Thoughts on Dave O’Higgins’/Rob Luft’s “Pluto”

What a wonderful gig, loved by our listening audience. They really do listen.

You learn something new every gig. A bigsby is a lever on a guitar that can raise or lower its pitch by a bit. Rob Luft make beautiful use of his. He added timbre to individual notes as well as using it for tremolo  or other effects. Rob was one of the leaders of the band. What a stunning guitarist he is. He writes well too, see Steve’s setlist entry below, “Gayetski”. I loved watching him use the bigsby and magically switching from plectrum to fingering. It is not often an intro gets hoots and applause, but two of his did.

The other leader was Dave O’Higgins, and it was such a pleasure to have him back with us. His tenor style suited the very different styles of the Coltrane and Monk music that they played. His blues “One for Six”, about his residence at the 606 club was my pick of the evening. Like on all the tunes, everyone got a chance to blow. It just seemed to me to be the cherry on a very good cake.

The two leaders shared the announcement mic with stories about the songs, very interesting and often very funny. I won’t say that they could have a career in stand-up comedy, but they were very entertaining.

Ross Stanley was trapped in Spain, so on the very morning, Jim Watson got a request to play piano for us. The music we had was far from trivial, but Jim handled it with aplomb. He had to read, of course, which from time to time left his accompaniment a little stylistically different from his colleagues. His solos were grand, and met with loud approval from our audience.

Luke Fowler is embedded in the band. You could see him concentrating, often with a big smile, on the soloist. But also, on the accompaniment. There is a real rapport between him and the drummer. He showed us again what a fine soloist he is, but he is so strong as the heartbeat of the band.

There is a very sensitive side to the drumming of Rod Youngs. Like Luke, he was watching each member of the band like a hawk. I do love a drummer that plays the room so accurately. He had a couple of spectacular solos. His use of brushes (both ends!) is amazing.

That left the sound to talk about. We had rigged micing all of the instruments except the drums, with talk mics for Dave and Rob. All but Luke had fold-back speakers. We ended up with the only visible mic was the shared talk mic. The band was totally acoustic except for a tiny boost for the piano. The monitors were still in place, but Daves was unplugged. It sounded lovely.

The next gig has Simon Spillett and Pete Long doing the Jazz Couriers two tenors thing. Rob Barron will be on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Pete Cater on drums. We would love to see you with us.

Take care




  1. Pluto (O’Higgins)
  2. Gayetski (Luft) – a composition dedicated to recently deceased, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz and Astrud’s husband, João Gilberto, all of whom famously collaborated on The Girl From Ipanema. Getz, was born Stanley Gayetski; his grandparents were Ukrainian Jewish refugees who migrated to Whitechapel in the East End of London to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms.
  3. Vague Recollection (O’Higgins)
  4. ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk)
  5. Jean De Fleur (Grant Green)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. South Wind (Luft) 
  2. One For The Six (O’Higgins)
  3. Naima (John Coltrane) 
  4. Giant Steps GTI (John Coltrane)
  5. ENCORE: Green Chimneys (Thelonious Monk)

On Wednesday 13 December, Ed Jones’ Quartet – £18

Ed Jones Tenor sax

Ross Stanley Piano

Riaan Visloo Bass

Tim Giles Drums

A formidable saxophonist .  .  .  an improviser to his fingertips, a player of forceful imagination, and one of the UK’s most distinctive saxophonists.” John Fordham, The Guardian

Award-winning saxophonist Ed Jones returns to Fleece Jazz with his brilliant contemporary jazz quartet.  A mainstay of the London Jazz scene since the late 1980s, expect beautifully poised music as Ed and the band play recently composed new music as well as material from their highly acclaimed 2018 recording “For Your Ears Only.”

