Thoughts on The Clark Tracey Quintet, 22 May 2024

To witness five musicians of this calibre on their very best form was a privilege and one that will remain with me for years. Newcomer RJ Gilbert on alto sax is still studying at Birmingham Conservatoire and if he were nervous to be playing with such established and highly accomplished musicians, it didn’t show. He was a cool customer who looked to be enjoying himself as he played off and with the others, particularly David Newton whom he obviously admired deeply (and who can blame him!)  I particularly liked his feature on the jazz standard My One and Only Love where he displayed seemingly effortless fluency and breath control throughout his sweet lyrical performance.

A Bitta Bittadose, based very closely on Bobby Watson’s A Bitter Dose, was a great crowd pleaser and gave each musician a chance to rise to the occasion in this later period Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers blues. The stunning pianism and inventiveness of David Newton complemented by the fine work on double bass, Simon Allen and RJ Gilbert leading the horn chorus and Clark Tracey demonstrating why he is consistently rated as the UK’s best drummer with his inventive use of his kit.

Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk stood out in the equally enthralling second set. It cannot be easy to play the work of such a musical eccentric and maverick, but David Newton seemed to relish the experience and deliver a stunning performance which he made his own. 

There were memorable solos throughout the gig, but i think people should take time to hear the obligatos. The inventiveness and intense listening provided by bass, drums, piano lifted the solos and put smiles on the faces of the musicians.

I may have misheard Clark announce the next number as In A Semi Mental Mood rather than In a Sentimental Mood, although never doubt his playfulness and dry wit especially when Simon Allen’s rendition on soprano saxophone was a quirky interpretation which tinkered with the time signature of the Ellington original. Equally as beautiful but not a slavish cover of that truly beautiful jazz standard.

Sonny Rollins’ St Thomas was played as a fittingly drum-led Latin shuffle by the whole band and concluded the set. I listened carefully to Clark’s use of little mallets on this one, and was flabbergasted to hear him weave three simultaneous cross-rhythms. 

The short but sweet encore was Hank Mobley’s This I Dig of You. Several members of our audience were moved to give the quintet a standing ovation and quite rightly so.

I am greatly looking forward to the conversations with Bill Evans provided by the Adrian York Trio, on June 12th. It promises to be an evening of quietly intense beauty, not to be missed.

Take care,

Dave

THE CLARK TRACEY QUINTET

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 22/5/24

  1. Rainbow at the Five Mile Road (Stan Tracey) from the 1969 Stan Tracey Quartet album, Free An’ One
  2. Euphony (Stan Tracey) Stan’s first recorded composition from 1952 with Victor Feldman’s All Stars.  
  3. My One and Only Love (Guy Wood/Robert Mellin
  4. Remind Me In Three (Clark Tracey)based on the chord progression of Joe Henderson’s Recorda Me
  5. A Bitta Bittadose (Bobby Watson) based on Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers’ Bitter Dose

*          *          *           *        *        *        *

  1. A Funky Day in Tiger Bay (Stan Tracey) from the album Stan Tracey’s Hexad: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
  2. Blue Monk (Thelonious Monk)
  3. In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington)
  4. St Thomas (Sonny Rollins)
  5. Encore: This I Dig Of You (Hank Mobley)

Thoughts on “Wakey Blakey” – The Music of Art Blakey

In the great debate about the superiority or otherwise of the audio quality of analogue sound (vinyl) as opposed to digital (CD and download), there is one listening experience that can be forgotten and that, of course, is live music.  Nothing beats it, especially when the band delivers to such a high standard as Wakey Blakey, the sextet led by Rory Ingham and James Davison playing the music of the classic sextet lineup of Art Blakey and The Jazz Mesengers.  It’s not just the immediacy of the experience and the fidelity of sound or even the spontaneity and sheer joy of improvised music, but being able to witness first-hand how musicians work together.

Last night was a cracker of an evening, a feast of hard bop by a superlative sextet who gave us the music of Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Curtis Fuller originally recorded by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.  These albums are getting a fresh play today as I relive last night’s gig and marvel at the music once again.  

