Chris Allard Band, 4 May 2018

Chris Allard Band,  4 May 2018
I often find that the guitar/piano combination is a little muddy, as they both live in the same sonic area. On Friday we had two stunning players, no mud in sight: each instrument rang out clearly.

Chris Allard‘s Band was Chris on guitar, Ross Stanley on piano, Oli Hayhurst on bass and Nick Smalley on drums. They played some of Chris’s tunes, a few standards, each sufficiently extended to allow lots of blowing time. We were treated to some great solos from all four of them.

Ross first, because he epitomized the magic that non-musicians like me can never figure out. Ross arrived late due to a lunchtime gig far away. He missed the sound check and any rehearsal. He saw some of Chris’s detailed charts about a half an hour before the gig. Don’t tell anybody. You couldn’t notice. The man played as if the music was totally familiar, without losing the freshness. You see? Magic.

Chris brought one small stomp set which he used with considerable delicacy. Chris has technique to die for, plectrum, classical and combined. The solos that stuck in my memory were in his “Morphic Resonance” and in his ode to his as yet unborn child, “Critter”, the opening number of the gig. Ross’s accompaniment for “Critter”, was also memorable.

Oli and Nick used the blowing toom to great effect as well, but it was their listening and accompaniment which I enjoyed most.

Next Friday, the music of Cedar Walton and Duke Pearson, with a superb quintet led by the Fishwick brothers. We will have Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Matt Fishwick on drums, Dave O’Higgins on sax, Rob Barron on piano and Dario De Leche on bass. This band deserves a big audience, and by the way, so do we.

Take care,


Just who writes these posts?

Just so you know, most of these posts have been and will be written by Dave Lyons, and proofread (and sometimes rewritten) by his wife, Roberta, who’s patience over many years is astonishing.

Barb Jungr, 27 April 2018

Barb Jungr, 27 April 2018
When people walk out at the end of the gig and say “it was a privilege to be here”, you know you had wonderful gig. It was Barb. How else?

Barb Jungr sang, told stories, played harmonica. Jenny Carr played piano and sang. Dudley Phillips played bass, and sadly didn’t sing.

The music was a superb reworking of the CD Barb made 18 years ago of Bob Dylan songs, and a few new ones. Barb’s discussions of the songs, their background and her connections were a wonderful bonus on top of the music. We learned some of the dark side of Dylan as well. Her rapport with the audience is singularly powerful.

We know and remember from recordings and live performances how good her voice is, but it is a shock when she hits you with her first number, “Things have changed”. The beautiful a cappella opening to “Every grain of sand” was memorable. “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” had people crying.
Barb’s harmonica playing is strong and evocative. The arrangement and performance of “What Good Am I” was just beautiful. My favourite was “Chimes of Freedom”. The poetry is important and powerful, and Barb gave every word the strength and position it required.

Jenny Carr had some excellent solos. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” was one. I would rather concentrate on her accompaniment. On “I Want You”, her accompaniment was both delicate and intense. How to do you do that? The presence of Dudley’s bass gave Jenny free range for her left hand. She is a super backing singer, with perfect harmonies, and a voice and vibrato to match Barb’s.

Dudley’s solo on “Don’t Think Twice, Its All Right” was special. His perfect timing and intonation made the foundation for the songs perfect. He brought a CD to sell, himself playing bass and singing, and I am sorry we didn’t get to hear him sing on Friday.

To kick off our new season, we have the Chris Allard Band: Chris on guitar, Ross Stanley piano, Oli Hayhurst bass and Nick Smalley drums. “Allard’s master class in electric jazz guitar was worth the price of admission in it’s own right!” – Harrogate Festival. Don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave’s Notes, 22 April 2018 – Gill Manly

Gill Manly, 20 April 2018
Fleece Jazz tries to provide variety with excellent musicianship, and we had a winner again last Friday. Gill Manly’s superb voice and wide ranging choice of material was beautifully supported by Trevor Hyatt on mandola, guitar, backing and up front vocals, and Thomas Coffey on guitar and backing vocals. Gill did some backing vocal work too: what a team! The audience loved her. The problem is that there were far too few of you.