Based in London for over 25 years, Ed works in the UK and internationally with a wide range of his own projects and collaborations.  His experience as a sideman reflects his diverse musical interests, having worked with Free Jazz pioneers John Stevens and Evan Parker; US jazz legends Horace Silver, George Benson and Dianne Reeves; leading UK jazz musicians such as Jason Rebello, Don Weller and Byron Wallen; crossover projects such as Us3 and Incognito through to RnB legends such as Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Carlene Anderson and Omar.  He has been described as “one of the most fluent and forceful saxophonists in Europe” (Jack Massarik, Evening Standard) and “inventive, physical, full of life, on the edge and unmistakeably of today” (Chris May, All About Jazz).

Ed is joined by widely respected and frequent Fleece Jazz visitor, Ross Stanley, on piano.  Constantly in-demand for his flowing creative and lyrical playing, he always serves the music and is universally revered by fellow musicians and the wider listening public alike. Bassist Riaan Vosloo is involved in a wide number of projects as a producer, arranger, composer and performer, including leading lights in the UK Jazz and improvised music scene such as Run Logan Run and Ben Lamdin aka Nostalgia 77. Drummer Tim Giles first made an impression at the age of 12 by winning the Daily Telegraph Young Composer of the Year Award in 1992.  While still in his teens, Tim performed internationally with saxophonists Iain Ballamy and Stan Sulzmann and his current regular projects also include Ben Lamdin’s Nostalgia 77 and the Tori Freestone Trio.

“The vigorous, sometimes downright volcanic tenor sound of Ed Jones has long been one of the great live delights of British Jazz.  His barnstorming ‘terrier with a rat’ approach raises the music’s temperature whenever he solos”.  Chris Parker, Jazzwise

On Wednesday 11 October, The Andrew Cleyndert Quartet, “Eclectricity” £18

Andrew Cleyndert Quartet

Andrew Cleyndert Bass

Martin Shaw Trumpet/Flugel

Colin Oxley Guitar

Mark Edwards Piano

Top bass player, Andrew Cleyndert is joined by three hugely talented and highly respected jazz musicians, in a quartet without drums, giving the piano, double bass and guitar the opportunity to use many musical permutations, with all players providing solos and accompaniment as required.  The band’s arrangements are drawn from the compositions of Billy Strayhorn, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock and Ray Brown plus tunes from the standard songbook composers.

Andrew Cleyndert started out in the bands of Don Weller and Bobby Wellins and has since flourished on the jazz scene in the UK and beyond.  He has played and toured with the cream of the UK’s musicians and a string of international soloists, including Bud Shank, George Coleman, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz and James Moody.  He was also closely associated with Stan Tracey in his many bands over fifteen years until Stan’s death in 2013.  Further afield, Andy has worked in Europe with pianists Gene Harris, Benny Green, Junior Mance and Tamir Hendleman.

Martin Shaw is regarded as one of the top jazz soloists in the country; he has performed in an extraordinary range of settings from big band to quartet, from cutting-edge jazz to contemporary pop and funk.  He has worked with most of the leading jazz artists of the last 30 years including Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Pete King, Dick Morrisey and Tim Garland.  In 2001, Martin was appointed professor of Jazz Trumpet at The Birmingham Conservatoire.  A stunning musician at the top of his game.

Colin Oxley is a class-leading guitar talent who has worked with some of the top performers in London, including a role as a a long-standing member of Stacey Kent’s group during which he recorded several albums as well as touring worldwide, including appearances at Festivals such as Montreux, North Sea, Nice and Vienne, as well as residencies in New York and San Francisco. 

Mark Edwards is a producer as well as a jazz pianist and keyboards player. Born in 1965 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he has toured with, played on and produced albums for Aztec Camera (and Roddy Frame solo releases), Carleen Anderson and Paul Weller among (a huge lot of) others.

On Wednesday 25 October, Josh Kemp Quartet: “John Coltrane: A Love Supreme” – £18

Josh Kemp Quartet

Josh Kemp Tenor sax

Gareth Williams Piano

Dave Manington Bass

Tristan Maillot Drums

“A fierce talent” Jazzwise magazine

This evening Josh Kemp and his quartet explore the lyrical and spiritual music of John Coltrane, including his masterpiece, A Love Supreme, one of the biggest-selling recordings in Jazz.  This seminal and unique album represents the peak of Coltrane’s achievement and his musical journey from bebop to the avant-garde of 1960s Jazz.  It remains to this day a work of deep spiritual power, representing a struggle for purity, an expression of gratitude and an acknowledgement that the musician’s talent comes from a higher source.  The performance is accompanied with video projections inspired by the meaning and message of Coltrane’s music.