I am lucky to have seen Wayne Shorter many times as well as Cedar Walton and Freddie Hubbard once each, but not all in the same room at the same time with Art Blakey and the others. “Wakey Blakey” was a real treat and an awakening to how wonderful this music sounds live.  I was struck by the similarity of James Davison’s tone and urgency of delivery to that of Freddie Hubbard from the beginning during “Time Off”. He was very powerful, yet completely soulful and sensitive when required as on the beautiful rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark”.  I loved the bluesy growl of Rory’s trombone-playing in several numbers, especially “Hammerhead”.  An old Fleece regular used to say that the trombone was an “awkward instrument in the modern setting” but he hadn’t heard Rory play it as sensitively and as fluently as he did last night.  Rory was also a very amusing and playful compere who balanced humour with respect for the music of the Jazz Messengers.  Alex Garnett was a dep for another Alex and it was one of his best performances on tenor sax that I have seen from him in a while.  He played with conviction and soul and delivered some warm solos throughout.  

Pianist Matt Carter provided a constant propulsive rhythm throughout many numbers and did so faultlessly, with occasional bursts of freer improvisation. Misha Mullov-Abbado was a tall presence alongside his double bass, using his long frame and long dextrous fingers at such a rapid pace to provide the propulsive beat demanded by the faster numbers. I especially loved his solo that introduced Hubbard’s “The Core”. I’ve left our drummer until last which is how it often is, but this was a homage to the great Art Blakey, a huge presence who played with so much drive and passion. Luke Tomlinson was, like Art, sensitive to what was going on around the music and had two memorable and powerful solos on “Free For All” and “Ping Pong” that penetrated to the core.

The last word goes to Carlos Santana: “Art Blakey’s drive, passion, soulfulness, heart and innovation were and still are inspirations that help and require us to move the music ever forward.” That was very much in evidence in last night’s performance from Wakey Blakey.

Take care,

Steve

Dave says:

That was an accurate review of a great show. The sound check was terrific fun to be part of, even though the only mics were piano and leader.

WAKEY BLAKEY: THE MUSIC OF ART BLAKEY’S JAZZ MESSENGERS

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 08/5/24

Towards the beginning of the gig, Rory Ingham explained that the numbers they would be playing were originally performed by the classic sextet lineup of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: Wayne Shorter (tenor sax); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Cedar Walton (Piano); Reggie Workman (Bass); as well as Art Blakey (drums) himself. The selections were mostly from the albums Mosaic (1961), Caravan (1962), Ugetsu (1963) and Free For All (1964

  1. Time Off (Curtis Fuller) from the album Ugetsu
  2. Hammerhead (Wayne Shorter) from the album Free For All
  3. Free For All (Wayne Shorter) from the album Free For All
  4. Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael)from the album Caravan
  5. One By One (Wayne Shorter) from the album Ugetsu

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Children of the Night (Wayne Shorter) from the album Mosaic
  2. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning (David Mann)from the album Caravan
  3. The Core (Freddie Hubbard) from the album Free For All
  4. Miyako (Wayne Shorter) from his album Schizophrenia 
  5. Ping Pong (Wayne Shorter) from the album Ugetsu
  6. Encore: Down Under (Freddie Hubbard) from the album Mosaic

On Wednesday 14 August  The Oddgeir Berg Trio- £20

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.”

Thoughts on The Chris Ingham Quartet -“The Music of Dudley Moore”, 24 April 2024

The Chris Ingham Quartet -"The Music of Dudley Moore", 24 April 2024

During Chris Ingham’s superb  presentation of the life of the great Dudley Moore, he (only once) stumbled over a word. As the announcer at the gig, I wood never distend to such a Paux Fas. 

One of the delights of any show led by Chris is the depth of his research, and the humour of his presentation. I think everyone found something new about Dudley’s life and talent.  But as good as it was, the music was what the evening was about, and the music was wonderful.

The musicians were:

Chris was on piano and vocals. He said in effect that he was unequal to the virtuosity of Dudley. I wonder; to me, there was no note out of place, whether the music was dense or sparse. Consider the riot of counter-rhythms on “Amalgam”, while echoing the serene themes played by Paul. The vocals were a riot on their own.

Paul Higgs, who played trumpet (open, wah wah, harmon, straight) and flugel. His soft, clear singing to echo the frenetic piano on “Amalgam”, was lovely.  He is such a good player. His enjoyment of the work of the others was lovely to watch. He made the trading of 4’s with George such a treat.

