Thoughts on Alan Barnes’ Octet – “Copperfield”, 27 December 2022

Thoughts on Alan Barnes' Octet - "Copperfield", 27 December 2022

Now this was special. Wonderful material written by Alan Barnes, and edited by Mark Nightingale, eight of the best players about having a great time, Alan’s telling of the story of the book, and a very happy audience.

    It has been many years since I had read Dickens’ “David Copperfield”, but Alan did a lovely job in giving us synopses for each of the songs. Every song, at least for me, evoked my memories of the book. He had a script to work from, but he was very aware of the audience so that he could ad lib when he wanted to, Early in the first set, he admonished me for “playing with my knobs” (remember, I was the sound guy), He got the audience to holler out the names of characters he described. Alan had a great ear for spontaneous comedy.

    For a set list, I refer you to the beautifully designed CD, which contains some of the scripted material at our live gig, as well as the music.  Information can be found at You can buy the CD at

    About the  music: I don’t think it was easy to play. It had lots of notes in places, and very careful spare areas; I am thinking of David Newton’s piano solo in the 3/4 “Mr Micawber”. Clark Tracey’s careful, evocative drum intro to “Uriah Heap” before Alan Barne’s only use of the bass clarinet with sonority and shivery runs, which evoked “Uriah” beautifully, Alan had great solos on alto sax and clarinet during the rest of the gig.

    In “Barkis is Willing”, there was a sweet entry from the horn chorus, followed by one of Simon Thorpe’s bass solos. You can hear why Simon is such a ‘go to’ player. “Creakle and Tungay” has Bruce Adams displaying his power on trumpet, followed by Karen Sharps lyricism on the baritone sax. I could listen to  Robert Fowler’s work on tenor sax or clarinet all day.

    Mark Nightingale is a trombonist of international note, a composer and an editor, and his playing on the gig ranged from the powerful and dramatic to the sweet. His solo in “Steerforth” was my favourite of his work on the gig.

    Usually I listens for the solos, using the head as a platform for the solo work. Indeed, the solos were worth the price of admission, but I found the written work captivating. Alan interspersed beautiful harmonies with contrapuntal sequences in just about all combinations of horns. I will be listening to it again and again.

    Just for fun, my naughty nephew took a very short video of Alan having fun: 

    The next gig is another Tuesday, the 10th of January in the New Year. The young musicians in  The Magpie Trio are a fascinating listen. Do join us.

    Have a happy and healthy New Year,


    Thoughts on Glen Manby’s “Homecoming”, 14 December 2022

    We had a great evening of proper bebop on Wednesday. The numbers are interesting. Three of the musicians were greats that we have not seen in far too long: trumpet and flugeler Steve Waterman, pianist Leon Greening and bassist Jeremy Brown. Jeremy was A12ed and M25ved, so we started a bit late.

    It was a delight to welcome Glen Manby to the club. Glen is an altoist, composer, arranger, teacher. Drummer Joe Dessaeuer was new to everybody. But Joe fit right in, played with excellence and accuracy in the first set. In the second set, he really loosened up, grinning like a Cheshire cat at the music coming from his colleagues.

    The two ballads showed the tenderness and style of the two horn players. “I Remember Clifford” with the quartet, Steve on Flugelhorn, and “When Sonny Gets Blue”, again a quartet with Glen’s alto, were very beautiful.

    But the quintet was a delight all night. They exploited the special sound of alto and trumpet, whether in unison or harmony or contrapuntal. They hit us with that sound from the beginning (“Del Sasser”) to the end (Glen’s “Boss Bop Bossa”). They played a large range of styles.

    Glen’s Homecoming band kept us happy, and the audience left very happy. That was the last interesting number: too few people in the audience. Maybe the cold snap and football are to be avoided as a combination.

    The next gig, note Tuesday, 27 December is Alan Barnes’ Octet celebrating Dickens’ “Copperfield”. The music is stunning. The band is amazing. Don’t miss it.

    Take care, and a very happy holiday to  you from the Fleece Jazz gang.



