Thoughts on Terry Seabrook’s Milestones playing “Kind of Blue”, 22 June 2022

Steve Jordan has written a beautiful review of this gig. All I can add is they had SO MUCH FUN up there.

Take care,

Dave

On Wednesday last, pianist Terry Seabrook brought his band, Milestones, to Fleece Jazz to pay tribute to arguably the most innovative and creative musician in modern jazz, Miles Davis, and his most famous and eminently listenable album, Kind of Blue.  A classic of the new wave of modal jazz which Miles pioneered with others in the 1950s, it has been described as “one of the most important, as well as sublimely beautiful albums in the history of jazz”.

On trumpet and flugel horn, we had Martin Shaw in the role of Miles; on tenor sax, Andy Panayi, taking the role of John Coltrane; Alan Barnes on alto saxophone, a slimmed-down version of Cannonball Adderley; Paul Whitten on double bass and Spike Jones on drums taking the roles of Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb respectively.

The anticipation and expectation from our sizeable audience was great and the band did not disappoint. The highly recognisable vamp of Milestones, formerly known just as Miles on the original LP release, washed over the room and felt like an old friend who had been away too long.  The hoots of approval and cheers from the audience said it all.  Next up, a tune composed (but never recorded) by Miles, being most associated with the pianist Bill Evans: Nardis.  A blistering horn chorus, as in Cannonball Adderley’s interpretation, rather than the lyrical piano of Bill Evans, segues into an interlude from the rhythm section where we get the first opportunity to enjoy their collective playing.

Terry Seabrook introduces his Sketches of Miles suite which builds on modal themes from Miles’ music. At one point, I closed my eyes and thought I was listening to a big band orchestra and on opening them discovered that only Alan Barnes and the rhythm section were playing. A great sound, not least due to Dave Lyons on the sound desk.

The first set concludes with Side One of the original LP and once again we are transported back sixty plus years by the piano and bass introduction of So What, with its complex rhythmic style.  A special mention here should go to Paul Whitten, the “quiet man at the back”, who availed himself superbly throughout and set the pulse racing each time a familiar bass line was heard.  A special mention too to Andy Panayi for his Coltranesque solo which visibly moved both Martin Shaw and Alan Barnes to close their eyes and sway in a dreamy state.  It is so good to see band members enjoying the music so much and makes all the difference to the performance.  Without any pause apart from the rapturous applause and hoots of appreciation from our audience, we are into Freddie Freeloader, a blues with a melodic and rhythmic simplicity, with the opportunity for Martin “Miles” Shaw and Alan “Cannonball” Barnes to showcase their talents on trumpet and alto sax respectively. The pace calms a little with the ballad, Blue In Green, with its circular form and highly modal melody and again Martin Shaw delivers perfectly.

We could have stopped there and gone home happy and content, but we had a whole second set as a special bonus. Side Two of Kind of Blue began with All Blues, a blues form with just a few modal changes, had highlights from every single band member.  Flamenco Sketches takes the idea of modal jazz even further as Terry Seabrook explained: the improviser is given a scale or series of scales (modes) as material to improvise from, rather than a sequence of chords or harmonies.  With this last number from Kind of Blue, the series of scales is played as long as the soloist wishes until he has completed the series. This happened a number of times, most notably with Andy Panayi and Spike Wells giving no quarter.

Terry Seabrook’s Sketches of Miles Suite sandwiches another composition of his, Bopping for M.D., paying tribute to Miles’ later funk-influenced period.  A number that Miles performed on his album of the same name, Seven Steps To Heaven, would have been the last but we couldn’t let them go without an encore which was Monk’s Straight, No Chaser, also from Miles’ Milestones album.

You can probably guess I’d given up trying to analyse the music by the interval and sat back and enjoyed the moment. Wonderful, marvellous, glorious music.  Terry Seabrook recommended that we go home and dig out our old albums and see how Miles and his guys measured up to them.  I’ve done that and the jury is still out!

