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

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) 

Thoughts on Cannonball and Nat – 24 January 2024

Dave here, still reeling after last night’s wonderful gig. Thinking of what to write, the word “Joyous” was first to pop out. Then I read Steve’s letter with the set list attached. He wrote…

What an utterly joyous gig we had last night courtesy of “Cannonball and Nat” aka Pete Long, Ryan Quigley, Chris Ingham, Malcolm Creese and George Double.  

It was a revelation, a totally uninhibited celebration of the wonderful music of the Adderley brothers.  Much thanks must go to the exuberant and hilarious compering of Pete Long, who whipped our audience into a good-natured frenzy, but also the driving energy of all of the musicians.  It would be difficult and, in fact, pointless to single out any of the numbers as a high point – there was absolutely no let-up in the pace of the performance except for the ballad medley which the musicians (and audience) needed to get their breath back.  That said, particular favourites with our audience were The Jive Samba and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy with the accompanying whoops and hollers echoing and recapturing the enthusiasm of the crowds in the original recordings.  But then what about Jeanine and Sticks and Ryan Quigley’s beautiful rendition of Skylark. 

A lot of people went home elated and content last night thanks to the boundless energy of five very hard-working musicians. I had a view across the stage and the looks of unashamed pleasure in the faces of the audience said it all.

Steve

I would just add that the trading 8’s and 4’s between the two horns in “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was spectacular. 

We are greatly looking forward the the great guitarist and storyteller John Etheridge, with Pete Whitaker on organ and drummer George Double. I hope to see you with us on Wednesday February 14th.

Take care,

Dave

“CANNONBALL & NAT”

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 24/1/24

  1. Fiddler on the Roof (Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick)
  2. Save Your Love for Me (Buddy Johnson) from the album Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.
  3. Unit 7 (Sam Jones) also from the album Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.
  4. Jive Samba (Nat Adderley)
  5. Azule Serape (Victor Feldman)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Del Sasser (Sam Jones)
  2. Jeanine (Duke Pearson)
  3. I’m In the Mood For Love(Jimmy McHugh) /Laura(David Raksin) /Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael)
  4. Sticks (Julian Adderley)
  5. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Josef Zawinul)

Encore: Work Song (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown Jr)

Thoughts on Q3 featuring Kevin Flanagan – 10 January 2024

The first gig of 2024 was a great start to what looks like a very exciting season.  I note that we described Kevin Flanagan as “master saxophonist”, and boy, he blew a stunning gig. Kevin is very well known to us and loved, but the other three who were new to us, were masters as well. 

The band was led by pianist and composer Martin Hallmark. All but two of the tunes played were his compositions. He gave us a varied programme of thoughtful music. He is a wonderful pianist.

Derek Scurll knows how to play the room. He is a very skilled drummer, perfect support for the band.

The revelation was 5 string electric bassist Tiago Coimbra. His speed and invention were quite wonderful. He used a little stomp box on two numbers that I noticed. The effects were very appropriate to the tunes, and they did not blast distortion at us. The last tune of the first set, “Nomads”, was a lovely example of that (see Steves note in the set list).

Steve actually got the set list from Martin: it is a bit of a  rarity to have a programme solidly fixed. So when  the audience asked for an encore, they had nothing ready. Kevin suggests a blues, which was met with approval. He titled it “Born of Desperation”. Without the restriction of written music, the four of them blew a beautiful blues.

Next up, on the 24 of the month, tenorist Pete Long and trumpeter Ryan Quigley will celebrate the music of the brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderly, with Chris Ingham on piano, Malcolm Creese on bass and George Double on drums. It will be a cracker. Do join us.

Take care

Dave

Q3 featuring KEVIN FLANAGAN

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/1/24

All numbers composed by Martin Hallmark except for African Skies which was composed by Michael Brecker.

  1.   Through the Clouds
  2. Odyssey – played as a trio and a homage to the late, great Chick Corea with whom Martin spent some time in a piano workshop.
  3. Lost at Sea
  4. N.J.B.
  5. A Good Day For Breathing
  6. Emerald Eyes
  7. Nomads – a middle eastern flavoured number with Tiago Coimbra’s electric bass sounding like an oud!