A jazz saxophonist with a gift for melody, Josh Kemp is known for his lyrical, improvising style and imaginative compositions and collaborations.  Josh has studied Coltrane’s original material, yielding an authentic yet personal recreation of the epic aural poem that is A Love Supreme as well as other compositions. 

Composer and songwriter Gareth Williams is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art. His compositions seek to find new relationships, participants, collaborators and audiences for new opera, music theatre, and song, to shed light on stories and communities that have been overlooked, and to explore ideas of vulnerability in vocal writing.

Bassist and composer Dave Manington is one of the mainstays of the London jazz scene and a founder member of the Loop Collective.  He has played with many of the pre-eminent jazz musicians in the UK and Europe including Julian Arguelles, Marius Neset, Gwilym Simcock, Mark Lockheart, Tim Garland, Iain Ballamy, Gwyneth Herbert, Pete King and Yazz Ahmed.

Tristan Maillot has been active on the UK jazz scene since the mid 90’s as both sideman and leader. He has played with numerous leading international stars such as Jim Hall, Stacey Kent, Clare Martin, Jim Mullen, Fred Hersch, Martin Taylor, Stan Tracey, Steve Grossman, Norma Winstone and Bobby Wellins.

“A subtle, highly nuanced and original sound” Time Out

On Tuesday 21 November 2023 – Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Trio – “Embraceable Ella” – £19

Joanna Eden Vocals

Chris Ingham Piano

Andres Lafone Bass

George Double Drums

“Bloody marvellous” – Dame Cleo Laine

“sophisticated, stylish vocalist” – Jazz Journal

Joanna Eden presents a ‘labour of love’ show celebrating the music of her vocal hero Ella Fitzgerald.  From the throw-away “A Tisket A Tasket” which brought Ella to fame in the forties with the Chick Webb Orchestra to  later songbook album classics like Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” , Eden mines the rich seam of Ella Fitzgerald’s unrivalled canon with humility, style and obvious deep affection.

Mojo magazine describes her songwriting as having ‘melody, mystery and bite’. With six solo albums to her credit, Joanna is considered one of the finest singer-pianists in the UK with a style that covers a broad spectrum, through jazz, soul, bossa nova and blues. Her beautifully crafted compositions give life to personal and expressive lyrics, which – like her songwriting hero Joni Mitchell – question and reflect life’s changes.

This Tuesday will be exceptional, because Joanna will be singing the songs and loves of the great Ella Fitzgerald. Chris Ingham will be on piano, and Andres Lafone will join us on bass. Our great friend, the drummer George Double will be with us. This is an ideal trio to support any singer, and as a group on their own.

Thoughts on Sarah Jane Morris – “Something Old, Something New” – 12 July 2023

This gig was a joy. They came, they sang, they conquered. Sarah Jane Morris had all her power, and we loved her close communication with the audience, who reciprocated in song themselves.

Steve’s set list is below, so I can talk about the musicians. First the newbie: we would be delighted to have Marcus Bonfanti back. He is a superbly skilled guitarist, whether finger or plectrum or steel. He had a solo on “Lovely Day” that was light, textured and really beautiful. All his solos were inventive. His accompaniment was thoughtful and interesting. As a backing vocalist, his voice provided perfect harmonies with Sarah’s voice.

Tony Rémy is simply an outstanding world class guitarist. I was surprised to see him using a capo on the first number. Tony needs a capo? What do I know?  Solo after solo, Tony’s guitar sang to us. “Up From the Sky’s” gave a whole new take on this Hendrix song.  Tony usually set the vibe, and he and Marcus  listened very closely to each other and used each other, so their accompaniment form was contrapuntal. Tony’s basso was only heard in a few numbers, but it added just the right support to the songs he sang in.