George Double was the drummer. I loved his range of expression was surprising; hand work on “Atlanta”, some beautiful trading on several numbers, and just watching him play. And for the first time for me, he sang, in duet with Paul, as backing vocalists. Way backing vocalists, bh singing by the drums, very funny. You have to be good to be funny.

Simon Thorpe only sang once, but it was clear he enjoyed it. He is a favourite at Fleece Jazz. His work throughout the evening was superb, and the solo on “Sad One for George” was special.

These guys gave us the joy and the complexity of Dudley Moore’s music. It was an evening to cherish. Steve’s amazing set list below deserves a read.

Our next gig is also a celebration of one of the greats. A trombone led band to honour a drummer? Yes indeed. Art Blakey would be delighted by the work of the Rory Ingham sextet: Rory on trombone, Alex Garnett on sax, James Davison on trumpet, Matt Carter on piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass, and Luke Tomlinson on drums. It will be a high energy, wildly swinging gig.. So do join us for the first gig of the new programme on Wednesday the 8th of May.

Take care,

Dave

THE CHRIS INGHAM QUARTET: THE MUSIC OF DUDLEY MOORE

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 24/4/24

  1. Dudley Dell – originally the B-side to his 1961 debut single Strictly for the Birds. Now only available as a bonus track on Authentic Dud Volume 2, the CD reissue of Moore’s 1965 album on Decca Records, The Other Side of Dudley Moore. This quirky two-minute number is best known nowadays as the theme tune to Radio 4’s Quote Unquote. It shares the same chord sequence as My Blue Heaven and contains glancing references to a host of jazz standards.
  2. (Theme tune to) Not Only . . . But Also – Not Only … But Also was the hugely popular TV sketch show that Dudley hosted with Peter Cook between 1964 and 1970.  The quirky, angular, Thelonious Monk-inspired theme to Not Only … But Also was the B-side to Pete and Dud’s 1965 Top 20 hit Goodbye-ee. It has virtually vanished from the internet. You’ll find some snippets of Moore playing it on (retrieved) videos of the TV show, but a full recording is not available.
  3. Waterloo – full of labyrinthine chord sequences/ My Blue Heaven (Donaldson/Whiting) – full of Dudley’s characteristic playfulness with a two-step lope on bass and finger-popping on bongos courtesy of Simon Thorpe and George Double respectively.
  4. Poova Nova – from The Other Side of Dudley Moore.
  5. Bedazzled Dudley’s best-known song is the recurring theme from the 1967 movie, Bedazzled. It was most memorably delivered by a fictional psych-rock band called Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations, with Peter Cook deadpanning the lyrics (“I’m not available / You fill me with inertia”). Dudley recorded several instrumental versions, recasting the heavily flanged rock song as a gentle bossa nova.
  6. Cornfield – from Bedazzled

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. 30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia – from the 1968 British romantic comedy film starring Dudley Moore and Suzy Kendall.  
  2. Sad One For George – from The Other Side of Dudley Moore, dedicated to George Hastings who took him in when Moore’s marriage broke down. Dudley repaid him by running off with his wife. Featured a beautiful bass solo by Simon Thorpe.
  3. Love Me/ The Millionaire – both from Bedazzled. Anguished cries of “Love Me!” are played over a shuffling pop background in the film. Dudley, who spent most of his life in psychotherapy, once said that “Playing Jazz was my way of asking for the love I didn’t get as a child.” As Chris said, “Dudley playing piano is a man revealed.”
  4. Amalgam – a sprightly piece of continental minimalism from Dudley’s self-titled 1969 album, The Dudley Moore Trio. It was his first set of entirely original material and here performed by the quartet with serene long notes from Paul Higgs on trumpet and flugelhorn with Chris Ingham underpinning them on piano.
  5. Yesterdays(Jerome Kern) – from the 1966 album on Decca Records, Genuine Dud.
  6. Waltz for Suzy – from the 1991 album, Songs Without Words.
  7. Song for Suzy – from the 1971 album, Today. Both this number and the previous one were dedicated to Dudley’s first wife and actress, Suzy Kendall. 
  8. Encore: Goodbye-ee Pete and Dud’s 1965 Top 20 hit.  This was the closing song from their 1960s sketch show Not Only But Also.