Gill;s theory that every culture has its equivalent of the blues, whether happy or sad, was the guiding force in the design of the set list. The variety was impressive. Of course, with Gill, the first song was a great blues, Doc Pomus’s “Lonely Avenue”.
We got a taste of the range of tone and dynamics which is a feature of her singing. Of course, without the words, it is a vocal exercise. Gill cherishes the words.

It became clear later (partly because she said so) that she is influenced by Mark Murphy, the great improvising jazz singer that we recently lost. Her interpretation of McCartney/Lennon’s “Eleanor Rigby” was amazing. Just to show the range of the evening, we had Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”, a traditional Cajun Creole tune whose name I missed, the traditional blue grass song “Sorrow All My Days ” (I think that is the title). The encore was gospel (evangelical, originally African American) “Lets Go Down to the River to Pray”.

Thomas sang the high part of the backup harmonies and played excellent guitar. His solo on the Cohen song was moving. What was interesting was the variety of guitar styles used to fit the song.

Trevor has a voice suited to Cab Calloway’s Grammy Hall of Fame “Minnie the Moocher”, and the Seasick Steve number (I forgot the name, sorry). In the latter, Gill did some terrific scat. Trevor played a mandola, which is a mandolin with a different tuning, and guitar. He also changed genres with ease.

A lovely gig for us lucky few.

Next week. a singer with a very special take on everything she does. Barb Jungr will be with us. I cannot wait to hear how she handles the work of Bob Dylan. Jenny Carr on piano and Dudley Phillips on bass are the perfect accompaniment for this star. Book for this one, she is very popular.

Take care,

John Law’s Re-Creations – 13 April 2018

John Law's Re-Creations, 13 April 2018
When John Law comes to Fleece Jazz, you expect something different. The opening number was the Kyrie from Rossini’s “Little Solemn Mass”. It is a piece for choir and piano. We got the piano intro, and then bass and sax took the part of the choir. The solos all felt true to the original music.

The word “stunning” gets overused, particularly by me. It was really stunning.

John Law played piano and Rhodes keyboard, Sam Crockatt played tenor and soprano saxes, Yuri Goloubev played bass, and Billy Weir played drums and glockenspiel., in an evening of recreated songs. As well as musicianship about as good as you can get, we got to guess what it was they were playing for some of the songs, not too difficult a task.

The Kyrie was followed by Monk’s “Straight No Chaser”, then Irving Berlin’s “Lets Face the Music and Dance”, then Sting’s “Field of Gold”, then Lennon/McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood”, then Theile/Weis’s “What a Wonderful World … finishing with Kate Bush’s “The Man with the Child in his Eyes”. John gave us a huge variation in mood and groove, and there was plenty of space for all four of them to blow.

Highlights? Well, the evening for a start. Yuri’s solo in the Kate Bush number was special and Billy had a fine solo on Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”. The soprano/drum duo in “Norwegian Wood” was memorable, as was Sam’s solo in Gershwin’s “Summertime”.

But it was John’s show. The arrangements were wonderful, and his accompaniment and solos were very special.

A very good evening indeed. They will be recording the second volume of “Re-Creations” in the Autumn. I can’t wait to hear the Kyrie on CD.

Next week, a special lady returns to us. Gill Manly’s “… voice is nothing short of electric…singers with this much control and technique are a scarcity nowadays” – Jazz On Cd Magazine.
Gill Manly vocals, Trevor Hyatt mandola/guitar/vocals, Thomas Coffey guitar/vocals.
“Great voice, terrific vocal range and technique, commanding stage presence, and packed houses. The audience and Ronnie Scott’s Club loves Gill Manly.” Simon Cook (Ronnie Scott’s)

Ed Jones – 6 April 2018

Ed Jones Quartet, 6 April 2018

Watching fine musicians communicate on stage is one of the great joys of working at Fleece Jazz, and when they are at the level that these four fellows are at, it is even more special. The quartet was led by Ed Jones, on tenor and soprano saxes. His colleagues were Ross Stanley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums. They knew each other and the music well, having just recorded most of what they played. It played to us as new-born and fresh. The evening was a nice mix of tunes by Ed, one by Riaan and some standards. The arrangements were a delight.

