Still Smiling from The David Newton Trio, 25 August 2021

Sound check? Rehearsals? Detailed gig planning? With guys this good whose listening is phenomenal, none of this is necessary. A little discussion on the patio and hey were of one mind.

We had Steve Brown on drums, Adam King on bass and the masterful David Newton on piano. 

 It is hard to describe how good this gig was.

We had not seen Adam King in some time, and never in a trio, where all three are so exposed. His use of the whole instrument at speed with perfect intonation was wonderful. Steve Brown was usually with us accompanying  a singer. Last night he showed us the full range of his skills. And then there was the pianist. 

Many pianists, even great ones, often use the left hand for rhythm and chords. Not David Newton, whose left hand is just as powerful and inventive as the right. Ideas flowed. Tempi switched. Always the right number of notes (as Stan Tracey once said).

The evening started with Hayman and Green’s Out of Nowhere, with the Goldfinger theme used throughout the song. Adam had a solo at speed across the whole fingerboard, amazing to watch. Steve cat the vibe in an instant, and grinned from ear to ear listening to David solo.  The Burwell ballad “Sweet Lorraine” Was lovely. My favourite ballad was “Estate”, Italian for summer. Bruno Martino wrote a song about a hatred of summer because of a lost lover; from the translated lyric, “the snow covers everything and there is peace”. The English lyrics are quite upbeat. David seemed to have the Itallian feel. The song was deeply emotional. 

He played a song without introduction that we had some fuss identifying. “Back Home Again in ???” North Dakota? No. Manitoba? No, that’s in Canada.  Henley and MacDonald’s “Back Home Again in Indiana featured a lovely brush solo by Steve.  

That was the other things about the gig. The solos from all three were melodic. They were having such a good time so we did too. To have our music back was great. To have it back with this trio was amazing.

Take care,

Dave

Thoughts on our first gig in eons, it seems

I should have written this two weeks ago. Stunning gig.

 

What a wonderful way to start off Fleece Jazz after a year and a half of no live jazz. And independently of that, this gig was a cracker!

I was so enthralled that I forgot I was supposed to take notes. I can say that Cannonball would have been very pleased. What they did was paint a picture of the depth of the man as well as the music he played and wrote. And of course, the musicianship was superb.

One way of judging a band is to see if they listen to each other. Last night the listening was palpable. It was the first gig in quite a while for them too, though you would never know it. The first set was really great. The second set was special: more free, more fun.

In the narrative, Tony paid tribute to Michael Burgess, who died last year. It was very nice of him to do so. They had known each other for 20 years.

And after a wonderful evening last night, we look forward to the apotheosis of the piano trio, with David Newton backed by Steve Brown on drums and Adam King on Bass

Take care,
Dave

The Oxley Meier Guitar Project – 6 March 2020

“The

Wonderful, varied music, musicianship from all four musicians to die for. This evening full of fun and joy was brought to us by Nicolas Meier & Pete Oxley on lots of guitars, Raph Mizraki on basses and hand drum, and Paul Cavaciuti on drums and music stand. After the gig, you could see the audience float home, and the smiles on the faces of the musicians.

About guitars, Pete had an acoustic and a rock 6 string and a 7 string. Nicolas had 5 guitars, fretted and unfretted 12 and 6 string instruments. I have forgotten what the other one was. Raph had a standup base, fretted and unfretted electric basses. He surprised us with the hand drum.

The surprise was “Alors Hampstead”. It started with an extended duo, Paul and Raph. Raph is an amazing hand drummer. When the rest of the band came in, Raph played a fretted electric bass, Pete played the 12 string, and Nic played an unfretted 6 string. I am going to stop with the instruments..

Most of the songs were by Peter or Nicolas. Pete’s beautiful ballad, “The Gift”, with a solo by Pete which I loved, was one example of many. Nicolas’s “Frantics”, which ended the programme, was another. It was funky rock, and popped between 4/4 and 5/4. Very exciting stuff.

They made amends in the encore, with a bit of “proper jazz”: Nicolas’s “Lauder Lebsing” (I think I got the name wrong). Everybody had remarkable solos on this one. They had good fun with quotes. Raph was on the standup bass, and introduced some slap. It was a perfect way to end a wonderful gig.