Sarah used to introduce Henry Thomas as “The Mighty”, and he still is. In the first set he played electric guitar. In the second set he also played with a fretless acoustic bass, which has a wonderful sound: softer, warmer, but just as clear as the electric. His solos on “Head and Heart” and “Lovely Day” were amazing. He is a great backing singer. I was glad of the chance to talk to Henry after the gig. His understanding of music, composition and indeed the current way of the world is quite profound. Conversations with Henry are to be treasured.

What can I say about Sarah Jane Morris that has not been said a thousand times? If you have never seen her before, she can be a bit overwhelming. There were a few such in the audience, but they soon be came like the rest, lovers of her work. She has an immense voice, a big range and lots of tonalities. The commitment she has to the music and what it means is clear. One reason she is loved is that she works so well with an audience. We were all singing in the second half, to her direction.

Our next gig will be on Wednesday 26 July, – O’Higgins & Luft will present work from their album Pluto. This is straight-ahead modern jazz in the African-American tradition, coming from the Monk and Trane lineage, but not bound to emulating it. The musicians are Dave O’Higgins Tenor sax, Rob Luft Guitar, Ross Stanley Piano, Luke Fowler Bass and Rod Youngs Drums. It will be a cracker, don’t miss it.

Take care,




All songs from the first set, as well as the encore, were written and originally sperformed by the late, great John Martyn. 

  1. Fairytale Lullaby
  2. Couldn’t Love You More
  3. Head and Heart
  4. One World
  5. Sweet Little Mystery 
  6. May You Never
  7. Over The Hill

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. On My Way To You (Morris/Remy) 
  2. Feel The Love (Morris/Remy)
  3. Imagine (John Lennon) 
  4. Lovely Day (Bill Withers)
  5. Up From The Skies (Jimi Hendrix)
  6. Piece of My Heart (Jerry Ragovoy/Bert Berns) – originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister, in 1967 but better known from the version by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals.
  7. I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
  8. ENCORE: I Don’t Wanna Know (John Martyn)

On Wednesday 27 September, The Jo Harrop Quartet with Nigel Price – £20

Jo Harrop Vocals

Nigel Price Guitar

Paul Edis Piano

Simon Thorpe Bass

Peter Adam-Hill Drums

“Harrop’s appeal is her seductive mannerisms and phrasing mixed with plenty of hip cachet. As an interpreter of lyrics, she draws you into the narrative with effortless style and ease. The voice is husky toned, with immaculate timing  and an unsentimental tenderness and a shrewd wit.” – Emrys Baird, Blues & Soul Magazine.

Velvet voiced singer, Jo Harrop, is joined by highly respected, award-winning guitarist, Nigel Price, for a special night of swinging jazz & blues standards.  Expect a well-chosen set of timeless, well-loved classic songs, and some rare gems too, with influences of Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass, Julie London, Sarah Vaughan, and Wes Montgomery.

Jo Harrop began as a session singer, then quickly established herself as one of the most unmistakable voices in British jazz, performing everywhere from the Royal Albert Hall to the Sunset Sunside Jazz Club in Paris.  Effortlessly blurring the lines between jazz and folk, her mellifluous voice is warm, smoky and capable of the most delicate dynamics, revealing an intimacy that few singers are capable of generating, shot through as it is with pathos and pain. 

The current quartet is made up of pianist Paul Edis, whom Jazz Journal described as “a major voice in British Jazz, an incredibly fertile composer and improviser”; the highly accomplished bass player, Simon Thorpe whose excellent playing we have often enjoyed (taking over from Jihad Darwish who is ill); Peter Adam-Hill completes the quartet on drums.

The quartet is joined by award-winning jazz guitarist Nigel Price.  His blend of flowing bebop lines, deep blues sensibility and his mastery of chording continue to delight audiences and fellow musicians alike.

