Thoughts on The Gaz Messengers, 11 May 2022

Now, that was a joy! Given who was in the band, it was going to be good, but it was exceptional. Gaz Hughes led from the drums. Bruce Adams brought both trumpet and flugel. Alan Barnes played tenor and alto saxes. Andrzej Baranek was our pianist, very special.  We had a wonderful dep on bass; Mike Reed. It was one of those sound checks where I learned a lot, as they went through the music. They were celebrating the great Art Blakey, and I am sure he would have been pleased with the gig.

We had quite a large (and very listening) audience. They all went home glowing. Our photog, Peter, was not able to be at the club (new hip, now recovering), but luckily, a photography student, Peter Bushby had asked to do a portfolio, so we used his shots. 

Thanks again to Steve Jordan for the beautifully annotated set list.

Take care,

Dave

  1. A Bitter Dose (Bobby Watson)
  2. Arabia (Curtis Fuller) Curtis Fuller was a trombonist and a Jazz Messenger between 1961 -1965
  3. Easy Living (Ralph Rainger) originally composed for a film of the same name in 1937. The song later became associated with Billie Holiday who recorded it for Decca in 1947 with her own orchestra.
  4. Crisis (Freddie Hubbard) Freddie Hubbard was a trumpet player and a Jazz Messenger between 1961 and 1965
  5. The Soulful Mr. Timmons (James Williams) Bobby Timmons was a jazz pianist in Art Blakey’s band between 1958-1961
  6. Caravan (Ellington/Juan Tizol; arranged by Art Blakey) When Art Blakey recorded this for the album of the same name, he kicked off with a short sharp drum feature. Hubbard’s trumpet attacked the first solo and a fluent set of improvisations that are tight, exciting and bristle with expertise, ensues from each player.

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Duck Soup (Art Blakey)
  2. One by One (Wayne Shorter)
  3. Body and Soul (Johnny Green) featuring Andrzej Baranek
  4. 10. A Wheel Within A Wheel (Bobby Watson)
  5. 11.We’ll Be Together Again (Carl T. Fischer)
  6. 12.Moanin’ (Bobby Timmons)

      ENCORE: Ping Pong (Wayne Shorter)

Thoughts on Julian Costello’s “Connections”, 27 April 2022

On Wednesday last, Julian Costello (soprano and tenor), David Beebee (piano), Dave Jones (5 string bass) and Eric Ford (drums) gave us a gig that will stand in the memory. Steve Jordan has written the bulk of this post, but I wanted to mention the lyricism and dynamics of all four of the players. The variation of dynamics throughout each song and even through long single notes was remarkable.

And now Stephen…
What a wonderful gig we had on Wednesday evening and what a pity that more people weren’t there to hear it. I’m not clear why but sincerely hope our audiences pick up – I worry that the “cost of living crisis” is hitting people hard and evenings out are being sacrificed. Our next gig will be a test of how true that is.It was a thoughtful presentation and programme, and I want them back soon.

So many of the numbers told a story, as our host and saxophonist Julian said. Sunflowers – about his dad’s night-time raid on an angry French farmer’s field; a tune, based on the intro to the theme tune for the TV series Morse about cosy evenings indoors; Look At Yourself With A Smile – a therapist’s advice; Everyone Has A Story (I think) about missing his Maths ‘O’ Level exam on the third attempt! Oh dear, we have all had those moments in our lives.
But, but, but …… he didn’t explain the beautiful encore which I recognised as Sting’s Fragile. Below are the lyrics to the first verse of the song, which Sting released in 1988:

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

Whether Julian chose this number for its potential relevance to the carnage currently taking place in the Ukraine, I do not know. Either way, it was a very apt and poignant choice and beautifully executed with Julian leading on the soprano saxophone.

SETLIST

Lonnie’s Lament (John Coltrane) based on Kenny Garrett’s interpretation
Sunflowers (Costello)
Morse (Costello)
Untitled (Costello)
Look At Yourself With a Smile (Costello)
Bridges (Costello)

  • * * * * * *

La Rosita (Coleman Hawkins)
Blackbird (Paul McCartney)
Everyone Has A Story (Costello)
Phrygian Blues (Costello)
Caravan (Duke Ellington)
Encore: Fragile (Sting)

Thoughts on Elaine Delmar and her Trio, 23 March 2022

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

We had this truly wonderful singer and he wants to talk about the band? Accompanying a singer is a special art, and not every even great musician is very good at it. Last Wednesday we heard a singer with such subtle phrasing which varies in depth at need, and a monster range of pitch, level and timber. The band has to hear that and support  it; a very difficult thing to do. The famous classical accompanist, Gerald Moore, would have agreed. And this band? Perfection.