No gig next week, but to follow last Friday, the next gig, Friday 20 March, had better be something special.
Filling that bill of excellence and fun will be my favourite trumpeter, Bryan Corbett. On Friday, 20 March he brings his “Hi-Fly Quintet ’59”, The music will be that of the greats of that year: Davis, Mingus, Brubeck, Coleman, Silver and many others. The first class band will be Bryan Corbett on trumpet and flugel, Chris Bowden on alto sax, Matt Ratcliffe on piano, Tom Hill on bass and Carl Hemmingsley on drums. The gig promises to supply familiar music beautifully played.

Take care,

Dave

Tim Whitehead Quartet – 28 February 2020

“Tim

Again, I wasn’t there. I came to rig, and was there for the sound check/rehearsal, but had to leave before the show. All reports on the gig say it was terrific. I am very sorry I missed it.

I did get a taste in the sound check In fact the sound check is a good indicator to the enjoyability of the gig itself. First Jonathan Gee sits down at the piano and puts it through its paces. The man is full of style and flair. There was some new music for which he wanted to get the head rhythms just right. Tom Hooper, having set up his drums, had a tune, and a wallop, bloody good. Tim Whitehead has been practicing in the band room, comes in and starts a rehearsal of some of the tough stuff to play. Even in rehearsal mode, the guy is terrific, and the music is superb. Andy Hamill having had his bass and amp set up, joins in. Gerry had the sound really good by this time, It all sounds great.

Next week, the amazing guitar duo of Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier, ably supported by Raph Mizraki on bass and Paul Cavaciuti on drums. The technique and musical intelligence of all four is world class. Be prepared for woderful music and a large sense of joy and fun.
Please note that there is no gig on the 13th of March

Take care,

Dave

Georgia Mancio Quartet – 21 February 2020

“Georgia

This should have been called the Georgia Mancio & Kate Williams Quartet as many of the songs were co-written by the two. But perhaps that would be unfair to the wonderful accompaniment and soloing of Julie Walkington and Dave Ohm.

Georgia was on vocals/whistle/scat/sprechen-singen, Kate on piano, Julie on bass and Dave on Drums

I keep banging on about vocalists whose production, phrasing and timbre show a love of the words. In Georgia’s case it must partially be because she is a lyricist, writing lyrics for many of the songs with Kate or Alan Broadbent. There was one by Julie, and there were some standards. Some of the material was serious. but they know each other so well that there was a lot of good humour and sheer fun.

It was a stunning gig. I could write pages about the gig, and won’t do that.

Let’s take the Styne/Comdon/Green “Just In Time” which closed the first set. They played this tune joyously in at least 3 tempi. Georgia roughened her timbre for part of this, and scatted 3 choruses. Kate had an amazing solo which moved seamlessly (no space for applause) into exciting 4s with Dave.

Or consider Jobim’s “For All Of My Life”, Kate does amazing intros. It segued into Kate and Georgia’s “Finding Home”, in which Georgia spoke the lyric. Devastating..

Some serious stuff in the second set as well. People from Refugee Action – Colchester, Phillip and Elizabeth were our guests for the evening, They brought material to read, and sold all of Roberta’s marmalade. Georgia invited Elizabeth to give a short talk on RA-C’s work. The next song was a Kate/Georgia song, “We Walk”. This slow, tough song about walking from Afganistan through deserts and mountains had beautiful strong solo from Julie.

Alan and Georgia’s “Same Old Moon” was an up tempo song, more or less about Trump, very funny. Kate’s solo ran smoothly into Dave’s solo, which was hugely textured, a real tour de force.

I heard the last song in rehearsal, and laughed a lot. It was played in a whole bunch of national genres, all with appropriate languages and tempi. The ones I remember were English, Itallian, German (oompah), Portuguese, lots of others. In performance, Georgia explained that it was a resistance war cry in the languages of her heritage. It was called “Bella Ciao”, and was quite wonderful.

Thanks to a great quartet that I hope we see again soon.

Next week, 28 February, The Tim Whitehead Quartet will entertain us. Tim will be on sax, Jonathan Gee on piano, Andy Hamill on bass and Tom Hooper on drums.
“For my money, the finest tenor player in Britain today” – Andy Hamilton – Jazz Review
“‘Whitehead more than justified his growing reputation as one of Britain’s most thoughtful composers and improvisers.” – Chris Parker – The Times

Take care,
Dave

Chris Biscoe and Allison Neale: Two of a Mind – 14 February 2020

“Chris

From the sound check through the entire gig, the two complementary tones of baritone and alto saxes were a delight, evoking Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond. Our band was:
Chris Biscoe on baritone sax, Allison Neale on alto sax, Jeremy Brown on bass and Matt Fishwick on drums.

