the UK and beyond. He is best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone saxes, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with outstanding musical expression.

Andy Panayi is an exceptionally gifted musician, skilled in performance, composition and arranging. He plays all the flutes and all the saxophones and currently leads his own groups, both jazz and classical. He also writes commissioned works and compositions & arrangements for his own ensembles.

They first played together more than three decades ago, and since then have both gone on to be multi-award winners.

This sextet plays post-bop tunes from a golden era of jazz, including some from the 1959 album ‘The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago’ (re-released in 1964 as ‘Cannonball and Coltrane’), and John Coltrane’s album ‘Blue Trane’ from 1957.

On Wednesday 22 March The Oddgeir Berg Trio – £18

Oddgeir Berg Piano

Audun Ramo Bass

Lars Berntsen Drums

“A piano trio to get truly excited about, a trio for the new millennium”

– **** Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Jazz trios named after the piano player give certain expectations, be it Horace Silver and his tender “Que Pasa” or Esbjørn Svensson and his Northern sounds; clarity and intimacy are common to these, with a hint of tonal melancholy.  These characteristics also present with Oddgeir Berg Trio, who are clearly familiar with a Scandinavian jazz tradition. 

The trio’s sound has been called “withdrawn and cinematic.” In this aspect they share a characteristic with another Norwegian piano group, the Tord Gustavsen Trio. A notable difference is Oddgeir Berg Trio’s more effusive embrace of electronics, which adds to the cinematic and atmospheric aspect of the sound. 

The trio has some other tricks up its sleeve though, most importantly an urgency for action, pace and adventure.   Here the Oslo based trio has more in common with Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson than Scandinavia’s Jan Johannson. The love of jazz and blues drive Audun Ramo’s double bass and the propulsive drum sound of Lars Bentsen energetically support Oddgeir Berg’s playing. Berg’s curiosity in experimenting with Wurlitzer\Rhodes and synthesizer sounds sneaks into the soundscape and lends a distinctive colour to the sound panorama.

“Electroacoustic jazz with one leg in melancholy and the other in ecstasy.”

On Wednesday, 8 March, Simon Thorpe’s “Jivin’ Miss Daisy” – £25

Simon Thorpe Bass

Enrico Tommaso Trumpet

Malcolm Earl Smith Trombone/Vocals

Mark Crooks Sax/Clarinet

Alex Garnett Sax/Clarinet

Colin Oxley Guitar

John Pearce Piano

Matt Skelton Drums

Liz Fletcher Vocals

Jivin’ Miss Daisy is an amazing band with lots of energy and the best songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and many, many more from the wonderful age of swing, jazz and jive.

Bass player Simon Thorpe established Jivin’ Miss Daisy in 1999.  Since then the band has gone from strength to strength . You can be sure Jivin’ Miss Daisy will have the audience dancing, partying or just singing along. JMD play your choice of classic songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter and Ellington through to Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

What an amazing lineup! Nine superb musicians that we know well and love, ready to jive you with pleasure.

“Cheery vocals…good-time feeling…strong soloists…this band should put smiles on plenty of faces!” – Jazz UK Magazine

On Wednesday, 8 February, Dave Lewis’ 1UP Band – £20

Dave Lewis' 1UP Band

Dave Lewis Tenor sax

Al Cherry Guitar

Robin Aspland Piano

Neville Malcolm Bass

Rod Youngs Drums

Lizzie Dean Vocals

“.  .  .  It’s a real treat  .  .  .  tight chunky grooves and very exciting and funky sax .  .  .  . this is an absolute breath of fresh air  .  .  .  Dave Lewis sets a standard of powerful, fiery solos that will be hard to surpass this year.  More please!”     Blues and Soul

American saxophonist Dave Lewis leads 1UP with raw lyrical emotion and a horn full of funk, and his sound is perfectly matched by the soulful intensity and searing blues vocals of Lizzie Deane. The band lays down the deepest grooves with space for virtuosic improvisation and breath-taking interplay. 

Dave Lewis’ robust and melodic tenor playing has been heard with a notable list of artists including John Martyn, Bryan Ferry, Joan Armatrading, John Mayall, Eric Clapton and The Blockheads. The 1UP band features an impressive array of talent fronted by vocalist Lizzie Deane, a fabulous singer who for many years has worked with some of the finest performers around, including Carleen Anderson, Mica Paris and Jocelyn Brown.  Lizzie’s warm persona and infectious performance style calls to mind the great soul divas such as Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield, but at the same time she brings her own unique energy and approach to every song.  The band tonight also features the wonderful Al Cherry on guitar, Robin Aspland on piano, Neville Malcolm on bass and Rod Youngs on drums. 

The band pick up the standard from where The Crusaders, Rufus Thomas and The Meters left off.  With their original material and evocative lyrics, 1UP bring their own contemporary edge to the groove.  Above all, it’s a band of outstanding musicians who play as one.

“Spine tingling” The Guardian

Thoughts on Pete Oxley’s “Flight of Hand”, 2 November 2022

Pete Oxley’s Flight of Hand, 2nd November 2022– by Steve Jordan

It seems so long ago that Pete Oxley last brought his splendid collection of guitars to Fleece Jazz.  It was, in fact, March 2020 with the Oxley-Meier Guitar Project and then the week after that we went into lockdown and live jazz at the Fleece was off-limits for a whole 18 months.  It was so good to have him back this Wednesday with an amazing band of musicians.

The combination of guitar and piano can be too much like a sandwich with a filling of breadcrumbs: two chordal instruments competing for clarity of sound; it should surely be either/or.  Then you hear the warm, mellifluous guitar sound of Pete Oxley and the majestic pianism of David Gordon complementing one another so well rather than creating an aural soup.  We were, indeed, blessed by the combined sound of both musicians plus two more in the guise of Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Tom Hooper on drums, of which more later.