I can’t stop listening to her 2005 recording (Everything I Love, Joy EDC002) of Porter songs. Elaine Delmar gave us an evening of songs by the  Cole Porter. and other geniuses; it was a beautifully constructed evening. She sings all of the verses, which is a rarity, sadly. Elaine’s live performance is such a treat. She keeps the chat to a minimum, so we get lots of songs (see the set list that Steve Jordan made). For her, the audience is part of her performance; they love her and she loves them back. She even allowed community singing for “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”. 

I was deeply affected by “Killing Me Softly with His Songs”. Elaine seems to have  a team of voices, such is her range of timbre, and she used them to such effect in this song, She sang “Summertime” with just Simon Thorpe’s bass accompaniment. Elaine used a deep low register timer for most of this song, so beautiful. In “I Got Rhythm” she used her upper registers, both sweet and sassy. And the breath control; Holding a note for bar after bar with constant pitch and volume, always beautiful.

Elaine left lots of room for the band to solo. Lovely work from Barry Green, Simon Thorpe and Bobby Worth. I would hire them as a trio anytime.

The sound was not as good as it should in the first set. Someone had put up large mirrors all around our room. The acoustic was like a badly designed cathedral. I got it a lot better for the second set.

The next gig is Julian Costello’s “Connections” . Expect lots of melodic lyricism from this fine saxophone quartet.

Take care,

Dave

ELAINE DELMAR AND HER TRIO SETLIST AT FLEECE JAZZ, 13/04/22 SET LIST: (Steve Jordan)

It Might As Well Be Spring (Rodgers and Hammerstein)

Stairway to Paradise (George and Ira Gershwin)

Let Me Love You (Bart Howard)

Honeysuckle Rose (Fats Waller)

Killing Me Softly With His Song (Roberta Flack)

I’m Going To Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter  ( Fats Waller)

If You Love Me (Original music written by Marguerite Monnot Original lyrics written by Edith Piaf Translated to English by Geoffrey Parsons)

Hymn for Jobim (Duncan Lamont)

There’s A Boat That’s Leaving Soon For New York (Gershwin)

Send In The Clowns (Stephen Sondheim)

Where or When (Rodgers and Hart)

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

I Got Rhythm (Gershwin)

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Rodgers and Hart)

No More Blues (Antonio Carlos Jobim) Original was “Chega de Saudade”

Like a Lover (Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Dori Caymmi, Nelson Motta)

Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar)

Joy (don’t know)

I Won’t Last A Day Without You (Paul Williams)

S’Wonderful (Gershwin)

It’s Alright With Me (Cole Porter)

Summertime (Gershwin)

I Get A Kick Out Of You (Cole Porter)

ENCORE: Yours Sincerely (Rodgers and Hart)

Thoughts on Martin Speake’s Universal Connections, 9 March 2022

Surprise! Hans Koller plays great Euphonium as well as  very fine piano. That is, his playing that is very fine, but he does like our piano.

Martin Speake brings a band of heavy listeners: himself on alto, Hans, Anders Christenssen on bass and Anders Mogensen on drums. Indeed, this is music that requires listening. It is filled with lyricism and emotion, built on great technique and a band in each others minds. I have no favourites. Most of the music is from Martin’s hand. One, “Balance”, is recognisably based on Parkers “Moose the Mooche”.

Our audience are great listeners too, and they enjoyed the gig thoroughly.

Steve Jordan has provided us with a set list. Martin does not announce all of hs songs, but Steve did very well.