    1. Del Sasser (Sam Jones) – first released by the Cannonball Quintet in 1960
    2. The Road to Sodor (Glen Manby)
    3. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Wolf/Landesman)
    4. I Remember Clifford (Benny Golson), written in memory of Clifford Brown, a beautiful ballad featuring Steve Waterman on Flugelhorn
    5. Yes or No (Wayne Shorter)
    6. Us (Una Mas) (Kenny Dorham)
    7. Coventry Carol (arranged by Glen Manby)

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Skippy (Glen Manby) 
    2. Mayfly (Glen Manby)
    3. Homecoming (Glen Manby) 
    4. When Sunny Gets Blue (Fisher/Segal
    5. Heimweh (Glen Manby)
    6. Boss Bop Bossa (Glen Manby)

    Thoughts on Derek Nash’s Acoustic Quartet, 7 December 2022

    If you are looking for joyous music, look no farther than Derek Nash and his Acoustic Quartet. Multi-(and mighty-)saxophonist Derek has been travelling with pianist David Newton, bassist Geoff Gascoyne and drummer Sebastiaan de Krom for some years. They played  at  Fleece Jazz in  2014.

    It would have  been apparent to anyone in  he audience that had not known the group, that the group were very top drawer musicians who knew each other very well. So every cue was spot on, obligatos in the mind of the soloist, all that professional stuff. But it was also as if it was new to them, fresh and so much fun. This really is one of our favourite bands.

    A lovely example of the freshness: In 2014 they played a song called “Voodoo Rex”, (Derek and his father wrote this one) which I knew a note at a time as we recorded it and made a video.  They played it again at this gig. it had the same vibe, backbeat, tempo, tune. It was if they had never played it before. Joyous music indeed.

    See you at the Manby gig on Wednesday. It will be a cracker.


    Take care,

    From Steve, the set list, beautifully annotated.


    1. My Romance (Rodgers, Hart & Lorenz) played in two keys like the version by Wes Montgomery
    2. Blue House Samba (D. Nash) – the blue house in question was the house of the artist Frida Kahlo.  A spritely soprano-led piece full of twists and turns. Standout solos from Geoff Gascoyne whose nimble dexterity on bass is featured and an outstanding solo from Sebastiaan De Krom building from the initial samba rhythm.
    3. My, But You Make That Dress Look Lovely (D. Nash) – the lyrical inspiration for this composition was based on a chat-up line of Duke Ellington.  It featured Derek on baritone sax in an Ellingtonian setting.
    4. Voodoo Rex (D. Nash) – a rather good audio-visual recording of this number was made by Gerry England and Dave Lyons the last time the quartet performed at Fleece Jazz.  It has since been used on the Derek Nash website and can be found on youtube.
    5. October (D. Nash) – features Derek on tenor sax with Dave Newton’s endless poise on piano
    6. You’ve Got To Dig It To Dig It, You Dig? (D. Nash) based on an idiosyncratic piece of advice from the legendary Thelonious Monk

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Hallelujah Time (Oscar Peterson) – performed by the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra as a two-tenor chase. Derek’s dad was an arranger for the NDO and so Derek would have heard a lot of their music in his early years and into his teens.
    2. All The Things You Are (J. Kern) – inspired by the interpretation by Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax and Paul Desmond on alto sax. Recordings exist which included both musicians guesting with the Dave Brubeck trio.  Here Derek takes the role of Mulligan on baritone and Dave plays Desmond’s part adapted for piano with flurries of Brubeck in there.
    3. Waltz For My Father (P. Nash/D. Nash) – a joint father-son composition 
    4. Lil’ darlin’ (Neal Hefti) – a jazz standard, composed and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra.  This version was more uptempo and mixed in with “Cute”,  by the same composer and performers.
    5. Moonlight in Vermont (K. Suessdorf/J. Blackburn) – an arrangement by David Newton with shades of Debussy and impressionistic lyricism. Truly beautiful and a standout of the gig which brought roars of approval at the end.
    6. The G Mail Special (D. Nash) – Derek’s updated version of the jazz standard, “Air Mail Special, made famous by, amongst others, Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald.

          Encore: Water Jug (Gene Ammons)