SETLIST

  1. Milestones (Miles Davis
  2. Nardis (Miles Davis)
  3. Sketches of Miles Suite Pt. I: (a) That’s What (Terry Seabrook)                                                

                                                        (b) Three Miles High (Terry Seabrook)

  1. So What (Miles Davis)
  2. Freddie Freeloader (Miles Davis)
  3. Blue In Green (Miles Davis/Bill Evans)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. All Blues (Miles Davis)
  2. Flamenco Sketches (Miles Davis) 
  3. Sketches of Miles Suite Pt. 2: Sideways (Terry Seabrook) 
  4. 10.Bopping for M.D. (Terry Seabrook)
  5. 11.Sketches of Miles Suite Pt. 3: Devil’s Own (Terry Seabrook) 
  6. 12.Seven Steps To Heaven (Victor Feldman/Miles Davis)

      Encore: Straight, No Chaser (Thelonious Monk)

Thoughts on Sara Oschlag/Jonny Hepbir Quartet, 8 June 2022

Steve is on holiday, so it is Dave doing a little review. I was so enjoying the music that I couldn’t note all of  the songs: no definitive set list today.

These four fine musicians gave us music of their own, but redolent of the Paris Hot Club, and the 40’s and 50’s.  We had vocalist Sara Oschlag: lovely phrasing, great , substantial voice, and real understanding of the stories  she was telling.  As a vocal instrumentalist, her scatting was superb. Jonny Hepbir  and Jason Henson played beautiful acoustic classical guitars. Their soloing was a delight. 

There is a part of their music that people don’t listen to, but if it isn’t  there, the music falls flat. It is the rhythm guitar. Both Jonny and Jason play rhythm guitar as it should sound. This is a rarity, and it was lovely to hear it.

The bassist, Rhys Lobell, was a last minute dep who had never played with the band before. The audience would never have suspected that until they were told about it late in the gig. Now, I was at the sound check and watched the process of giving a fine instrumentalist the vibe and riffs of some of the songs. In the gig itself it took only one song for the four of them to become one mind. 

The programme was mostly up tempo, with plenty of room for soloing from all four. I loved Sara trading 2’s with each of the band members, especially in Berlin’s “Putin’ on the Ritz”, She sang in French, Spanish, German and English. Sara’s story telling was almost graphic with the double entendre  lyrics of  “HoneySuckle Rose” (Fats Waller). 

Part of the fun of the gig was watching (and taking part in) the fun that the performers were having. I am not sure that there was ever a pre-designed set list, with decisions being made on the fly, while poking fun at each other. 

It was a highly enjoyable evening, with happy comments from the FAR too small audience. I would love to hear this band again,

Take care,

Dave

Thoughts on John Law’s Re-Creations, 25 May 2022

These words are mostly by Steve Jordan, with a few additions from Dave Lyons.  It is a longish read, but I think, a good one.

Last night, we were treated to an eclectic selection of numbers from various genres, from classical music to early ‘70s rock through to the jazzed up celtic soul of Van Morrison and the disco funk of Earth, Wind and Fire interspersed with plenty of popular jazz songs and instrumentals from the 1930s through to the 1970s.

The arrangements were wondrous and often quite complex, effortlessly held together by John Law’s prodigious skill and invention on the keyboards with the spirit and talent of each member of the band shining through, not least in the “solos”. The arrangements were melded such that it was difficult to applaud individual solos, we were just carried through the transitions.

Invariably, John Law begins the first set of a performance with a classical piece and tonight was no exception; his background in classical piano shone through with Claude Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’. Dave would have expected Bach, but loved the Debussy.

The evening quickly developed into a game of ‘Name That Tune’ as John challenged the audience to identify each one, hiding his sheet music from us and himself.   Heads were nodding along to the music or in recognition of the original tune, masked by the arrangement, gradually and teasingly revealed by the band as the song developed.  

The rendition of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ had our audience baying in appreciation at the end, before the all-too-familiar theme of Miles Davis’ ‘So What’ played in.  At one point, the combination of John’s electric piano and Henrik’s double bass produced harmonics eerily like those from Jaco Pastorius’ fretless bass guitar!  How does that happen?

For me, Cavatina was a challenge, but not for others as they sang the lyrics of “He Is Beautiful”, added by Cleo Laine in a later version.  Although it is best known as the theme from ‘The Deer Hunter’, Stanley, Myers originally wrote it for piano, rewriting it for classical guitar at the request of John Williams in 1969, long before ‘The Deer Hunter’ was released.  [Thank you, Dave, for serenading me afterwards, but you knew what it was. As did Dougie, it seemed.  The same was true of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, but I much prefer Sinatra!]