Tim first played the club in the old Fleece pub when he was 14. He is now a top of the tree drummer, with that precious attribute, really big ears: his reaction and even, it seems, his anticipation of what the soloist is doing is superb. In a song of Ed’s Marielyst, dedicated to the great Cecil Taylor who died last Thursday, Tim had a truly beautiful extended intro and solo. His solo on Riaan’s “Solstice” was also special.

Riaan had the very powerful intro for “Solstice”, and a stunner of a solo on Ed’s “Starbright”. He uses the full range of his instrument in the most natural way. He doesn’t make a big deal of the upper registers, he just uses them when he wishes, with perfect intonation.

Ross Stanley. This guy is a Fleece Jazz favourite. He is one of those that seems to inhabit the piano, and I didn’t until this gig realized how he used both the sustain and soft pedals. The sustain is used often during the head, and then ignored during soloing, and the soft pedal not used at all. Ross uses the soft pedal to change the timbre of the instrument like a fine classical soloist. Solos? Well, all of them, but maybe the one on “Marielyst” stood out.

Ed is a senior and much lauded educator and teacher, composer, band leader and, of course, one hell of a sax player. He is powerful or lyrical at need. We do not see him enough. The first number of the second set was (I think) “The 50s”, i s a great 5/4 tune. Ed’s solo and outro were memorable.

We had an evening of wonderful modern jazz by four people who communicated so they were one instrument on the stage.

Next week, John Law returns to us with his Re-Creations of tunes we know. He is the only other guy who uses the pedals in a classical way, not surprising with his background. He brings award winning saxophonist Sam Crockatt, amazing bassist Yuri Goloubev and drummer Billy Weir. John’s gigs are always special, so don’t miss this one.

Take care,

Matt Wates Sextet – 30 March 2018

Matt Wates Sextet - 30 March 2018
Peter, our photographer, said “What a Cracker !!! What I call a “Full on ” gig. Its been far too long since we had Matt Wates with his own Sextet. With a sound and material like that we should have them on an annual basis”.

I couldn’t agree more, we had a smashing gig on Friday.

The guys were Matt Wates alto sax, Steve Fishwick trumpet, Steve Main tenor sax, Leon Greening piano, Malcolm Creese bass, Matt Skelton drums. The music was mostly written and all arranged by Matt Wates. It was powerful straight ahead jazz, with fine musicians playing excellent arrangements. The arrangements followed a fairly consistent pattern: everybody got a chance to blow, three choruses or more. In the last chorus of the solo, the instruments not soloing pushed the soloist along, usually with a riff from the tune. Lovely.

As was the horn chorus, a special love of mine, whether it was unison, harmony or fugue.

I am looking through my notes trying to decide on special moments, but there were just so many! Matt W. on his “The People Tree”, a 6/8 number in which Paul also had an excellent solo. Steve M. had a stunner on “Heatwave”, and Malcolm a beauty on “Dark Energy”. Steve F. shone on “Third Eye”. Leon’s solo in the homage to Ray Charles, “After Hours” will stand in the memory.

Which is all a little silly, for the evening was one great moment after another, with accompaniment to die for.

Next week,Friday 6 April, the superb Ed Jones will be with us, We have Ed Jones saxes, Ross Stanley piano, Riaan Vosloo bass and Tim Giles drums. When John Fordham says “A formidable saxophonist… he’s an improviser to his fingertips, a player of forceful imagination, and one of the UK’s most distinctive saxophonists.”, you don’t want to miss this gig.

Take care