The music was all pretty early, ’60s mostly. I do not understand why every alter kacker (yiddish for old person, literally it is what it sounds like) within a 100 mile radius of Stoke by Nayland was not there to hear and see this wonderful music, beautifully played throughout.

The gig opened with the 1957 Mulligan tune, “Stand Still”, which is the title track of the Mulligan/Desmond album. The tone hits you like a fine vintage wine. Two solos, alto then baritone, continued the taste.

There were lots of Mulligan tunes, but the band did not forget contemporary composers. Carmichael’s beautiful “Stardust” was given the band’s treatment, with Chris on B flat clarinet. Bass and clarinet combined to make a gorgeous intro. Jeremy had a fine solo on this one, and there was some lovely work with bass and drums. The horn solos were special.

Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are” ended the first set, again with wonderful horn solos.

Mulligan’s “Blight of the Fumblebee” was played at about the time I noticed that the popups behind the stage were wrongly placed: FLEEJAZZECE, not FLEECEJAZZ. Everyone had solos to savour on this one, Chris on the clarinet again.

The encore demanded was Mulligan’s “Line for Lyons” (not me, altoist Jimmy Lyons). Allison’s solo was lovely.

Well, it was a lovely gig. So on to next week.

Georgia Mancio sings like an angel in English, Italian and Portuguese. She scats and whistles too. Kate Williams is a consummate composer and pianist with a vocabulary all her own: rich in interest and accessible. The pair have written a special song about refugees, very appropriate as Refugee Action – Colchester are partners with us for this gig. Julie Walkington and Dave Ohm are perfect accompanists.

Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Jo Harrop sings Peggy Lee – 7 February 2020

“Jo

I was unable to attend last Friday’s gig, which is a great pity, as all the reports of the gig have lauded it.

Jo Harrop Vocals, Vasilis Xenopoulos Sax, Alex Webb Piano, Neville Malcolm Bass, Pete Adam Hill Drums

I heard Jo on line, and loved her voice and her treatment of songs. Vasilis and Alex are well known to us as superb players. The reports on Neville and Pete at the gig have been very good indeed,

I am sure we will book her again, and I will not miss that one.

Next week, the music of Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond, no less, with Chris Biscoe on baritone sax and Allison Neale on alto sax. They are superbly backed by Jeremy Brown on bass and Matt Fishwick on drums. This gig will be a real treat.

Take care,
Dave

The Horn Factory – 31 January 2020

“The

18 fine musicians on the extended Fleece Jazz stage gave us a mighty gig. I love the sound of a horn chorus, but to have 14 of them in chorus was really something else: loved it. The arrangements all ensured that the power of the ensemble was available for almost all of the numbers. Some of the arrangements were brave, and perfectly executed.

The band was:

Saxes:
Gilly Burgoyne Alto/Soprano/Flute, Lynsey Welham Alto, Jonathan Farnhill Lead Tenor, Mark Usher Tenor, Suzie Runnacles Baritone
Trumpets:
Richard Steward, Ian Buzer trumpet/flugel, Steve Stone, Roger Morfey, John Burch
Trombones:
Paul Little, Andy Shipp, Steve Ball, Dave Turnage Bass Trombone
Rhythm:
Bob Airzee Drums/compere, Mike Tatt Bass, Tomi Farkas Guitar, Ian Jewitt Piano.

Jeff Jarvis’s “Riptide” started off pretty well as they meant to carry on. A full blast entry, in this up tempo song, with a fine solo, this one by Gilly Burgoyne on alto. She had another beauty on Oliver Nelson’s “I Hope In Time A Change Will Come”. Don’t we all?

There were ballads. “Blue” (I think by Bill Mack) was a lovely example of ballad playing by a big band, with Ian Buzer‘s excellent flugel solo.

All of the solos, from sax, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar and one from Bob Airze on drums were great to hear, and the band is tight and accurate. You can’t ask for more. They gave us an excellent gig.