Thoughts on Jazz Africa – 10 April 2024

Steve (and a bit of Dave) says:

I’m still basking in the euphoria from last night’s Jazz Africa performance. There were many astounding moments throughout both sets from our six musicians. Yes, six, because we had a guest star on percussion! During the first set, six-year-old Jackson sat in the centre aisle in front of Tony Kofi. He had a water bottle that he used to add to the percussion on stage. Tony brought him on to the stage, gave him a maraca and he played with the band during “Aloka Party”. It will be something he will never forget (and nor will we).

From the exuberant, life-affirming music of Africa’s best-known jazz saxophonist, Manu Dibango, and the pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, the gig started as it intended to carry on with an infectious blend of funk, jazz and traditional African rhythms.  You could dance to the music throughout both sets and its humanity incited the purest joy.  The rhythm was key throughout, with each member of the band playing percussion instruments (claves, bones, drums, congas and maracas) at some point. Stuart Fidler, while plucking the strings of his guitar with two fingers in the typical musical style of West African highlife, almost managed to play a hand drum at the same time! Encouraged by Basil Hodge and Tony, different sections of our audience contributed handclapping that created some complex polyrhythms.  Winston Clifford managed to do all of that single-handed on his drumkit and amazed us all with his prodigious skills and inventiveness.  It was wonderful to have Winston back at the Fleece after so long. We were also reminded of his many talents from his beautiful vocals on Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘African Marketplace’, a song with deep political roots (see setlist).   The polyrhythms were enhanced by bassist Mike Edmunds: as well as providing the pulse and the harmonies, he used the bass guitar as a percussive instrument.

Aside from his warmth and playfulness, Tony Kofi reaffirmed his place as a firm favourite with our audiences with his versatility and superhuman energy on a range of saxophones and how the sound from his horn just continues to soar.  I just didn’t want it to stop on ‘African Marketplace’.

Jazz Africa is of course Basil Hodge’s baby, although he would be the first to emphasise that it is a team effort.  Aside from his use of claves and handclaps, he led with some excellent work on the electric piano as well as acoustic, managing to make both sound authentic and vital in the African music setting, so that the electric piano could be mistaken for a marimba at times.

One more mention of our highly appreciative and enthusiastic audience: there was, as we predicted, ‘dancing in the aisles’ with some wild moves from our technical team and others who could not restrain themselves and celebrated the joy of African Jazz in a truly honest and human way. 

On 24 April, the much acclaimed gig, “The Music of Dudley Moore” will be with us, with composer, pianist, and brilliant presenter Chris Ingham, Paul Higgs on trumpet, Simon Thorpe on bass, and drummer George Double. Tickets are going well for this gig, so do try not to miss it.

JAZZ AFRICA: THE ORIGINS FROM ROOTS TO NOW

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/4/24

  1. Soul Makossa (Manu Dibango) – an international hit for Dibango in 1972 that inspired (and was effectively borrowed by) the later music of Michael Jackson among others. Makossa is a dance tradition of the Douala people in Cameroon, where Dibango was born.
  2. Shakara (Fela Kuti) 
  3. Mannenberg (Abdullah Ibrahim, formerly known as Dollar Brand) Mannenberg is a township of Cape Town, South Africa, that was created by the apartheid government for low-income “Coloured” families in 1966 as a result of the forced removal campaign by the National Party. The song became an anthem of the struggle against Apartheid, evoking South Africa’s dark past but also celebrating its people and their courageous resistance to oppression.
  4. Aloka Party (Manu Dibango)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Water No Got No Enemy (Fela Kuti)
  2. African Marketplace (Abdullah Ibrahim)
  3. Big Blow (Manu Dibango)
  4. Goro City (Manu Dibango)
  5. Niger Mambo (Randy Weston)

Thoughts on The Jon Lloyd Quartet

Steve says:

We had quite a different style of Jazz last night from that heard over recent weeks at Fleece Jazz, but one that was exceedingly welcome.  The music was quiet and contemplative – a joy to listen to and also to watch the musicians play with such passion and enjoyment. Alex Goodyear was clearly transported by the music, seemingly enraptured by the sound that the band made collectively.  Alex brought a delicate touch to his drumkit that was a wonder to behold, reminding me of the American drummer, Brian Blade, as he used the whole kit in a gentle and yet expressive way.  The image of him finishing one number by simply shaking his brushes in the air encapsulated the fragile beauty of the music heard over the course of the evening.  I suppose the others were not as animated as Alex, but they were none the less vital to the whole sound. Nick Pini’s sensitive propulsive playing, John Law’s classically trained pianism and the beautiful melodicism heard from Jon Lloyd’s tenor and soprano saxes, as well as in his strong and accessible compositions.