  1. Bouncy (Martin Speake
  2. Unannounced (but very likely from the Universal Connection recording)
  3. Unannounced (but very likely from the Universal Connection recording)
  4. Four Four (Martin Speake)
  5. What is there to say? (Vernon Duke/Yip Harburg)

A jazz standard performed by Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole and Gerry Mulligan

  1. Father Sky (Martin Speake)

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Balance (Martin Speake)

Based on Charlie Parker’s Moose The Mooche)

  1. Heaven Energy (Martin Speake)
  2. Dissolving Illusions (Martin Speake)
  3. 10.Conspiracy Observer (Martin Speake)
  4. 11.Unannounced 
  1. 12.ENCORE: Unannounced
  2. Take care
  3. Dave

On Wednesday, 24th August 2022: Zoe Schwarz’ Blue Commotion, £18

Zoe Schwarz Vocals

Rob Koral Guitars

Pete Whittaker Organ

Paul Robinson Drums

Some quotes from live gigs:

“A different level of class. Zoe’s vocal: powerful yet vulnerable. Rob, Pete and Paul turned out a masterclass in Schofield-esque sophistication”

“This is a band of exceptional quality, fronted by the stellar vocals of Zoe Schwarz; you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to enjoy them” 

“Powerful singing, great guitar work, phenomenal Hammond… a great set and Zoe is such a stylish performer”

I had not intended using so many quotes, but so many good things have been written about this outfit. Of Zoe: “She also sings with honesty, emotion and intensity” (David J.Scott, Blues Revue)

And from Zoe herself:

“Blues isn’t about twelve bars. It’s about passion and melancholy; it’s about world weary angst.” 

Come join us for blues at its best.

On Wednesday, 13th July 2022: Bryan Corbett’s Hi-Fly Quintet, £20.

Bryan Corbett Trumpet/Flugel

Chris Bowden Sax

Matt Ratcliffe Piano

Tom Hill Bass

Carl Hemmingsley Drums

This outstanding quintet celebrate the year 1959 in jazz that saw the release of some of the most revered jazz albums such as Miles Davis’ ‘Kind Of Blue’, Charles Mingus’ ‘Mingus Ah Um’, Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ and Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ as well as ‘Blowing The Blues Away’ by Horace Silver amongst others by Benny Golson etc etc……

As well as performing under his own name, Bryan Corbett has been performing with world renowned stars, a who’s who in the jazz and commercial world. Bryan is not only a great performer of the jazz standards repertoire but an artist who pushes the boundaries writing and performing original works with his various line-ups. ‘A warm brilliant tone and formidable technique’ (the Independent). 

My favourite quote: “Bryan is one of the chosen few. Class, pure class, plays from the heart, every note has a reason to live. Truly someone who can sing through his instrument.”{Andy Taylor, who makes Bryan’s trumpets).

Saxophonist Chris Bowden works as an arranger and performer with a highly individual style. He first came to prominence with his 1996 funk/acid/Latin-jazz album ‘Time Capsule’.  Matt Ratcliffe has performed with a wide range of jazz musicians in clubs and festivals across the U.K. 

 

On Wednesday, 8th June 2022: Sara Oschlag/Jonny Hepbir Quartet, £18

Sara Oschlag Vocals

Jonny Hepbir Guitar

Jason Henson Guitar

Dan Sheppard Bass

Sara has a beautiful voice, a natural musician’s ear and a superb sense of swing. Jim Mullen says of her, “She displays a maturity beyond her years in her song selection as well as her interpretation and whether swinging hard or caressing a ballad, Sara takes the listener on a journey, breathing new life into the old standards”.

She says, “Being a musician is teamwork. You gotta listen to each other & support each other musically: be the foundation, guide or give space. But always listen & look around. Without communication there is no jazz. “ And she has a very fine team.

A quote about the band: “”you guys are good… really good!” (Sir Paul McCartney). 

The band offers a vibrant blend of Gypsy Swing, funky Latin tunes and cool Jazz Standards, spanning across the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, all mashed up with some snappy arrangements and played from the heart.

 

On Wednesday, May 11th, 8:00pm – The Gaz Messengers, £20

Gaz Hughes Drums and Bandleader

Alan Barnes Saxes

Bruce Adams Trumpet

Andrzej Baranek  Piano

Ed Harrison Bass

Tonight, drummer Gaz Hughes will honour the music of one of the true jazz drumming greats in a glorious quintet with Alan Barnes on saxes, Bruce Adams on trumpet,  Andrzej Baranek  on piano and Ed Harrison on bass. The art of ‘Jazz Messenger’ Art Blakey (1919–1990) – described by fellow drummer Max Roach as ‘Thunder’ – is captured superbly by Hughes.