Pete’s guitar sound is very reminiscent of the world-famous jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny, so it was fitting to open with It’s Just Talk from 1987.  That euphoric sense of harmony and lyricism from Pete’s guitar and the dazzling technical skill of David Gordon on piano washed over the audience and instantly created a warm atmosphere.  After introductions and pleasantries from the ever-personable Pete, adorned in floral jacket and shirt, we are into his very own The Gift, a classic Oxley composition from the Oxley-Meier Guitar Project.  This introspective and thoughtful number is enhanced by the shuffle of the rhythm section, with David Gordon adding a plaintive backing on melodica.  Gordon’s English Isobars is an enchanting, though somewhat dark ballad, with Tom Hooper’s delicacy of playing complementing Pete’s guitar and Oli Hayhurst’s strong, nimble fingers busily working their magic over the fret of the double bass.  Tom Hooper was “depping” for Paul Cavaciuti, who is currently laid low with bronchitis; Tom stepped in at the last minute, although it certainly didn’t show in the versatility and inventiveness of his performance.  He was restrained and respectful when it was needed, but his exuberance and technical skill were a wonder on many a number throughout both sets.  We’d like Tom back soon and wish Paul well.  Before the next number, Pete quizzed the audience on their knowledge of the German ECM label, famed for its high production values which create a spacious and crystal-clear sound. No one could identify the guitar and piano-playing composer of the next number, although I suspect many of us will be seeking out the textured jazz recordings of Ralph Towner and his group, Oregon.  Pete’s Mercurial Views, written for the next Oxley-Meier album was inspired by the shimmering surface of a lake in the absence of tempestuous weather on the coast of Lyme Regis.  Once again, David Gordon adds the wistful accordion-like sound of the melodica to the beautiful, free-flowing melodicism of his pianism and the lyricism of Pete’s guitar.  The first set concludes with the wild post-bop jig, The Alchemist and The Cat Flap, showcasing the technical skills of each member of the band as they anticipate one another’s moves.

The second set opens with Greenland, which builds in tempo and once again gives the pianist an opportunity to demonstrate his chops, a real display of pyrotechnics that has him eventually standing to play the keys.  The tempo comes right down for the beautiful jazz standard and ballad, Estate, (pronounced E – Star – Tay, the Italian for Summer) made famous in the Bossa Nova version recorded by Joao Gilberto but here interpreted through Pete’s delicate guitar-playing.  The gasps and hoots of appreciation from the audience say it all.  From Italy, we move to Brazil and that other multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti, with Loro.  The rhythm from Tom on percussion and Oli on bass takes us to South America, a welcome relief from a blustery, rainy night in November and Tom Hooper’s face is full of joy as he is transported by the music.  It seems logical to continue with a Spanish-flavoured tune, Armando’s Rumba by Chick Corea. The choice of music and the energy and technical skills of the rhythm section support Pete’s signature sound in melding harmony with influences from the Americas and Europe.  There is no doubt that this band is a partnership and David Gordon’s September Song reminds us of the wealth of talent that is present before us.  We come to the (officially) last number, The Surging Waves, another new Oxley composition inspired by his imagination of the weather conditions he had hoped for in Lyme Regis.  Think of the scene from The French Lieutenant’s Woman where Sarah Woodruff stands on the Cobb, looking out to sea, as the waves surge and crash against the harbour.  Now translate that into jazz and you have some idea of what we heard.

The band were very generous and did not protest when the audience called for an encore, despite the lateness of the hour and the foul weather outside.  They played a very old (did Pete say 14th century?) tune from Mexico called Cortegaca (I think) which had the tempo of a Bossa Nova.  

We genuinely felt privileged to have these four hugely talented musicians play at our club with such passion and delicacy and send us home feeling so much happier.


  1. It’s Just Talk (Pat Metheny) from the album Still Life (Talking).
  1. The Gift  (Pete Oxley) from the Oxley-Meier album The Alluring Ascent.
  1. English Isobars (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Angel Feet.
  1. Aeolus (Ralph Towner)
  1. Mercurial Views (Pete Oxley) yet to be released.
  1. The Alchemist and The Cat Flap (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Angel Feet.

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Greenland (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Second Language.   
  1. Estate (Bruno Martino)
  1. Loro (Egberto Gismonti)
  1. Armando’s Rumba (Chick Corea) from his album, My Spanish Heart.
  1. September Moon (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Second Language.   
  1. The Surging Waves (Pete Oxley) not yet released.

     ENCORE: Cortegaca (Trad.)

On Wednesday 25 January Blue Spirits – £18

John Etheridge's "Blue Spirits"

John Etheridge Guitars

Pete Whittaker Organ

George Double Drums

“Blue Spirits Trio”, featuring Pete Whittaker and George Double, came about through John’s love of the perennially attractive combination of Electric Guitar and Organ. Blue Spirits have a take on this well-known combination in a way that connects with the bluesier, intense side of John’s playing. There are plenty of typical swing elements, augmented by soulful ballads and fiery funk outings. The aim is to groove and move!

John’s history includes playing with Grapelli, heading Zapatistas, duos with John Williams, and his own bands. As well as  a world class player, he is a classy raconteur. 

Pete is a piano player who migrated to Hammond organ after hearing the classic 1950s &1960s Jimmy Smith records. He is a Hammond star.

George’s playing and recording credits include Dame Shirley Bassey, Grammy Award Winner Jack Jones, Marc Almond, Mica Paris, Ruthie Henshall and Kym Mazelle. His West End and touring theatre record includes stints on WickedGuys and DollsAvenue QSinatra and Anything Goes.

This band has been popular on the club circuit for many years and always delivers.