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.
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 https://www.georgedouble.com/hadleigh-jazz-records 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.
Julian Costello Saxes
Maciek Pysz Guitars
Dave Jones Bass
Eric Ford Drums
“This is highly melodic music that is readily accessible, but consistently intriguing, and full of rhythmic sophistication. It all makes for a very distinctive album and one that deserves to do well.” – The JazzMann
A musician who cites Jan Garbarek, Ralph Towner, John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix among his influences, Julian’s playing has a sense of graceful lyricism and an inner strength, carefully crafting his improvising, which is beautifully structured and mellow.
All four musicians have strong and distinctive individual voices, but the sound they collectively produce is warm, playful, intimate, intricate, intense and, most importantly, far from banal or boring. Don’t take my word for it, look at these reviews!
“All in all, masterfully written and played, elegant and expressive. I’d wholeheartedly recommend giving this a listen.” – Lance Liddell, Bebop Spoken Here, on Connections: without borders.
“Connections is a very enjoyable and often very beautiful album, one that again demonstratesCostello’s flair for melody and his abilityto build and sustaina specific mood or feeling”. – The JazzMann
Martin Speake Sax
Hans Koller Piano
Anders Christenen Bass
Anders Mogensen Drums
“Speake’s playing can be as enigmatic as his writing. The lyricism and subtlety of both his written and improvised melodies sometimes unfold so gradually that one needs to take a mental step back to absorb it all.” – John Kelman, All About Jazz
Although British jazz and jazz on the continent are continuing to thrive on their respective local levels, not many truly Anglo-European groups have managed to connect with such ease and shared understanding as Universal Connection. Bavarian-born UK resident Hans Koller and London-born Martin Speake have both been at the forefront of the London jazz scene for a number of years and have both worked with bassist Anders Christensen during his 10-year stay in London. Copenhagen-based Christensen and Anders Morgensen have worked together as a celebrated Danish rhythm team for many years and have been part of some of the most ground-breaking bands on the vibrant jazz scene in Scandinavia. This international quartet is testament to the vibrancy, beauty and imagination of jazz old and new.
“Speake is a strikingly talented improviser with a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration” – Encyclopedia of Popular Music