“For me, this is how jazz should be; communicative and inclusive. Jazz performed this way feels like a gift, a ‘here, this is for you’ scenario.London Jazz News                  

On Wednesday 13 September, Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone” – £18

Loz Speyer Trumpet/Flugel

Martin Hathaway Sax

Chris Allard Guitar

Dave Manington Bass

Anmol Mohara Drums

Satin Singh Congas 

“An ensemble led by a trumpeter/composer who has absorbed the essence of Cuban music and distilled it quite cunningly into an improvisatory context, with no compromise to either culture.” – Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes Music Magazine

“The album takes us from Cuba to Berlin 1989 then to Crossing the (fictitious?) Line of the equator to end in a carnival in London, in such a way as to indicate that borders and walls are only human constructions that music transcends… eight compositions that cajole, revisit, brush against or deepen different claves of Afro-Cuban music – for our greatest pleasure.” – Patricia Martin, Gazette Bleue (France)

“A vibrant, rhythmically exciting exploration of Cuban music and wider jazz influences… Speyer’s music engages and makes you think – its global themes of movement, difference and change have never been more relevant.” – John Adcock, Jazz Journal, UK

Loz Speyer is a trumpeter, composer, bandleader and teacher working in Jazz and related music. Over the last 25 years he has initiated and led bands ranging from the 11-piece composers’ collective Rare Mix to freely improvising trios. His own Cuban-Jazz sextet Time Zone and his Free Jazz quintet Inner Space, both ongoing since 2003, have toured to Jazz festivals and clubs all around the UK, and released several critically acclaimed albums of original music.

Thoughts on Bryan Corbett’s Hi-Fly Quintet – 28 June 2023

It is amazing to me that in one year, 1959, so many  important things have happened. The list on Wikipedia goes on for pages: The European Court of Human Rights is established; we lose Buddy Holly; Lunar 4 goes to the moon; Nottingham Forest beats Luton in the FA cup; the Mini is released.

And “Kind of Blue” is released; one collection that changed the music in the multitude of masterly jazz compositions  that year.

Bryan Corbett has designed  a beautiful show of great variety from the music of 1959. He gives us Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Paul Desmond, Horace Silver, Ornette Coleman and more. I loved it all, but “Flamenco Sketches” as played by this quintet will stay with me.

And he plays both trumpet and flugel like an angel. His technique is superb, his tonality is sweet and clear. The soul in his mind comes out clearly in his playing. The listening between Bryan and his colleagues is almost palpable. 

 Chris Bowden is a wonderful altoist. He is serious, fast and slow, inventive and fun. Matt Ratcliffe’s piano obligatos are delightful. Carl Hemmingsley is the perfect drummer for the group. 

The joker in the pack is Tom Hill. He presented “Fables of Faubus”, told bad jokes very well, and was a stunning bassist.

I will remember this gig with pleasure. They honoured the intentions of the composers while remaining theirselves. Unfortunately I will also  remember the minor disasters on the sound desk. And I was  the sound guy

The setlist below is compiled by Steve Jordan, for which thanks.

The next gig is a doozy, The power of nature that is Sarah Jane Morris  with her favourite team: Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy on Guitars, and Henry Thomas on bass guitar. See you then.

Take care,




  1. So What (Gil Evans/Miles Davis) from ‘Kind of Blue’
  2. No Problem (Duke Jordan) from ‘Flight to Jordan’
  3. Flamenco Sketches (Gil Evans/Miles Davis) from ‘Kind of Blue’
  4. Hi-Fly (Randy Weston) from ‘The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco
  5. Take Five (Paul Desmond) from ‘Time Out’ by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
  6. Sister Sadie (Horace Silver) from ‘Blowin’ The Blues Away’

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Lonely Woman (Ornette Coleman) from ‘The Shape of Jazz To Come’/ Concierto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo) from ‘Sketches of Spain’ by Miles Davis
  2. Fables of Faubus (Charles Mingus) from ‘Mingus Ah Um’
  3. Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson) from ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth’.  The tune was originally recorded in 1959
  4. Blues March (Benny Golson) from ‘Moanin’’ by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
  5. ENCORE: Juicy Lucy (Horace Silver) from ‘Finger Poppin’’

All albums were released in 1959 except for ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth’ although an earlier version of the  tune was recorded in 1959.