The second set began with the band playing the highly recognisable introduction to the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ‘Take Five’, with its unusual 5/4 time signature, as the last few winning tickets were called on the raffle.  It was a good combination, almost like a rap.  Now you wouldn’t get that at Ronnie’s!  

The next song was, John informed us, “for the ageing rockers in the audience”, so I was ashamed to say that I guessed it pretty quickly from the original guitar riff – Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’.  Sam Crockatt’s plaintive tone on soprano sax made ‘Moonriver’ instantly recognisable – audible sighs of pleasure were heard afterwards.

The pace accelerated as the set drew to a close, first with the old Broadway show classic, ‘You and the Night and the Music’. The urgency of the playing was offset by the easy swinging tone before the concluding song, ‘September’, from those masters of classic 1970s disco funk, Earth Wind and Fire.  A joyous celebration dedicated to frazzled parents across the land as the kids go back to school!

No set like this would be complete without a number by Dylan, so we were treated to a straight rendition of ‘Blowing in the Wind’ as a very generous encore from a hard-working band who gave us their all. 

Just to add that the band drove to and from Devon. There is dedication to the music. Also, many thanks to Webby from the Ipswich Drumming shop for the provision of John Parr’s  legendary drum kit.

Set list

  1. Clair de Lune (Claude Debussy
  2. Moondance (Van Morrison
  3. So What (Miles Davis)
  4. Cavatina – Theme from the ‘Deer Hunter ‘ (Stanley Myers)
  5. Fly Me To The Moon (Bart Howard)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Take Five (Paul Desmond)
  2. Smoke On The Water (Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover, Paice – the members of Deep Purple) 
  3. Moonriver (John Mercer/Henry Mancini)
  4. You and the Night and the Music (Howard Dietz/Arthur  Schwartz)
  5. September (Maurice White, Al McKay – two members of Earth, Wind and Fire)
  6. Encore: Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan)

Take care,

Steve and Dave

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, 22nd June 2022: Terry Seabrook’s Milestones play Kind of Blue, £22.

Martin Shaw Trumpet

Alan Barnes Alto sax

Andy Panayi Tenor sax

Terry Seabrook Piano

Paul Whitten Bass

Spike Wells Drums

This was arguably the best concert I have heard in Gateshead Town Hall since Sonny Stitt took it apart in the 1960s . . .

Bebop Spoken Here

Miles Davis and his sidemen made musical history when they recorded the iconic album Kind of Blue. They created a unique atmosphere of understated themes and improvisation and Kind of Blue went on to become one of the greatest and best loved jazz recordings of all time.

More than sixty years on, Terry Seabrook has assembled an all-star sextet, Milestones, to revisit the album and celebrate the music of Miles Davis. The band has toured extensively at clubs and festivals around the UK.

The album line-up reads like a “who’s who” of British jazz, with the fabulous Martin Shaw (Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Peter King, Tim Garland) taking on the Miles role. Also in the “who’s who” bracket are Fleece Jazz favourite and multi-award winner Alan Barnes on sax, along with the magnificent Andy Panayi and a first-rate rhythm section, pianist Terry Seabrook, bassist and Spike Wells on drums.  The band pays due respuect to Miles’ original music whilst allowing the musicians to showcase their own brilliance and improvisational skills.

. . . thoughtful and considered, yet full of jazz potency

–  Peter Vacher Jazzwise

 

On Wednesday, 10th August 2022 – Horn Factory, £18.

A welcome return for this fantastic outfit who, since 1998, have been bringing together some of the area’s top musicians to create their own distinct brand of fast-moving, hard-hitting, foot-tapping contemporary big band jazz.

Nineteen of the best local jazz musicians come together and share their passion for big, bold, beautiful music.

Horn Factory perform an impressive and extensive range of contemporary big band jazz by composers such as Buddy Rich, Bob Mintzer, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Maynard Ferguson, James Morrison, Bobby Shew, Sammy Nestico and Gordon Goodwin, plus arrangements of music normally associated with smaller groups, including Thelonious Monk, Joe Henderson, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea and Horace Silver.

Most of the charts have been composed in the last 15 years, bringing the big band genre right up to date with music that absolutely crackles with energy!

Eighteen fine musicians on the extended Fleece Jazz stage gave us a mighty gig. I love the sound of a horn chorus, but to have fourteen of them in chorus was really something else: loved it.

–  Dave Lyons, Fleece Jazz

 

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.