P.S. I have ordered both CDs that were on sale last night but were sold out before I could get my copies. This was my first exposure to the music and musicianship of Jon Lloyd. I am converted!

Dave says:

I had been looking forward to this gig since it was booked. Jon Lloyd’sprevious appearance at the club was over ten years ago, and that music is still in my mind.  We need to have him again, much sooner than 10 years from now.

John Law walked into the room, sat at the piano, and ripped off an impossible Bach fugue at great speed, and then played it as it should be heard. I think it was  a warm-up after a very long drive from his home in Somerset. He held that level of pianism throughout the evening. Jon’s music is not difficult, but it is nuanced, and John covered every nuance with either hand.

Nick Piniwarmed up with bowed Bach. We got a bit of bowing from him in the last number, “The Heron”. His pizzicato was the pulse under a lyrical style of playing.

Jon produced a warm, sustained and clear sound throughout on both tenor and soprano. It was his writing throughout the evening. The melodies were lovely, a few were appropriately tough. 

Through the first set, I had a hankering for an upbeat song. Jon seems not to do these. Then, in the last tune of the set, “Earth Song”, Alex Goodyear produced an extended intro with hands only. It was visually spectacular, and came as close to singing that I have ever heard on drums.

On 10 April, Jazz Africa, lead buy Basil Hodge, will carry us from the roots of jazz to jazz today. Basil is on piano, with saxophonist Tony Kofi, Winston Clifford on drums, Jihad Darwish on bass and Stuart Fiddler on guitar. It will be a special evening. 

Do note that the Jazz Africa gig will start at 8:15pm, doors at 7:45pm.

THE JON LLOYD QUARTET

SEATLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 27/3/24

All compositions by Jon Lloyd

  1. Breaking the Waves
  2. Cinq Feuilles
  3. Flux 
  4. Anima 
  5. Earth Song

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Al’Afiyah
  2. Yaga
  3. Meta Meta
  4. The Heron

Thoughts on The Gaz Hughes Trio – Nuclear Bebopalypse, 13 March 2024

The Gaz Hughes Trio - Nuclear Bebopalypes, 13 March 2024

The piano trio is my favourite form, and  bebop my favourite style, so my expectations were high for this gig. My expectations were greatly exceeded. Leader Gaz Hughes’ drumming, Andrzej Baranek’s pianism and Gavin Barras’ bass playing (with lots of lovely bowing) all were superb musicians. As people were leaving, I heard one say “what an amazing bassist!”, another said “that wonderful pianist has a proper left hand”, and a third comment that Gaz “was a drummer to hear again and again”. 

The three were tight together from the off, although the intensely listening audience was a bit of a surprise. By the third number, they were visibly having fun. After the gig, Gaz commented on this gig being so good, I guess compared to others on their long tour. They played for us music that they knew well, no music or music stands, but it sounded fresh as a summer sun shower.

I won’t even try to pick out a favourite. 

Steve said:

“I am currently revisiting last night’s Bebopalypse here, listening to each of the two Gaz Hughes Trio CDs that I bought during the interval.  We were treated to a good mix of original material, covers and standards with each of those immensely talented and soulful musicians playing their hearts out. Hats off to the rhythmically strong and fluid playing of Andrzej Baranek but also to the ever-creative Gaz Hughes using everything at his disposal on the drum kit and the ever-engaging style of Gavin Barras on double bass.  

I can’t help thinking that a good few regulars and occasional visitors to the Fleece missed a Bebopportunity last night. The attached setlist will give some idea.”

That gig was a beauty. But we have another much anticipated beauty for you on Wednesday 27 March. It has been too long since we have heard The Jon Lloyd Quartet. We will have Jon on reeds and the superb pianist John Law, with Nick Pini on bass and drummer Alex Goodyear. Don’t miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

THE GAZ HUGHES TRIO: “NUCLEAR BEBOPALYPSE”

