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Thoughts on Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet, Album Tribute – 10 July 2024

In tribute to the 1958 “West Coast Cool” recording of the Cal Tjader and Stan Getz sextet, Mark Crooks and Nat Steele treated us to an enjoyable selection of jazz standards and Tjader originals.  Mark described what we heard from the first three numbers as a “listenable dynamic” with a “lack of racket” and indeed it was; a welcome antidote to what was taking place simultaneously in Dortmund. Bracing and calming like the best of West Coast, the album itself is a hidden gem and a real cool classic with a simply incredible line-up including pianist Vince Guaraldi, guitarist Eddie Duran, bassist Scott La Faro and drummer Billy Higgins. 

The jaunty “Ginza Samba” sets the scene with nimble and imaginative contributions from all soloists. Nat Steele is a vigorous, resourceful performer who demonstrated his wizardry on vibes throughout the evening – all eyes were on his speed and dexterity as he took each solo, including those of compere and fellow frontman, Mark Crooks. Like Getz and Tjader, the warm, silky sound of Mark’s tenor blended effortlessly with Nat’s vibes, especially on the beautiful ballad, “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”. Both frontmen showed an ability to switch from lyric smoothness as on the waltz, “Liz-Anne” and “For All We Know” to gutsy swing as on “Ginza Samba”, “Big Bear” and “Crow’s Nest”. 

Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town”, which Mark wryly dedicated to former members of the cabinet, was performed as a quartet with Nat and Mátyás sitting out for this one number, allowing us to witness a superb, tight interplay between the tenor and rhythm section. The liquid, bluesy sound of Colin Oxley’s guitar, Jeremy Brown’s extraordinary agility across the whole range of the bass (especially on Tjader’s beautiful waltz, “Liz-Anne”) and Mark Taylor’s versatility of style were present across both sets.

We finished with “Parker 51”, a number covered most famously by Stan Getz and based on the changes of Bird’s “Cherokee”, the most animated (frenetic?) tune heard all evening that gave every band member an opportunity to demonstrate their agile technique and featured a rousing drum solo from Mark Taylor.

A final word on our pianist, Mátyás Gayer, who played a key role throughout both sets .  His solos were thoughtful, always gentle, appropriate to the West Coast cool. His obligato though came out of intense listening to his colleagues, very fine.

The next gig has the return of Theo Travis (tenor sax) with organist Pete Whittaker, Mike Outram on guitar, and Nic France on drums. The passion and flow of ideas will amaze you. We hope to see you on Wednesday July 24.

Take care,

Steve

CAL TJADER-STAN GETZ SEXTET ALBUM TRIBUTE

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/7/24

  1. Ginza Samba (Vince Guaraldi)
  2. Liz-Anne (Cal Tjader)
  3. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face (Loewe/Lerner)
  4. Get Out Of Town (Cole Porter)
  5. Crow’s Nest (Cal Tjader)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Fried Bananas (Dexter Gordon)
  2. For All We Know (J. Fred Coots)
  3. Speak Low (Kurt Weill) 
  4. Big Bear (Cal Tjader)
  5. Nobody Else But Me (Jerome Kern)
  6. Parker 51 (Jimmy Raney)

Thoughts on Fletch’s Brew, 26 June 2024

Steve says:

Fletch’s Brew – it doesn’t take much imagination to guess how they got their name but rarely has a band been so accurately defined by it.  What we had last night was, indeed, a heady intoxicating brew, a melting pot of musical genres ranging from electric blues to jazz-funk and jazz-rock, creating the much-maligned jazz-fusion sound that originated in the late 1960s and was probably made most famous by Miles Davis with Bitches Brew.

The impact of the band’s sound took some getting used to as they treated us to an aural rollercoaster-ride through the first number, Pat Metheny’s "Timeline": the clash of Mark Fletcher’s cymbals overlaid by the funky grooves of Jim Watson’s electric piano and Steve Pearce’s electric bass set the scene before Freddie Gavita and Paul Stacey on electric trumpet and electric guitar, respectively, traded bars to create an exhilarating “wall of sound”. The second number, a funky arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s "Beauty and the Beast" has become an ever-welcome signature tune for the band and John Scofield’s "Peculiar" was highly appreciated by several members of our audience who couldn’t resist moving to the funky beat.

Mingus’ "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (an elegy for Lester Young) brought the tempo and the volume down and allowed for a moment of sad contemplation and reflection which was enhanced magnificently by Paul Stacey’s guitar adding an element of keening electric blues. Mark Fletcher mentioned that Joni Mitchell later covered the song on her album, Mingus. Those in the know may have recalled her added lyrics which highlighted the racism experienced by Lester, not least due to his mixed-race marriage.

In his arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s "Fat Albert Rotunda", featuring more evidence of the virtuosity of each band member, Freddie Gavita uses trumpet and pedal effects to such impressive effect and did so once again to overlay electronic sci-fi sounds on Shorter’s "Footprints" in the second set.  In direct contrast, the beautiful ballad, "Infant Eyes", also by Shorter provided another oasis of calm before the tempo was ramped up with Ornette Coleman’s "Law Years" (“feel free to join in if you know it!” quipped Fletch).

Joshua Redman Elastic Band’s driving and punchy "Greasy G" featured Jim Watson and Steve Pearce laying down some deep grooves combined with jazz harmony on electric piano and electric bass before Freddie Gavita took the lead on Freddie Hubbard’s "Birdlike". 

I haven’t mentioned Mark Fletcher anything like as much as I should have. Mark can do all-guns blazing, animated pyrotechnics on his drumkit as effectively as he can do restrained, quiet contemplation with sensitive brushwork as he did on "Infant Eyes". He is incredibly energetic, fast and highly co-ordinated as he creates some seemingly complex rhythms that anchor and complement the other musicians. It truly is Fletch’s Brew.

Dave says:

Steve has said most of what I thought of this amazing gig. Fire and soul from Mark Fletcher on drums, Freddie Gavita on trumpet, flugel and stomp-box, Jim Watson on keyboard, Paul Stacey on electric guitar, and on Steve Pearce on bass guitar. Both guitarists had their own stomp-boxes, but Freddie's was a wonder to behold. He used it for the trumpet and produced amazing sounds as well as clear trumpet, but the flugel was on a simple mic, and sounded great.

I thought that after the Bill Evans gig two weeks ago, with Mark on delicate, intricate brushwork, that we would have an evening of total wow this time. The wow was there in spades, diamonds and heart. But the quiet brushwork was there too, in "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" and "Infant Eyes".

It was fascinating to me that even at the volume that the guys produced, the individual instruments were not hidden, as often happens when the volume is high. Underneath the solos, the obligato was both one distinct sound, but you could hear the interesting things that the backing guys did, and how they interacted with each other.

That interaction was vital. It was clear that the band were having the time of their lives up there. Mark's arrangements left a ton of room for trading, cross-rhythms and counterpoint, and other fun stuff.

On July 10th, we have a superb tribute to the Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet. It is led by Nat Steele on vibes and Mark Crooks on tenor, with Colin Oxley on guitar, pianist Matyas Gayer, bassist Jeremy Brown and Mark Taylor on drums. Do join us. It will be a lovely evening

Take care,

Dave

“FLETCH’S BREW” SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 26/6/24

  1. Timeline (Pat Metheny)
  2. Beauty and the Beast (Wayne Shorter)
  3. Peculiar (John Scofield)
  4. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charles Mingus)
  5. Fat Albert Rotunda (Herbie Hancock)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Young and Fine (Josef Zawinul)
  2. Footprints (Wayne Shorter)
  3. Infant Eyes (Wayne Shorter) 
  4. Law Years (Ornette Coleman)
  5. Greasy G (Joshua Redman)
  6. Birdlike (Freddie Hubbard)


Thoughts on “Conversations with Bill” – The Adrian York Trio, 12 June 2024

Steve says:

Adrian York’s passion for the music of Bill Evans was very much in evidence as he presented an overview of the tortured soul and creative genius, from his early work as leader in 1956 with the album New Jazz Conceptions up until his premature death in 1980. 

Each number was interspersed with biographical details of Bill’s life and work, as well as the changing line-up of the trio from its early days. Several members of our audience appreciated having the development of Bill’s work put into context, along with the odd amusing anecdote.

The repertoire varied from the aching beauty and delicacy of Waltz for Debby, My Foolish Heart and Peace Piece (the latter drawing appreciative gasps from the audience) to the swinging, uptempo rendition of Autumn Leaves and Stella by Starlight reminding us of the influence of Bud Powell on Evans’ style which Adrian York delivered to perfection. The sting in the tail of some of the more lyrical pieces wasn’t glossed over either, particularly on Turn Out The Stars.

It is too easy to focus exclusively on the pianist during a gig that pays homage to the lead musician, but we were fortunate to have the animated Mark Fletcher who delighted with his delicate brushwork on My Foolish Heart as well as his flurries of astounding freedom on the drumkit. Equally, our bassist, Paul Whitten, rose above the role of timekeeper with solos that were much freer and creative and complemented the lyricism of York on piano, with Fletch taking a sensitive and unobtrusive role as he did so.

Dave says:

I do love piano trios, and this one was a delight. There were some young people in our audience, and “Peace Piece” had an emotional effect on them. Even though I knew it, me too.

You can listen to this music lightly, and enjoy the superb playing, and the great tunes. This show, for me, needed a deeper listen. I found out part of the reason for this. I took a sneak peek at some of the music (all but the encore had written heads). The sheets were dense with annotations, the result of serious research and knowledge. We didn’t hear the research, we heard the music. The encore was played with empty music stands, and was just free and fun. 

What a lovely gig. And by the way what a wonderful, intense and often quiet drummer. Well, we will see Mark Fletcher in a very different guise in two weeks time, when he brings back “Fletch’s Brew” to us. The title is a pun on “Bitches Brew”, and the gig will be wild. Join us if you dare. 

CONVERSATIONS WITH BILL: THE MUSIC OF BILL EVANS

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 12/6/24

  1. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Cole Porter) from the album Portrait in Jazz
  2. So What intro (Gil Evans)/Blue in Green (Bill Evans) from the Miles Davis album A Kind of Blue
  3. Someday My Prince Will Come (Morey/Churchill) from the album Portrait in Jazz
  4. I Love You (Cole Porter) from the album New Jazz Conceptions
  5. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers/Hart) from the album Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings
  6. Alice in Wonderland (Fain-Hilliard) from the album Sunday at the Village Vanguard
  7. Night and Day (Cole Porter) from the album Everybody Digs Bill Evans

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Peri’s Scope (Bill Evans) from the album Portrait in Jazz
  2. Turn Out The Stars (Bill Evans)a mash-up of versionsfrom the albums Live at the Town Hall and Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings
  3. Autumn Leaves (Mercer/Kosmo/Prevert) from the album Portrait in Jazz
  1. Waltz for Debby (Bill Evans) from the album Sunday at the Village Vanguard
  2. My Romance (Rodgers-Hart) from the album Waltz for Debby
  3. My Foolish Heart (Washington-Young) from the album Waltz for Debby and The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album
  4. Peace Piece (Bill Evans) from the album Everybody Digs Bill Evans
  5. Stella by Starlight (Washington-Young) from the album Bill Evans Trio at Shelley’s Manne-Hole
  6. Encore: Beautiful Love (Gillespie/Young/ Van Alstyne/King) from the album Explorations

Thoughts on The Clark Tracey Quintet, 22 May 2024

To witness five musicians of this calibre on their very best form was a privilege and one that will remain with me for years. Newcomer RJ Gilbert on alto sax is still studying at Birmingham Conservatoire and if he were nervous to be playing with such established and highly accomplished musicians, it didn’t show. He was a cool customer who looked to be enjoying himself as he played off and with the others, particularly David Newton whom he obviously admired deeply (and who can blame him!)  I particularly liked his feature on the jazz standard My One and Only Love where he displayed seemingly effortless fluency and breath control throughout his sweet lyrical performance.

A Bitta Bittadose, based very closely on Bobby Watson’s A Bitter Dose, was a great crowd pleaser and gave each musician a chance to rise to the occasion in this later period Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers blues. The stunning pianism and inventiveness of David Newton complemented by the fine work on double bass, Simon Allen and RJ Gilbert leading the horn chorus and Clark Tracey demonstrating why he is consistently rated as the UK’s best drummer with his inventive use of his kit.

Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk stood out in the equally enthralling second set. It cannot be easy to play the work of such a musical eccentric and maverick, but David Newton seemed to relish the experience and deliver a stunning performance which he made his own. 

There were memorable solos throughout the gig, but i think people should take time to hear the obligatos. The inventiveness and intense listening provided by bass, drums, piano lifted the solos and put smiles on the faces of the musicians.

I may have misheard Clark announce the next number as In A Semi Mental Mood rather than In a Sentimental Mood, although never doubt his playfulness and dry wit especially when Simon Allen’s rendition on soprano saxophone was a quirky interpretation which tinkered with the time signature of the Ellington original. Equally as beautiful but not a slavish cover of that truly beautiful jazz standard.

Sonny Rollins’ St Thomas was played as a fittingly drum-led Latin shuffle by the whole band and concluded the set. I listened carefully to Clark's use of little mallets on this one, and was flabbergasted to hear him weave three simultaneous cross-rhythms. 

The short but sweet encore was Hank Mobley’s This I Dig of You. Several members of our audience were moved to give the quintet a standing ovation and quite rightly so.

I am greatly looking forward to the conversations with Bill Evans provided by the Adrian York Trio, on June 12th. It promises to be an evening of quietly intense beauty, not to be missed.

Take care,

Dave

THE CLARK TRACEY QUINTET

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 22/5/24

  1. Rainbow at the Five Mile Road (Stan Tracey) from the 1969 Stan Tracey Quartet album, Free An’ One
  2. Euphony (Stan Tracey) Stan’s first recorded composition from 1952 with Victor Feldman’s All Stars.  
  3. My One and Only Love (Guy Wood/Robert Mellin
  4. Remind Me In Three (Clark Tracey)based on the chord progression of Joe Henderson’s Recorda Me
  5. A Bitta Bittadose (Bobby Watson) based on Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers’ Bitter Dose

*          *          *           *        *        *        *

  1. A Funky Day in Tiger Bay (Stan Tracey) from the album Stan Tracey’s Hexad: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
  2. Blue Monk (Thelonious Monk)
  3. In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington)
  4. St Thomas (Sonny Rollins)
  5. Encore: This I Dig Of You (Hank Mobley)

On Wednesday 26 June, Fletch’s Brew- £20

Mark Fletcher Drums 

Freddie Gavita Trumpet/Flugelhorn

Paul Stacey Guitar

Jim Watson Piano

Steve Pearce Bass

“(Fletch's Brew) . . . . . could, without overstating the case, easily be called Band of Virtuosos" (Jazzwise magazine)

In 2010, drumming tour-de-force Mark Fletcher founded Fletch’s Brew, a band which blurs the boundaries of musical styles and surpasses preconceived notions of jazz.  Whether playing original compositions or new arrangements from across the jazz canon, their style floats seamlessly between the idioms of fusion, funk, bebop, reggae and rock.  Mark is a remarkably talented and muscular drummer, capable of subtlety but never better than when leading an all-guns-blazing charge, which is both very exciting and intensely engaging.

Freddie Gavita is an award-winning British trumpeter and composer who has cemented his place as a leading light on the British jazz scene.  He is a member of the Ronnie Scott's Club Quintet as well as being a band leader in his own right, playing his own original music to great critical acclaim.  Once described as “a cross between Kenny Wheeler and Freddie Hubbard”, he has also played with, among others, Peter Erskine, Joe Locke, Jon Hendricks, Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzmann, Tim Garland, Gregory Porter and Dionne Warwick.

Paul Stacey is a guitarist, producer, mixer and actor. Paul was a member of NYJO in the ‘80s and The Lemon Trees with Guy Chambers in the ’90s, before working for many years with Oasis, the Black Crowes and Noel Gallagher. Jazz artists that he has worked with include Laurence Cottle, David Preston, Jason Rebello, Pino Palladino, Tommy Smith, Mornington Locket, Gary Husband, Clare Martin, Georgie Fame, Ian Shaw, Iain Ballamy, Jim Mullen, Bobby Wellins and Kenny Wheeler.

A session and touring musician of formidable repute, Jim Watson is rightly considered to be one of the most talented pianists in the country.  He has been featured in a huge variety of bands, including the Jazz/Funk bands Incognito, Brand New Heavies and US3, with US artists Lalo Schifrin, James Moody, the BBC Radio Big Band, Katie Melua and most recently Manu Katché. His jazz bona fides are just as impressive having worked with Dave O’Higgins, Julian Arguelles, Jean Toussaint and Peter King among many others. 

Steve Pearce is one of the most experienced bass players working in London today, playing regularly in the top studios in the capital.  His career spans over four decades over the course of which he has played with artists such as Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Mose Allison, Al Jarreau, Mark Knopfler Randy Crawford and many more.

We haven't had anything like this in New York for over twenty years." (Wynton Marsalis)


Thoughts on “Wakey Blakey” – The Music of Art Blakey

In the great debate about the superiority or otherwise of the audio quality of analogue sound (vinyl) as opposed to digital (CD and download), there is one listening experience that can be forgotten and that, of course, is live music.  Nothing beats it, especially when the band delivers to such a high standard as Wakey Blakey, the sextet led by Rory Ingham and James Davison playing the music of the classic sextet lineup of Art Blakey and The Jazz Mesengers.  It’s not just the immediacy of the experience and the fidelity of sound or even the spontaneity and sheer joy of improvised music, but being able to witness first-hand how musicians work together.

Last night was a cracker of an evening, a feast of hard bop by a superlative sextet who gave us the music of Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Curtis Fuller originally recorded by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.  These albums are getting a fresh play today as I relive last night’s gig and marvel at the music once again.  

I am lucky to have seen Wayne Shorter many times as well as Cedar Walton and Freddie Hubbard once each, but not all in the same room at the same time with Art Blakey and the others. “Wakey Blakey” was a real treat and an awakening to how wonderful this music sounds live.  I was struck by the similarity of James Davison’s tone and urgency of delivery to that of Freddie Hubbard from the beginning during “Time Off”. He was very powerful, yet completely soulful and sensitive when required as on the beautiful rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark”.  I loved the bluesy growl of Rory’s trombone-playing in several numbers, especially “Hammerhead”.  An old Fleece regular used to say that the trombone was an “awkward instrument in the modern setting” but he hadn’t heard Rory play it as sensitively and as fluently as he did last night.  Rory was also a very amusing and playful compere who balanced humour with respect for the music of the Jazz Messengers.  Alex Garnett was a dep for another Alex and it was one of his best performances on tenor sax that I have seen from him in a while.  He played with conviction and soul and delivered some warm solos throughout.  

Pianist Matt Carter provided a constant propulsive rhythm throughout many numbers and did so faultlessly, with occasional bursts of freer improvisation. Misha Mullov-Abbado was a tall presence alongside his double bass, using his long frame and long dextrous fingers at such a rapid pace to provide the propulsive beat demanded by the faster numbers. I especially loved his solo that introduced Hubbard’s “The Core”. I’ve left our drummer until last which is how it often is, but this was a homage to the great Art Blakey, a huge presence who played with so much drive and passion. Luke Tomlinson was, like Art, sensitive to what was going on around the music and had two memorable and powerful solos on “Free For All” and “Ping Pong” that penetrated to the core.

The last word goes to Carlos Santana: “Art Blakey’s drive, passion, soulfulness, heart and innovation were and still are inspirations that help and require us to move the music ever forward.” That was very much in evidence in last night’s performance from Wakey Blakey.

Take care,

Steve

Dave says:

That was an accurate review of a great show. The sound check was terrific fun to be part of, even though the only mics were piano and leader.

WAKEY BLAKEY: THE MUSIC OF ART BLAKEY’S JAZZ MESSENGERS

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 08/5/24

Towards the beginning of the gig, Rory Ingham explained that the numbers they would be playing were originally performed by the classic sextet lineup of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: Wayne Shorter (tenor sax); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Cedar Walton (Piano); Reggie Workman (Bass); as well as Art Blakey (drums) himself. The selections were mostly from the albums Mosaic (1961), Caravan (1962), Ugetsu (1963) and Free For All (1964

  1. Time Off (Curtis Fuller) from the album Ugetsu
  2. Hammerhead (Wayne Shorter) from the album Free For All
  3. Free For All (Wayne Shorter) from the album Free For All
  4. Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael)from the album Caravan
  5. One By One (Wayne Shorter) from the album Ugetsu

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Children of the Night (Wayne Shorter) from the album Mosaic
  2. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning (David Mann)from the album Caravan
  3. The Core (Freddie Hubbard) from the album Free For All
  4. Miyako (Wayne Shorter) from his album Schizophrenia 
  5. Ping Pong (Wayne Shorter) from the album Ugetsu
  6. Encore: Down Under (Freddie Hubbard) from the album Mosaic

On Wednesday 10 July The Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet Tribute- £20

Nat Steele Vibes

Mark Crooks Tenor sax

Colin Oxley Guitar

Mátyás Gayer Piano

Jeremy Brown  Double Bass

Mark Taylor  Drums 

The combination of tenor sax with vibraphone is a particularly warm and luxurious sound and has been featured very successfully by several leading tenor players including Sonny Rollins (with Milt Jackson) and Joe Henderson (with Bobby Hutcherson).

Stan Getz and Cal Tjader had an especially successful partnership in the late 1950s, leading an all-star sextet including Scott La Faro, Vince Guaraldi, Eddie Duran and on his very first recording drum master Billy Higgins.

This sextet led by tenor player Mark Crooks and vibraphonist Nat Steele celebrates this collaboration, playing selections from the brilliant 1958 album. The sextet performs gorgeous arrangements of standards "For All We Know", "I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face" and "My Buddy" along with swinging originals by Tjader and Guaraldi, "Ginza Samba" and "Big Bear". Stan Getz’s other vibraphone partnerships are also showcased, with selections from his recordings with vibes masters Lionel Hampton and Gary Burton.

Mark Crooks works in a wide variety of musical settings including jazz, big band and classical. He has performed with artists ranging from Tony Bennett to Sir Simon Rattle, Lady Gaga to Dame Cleo Laine at venues from Ronnie Scott’s in London to the Lincoln Center in New York. Nat Steele quickly gained a reputation as a talented musician to watch out for, described by Clark Tracey as "one of the best vibes players this country has ever produced." Principally self-taught and following in the style of Milt Jackson, his quartet is regularly featured in the Late, Late show at Ronnie Scott's.

Featured in the rhythm section are the UK’s finest straight-ahead jazz musicians: bassist Jeremy Brown (Brad Mehldau, Peter King), up-and-coming young pianist Mátyás Gayer, and drummer Mark Taylor (George Coleman, Monty Alexander).

Accolades for Mark Crooks: “luscious sound and apparently effortless phrasing”; “a big, warm, engaging tone”; “gorgeous, liquid and elegant.

Accolade for Nat Steele: "A remarkable young vibraphonist in the Milt Jackson tradition." Dave Gelly (Observer)


Thoughts on The Chris Ingham Quartet -“The Music of Dudley Moore”, 24 April 2024

The Chris Ingham Quartet -"The Music of Dudley Moore", 24 April 2024

During Chris Ingham’s superb  presentation of the life of the great Dudley Moore, he (only once) stumbled over a word. As the announcer at the gig, I wood never distend to such a Paux Fas. 

One of the delights of any show led by Chris is the depth of his research, and the humour of his presentation. I think everyone found something new about Dudley’s life and talent.  But as good as it was, the music was what the evening was about, and the music was wonderful.

The musicians were:

Chris was on piano and vocals. He said in effect that he was unequal to the virtuosity of Dudley. I wonder; to me, there was no note out of place, whether the music was dense or sparse. Consider the riot of counter-rhythms on “Amalgam”, while echoing the serene themes played by Paul. The vocals were a riot on their own.

Paul Higgs, who played trumpet (open, wah wah, harmon, straight) and flugel. His soft, clear singing to echo the frenetic piano on “Amalgam”, was lovely.  He is such a good player. His enjoyment of the work of the others was lovely to watch. He made the trading of 4’s with George such a treat.

George Double was the drummer. I loved his range of expression was surprising; hand work on “Atlanta”, some beautiful trading on several numbers, and just watching him play. And for the first time for me, he sang, in duet with Paul, as backing vocalists. Way backing vocalists, bh singing by the drums, very funny. You have to be good to be funny.

Simon Thorpe only sang once, but it was clear he enjoyed it. He is a favourite at Fleece Jazz. His work throughout the evening was superb, and the solo on “Sad One for George” was special.

These guys gave us the joy and the complexity of Dudley Moore’s music. It was an evening to cherish. Steve’s amazing set list below deserves a read.

Our next gig is also a celebration of one of the greats. A trombone led band to honour a drummer? Yes indeed. Art Blakey would be delighted by the work of the Rory Ingham sextet: Rory on trombone, Alex Garnett on sax, James Davison on trumpet, Matt Carter on piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass, and Luke Tomlinson on drums. It will be a high energy, wildly swinging gig.. So do join us for the first gig of the new programme on Wednesday the 8th of May.

Take care,

Dave

THE CHRIS INGHAM QUARTET: THE MUSIC OF DUDLEY MOORE

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 24/4/24

  1. Dudley Dell – originally the B-side to his 1961 debut single Strictly for the Birds. Now only available as a bonus track on Authentic Dud Volume 2, the CD reissue of Moore’s 1965 album on Decca Records, The Other Side of Dudley Moore. This quirky two-minute number is best known nowadays as the theme tune to Radio 4’s Quote Unquote. It shares the same chord sequence as My Blue Heaven and contains glancing references to a host of jazz standards.
  2. (Theme tune to) Not Only . . . But Also – Not Only … But Also was the hugely popular TV sketch show that Dudley hosted with Peter Cook between 1964 and 1970.  The quirky, angular, Thelonious Monk-inspired theme to Not Only … But Also was the B-side to Pete and Dud’s 1965 Top 20 hit Goodbye-ee. It has virtually vanished from the internet. You’ll find some snippets of Moore playing it on (retrieved) videos of the TV show, but a full recording is not available.
  3. Waterloo – full of labyrinthine chord sequences/ My Blue Heaven (Donaldson/Whiting) – full of Dudley’s characteristic playfulness with a two-step lope on bass and finger-popping on bongos courtesy of Simon Thorpe and George Double respectively.
  4. Poova Nova – from The Other Side of Dudley Moore.
  5. Bedazzled Dudley’s best-known song is the recurring theme from the 1967 movie, Bedazzled. It was most memorably delivered by a fictional psych-rock band called Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations, with Peter Cook deadpanning the lyrics (“I’m not available / You fill me with inertia”). Dudley recorded several instrumental versions, recasting the heavily flanged rock song as a gentle bossa nova.
  6. Cornfield – from Bedazzled

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. 30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia – from the 1968 British romantic comedy film starring Dudley Moore and Suzy Kendall.  
  2. Sad One For George – from The Other Side of Dudley Moore, dedicated to George Hastings who took him in when Moore’s marriage broke down. Dudley repaid him by running off with his wife. Featured a beautiful bass solo by Simon Thorpe.
  3. Love Me/ The Millionaire – both from Bedazzled. Anguished cries of “Love Me!” are played over a shuffling pop background in the film. Dudley, who spent most of his life in psychotherapy, once said that “Playing Jazz was my way of asking for the love I didn’t get as a child.” As Chris said, “Dudley playing piano is a man revealed.”
  4. Amalgam – a sprightly piece of continental minimalism from Dudley’s self-titled 1969 album, The Dudley Moore Trio. It was his first set of entirely original material and here performed by the quartet with serene long notes from Paul Higgs on trumpet and flugelhorn with Chris Ingham underpinning them on piano.
  5. Yesterdays(Jerome Kern) – from the 1966 album on Decca Records, Genuine Dud.
  6. Waltz for Suzy – from the 1991 album, Songs Without Words.
  7. Song for Suzy – from the 1971 album, Today. Both this number and the previous one were dedicated to Dudley’s first wife and actress, Suzy Kendall. 
  8. Encore: Goodbye-ee Pete and Dud’s 1965 Top 20 hit.  This was the closing song from their 1960s sketch show Not Only But Also.