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Fuzzy Hacker-tat
  2. African Skies
  3. Rondo di Girulata 
  4. Equipoise
  5. Water Speckled Midnight
  6. Nocturne – reflecting Martin’s attempts to play Chopin during the pandemic credited for getting his left hand moving better on the piano.
  7. Turnaround Time (Martin Hallmark)

ENCORE: A Blues

Thoughts on Ben, Bean, Bird and Barnes, Thursday 28 December 2023

When Steve sent over the setlist  below,  he said, “What a wonderful gig with which to finish the year and Fleece season. Alan is a brilliant compere as well as a huge talent.”. I can’t imagine  that anyone in the crowd (and what a crowd it was) would disagree. It was being at home with jazz royalty: raconteur Alan Barnes on alto sax, clarinet, and baritone sax; Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor sax; Jim Watson on piano; Andrew Cleyndert on bass; Clark Tracey on drums. The gig included music composed and performed by Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins (nicknamed Bean) and Charlie Parker, and two by Alan. There was time for everybody to have extended solos. I have no favourites: it was a spectacularly good evening.

Alan played the audience superbly. There was just enough  information about each tune to satisfy, with anecdotes about the three B’s, and he had us in stitches with his easy pointed humour. I got the strong impression from watching the other four performers that Alan was improvising his chat. We know him well, but his musical speed and invention still surprises us. He made a joke about using the clarinet on “Body and Soul” as a chance to practice, and then used his incredible technique to enhance his feelings for the song and for  Vasilis’ solos. 

Jim’s solo on the first number, “Bean and the Boys”, was truly exciting, and our quiet listening audience was whooping after it. If you are going to play Ben Webster tunes, the warm tenor saxophone tone produced by Vasilis seemed perfect. Andrew if anything has grown as a bassist over the years; solid pulse with constant invention. And Clark; continuous genius at work.  But the key from all four that made it so brilliant was the palpable listening. 

It has been a very good year at Fleece Jazz. Band after band came and played for us, playing wonderfully and showing us the huge range that the genre has. B, B, B, and Barnes was a stunning climax to the year.   But it would be wrong to end this note without thanks to the people who volunteer to make the club work.

So what about next year?  Well, starting off with Kevin Flanagan on sax is a very good beginning. The Martin Hallmark (piano) quartet, with Kevin, Tiago Coimbra on bass and drummer Derek Scurll is on Wednesday 10 January, It will be great to have your company for the gig.

Take care,

Dave

BEN, BEAN, BIRD AND BARNES

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 28/12/23

  1. Bean and the Boys (Coleman Hawkins) – based on ‘Lover Come Back To Me’
  2. Los Caracoles (Alan Barnes)
  3. Walking the Frog (Ben Webster) BW was jokingly referred to as ‘The Frog’ by fellow musicians owing to his facial appearance and not, as Alan Barnes suggested, because he could catch insects with his tongue!
  4. Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton) – a jazz standard and ballad notably performed by both Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.
  5. Billie’s Bounce (Charlie Parker)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Spotlite (Coleman Hawkins)
  2. Did You Call Her Today? (Ben Webster) based on ‘Just You, Just Me’
  3. Chelsea Bridge (Duke Ellington) often performed by Ben Webster
  4. Mango (Alan Barnes)
  5. Frog Eyes (Clark Terry) dedicated to Ben Webster
  6. ENCORE: Yardbird Suite (Charlie Parker)

Thoughts on Joanna Eden and The Chris Ingham Trio, 21 November 2023

When Joanna Eden and Chris Ingham appear together, they usually do a double act. Not this time. It was Joanna’s show, and what a wonderful show it was. She took us from the beginning of Ella Fitzgerald’s career to the end. She was backed by Chris on piano, Andres Lafone on bass and George Double on drums, a perfect trio to support the lady (“Ella’s fellas”).

Joanna had structured the programme beautifully. She opened with a blast, “Get Happy”, which Ella often opened with. She kept to the structure of Ella’s career. I did not know that she wrote the second verse to “Manhattan” to get her birthplace in (it’s Yonkers). Her early life was a mile less than a joy, so “Someone to Watch Over Me” was spot on with Joanna’s narrative.

And then “A-Tisket-A-Tasket”, a simple number based on an old nursery rhyme with a tune identical to that other children’s rhyme “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”. This was Ella’s audition piece that won her first prize with a song at a dance contest and went on to become her breakthrough hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1938.

Joanna’s story-telling was illuminating throughout the gig. Her singing was all we expected of her. She is a musician to the core, with phrasing, timbre and her presentation integral to the song she is presenting. That is a real joy.

She had songs with pairs and individuals from the trio. Chris is a superb accompanist. Andres is new to us: he is a terrific bassist, and his work with Joanna was lovely. A song with just George? Amazing.

Joanna told us that Ella fell in love with bebop, and actually took lessons from Dizzy Gillespie. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for those lessons! “ A Night in Tunisia” and “How High the Moon” gave Joanna space to scat, and she was excellent. Famously, while performing in West Berlin in 1960, Ella launched into a cover of “Mack The Knife”. She didn’t know the lyrics too well and midway through the song, she completely forgot them. When in doubt, what does a jazz singer do? Scat! Ella’s version went on to become a big Grammy-winning performance from her live album, Ella in Berlin, proving what an expert improviser she was.

It was a pleasure to see how our large audience hung on every note as they watched Joanna and the band with love and admiration. Every number was enthusiastically received; the murmurs of warm appreciation were clearly audible as she launched into “The Man I Love” at the end of the first set, “The Very Thought of You” and “Miss Otis Regrets” in the second set. It would be difficult and an unnecessary diversion to pick a favourite moment as the whole performance was seamless and went far too quickly before the audience were calling for an encore. Our band, generous as ever, obliged with the tear-jerking “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” – a fitting end to a wonderful evening’s performance.

On Wednesday 13 December, we get to hear the power of award winning saxophonist Ed Jones. He is joined by Ross Stanley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums. Ed raises the temperature whenever he solos. Do come.

Take care,
Dave and Steve

JOANNA EDEN & THE CHRIS INGHAM TRIO: EMBRACEABLE ELLA
SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 21/11/23
1. Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
2. Someone To Watch Over Me (George & Ira Gershwin)
3. Manhattan (Rodgers & Hart)
4. A-Tisket-A-Tasket (Traditional nursery rhyme extended by Ella Fitzgerald & Al Feldman
5. Caravan (Juan Tizol & Duke Ellington)
6. (If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr Paganini) (Sam Coslow)
7. Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard & Kenneth Casey)
9. Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love To Keep You Warm mash-up (Connee Boswell)/Irving Berlin)
10. The Man I Love (George & Ira Gershwin)
*          *          *           *         *        *        *
11. The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble)
12. A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie)
13. The Midnight Sun originally an instrumental composed by Lionel Hampton & Sonny Burke. Lyrics were later added by Johnny Mercer.
14. Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter)
15. You Turn The Tables On Me (Louis Alter & Sidney D. Mitchell)
16. How High The Moon (Nancy Hamilton & Morgan Lewis)
17. Embraceable You (George & Ira Gershwin)
18. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Frank Loesser)
19. Mack The Knife (Kurt Weill/ Bertolt Brecht)
ENCORE: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)

Thoughts on The Trish Clowes Quartet – “My Iris”, 8 November 2023

Maybe it is something to do with the club. After the gig, Trish was radiant: she was happy with the performance, but she spoke about the club. She mentioned the setup, the help, the sound (thank you). Her music is not easy, and not to everybody’s taste. It requires some work and close listening, and some thought afterward. This is my favourite kind of music. 

The musicianship, of course, was splendid. The band was led by Trish Clowes on tenor sax, Ross Stanley on Hammond B3, Chris Montague on guitar, and drummer Joel Barford. 

The band’s music is about power, freedom and variety. The first thing we hear on “Brooke”, the first number of the gig, is Joel’s emphatic repeated riff, almost like a drum version of a baroque ground bass.Through most of the tunes, the mood and tempo varied, from almost frantic explosions of  sound to the soft, warm sounds of a ballad. All four of them produced an amazing range of sound. Note that this was not free jazz. They were reading the intros and heads. They did have considerable obligato freedom during other people’s solos.

Trish is an exceptional player. She seems to use her entire body to produce the sounds. There were growls, bright clear sounds and beautiful soft balladic sequences. Her up tempo solos found her playing at quite incredible speed, but it seemed to me that it always had meaning. She also announced the tunes with enough explanation, no extended anecdotes. 

Chris used his minimal stomp box set very well to provide colours appropriate to the music. He  is embedded in Trish’s writing, and if I understand correctly, was involved in the orchestration. He had some spectacular solos.

Joel also had some solos to remember. He is a very powerful drummer, but with the ability to switch to brushes and be almost lyrical in the balladic sections of some tunes. His position in the centre of the stage rather than the more usual position with us, to one side, emphasized his central drive  of the music.

And Ross. We have always anticipated with delight his arrival on organ especially, and on piano. He did not disappoint, but how he played was quite different from the standard jazz organ repertoire. I knew that the Hammond B3 was a versatile instrument, but for Trish’s music, Ross made it like a whole sound effects department. The sounds matched Trish, with howls, explosions, and most often lyrical improvisation. I just loved his work.

This all sounds very po-faced and serious. It was certainly not. Trish, Ross, Chris and Joel had a great time. So did we. So did Steve, who supplied the set list below.

The next gig will be very different: we will have Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Trio – “Embraceable Ella”.  Joanna is a stunning vocalist. I expect that between Joanna and Chris, the research will be immaculate  and often very funny. So come expecting the music of a great icon played and sung by wonderful musicians. 

Take care,

Dave

TRISH CLOWES MY IRIS QUARTET

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 08/11/23

  1. Brooke (Trish Clowes)
  2. Uncle (Trish Clowes)
  3. Another One For Wayne (Trish Clowes) – a tribute to the late, great Wayne Shorter. Included eferences to ‘Nefertiti’ by Shorter (from the Miles Davis album of the same name).
  4. Ashford Days (Ross Stanley) – a tribute to the late British Jazz pianist John Taylor
  5. The Ness (Trish Clowes)
  6. Don’t Wait (Trish Clowes)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. A View with a Room (Trish Clowes)
  2. Truth Teller (Trish Clowes)
  3. Into The Air (Trish Clowes)
  4. Amber (Trish Clowes)
  5. Not My Usual Type (Chris Montague)
  6. Free To Fall (Trish Clowes)

On Wednesday 14 February Blue Spirits – £20

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.

On Wednesday 13 March, The Gaz Hughes Trio “Nuclear Bebopalypse” – £18

Gaz Hughes Drums

Andrzej Baranek Piano

Gavin Barras Bass

The Gaz Hughes Trio “Nuclear Bebopalypse”

“They rarely deliver anything less than excellence and today topped just about everything that had preceded it. I feel sad for the squares who weren’t there” – Bebop Spoken Here

“Incredible” – Ginger Baker

Gaz Hughes is a renowned jazz drummer and band leader, who first gained wide public attention as the original drummer in the Matthew Halsall Band. He has played a significant role in the early recordings of the Gondwana label and has been a highlight on the album “On The Go”, which won the Best Jazz Album of the Year at the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards in 2012, and was nominated for the Best Jazz Album MOBO Awards in 2011.

Andrzej Baranek has performed with many UK jazz stars including Dave O’Higgins and Enrico Tomasso. He is one of the most in-demand accompanists about.

Gavin Barras studied music at the University of Manchester, receiving private tuition from Roberto Carillo-Garcia and Corin Long. While studying classical music Gavin continued developing his love for jazz and received lessons from Steve Berry in jazz bass. Gavin has played with musicians such as saxophonists Tim Garland, Dave O’Higgins, Iain Dixon and Ed Jones; trumpeters Neil Yates and Steve Waterman; pianists Les Chisnall, Dan Whieldon, Rick Simpson and Zoe Rahman, to name but a few.

On Wednesday 27 March, The Jon Lloyd Quartet – £18

Jon Lloyd Saxes

John Law Piano

Nick Pini Bass

Alex Goodyear Drums 

The John Lloyd Quartet

This UK based group presents vibrant European Contemporary Jazz, played by a quartet of superb musicians…

The leader and composer is tenor and soprano saxophonist Jon Lloyd. Jon has been part of the UK jazz and free music scene for several decades, and has now turned his attention to European contemporary jazz, writing vibrant, melodic and emotionally direct jazz compositions. The quartet comprises the virtuosic John Law (Congregation, Re-Creations) on piano, Nick Pini (Jonathan Gee, Iain Ballamy) on double bass and Alex Goodyear (Yetii) on drums. 

Lloyd’s tunes are steeped in the ECM aesthetic, and he and long-time collaborator John Law on piano make it sound like the only music you ever want to hear.” – John Turney, London Jazz News (Swanage Festival, July 2023)

This tour we are playing music from our new Ubuntu release “Earth Songs” for the first time! 

“We present melodic, exciting and engaging compositions written by me specifically for this quartet. The members of this group have a wealth of experience across jazz and contemporary music and interpret my pieces perfectly; with intelligence, energy, sensitivity, respect and enormous skill.Jon Lloyd, October 2023

Here is an excellent review of the band.