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 13/3/24

  1. Beboptical Illusion (Gaz Hughes)
  2. AB’s Blues (Andrzej Baranek)
  3. Beautiful Moons Ago (Oscar Moore / Nat King Cole)
  4. Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn)
  5. Lullaby of Birdland (George Shearing)
  6. Alice In Wonderland (Sammy Fain)
  7. Nuclear Bebopalypse (Andrzej Baranek/Gaz Hughes)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. I Mean You (Thelonious Monk)
  2. Disinformation (Gavin Barras)
  3. Shootin’ from the Hip! (Gaz Hughes) 
  4. Put On A Happy Face (Charles Strouse / Lee Adams)
  5. White Noise (Gaz Hughes)
  6. Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton)
  7. Seven Steps To Heaven (Victor Feldman, Miles Davis)
  8. Encore: Stompin’ At The Savoy (Edgar Sampson)

Thoughts on Some Kinda Wonderful: The Wonder of Stevie, 21 February 2024

Steve says:

What a tremendous performance we were treated to last night, in fact it felt more like a private party to which we were privileged to be invited. The whole band were on fire, with the irrepressible Noel and Derek leading from the front, catering for a range of music lover, from the die-hard Stevie fans to the old jazzers. Looking around, it was heart-warming to witness such unanimous enjoyment; we had dancing, handclapping, communal singing and sheer delight in the faces of our sell-out audience. 

I have seen the same show at a larger venue, as had the couple next to me from Northampton, but we all agreed that last night’s experience was superior because of the warmth and intimacy of the atmosphere.  Watching Derek seemingly play directly to individual audience members and Noel appearing to serenade others during the encore , the Fleece-effect was working its old magic, and we got the special treatment from musicians who love to visit the club.

Check out the setlist below.

Dave says:

Technically, this was a very complex gig, but we got complemented on the sound. And what sound we got. Six master musicians having the time of their lives. Stunning keyboardist Neil Angilley and top drummer Nic France were amazing. Nic was absolutely in party mode. Tim Cansfield was solid on electric guitars, and lyrical on the acoustic guitar. It was brilliant to see and hear Laurence Cottle: we got a top international player as a dep. Noel McCalla and Derek Nash drove the show. They fired off each other. 

It was an exciting day from the soundcheck to the strike. I want to remember this one when I am asked “what is the best gig you have had at Fleece Jazz”.

Bebop alert! on March 13, Gaz Hughes will bring the excellent piano trio to delight us with “Nuclear Bebopalypes”, With Andrzej Baranek on piano  and Gavin Barras on bass. Come one, come all.

Take care

Dave

Some Kinda Wonderful presents The Music of Stevie Wonder

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 21/2/24

All numbers composed by Stevie Wonder apart from 9, 11 and 17:

 * Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby.

** Ron Miller and Bryan Wells

***Ron Miller and Orlando Morden

+Lee Garrett and Stevie Wonder 

  1.   Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) 1970
  2. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life 1972
  3. Sir Duke 1976
  4. You and I / Blame It On The Sun 1972
  5. Another Star 1976
  6. Golden Lady 1973
  7. Overjoyed 1985 / I Just Called To Say I Love You 1984  Both songs were performed as a duet by Noel and Neil.
  8. Higher Ground 1973

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Uptight (Everything’s Alright)*1965Yester-Me, Yester-You Yesterday**1969 /For Once In My Life***1968
  1. Do I Do 1982
  2. Let’s Get Serious+1980
  3. Lately 1980
  4. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing 1973
  5. Master Blaster (Jammin’) 1980
  6. Isn’t She Lovely 1976
  7. Superstition 1972 / Living for The City 1973 / I Wish 1976
  8. Encore: My Cherie Amour* 1969

On Wednesday 8 May ‘Wakey Blakey’: The Rory Ingham/James Davison Sextet celebrate the music of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers – £20

Rory Ingham Trombone

James Davison Trumpet

Alex Garnett Tenor Sax

Matt Carter Piano

Misha Mullov-Abbado Bass

Luke Tomlinson Drums 

“Art Blakey’s message is in safe hands. Wakey Blakey should be prescribed by the NHS as a tonic for all ailments affecting humankind.”Trevor Bannister, The Jazz Mann

‘Wakey Blakey’ is a new band featuring some of the finest talent on the British Jazz scene playing the music of legendary drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers but with the lesser-known sextet line-up as exemplified by the stellar 1960s front-line of Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Reggie Workman and Art himself. Led jointly by Rory Ingham and James Davison, this project demonstrates hard bop with a frighteningly fresh feel; the music is wildly high-energy and unbelievably swinging.