The feel-good factor is there: this band’s easier-swinging interpretation is refreshing, with Bruce Adams’ piercing trumpet improv a stand-out. The entire ensemble sparkles as one; and whilst classic jazz numbers are just that, it will be great to hear them portrayed by today’s players and with their depth and clarity.

Thoughts on Simon Thorpe’s “Jivin’ Miss Daisy”, 23 February 2022

We had a thoroughly enjoyable fun evening with this superb band. I have to confess that with 9 musicians, four of whom sang, there were very many mics on stage. There were a multitude of  opportunities for feedback. An eagle eye was needed on the desk. I did not have time to write notes.

So I can’t walk your through the songs, but I can say a bit about the band members. Just to say that I enjoyed every solo and the stunning horn choruses.

The revelation was Liz Fletcher. What a beautiful singer: great voice, great presentation, very sexy. She belted with the full band accompanying, and purred in the duet with Simon on bass. 

Simon Thorpe has been mothering this band since 1999. His arrangements are wonderful, and the programme was nicely variable. There was even some audience dancing to the faster numbers! Surprise,Simon sings as well. 

George Hogg  stepped in for Enrico Tomasso at the last moment. George is a delightful trumpeter. He went through quite a variety of mutes during the show. His flugel playing is mellow but still clear.

Malcolm Earl Smith Is a fine jazz singer and excellent trombonist.

Luke Annesley played alto sax and clarinet. His clarinet playing seemed  to me to be influenced by Arty Shaw, not a bad model.

Alex Garnett blew a storm on the tenor sax. He was a backing singer on one song, very good.

Colin Oxley on guitar was, as always, a real pleasure to hear.

John Pearce has played for us many times. His mastery of the piano is alway welcome.

Matt Skelton (as seen on the proms) plays the room so well.

In two weeks time, Martin Speake’s “Universal Connections”: lyricism, subtlety and great musicianship.

Take care,

Dave

Thoughts on Nighthawks: Jazz from the Movies – 9 February 2022

This band was a delight from first note to last. We had a programme of film related music: some from the movies, and some by our leader, Bassist George Trebar  It was so nice to have people who had not played for us before: George, Pete Hill on drums and pianist Roy Hilton. Altoist Matt Wates is  often with us and so welcome.

I will append the set list from Steve Jordan. It is difficult to pick out highlights as all the solos hit the spot. The first two tunes set the tone for us, by which time the band was at home with the space and the audience. Some were surprised at the fact we have a listening audience, and found that great to play to.

The theme from the file “Taxi Driver” had solos from Matt and George that told the story beautifully. Similarly on “Laura”, Georges bass solo, with strong use of vibrato caught the mysterious edgy story that the lyrics tell. I love instrumentalists who tell stories.Matt always seems to tell a story with his solos.

“Night Owls” was one of Georges tunes. Both Roy and Pete had excellent solos on this one.

I hope we see this group again soon. They were having a great time, so so did we.

Take care,

Dave

 

Set list:

  1. On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislaw Kaper)

Performed by Miles Davis and Bill Evans amongst others. From film of the same name from1947

  1. Night Owls (George Trebar)
  1. Stella by Starlight (Victor Young)

From film, The Uninvited. Has been performed by Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra amongst others.

  1. Theme from Taxi Driver (Bernard Herrmann)
  1. Laura (Johnny Mercer/David RaskinDune”.) From film of the same name from1944.
  1. Maudib (George Trebar) For the hero of the novel, “
  1. Gone with the Wind (Allie Wrubel/Herb Magidson)                      Popular song performed by Frank Sinatra and Clifford Brown amongst others. Not related to the film.

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Invitation (Bronislaw Kaper) Originally used in the film, ‘A Life of her Own’, but it only became a jazz standard after being used in the 1952 film of the same name.
  1. Midnight Cowboy (John Barry)
  1. 10.What are you doing the rest of your life? (Michel Legrand) from the film, ‘The Happy Ending’ (1969)
  1. 11.Sal’s Paradise (George Trebar)

Inspired by a character from Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ about the Beat Generation.

  1. 12.If I Were A Bell (Frank Loesser) from the musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’ (1950)
  1. 13. Just Friends (John Klenner). Performed by Chet Baker in his 1988 film, ‘Let’s Get Lost’. It is a jazz standard that has been performed by Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker amongst others.
  1. 14.ENCORE: Straight, No Chaser (Thelonious Monk)