Thoughts on Jazz Africa – 10 April 2024

Steve (and a bit of Dave) says:

I'm still basking in the euphoria from last night's Jazz Africa performance. There were many astounding moments throughout both sets from our six musicians. Yes, six, because we had a guest star on percussion! During the first set, six-year-old Jackson sat in the centre aisle in front of Tony Kofi. He had a water bottle that he used to add to the percussion on stage. Tony brought him on to the stage, gave him a maraca and he played with the band during "Aloka Party". It will be something he will never forget (and nor will we).

From the exuberant, life-affirming music of Africa's best-known jazz saxophonist, Manu Dibango, and the pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, the gig started as it intended to carry on with an infectious blend of funk, jazz and traditional African rhythms.  You could dance to the music throughout both sets and its humanity incited the purest joy.  The rhythm was key throughout, with each member of the band playing percussion instruments (claves, bones, drums, congas and maracas) at some point. Stuart Fidler, while plucking the strings of his guitar with two fingers in the typical musical style of West African highlife, almost managed to play a hand drum at the same time! Encouraged by Basil Hodge and Tony, different sections of our audience contributed handclapping that created some complex polyrhythms.  Winston Clifford managed to do all of that single-handed on his drumkit and amazed us all with his prodigious skills and inventiveness.  It was wonderful to have Winston back at the Fleece after so long. We were also reminded of his many talents from his beautiful vocals on Abdullah Ibrahim's 'African Marketplace', a song with deep political roots (see setlist).   The polyrhythms were enhanced by bassist Mike Edmunds: as well as providing the pulse and the harmonies, he used the bass guitar as a percussive instrument.

Aside from his warmth and playfulness, Tony Kofi reaffirmed his place as a firm favourite with our audiences with his versatility and superhuman energy on a range of saxophones and how the sound from his horn just continues to soar.  I just didn't want it to stop on 'African Marketplace'.

Jazz Africa is of course Basil Hodge's baby, although he would be the first to emphasise that it is a team effort.  Aside from his use of claves and handclaps, he led with some excellent work on the electric piano as well as acoustic, managing to make both sound authentic and vital in the African music setting, so that the electric piano could be mistaken for a marimba at times.

One more mention of our highly appreciative and enthusiastic audience: there was, as we predicted, 'dancing in the aisles' with some wild moves from our technical team and others who could not restrain themselves and celebrated the joy of African Jazz in a truly honest and human way. 

On 24 April, the much acclaimed gig, "The Music of Dudley Moore" will be with us, with composer, pianist, and brilliant presenter Chris Ingham, Paul Higgs on trumpet, Simon Thorpe on bass, and drummer George Double. Tickets are going well for this gig, so do try not to miss it.

JAZZ AFRICA: THE ORIGINS FROM ROOTS TO NOW

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/4/24

  1. Soul Makossa (Manu Dibango) – an international hit for Dibango in 1972 that inspired (and was effectively borrowed by) the later music of Michael Jackson among others. Makossa is a dance tradition of the Douala people in Cameroon, where Dibango was born.
  2. Shakara (Fela Kuti) 
  3. Mannenberg (Abdullah Ibrahim, formerly known as Dollar Brand) Mannenberg is a township of Cape Town, South Africa, that was created by the apartheid government for low-income “Coloured” families in 1966 as a result of the forced removal campaign by the National Party. The song became an anthem of the struggle against Apartheid, evoking South Africa’s dark past but also celebrating its people and their courageous resistance to oppression.
  4. Aloka Party (Manu Dibango)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Water No Got No Enemy (Fela Kuti)
  2. African Marketplace (Abdullah Ibrahim)
  3. Big Blow (Manu Dibango)
  4. Goro City (Manu Dibango)
  5. Niger Mambo (Randy Weston)


On Wednesday 12 June “Conversations with Bill”: A Celebration of Bill Evans with The Adrian York Trio – £18

Adrian York Piano

Paul Whitten Double Bass

Mark Fletcher Drums 

Conversations with Bill

Join us for an intimate evening of impressionistic harmony and pure beauty as we experience the lyrical compositions of the iconic pianist and multi-instrumentalist Bill Evans. Conversations with Bill explores the repertoire and recordings, compositions and piano style of this great and most distinctive of all jazz pianists.

Like many of his peers, Bill Evans’ short life was challenged by both his genius and the challenges that faced his generation, but he left a legacy of stunning and very beautiful music that still influences musicians of today. Presented by musician, educator and broadcaster Adrian York, this promises to be a truly interesting and inspiring session.

Dr Adrian York began his musical career in the early 1980s as a member of a swing-pop band Roman Holliday. He then worked for a plethora of artists from the worlds of pop, jazz and light entertainment including Jimmy Ruffin, Shirley Bassey and Paul Young. In the jazz world he has performed with Ian Shaw, Ronny Jordan, Jean Toussaint, Tim Garland, Tina May and Alan Barnes as well as being musical director for a host of Jazz FM live acts.

Paul Whitten has been described as "the best jazz bassist in the South of England" by promoters of the Swanage Jazz Festival. Another music critic said that "Paul Whitten played very sensitively. His tone is sweet and woody - not too much bass or treble. I really like Paul's solo style. His lines are more like those you would want to sing. His solos are sweet and very clean, melodic."

Mark Fletcher is one of the UK’s most versatile and in demand drummers.  Equally at home in straight ahead jazz, free improvised music, rock and world music, Mark was the house drummer at Ronnie Scott’s for 12 years and has played there and in leading venues around the world since the late '80s. Amongst others, he has worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Mark Murphy, Michel Legrand, James Moody, Dave Gilmore, Tim Garland, Liane Carroll, Norma Winstone, Georgie Fame, Ian Shaw, Cedar Walton and Kenny Wheeler. Mark also leads his own band, Fletch’s Brew, renowned for playing original compositions and new arrangements from across the jazz canon.


Thoughts on The Jon Lloyd Quartet

Steve says:

We had quite a different style of Jazz last night from that heard over recent weeks at Fleece Jazz, but one that was exceedingly welcome.  The music was quiet and contemplative - a joy to listen to and also to watch the musicians play with such passion and enjoyment. Alex Goodyear was clearly transported by the music, seemingly enraptured by the sound that the band made collectively.  Alex brought a delicate touch to his drumkit that was a wonder to behold, reminding me of the American drummer, Brian Blade, as he used the whole kit in a gentle and yet expressive way.  The image of him finishing one number by simply shaking his brushes in the air encapsulated the fragile beauty of the music heard over the course of the evening.  I suppose the others were not as animated as Alex, but they were none the less vital to the whole sound. Nick Pini's sensitive propulsive playing, John Law's classically trained pianism and the beautiful melodicism heard from Jon Lloyd's tenor and soprano saxes, as well as in his strong and accessible compositions.

P.S. I have ordered both CDs that were on sale last night but were sold out before I could get my copies. This was my first exposure to the music and musicianship of Jon Lloyd. I am converted!

Dave says:

I had been looking forward to this gig since it was booked. Jon Lloyd’sprevious appearance at the club was over ten years ago, and that music is still in my mind.  We need to have him again, much sooner than 10 years from now.

John Law walked into the room, sat at the piano, and ripped off an impossible Bach fugue at great speed, and then played it as it should be heard. I think it was  a warm-up after a very long drive from his home in Somerset. He held that level of pianism throughout the evening. Jon’s music is not difficult, but it is nuanced, and John covered every nuance with either hand.

Nick Piniwarmed up with bowed Bach. We got a bit of bowing from him in the last number, “The Heron”. His pizzicato was the pulse under a lyrical style of playing.

Jon produced a warm, sustained and clear sound throughout on both tenor and soprano. It was his writing throughout the evening. The melodies were lovely, a few were appropriately tough. 

Through the first set, I had a hankering for an upbeat song. Jon seems not to do these. Then, in the last tune of the set, “Earth Song”, Alex Goodyear produced an extended intro with hands only. It was visually spectacular, and came as close to singing that I have ever heard on drums.

On 10 April, Jazz Africa, lead buy Basil Hodge, will carry us from the roots of jazz to jazz today. Basil is on piano, with saxophonist Tony Kofi, Winston Clifford on drums, Jihad Darwish on bass and Stuart Fiddler on guitar. It will be a special evening. 

Do note that the Jazz Africa gig will start at 8:15pm, doors at 7:45pm.

THE JON LLOYD QUARTET

SEATLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 27/3/24

All compositions by Jon Lloyd

  1. Breaking the Waves
  2. Cinq Feuilles
  3. Flux 
  4. Anima 
  5. Earth Song

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Al’Afiyah
  2. Yaga
  3. Meta Meta
  4. The Heron

Thoughts on The Gaz Hughes Trio – Nuclear Bebopalypse, 13 March 2024

The Gaz Hughes Trio - Nuclear Bebopalypes, 13 March 2024

The piano trio is my favourite form, and  bebop my favourite style, so my expectations were high for this gig. My expectations were greatly exceeded. Leader Gaz Hughes’ drumming, Andrzej Baranek’s pianism and Gavin Barras’ bass playing (with lots of lovely bowing) all were superb musicians. As people were leaving, I heard one say “what an amazing bassist!”, another said “that wonderful pianist has a proper left hand”, and a third comment that Gaz “was a drummer to hear again and again”. 

The three were tight together from the off, although the intensely listening audience was a bit of a surprise. By the third number, they were visibly having fun. After the gig, Gaz commented on this gig being so good, I guess compared to others on their long tour. They played for us music that they knew well, no music or music stands, but it sounded fresh as a summer sun shower.

I won’t even try to pick out a favourite. 

Steve said:

“I am currently revisiting last night's Bebopalypse here, listening to each of the two Gaz Hughes Trio CDs that I bought during the interval.  We were treated to a good mix of original material, covers and standards with each of those immensely talented and soulful musicians playing their hearts out. Hats off to the rhythmically strong and fluid playing of Andrzej Baranek but also to the ever-creative Gaz Hughes using everything at his disposal on the drum kit and the ever-engaging style of Gavin Barras on double bass.  

I can't help thinking that a good few regulars and occasional visitors to the Fleece missed a Bebopportunity last night. The attached setlist will give some idea.”

That gig was a beauty. But we have another much anticipated beauty for you on Wednesday 27 March. It has been too long since we have heard The Jon Lloyd Quartet. We will have Jon on reeds and the superb pianist John Law, with Nick Pini on bass and drummer Alex Goodyear. Don’t miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

THE GAZ HUGHES TRIO: “NUCLEAR BEBOPALYPSE”

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 13/3/24

  1. Beboptical Illusion (Gaz Hughes)
  2. AB’s Blues (Andrzej Baranek)
  3. Beautiful Moons Ago (Oscar Moore / Nat King Cole)
  4. Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn)
  5. Lullaby of Birdland (George Shearing)
  6. Alice In Wonderland (Sammy Fain)
  7. Nuclear Bebopalypse (Andrzej Baranek/Gaz Hughes)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. I Mean You (Thelonious Monk)
  2. Disinformation (Gavin Barras)
  3. Shootin’ from the Hip! (Gaz Hughes) 
  4. Put On A Happy Face (Charles Strouse / Lee Adams)
  5. White Noise (Gaz Hughes)
  6. Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton)
  7. Seven Steps To Heaven (Victor Feldman, Miles Davis)
  8. Encore: Stompin’ At The Savoy (Edgar Sampson)


Thoughts on Some Kinda Wonderful: The Wonder of Stevie, 21 February 2024

Steve says:

What a tremendous performance we were treated to last night, in fact it felt more like a private party to which we were privileged to be invited. The whole band were on fire, with the irrepressible Noel and Derek leading from the front, catering for a range of music lover, from the die-hard Stevie fans to the old jazzers. Looking around, it was heart-warming to witness such unanimous enjoyment; we had dancing, handclapping, communal singing and sheer delight in the faces of our sell-out audience. 

I have seen the same show at a larger venue, as had the couple next to me from Northampton, but we all agreed that last night's experience was superior because of the warmth and intimacy of the atmosphere.  Watching Derek seemingly play directly to individual audience members and Noel appearing to serenade others during the encore , the Fleece-effect was working its old magic, and we got the special treatment from musicians who love to visit the club.

Check out the setlist below.

Dave says:

Technically, this was a very complex gig, but we got complemented on the sound. And what sound we got. Six master musicians having the time of their lives. Stunning keyboardist Neil Angilley and top drummer Nic France were amazing. Nic was absolutely in party mode. Tim Cansfield was solid on electric guitars, and lyrical on the acoustic guitar. It was brilliant to see and hear Laurence Cottle: we got a top international player as a dep. Noel McCalla and Derek Nash drove the show. They fired off each other. 

It was an exciting day from the soundcheck to the strike. I want to remember this one when I am asked “what is the best gig you have had at Fleece Jazz”.

Bebop alert! on March 13, Gaz Hughes will bring the excellent piano trio to delight us with “Nuclear Bebopalypes”, With Andrzej Baranek on piano  and Gavin Barras on bass. Come one, come all.

Take care

Dave

Some Kinda Wonderful presents The Music of Stevie Wonder

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 21/2/24

All numbers composed by Stevie Wonder apart from 9, 11 and 17:

 * Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby.

** Ron Miller and Bryan Wells

***Ron Miller and Orlando Morden

+Lee Garrett and Stevie Wonder 

  1.   Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) 1970
  2. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life 1972
  3. Sir Duke 1976
  4. You and I / Blame It On The Sun 1972
  5. Another Star 1976
  6. Golden Lady 1973
  7. Overjoyed 1985 / I Just Called To Say I Love You 1984  Both songs were performed as a duet by Noel and Neil.
  8. Higher Ground 1973

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Uptight (Everything’s Alright)*1965Yester-Me, Yester-You Yesterday**1969 /For Once In My Life***1968
  1. Do I Do 1982
  2. Let’s Get Serious+1980
  3. Lately 1980
  4. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing 1973
  5. Master Blaster (Jammin’) 1980
  6. Isn’t She Lovely 1976
  7. Superstition 1972 / Living for The City 1973 / I Wish 1976
  8. Encore: My Cherie Amour* 1969


On Wednesday 8 May ‘Wakey Blakey’: The Rory Ingham/James Davison Sextet celebrate the music of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers – £20

Rory Ingham Trombone

James Davison Trumpet

Alex Garnett Tenor Sax

Matt Carter Piano

Misha Mullov-Abbado Bass

Luke Tomlinson Drums 

"Art Blakey’s message is in safe hands. Wakey Blakey should be prescribed by the NHS as a tonic for all ailments affecting humankind."- Trevor Bannister, The Jazz Mann

'Wakey Blakey' is a new band featuring some of the finest talent on the British Jazz scene playing the music of legendary drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers but with the lesser-known sextet line-up as exemplified by the stellar 1960s front-line of Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Reggie Workman and Art himself. Led jointly by Rory Ingham and James Davison, this project demonstrates hard bop with a frighteningly fresh feel; the music is wildly high-energy and unbelievably swinging.

Of the two joint leaders, Rory Ingham (Jam Experiment, Bonsai), a first-class honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, is also an educator and composer. While still a student he was a runner-up in the 2016 Trombonist of the Year, winner of the 2017 British Jazz Awards Rising Star, and in 2018 winner of the British Trombone Society Awards. Jazzwise magazine credited his effortless virtuosity" while London Jazz News described his style as “richly melodic…”. The other joint leader, James Davison, while still at the Royal Academy of Music was winner of both the Smith-Watkins Trumpet Award (2016) and the Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Musicians Award (2018). A brilliant award-winning trumpeter, he graduated with an MA in Jazz Performance and for this project he undertook the mammoth task of faithfully transcribing the Sextet arrangements from the original albums on Riverside and Blue Note.

Alex Garnett has been one of the leading saxophonists in the UK and Mainland Europe for over two decades, being instantly recognized by his dark, husky sound. A versatile musician and first call sideman, he has enjoyed success as both a jazz artist, composer and arranger, and an in-demand session, studio and commercial saxophonist, having racked up countless recording credits along the way.

Matt Carter studied jazz piano at The Royal Academy of Music under the guidance of Nikki Iles, Tom Cawley and Gwilym Simcock, and studied composition with Pete Churchill.. During that time Matt was involved in some incredible projects including a big band project with Chris Potter and Dave Holland, a small band project run by Laurence Cottle and a symphonic brass project run by Mike Lovett. According to Jazzwise magazine "Carter’s own piano is as tasteful and neatly phrased as you could wish."

Award-winning, London-based jazz bass player, composer and arranger Misha Mullov-Abbado is a musician who combines great imagination with raw talent and a clear vision. A BBC New Generation Artist and with a "melodic gift" (John Fordham, The Guardian) and ability to masterfully combine beautifully-crafted compositions with free-spirited improvisation.

Taking the role of Art Blakey is Luke Tomlinson, a London based professional musician, drummer, band leader and educator. Since graduating in 2019 from the Royal Academy of Music with a First Class Honours Degree, Luke has begun to firmly establish himself as one of the most in-demand young musicians in London, performing regularly at some of the most prestigious venues in the UK, include the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Jazz Café Camden as well as a number of performances on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3.

We’re looking forward to a brilliant evening of swinging, high energy jazz.


On Wednesday 22 May 2024, The Clark Tracey Quintet £18

Clark Tracey Drums

Simon Allen Tenor sax

RJ Gilbert Alto sax

David Newton Piano

Andrew Cleyndert Bass

"One of the most impressive jazz drummers today” The Times

Clark Tracey is a well-established jazz master who is recognised as an inventive jazz drummer and as a proven group leader, writer and arranger, having appeared over many years with the world’s jazz greats. He creates educational Master Classes across the U.K. and continues to be an in-demand performer across the world. He has revived the famous jazz suites written by his late father, the great pianist & composer Stan Tracey, bringing masterpieces such as "Under Milkwood" successfully to admiring younger audiences.

Simon Allen is a critically acclaimed, award winning saxophonist, composer and educator who has worked with the Laurence Cottle All Star Big band and made numerous other appearances as a guest soloist as well as with his own quartets and quintets. In addition, he has recorded and performed with Sir Paul McCartney, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Phil Collins, Jamie Cullum, Beverly Knight and many, many more. “Allen...brings a searing urgency... [and] an anthemic soul-jazzy heat” - The Guardian Simon Allen

Alto saxophonist, RJ Gilbert is a young jazz musician who is still studying at Birmingham Conservatoire and already making waves on the UK jazz scene.

David Newton has been voted ‘Best Jazz Pianist sixteen times by the Jazz audience of the UK. A few years after graduating from the Leeds College of Music his old roommate from college, Alan Barnes, persuaded him to move to London where he rapidly became a much sought after pianist teaming up with Barnes, guitarist Martin Taylor and saxophonist Don Weller. Later, he gained a reputation as an exquisite accompanist for singers such as Marion Montgomery, Tina May, Annie Ross, Claire Martin and of course Stacey Kent, with whom he spent the next ten years recording and travelling all over the world. For many years he has been the honorary president of Fleece Jazz and we always look forward to hearing him play.

Andrew Cleyndert started out in the bands of Don Weller and Bobby Wellins and has since flourished on the jazz scene in the UK and beyond.  He has played and toured with the cream of the UK’s musicians and a string of international soloists, including Bud Shank, George Coleman, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz and James Moody.  He was also closely associated with Stan Tracey in his many bands over fifteen years until Stan’s death in 2013.  Further afield, Andy has worked in Europe with pianists Gene Harris, Benny Green, Junior Mance and Tamir Hendleman.


Thoughts on John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” – 14 February 2024

Thoughts on John Etheridge's "Blue Spirits" - 14 February 2024

Dave here, still buzzing from "Blue Spirits". We delight in them every time they come, but this time: John Etheridge, Pete Whittaker and George Double were in an intense and happy mood. It was special. A favourite? Difficult, but I know "Soul Eyes" and this band's rendition was a knockout.

Steve loved it too, and provided words and the setlist.

Take care,

Dave

I know this is getting to be a regular thing but WOW! Of the three occasions when I have seen the Blue Spirits Trio, that had to be the very best.  John was on great form musically, but a special mention must go to Pete Whittaker for his performance on organ which added a whole new layer to the sound of John's guitar and created a beautiful and exhilarating wall of sound effect together with George Double's drumwork. A lot of people (a lot, was it 100?)  went home very happy and I heard one lady enthusing during the interval queue for CDs saying that it was her first time at Fleece Jazz and that she wants to come back for the Jazz Africa gig.

Stand out moment for me was the heart-wrenching encore "Little Wing" - a truly emotional performance with which to round off the evening.

John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” 14th February 2024

  1. Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
  2. You Don’t Know Me (Eddy Arnold/Cindy Walker) Best known by Ray Charles’ version 
  3. Fungii Mama (Blue Mitchell)
  4. The Stars Apart (John Etheridge)
  5. Cold, Cold Heart (Hank Williams)
  6. Distant Voice (John Etheridge)

       *          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. God Bless The Child (Billie Holliday & Arthur Herzog Junior)  Solo guitar performance by John Etheridge
  1. Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster) Best known by Doris Day’s version from Calamity Jane, later covered by Kathy Kirby
  1. Soul Eyes (Mal Waldron )
  2. Do Like Eddie (John Scofield) Dedicated to Eddie Harris
  3. 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
  4. First Moves (Sonny Rollins)
  5. Encore: Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) 


Thoughts on Cannonball and Nat – 24 January 2024

Dave here, still reeling after last night’s wonderful gig. Thinking of what to write, the word “Joyous” was first to pop out. Then I read Steve’s letter with the set list attached. He wrote…

What an utterly joyous gig we had last night courtesy of "Cannonball and Nat" aka Pete Long, Ryan Quigley, Chris Ingham, Malcolm Creese and George Double.  

It was a revelation, a totally uninhibited celebration of the wonderful music of the Adderley brothers.  Much thanks must go to the exuberant and hilarious compering of Pete Long, who whipped our audience into a good-natured frenzy, but also the driving energy of all of the musicians.  It would be difficult and, in fact, pointless to single out any of the numbers as a high point - there was absolutely no let-up in the pace of the performance except for the ballad medley which the musicians (and audience) needed to get their breath back.  That said, particular favourites with our audience were The Jive Samba and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy with the accompanying whoops and hollers echoing and recapturing the enthusiasm of the crowds in the original recordings.  But then what about Jeanine and Sticks and Ryan Quigley's beautiful rendition of Skylark. 

A lot of people went home elated and content last night thanks to the boundless energy of five very hard-working musicians. I had a view across the stage and the looks of unashamed pleasure in the faces of the audience said it all.

Steve

I would just add that the trading 8’s and 4’s between the two horns in “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was spectacular. 

We are greatly looking forward the the great guitarist and storyteller John Etheridge, with Pete Whitaker on organ and drummer George Double. I hope to see you with us on Wednesday February 14th.

Take care,

Dave

“CANNONBALL & NAT”

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 24/1/24

  1. Fiddler on the Roof (Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick)
  2. Save Your Love for Me (Buddy Johnson) from the album Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.
  3. Unit 7 (Sam Jones) also from the album Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.
  4. Jive Samba (Nat Adderley)
  5. Azule Serape (Victor Feldman)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Del Sasser (Sam Jones)
  2. Jeanine (Duke Pearson)
  3. I’m In the Mood For Love(Jimmy McHugh) /Laura(David Raksin) /Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael)
  4. Sticks (Julian Adderley)
  5. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Josef Zawinul)

Encore: Work Song (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown Jr)


Thoughts on Q3 featuring Kevin Flanagan – 10 January 2024

The first gig of 2024 was a great start to what looks like a very exciting season.  I note that we described Kevin Flanagan as “master saxophonist”, and boy, he blew a stunning gig. Kevin is very well known to us and loved, but the other three who were new to us, were masters as well. 

The band was led by pianist and composer Martin Hallmark. All but two of the tunes played were his compositions. He gave us a varied programme of thoughtful music. He is a wonderful pianist.

Derek Scurll knows how to play the room. He is a very skilled drummer, perfect support for the band.

The revelation was 5 string electric bassist Tiago Coimbra. His speed and invention were quite wonderful. He used a little stomp box on two numbers that I noticed. The effects were very appropriate to the tunes, and they did not blast distortion at us. The last tune of the first set, “Nomads”, was a lovely example of that (see Steves note in the set list).

Steve actually got the set list from Martin: it is a bit of a  rarity to have a programme solidly fixed. So when  the audience asked for an encore, they had nothing ready. Kevin suggests a blues, which was met with approval. He titled it “Born of Desperation”. Without the restriction of written music, the four of them blew a beautiful blues.

Next up, on the 24 of the month, tenorist Pete Long and trumpeter Ryan Quigley will celebrate the music of the brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderly, with Chris Ingham on piano, Malcolm Creese on bass and George Double on drums. It will be a cracker. Do join us.

Take care

Dave

Q3 featuring KEVIN FLANAGAN

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/1/24

All numbers composed by Martin Hallmark except for African Skies which was composed by Michael Brecker.

  1.   Through the Clouds
  2. Odyssey – played as a trio and a homage to the late, great Chick Corea with whom Martin spent some time in a piano workshop.
  3. Lost at Sea
  4. N.J.B.
  5. A Good Day For Breathing
  6. Emerald Eyes
  7. Nomads – a middle eastern flavoured number with Tiago Coimbra’s electric bass sounding like an oud!

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Fuzzy Hacker-tat
  2. African Skies
  3. Rondo di Girulata 
  4. Equipoise
  5. Water Speckled Midnight
  6. Nocturne – reflecting Martin’s attempts to play Chopin during the pandemic credited for getting his left hand moving better on the piano.
  7. Turnaround Time (Martin Hallmark)

ENCORE: A Blues


Thoughts on Ben, Bean, Bird and Barnes, Thursday 28 December 2023

When Steve sent over the setlist  below,  he said, “What a wonderful gig with which to finish the year and Fleece season. Alan is a brilliant compere as well as a huge talent.”. I can’t imagine  that anyone in the crowd (and what a crowd it was) would disagree. It was being at home with jazz royalty: raconteur Alan Barnes on alto sax, clarinet, and baritone sax; Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor sax; Jim Watson on piano; Andrew Cleyndert on bass; Clark Tracey on drums. The gig included music composed and performed by Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins (nicknamed Bean) and Charlie Parker, and two by Alan. There was time for everybody to have extended solos. I have no favourites: it was a spectacularly good evening.

Alan played the audience superbly. There was just enough  information about each tune to satisfy, with anecdotes about the three B’s, and he had us in stitches with his easy pointed humour. I got the strong impression from watching the other four performers that Alan was improvising his chat. We know him well, but his musical speed and invention still surprises us. He made a joke about using the clarinet on “Body and Soul” as a chance to practice, and then used his incredible technique to enhance his feelings for the song and for  Vasilis’ solos. 

Jim’s solo on the first number, “Bean and the Boys”, was truly exciting, and our quiet listening audience was whooping after it. If you are going to play Ben Webster tunes, the warm tenor saxophone tone produced by Vasilis seemed perfect. Andrew if anything has grown as a bassist over the years; solid pulse with constant invention. And Clark; continuous genius at work.  But the key from all four that made it so brilliant was the palpable listening. 

It has been a very good year at Fleece Jazz. Band after band came and played for us, playing wonderfully and showing us the huge range that the genre has. B, B, B, and Barnes was a stunning climax to the year.   But it would be wrong to end this note without thanks to the people who volunteer to make the club work.

So what about next year?  Well, starting off with Kevin Flanagan on sax is a very good beginning. The Martin Hallmark (piano) quartet, with Kevin, Tiago Coimbra on bass and drummer Derek Scurll is on Wednesday 10 January, It will be great to have your company for the gig.

Take care,

Dave

BEN, BEAN, BIRD AND BARNES

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 28/12/23

  1. Bean and the Boys (Coleman Hawkins) – based on ‘Lover Come Back To Me’
  2. Los Caracoles (Alan Barnes)
  3. Walking the Frog (Ben Webster) BW was jokingly referred to as ‘The Frog’ by fellow musicians owing to his facial appearance and not, as Alan Barnes suggested, because he could catch insects with his tongue!
  4. Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton) – a jazz standard and ballad notably performed by both Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.
  5. Billie’s Bounce (Charlie Parker)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Spotlite (Coleman Hawkins)
  2. Did You Call Her Today? (Ben Webster) based on ‘Just You, Just Me’
  3. Chelsea Bridge (Duke Ellington) often performed by Ben Webster
  4. Mango (Alan Barnes)
  5. Frog Eyes (Clark Terry) dedicated to Ben Webster
  6. ENCORE: Yardbird Suite (Charlie Parker)


Thoughts on The Ed Jones Quartet, 13th December 2023

On Wednesday night last, the Ed Jones Quartet led by British saxophonist and composer Ed Jones returned to Fleece Jazz for the first time in five years. Initially inspired by the music of Wayne Shorter with a style reminiscent of John Coltrane, the group includes pianist Ross Stanley, bassist Riaan Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles. Together for over ten years, they have forged a unique identity of powerfully driven fire music with atmospheric improvised soundscapes that draws from original compositions and fresh interpretations of the American songbook repertoire.

The programme featured a mix of material from the For Your Ears Only album, a couple of newer, yet to be recorded pieces and four remarkable explorations of jazz standards. The opener, ‘Nomadology’, featured Jones’ Coltranesque tenor sax floating above the rolling grooves generated by Stanley, Vosloo and Giles but there’s plenty of variation along the way with subtle changes of rhythm and tempo keeping things interesting and allowing Jones to stretch out and probe to good effect. The leader’s consistently engaging solo is followed by an expansive excursion from Stanley as he matched Jones for imagination with a skilfully constructed solo.

Next up was the popular standard, ‘It Could Happen to You’, written by Jimmy Van Heusen and originally performed by Dorothy Lamour in the musical And The Angels Sing in 1944, with lyrics written by Johnny Burke. Notable jazz recordings include those by Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Bud Powell.  A haunting melody with a laid-back rhythm, Jones states the theme on tenor before handing over to Stanley and we are reminded of his formidable skills as a pianist. Both soloists are well served by the supple, fluent grooves generated by the experienced rhythm team of Vosloo and Giles throughout.

Ed then announces that we are about to hear the “East Coast debut” of new composition, ‘Passing Time and Melancholy’, an impressive and atmospheric offering from the pen of Riaan Vosloo providing a welcome contrast to the first two numbers. The tension between the structured and the free is evident throughout as themes are sketched or suggested.

The first set closes with another standard, ‘All or Nothing at All’, composed in 1939 by Arthur Altman and made famous by Frank Sinatra soon after with lyrics by Jack Lawrence. The all-too-familiar melody temporarily suggests a return to more orthodox jazz territory but there’s an intensity about the music that is sometimes reminiscent of John Coltrane or McCoy Tyner.

The second set is ushered in by another fresh composition, Riaan Vosloo’s quirkily named ‘Tune 3 (Sneaky Snakes)’.  This was a more reflective offering, a slow burner of a piece, the kind of abstract but evocative ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on an ECM recording.  We reverted to another well-loved jazz standard with ‘Star Eyes’ before reaching what was to be the final announced number.

Given a choice of three numbers, our audience picked ‘Solstice’, another impressive and atmospheric offering from the pen of Riaan Vosloo. Beginning appropriately with the deep, woody sound of the composer’s melodic double bass before being joined by the eerie shimmer of Giles’ cymbals, it is yet another long, slow-burning performance with Jones’ tenor smouldering rather than blazing in the tune’s early stages. It slowly unfolds with Jones soloing above waltz-like piano chording and the flowing drum colourations of Giles. Stanley builds up the tension before gradually releasing it again before Jones segues into a stunning, Coltrane-inspired version of the classic jazz ballad ‘Body and Soul’. As the last note fades, gasps and a “Follow that!” are heard from our great listening audience who had responded to this superb original music with enthusiasm throughout.

We will try to “follow that” in two weeks’ time on THURSDAY 28th December when we celebrate the festive season with Ben, Bean, Bird and Barnes. An outstanding quintet, led by Alan Barnes, pays homage to three of the most influential giants of Jazz – Ben Webster, Coleman “Bean” Hawkins and Charlie “Bird” Parker. Please join us for what promises to be a gig full of outstanding tunes from the golden eras of swing and bebop played with passion and musical verve.

Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Steve Jordan

ED JONES QUARTET
SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 13/12/23
1. Nomadology (Ed Jones)
2. It Could Happen To You (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke)
3. Passing Time and Melancholy (Riaan Vosloo)
4. All Or Nothing At All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence)
*          *          *           *         *        *        *
5. Tune 3 (Sneaky Snakes) (Riaan Vosloo)
6. Star Eyes (Gene de Paul/Don Raye )
7. Solstice (Riaan Vosloo)
8. Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton)


Thoughts on Joanna Eden and The Chris Ingham Trio, 21 November 2023

When Joanna Eden and Chris Ingham appear together, they usually do a double act. Not this time. It was Joanna’s show, and what a wonderful show it was. She took us from the beginning of Ella Fitzgerald’s career to the end. She was backed by Chris on piano, Andres Lafone on bass and George Double on drums, a perfect trio to support the lady ("Ella's fellas").

Joanna had structured the programme beautifully. She opened with a blast, “Get Happy”, which Ella often opened with. She kept to the structure of Ella’s career. I did not know that she wrote the second verse to “Manhattan” to get her birthplace in (it's Yonkers). Her early life was a mile less than a joy, so “Someone to Watch Over Me” was spot on with Joanna’s narrative.

And then “A-Tisket-A-Tasket”, a simple number based on an old nursery rhyme with a tune identical to that other children's rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring". This was Ella's audition piece that won her first prize with a song at a dance contest and went on to become her breakthrough hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1938.

Joanna’s story-telling was illuminating throughout the gig. Her singing was all we expected of her. She is a musician to the core, with phrasing, timbre and her presentation integral to the song she is presenting. That is a real joy.

She had songs with pairs and individuals from the trio. Chris is a superb accompanist. Andres is new to us: he is a terrific bassist, and his work with Joanna was lovely. A song with just George? Amazing.

Joanna told us that Ella fell in love with bebop, and actually took lessons from Dizzy Gillespie. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for those lessons! “ A Night in Tunisia” and “How High the Moon” gave Joanna space to scat, and she was excellent. Famously, while performing in West Berlin in 1960, Ella launched into a cover of "Mack The Knife". She didn't know the lyrics too well and midway through the song, she completely forgot them. When in doubt, what does a jazz singer do? Scat! Ella's version went on to become a big Grammy-winning performance from her live album, Ella in Berlin, proving what an expert improviser she was.

It was a pleasure to see how our large audience hung on every note as they watched Joanna and the band with love and admiration. Every number was enthusiastically received; the murmurs of warm appreciation were clearly audible as she launched into "The Man I Love" at the end of the first set, "The Very Thought of You" and "Miss Otis Regrets" in the second set. It would be difficult and an unnecessary diversion to pick a favourite moment as the whole performance was seamless and went far too quickly before the audience were calling for an encore. Our band, generous as ever, obliged with the tear-jerking "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" - a fitting end to a wonderful evening's performance.

On Wednesday 13 December, we get to hear the power of award winning saxophonist Ed Jones. He is joined by Ross Stanley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums. Ed raises the temperature whenever he solos. Do come.

Take care,
Dave and Steve

JOANNA EDEN & THE CHRIS INGHAM TRIO: EMBRACEABLE ELLA
SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 21/11/23
1. Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
2. Someone To Watch Over Me (George & Ira Gershwin)
3. Manhattan (Rodgers & Hart)
4. A-Tisket-A-Tasket (Traditional nursery rhyme extended by Ella Fitzgerald & Al Feldman
5. Caravan (Juan Tizol & Duke Ellington)
6. (If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr Paganini) (Sam Coslow)
7. Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard & Kenneth Casey)
9. Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love To Keep You Warm mash-up (Connee Boswell)/Irving Berlin)
10. The Man I Love (George & Ira Gershwin)
*          *          *           *         *        *        *
11. The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble)
12. A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie)
13. The Midnight Sun originally an instrumental composed by Lionel Hampton & Sonny Burke. Lyrics were later added by Johnny Mercer.
14. Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter)
15. You Turn The Tables On Me (Louis Alter & Sidney D. Mitchell)
16. How High The Moon (Nancy Hamilton & Morgan Lewis)
17. Embraceable You (George & Ira Gershwin)
18. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Frank Loesser)
19. Mack The Knife (Kurt Weill/ Bertolt Brecht)
ENCORE: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)


Thoughts on The Trish Clowes Quartet – “My Iris”, 8 November 2023

Maybe it is something to do with the club. After the gig, Trish was radiant: she was happy with the performance, but she spoke about the club. She mentioned the setup, the help, the sound (thank you). Her music is not easy, and not to everybody’s taste. It requires some work and close listening, and some thought afterward. This is my favourite kind of music. 

The musicianship, of course, was splendid. The band was led by Trish Clowes on tenor sax, Ross Stanley on Hammond B3, Chris Montague on guitar, and drummer Joel Barford. 

The band’s music is about power, freedom and variety. The first thing we hear on “Brooke”, the first number of the gig, is Joel’s emphatic repeated riff, almost like a drum version of a baroque ground bass.Through most of the tunes, the mood and tempo varied, from almost frantic explosions of  sound to the soft, warm sounds of a ballad. All four of them produced an amazing range of sound. Note that this was not free jazz. They were reading the intros and heads. They did have considerable obligato freedom during other people’s solos.

Trish is an exceptional player. She seems to use her entire body to produce the sounds. There were growls, bright clear sounds and beautiful soft balladic sequences. Her up tempo solos found her playing at quite incredible speed, but it seemed to me that it always had meaning. She also announced the tunes with enough explanation, no extended anecdotes. 

Chris used his minimal stomp box set very well to provide colours appropriate to the music. He  is embedded in Trish’s writing, and if I understand correctly, was involved in the orchestration. He had some spectacular solos.

Joel also had some solos to remember. He is a very powerful drummer, but with the ability to switch to brushes and be almost lyrical in the balladic sections of some tunes. His position in the centre of the stage rather than the more usual position with us, to one side, emphasized his central drive  of the music.

And Ross. We have always anticipated with delight his arrival on organ especially, and on piano. He did not disappoint, but how he played was quite different from the standard jazz organ repertoire. I knew that the Hammond B3 was a versatile instrument, but for Trish’s music, Ross made it like a whole sound effects department. The sounds matched Trish, with howls, explosions, and most often lyrical improvisation. I just loved his work.

This all sounds very po-faced and serious. It was certainly not. Trish, Ross, Chris and Joel had a great time. So did we. So did Steve, who supplied the set list below.

The next gig will be very different: we will have Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Trio – “Embraceable Ella”.  Joanna is a stunning vocalist. I expect that between Joanna and Chris, the research will be immaculate  and often very funny. So come expecting the music of a great icon played and sung by wonderful musicians. 

Take care,

Dave

TRISH CLOWES MY IRIS QUARTET

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 08/11/23

  1. Brooke (Trish Clowes)
  2. Uncle (Trish Clowes)
  3. Another One For Wayne (Trish Clowes) – a tribute to the late, great Wayne Shorter. Included eferences to ‘Nefertiti’ by Shorter (from the Miles Davis album of the same name).
  4. Ashford Days (Ross Stanley) – a tribute to the late British Jazz pianist John Taylor
  5. The Ness (Trish Clowes)
  6. Don’t Wait (Trish Clowes)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. A View with a Room (Trish Clowes)
  2. Truth Teller (Trish Clowes)
  3. Into The Air (Trish Clowes)
  4. Amber (Trish Clowes)
  5. Not My Usual Type (Chris Montague)
  6. Free To Fall (Trish Clowes)


On Wednesday 14 February Blue Spirits – £20

John Etheridge's "Blue Spirits"

John Etheridge Guitars

Pete Whittaker Organ

George Double Drums

"Blue Spirits Trio", featuring Pete Whittaker and George Double, came about through John’s love of the perennially attractive combination of Electric Guitar and Organ. Blue Spirits have a take on this well-known combination in a way that connects with the bluesier, intense side of John’s playing. There are plenty of typical swing elements, augmented by soulful ballads and fiery funk outings. The aim is to groove and move!

John’s history includes playing with Grapelli, heading Zapatistas, duos with John Williams, and his own bands. As well as  a world class player, he is a classy raconteur. 

Pete is a piano player who migrated to Hammond organ after hearing the classic 1950s &1960s Jimmy Smith records. He is a Hammond star.

George’s playing and recording credits include Dame Shirley Bassey, Grammy Award Winner Jack Jones, Marc Almond, Mica Paris, Ruthie Henshall and Kym Mazelle. His West End and touring theatre record includes stints on WickedGuys and DollsAvenue QSinatra and Anything Goes.

This band has been popular on the club circuit for many years and always delivers.


On Wednesday 13 March, The Gaz Hughes Trio “Nuclear Bebopalypse” – £18

Gaz Hughes Drums

Andrzej Baranek Piano

Gavin Barras Bass

The Gaz Hughes Trio “Nuclear Bebopalypse”

“They rarely deliver anything less than excellence and today topped just about everything that had preceded it. I feel sad for the squares who weren’t there” – Bebop Spoken Here

"Incredible" - Ginger Baker

Gaz Hughes is a renowned jazz drummer and band leader, who first gained wide public attention as the original drummer in the Matthew Halsall Band. He has played a significant role in the early recordings of the Gondwana label and has been a highlight on the album "On The Go", which won the Best Jazz Album of the Year at the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards in 2012, and was nominated for the Best Jazz Album MOBO Awards in 2011.

Andrzej Baranek has performed with many UK jazz stars including Dave O'Higgins and Enrico Tomasso. He is one of the most in-demand accompanists about.

Gavin Barras studied music at the University of Manchester, receiving private tuition from Roberto Carillo-Garcia and Corin Long. While studying classical music Gavin continued developing his love for jazz and received lessons from Steve Berry in jazz bass. Gavin has played with musicians such as saxophonists Tim Garland, Dave O’Higgins, Iain Dixon and Ed Jones; trumpeters Neil Yates and Steve Waterman; pianists Les Chisnall, Dan Whieldon, Rick Simpson and Zoe Rahman, to name but a few.


On Wednesday 27 March, The Jon Lloyd Quartet – £18

Jon Lloyd Saxes

John Law Piano

Nick Pini Bass

Alex Goodyear Drums 

The John Lloyd Quartet

This UK based group presents vibrant European Contemporary Jazz, played by a quartet of superb musicians…

The leader and composer is tenor and soprano saxophonist Jon Lloyd. Jon has been part of the UK jazz and free music scene for several decades, and has now turned his attention to European contemporary jazz, writing vibrant, melodic and emotionally direct jazz compositions. The quartet comprises the virtuosic John Law (Congregation, Re-Creations) on piano, Nick Pini (Jonathan Gee, Iain Ballamy) on double bass and Alex Goodyear (Yetii) on drums. 

Lloyd’s tunes are steeped in the ECM aesthetic, and he and long-time collaborator John Law on piano make it sound like the only music you ever want to hear.” - John Turney, London Jazz News (Swanage Festival, July 2023)

This tour we are playing music from our new Ubuntu release “Earth Songs” for the first time! 

“We present melodic, exciting and engaging compositions written by me specifically for this quartet. The members of this group have a wealth of experience across jazz and contemporary music and interpret my pieces perfectly; with intelligence, energy, sensitivity, respect and enormous skill. - Jon Lloyd, October 2023

Here is an excellent review of the band.


On Wednesday 24 April The Music of Dudley Moore – £18

Chris Ingham Piano

Paul Higgs Trumpet

Simon Thorpe Double Bass

George Double Drums 

"A vibrant and moving homage." - Downbeat

Classical organist, violinist, singer, beloved and endearing comic performer, a star of stage and TV in the ‘60s and a Hollywood movie star from the ‘70s . . .

Dudley Moore was not only blessed with all these varied talents and attributes, but he was also one of the UK’s most dazzling, swinging jazz pianists, and a composer of wit and depth - something that has sadly been overlooked for far too long. This has now been redressed, thanks to long-time Dudley Moore fan, pianist Chris Ingham.

The Chris Ingham Quartet revisit the Dagenham-born musician’s fabulous 1960s Decca jazz trio albums, the groundbreaking satirical revue ‘Beyond The Fringe’, the TV show ‘Not Only, But Also’ and the brilliant movie soundtracks for ‘Bedazzled’ and ‘30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia’, in an evening packed with music and anecdote, with pianist and raconteur Chris very ably setting the 1960s scene, placing Dudley's music in period context.

Joining Chris on trumpet is Paul Higgs, a highly accomplished and respected trumpet player with an impressive career in many fields including performing, composing and arranging music for film, TV and theatre. Simon Thorpe is one of the UK's best-known jazz bassists who has worked with many of the great UK and US names in jazz, recording and touring with Bobby Wellins, Stacey Kent , Bheki Mseleku, Alan Barnes, Elaine Delmar, Scott Hamilton, Benn Clatworthy and Ray Gelato. George Double is active on the British jazz scene and appears regularly at Ronnie Scott’s club in London and elsewhere as a freelancer with Chris Ingham, John Etheridge, Art Themen, Digby Fairweather, Derek Nash and many others.

"Unfailingly tuneful and spiced with gentle harmonic guile . . . Dudley would have been delighted.” - The Observer

“. . . a worthy tribute to one of the British jazz piano greats.” - Bebop Spoken Here

“Classy product . . . with plenty of the right kind of swing.” - Jazz Journal

”Swing, humour and poignancy . . . a jazz joy.” - MOJO


On Wednesday 10 April, “Jazz Africa” The Origins of Jazz from its Roots to Now £18

Basil Hodge Piano

Tony Kofi Saxophones

Stuart Fiddler Guitar

Mike Edmunds Bass

Winston Clifford Drums 

Basil Hodge

Telling the story of jazz from where it really came from, we're proud to present the Basil Hodge Quintet featuring two of the UK's busiest and most exciting jazz performers, the irrepressible Tony Kofi on saxophone and the uber-cool Basil Hodge on keys.

Jazz Africa is Basil Hodge's exciting new project. It is the story of the diversity and inclusivity of jazz from across the African continent, where you'll hear the roots of blues, jazz and almost all of today's modern musical sounds. This five-piece band will perform a range of music from Africa so you will hear Jazz fused with a mixture of Afrobeat, Township and Funk rhythms from such artists as Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Dollar Brand), Manu Dibango and Fela Kuti.

Basil Hodge has been leading bands since the mid-90s and played in various R'n'B and Gospel bands in the UK and abroad. He has performed at a range of prestigious venues such as Ronnie Scott's and the Royal Festival Hall. Tony Kofi is a British Jazz multi-instrumentalist born of Ghanaian parents, a  player of the alto, baritone, soprano, tenor saxophones and flute. Having 'cut his teeth' in the “Jazz Warriors” of the early 90’s, this award-winning saxophonist has gone on to establish himself as a musician, teacher and composer of some authority. His credits now range from the brooding South African soundscapes of Abdullah Ibrahim to the ferocious aesthetics of The World Saxophone Quartet and Ornette Coleman.

Guitarist Stuart Fiddler gravitated to jazz from a rock and blues background and makes judicious use of his various effects combining slippery jazz chording with the twang of rock. Mike Edwards is a highly accomplished electric and double bass player with a diverse range of musical influences.  Winston Clifford is one of the most in-demand drummers on the jazz scene to date. His playing is free from the usual restraints of stylistic expectations and a true reflection of listening and responding “in the moment”.

Expect breath-taking musicianship and driving rhythms as these excellent musicians also show off their fine percussion skills and some inevitable in-the-aisle dancing. This is one for families of all ages and heritages!

Please note that this gig will start at 8:15pm, doors at 7:45pm.


On Wednesday 21 February, Some Kinda Wonderful – The Music of Stevie Wonder £25

Noel McCalla Vocals

Derek Nash Saxophones

Neil Angilley Keyboards

Tim Cansfield Guitar

Laurence Cottle Bass

Nic France Drums 

"Some Kinda Wonderful" band

We are sold out for this gig, folks.

Celebrating the genius of Stevie Wonder throughout his entire career, the mesmerising vocalist, Noel McCalla, and award-winning saxophonist, Derek Nash, together with a band of top musicians play a wide-ranging back-catalogue of Stevie Wonder's classic hits from 'For Once in My Life', 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' through to hits from 'Talking Book', 'Innervisions', 'Songs in the Key of Life' and "Hotter than July'. From dance floor classics "I Wish' and 'Superstition' to beautiful arrangements of 'My Cherie Amour' and 'Overjoyed'.

Noel McCalla’s long association with the brilliant Morrisey Mullen Band earned him acclaim as “one of Britain’s best Soul Singers” (Blues and Soul Magazine) and, for more than 19 years, Noel's searing, soulful vocals were featured with the iconic Manfred Mann's "Earth Band". 

Derek Nash has played with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra since 2004 and is also a member of the Ronnie Scotts Blues Explosion. He has won several British Jazz Awards throughout his career fronting Sax Appeal, his Acoustic Quartet and the funk band, Protect the Beat.

The all-star band features musicians whose credits include Bill Withers, The Bee Gees, Gary Moore, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe. Neil Angilley was keyboard player with Grammy nominees 'Down to the Bone' and has co-written and played on many of their No.1 albums. Trinidadian Tim Cansfield is a self taught musician; this enigmatic and self-effacing genius has played with the Bee Gees, Steve Winwood, Billy Preston, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox, Seal and many more. Jonathan Noyce has been a member of Jethro Tull, a sideman to the late great blues guitarist Gary Moore and is a member of French Superstar Mylene Farmer's band. Nic France has been one of the UK's most in-demand drummers performing with, among others, Ian Carr's 'Nucleus', Ronnie Scott, John Taylor, Jim Mullen, Bobby Wellins, Mose Allison, Billy Cobham, Django Bates and John Parricelli. He was also a founding member of 'Loose Tubes'. 

"Rarely have I heard the music of Stevie Wonder interpreted with such finesse, energy and all-round brilliance." - The House of Soul.


On Wednesday 24 January, Cannonball and Nat – £18

"Cannonball and Nat" band

Pete Long Alto Sax

Ryan Quigley Trumpet

Chris Ingham Piano

Malcolm Creese Bass

George Double Drums 

The leader of Ronnie Scott's Big Band, Peter Long together with Ryan Quigley front an exciting salute to a legendary team of jazz brothers; dazzling virtuoso alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and ingenious soul-jazz architect and cornetist Nat Adderley.

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet featured Cannonball on alto sax and his brother Nat Adderley on cornet. Cannonball chose to play the alto despite his first love being the tenor because saxophones were in short supply in 1942 when he started playing at the age of 14. He developed a hard, explosive style, an influence from listening to Charlie Parker. Together with his brother, Nat, the famous quintet played a lot of blues-, funk- and gospel-influenced jazz based on what they heard being played by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.

Pete and Ryan are lovers of the music of the quintet and are the ideal musicians to play it today. Pete studied at the Royal London College of Music and after a couple of years joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, playing all five saxophone parts, solo flute, bass guitar, and on one rather messy occasion, the fourth trumpet. In future years, he went on to play with the award-winning sax quartet, Itchy Fingers, working with Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield and Chick Corea amongst others. A five-year stint playing and arranging for Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra saw him work with Tom Jones, Norah Jones, Solomon Burke, Dr. John, Lulu, Georgie Fame and Lionel Richie to name but a few. In recent years, Pete’s career has been divided into education, working in master classes and as a soloist with young musicians all over Britain. It is, however, as a bandleader and orchestrator that Pete spends most of his time currently.

Ryan Quigley is an award-winning jazz and lead trumpet player and an in-demand studio musician, composer, arranger and educator. His recording and touring work includes dates with Quincy Jones, Ron Carter, Aretha Franklin, Harry Connick Jr, George Michael, Gregory Porter, Beverley Knight and Tom Jones.

Our friends Chris Ingham and George Double are always welcome at Fleece Jazz for their virtuosic playing and for themselves.

“Pete Long is a national treasure” - The Observer
“Quigley…bright, inventive and vivacious” - The Jazz Mann

Here is a link to a video with music of the two Adderlies.


On Wednesday 10 January, “Q3”, featuring Kevin Flanagan – £18

Kevin Flanagan Saxophone

Martin Hallmark Piano

Tiago Coimbra Bass

Derek Scurll Drums 

"Q3" featuring Kevin Flanagan

Q3 was formed in 2013 and brings together some of the UK's finest jazz musicians in an exciting blend of superbly crafted original music and virtuosic performance. The music combines jazz, funk, latin and fusion elements with intricate melodies, influenced by Michael Brecker, Chick Corea, Marcus Miller and Robert Glasper.

Nigel Price says "Martin Hallmark – pianist and composer, leads this tight unit, comprised of master multi saxophonist Kevin Flanagan, super groovy Tiago Coimbra on 5 string electric bass and [our drummer for this gig is multi instrumentalist Derek Scurll]. The album of instantly accessible, mostly funk/fusion original compositions is recorded in crystal clear quality and played deftly with passion as well as eyebrow raising virtuosity from these gifted, empathetic musicians. There are moments of beauty too, especially on the waltz – ‘Tarka and the Mount’. A fine body of work from a great band."

Martin is the driving force here: many of the compositions and all of the arrangements are from his pen. Kevin's quartet was our Christmas gig in 2019, and the gig was adored by our audience.


Thoughts on The Josh Kemp Quartet: “A Love Supreme” – 25 October 2023

Let us start with words from Steve Jordan, who supplied the setlist:

“As Elvin Jones said: 'If you want to know who John Coltrane was, you have to know A Love Supreme.’

So all respect to the genius who was John Coltrane but also to the musicians who performed it on Wednesday evening at Fleece Jazz. They did it full justice and more and not a sheet of music in sight!

No sign of nerves but of intense respect for the wonder and beauty of the magnificent jazz suite that is A Love Supreme.  For 35 minutes, they took us to a higher level and transported us away.”

Steve said that the band was not reading a note for the suite. What they were reading were the projections of Coltrane’s words in his own hand as they rolled up the screen, and playing the music to the words. I talk about musicians listening: but the intensity with which they listened for the suite was palpable: we felt it. They looked drained when the suite concluded. What a special happening at the club, not to be forgotten.

Josh Kemp (of course on tenor sax) had produced an excellent programme for us. He was beautifully supported by Gareth Williams on piano, Dave Manington on bass and Tristan Maillot on drums. It was particularly nice to see Gareth and Tristan after far too long. 

The first set was music that Coltrane would have played, and three songs by Josh. I particularly liked “Effervescence”,  which Kemp wrote for his dad. Its 5/4 up-tempo rhythm gave one a good impression of his father’s personality. I have a private recording of his “The Angel of the North” from the last time Josh was here. I love the tune, and found my self silently singing the melody.

The second set was mostly “A Love Supreme”, followed by two happy numbers to break the intensity of the suite. It  was a great programme, but the suite will stand in the memory.

A word about the projections. I thought that they would take the attention away from the music. I was wrong. They were essential for the suite, and were integral to the fourth section. In the first section they were nice, each connected in some way to the tune being played. In Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” there were some steps in the projections.

On the 8th of November, the powerful young saxophonist Trish Clowes will be with us. She is supported by Ross Stanley on piano, Chris Montague on Guitar and Joel Barford on drums. This is a top class group. They will be presenting music from Trish’s highly acclaimed project “My Iris”. It will be a great one.

Take care,

Dave

JOSH KEMP QUARTET: JOHN COLTRANE – A LOVE SUPREME

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 25/10/23

  1. Happenstance (Josh Kemp)
  2. Effervescence (Josh Kemp)
  3. Giant Steps (John Coltrane)
  4. It’s Easy To Remember, But So Hard To Forget (John Coltrane)
  5. The Angel of the North (Josh Kemp)
  6. My Shining Hour (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. A Love Supreme (John Coltrane):

Part 1: Acknowledgement

Part II: Resolution

Part III: Pursuance

Part IV: Psalm

  1. You Go To My Head (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie)

        ENCORE: Mach 6 (Josh Kemp)


Thoughts on The Andrew Cleyndert Quartet – “Eclectricity” – 11 October 2023

Thoughts on The Andw Cleyndert Quartet - "Electricity"  - 11 October 2023

What, no Drums? The four instumruments had much more clarity and presence than with a drummer. Even with the individual presence, the group sounded together. That is interesting considering that the piano and guitar have roughly the same pitch range and fought each other as sometimes happens: it can be a sound guy’s nightmare to provide them with clarity.

It was really great to see and hear Andrew Cleyndert lead the group on bass. His pianist was Mark Edwards, Martin Shaw played Flugel throughout, with the trumpet firmly on its stand. Colin Oxley is a favourite guitarist. This band has been around for a decade now, and though Mark was an early deputy, they listened hard and had great unity. 

Colin had some great solos, but I was interested in his accompaniment. Rhythm guitar is one of those things that you don’t notice until it goes away, and then you really miss it. Colin kept it at just the right level. If you chose to focus on him accompanying, his choice of chord seemed to be controlled by his listening to the soloist. A piano, which is a percussive instrument, seems more forward in accompaniment.

Mark is a superb pianist. He hasn’t been with us since he was with Ben Castle back in the Fleece pub. Mark uses the whole piano, even using the soft pedal to change the piano’s timbre. He is man of power, like McCoy Tyner. His accompaniment was excellent.

I have loved Martin’s work for many years. Chatting, he described himself as just a guy who plays for other guys. He didn’t mention that he was also continuously on call for that, and that he does session work with all that demands. Wednesday was flugel playing at its best, leaving the trumpet and Harmon mute lonely on the floor.

And our leader? Andrew’s essentials (pitch, technique, solid beat) are perfect, of course. But it is wonderful to hear the result of his musical thinking, which demands things like top range to bottom range twice in an up-beat bar. He put together, it seems on the fly, an excellent programme (see Steves set list below) with lots of variation of tempo and feel. There was a lot of music from a range of latin vibes. Everything had a common feel as being from this band at this time. 

It was a very enjoyable gig. 

You need to know about a special gig coming up on Wednesday 25 October. Josh Kemp is giving us an evening of the “Love Supreme” side of John Coltrane. He is bringing Gareth Williams on piano, Dave Manington on bass and Tristan Maillot on drums, and some remarkable visuals. I hope to see you there.

THE ANDREW CLEYNDERT QUARTET: “ECLECTRICITY” 

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 11/2023

  1. Two Little Pearls (Oscar Pettiford)/Unrequited (Brad Mehldau) 
  2. One Hundred Ways (Kathy Wakefield)
  3. Valse Triste (Jean Sibelius) also adapted by Wayne Shorter on The Soothsayer
  4. So Tender (Keith Jarrett)
  5. A Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
  6. Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Você Que Não Vem (Toninho Horta
  2. Ojoe de Rojo (Cedar Walton)
  3. Answer Me (Gerhard Winkler)/ Dexter’s Tune (Randy Newman). ‘Answer Me’ was originally titled Mutterlein with German lyrics. Contemporary recordings with English lyrics by Frankie Laine and David Whitfield topped the singles chart in 1953. ‘Dexter’s Tune’ was from the film ‘Awakenings’.
  4. Song of the Sabia (Antonio Carlos Jobim) arranged by Cedar Walton
  5. Hamp’s Blues (Hampton Hawes)
  6. Come Dance With Me (Eddie Harris
  7. ENCORE: Danny Boy (Trad.)


Thoughts on The Jo Harrop Quartet + Nigel Price 27 September 2023

 

As well as doing the setlist below, Steve Jordan has made the following comment about the gig: “Jo Harrop was a great hit with the audience, myself included, with her seductive phrasing and warm delivery – one of the very best jazz vocalists that I have ever heard.  Of course, this was all complimented superbly  by the other musicians especially Paul Edis’s extraordinary pianism and Nigel Price’s mellifluous guitar-playing.  A special mention also to Simon Thorpe who never disappoints.”

I agree.

One of the trials of doing publicity is hunting for information about people. it helps if you have the right name. We were given Peter Adams for the drummer, could find nothing. His name is Peter Adam Hill, and there is lots out there. So there should be. Peter played the room beautifully - he is an honest listening musician and I would like to see him back again . He made Nigel grin trading riffs. Apologies, Peter, about the misnaming.

I should also add that Simon was a very last minute dep, That is still magic to me. I was expecting a difficult sound check. It took, as part of their rehearsal, about 5 minutes. Nobody commented on the sound. I got it right. There is a trick to this: make your ears do their research before the gig. In this case it was a real pleasure.

Highlights? To start, the programme design. It was varied in tempo and mood, and showed off Jo’s range of tone and sensibility. The contrast between “Ain’t Got Nothing but the Blues”, which had a lovely growl to it, the sweetness of “Our Love is Here To Stay”, and the up-beat “Secret Love” showed off that range. Jo is a great lyricist. Her collaborations with Paul, Hannah Vasanth and Natalie Williams were most enjoyable. 

During the rehearsal, Nigel took a moment to introduce the other instrumentalists to “Four On Six”, which they played at the start of the second set. “Brilliant” said the chap sitting next to the sound check. Indeed it was.  Their accompaniment was great, and Jo gave the lads lots of room to blow all through the evening.  She had one tune with just Paul, and one with just Nigel. You do that and you have nowhere to hide, In fact, those tunes were stunning collaborations.

Our next gig is on the 11th of October, and what a crew! Andrew Cleyndert leads on bass,  Mark Edwards on piano, Martin Shaw on trumpet and flugelhorn and Colin Oxley on guitar. it will be a feast for their and our soul.

Take care, 

Dave

JO HARROP QT PLUS NIGEL PRICE 

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 27/09/23

  1. How Deep Is the Ocean? (Irving Berlin) Performed as an instrumental before Jo Harrop joined the band
  1. Easy To Love (Cole Porter)
  2. Short Story (Paul Edis/Kate Edis)
  3. Time After Time (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn)
  4. Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues (Duke Ellington)
  5. Our Love Is Here To Stay (Gershwin)
  6. You’ll Never Be Lonely in Soho (Edis/Harrop)
  7. Charade (Henry Mancini) from the film of the same name
  8. No Moon At All (Red Evans/David Mann)

*          *          *           *         *       *        *

  1. Four On Six (Wes Montgomery) Performed as an instrumental before Jo Harrop, once again, joined the band
  2. Red Mary Janes and A Brand New Hat (Jo Harrop, Hannah Vasanth, Natalie Williams)
  3. If Ever I Would Leave You (Lerner/Loewe)
  4. East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon (Brooks Bowman)
  5. The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants (Jo Harrop, Hannah Vasanth)
  6. Early Autumn (Woody Herman
  7. Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster) – as sung by Doris Day in the film, Calamity Jane
  8. Only Spring Will Decide (Paul Edis/Jo Harrop)
  9. On The Street Where You Live (Lerner/Loewe)
  10. Fine and Mellow (Billie Holiday)
  11. ENCORE: It’s That Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane/E.Y. Harburg)


Thoughts on Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone” – 13 September 2023

 

Thoughts on Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone”, 13 September 2023

The earlier writeup for this gig made me expect something different and original, and I was not disappointed (you can see that writeup here). Loz Speyer gave us a programme which varied from fun to profound. He writes with freedom in the chording and time signatures, and uses a wide variety of rhythms. The rhythms came mostly from the Cuban tradition, where Loz spent some of his life.

“Lost at Sea” was a memorial for the dead from boat crossings around the world. It was very affecting. There were shocks of pitch, chording and volume changes that got to you. The quiet but dissonant quiet periods and the heavier sections were evocative of what the boats were facing.

Loz wanted us to get up and dance for one number. Our audience? Perhaps not. The last number, “Dalston Carnival” almost did it: it was joyous. Friedrich Nietzsche’s comment, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” transports into Cuban as “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Fat”, another joyous song. 

What a fascinating use of time signatures, Loz has. There was lots of 4/4 and a bit of 3/4, but 11/16 takes a chorus to get into. But then is just felt right in the song. There were a couple of 10/8 (or 2*5/4?) tunes as well.

The excellent crew were Loz on trumpet and flugel, Martin Hathaway on sax and bass clarinet, Chris Allard  on guitar, Dave Manington on bass, Satin Singh on congas and Anmol Mohara on drums. If I had to pick up one thing from the excellent work of them all, I would choose Anmol  and Satin who had a couple of trading 4s and 2s which were delightful.

Thanks to Miles’ daughter for the set list, setting and rolling cables, helping with everything else, and suffering listening to my anecdotes.

On Wednesday 27 September, the wonderful Jo Harrop will be leading a tribute to great voices in jazz. If you have not heard her before, you have been missing a fine and flexible singer with a deep musical understanding of the songs. Her normal quartet has Paul Edie on piano, Jihad Darwish on bass and Peter Adams on drums, but for us she has added our good friend and amazing guitarist, Nigel Price. Don’t miss it.

Setlist for Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone” - 13 September 2023

All songs by Loz Speyer.

1. Stratosphere

2. Now is Always Different

3. Mood Swings

4. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Fat

5. Guannapacharignero (I think)

……………..

6. Checkpoint Charlie

7. Bilingual

8. Lost at Sea

9. Crossing the Line

10. Dalston Carnival


On Wednesday 8 November 2023, Trish Clowes “My Iris” – £18

Trish Clowes Tenor sax

Ross Stanley Hammond Organ

Chris Montague Guitar

Joel Barford Drums

“a rich mix of cinematic landscape evocation, funky guitar grooves, dreamy reveries spun off minimalist patterns and fluently uncliched improv” - Album of the Month & 4 STARS for ‘A View with a Room’ from John Fordham, The Guardian

“brilliant” - Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 6 Music

“A high intensity, mercurial workout” - Downbeat Magazine on ‘Ninety Degrees Gravity’

My Iris is an intense and thrilling band that represents the front rank of the contemporary UK jazz scene. Lauded for her imaginative approach to improv and adroit writing, saxophonist Trish Clowes provides her bandmates Ross Stanley (on the mighty Hammond ), Chris Montague (guitar) and Joel Barford (drums) with a unique platform for individual expression and group interplay, delivering driving grooves and lingering melodic lines, seamlessly morphing between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes.

The band has toured internationally and made broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and Radio Bremen. Notable recent performances include Wigmore Hall (where Clowes is an Associate Artist), Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Rochester International Jazz Festival (Made In The UK showcase), Toronto International Jazz Festival, Galway Jazz Festival, and the Barbican (London Jazz Festival). In May 2023, they were joined by Dave Douglas for a special gig at the 606 Club in London, playing a mixture of Douglas and Clowes’s compositions.


On Thursday 28 December,”Ben, Bean, Bird and Barnes” – £20

Ben, Bean, Bird and Barnes

Alan Barnes Alto sax

Vasilis Xenopoulos Tenor Sax

Jim Watson Piano

Andrew Cleyndert Bass

Clark Tracey Drums 

Paying homage to three of the most influential giants of Jazz, this outstanding quintet, led by Alan Barnes, celebrates the music of each of them.  One of the great tenor saxophonists in early jazz history, Ben Webster was considered one of the “big three” of swing tenors along with Coleman Hawkins, who was Webster’s main influence, and Lester Young. With a warm breathy sound on ballads that’s instantly recognisable and a tough raspy tone on stomps, Webster was Duke Ellington’s first major tenor soloist in the ‘40s.  Coleman Hawkins, nicknamed “Bean”, was the first important tenor saxophonist and he remains one of the greatest of all time.  A consistently modern improviser with an encyclopedic knowledge of chords and harmonies, Hawkins had a 40-year prime (1925-1965) during which he could hold his own with any competitor.  Charlie “Yardbird” Parker practically invented Modern Jazz with bebop along with his contemporaries Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell and shaped the course of 20th century music. Rather than basing his improvisations closely on the melody as was done in swing, “Bird” was a master of chordal improvising, creating new melodies that were based on the structure of a song. 

Alan Barnes has been at the forefront of British jazz since 1980 and his musicianship and sense of humour have made him hugely popular in jazz clubs and festivals across the UK and beyond. He is best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone saxes, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with outstanding musical expression. 

Come and join us for what promises to be a gig full of outstanding tunes from the golden eras of swing and bebop played with passion and musical verve.


Thoughts on Five-Way Split, 23 August 2023

The pandemic was extremely hard on artists of all kinds: theatre, on and off the stage, for example. It was very difficult for musicians, but many of them found good ways to use the time. One of the best of these was the genesis and work that produced Five-Way Split. Quentin Collins (trumpet and flugel), Vasilis Xenopoulos (tenor sax), Rob Barron (piano), Máyás Hofecker (double bass) and Matt Home (drums) created the band. They wrote music for it, recorded it, and over time produced an excellent CD of  their own tunes, and some standards. 

They  played for us last Wednesday. What a delight not to see music stands! In fact, Rob wanted the piano front off, and asked for the music stand that sits on the open piano. He looked at it for a minute, and realized that they knew the music, so the stand was put away. What was magical was the combination of great unity and precision of the five coupled with the freedom to improvise in such a lyrical way.

The standard of writing was very high throughout the gig. The first number, Vasilis’s tribute to Wayne Shorter, “Out of Waynes Bag”,  brought us into the heart of the band’s music. 

Arranging is a subtle art, and the band is very good at it. Solos flowed out of the heads beautifully. Quentin’s solo with the Harmon mute in “All The Way” was a highlight for me, but every solo shone. I like to listen to the accompaniments to solos, and these were very good, lots of careful listening. But the solos grabbed my attention pretty well totally.

Thanks to Steve Jordan for producing the setlist below. He agreed, a great gig, thank you , guys,

The next gig is on Wednesday, 13 September. Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone” will have us travel with Cuban music around the world. It will be grand, don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave

FIVE-WAY SPLIT

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 23/08/23

  1. Out of Wayne’s Bag (Xenopoulos)
  2. Lingua Franca (Barron) 
  3. Mr Birthday Waltz (Collins)
  4. Asymphonatic (Collins)
  5. Evidently (Barron)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. All The Way (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sam Cahn) – a song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1957 which was introduced in the film The Joker Is Wild.  This arrangement was by Rob Barron.
  2. Sunday in New York (Peter Nero and Carroll Coates ) - a song written for the 1963 movie of the same name. It was sung by Mel Tormé in the film which starred Jane Fonda.
  3. San Sebastian (Xenopoulos) – named after the city in the Basque region of Spain
  4. Theme For Ernie (Fred Lacey) – covered by John Coltrane amongst others
  5. Encounter (Mike LeDonne) – based on the chord changes of Love for Sale
  6. ENCORE: Bittersweet (Sam Jones)

Thoughts on Simon Spillett and Pete Long present “The Music of the Jazz Couriers” 09/08/23

Dave Lyons was absent from this gig and is already aware that he missed a corker.  We will see you soon, Dave, and wish you well. This was a standout gig of the season for which I have written a review built around the setlist.

Last night, we had a fine quintet of musicians under the co-leadership of Simon Spillett and Pete Long, each one an uncompromising powerhouse on tenor sax, paying tribute to The Jazz Couriers, the UK band that emerged in the late 1950s. Spillett is well-known as the biographer and keeper of the flame of the great tenorist, Tubby Hayes, who formed one half of the frontline of the Jazz Couriers along with Ronnie Scott. Spillett’s close attention to the Hayes legacy has influenced his own playing stance and we were honoured (yes!) to hear what seemed to my ears to be the living embodiment of Tubby Hayes, who died at the absurdly early age of 38 fifty years ago this year. Alongside, we had award-winning repertory bandleader, Pete Long, taking the role of Ronnie Scott, dazzling us with solos galore and flashing a knowing grin at the audience each time, as if to say, “Beat that!”  The rhythm section was stunning and versatile in complimenting the two strong tenorists extremely well, but also as a trio when Spillett and Long took a well-earned rest during some numbers.  Our pianist was Pete Billington, depping effortlessly and with a beautiful lyricism on many numbers; Alec Dankworth, a truly world-class double bass player who worked the whole length of the instrument and left me reeling each time he took a lead; the wizard that is Pete Cater showing us on many occasions why he is so much in-demand with his controlled pyrotechnics on drums.

The band kicked off with two hard and fast numbers to take us through a rollercoaster ride of emotions to set the scene: the eponymous (as Simon said, “imaginatively titled”) The Jazz Couriers’ followed by the first ever recorded track of the band, Through the Night Roared the Overland Express’, with both tenorists creating a wall of sound as the rhythm section worked busily almost just to keep up.

Bringing the tempo and volume down just a shade, we had Southern Suite Parts One and Three’, a mini masterpiece of big band scoring, written by Hayes and here adapted for quintet, which was originally written for a BBC broadcast.

Throughout both sets, the two tenorists took it in turns to present anecdotes on the background to each number and its place in the career of The Jazz Couriers, as well as the development of post-war British Jazz generally.  If this sounds dry, think again. Both Spillett and Long are charismatic performers gifted with a dry observational wit. Simon has immense skill in making the history of jazz come alive, using his infectious passion to explain how British Jazz after the war, stuck in the dance band genre, was languishing behind Swing era American Jazz, until the likes of Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Deuchar and a few others arrived on the scene.

As if on cue, the band treat us to the calming, melodic Yesterdays’ by Jerome Kern. The tenors state the theme, then Long takes an excellent solo and soon after Billington’s groove-laden solo leads into an ‘out’ chorus by the two tenors. The first set concludes with Tubby Hayes’ quickstep arrangement of Gershwin’s Love Walked In’.

While the double act of Spillett and Long pays homage to the music of the Jazz Couriers, they are fully aware that they are there to entertain. The audience are kept amused throughout by banter and quips; Long is whips up the audience until they roar and exuberant cheers and cries from both Spillett and Long push the band to ever-higher states of euphoria.  This stuff is not for the faint of heart!

The second set drives from the outset with the Silveresque Mirage, a 1958 composition by Tubby Hayes, already showing his ease with the hard-bop genre.  Following on from this is Victor Feldman’s ‘Karen’, dedicated to his niece, which originally featured Tubby Hayes on tenor in Feldman’s big band. Feldman’s vibraphone was an inspiration to Tubby, so much so that one night, when Feldman was late arriving for a club date at the Flamingo club, Hayes took over and played an impromptu version of Bags Groove on vibes to an astonished crowd! Within months, Tubby had begun to play the instrument on his own gigs, astounding everyone.  Simon took barely hidden delight in relating the inspiration for a Jazz Couriers favourite and perfect slice of hard bop penned by Tubby, The Serpent’.  The Hayes composition is one which could easily pass for the work of Horace Silver and was allegedly dedicated to the outsized manhood of jazz promoter, Bix Curtis.  The pace is brought down again with a ballad medley of ‘Moonlight in Vermont’, with Long leading on tenor before segueing into ‘But, Beautiful’ with Spillett taking the lead; both tenorists show how they can play sensitively and sensuously.  Jimmy Deucar’s steaming ‘Suddenly last Tuesday’, a reworking of Get Happy, is officially the last number of the set and showcases the talents of each member of the band, not least those of the rhythm section: Pete Billington drawing calls of encouragement and excitement from Long; Alec Dankworth plucking the bass at an impressive pace and Pete Cater excelling and matching the near superhuman stamina of Long and Spillett.

The band had worked themselves ragged but gave us the encore we demanded: a danceband-era workout by Tubby Hayes called ‘Take Your Partners For The Blues’.  At the beginning of the gig, Pete Long quipped that bands only play twice at the Fleece, once on the way up and once on the way down and then followed with “It’s good to be back”.  He really was joking – our appreciative audience went home glowing and buzzing. For some of them, including an older couple that I sat next to, this brought back vivid memories of the Flamingo Club and Ronnie Scott's at Gerard St when this reviewer was just a toddler!

In two weeks’ time, on Wednesday 23rd August, we welcome another quintet, Five-Way Split. Co-led by two great musicians, Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugelhorn and Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor sax, with the golden touch of Rob Barron on piano, virtuosic bassist Mátyás Hofecker and rock-solid drummer Matt Home, Five-Way Split presents a sound that respects the tradition of the hard-bop era whilst also bringing it up to date for today’s audience.  With an extensive repertoire of hip material by greats like Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton and Horace Silver, expect a night of the best swinging and soulful music.

Take care,

Steve Jordan


Thoughts on Dave O’Higgins’/Rob Luft’s “Pluto”

What a wonderful gig, loved by our listening audience. They really do listen.

You learn something new every gig. A bigsby is a lever on a guitar that can raise or lower its pitch by a bit. Rob Luft make beautiful use of his. He added timbre to individual notes as well as using it for tremolo  or other effects. Rob was one of the leaders of the band. What a stunning guitarist he is. He writes well too, see Steve’s setlist entry below, “Gayetski”. I loved watching him use the bigsby and magically switching from plectrum to fingering. It is not often an intro gets hoots and applause, but two of his did.

The other leader was Dave O’Higgins, and it was such a pleasure to have him back with us. His tenor style suited the very different styles of the Coltrane and Monk music that they played. His blues “One for Six”, about his residence at the 606 club was my pick of the evening. Like on all the tunes, everyone got a chance to blow. It just seemed to me to be the cherry on a very good cake.

The two leaders shared the announcement mic with stories about the songs, very interesting and often very funny. I won’t say that they could have a career in stand-up comedy, but they were very entertaining.

Ross Stanley was trapped in Spain, so on the very morning, Jim Watson got a request to play piano for us. The music we had was far from trivial, but Jim handled it with aplomb. He had to read, of course, which from time to time left his accompaniment a little stylistically different from his colleagues. His solos were grand, and met with loud approval from our audience.

Luke Fowler is embedded in the band. You could see him concentrating, often with a big smile, on the soloist. But also, on the accompaniment. There is a real rapport between him and the drummer. He showed us again what a fine soloist he is, but he is so strong as the heartbeat of the band.

There is a very sensitive side to the drumming of Rod Youngs. Like Luke, he was watching each member of the band like a hawk. I do love a drummer that plays the room so accurately. He had a couple of spectacular solos. His use of brushes (both ends!) is amazing.

That left the sound to talk about. We had rigged micing all of the instruments except the drums, with talk mics for Dave and Rob. All but Luke had fold-back speakers. We ended up with the only visible mic was the shared talk mic. The band was totally acoustic except for a tiny boost for the piano. The monitors were still in place, but Daves was unplugged. It sounded lovely.

The next gig has Simon Spillett and Pete Long doing the Jazz Couriers two tenors thing. Rob Barron will be on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Pete Cater on drums. We would love to see you with us.

Take care

Dave

O’HIGGINS & LUFT: “PLUTO” 

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 26/07/23

  1. Pluto (O’Higgins)
  2. Gayetski (Luft) – a composition dedicated to recently deceased, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz and Astrud’s husband, João Gilberto, all of whom famously collaborated on The Girl From Ipanema. Getz, was born Stanley Gayetski; his grandparents were Ukrainian Jewish refugees who migrated to Whitechapel in the East End of London to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms.
  3. Vague Recollection (O’Higgins)
  4. ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk)
  5. Jean De Fleur (Grant Green)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. South Wind (Luft) 
  2. One For The Six (O’Higgins)
  3. Naima (John Coltrane) 
  4. Giant Steps GTI (John Coltrane)
  5. ENCORE: Green Chimneys (Thelonious Monk)

On Wednesday 13 December, Ed Jones’ Quartet – £18

Ed Jones Tenor sax

Ross Stanley Piano

Riaan Visloo Bass

Tim Giles Drums

"A formidable saxophonist .  .  .  an improviser to his fingertips, a player of forceful imagination, and one of the UK’s most distinctive saxophonists.” John Fordham, The Guardian

Award-winning saxophonist Ed Jones returns to Fleece Jazz with his brilliant contemporary jazz quartet.  A mainstay of the London Jazz scene since the late 1980s, expect beautifully poised music as Ed and the band play recently composed new music as well as material from their highly acclaimed 2018 recording “For Your Ears Only.”

Based in London for over 25 years, Ed works in the UK and internationally with a wide range of his own projects and collaborations.  His experience as a sideman reflects his diverse musical interests, having worked with Free Jazz pioneers John Stevens and Evan Parker; US jazz legends Horace Silver, George Benson and Dianne Reeves; leading UK jazz musicians such as Jason Rebello, Don Weller and Byron Wallen; crossover projects such as Us3 and Incognito through to RnB legends such as Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Carlene Anderson and Omar.  He has been described as “one of the most fluent and forceful saxophonists in Europe” (Jack Massarik, Evening Standard) and “inventive, physical, full of life, on the edge and unmistakeably of today” (Chris May, All About Jazz).

Ed is joined by widely respected and frequent Fleece Jazz visitor, Ross Stanley, on piano.  Constantly in-demand for his flowing creative and lyrical playing, he always serves the music and is universally revered by fellow musicians and the wider listening public alike. Bassist Riaan Vosloo is involved in a wide number of projects as a producer, arranger, composer and performer, including leading lights in the UK Jazz and improvised music scene such as Run Logan Run and Ben Lamdin aka Nostalgia 77. Drummer Tim Giles first made an impression at the age of 12 by winning the Daily Telegraph Young Composer of the Year Award in 1992.  While still in his teens, Tim performed internationally with saxophonists Iain Ballamy and Stan Sulzmann and his current regular projects also include Ben Lamdin’s Nostalgia 77 and the Tori Freestone Trio.

“The vigorous, sometimes downright volcanic tenor sound of Ed Jones has long been one of the great live delights of British Jazz.  His barnstorming ‘terrier with a rat’ approach raises the music’s temperature whenever he solos”.  Chris Parker, Jazzwise


On Wednesday 11 October, The Andrew Cleyndert Quartet, “Eclectricity” £18

Andrew Cleyndert Quartet

Andrew Cleyndert Bass

Martin Shaw Trumpet/Flugel

Colin Oxley Guitar

Mark Edwards Piano

Top bass player, Andrew Cleyndert is joined by three hugely talented and highly respected jazz musicians, in a quartet without drums, giving the piano, double bass and guitar the opportunity to use many musical permutations, with all players providing solos and accompaniment as required.  The band’s arrangements are drawn from the compositions of Billy Strayhorn, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock and Ray Brown plus tunes from the standard songbook composers.

Andrew Cleyndert started out in the bands of Don Weller and Bobby Wellins and has since flourished on the jazz scene in the UK and beyond.  He has played and toured with the cream of the UK’s musicians and a string of international soloists, including Bud Shank, George Coleman, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz and James Moody.  He was also closely associated with Stan Tracey in his many bands over fifteen years until Stan’s death in 2013.  Further afield, Andy has worked in Europe with pianists Gene Harris, Benny Green, Junior Mance and Tamir Hendleman.

Martin Shaw is regarded as one of the top jazz soloists in the country; he has performed in an extraordinary range of settings from big band to quartet, from cutting-edge jazz to contemporary pop and funk.  He has worked with most of the leading jazz artists of the last 30 years including Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Pete King, Dick Morrisey and Tim Garland.  In 2001, Martin was appointed professor of Jazz Trumpet at The Birmingham Conservatoire.  A stunning musician at the top of his game.

Colin Oxley is a class-leading guitar talent who has worked with some of the top performers in London, including a role as a a long-standing member of Stacey Kent’s group during which he recorded several albums as well as touring worldwide, including appearances at Festivals such as Montreux, North Sea, Nice and Vienne, as well as residencies in New York and San Francisco. 

Mark Edwards is a producer as well as a jazz pianist and keyboards player. Born in 1965 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he has toured with, played on and produced albums for Aztec Camera (and Roddy Frame solo releases), Carleen Anderson and Paul Weller among (a huge lot of) others.


On Wednesday 25 October, Josh Kemp Quartet: “John Coltrane: A Love Supreme” – £18

Josh Kemp Quartet

Josh Kemp Tenor sax

Gareth Williams Piano

Dave Manington Bass

Tristan Maillot Drums

“A fierce talent” Jazzwise magazine

This evening Josh Kemp and his quartet explore the lyrical and spiritual music of John Coltrane, including his masterpiece, A Love Supreme, one of the biggest-selling recordings in Jazz.  This seminal and unique album represents the peak of Coltrane’s achievement and his musical journey from bebop to the avant-garde of 1960s Jazz.  It remains to this day a work of deep spiritual power, representing a struggle for purity, an expression of gratitude and an acknowledgement that the musician’s talent comes from a higher source.  The performance is accompanied with video projections inspired by the meaning and message of Coltrane’s music.

A jazz saxophonist with a gift for melody, Josh Kemp is known for his lyrical, improvising style and imaginative compositions and collaborations.  Josh has studied Coltrane’s original material, yielding an authentic yet personal recreation of the epic aural poem that is A Love Supreme as well as other compositions. 

Composer and songwriter Gareth Williams is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art. His compositions seek to find new relationships, participants, collaborators and audiences for new opera, music theatre, and song, to shed light on stories and communities that have been overlooked, and to explore ideas of vulnerability in vocal writing.

Bassist and composer Dave Manington is one of the mainstays of the London jazz scene and a founder member of the Loop Collective.  He has played with many of the pre-eminent jazz musicians in the UK and Europe including Julian Arguelles, Marius Neset, Gwilym Simcock, Mark Lockheart, Tim Garland, Iain Ballamy, Gwyneth Herbert, Pete King and Yazz Ahmed.

Tristan Maillot has been active on the UK jazz scene since the mid 90’s as both sideman and leader. He has played with numerous leading international stars such as Jim Hall, Stacey Kent, Clare Martin, Jim Mullen, Fred Hersch, Martin Taylor, Stan Tracey, Steve Grossman, Norma Winstone and Bobby Wellins.

“A subtle, highly nuanced and original sound” Time Out


On Tuesday 21 November 2023 – Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Trio – “Embraceable Ella” – £19

Joanna Eden Vocals

Chris Ingham Piano

Andres Lafone Bass

George Double Drums

"Bloody marvellous" - Dame Cleo Laine

"sophisticated, stylish vocalist" - Jazz Journal

Joanna Eden presents a 'labour of love' show celebrating the music of her vocal hero Ella Fitzgerald.  From the throw-away "A Tisket A Tasket" which brought Ella to fame in the forties with the Chick Webb Orchestra to  later songbook album classics like Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" and Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" , Eden mines the rich seam of Ella Fitzgerald's unrivalled canon with humility, style and obvious deep affection.

Mojo magazine describes her songwriting as having ‘melody, mystery and bite’. With six solo albums to her credit, Joanna is considered one of the finest singer-pianists in the UK with a style that covers a broad spectrum, through jazz, soul, bossa nova and blues. Her beautifully crafted compositions give life to personal and expressive lyrics, which - like her songwriting hero Joni Mitchell - question and reflect life’s changes.

This Tuesday will be exceptional, because Joanna will be singing the songs and loves of the great Ella Fitzgerald. Chris Ingham will be on piano, and Andres Lafone will join us on bass. Our great friend, the drummer George Double will be with us. This is an ideal trio to support any singer, and as a group on their own.


Thoughts on Sarah Jane Morris – “Something Old, Something New” – 12 July 2023

This gig was a joy. They came, they sang, they conquered. Sarah Jane Morris had all her power, and we loved her close communication with the audience, who reciprocated in song themselves.

Steve’s set list is below, so I can talk about the musicians. First the newbie: we would be delighted to have Marcus Bonfanti back. He is a superbly skilled guitarist, whether finger or plectrum or steel. He had a solo on “Lovely Day” that was light, textured and really beautiful. All his solos were inventive. His accompaniment was thoughtful and interesting. As a backing vocalist, his voice provided perfect harmonies with Sarah’s voice.

Tony Rémy is simply an outstanding world class guitarist. I was surprised to see him using a capo on the first number. Tony needs a capo? What do I know?  Solo after solo, Tony’s guitar sang to us. “Up From the Sky’s” gave a whole new take on this Hendrix song.  Tony usually set the vibe, and he and Marcus  listened very closely to each other and used each other, so their accompaniment form was contrapuntal. Tony’s basso was only heard in a few numbers, but it added just the right support to the songs he sang in.

Sarah used to introduce Henry Thomas as “The Mighty”, and he still is. In the first set he played electric guitar. In the second set he also played with a fretless acoustic bass, which has a wonderful sound: softer, warmer, but just as clear as the electric. His solos on “Head and Heart” and “Lovely Day” were amazing. He is a great backing singer. I was glad of the chance to talk to Henry after the gig. His understanding of music, composition and indeed the current way of the world is quite profound. Conversations with Henry are to be treasured.

What can I say about Sarah Jane Morris that has not been said a thousand times? If you have never seen her before, she can be a bit overwhelming. There were a few such in the audience, but they soon be came like the rest, lovers of her work. She has an immense voice, a big range and lots of tonalities. The commitment she has to the music and what it means is clear. One reason she is loved is that she works so well with an audience. We were all singing in the second half, to her direction.

Our next gig will be on Wednesday 26 July, – O’Higgins & Luft will present work from their album Pluto. This is straight-ahead modern jazz in the African-American tradition, coming from the Monk and Trane lineage, but not bound to emulating it. The musicians are Dave O'Higgins Tenor sax, Rob Luft Guitar, Ross Stanley Piano, Luke Fowler Bass and Rod Youngs Drums. It will be a cracker, don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave

SARAH-JANE MORRIS: “SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW” 

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 12/07/23

All songs from the first set, as well as the encore, were written and originally sperformed by the late, great John Martyn. 

  1. Fairytale Lullaby
  2. Couldn’t Love You More
  3. Head and Heart
  4. One World
  5. Sweet Little Mystery 
  6. May You Never
  7. Over The Hill

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. On My Way To You (Morris/Remy) 
  2. Feel The Love (Morris/Remy)
  3. Imagine (John Lennon) 
  4. Lovely Day (Bill Withers)
  5. Up From The Skies (Jimi Hendrix)
  6. Piece of My Heart (Jerry Ragovoy/Bert Berns) – originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister, in 1967 but better known from the version by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals.
  7. I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
  8. ENCORE: I Don’t Wanna Know (John Martyn)

On Wednesday 27 September, The Jo Harrop Quartet with Nigel Price – £20

Jo Harrop Vocals

Nigel Price Guitar

Paul Edis Piano

Simon Thorpe Bass

Peter Adam-Hill Drums

“Harrop’s appeal is her seductive mannerisms and phrasing mixed with plenty of hip cachet. As an interpreter of lyrics, she draws you into the narrative with effortless style and ease. The voice is husky toned, with immaculate timing  and an unsentimental tenderness and a shrewd wit.” - Emrys Baird, Blues & Soul Magazine.

Velvet voiced singer, Jo Harrop, is joined by highly respected, award-winning guitarist, Nigel Price, for a special night of swinging jazz & blues standards.  Expect a well-chosen set of timeless, well-loved classic songs, and some rare gems too, with influences of Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass, Julie London, Sarah Vaughan, and Wes Montgomery.

Jo Harrop began as a session singer, then quickly established herself as one of the most unmistakable voices in British jazz, performing everywhere from the Royal Albert Hall to the Sunset Sunside Jazz Club in Paris.  Effortlessly blurring the lines between jazz and folk, her mellifluous voice is warm, smoky and capable of the most delicate dynamics, revealing an intimacy that few singers are capable of generating, shot through as it is with pathos and pain. 

The current quartet is made up of pianist Paul Edis, whom Jazz Journal described as “a major voice in British Jazz, an incredibly fertile composer and improviser”; the highly accomplished bass player, Simon Thorpe whose excellent playing we have often enjoyed (taking over from Jihad Darwish who is ill); Peter Adam-Hill completes the quartet on drums.

The quartet is joined by award-winning jazz guitarist Nigel Price.  His blend of flowing bebop lines, deep blues sensibility and his mastery of chording continue to delight audiences and fellow musicians alike.

“For me, this is how jazz should be; communicative and inclusive. Jazz performed this way feels like a gift, a ‘here, this is for you’ scenario.London Jazz News                  


On Wednesday 13 September, Loz Speyer’s “Time Zone” – £18

Loz Speyer Trumpet/Flugel

Martin Hathaway Sax

Chris Allard Guitar

Dave Manington Bass

Anmol Mohara Drums

Satin Singh Congas 

"An ensemble led by a trumpeter/composer who has absorbed the essence of Cuban music and distilled it quite cunningly into an improvisatory context, with no compromise to either culture.” - Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes Music Magazine

“The album takes us from Cuba to Berlin 1989 then to Crossing the (fictitious?) Line of the equator to end in a carnival in London, in such a way as to indicate that borders and walls are only human constructions that music transcends… eight compositions that cajole, revisit, brush against or deepen different claves of Afro-Cuban music - for our greatest pleasure.” - Patricia Martin, Gazette Bleue (France)

“A vibrant, rhythmically exciting exploration of Cuban music and wider jazz influences… Speyer’s music engages and makes you think – its global themes of movement, difference and change have never been more relevant.” - John Adcock, Jazz Journal, UK

Loz Speyer is a trumpeter, composer, bandleader and teacher working in Jazz and related music. Over the last 25 years he has initiated and led bands ranging from the 11-piece composers’ collective Rare Mix to freely improvising trios. His own Cuban-Jazz sextet Time Zone and his Free Jazz quintet Inner Space, both ongoing since 2003, have toured to Jazz festivals and clubs all around the UK, and released several critically acclaimed albums of original music.


Thoughts on Bryan Corbett’s Hi-Fly Quintet – 28 June 2023

It is amazing to me that in one year, 1959, so many  important things have happened. The list on Wikipedia goes on for pages: The European Court of Human Rights is established; we lose Buddy Holly; Lunar 4 goes to the moon; Nottingham Forest beats Luton in the FA cup; the Mini is released.

And “Kind of Blue” is released; one collection that changed the music in the multitude of masterly jazz compositions  that year.

Bryan Corbett has designed  a beautiful show of great variety from the music of 1959. He gives us Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Paul Desmond, Horace Silver, Ornette Coleman and more. I loved it all, but “Flamenco Sketches” as played by this quintet will stay with me.

And he plays both trumpet and flugel like an angel. His technique is superb, his tonality is sweet and clear. The soul in his mind comes out clearly in his playing. The listening between Bryan and his colleagues is almost palpable. 

 Chris Bowden is a wonderful altoist. He is serious, fast and slow, inventive and fun. Matt Ratcliffe’s piano obligatos are delightful. Carl Hemmingsley is the perfect drummer for the group. 

The joker in the pack is Tom Hill. He presented “Fables of Faubus”, told bad jokes very well, and was a stunning bassist.

I will remember this gig with pleasure. They honoured the intentions of the composers while remaining theirselves. Unfortunately I will also  remember the minor disasters on the sound desk. And I was  the sound guy

The setlist below is compiled by Steve Jordan, for which thanks.

The next gig is a doozy, The power of nature that is Sarah Jane Morris  with her favourite team: Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy on Guitars, and Henry Thomas on bass guitar. See you then.

Take care,

Dave

THE HI-FLY  QUINTET  

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 28/06/23;

  1. So What (Gil Evans/Miles Davis) from ‘Kind of Blue’
  2. No Problem (Duke Jordan) from ‘Flight to Jordan’
  3. Flamenco Sketches (Gil Evans/Miles Davis) from ‘Kind of Blue’
  4. Hi-Fly (Randy Weston) from ‘The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco
  5. Take Five (Paul Desmond) from ‘Time Out’ by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
  6. Sister Sadie (Horace Silver) from ‘Blowin’ The Blues Away’

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Lonely Woman (Ornette Coleman) from ‘The Shape of Jazz To Come’/ Concierto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo) from ‘Sketches of Spain’ by Miles Davis
  2. Fables of Faubus (Charles Mingus) from ‘Mingus Ah Um’
  3. Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson) from ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth’.  The tune was originally recorded in 1959
  4. Blues March (Benny Golson) from ‘Moanin’’ by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
  5. ENCORE: Juicy Lucy (Horace Silver) from ‘Finger Poppin’’

All albums were released in 1959 except for ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth’ although an earlier version of the  tune was recorded in 1959.

 


Thoughts on The John Etheridge/Theo Travis Quartet, 14 June 2023

 

When musicians are truly enjoying their work, the audience feels it, and listen carefully. Part of the joy is to see the musicians listening to each other. Add to that the magic of world class musicianship, with ideas and riff tumbling out of their axes.

In other words, it was a superb gig from all four: John Etheridge on guitars, Theo Travis on tenor sax and flute, organist Pete Whittaker and George Double on drums.

It was structured as a typical Etheridge gig, We had music from many people, including one each from John and Theo. There was lots of off the cuff comments from John, very funny. He was careful to announce the tunes. The first tune of the second set was a solo by John, also typical. They had an encore in their pockets, and it was needed.

The encore was “Summertime”, and they played that lovely Gershwin tune as if they had just read the lyrics again. It got me thinking: there is one word in that song which makes it sad and difficult. The word is “Until”: safe until the child rises up singing. John’s solo was “God Bless the Child”. Is he thinking about children? The solo was truly beautiful, without a lot of added tech.

Theo’s “Three People” was lovely: he has such a lyrical flow in his solos. I wonder who the three people were: I might have liked to know them.

The structure of the gig allowed everybody room to blow, and the blowing was magnificent. I can still hear Theo’s solo on “Off the Wagon”, Pete on “I’m Coming Home”, George on “Sweet Emma”. 

Do not miss the next gig,  ‘Bryan Corbett’s “Hi-Fly” Quintet’. This marvellous trumpeter was booked for a gig during the pandemic; a rebook was cancelled due to illness. So on 

June 28th, we will finally get to hear him. He has a way with tonality like no other trumpeter. 

Thanks to Steve Jordan for the set list.

Take care,

Dave

JOHN ETHERIDGE/THEO TRAVIS QUARTET  

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 14/06/23

  1. Take a Walk (Michael Brecker)
  2. Georgia on my Mind (Hoagy Carmichael)
  3. Off the Wagon (Tubby Hayes)
  4. In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington)
  5. Sweet Emma (Nat Adderley) as adapted by John Scofield
  6. Friday Night at the  Cadillac Club (Bob Berg).

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. God Bless The Child – Etheridge solo (Billie Holiday/A Herzog Jr)
  2. Do Like Eddie (John Scofield)
  3. Three People (Theo Travis) 
  4. There Is No Greater Love (Isham Jones/Marty Symes)
  5. A Distant Voice (John Etheridge)
  6. I’m Coming Home, Baby (Mel Tormé)
  7. ENCORE: Summertime (George Gershwin)

Thoughts on Nick Tomalin’s “Shades of Shearing” Quintet – 25 May 2023

 

(I normally put together a setlist for each gig that I attend at Fleece Jazz . Dave Lyons is currently on holiday in Canada and so it falls to me to write this week’s review built around the setlist.)

Last night, we had a fine quintet of musicians under the direction of Nick Tomalin, performing and interpreting the music of British pianist, George Shearing. The band features the original instrumentation of the Shearing quintet, including guitar and vibraphone and performs music ranging from Shearing’s best-known tunes like ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and ‘Conception’ along with less well-known compositions and arrangements.

The “Shades of Shearing” project is very much a labour of love: the respect and admiration for Shearing and his music from all five musicians is palpable throughout the evening’s performance. For this reviewer, it was a revelation having previously felt little connection with Shearing’s music aside from the odd cover such as Ella singing ‘Lullaby of Birdland’. Shades of Shearing led me to re-evaluate this and realise that there was more depth to George’s music as well as a real jazz sensibility.

The opener, ‘September in the Rain’, combining radio-friendly melodicism with full-blooded bebop, was a big hit for George in 1949, selling nearly a million copies. The head is played in the famous ‘Shearing Style’ with Nat Steele on vibes and Dave Warren on guitar playing the melody an octave apart and Nick Tomalin playing block chords behind them. During the second chorus Tomalin demonstrates the ‘locked hands’ style of George Shearing and plays some technically demanding double-time passages.

Throughout the gig, Nick explains the background to each song in the context of Shearing’s life and work. After the first number, he tells us about the challenging circumstances in young George’s life: the youngest of nine children; blind from birth; his father delivering coal and his mother cleaning trains for a living. George was something of a musical prodigy as he was offered various scholarships to continue his musical education. In true jazz style though, young George instead got a job playing piano for “25 bob a week” (25 shillings or £1.25 in today’s money) at the local pub. He first visited America in 1946 and moved there permanently the following year, arriving at the height of the bebop boom. 

There is plenty of opportunity for each musician in the “Shades of Shearing” quintet to demonstrate his chops and that is exploited to the full in the next number, ‘Consternation’.  Nat Steele is a vigorous, resourceful performer who demonstrated his enormous prowess on vibes throughout the evening – all eyes were on his speed and dexterity as he fronted the band.  Dave Warren’s guitar work echoed this with a distinct bebop style which reminded me of Grant Green’s lithe, loose, slightly bluesy playing.  Once again, we had the pleasure of hearing Luke Fowler on double bass, who impressed us with his nimble finger-work as he took the lead or soloed on many numbers over the course of the gig.  Luke was 'depping' and this was his first performance with the quintet. An amazing talent! After two numbers where brushes were employed effectively by Matt Fishwick to set up a shuffling rhythm on the drums, he excels on the latin-tinged ‘Mamboing’ where he knocks out an urgent and vigorous rhythm to drive the pace forward.  Nick explained how mambo became popular in the mid-1950s in New York, triggering a big dance craze. George then began incorporating Cuban music into his repertoire and was at the forefront of blending the new Mambo style with jazz – continuing on from Dizzy Gillespie’s experiments with Afro-Cuban music in the late 1940s.

No tribute to George Shearing would be complete without ‘Lullaby of Birdland’, George’s best-known tune which was written for Morris Levy, the owner of Birdland, as the theme music for a radio show broadcast from the club. Here it was taken at a brisk pace with piano, vibes and guitar delivering the head in unison before Nick takes a beautiful melodic solo, again switching to block chords in the bridge. 

September Samba’ – a bossa nova in the style of George Shearing for a guitar-vibes-piano quintet – was an original composition by Nick Tomalin; an uptempo, vivacious tune with a warm feel that complemented the Shearing numbers admirably.

Love Is Just Around The Corner’ completed the first set, after Nick related how George and the quintet enjoyed indulging in wordplay, by replacing the word ‘love’ with ‘lunch’ in song titles. Try it for yourselves ….   It was good to hear the band stretch out, with everyone contributing inspired extended solos. Nick’s backing riffs behind the solos and choruses build the excitement. 

The second set opened with ‘Oh look at me now’, from the 1961 album, ‘The Swingin’s Mutual!’ where the George Shearing quintet was accompanied by the vocalist Nancy Wilson. The song is best known from its interpretation by Frank Sinatra.

The more demanding composition ‘Conception’, a 1950 jazz standard written by Shearing  is widely regarded as one of the best original bebop tunes ever written.  As Nick explained, it is one of the most challenging tunes to improvise on, both because of the speed of the harmonic rhythm and the tricky modulations but the band appeared to breeze through it, negotiating the corners with ease. There is a suggestion that ‘Conception was written by Bud Powell, but no-one really takes this seriously. Interestingly, the original score was adapted by Miles Davis in 1950, who created an arrangement that kept Shearing's chord changes and main theme. He also rewrote it in 1950 to create an entirely new main theme for his Birth of the Cool project, giving the composition the title 'Deception'.  Oh, what a tangled web . . . deception indeed.

A mambo-ised version of George Gershwin’s ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off’ was an interesting adaptation and despite Nick’s self-deprecating comments, the original was easily recognisable and their interpretation was quite charming.  Equally welcome was the second Tomalin original of the evening, ‘Blues for George’.  We were the first ever audience to hear this and it would be very nice to hear it again on a future recording.

As a prelude to the next number, Nick explained how he had met George Shearing in 1993 as a student at the Guildhall School of Music as part of a South Bank Show special about George’s life and work. Nick took part in a masterclass with George teaching some of the piano students. The students, including Nick, were asked to perform a piece in front of George and receive constructive feedback.  Nick performed the ballad ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ after which George told him that it was fine but too loud! No such concerns from the rendition that we got to hear.

We conclude (almost) with Charlie Shavers’ ‘Undecided’ as arranged by Shearing and originally featuring Toots Thielemans, the harmonica player, on guitar. But of course, this being Fleece Jazz we couldn’t go home without an encore and the band duly obliged with a George Shearing composition that he never recorded: ‘She’.  Not to be confused with the Charles Aznavour ballad, this was Nick Tomalin’s imagined version of Shearing playing his own tune. Bud Powell recorded it and I would recommend that you give that a listen, if you can. Much of what we heard during last night’s gig combined a light, mellifluous melodicism with the harmonic complexity of Bud Powell and was a commendable tribute to George Shearing and his legacy.

We have a three-week break before our next gig on Wednesday 14th June, when we are excited to have the Etheridge-Travis Quartet, a veritable jazz super-group featuring electric guitar, saxophones, flute, organ and drums. John Etheridge and Theo Travis have been the frontline of the legendary band Soft Machine and are joined by a topflight rhythm section comprising one of the most go-to keyboard players in the British jazz and blues scene, Pete Whittaker and drummer Nic France.

Take care, 

Steve Jordan


Thoughts on The Philip Clouts Quartet – 12 May 2023

People seem to be afraid of original music. All but two of the tunes we heard on this lovely gig were written by Philip Clouts, our leader on piano. Philip writes beautiful, varied and accessible music that any jazz lover would enjoy. 

My favourite tune was Nyasa Lullaby. It was a beautiful slow lullaby based on a single tone row. The variations on the row seemed without end. I was sorry when the tune ended. 

But Philip is a very talented composer. I don’t know whether he has ever visited Cannery Row (we had our honeymoon there and thereabout). That was 60 years ago, but I think he caught it as we saw it back then. So he took us all around Africa, South America and the U.S. west  coast. It was a joyous ride.

The band is very happy with standards: both the Rogers and Hart and the Horace Silver were delightful.

I hope we have the band back. They deserve a much bigger audience. The comments afterwards were from very happy people. Steve Jordan's setlist is below.

Next gig, 24 May, will celebrate the great British pianist and composer, George Shearing. Nick Tomalin’s quintet will do them honour. 

Take care, 

Dave

PHILIP CLOUTS QUARTET  

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 10/5/23

All compositions by Philip Clouts except (3) and (9)

  1. Tilt – with influences from Latin America
  2. On West Hill – inspired by John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row about a small seaside community in the U.S.A.  West Hill is the area where Philip Clouts lives in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast.
  3. Have You Met Miss Jones? (Rodgers & Hart) featured two wonderful solos by Tim Fairhall on double bass 
  4. Umoya – titled from the Zulu word for life-force.
  5. Nyasa Lullaby – inspired by musicians from Tanzania using notes from just one scale
  6. Marula – named after the fruit-bearingl tree with a dome-shaped canopy indigenous to the savanna woodlands of East Africa and Madagascar.

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Going to Congo Square
  2. Solitude – written during lockdown
  3. Song For My Father  (Horace Silver) 
  4. Scintillate
  5. As Evening Falls
  6. Rubik’s Rubric – inspired by West African music
  7. ENCORE: Beeram Blues

Thoughts on The Alex Clarke Quartet: 26 April 2023

I really enjoyed this gig. Alex Clarke is a superb performer with a range of warm timbres and with proper jazz in her soul. She is also clear on the talk mic about what she is playing, which I guess is a great help to Steve Jordan when he writes the set list (see below, and thank you). I am not surprised that she attracts a back line as celebrated as Clark Tracey on drums, Dave Green on bass and Rob Barron on piano.

The tone Alex produced on “Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters” was really beautiful. It was a great performance. There is nowhere to hide when you are playing in duet mode. The synergism between Rob and Alex was lovely. Alex gave the trio lots of room to blow. I could see her enjoyment of their work, particularly when trading 4s with Clark. We are thankful too that she spoke to us about each song: not a lot, just enough.

Clark had one terrific solo in “Oleo” . There is a phrase about good drummers: “playing the room”. Clark’s understanding of the room acoustics and the volume of his colleagues is exemplary. He is such a class act.

Dave is one of those rare bassists that you can listen to their accompaniment with pleasure and interest. He seems to find fascinating things to say under other people’s solos, and his own solos are great.

We haven’t seen Rob for far to long, and people thought of him as new to us, which he is not. They commented on the delight they had listening to his solos and his work throughout this excellent gig,

Our next gig will be the Philip Clouts Quartet. The music will carry us to South Africa and beyond. One quote: “Precise ebullience and relaxed funkiness” - The Guardian

Take care

Dave

ALEX CLARKE QUARTET  

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 26/4/23

  1. Sound for Sore Ears (Jimmy Heath)
  2. Where or When (Rodgers and Hart)
  3. Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma, Jacques Prévert, Johnny Mercer) arrangement by Alex Clarke inspired by Chet Baker’s
  4. Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters (Billy Strayhorn) – a duet featuring Alex Clarke and Rob Barron
  5. Like Someone in Love (Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke)
  6. Oleo (Sonny Rollins)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Who’s Smoking?! (Paquite d’Rivera) written for James Moody
  2. I’m Old Fashioned (Jerome Kern)
  3. Only A Year (Alex Clarke) 
  4. Brazilian Affair (Phil Woods)
  5. I’ve Never Been In Love Before (Frank Loesser) from the musical Guys and Dolls
  6. Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter)
  7. ENCORE: Shake It But Don’t Break It (Erroll Garner) 

Thoughts on Alan Barnes/Andy Panayi Sextet: the music of Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane, 12 April 2023

Steve Jordan described this gig as stellar, and it was in many senses. First of all, the music which was originally performed by Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane is amazing. The sextet is certainly starry: they were Andy Panayi (tenor and soprano), Alan Barnes (alto), Steve Fishwick (trumpet and flugel), John Donaldson (piano), Simon Thorpe (bass) and Peter Cater (drums). The arrangements were gorgeous, rich and exciting with beautiful harmonies (and dissonances) and great rhythms. The playing was terrific: the timing was spot on, and the solos just engulfed one. 

Andy and Alan commented on the music, but Andy was the conductor. It seems that nothing except the set list was decided in advance, and they had freedom to construct each song as they wished. This just added to the joy of the evening.

All of the musicians were jaw- droppingly awesome, the horn section especially so but the rhythm section was tremendous too. A special mention for Steve Fishwick for depping so faultlessly - a measure of his talent and professionalism and he appears so calm!

Favourites? Difficult: the first tune, “Miles” hit you in the face with the horn chorus. Maybe also “Dat Dere”. By that time in the second set everybody on stage was grinning at the quotes and riffs of their colleagues.

We are lucky to have Steve Jordan about. He supplies the set list below.

We complete our January/April programme with the stunning young saxophonist and flautist Alex Clarke. She brings with her the dream rhythm section: Rob Barron piano, Dave Green bass and Clark Tracey drums. We hope to see you on Wednesday 26 April.

Dave

ALAN BARNES/ANDY PANAYI SEXTET  

SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 12/4/23

  1. Miles (Davis) from the 1958 album Milestones
  2. Two Bass Hit (Lewis-Gillespie) also from the album Milestones
  3. Jeanine (Duke Pearson) from the 1960 album Them Dirty Blues by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet
  4. This Here (Bobby Timmons) from the 1959 album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco
  5. Wabash (Julian Adderley) from the 1959 album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago
  6. Blue Train (John Coltrane) from the 1957 album Blue Train by John Coltrane
  7. Lazybird (John Coltrane) from the 1957 album Blue Train by John Coltrane

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Locomotion (John Coltrane) from the 1957 album Blue Train by John Coltrane
  2. Jive Samba (Nat Adderley) from the 1962 album Jazz Workshop Revisited by The Cannonball Adderley Sextet
  3. Dear John (Freddie Hubbard) from the 1991 album Bolivia was dedicated to John Coltrane and based on Coltrane’s Giant Steps
  4. Naima (John Coltrane) dedicated to Coltrane’s first wife
  5. Dat Dere (Bobby Timmons) from the 1960 album Them Dirt Blues by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet
  6. I’m Old Fashioned (Jerome Kern) from the 1957 album Blue Train by John Coltrane
  7. ENCORE: Del Sasser (Sam Jones) from the 1960 album Them Dirty Blues by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet

Thoughts on Oddgeir Berg Trio, 22 March 2023

Oddgeir Berg Trio, 22 March 2023

Superb gig, big audience, couldn’t be better.

Something about the instruments: first the piano. Oddgeir Berg brought some electronics driven from a small but very good mic clipped to a bar on the open front piano. This gave Oddgeir a variety of soundscapes driven by the piano. He used his hand on the strings at times to produce a percussive sound. Mind you, while playing without the electronics, his touch is such that the full range of dynamics from softly lyrical to loud percussive was there.

Audun Ramo’s bass also was driven through a stomp box set, but the changes to the sound of the bass were very subtle. It was lovely to hear such bowing with varying timbre. Audun also used the instrument as a drum with his hands and fingernails for one song. A bit of magic: the bass folded into a cello shaped case at less than airline maximum. 

Bands flying from Norway don’t bring a drum kit. Lars Berntsen used a very nice rented kit (thank you, Webby, who even brought 5 snare drums for Lars to choose from). Lars brought his own cymbals, of course.  No mics or electronics on the drums.

With one exception, the tunes were all written by Oddgeir. They varied through stormy, light happy and subtle, melancholy and happy swinging. The arrangements didn’t leave much room for applause after solos. Watching our audience from the sound desk, its listening was visibly intense. There was applause and hoots after each number, and some stood to applause after the last song. Can we have them back, please?

Steve Jordan builds annotated set lists from gigs, for which we are very grateful.

Tickets for Barnes/Panayi on April 12th are going nicely, so do book with David or WeGotTickets soon.

Take care

Dave

ODDGEIR BERG TRIO SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 22/3/23

  1. Here Comes The Toughest
  2. The Dream of Adam – a lullaby for one of Oddgeir’s three children.
  3. Dancing Through The Storm 
  4. Happy Morning
  5. Psalmist
  6. Sunday Mood

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. List
  2. Scenes From A Movie
  3. Vagabond
  4. Oldies
  5. Bring On The Night
  6. Mermaid’s Dance
  7. Wonderwall*
  8. Post Mortem

All compositions and arrangements by Oddgeir Berg except * written by Noel Gallagher of the rock band, Oasis.


On Wednesday 24 May, Shades of George Shearing Quintet – £19

Nick Tomalin Piano

Nat Steele Vibes

Dave Warren Guitar

Luke Fowler Bass

Matt Fishwick Drums

“An evening of unpretentious, gently swinging jazz”         Ian Mann

Highlighting the work of the influential and important British pianist, George Shearing, these five wonderful musicians celebrate one of the greatest jazz musicians this country has ever produced and the distinctive sound of his classic quintet. The repertoire includes Shearing’s best-known compositions including ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and ‘September in the Rain’ but also features some of Shearing’s slightly more unfamiliar tunes and arrangements.

Initially trained as a classical pianist, Shearing turned towards jazz, playing in pubs and music halls before moving on to make recordings and radio broadcasts and then settling in the U.S.A. in 1946. Shearing was one of only a very few British jazz musicians of that era to establish a truly international reputation.  Born in 1919, the long-lived Shearing remained creative until well into his 80s and was knighted for his services to music in 2007. He died on Valentine’s Day in 2011.

Over the last twenty years Nick Tomalin has become a mainstay of the London jazz scene and works regularly with some of the country’s leading jazz musicians including Jim Mullen, Mark Lockheart, Stan Sulzmann and Alan Barnes amongst many others.  When still a student Nick appeared in a masterclass with George Shearing which was filmed for the Southbank Show episode ‘The Shearing Touch’. Partly inspired by this, Nick decided to form the ‘Shades of Shearing’ Quintet dedicated to performing his unique and popular compositions and arrangements.


On Wednesday, 14 June, The John Etheridge Theo Travis Quartet – £23

John Etheridge Guitars

Theo Travis Sax

Pete Whittaker Organ

George Double Drums

A veritable jazz-prog super-group featuring electric guitar, sax and flute, organ and drums, the John Etheridge Theo Travis Quartet will bring us superbly talented musicians. For many years Etheridge and Travis have been the frontline of the legendary band Soft Machine, but each has played and recorded with an astonishing who’s who of international musical talent too numerous to mention but including Stephane Grappelli, Pat Metheny, Nigel Kennedy, John Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Robert Fripp, David Gilmour, Gary Kemp, David Sylvian and Gong just for starters.

The rhythm section comprises one of the most go-to keyboard players in the British jazz and blues scene, Pete Whittaker and our great friend, drummer George Double. Expect a pulsating night of musical fireworks and dreamy ambient soundscapes.


On Wednesday 28 June, Bryan Corbett’s “Hi-Fly” Quintet – £19

Bryan Corbett Trumpet/Flugel

Chris Bowden Alto sax

Matt Ratcliffe Piano

Tom Hill Bass

Carl Hemmingsley Drums

“A warm, brilliant tone and a formidable technique”         

The Independent

This outstanding quintet celebrate the year 1959 in jazz that saw the release of some of the most revered jazz albums such as Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus' Ah Um, Dave Brubeck's Time Out and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz To Come as well as Blowing The Blues Away by Horace Silver amongst others.

As well as performing under his own name, Bryan Corbett has been performing with world renowned stars, a who's who in the jazz and commercial world. Bryan is not only a great performer of the jazz standards repertoire but an artist who pushes the boundaries writing and performing original works with his various line-ups.

Saxophonist Chris Bowden works as an arranger and performer with a highly individual style. He first came to prominence with his 1996 funk/acid/Latin-jazz 'Time Capsule'. Pianist Matt Ratcliffe has performed with a wide range of jazz musicians in clubs and festivals across the U.K.

“Bryan is one of the chosen few. Class, pure class, plays from the heart, every note has a reason to live. Truly someone who can sing through his instrument." 

– Andy Taylor, the maker of Bryan's trumpets.




On Wednesday 9 August, The Music of the Jazz Couriers, £20

Simon Spillett Tenor Saxophone

Pete Long Tenor Saxophone

Rob Barron Piano

Alec Dankworth Bass

Pete Cater Drums

The band harks back to the heady days of the quintet co-led by Ronnie Scott and the great Tubby Hayes. In the time honoured way you can expect plenty of up tempo tenor jousting, bell notes bouncing from wall to wall and cascades of bebop quavers coruscating the continuum! Award winning repertory bandleader Peter Long and custodian of the Hayes legacy Simon Spillett will go head to head over the old Couriers classics, with driving virtuosic rhythmic support from Rob BarronAlec Dankworth and Peter Cater.

 Expect such favourites as the original arrangements of Cheek To Cheek, Love Walked In and The Serpent, as well as some of Tubby’s later standards such as Suddenly Last Tuesday and Finky Minky, all linked together with stories and comments from the two front men.


On Wednesday 23 August, Five-Way Split – £19

Quentin Collins Trumpet/Flugel

Vasilis Xenopoulos Tenor sax

Rob Barron Piano

Mátyás Hofecker Bass

Matt Home Drums

This is hard bop for today. Art Blakey delivered the message, Five-Way Split received it, decoded it and added their own stamp         

Bebop Spoken Here

Five-Way Split is a new jointly led band formed in 2020 featuring some of the finest contemporary bebop musicians in the UK.  Five-Way Split is fronted by internationally renowned trumpet star Quentin Collins and Greek saxophone phenomenon Vasilis Xenopoulos, with the golden touch of pianist Rob Barron.  Added to this are virtuosic bassist Mátyás Hofecker and rock-solid drummer Matt Home

The band’s vision is to carry on the lineage of groups like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as well as mirroring the New York contemporary bop scene.  From this inspiration, the band presents a sound that respects the tradition of the hard-bop era whilst also bringing it up to date for today’s audience.  With an extensive repertoire of hip, swinging material by greats like Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton and Horace Silver, along with their carefully crafted and imaginative original compositions, Five-Way-Split delivers a night of the best swinging and soulful music.

Other press quotes:

Quentin Collins “Splendid” ★★★★★ - BBC Music Magazine.

Vasilis Xenopoulos “One of the most fiery young saxophonists around” ★★★★- The Times.

Rob Barron “Classic Jazz Piano at it’s best” 5/5 - UK Vibe

"Five-Way Split – each member as formidable as the next” - London Jazz News




On Wednesday 12 July 2023, Sarah Jane Morris “Something Old, Something New” – £22

Sarah Jane Morris Vocals

Marcus Bonfanti Guitars

Tony Rémy Guitars

Henry Thomas Bass

Sarah Jane Morris is a singer with an astonishing vocal range. Her thirty-year career, during which she has garnered a loyal and loving international audience, has been wide-ranging and her rich contralto voice goes from strength to strength. She has performed with many groups over the years, from rock to soul to African blues, with classical orchestras, a one-hundred cello ensemble, with acoustic guitars and jazz big bands. Her voice, her versatility, and her emotional intelligence - the absolute authenticity of feeling which she conveys - make her a world-class compelling performer. It is a joy to see her back at Fleece Jazz, and in such good company.

With comments from the Guardian like "The next British Guitar hero", we can expect a superb performance from Marcus Bonfanti. The Times chimed in with "Utterly Spellbinding". Marcus is a blues singer, composer and guitarist. It will be a pleasure to welcome him to Fleece Jazz

Tony Rémy is one of the world's most exciting guitar players of any genre. His hard-edged rhythmically driven approach is enriched with jazz intuition and bluesy soul. His ability to adapt to any style of music sets him apart from many other guitarists and is the principle reason why Tony’s name is consistently near the top of the ‘must have’ list. Just ask Annie Lennox, Jack Bruce, Pee Wee Ellis, Mick Hucknall, Glenn Hughes, Craig David, etc. why they called him and the answer will always be the same - “Tony Rémy delivers!” 

I love the work of the mighty Henry Thomas. Whether his is backing an international artist, in the pit in the west end, or specially, playing for us at Fleece Jazz, he is a stunningly fine multi-instrument bassist. He has gigged and recorded on countless hit records, TV and film soundtracks. He is also famous for his role as a co-founder of the BBC TV series Rockschool. He has the rare expertise of being able to sightread and improvise at an extremely high level. 


On Wednesday 26 July, – O’Higgins & Luft present Pluto £20

Dave O'Higgins Tenor sax

Rob Luft Guitar

Ross Stanley Piano

Luke Fowler Bass

Rod Youngs Drums

This is straight-ahead modern jazz in the African-American tradition, coming from the Monk and Trane lineage, but not bound to emulating it.         

Previous visitors to Fleece Jazz but together here for the first time, saxophonist Dave O’Higgins and guitarist Rob Luft perform tunes from their recent release, Pluto. 

Dave O'Higgins has 24 albums as leader to his credit. He currently performs with the Harvey/O'Higgins Project, O'Higgins & Luft, Darius Brubeck Quartet and the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra. Rob Luft is an award-winning 28-year-old jazz guitarist from London whose virtuosity has been compared to that of six-string legends John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola & Paco De Lucia. Luft's sound morphs Wes Montgomery with Bill Frisell, revealing his own trademark and worldly influences, while Dave O'Higgins' emotive melodies evoke Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker with a melodic logic of his own.

Ross Stanley began playing with the band on organ but here brings more harmonic space to the soundscape with the piano. This opened up a place for the exciting sound of Luke Fowler on bass who impressed us on his previous visit to the Fleece as part of Tommaso Starace’s Power of Three trio. American drummer, Rod Youngs, so integral to the vibe of the band completes the line-up.

O’Higgins’ hard but never oppressive swing anchors Luft’s more charmful, visionary flights.  It’s a potent mix." - Andy Robson, Jazzwise.

Ross Stanley was held up in Spain, so the admirable Jim Watson took over at a few hours notice. He was superb.




Thoughts on Simon Thorpe’s Jivin’ Miss Daisy, 8 March 2023

Simon Thorpe's Jivin' Miss Daisy

This gig's review is from Robert Carr of the Hadleigh Nub News. All of the pictures from the gig are on our gallery page

Take care,

Dave

A fun night with Jivin’ Miss Daisy at Fleece Jazz

By Robert Carr

With blizzard conditions making travelling difficult on a bitterly cold Suffolk night, the entertainment supplied by Fleece Jazz at the welcoming Stoke by Nayland Hotel Resort provided just the tonic (gin optional) to warm the audience members.

From the off, Simon Thorpe's Jivin' Miss Daisy band set the swinging tone of the Fleece show with a bold and brassy performance of Count Basie's Peter Pan, the first of many tunes from his orchestra's vast repertoire.

Simon is the band leader and bassist of the nine-piece combo whose line-up for the show was: Mark Crooks (alto saxophone & clarinet), Liz Fletcher (vocals), Alex Garnett (tenor saxophone & vocals), Colin Oxley (guitar), John Pearce (piano), Matt Skelton (drums), Malcolm Earl Smith (trombone & vocals) and Enrico Tomasso (trumpet). 

An up-tempo arrangement of Royal Garden Blues followed. Over 100 years old, because it is based on the earliest of riffs, the blues number is considered to be one of the most important compositions in jazz history. It also allowed band members to introduce themselves on their instruments.

Vivacious vocalist Liz introduced herself to the audience with several songs from the Great American Songbook. These included Harold Arlen's Get Happy, which Simon told us is his band's signature tune. Liz has a lovely personality and a sweet-sounding voice in keeping with the dance and swing band style of the era when each had its own singer.

A particular delight was Liz, Simon and Enrico's vocal harmonization on Cole Porter's You Do Something To Me, augmented by Mark's super sax solo. Also, a lovely surprise was the arrangement of Stairway To The Stars where Liz was sensitively accompanied by Colin on guitar, together with the piano, bass and drums of the rhythm section.

Such was the feast of wonderful 1920s, 30s and 40s standards offered from the pens of Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, The Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, et al, I would have liked to have listed all of them, but there has to be a limit. 

Similarly, from such a talented line-up it is difficult to feature all the musicians. However, Ellington's calypso Limbo Jazz so elicited dazzling virtuoso trumpet playing from Enrico that it was a stand-out performance. As a youngster, hearing a Louis Armstrong record inspired Enrico to learn to play his chosen instrument. This led him to a successful career in which he has won so many British jazz awards.

Named after the heart-warming movie Driving Miss Daisy, Jivin' Miss Daisy was formed in 1999 and has been swinging ever since.  Simon told me that he had been "really looking forward to the return to Fleece Jazz, one of the best clubs in the South-East, with its long stellar jazz history and loyal supporters."

Not every jazz gig is as lively as this was. So, with so much dance music on offer for the fun night out, it surprised me that nobody strutted their stuff on the dance floor – not that anybody on my table chanced it. Next time, perhaps.

Resident at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Resort, the club has been presenting jazz for the best part of 30 years, garnering renown for the quality of their shows and friendly atmosphere. It was my first time at the club, and I can see the reason for its reputation - I hope to revisit it soon.

Advance information about Fleece Jazz shows can be obtained by asking to be added to the club's mailing list. Log on to www.fleecejazz.org.uk then click 'email list' to subscribe.

Next up on Wednesday 22 March is the Oddgeir Berg Trio. Tickets are available from www.wegottickets.com/fleecejazz or by telephoning the booking office at 01787 210796.

JIVIN’  MISS DAISY SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 08/3/23

  1. Peter Pan (Count Basie) from 1954
  2. Royal Garden Blues (Clarence & Spencer Williams) 1919
  3. I’ve Got the World on a String (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 1932
  4. Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 1930
  5. So in Love (Cole Porter) 1948
  6. Lullaby in Rhythm (Clarence Profit/Benny Goodman/Edgar Sampson/Walter Hirsch) 1938 
  7. Flaming Reeds and Screaming Brass (Jimmie Lunceford)
  8. Limbo Jazz (Duke Ellington) 1962
  9. Meet Me Where They Play The Blues (Steve Allen/Sammy Gallop)
  10. 10.You Do Something To Me (Cole Porter) 1929
  11. 11.Stairway to the Stars (Malneck/Signorelli/Parish) 
  12. 12.Shiny Stockings (Frank Foster/Ella Fitzgerald) 1963

*          *      ç    *           *         *        *        *

  1. 13.Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (Barris/Koehler/Moll)      1931
  2. 14.Come Rain or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 1946
  3.         I Got Rhythm (George and Ira Gershwin) 1930
  4. Manhattan (Rodgers and Hart) 1925
  5. In Case You Didn’t Know (Count Basie)
  6. Lowdown (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis)
  7. Oclupaca (Duke Ellington) 1968
  8. Tootsie (Count Basie) 1950
  9. Daisie’s Cakewalk (Simon Thorpe)
  10. On The Sunny Side of the Street (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields) 1930
  11. Born To Be Blue (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells) 1946
  12. From This Moment On (Cole Porter) 1950 

On Wednesday 10 May, The Philip Clouts Quartet – £17

Philip Clouts Piano

Samuel Eagles Sax

Tim Fairhall Bass

Marek Dorcik Drums

Among the quotes about this band:

“The best of British jazz” - Chris Phillips Jazz FM

“Precise ebullience and relaxed funkiness” - The Guardian

“A revelatory experience- UkVibe

The dancing exuberance of South African Township music, the convivial groove of gospel-influenced soul jazz, the joyful sway of Cuban guaguanco rhythms, the bluesy melodies of middle eastern praise songs and so much more all come together in pianist Philip Clouts’ superbly accomplished quartet.

Clouts was born in Cape Town and the music of his homeland has stayed with him as he has continued on a voyage of discovery that has led him across all five continents, soaking up Caribbean calypso and the soulful strains of the Indian subcontinent while honouring and learning from jazz heroes including Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Charles Lloyd.


Thoughts on Tommaso’s Power of Three, 22 February 2023

A band primarily playing bebop, without a drummer, is not to everybody’s taste. It is to mine. You get the combined sound and great clarity from each instrument. This band’s musicianship and joy in playing together  were exceptional. Power of Three indeed.

Tommaso Starace is a great presenter: lovely stories,  good (and very bad) jokes, and most important, he was clear about song titles and composers. As to the latter, Steve did have a query or two about attribution. But the thing is his playing. His mastery of the instrument is amazing, with a big dynamic range, ideas piling on one another, accurate slurs (if that is not an odd combination) even in the altissimo. He radiates the joy of playing. Interestingly, when others are soloing he leaves the stage, giving them all the space in both the sonic and spatial senses. You can still see him loving what his friends are doing on-stage.

Jim Watson is special. He is in a class with very few members: those whose left hand is as strong and inventive as his/her right. I could not pick out an individual solo to talk about. They were all superb. Fleece Jazz has a listening audience, but shouts and whistles were heard after several of his solos. He doesn’t go onto automatic when accompanying, either. Like all three of the musicians, his listening skills are A+.

Australian Luke Fowler is new to Fleece Jazz, but I hope we will see him many times in the future. Of course, without a drummer, his pulse had to be strong and accurate. Luke is a brilliant soloist. Although he is perfectly competent in the highest register of the bass, he doesn’t rely on that register for solos. 

Thanks to a lovely band for a great evening. Steve agrees, and brings a set list for you to see.

The next gig will have you dancing in your seats or on a dance floor. The wonderful nonet, “Jivin’ Miss Daisy”, will be returning to us. See the poster at https://www.fleecejazz.org.uk/Daisy.pdf.

Take care,

Dave

TOMMASO STARACE SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 22/2/23

  1. Kansas City Blues (Charlie Parker)
  2. This Here (Bobby Timmons) as performed by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
  3. Del Sasser (Sam Jones) as performed by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
  4. Kiki (Charlie Parker) Did Tommaso mean Ko-Ko?
  5. Autumn in New York (Vernon Duke)
  6. Caravan (Duke Ellington)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. If I Should Lose You (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin)
  2. Passport (Charlie Parker)
  3. Speak Low (Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash)
  4. Segment (Charlie Parker)
  5. Work Song (Nat Adderley)
  6. ENCORE: Voyage (Kenny Barron)*

* Voyage was performed by Stan Getz, accompanied by pianist Kenny Barron. Barron performed with Getz for the last five years of the saxophonist’s career.


Thoughts on Dave Lewis’s 1Up Band, 8 February 2023

Last night we had two deps at this gig due to illness in the band , but they were amazing. We wish Neville Malcolm and Robin Aspland quick recoveries.  Jerry Logan was the bassist: he was the pulse of the band, inventive and accurate. Carl Hudson played piano and keyboard with intensity and joy.

This was a band with power and love throughout the evening. We loved Dave Lewis’s raw, yet lyrical sound on tenor sax. Rod Youngs is a brilliant and very powerful drummer.

There are some jazz singers with “little girl” voices, and those singing from the throat, not the belly. Lizzie Deane must have the diaphragm of an opera singer. She has a huge dynamic range, and a timbre range from sweet to howl and everything in between. She moves from up front vocalist to band member with ease.

Whether in up tempo happy, slow intense ballad or a shouting cry of pain, the band clearly had a love of the material. They also had a joy in listening to each other. Yes, it was a lovely gig.

I have to say that the techy didn’t have a great night, what with lighting troubles, and reverberant mics. I wonder who that could be. Oh yes: me.

On Wednesday 22 February, the very welcome return of saxophonist Tommaso Starace, with his “Power of Three”. He will be with Jim Watson on piano and Luke Fowler on bass. It will be a varied and delicious evening, do come.

Thanks again to Steve for providing the set list.

Take care,

Dave

DAVE LEWIS’ 1UP BAND SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 8/2/23

Turn It Round

Casablanca

Deep Underground

Hurt Inside

Rain on Venus

Sun Was In My Eyes

I Don’t Need No Doctor

Ain’t It True

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

A Real Mother For Ya (Johnny “Guitar” Watson)

Take A Little Time

Bright Lights

Either ‘Love Gives More Than A Taste’ or ‘Got To Hold On To That Feeling’ *

Good Man

Great Big Hole In My Heart*

Blue Horizon

Sweetest Thing

ENCORE: What Do People Say?*

* Dave Lewis announced most numbers but by the second set he would occasionally just say two words to the band about the next number without telling the audience what they were about to hear or what they had heard.  Those titles with an asterisk are my guesses based on lyrical refrains within the song.


Thoughts on John Etheridge’s Blue Spirits, 25 January 2023

Peter Fairman said "John was Burning!". Steve and Dave were away. Miles Dagnall wrote the following review of this gig.

If a rock band only needs three chords and the truth, what happens to the man who knows three thousand? Can he still maintain the authentic feeling expressed in the blues and marry it with the technique necessary for accomplished jazz playing ? This is John Etheridge so the answer is of course, ‘yes’. Ably supported by this edition of his Blue Spirits with Pete Whittaker on keys and George Double on Drums, the trio delivered a set full of passion and inventiveness.

Starting with ‘Love, Lovely Love’ and an intense version of Ray Charles ‘You Don’t Know’, and a ‘Secret Love’ full of a skipping rhythm, highlights of the first set included John’s own Broken Hill – familiar to fans of Soft Machine - full of sweet and sour moments on both organ and guitar and an almost tangibly crunchy and riff-filled version of John Schofield’s’ Do Like Eddie’.

The music was interleaved throughout with heartfelt tributes to jeff Beck, who John had played with (naturally) dropping into snatches of Nessun Dorma and a moving version of Jeff’s favourite Stevie Wonder tune, ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’. The range of John’s repertoire, included a delicate solo rendition of Rabbie Burns’, ‘My Love is Like Red Red Rose’ which morphed into Billie Holiday’s ‘Bless the Child’, and an inventive trio take on Hank William’s Cold Cold Heart, honouring the tune, while re-writing it with inventive sleight of hand – Pete’s funky chords and George’s precise drumming adding unexpected flavours . The gig ended with a passionate version of Hendrix’ Little Wing; George and Pete adding their own ideas to John’s blues- soaked playing. ‘Summertime’, as an encore, left the full house looking forward to warmer times, and glad they had braved a miserable January night to witness a master at work. 

Miles Dagnall


Thoughts on Alan Barnes’ Octet – “Copperfield”, 27 December 2022

Thoughts on Alan Barnes' Octet - "Copperfield", 27 December 2022

Now this was special. Wonderful material written by Alan Barnes, and edited by Mark Nightingale, eight of the best players about having a great time, Alan’s telling of the story of the book, and a very happy audience.

    It has been many years since I had read Dickens’ “David Copperfield”, but Alan did a lovely job in giving us synopses for each of the songs. Every song, at least for me, evoked my memories of the book. He had a script to work from, but he was very aware of the audience so that he could ad lib when he wanted to, Early in the first set, he admonished me for “playing with my knobs” (remember, I was the sound guy), He got the audience to holler out the names of characters he described. Alan had a great ear for spontaneous comedy.

    For a set list, I refer you to the beautifully designed CD, which contains some of the scripted material at our live gig, as well as the music.  Information can be found at https://www.alanbarnesjazz.com/david-copperfield. You can buy the CD at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=copperfield+alan+barnes&crid=22RMY9WT08Q1K&sprefix=copperfield+alan+barnes%2Caps%2C116&ref=nb_sb_noss

    About the  music: I don’t think it was easy to play. It had lots of notes in places, and very careful spare areas; I am thinking of David Newton’s piano solo in the 3/4 “Mr Micawber”. Clark Tracey’s careful, evocative drum intro to “Uriah Heap” before Alan Barne’s only use of the bass clarinet with sonority and shivery runs, which evoked “Uriah” beautifully, Alan had great solos on alto sax and clarinet during the rest of the gig.

    In “Barkis is Willing”, there was a sweet entry from the horn chorus, followed by one of Simon Thorpe’s bass solos. You can hear why Simon is such a ‘go to’ player. “Creakle and Tungay” has Bruce Adams displaying his power on trumpet, followed by Karen Sharps lyricism on the baritone sax. I could listen to  Robert Fowler’s work on tenor sax or clarinet all day.

    Mark Nightingale is a trombonist of international note, a composer and an editor, and his playing on the gig ranged from the powerful and dramatic to the sweet. His solo in “Steerforth” was my favourite of his work on the gig.

    Usually I listens for the solos, using the head as a platform for the solo work. Indeed, the solos were worth the price of admission, but I found the written work captivating. Alan interspersed beautiful harmonies with contrapuntal sequences in just about all combinations of horns. I will be listening to it again and again.

    Just for fun, my naughty nephew took a very short video of Alan having fun: 

    https://www.fleecejazz.org.uk/Knobtwiddle.mp4

    The next gig is another Tuesday, the 10th of January in the New Year. The young musicians in  The Magpie Trio are a fascinating listen. Do join us.

    Have a happy and healthy New Year,

    Dave 


    Thoughts on Glen Manby’s “Homecoming”, 14 December 2022

    We had a great evening of proper bebop on Wednesday. The numbers are interesting. Three of the musicians were greats that we have not seen in far too long: trumpet and flugeler Steve Waterman, pianist Leon Greening and bassist Jeremy Brown. Jeremy was A12ed and M25ved, so we started a bit late.

    It was a delight to welcome Glen Manby to the club. Glen is an altoist, composer, arranger, teacher. Drummer Joe Dessaeuer was new to everybody. But Joe fit right in, played with excellence and accuracy in the first set. In the second set, he really loosened up, grinning like a Cheshire cat at the music coming from his colleagues.

    The two ballads showed the tenderness and style of the two horn players. “I Remember Clifford” with the quartet, Steve on Flugelhorn, and “When Sonny Gets Blue”, again a quartet with Glen’s alto, were very beautiful.

    But the quintet was a delight all night. They exploited the special sound of alto and trumpet, whether in unison or harmony or contrapuntal. They hit us with that sound from the beginning (“Del Sasser”) to the end (Glen’s “Boss Bop Bossa”). They played a large range of styles.

    Glen’s Homecoming band kept us happy, and the audience left very happy. That was the last interesting number: too few people in the audience. Maybe the cold snap and football are to be avoided as a combination.

    The next gig, note Tuesday, 27 December is Alan Barnes’ Octet celebrating Dickens’ “Copperfield”. The music is stunning. The band is amazing. Don’t miss it.

    Take care, and a very happy holiday to  you from the Fleece Jazz gang.

    Dave

    GLEN MANBY’S HOMECOMING SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 14/12/22

    1. Del Sasser (Sam Jones) – first released by the Cannonball Quintet in 1960
    2. The Road to Sodor (Glen Manby)
    3. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Wolf/Landesman)
    4. I Remember Clifford (Benny Golson), written in memory of Clifford Brown, a beautiful ballad featuring Steve Waterman on Flugelhorn
    5. Yes or No (Wayne Shorter)
    6. Us (Una Mas) (Kenny Dorham)
    7. Coventry Carol (arranged by Glen Manby)

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Skippy (Glen Manby) 
    2. Mayfly (Glen Manby)
    3. Homecoming (Glen Manby) 
    4. When Sunny Gets Blue (Fisher/Segal
    5. Heimweh (Glen Manby)
    6. Boss Bop Bossa (Glen Manby)

    Thoughts on Derek Nash’s Acoustic Quartet, 7 December 2022

    If you are looking for joyous music, look no farther than Derek Nash and his Acoustic Quartet. Multi-(and mighty-)saxophonist Derek has been travelling with pianist David Newton, bassist Geoff Gascoyne and drummer Sebastiaan de Krom for some years. They played  at  Fleece Jazz in  2014.

    It would have  been apparent to anyone in  he audience that had not known the group, that the group were very top drawer musicians who knew each other very well. So every cue was spot on, obligatos in the mind of the soloist, all that professional stuff. But it was also as if it was new to them, fresh and so much fun. This really is one of our favourite bands.

    A lovely example of the freshness: In 2014 they played a song called “Voodoo Rex”, (Derek and his father wrote this one) which I knew a note at a time as we recorded it and made a video.  They played it again at this gig. it had the same vibe, backbeat, tempo, tune. It was if they had never played it before. Joyous music indeed.

    See you at the Manby gig on Wednesday. It will be a cracker.

    Dave

    Take care,

    From Steve, the set list, beautifully annotated.

    DEREK NASH ACOUSTIC QUARTET SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 7/12/22

    1. My Romance (Rodgers, Hart & Lorenz) played in two keys like the version by Wes Montgomery
    2. Blue House Samba (D. Nash) – the blue house in question was the house of the artist Frida Kahlo.  A spritely soprano-led piece full of twists and turns. Standout solos from Geoff Gascoyne whose nimble dexterity on bass is featured and an outstanding solo from Sebastiaan De Krom building from the initial samba rhythm.
    3. My, But You Make That Dress Look Lovely (D. Nash) – the lyrical inspiration for this composition was based on a chat-up line of Duke Ellington.  It featured Derek on baritone sax in an Ellingtonian setting.
    4. Voodoo Rex (D. Nash) – a rather good audio-visual recording of this number was made by Gerry England and Dave Lyons the last time the quartet performed at Fleece Jazz.  It has since been used on the Derek Nash website and can be found on youtube.
    5. October (D. Nash) – features Derek on tenor sax with Dave Newton’s endless poise on piano
    6. You’ve Got To Dig It To Dig It, You Dig? (D. Nash) based on an idiosyncratic piece of advice from the legendary Thelonious Monk

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Hallelujah Time (Oscar Peterson) – performed by the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra as a two-tenor chase. Derek’s dad was an arranger for the NDO and so Derek would have heard a lot of their music in his early years and into his teens.
    2. All The Things You Are (J. Kern) – inspired by the interpretation by Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax and Paul Desmond on alto sax. Recordings exist which included both musicians guesting with the Dave Brubeck trio.  Here Derek takes the role of Mulligan on baritone and Dave plays Desmond’s part adapted for piano with flurries of Brubeck in there.
    3. Waltz For My Father (P. Nash/D. Nash) – a joint father-son composition 
    4. Lil’ darlin’ (Neal Hefti) – a jazz standard, composed and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra.  This version was more uptempo and mixed in with “Cute”,  by the same composer and performers.
    5. Moonlight in Vermont (K. Suessdorf/J. Blackburn) – an arrangement by David Newton with shades of Debussy and impressionistic lyricism. Truly beautiful and a standout of the gig which brought roars of approval at the end.
    6. The G Mail Special (D. Nash) – Derek’s updated version of the jazz standard, “Air Mail Special, made famous by, amongst others, Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald.

          Encore: Water Jug (Gene Ammons)


    Thoughts on Art Themen Trio: Dizzy Moods, 23 November 2022

    When Art Themen, Pete Whittaker and George Double roll into the club we are always due for a treat. Last night they caught fire and produced a wonderful evening.

    I will get to the music in a moment, but it is important to note that presentation is an important part of entertainment. Art’s acerbic comments in his bass voice about his colleagues and other comments were very funny. Who thought of Pete as being a serious ecclesiastic? More importantly, he told us simply and accurately the names and (a few times with help), their composer. Thank you.

    And one cannot forget George’s passionate peroration for purchasing CDs. 

    There is something classic about the organ trio: in this case, organ, drums and Art’s tenor and soprano sax. Oh and claves, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claves. Which, of course annoys George, he is the percussionist, who feels that Art is sticking it to him. All good fun.

    I loved every bit of this gig, but Ibraham’s “Water from an Ancient Well” will stand in my mind.

    Steve has produced the annotated set list.

    1. Hanky Panky (Dexter Gordon
    2. Sweet Emma (Nat Adderley) 
    3. Brahms . . . I Think (Zoot Sims) Zoot’s tune is actually based on Ständchen, a love song by Schubert embellised by Liszt; suggesting Zoot’s apparent uncertainty when naming the tune was the result of his being “Brahms and Liszt”.
    4. Mad About The Boy (Noel Coward) is about the female adulation heaped upon the 1930s Hollywood matinée idol, Tyrone Power.  This version was influenced by Bobby Wellins who played it as a bossa nova.
    5. The Cape Verde Blues (Horace Silver)
    6. Bye, Bye Blackbird (Henderson/Dixon)
    7. Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn)
    8. Laying Eggs (Dick Crouch) gives full rein to George in funkster mode

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Captain Bacardi (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 
    2. Dizzy Moods (Charles Mingus) a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, based on his composition “Wouldn’t You?”
    3. Water From An Ancient Well (Abdullah Ibrahim)
    4. I’m an Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer) 
    5. The Ruby and The Pearl (Nat King Cole)
    6. Soppin’ The Biscuit (Roy Hargrove)
    7. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (Maschwitz & Sherwin)
    1. Chilli Peppers (Duke Pearson)

         Encore: Tea For Two (Youmans & Caesar)


    On Wednesday, 26 April, Alex Clarke Quartet – £18

    Alex Clarke Saxophones/Flute

    Rob Barron Piano

    Dave Green Double Bass

    Clark Tracey Drums

    “strong and full sound .  .  .  .  swinging, melodic and refreshingly cliché-free . . . . leaves the listener captivated by every phrase and nuance.”     Jazz Views

    As a finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2020, winner of the Rising Star category in the 2019 British Jazz Awards and nominee in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2021, Alex Clarke is known to be one of the most in-demand and versatile young saxophonists emerging on the British jazz scene.  

    Praised for her extensive repertoire and intelligent ear for harmony, she brings a youthful, intuitive approach which sounds authentic in a variety of musical settings from New Orleans to bebop. Alex's musical voice is steeped in the tradition of jazz; her deep respect for the heritage of the music can be heard in a swinging, melodic approach reminiscent of Scott Hamilton and Lester Young, with strong influences of Phil Woods and Cannonball Adderley.  

    As well as leading her own projects, Alex works with local bands and house rhythm sections up and down the country, performing alongside notable names such as Roy Williams, Bruce Adams, Enrico Tomasso, Gilad Atzmon, Greg Abate and Art Themen.  Her quartet is completed by a top-flight rhythm section: Rob Barron on piano, Dave Green on double bass and Clark Tracey at the drums, a veritable ‘who’s who’ of British jazz.

    “One of the U.K.’s finest young jazz talents.” The Jazz Rag

                                                                                


    On Wednesday 22 February Tommaso Starace’s “Power of Three” – £18

    Tommaso Starace Sax

    Jim Watson Piano

    Luke Fowler Bass

    "This is the sound of a trio having 'serious fun' and that sense of enjoyment readily transmits itself to the listener." Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann

    Born in Milan, Tommaso Starace first came to the UK in 1995 to study jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire, before undertaking post-graduate studies at the Guildhall in London. He has led working bands in both Britain and Italy and has recorded albums with both. 

    Tommaso’s latest project represents a return to roots and getting back to basics with all three players recording as in a jam session, in the same room at the same time, allowing greater interaction between the musicians, the true “Power Of Three.” As Tommaso explains: “I wanted to explore a more intimate setting .  . . . the trio setting allowed all instruments to be lead players, stretching out and aiming to be more adventurous in improvisation.”

    Of the trio’s choice of material Starace comments; “The choice of music was also important to me. I wanted to include a variety of styles from past to present composers, as well as music not confined to the jazz tradition.”  Among the composers featured are the late Ennio Morricone, Bobby Timmons, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Michel Petrucciani and Charlie Parker.

    "It was good to hear Tommaso in a trio setting .  .  .  .  giving full reign to his improvisational talents. Combined with this were the sometimes-explosive skills of the wonderful pianist Jim Watson providing some sizzling solos with Tommaso throughout the two sets, making it a stimulating concert.” Review of a gig at Chichester Jazz Club, Oct, 2022


    On Wednesday, 12 April, The Alan Barnes/Andy Panayi Sextet – £22

    Alan Barnes Alto Sax

    Andy Panayi Tenor Sax

    Robby Robson Trumpet

    John Donaldson Piano

    Simon Thorpe Bass

    Pete Cater Drums


    Alan Barnes has been at the forefront of British jazz since 1980 and his musicianship and sense of humour have made him hugely popular in jazz clubs and festivals across the UK and beyond. He is best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone saxes, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with outstanding musical expression.

    Andy Panayi is an exceptionally gifted musician, skilled in performance, composition and arranging. He plays all the flutes and all the saxophones and currently leads his own groups, both jazz and classical. He also writes commissioned works and compositions & arrangements for his own ensembles.

    They first played together more than three decades ago, and since then have both gone on to be multi-award winners.

    This sextet plays post-bop tunes from a golden era of jazz, including some from the 1959 album 'The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago' (re-released in 1964 as 'Cannonball and Coltrane'), and John Coltrane's album 'Blue Trane' from 1957.


    On Wednesday 22 March The Oddgeir Berg Trio – £18

    Oddgeir Berg Piano

    Audun Ramo Bass

    Lars Berntsen Drums

    "A piano trio to get truly excited about, a trio for the new millennium"

    – **** Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

    Jazz trios named after the piano player give certain expectations, be it Horace Silver and his tender "Que Pasa" or Esbjørn Svensson and his Northern sounds; clarity and intimacy are common to these, with a hint of tonal melancholy.  These characteristics also present with Oddgeir Berg Trio, who are clearly familiar with a Scandinavian jazz tradition. 

    The trio's sound has been called "withdrawn and cinematic." In this aspect they share a characteristic with another Norwegian piano group, the Tord Gustavsen Trio. A notable difference is Oddgeir Berg Trio's more effusive embrace of electronics, which adds to the cinematic and atmospheric aspect of the sound. 

    The trio has some other tricks up its sleeve though, most importantly an urgency for action, pace and adventure.   Here the Oslo based trio has more in common with Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson than Scandinavia’s Jan Johannson. The love of jazz and blues drive Audun Ramo’s double bass and the propulsive drum sound of Lars Bentsen energetically support Oddgeir Berg’s playing. Berg’s curiosity in experimenting with Wurlitzer\Rhodes and synthesizer sounds sneaks into the soundscape and lends a distinctive colour to the sound panorama.

    “Electroacoustic jazz with one leg in melancholy and the other in ecstasy.”


    On Wednesday, 8 March, Simon Thorpe’s “Jivin’ Miss Daisy” – £25

    Simon Thorpe Bass

    Enrico Tommaso Trumpet

    Malcolm Earl Smith Trombone/Vocals

    Mark Crooks Sax/Clarinet

    Alex Garnett Sax/Clarinet

    Colin Oxley Guitar

    John Pearce Piano

    Matt Skelton Drums

    Liz Fletcher Vocals

    Jivin’ Miss Daisy is an amazing band with lots of energy and the best songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and many, many more from the wonderful age of swing, jazz and jive.

    Bass player Simon Thorpe established Jivin’ Miss Daisy in 1999.  Since then the band has gone from strength to strength . You can be sure Jivin’ Miss Daisy will have the audience dancing, partying or just singing along. JMD play your choice of classic songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter and Ellington through to Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

    What an amazing lineup! Nine superb musicians that we know well and love, ready to jive you with pleasure.

    “Cheery vocals…good-time feeling…strong soloists…this band should put smiles on plenty of faces!” – Jazz UK Magazine


    On Wednesday, 8 February, Dave Lewis’ 1UP Band – £20

    Dave Lewis' 1UP Band

    Dave Lewis Tenor sax

    Al Cherry Guitar

    Robin Aspland Piano

    Neville Malcolm Bass

    Rod Youngs Drums

    Lizzie Dean Vocals

    “.  .  .  It’s a real treat  .  .  .  tight chunky grooves and very exciting and funky sax .  .  .  . this is an absolute breath of fresh air  .  .  .  Dave Lewis sets a standard of powerful, fiery solos that will be hard to surpass this year.  More please!”     Blues and Soul

    American saxophonist Dave Lewis leads 1UP with raw lyrical emotion and a horn full of funk, and his sound is perfectly matched by the soulful intensity and searing blues vocals of Lizzie Deane. The band lays down the deepest grooves with space for virtuosic improvisation and breath-taking interplay. 

    Dave Lewis’ robust and melodic tenor playing has been heard with a notable list of artists including John Martyn, Bryan Ferry, Joan Armatrading, John Mayall, Eric Clapton and The Blockheads. The 1UP band features an impressive array of talent fronted by vocalist Lizzie Deane, a fabulous singer who for many years has worked with some of the finest performers around, including Carleen Anderson, Mica Paris and Jocelyn Brown.  Lizzie’s warm persona and infectious performance style calls to mind the great soul divas such as Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield, but at the same time she brings her own unique energy and approach to every song.  The band tonight also features the wonderful Al Cherry on guitar, Robin Aspland on piano, Neville Malcolm on bass and Rod Youngs on drums. 

    The band pick up the standard from where The Crusaders, Rufus Thomas and The Meters left off.  With their original material and evocative lyrics, 1UP bring their own contemporary edge to the groove.  Above all, it’s a band of outstanding musicians who play as one.

    “Spine tingling” The Guardian


    Thoughts on Pete Oxley’s “Flight of Hand”, 2 November 2022

    Pete Oxley’s Flight of Hand, 2nd November 2022- by Steve Jordan

    It seems so long ago that Pete Oxley last brought his splendid collection of guitars to Fleece Jazz.  It was, in fact, March 2020 with the Oxley-Meier Guitar Project and then the week after that we went into lockdown and live jazz at the Fleece was off-limits for a whole 18 months.  It was so good to have him back this Wednesday with an amazing band of musicians.

    The combination of guitar and piano can be too much like a sandwich with a filling of breadcrumbs: two chordal instruments competing for clarity of sound; it should surely be either/or.  Then you hear the warm, mellifluous guitar sound of Pete Oxley and the majestic pianism of David Gordon complementing one another so well rather than creating an aural soup.  We were, indeed, blessed by the combined sound of both musicians plus two more in the guise of Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Tom Hooper on drums, of which more later.

    Pete’s guitar sound is very reminiscent of the world-famous jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny, so it was fitting to open with It’s Just Talk from 1987.  That euphoric sense of harmony and lyricism from Pete’s guitar and the dazzling technical skill of David Gordon on piano washed over the audience and instantly created a warm atmosphere.  After introductions and pleasantries from the ever-personable Pete, adorned in floral jacket and shirt, we are into his very own The Gift, a classic Oxley composition from the Oxley-Meier Guitar Project.  This introspective and thoughtful number is enhanced by the shuffle of the rhythm section, with David Gordon adding a plaintive backing on melodica.  Gordon’s English Isobars is an enchanting, though somewhat dark ballad, with Tom Hooper’s delicacy of playing complementing Pete’s guitar and Oli Hayhurst’s strong, nimble fingers busily working their magic over the fret of the double bass.  Tom Hooper was “depping” for Paul Cavaciuti, who is currently laid low with bronchitis; Tom stepped in at the last minute, although it certainly didn’t show in the versatility and inventiveness of his performance.  He was restrained and respectful when it was needed, but his exuberance and technical skill were a wonder on many a number throughout both sets.  We’d like Tom back soon and wish Paul well.  Before the next number, Pete quizzed the audience on their knowledge of the German ECM label, famed for its high production values which create a spacious and crystal-clear sound. No one could identify the guitar and piano-playing composer of the next number, although I suspect many of us will be seeking out the textured jazz recordings of Ralph Towner and his group, Oregon.  Pete’s Mercurial Views, written for the next Oxley-Meier album was inspired by the shimmering surface of a lake in the absence of tempestuous weather on the coast of Lyme Regis.  Once again, David Gordon adds the wistful accordion-like sound of the melodica to the beautiful, free-flowing melodicism of his pianism and the lyricism of Pete’s guitar.  The first set concludes with the wild post-bop jig, The Alchemist and The Cat Flap, showcasing the technical skills of each member of the band as they anticipate one another’s moves.

    The second set opens with Greenland, which builds in tempo and once again gives the pianist an opportunity to demonstrate his chops, a real display of pyrotechnics that has him eventually standing to play the keys.  The tempo comes right down for the beautiful jazz standard and ballad, Estate, (pronounced E – Star – Tay, the Italian for Summer) made famous in the Bossa Nova version recorded by Joao Gilberto but here interpreted through Pete’s delicate guitar-playing.  The gasps and hoots of appreciation from the audience say it all.  From Italy, we move to Brazil and that other multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti, with Loro.  The rhythm from Tom on percussion and Oli on bass takes us to South America, a welcome relief from a blustery, rainy night in November and Tom Hooper’s face is full of joy as he is transported by the music.  It seems logical to continue with a Spanish-flavoured tune, Armando’s Rumba by Chick Corea. The choice of music and the energy and technical skills of the rhythm section support Pete’s signature sound in melding harmony with influences from the Americas and Europe.  There is no doubt that this band is a partnership and David Gordon’s September Song reminds us of the wealth of talent that is present before us.  We come to the (officially) last number, The Surging Waves, another new Oxley composition inspired by his imagination of the weather conditions he had hoped for in Lyme Regis.  Think of the scene from The French Lieutenant’s Woman where Sarah Woodruff stands on the Cobb, looking out to sea, as the waves surge and crash against the harbour.  Now translate that into jazz and you have some idea of what we heard.

    The band were very generous and did not protest when the audience called for an encore, despite the lateness of the hour and the foul weather outside.  They played a very old (did Pete say 14th century?) tune from Mexico called Cortegaca (I think) which had the tempo of a Bossa Nova.  

    We genuinely felt privileged to have these four hugely talented musicians play at our club with such passion and delicacy and send us home feeling so much happier.

    SETLIST 

    1. It’s Just Talk (Pat Metheny) from the album Still Life (Talking).
    1. The Gift  (Pete Oxley) from the Oxley-Meier album The Alluring Ascent.
    1. English Isobars (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Angel Feet.
    1. Aeolus (Ralph Towner)
    1. Mercurial Views (Pete Oxley) yet to be released.
    1. The Alchemist and The Cat Flap (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Angel Feet.

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Greenland (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Second Language.   
    1. Estate (Bruno Martino)
    1. Loro (Egberto Gismonti)
    1. Armando’s Rumba (Chick Corea) from his album, My Spanish Heart.
    1. September Moon (David Gordon) from the David Gordon Trio album, Second Language.   
    1. The Surging Waves (Pete Oxley) not yet released.

         ENCORE: Cortegaca (Trad.)


    On Wednesday 25 January Blue Spirits – £18

    John Etheridge's "Blue Spirits"

    John Etheridge Guitars

    Pete Whittaker Organ

    George Double Drums

    "Blue Spirits Trio", featuring Pete Whittaker and George Double, came about through John’s love of the perennially attractive combination of Electric Guitar and Organ. Blue Spirits have a take on this well-known combination in a way that connects with the bluesier, intense side of John’s playing. There are plenty of typical swing elements, augmented by soulful ballads and fiery funk outings. The aim is to groove and move!

    John’s history includes playing with Grapelli, heading Zapatistas, duos with John Williams, and his own bands. As well as  a world class player, he is a classy raconteur. 

    Pete is a piano player who migrated to Hammond organ after hearing the classic 1950s &1960s Jimmy Smith records. He is a Hammond star.

    George’s playing and recording credits include Dame Shirley Bassey, Grammy Award Winner Jack Jones, Marc Almond, Mica Paris, Ruthie Henshall and Kym Mazelle. His West End and touring theatre record includes stints on WickedGuys and DollsAvenue QSinatra and Anything Goes.

    This band has been popular on the club circuit for many years and always delivers.


    Thoughts on “Dexterity” – Vasilis Xenopoulis’ Quartet, 26 October 2022

    There is a rule. If the band is having a good time, the audience will be having a good time. We had a great time, we did.  Vasilis, Ross, Simon and Steve were eager to get back to music they had not played for some time. Their eagerness was increased by a wait for three of them on the cursed A12, but they were all daisy fresh and ready to rock.

    They made us happy right away with Gordon’s “Evergreenish”.  We got our first taste of wonderful musicianship from all four, and the intense listening among them was very visible to us. 

    We were treated to lots of styles. For example, the first set ended with Gordon’s “Society Red”, which was done as a funky tune. As an aside, I have always wondered about the current use of the word “funk”, as as far as I can find out, it originally described the smell of a New Orleans bordello. Anyway, the tune was great fun. 

    We had some beautiful ballads. Donald Byrd’s “Tanya” in the second set was one example, Vasilis’s tone was just right. Our Steve Jordan has a comment on it in his set list below.

    Ross would be a treat to a deaf person. His whole body moves with the music whether soloing or as an accompanist. He is one of two musicians able to use all three pedals - soft, sustenuto and sustain - to great effect. His superb musicianship was unhampered by a piano string breaking in the second half, causing havoc to Bb two octaves above middle C. 

    Steve and Simon were grinning from ear to ear during many of the tunes, as their colleagues produced new riffs and quotes. Both of them have “big ears” which helps; that is to say they listen like crazy.

    That’s enough. Really great gig. Another to follow in less than a week’s time, with Pete Oxley’s “Flight of Hand”. It will be a gas. Do join us.

    Take care,

    Dave

    DEXTERITY: THE MUSIC OF DEXTER GORDON by VASILIS XENOPOULOS QUARTET  SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ, 26/10/22

    Vasilis Xenopoulis, Tenor Sax; Ross Stanley, Piano; Simon Thorpe, Bass; Steve Brown, Drums.

    1. Evergreenish (Dexter Gordon) from the 1970 album, The Jumpin’ Blues
    2. Hanky Panky (Dexter Gordon) from album Clubhouse
    3. Soy Califa (Dexter Gordon) from album A Swingin’ Affair. Exuberant vocal at beginning from Simon Thorpe.
    4. I’m A Fool To Want You (Joel Herron/Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf) from album Clubhouse.  Also covered by Billie Holliday
    5. Society Red from 1961 album Doin’ Alright (Dexter Gordon). Certainly has a funky groove, yet funk wasn’t heard until the mid ‘60s when James Brown created Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. It’s You or No One (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) from the live album of the same name, recorded in 1964 at Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen. DG lived in Denmark and often performed at the Montmartre
    2. Tanya (Donald Byrd) from the 1964 album One Flight Up.  There was indeed a similarity to Coltrane’s style in this rendition, although DG was an influence on Coltrane rather than the other way round.
    3. Montmartre (Dexter Gordon) from the album The Tower of Power.  Performed with a Latin Jazz tempo.  Did anyone else hear “Windmills of my Mind” in there?
    4. Tivoli (Dexter Gordon) from the 1975 album More Than You Know.  A jazz waltz inspired by Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen.

        10. Second Balcony Jump (Billy Eckstine) from the 1962 album, Go!

         Encore: If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron/ Carl Sigman) from the 1970 album, The Jumpin’ Blues


    On Tuesday, 10 January, The Magpie Trio – Canceled due to illness.

    We are sorry to announce that the gig had to be cancelled due to illness in the band. We wish Sam and family a speedy recovery. He leaves us with a present: a 45 minute video of the band on YouTube.

    George Crowley Tenor Sax

    Tom Farmer Bass

    Sam Jesson Drums

    "a free-wheeling polyrhythmic tour de force and to these ears an absolute delight" - Jazz Mann

    The Magpie Trio is led by Sam Jesson on drums who explains that much of the music in the band's set are reworkings of popular songs as arranged by the great Ahmad Jamal. The intent is to capture the spirit of the original artist rather than to simply play his greatest hits. Sam has been a key figure on the London Jazz scene for some time now and this tour marks his debut as a bandleader in trio with Tom Farmer from the superb Empirical and George Crowley from the Ivo Neame Quartet.

    United by their love for the tradition of legendary jazz trios from Ahmed Jamal to Sonny Rollins, Oscar Peterson to Dewey Redman, the trio wind their way through many gems of the jazz canon - some lesser known than others – sometimes deconstructing and breathing new life, sometimes paying homage to classic arrangements, with a devoted focus on making music that feels honest and joyous.

    “…simultaneously cherished where jazz has been, and relished where it might be headed” – John Fordham, The Guardian 


    Thoughts on Antonio Forcione – 12 October 2022

    Antonio  Forcione gave us a most  masterful,  joyous and beautifully presented gig on solo guitar and in duo with a drummer who wasn’t there. in the second half, he played Mancini’s “The Cool Cat”, and asked us to imagine that a fine drummer was to his right. The drummer did the intro, then accompanied Antonio. The two traded 4s. At the end when Antonio gestured to his right, we all applauded the drummer. I was sure he was using brushes and Antoni agrees, sticks would be too loud for a solo guitarist.

    Let’s amplify some of those adjectives:

    Masterful: Antonio is a master of the complete instrument. He uses classical fingering, plectrum, hammering, harmonics, and a wide variety of percussion effects. At times he uses them altogether. 

    Joyous: The music is amazing It doesn’t mean much if the performer can’t tell a story when he plays. Antonio has soul, and tells the stories.

    Beautiful: Presentation is important. Antonio is fun to be  with as a performer in our small space. He chatted with us about his coming to London as a young man, stories about Mandela, McCartney and others. We so enjoyed the chat and fun, and he liked the attentive audience, a feature of our club.

    Searching for highlights is like finding the best diamond in a pile of them, Antonio’s “Touch Wood” was the most visual and percussive song. He made sounds from every part of the guitar, covering all of a drum kit except for the cymbals. I bet he could do those if he wanted to .

    His “African Dawn’ was a tribute to Mandela. This was a great example of storytelling with music. “Alhambra” gave us the profound effect of visiting that marvellous place. He brought back the visit Roberta and I made to Alhambra and the effect it had.

    I loved his take on Brubeck’s 5/4 classic, “Take Five”, and on “Come Together”. “I Heard It On The Grapevine”, made famous by Marvin Gaye, is something of an anthem for Antonio.

    It was a wonderful gig and we want him back, please.

    On the 26th of October, we have Vasilis Xenopoulos  and Ross Stanley back, with Simsn Thorpe and Steve Brown. This superb quartet will be giving us the music of Dexter Gordon. Don’t miss it

    Take care,

    Dave

    Brenda made a set list for me: Thank you. I hope I got the attributions right.