On Friday, Jo Harrop will be singing songs by Peggy Lee and others, with a fine backing from Vasilis Xenopoulos on sax, Alex Webb on piano, Neville Malcolm on bass and Pete Adam Hill on drums.
“This girl was born to sing jazz … a class act” – Pizza Express
“Her voice is amazing, think Islay whiskey, or tannin rich red wine – deep” – Lance, Bebop Spoken Here

Take care,
Dave

Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies – 24 January 2020

“Joanna

Some gigs stand in the memory.

Last Friday, we had Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies. The band was Joanna Eden vocals, Chris Ingham piano, compére and backing vocals, Mark Crooks sax, Arnie Somogyi bass, George Double drums. Joanna is one of the finest singers in the UK, with a great love of the lyrics. Chris is a superb researcher, giving us the background to the songs. Mark is a wonderful tenor player, and to my mind, an even better clarinetist. Arnie does what fine bassists do, with solid and interesting accompaniment. George is a great accompanist to singers, an excellent drummer.

Both sets started off with the instrumental quartet. We had Neal Hefti’s theme from “The Odd Couple”, and, from “The Fabulous Baker Boys”, David Grusin’s “Jack’s Theme”. I think we ought to book this quartet for a full gig.

The banter between Joanna and Chris was great fun. Chris said Joanna couldn’t sing in Portuguese, but would only vocalise. In the Mancini/Miglacci “It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio stasera)”, Joanna’s voice soared in Portuguese in this up-tempo Latin number. To be fair, Chris had a great solo, and Mark’s solo and accompaniment to the singing were both excellent. “The Pink Panther” would have been proud.

There was a special moment in the last number before the demanded encore. From Disney’s “The Aristocats” we got “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” (Al Rinker), in which George did a terrific Krupa, with Mark climbing high as Goodman.

Bacharach has cited “Alfie” as his personal favorite of his compositions. Joanna sang gloriously and powerfully on this tune: it is so easy to make it maudlin. Joanna did not.

We had, of course, a series of Bond themes. My favourite was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, called “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” for “Thunderball”. It was perfect in mood, chords, intent, but not in name, but the producers said no good, write one called “Thunderball”..

It was one fine gig: beautiful singing, great arrangements, perfect playing.

Next week, 31 January, a BIG BAND. The Horn Factory is with us, and I haven’t room to list the 18 musicians. We will have fast moving, hard hitting, contemporary jazz from this East Anglian band.

Take care,
Dave

Jim Rattigan’s 12 piece band: Pavillon – 17 January 2020

“Jim

Jim Rattigan‘s band gave us a heap of joy last Friday. All of the tunes were written and arranged by Jim. The tunes were excellent, and the arrangements special. There were 13 tunes in the two sets, and Jim made use of a lot more than 13 combinations of instruments as well as tempo changes in this well balanced programme. It was a great gig from beginning to the encore, with some avery special moments.

The band was named Pavillon after the French word for the bell of Jim Rattigan’s French horn. The band features saxophonists Martin Speake on alto, Andy Panayi on tenor and Mick Foster on baritone, Percy Pursglove on trumpet and flugel, Robbie Robson and Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Mark Nightingale on trombone, Sarah Williamson on bass trombone, pianist Hans Koller, double bassist Dave Whitford and Martin France on drums.

As well as a stunning Andy Panayi solo on “Strong Tea”, there was a ‘Yeh Jess * ” moment. When odd things happen you get magic. Someone missed their solo, so Hans jumped in with a lovely one. Hans’s solo on “Ballad Blue” was just beautiful. Jim had a stunning solo on that one.

Martin’s accompaniment was not a moment. It was just special throughout the gig.

I loved the “battles” between groups of similar instruments:the saxes almost doing cutting, and the trumpets firing off each other, in 4s and 8s.

This was the last gig of the band’s tour, so I am sorry you will not get to hear Jim’s stories. In particular, why the first tune was called “Timbuck3”.

Next week, 24 January, brings Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies.
“One of the finest combos in the country and a seriously talented vocalist…*a great evening that satisfied both jazz and movie buffs. Quite a trick” – Jazz Journal
Joanna Eden Vocals, Chris Ingham Piano, Mark Crooks Sax, Arnie Somogyi Bass, George Double Drums
“Bloody marvellous!” Dame Cleo Laine

Take care,
Dave

* In the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall gig, there was a magic moment, when in “Sing, Sing, Sing”, Jess Stacey jumped in with an unplanned solo, one of the greatest piano solos ever. Benny was heard to mildly admonish Jess, clearly heard to say “Yeh, Jess”.