Of the two joint leaders, Rory Ingham (Jam Experiment, Bonsai), a first-class honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, is also an educator and composer. While still a student he was a runner-up in the 2016 Trombonist of the Year, winner of the 2017 British Jazz Awards Rising Star, and in 2018 winner of the British Trombone Society Awards. Jazzwise magazine credited his effortless virtuosity” while London Jazz News described his style as “richly melodic…”. The other joint leader, James Davison, while still at the Royal Academy of Music was winner of both the Smith-Watkins Trumpet Award (2016) and the Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Musicians Award (2018). A brilliant award-winning trumpeter, he graduated with an MA in Jazz Performance and for this project he undertook the mammoth task of faithfully transcribing the Sextet arrangements from the original albums on Riverside and Blue Note.

Alex Garnett has been one of the leading saxophonists in the UK and Mainland Europe for over two decades, being instantly recognized by his dark, husky sound. A versatile musician and first call sideman, he has enjoyed success as both a jazz artist, composer and arranger, and an in-demand session, studio and commercial saxophonist, having racked up countless recording credits along the way.

Matt Carter studied jazz piano at The Royal Academy of Music under the guidance of Nikki Iles, Tom Cawley and Gwilym Simcock, and studied composition with Pete Churchill.. During that time Matt was involved in some incredible projects including a big band project with Chris Potter and Dave Holland, a small band project run by Laurence Cottle and a symphonic brass project run by Mike Lovett. According to Jazzwise magazine “Carter’s own piano is as tasteful and neatly phrased as you could wish.”

Award-winning, London-based jazz bass player, composer and arranger Misha Mullov-Abbado is a musician who combines great imagination with raw talent and a clear vision. A BBC New Generation Artist and with a “melodic gift” (John Fordham, The Guardian) and ability to masterfully combine beautifully-crafted compositions with free-spirited improvisation.

Taking the role of Art Blakey is Luke Tomlinson, a London based professional musician, drummer, band leader and educator. Since graduating in 2019 from the Royal Academy of Music with a First Class Honours Degree, Luke has begun to firmly establish himself as one of the most in-demand young musicians in London, performing regularly at some of the most prestigious venues in the UK, include the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Jazz Café Camden as well as a number of performances on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3.

We’re looking forward to a brilliant evening of swinging, high energy jazz.

Thoughts on John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” – 14 February 2024

Thoughts on John Etheridge's "Blue Spirits" - 14 February 2024

Dave here, still buzzing from “Blue Spirits”. We delight in them every time they come, but this time: John Etheridge, Pete Whittaker and George Double were in an intense and happy mood. It was special. A favourite? Difficult, but I know “Soul Eyes” and this band’s rendition was a knockout.

Steve loved it too, and provided words and the setlist.

Take care,

Dave

I know this is getting to be a regular thing but WOW! Of the three occasions when I have seen the Blue Spirits Trio, that had to be the very best.  John was on great form musically, but a special mention must go to Pete Whittaker for his performance on organ which added a whole new layer to the sound of John’s guitar and created a beautiful and exhilarating wall of sound effect together with George Double’s drumwork. A lot of people (a lot, was it 100?)  went home very happy and I heard one lady enthusing during the interval queue for CDs saying that it was her first time at Fleece Jazz and that she wants to come back for the Jazz Africa gig.

Stand out moment for me was the heart-wrenching encore “Little Wing” – a truly emotional performance with which to round off the evening.

John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” 14th February 2024

  1. Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
  2. You Don’t Know Me (Eddy Arnold/Cindy Walker) Best known by Ray Charles’ version 
  3. Fungii Mama (Blue Mitchell)
  4. The Stars Apart (John Etheridge)
  5. Cold, Cold Heart (Hank Williams)
  6. Distant Voice (John Etheridge)

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. God Bless The Child (Billie Holliday & Arthur Herzog Junior)  Solo guitar performance by John Etheridge
  1. Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster) Best known by Doris Day’s version from Calamity Jane, later covered by Kathy Kirby
  1. Soul Eyes (Mal Waldron )
  2. Do Like Eddie (John Scofield) Dedicated to Eddie Harris
  3. Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers (Stevie Wonder) Best known by Jeff Beck’s performance on ‘Blow by Blow’ but also performed by Syreeta on ‘Stevie Wonder presents Syreeta
  4. First Moves (Sonny Rollins)
  5. Encore: Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix)