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,


  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.


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,



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

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,


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,



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)


Thoughts on Blue Spirit, John Etheridge’s Trio on 26 January 2022

I have had lots going on at home, so I have just got around to writing about this delicious gig. So this will be a short one from me.

We had John Etheridge on just one guitar but a load of stomp boxes (up high on a music stand, finger stomp). On organ was Pete Whittaker, and George Double was on drums. This trio has lots of history, and they knew each other well. It was the three people, one mind thing. And this while having a huge amount of fun, as did the lovely audience.

The funky bluesy programme was all a delight, and John’s chat was great fun as always I am going to finish off with a set list of the programme written by Steve Jordan, for which much thanks.

Take care



Set list:

  1. Careless Love (W.C. Handy/Spencer Williams)

Best known by Madeleine Peyroux’s version

  1. Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell)

Best known by Ray Charles’ version

  1. Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster)

Best known by Doris Day’s versionfrom Calamity Jane , later covered by Kathy Kirby

  1. Broken Hill (John Etheridge)

Best known from Soft Machine era

  1. Cold cold heart (Hank Williams)
  1. Do Like Eddie (John Scofield) Dedicated to Eddie Harris

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. God Bless The Child (Billie Holliday & Arthur Herzog Junior)
  1. Msunduza (Abdullah Ibrahim)

Performed when Ibrahim was with Dollar Brand

  1. First Moves (Sonny Rollins)
  1. 10.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’

  1. 11.Sealed with a Kiss (Peter Udell and Gary Geld)

Best known by Brian Hyland

  1. 12.Wabash III (John Scofield)
  1. 13.Distant Voice (John Etheridge)
  1. 14.ENCORE: I’m Going Home (To See My Baby) (Gene Vincent) 

Thoughts on Sara Dowling: The Jazz of Judy Garland – 12 January 2022

Sara Dowling: The Jazz of Judy Garland - 12 January 2022

I have written in the past about the joy of seeing singers who tell stories, and there are many that have graced our stage. Sara Dowling is a superb example of this,  body, research and soul. Couple that with a great voice and a fine backing trio, it was a totally delightful gig.

Chris Ingham’s piano trio, with Dario De Leche on bass and George Double on drums, led us off. Their rendition  of “Come Rain or Come Shine, (Arlen/Mercer) showed us how exciting a piano trio can be.  

The songs all had a reference to Judy Garland. Every song that Sara sang was a clear story to hear and see. Ballads were sung with intensity and clarity. Up tempo numbers were joyous and at times raucous and hilarious. She sent her husband Dario up something rotten in their duo of Rick Astley’s “Wonderful You”.

I liked the programme. The instrumental combinations were varied, with lots of duos between Sara and piano, bass or drums, as well as with the trio. She left plenty of space for the trio to blow. Chris’s solo on “Falling in Love with Love”(Rogers) was beautiful, and a lesson in ‘less is more’. Sara scatting with Dario on Walter Donaldson’s “You’re Driving Me Crazy” was great. George’s solo on “Get Happy”  (Arlen) was a treat.

It was a lovely gig, for me from sound check to   gig to putting stuff away. She is a delightful person to work with and she must come back to us soon. 

The next gig is on January 26, and it will be a doozy. John Etheridge on a stage full of guitars, Pete Whittaker on just one Hammond Organ, and George Double is back on lots of drums. Try hard not to miss it.

Take care


Thoughts on the Alan Barnes Sextet, 22 December 2021

Just listing the band members shows how good a gig this was. Alan’s sextet gave us Ellington and Strayhorn and a joyous evening. I will list them in the classical order, but this was a band of equals playing at the top level.

Alan Barnes played alto and clarinet, and was raconteur superbe.

Karen Sharp played tenor, baritone and clarinet, and did some of the arranging.

Robert Fowler played tenor and clarinet, and did some of the arranging.

David Newton, our honorary Presidentè, commanded the piano.

Simon Thorpe played double bass with his usual intensity.

Clark Tracey played drums; he brought “Stomp, Look and Listen” (Ellington) to the party.

I am sure you will agree that is a very tasty group. An excellent audience certainly did. They got a wonderful evening of jazz. Everything was played with verve and energy, and synergism between the players, very close, I think to the intention of the composers. I will only mention one tune which was a bit different in approach.

“The Mooche”, by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills was played as a story. At the time, a mooche was the local drug dealer. All three played the first 16 bars of the head on clarinets; the harmonies and dissonances were disturbing. Karen switched to tenor for the rest of the head, which was in an almost mellow mood. Having seen it happen to a musician in my youth,  I could not get out of my mind the scream of need, followed by the calmness after injecting.  This was amazing story telling and these words do not do it justice.

We had great solos from everyone. We had lovely ballads, like Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” with beautiful horn choruses. We had smashing up tempo numbers like his “Cottontail”, getting the audience jumping in the first few bars.

I will remember some of this gig for a long time. That doesn’t stop me looking forward to our new season, which we all hope will be allowed to be. Sara Dowling (The Jazz of Judy Garland) has a terrific voroice and phrasing. That will be on January 12th with Chris Ingham on piano, Dario De Lecce on bass, and drummer Geoge Double. See you there.

Take care,


Thoughts on Art Themen Trio – 24 November 2021

Art Themen Trio, 24 November 2021

A brilliant gig at Fleece Jazz

It is such a pleasure to see the return of Art Themen in trio form (or in any form). It seems to me that his playing gets better and better with age. He is a great story teller on both sax and mic. This was a thoroughly entertaining gig. Three lovely guys playing at being at odds, with George Double as the Thain. Pete Whittaker and Art were villeins. 

Their CD, at is excellent, and we even get a mention in the liner notes, but oh, live jazz is better. 

The programme the trio gave us was varied in tempo and vibe. We started off with Ben Webster’s “Hanky Panky”. It got a somehow sexy military intro, and showed Art at full speed. “Willow Weep for Me” had Art in beautiful ballad mode, leaving lots of space for the tone and the story to be heard. Art pulls all the timbres out of the tenor. 

Pete had a lovely soulful solo on “Willow…”. I really like his left hand bass all through the gig.

“I’m an Old Cow Hand”?  Is this Johnny Mercer tune appropriate for a jazz gig? It is when this trio plays it. Great fun, with George’s horse hooves and solo on this one a delight. 

This was a gig to savour, with vibe and tempo changes even within a tune. An example is “Brahms I Think”, a pastiche by Art. We had swing, tango, rock to name a few. The Brahms theme is in my head but I cannot remember its name.

So we move from one great gig to another in a months time. Alan Barnes is bringing a super sextet to us on Wednesday 22 December. Alan, Karen Sharp, Robert Fowler on saxes, David Newton on Piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. Reserve soon for this one.

Take care,