    Tis a Joy - Antonio Forcione

    Tarita - Antonio Forcione

    African Dawn - Antonio Forcione

    Take Five - Dave Brubeck

    Touch Wood - Antonio Forcione

    ——————

    Heartbeat - Antonio Forcione

    Come Together - Lennon/McCartney

    Message in a Bottle - Sting

    The Cool Cat - Henry Mancini

    Alhambra - Antonio Forcione

    I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Whitfield/Strong

    Quanta La Mera - Marti/Fernández


    Thoughts on Nigel Price’s “Wes Re Imagined”, 28 September 2022

    Nicole Prices's "Wes Reimagined", 28 September 2022

    We had to wait a whole month for this gig. It was hugely worth it, a wonderful gig.  We had Joel Barford powerful on drums, Ross Stanley world class on the Hammond B3, Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor and Nigel Price leading on guitar. They have been on tour for a while, so they are very tight together, but are still having a ton of fun with the music. It was mostly music by or loved by Wes Montgomery. So we had world class music played by stunning musicians having a great time.

    The gig was called “Wes Re Imagined”. Nigel had orchestrated versions of the music in different vibes from the originals. He is a very good presenter, and told us all about his ideas for each song. So why, I ask myself, did I bloody not write it all down?

     They began with an up-tempo “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”,  which got us right in the mood from the off. Jimmy Smith’s `’Mellow Mood” gave is a great view of what could be done on the B3. Who knew that Ross could play chords on the pedal board? What an amazing player. The first set ended with Montgomery’s “Leila”, beautiful.

    And of course, it got even better in the second set. Watching the accompaniment during the solos was such a treat. They knew each other, and they listened hard. They each came out with riffs that made their colleagues grin.

    Joel is a very young, very very talented player. His solos were pretty spectacular and powerful. In our small room, maybe he was a bit too powerful. 

    If you were not there, I am sad for you. But you have a chance to hear one of the greats on 12 October, when Antonio Forcione will be with us. Don’t miss it. 

    Take care,

    Dave

    Steve Jordan provided a set list.

    1. This Could Be The Start of Something Big (Steve Allen)
    2. Far Wes (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)
    3. Mellow Mood (Jimmy Smith) subsequently recorded by Dr Lonnie Smith on the album, Spiral
    4. Dreamsville (Henry Mancini)
    5. Leila (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. Wet and Dry (Nigel Price) part of the new melody is lifted from Ed Bickert’s solo on Come Rain or Come Shine by Arlen & Mercer
    2. Jingles (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery) played as a samba
    3. So Do It! (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)
    4. Movin’ Along (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery
    5. 10.Road Song (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)


    Thoughts on Zoe Schwarz’ Blue Commotion, 24 August 2022

    Steve Jordon wrote these thoughts.

    On Wednesday last, Zoe Schwarz brought her band, Blue Commotion, to Fleece Jazz. On guitar was Zoe’s long-standing musical partner and husband, Rob Koral.  On organ, we had the Fleece regular and audience favourite, Pete Whittaker and on drums the human powerhouse, Paul Robinson. 

    Before the gig, the music playlist made by our sound tech, Gerry, was playing what I thought to be the growling, other-worldly voice of Howlin’ Wolf singing ‘Spoonful’. I was wrong – it turned out to be a cover version by an artist doing a remarkably close impression of the great man’s voice.  Thankfully, we didn’t get any such treatment of blues standards from Zoe and the band; no deferential, paint-by-numbers versions of classic numbers.  What we did get were unique interpretations of some blues standards mixed in with a wealth of impressive songs penned by Zoe and Rob,  delivered with a crossover of styles, often within individual songs.

    The set began with Broken Heart Blues, a mid-tempo number featuring the fluid blues licks of Rob’s guitar, the warm organ grooves from Pete and the hard-driving beat of the drums from Paul. The tempo dropped to a sensual shuffling groove for the next number with Zoe stretching her vocal cords to deliver a throaty growl (think Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell).  Before the next song, Zoe explained that Rob was largely responsible for the music while she wrote the lyrics, but recently that division had become blurred.  So, no surprises then, that Rob had written My Handsome Man for Zoe to sing.  Peter Green’s I Need Your Love So Bad was the first cover and a good example of how there were to be no slavish attempts to copy the delivery of the original artist. This was a fine, tender interpretation from Zoe, replacing the wistful dread of Green’s voice with a more delicate yearning, the pain reflected in Rob’s keening guitar and Pete’s sensual organ breaks. Shades of the fragility and ache so characteristic of Billie Holliday’s voice are also heard from Zoe in I’ll Be Yours Tonight before the tempo picks up again with the rollicking Give Me The Key to Your Heart, driven by the drumming of Paul Robinson.  Rob Koral’s Heroes was a slow-burning, mournful blues ballad about missing a lover and beautifully executed by the whole band with each instrument bringing a pleading and yearning to the song’s story. The first set concluded with a famous blues standard: Willie Dixon’s I’m Ready, made famous by Muddy Waters, but here the tempo is faster, yet still with the defiance of the original.

    The rocking blues of I Can’t Live Like That opened the second set, an autobiographical account of the advice given to Zoe as she grew up to become a blues singer.  She sings the story with feeling and, once again, one is struck by her expressiveness, both in her voice and in her body as she moves around the stage.  Brook Benton’s beautiful ballad I’ll Take Care of You brought the tempo down and the heart-breaking lyrics were delivered with feeling.  Once again, the tempo is increased to full-pelt, almost countrified rocking with People, quickly followed by the song inspired by the birth of their daughter, Pebble In My Pond.  It is a brave move to attempt to re-work a classic from the treasured Billie Holliday, given her unique voice with its manipulation of phrasing and tempo, but Fine and Mellow was a highlight of the evening, not least because Zoe’s delivery brought a different interpretation to the song, a more positive and less resigned approach.  Say It Isn’t So was a more up-tempo number, once again showcasing Rob’s deft work on guitar and Pete’s gorgeous organ breaks. The smoky ballad, Don’t Hold Back and the heartfelt, up-tempo Thank You brought the evening to a close, thanking the audience for “coming all this way”. THANK YOU! ZOE and ROB for coming all the way from Poole in Dorset to play at our club and, of course, to Paul and Pete who I believe are slightly more local. But it didn’t end there and we got our much desired encore with Willie Dixon’s scorching I Can’t Quit You Baby, an old favourite of Zoe’s from listening to Led Zeppelin.  And I couldn’t hear a trace of Robert Plant’s histrionics in her delivery! Not that I would have minded.

    SETLIST

    1. Broken Heart Blues (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. If Only I Could Be With You (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. My Handsome Man (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. I Need Your Love So Bad (Peter Green)
    1. I Wonder Who My Next Man Will Be (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. I’ll Be Yours Tonight (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. Give Me The Key To Your Heart (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. Heroes (Koral/Hawker)
    1. My Baby Told Me So (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. 10.I’m Ready (Willie Dixon)

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    1. 11. I Can’t Live Like That (Koral/Schwarz)
    1. 12. I’ll Take Care of You (Brook Benton)
    1.   People  (Koral/Schwarz)
    1.   Pebble in My Pond (Koral/Schwarz)
    1.   Fine and Mellow (Billie Holliday)
    1.   Sat It Isn’t So (Koral/Schwarz)
    1.   Don’t Hold Back (Koral/Schwarz)
    1.   Thank You (Koral/Schwarz)

          ENCORE: I Can’t Quit You Baby (Willie Dixon)


    Thoughts on Jason Moran at Snape Maltings, 14 August 2022

    It is a rare thing for me to talk about a gig outside our own dear club, but this was something special.

    It was quite a day for us. Drive to Snape and spend the afternoon with a recital of a dozen fine young opera singers and their superb accompanists. They had just finished a week of intense master classes at Snape, and were quite marvellous. We were particularly impressed with the quality of the pianists: their pianism and partnership were very strong.

    Then a lovely dinner at the Plough and Sail, then rolling past the Kali at the Dome to the Maltings for the concert. The stage is set with the Steinway, a chair and four monster (but low level) blinders.

    The first thing did was tell us a bit about himself. He travelled quite young from his home in Texas to work with masters at one of the great NYC schools of music. Eight bars in the first song, and it is clear that he is technically a master. Quickly after that it is clear that his heart and musicality are also masterful. It was a stunning evening.

    When he said that he wrote music for The Martha Graham Company, some of his compositions came into even clearer focus. You could feel the movement in his playing.

    He also is interested in making the instrument sing in different ways. He said he felt the lowest register was neglected. To correct this, he played a song derived from the sound of a Dominican barber shop in NYC. He stood, used the bottom two notes, while fingering the length of the strings making the most amazing, often beautiful sounds while never losing the rhythm of the area. He had the lighting engineer add a slow blackout which intensifyied the experience. It was one of those events where the applause was delayed while the audience caught their breath.

    I wonder what he would make of the Bosendorfer with the extra 4 bass keys.

    And he played an incredible blues for Chicago pianists.

    Enough. Buy his records. It was a pity that it was far from a sell out evening.

    Take care,

    Dave


    Thoughts on The Horn Factory, 10 August 2022

    The Horn Factory was with us on Wednesday. Local they may be but they provided us with great music and fine solos. They choose as a band to play some very difficult and intricate arrangements, I guess because they are fun to work on. The important point is that they do them very well indeed.

    It was a big rig for us and for them, and it took a little while for them  to go from playing well to having fun.  What might have helped is discovering when I went to do the raffle that they were all in their seats waiting for me to announce the second set.  Well, they took it in good heart, and applauded and riffed every raffle winner

    Steve Jordan has annotated the programme running order, for which many thanks. There were very many fine solos, and he has mentioned some of them.

    Take care, 

    Dave

    ——————————————————

    1. Good News (Bob Mintzer)

    2. Queen Bee (Sammy Nestico) the composer was an arranger for Count Basie

    3. Fireshaker (Maynard Ferguson) featuring the trumpet section.

    4. Mueva Los Huesos (Gordon Goodwin)

    5. Blues Down Below (Jeff Steinberg) featuring Mike Tatt on bass guitar; Susannah West on baritone sax; Dave Charles on bass trombone

    6. Merlin (Paul Baker) quite a complex piece with many changes, rather like a suite.

    7. A Few Good Men(Gordon Goodwin) suggested as being a potential alternative them for Dads’ Army.

    8. Apollo’s Reel(Tim Molten) with undertones of celtic folk, for me the highpoint of the first set.

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    9. Manteca (Dizzy Gillespie) a wonderful salsa-like number from Diz

    10. Happy Faces (Sonny Stitt, arr. Quincy Jones) played in traditional Big Band style.

    11. Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk) featuring Gilly Burgoyne on alto sax.  A gorgeous rendition, a highlight of the gig.

    12. Dark Side of the Blues (Andrew Classen)

    13. Huntin’ Wabbits (Gordon Goodwin) surely a tribute to Elmer Fudd of Bugs Bunny fame 

    14. Strasbourg/St Denis (Roy Hargrove) featuring trumpet and flugel horn. Recorded on the album, Earfood, which is highly recommended

    15. Birdland (Joe Zawinul) recorded, of course, by the pioneering jazz fusion supergroup, Weather Report. Just because it was popular doesn’t mean it wasn’t good!

         ENCORE: Hard Sock Dance (Quincy Jones)


    Sad thoughts on “Bryan Corbett’s HiFly Quintet”, 13 July 2020

    We had been looking forward to this gig since 2020. We just lost it to the beginning of the first lockdown. This was the first opportunity to book them. I was going to make a video with full audio recording of this wonderful band. So many people, myself very much included, rank Bryan Corbett with the masters: Steve ranks him with Freddie Hubbard, and I agree.

    Then in the morning of the gig, a call from Bryan. There are health problems with two of the band. What to do? Well, with Bryan's permission, we tried valiantly to find two appropriate musicians, and almost made it. We and Bryan agreed that we had to cancel.

    I had to send a note to all of our email subscribers with the bad news. What was lovely was the many responses wishing the band members well. We do too. We will have this great band back as soon as we possibly can.

    Take care,

    Dave


    On Wednesday, 13th July 2022: Bryan Corbett’s Hi-Fly Quintet, £20.

    Bryan Corbett

    Bryan Corbett Trumpet/Flugel

    Chris Bowden Alto Sax

    Matt Ratcliffe Piano

    Tom Hill Bass

    Carl Hemmingsley Drums

    This outstanding quintet celebrate the year 1959 in jazz that saw the release of some of the most revered albums such as Miles Davis' 'Kind Of Blue’, Charles Mingus' ‘Mingus Ah Um’, Dave Brubeck's ‘Time Out’ and Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Shape Of Jazz To Come’ as well as ‘Blowing The Blues Away’ by Horace Silver amongst others by Benny Golson etc etc......

    As well as performing under his own name, Bryan Corbett has been performing with world renowned stars, a who's who in the jazz and commercial world. Bryan is not only a great performer of the jazz standards repertoire but an artist who pushes the boundaries writing and performing original works with his various line-ups. 'A warm brilliant tone and formidable technique' (the Independent). 

    My favourite quote: “Bryan is one of the chosen few. Class, pure class, plays from the heart, every note has a reason to live. Truly someone who can sing through his instrument.”{Andy Taylor, who makes Bryan’s trumpets).

    Saxophonist Chris Bowden works as an arranger and performer with a highly individual style. He first came to prominence with his 1996 funk/acid/Latin-jazz album ‘Time Capsule’.  Matt Ratcliffe has performed with a wide range of jazz musicians in clubs and festivals across the U.K. 

     


    On Tuesday, 27th December 2022: Alan Barnes’ Octet plays Copperfield: A Dickensian Jazz Suite £25

    Alan Barnes' Octet plays Copperfield: A Dickensian Jazz Suite

    Alan Barnes Saxophones, clarinets and raconteur

    Bruce Adams Trumpet

    Mark Nightingale Trombone

    Robert Fowler Saxophones and clarinet

    Karen Sharp Saxophones and clarinet

    David Newton Piano

    Simon Thorpe Double Bass

    Clark Tracey Drums

    "Like the Dickens classic itself, Alan Barnes’ “Copperfield” has something for everyone. A great night out that is also a treat for the jazz connoisseur; it will delight anyone who loves music or literature – or just being entertained!"

    - Review of a performance at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho

    This new set takes the audience through the characters and scenes of ‘David Copperfield', told in Alan Barnes' own inimitable style with his charismatic, engaging humour.  After each sketch, eight virtuoso musicians bring the characters and scenes to life, switching audiences from hilarity to pathos with a skill that would have done credit to Dickens himself!

    Alan Barnes is one of our greatest jazz musicians, winning many awards, playing clarinet, alto & baritone saxophones, both in smaller intimate jazz clubs and on larger concert hall stages with equal creativity, all with his unique and warm style of presentation rich in anecdotal humour. He is also an outstanding music writer and arranger, with two previous, brilliant jazz suites playing to packed houses in the EFG London Jazz Festival. Tonight he is joined by an outstanding  ensemble of highly- awarded British Jazz greats.

    "Barnes is a true Dickensian. He is a serious reader of the novels. It is a clear blunder of providence that he was born too late to appear in their pages!”

    - Hot News

     


    On Wednesday, 7th December 2022: Derek Nash’s Acoustic Quartet £22.

    Derek Nash's Acoustic Quartet

    Derek Nash Saxes

    David Newton Piano

    Geoff Gascoyne Double Bass

    Sebastiaan De Krom Drums

    “From smooth cool to groovy funk, to ingeniously recast standards, to one quite gorgeous ballad, the music fizzes with energy, even at its most restrained.”

    - The Guardian 5* review of 'You’ve got to Dig It to Dig It, You Dig?' by the Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet

    Performing original compositions and unique arrangements of jazz classics, this quartet features some of the best exponents of jazz in the UK whose work together has encompassed Jamie Cullum and Michel Legrand.

    Derek Nash is a featured soloist with the Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra; leader of the British Jazz award-winning Sax Appeal and also co-leader of funk/fusion band Protect the Beat. Derek is a master of all saxes from soprano to baritone and is renowned for his energetic, vibrant, passionate and charismatic performances.

    Dave Newton was voted best Jazz Pianist in the British Jazz Awards for the thirteenth time in 2014. He has been the pianist of choice for many female vocalists including Annie Ross, Marion Montgomery, Tina May and Claire Martin. Becoming a professor at Leeds College of Music in 2016, Dave is the epitome of melodic, swinging piano.

    Geoff Gascoyne's reputation in the business is sky high as a player, producer and composer. The plaudits come from a huge range of top musicians. Here is one from Jamie Cullum: “Geoff is uniquely accomplished and experienced across all aspects of music making. It is rare to find such abilities all in a single musician. He was a massive part of my success - as an arranger, producer, musician, bandleader, collaborator, songwriter and as a killing bass player.”

    Sebastiaan de Krom is a maestro of effortless swing. He has played for many years with Jamie Cullum, appearing on his multi-gold selling albums and touring the world for several years. He has also worked with Guy Barker, Gene Harris, Kurt Elling and Michel Legrand. He, too, is a professor at Leeds College of Music.

    "To get some idea of the sheer breadth of his accomplishment as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader, you should hear this.”

    - The Guardian 5* review of 'You’ve got to Dig It to Dig It, You Dig?' by the Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet

     


    On Wednesday, 14th December, Glen Manby’s “Homecoming” – £18

    Glen Manby's "Homecoming"

    Glen Manby Alto Sax

    Steve Waterman Trumpet/Flugel

    Leon Greening Piano

    Jeremy Brown Double Bass

    Joe Dessaeur Drums

    “This well-balanced and finely integrated quintet speaks bebop fluently….their cohesion and familiarity with some clean, unfussy and elegant arrangements is remarkable" - Jazz Journal  

    In 2015 Glen Manby was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Project Grant to compose, arrange and record a new repertoire with his recently-formed quintet. It was recorded with Steve Waterman, Leon Greening and Matt Home (we have Joe Dessaeur for our gig) with Adam King on bass (we have Jeremy Brown for our gig). The resulting CD, "Homecoming", is available on the Mainstem jazz label, but we will have the great pleasure of hearing it live.

    Here is part of a review of the CD by Dave Gelly of the Observer, headed “Glen Manby Quintet: Homecoming review – stylish hard bop ****”

    "Jazz is constantly throwing up new genres and forms, but hard bop continues to outlive them all. Perhaps because it is technically demanding, it seems to attract more than its fair share of talented musicians too. Alto saxophonist Glen Manby is a case in point. Fully at home in the idiom, with a polished technique and mature tone, he’s an eloquent player. Normally based in Cardiff, he appears here with four of Britain’s A-team: trumpeter Steve Waterman, pianist Leon Greening, bassist Adam King and drummer Matt Home. Most of the tunes are Manby originals, plus pieces by Wayne Shorter, Quincy Jones et al. All round, it’s a stylish session, with a good variety of mood and tempo." 

    " Hard bop lives and is in no better hands than the Glen Manby Quintet" - London Jazz News 

    "...this is British jazz at its best" - The Jazz Rag 


    On Wednesday, 23rd November – Art Themen Trio £18

    Art Themen Trio - Dizzy Moods

    Art Themen Saxophone

    Pete Whittaker Organ

    George Double Drums

    "A first-rate trio..an excellent set..Themen is one of the very few totally original, utterly engaging jazz musicians around"  -  ****           Dave Gelly - THE OBSERVER

    What we have here is a first-rate trio playing jazz standards by such greats as Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Cannonball Adderley.  Art Themen is one of the very few totally original, and at the same time utterly engaging jazz musicians around.

    Usually, even with the best, you have some idea of where the improvisation is going, some route from A to B, but Themen will pile up ideas, apparently at random, maybe with the odd outlandish quotation for good measure, and when he's finished, it all seems to have made sense.

    The wonderful organist Pete Whittaker and the superb George Double on drums complete the trio.

    "Themen, a veteran master now, in such eloquent form" -  ****         Peter Vacher - JAZZWISE 

    "Boistrous and inventive as ever..funky and swinging" - HI FI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW

    In any other country he'd be regarded as a national treasure" - Leonard Weinrich - LONDON JAZZ NEWS

    ...

     


    On Wednesday, 2nd November 2022: Pete Oxley’s “Flight of Hand”, £20.

    On Wednesday, 2nd November 2022:                        Pete Oxley's "Flight of Hand", £20.

    Pete Oxley Guitars

    David Gordon Piano

    Oli Hayhurst Bass

    Paul Cavaciuti Drums

    This is a new group, made up of four highly experienced players, who are familiar to audiences all over the UK and internationally. Fronted by the hugely creative and inventive pianist, David Gordon, and master of the jazz guitar, Pete Oxley, the band will perform “hugely engaging, melodic, groove-driven works" by these two masterly jazz composers. (Both Pete and David are two of only a handful of British composers to have their tunes included in the ‘European Real Book’). In addition to their originals, expect works by such contemporary jazz composers as Michael Brecker, Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, etc..

    David’s musical career has been - and continues to be - hugely versatile, ranging from performing harpsichord with The English Concert to touring the world with the gypsy-tango band, Zum. Pete Oxley began his gigging career during his ten years living in Paris. On his return to the UK, he founded The Spin Jazz Club in Oxford and has been the house guitarist there. He currently tours extensively with the Swiss guitar virtuoso, Nicolas Meier.

    The rhythm section will be well known to a jazz audience: Oli Hayhurst has worked with just about the entire UK jazz glitterati in addition to numerous international A-listers, such as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pharoah Sanders. Paul Cavaciuti is an in-demand drummer, known for his outstanding musical empathy with the musicians that he works with.

    The Independent on Sunday described David Gordon as "a richly gifted player with a sparkling style and boundless imagination".

    Jane Cornwell (Evening Standard) reviewing the Oxley-Meier album 'Chasing Tales': "The array of changing sounds, moods and textures they create is gorgeous, fascinating and apparently endless. If you love music of any kind you’ll probably fall for this."

    A night of super-appealing, lush and groovesome music is assured!

    Paul was ill, and we wish him a quick recovery. We had Tom Hooper on drums, and he was excellent.

     


    On Wednesday, 26th October 2022: “Dexterity”: The Music of Dexter Gordon £18.

    "Dexterity": The Music of Dexter Gordon

    Vasilis Xenopoulos Tenor Sax

    Ross Stanley Piano

    Simon Thorpe Double Bass

    Steve Brown Drums

    “I loved his playing before lockdown, but now he’s even more confident, bursting with enthusiasm and much, much stronger – he really holds the stage. Without doubt a 5 star evening!”

    – Trevor Bannister, The Jazz Mann

    Dexter Gordon was a true colossus of 6’ 6” whose stature as a tenor saxophonist and composer matched his massive frame; a sharp sense of outfitting, a smart choice of hats and an engaging personality completed his persona as the ‘cool hipster’.  He emerged as an important and influential soloist in the Bebop revolution of the late-1940s.  After a period in the 1950s when his promise was decimated by narcotics and Dexter spent most of his time in various ‘places of correction’, the 1960s saw his renaissance and a return to the recording studio for the Blue Note and Prestige labels. He made his home in Europe for fourteen years, before returning to the US.  He died fourteen years later leaving an indelible impression on those fortunate enough to hear him play in person and countless more who discovered his music from his vast legacy of recordings.

    Vasilis Xenopoulos was one such young musician who fell under Dexter’s spell, saving his hard-earned pocket money to buy the precious albums that would influence his playing. He has made a significant reputation for himself on the international jazz scene, forming partnerships that have stood the test of time.

    Acknowledging Gordon as one of his early influences, Vasilis in no way attempts to emulate his hero but plays Dexter's music in a totally convincing manner that is at once a fitting tribute and also hard bop not of the fifties but brought right up to date. For this latest project, he retains the services of bassist Simon Thorpe and Steve Brown on drums from XPQ with the addition of the wonderful Ross Stanley on piano.

    “All-in-all, this is top-notch hard bop played with authority, authenticity and conviction.  The desire to communicate with the audience is clearly in the mind of all concerned.”

    - Jazz Views

     


    On Wednesday, 12 October, Antonio Forcione – £25

    Antonio Forcione

    Antonio Forcione Guitars

    From the first moment Antonio walks on stage to rapturous applause, a humble smile on his face, guitar in hand, you know you are in the presence of a true artist and are in for an evening with a touch of magic. And as the first deep, warm, intense notes float through the auditorium, you can hear a pin drop and feel the sonic spell of his guitar weaving through the room. As one critic put it “Imagine an Italian hybrid of Michael Hedges, John McLaughlin and Django Reinhardt ... ferocious, rampaging, controlled power, meticulous precision and clarity of expression ... astonishing musical personality” 

    Antonio’s impressive 21 albums and extensive international tours in festivals and theatres - both as a solo artist, in duo and with his acoustic quartet – have brought high critical acclaim from as far as Australia and Hong Kong to the Caribbean, Russia and all over Europe. He has the ‘hands of a tarantula and the heart of a lion', as another critic so expressively phrased it!



    On Wednesday, 28 September, Nigel Price’s “Wes Re Imagined” – £18

    Nigel Price, Vasilis Xenopoulos, Ross Stanley, Joel Bartlett

    Nigel Price Guitar

    Vasilis Xenopoulos Tenor sax

    Ross Stanley Organ

    Joel Barford Drums

    "Wes Montgomery guitar fans need look no further than the UK’s Nigel Price on Wes Reimagined (Ubuntu) – respectful in catching Montgomery’s warmth, but also the work of a thoroughly contemporary enthusiast." -John Fordham -

    Some 54 years after Wes Montgomery passed, his music and playing still inspire musicians and listeners. Wes' music puts a smile on faces with its blend of bebop and blues. The music is sometimes simple, full of interest and always accessible.

    The band is a delight. Over a career spanning more than 25 years, award-winning jazz guitarist Nigel Price has become widely acknowledged as one of the hardest working musicians in the business. Musically, his blend of flowing bebop lines, deep blues sensibility and his mastery of chording continue to delight audiences and fellow musicians alike.

    This band is a celebration of Montgomery: they are not a tribute band. There is room for every one of these top drawer musicians to solo and shine, honouring, not copying Montgomery.

    “When the players are Vasilis Xenopoulos and Nigel Price…..the outcome is downright irresistible" - The Guardian ★★★★

    How many Hammond endorsees do we ever get to hear. Ross Stanley is an amazing organist. We are delighted to welcome Joel Barford to Fleece Jazz.


    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 Jazz Messenger between 1961 - 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)

    *          *          *           *         *        *        *

    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.


    On Wednesday, 8th June 2022: Sara Oschlag/Jonny Hepbir Quartet, £18

    Sara Oschlag Vocals

    Jonny Hepbir Guitar

    Jason Henson Guitar

    Dan Sheppard Bass

    Sara has a beautiful voice, a natural musician’s ear and a superb sense of swing. Jim Mullen says of her, “She displays a maturity beyond her years in her song selection as well as her interpretation and whether swinging hard or caressing a ballad, Sara takes the listener on a journey, breathing new life into the old standards”.

    She says, “Being a musician is teamwork. You gotta listen to each other & support each other musically: be the foundation, guide or give space. But always listen & look around. Without communication there is no jazz. “ And she has a very fine team.

    A quote about the band: “”you guys are good... really good!" (Sir Paul McCartney). 

    The band offers a vibrant blend of Gypsy Swing, funky Latin tunes and cool Jazz Standards, spanning across the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, all mashed up with some snappy arrangements and played from the heart.

     


    On Wednesday, May 11th, 8:00pm – The Gaz Messengers, £20

    Gaz Hughes Drums and Bandleader

    Alan Barnes Saxes

    Bruce Adams Trumpet

    Andrzej Baranek  Piano

    Ed Harrison Bass

    Tonight, drummer Gaz Hughes will honour the music of one of the true jazz drumming greats in a glorious quintet with Alan Barnes on saxes, Bruce Adams on trumpet,  Andrzej Baranek  on piano and Ed Harrison on bass. The art of ‘Jazz Messenger’ Art Blakey (1919–1990) – described by fellow drummer Max Roach as ‘Thunder’ – is captured superbly by Hughes.

    The feel-good factor is there: this band’s easier-swinging interpretation is refreshing, with Bruce Adams’ piercing trumpet improv a stand-out. The entire ensemble sparkles as one; and whilst classic jazz numbers are just that, it will be great to hear them portrayed by today’s players and with their depth and clarity.


    On Wednesday, 25th May 2022 – John Law’s Re Creations, £18

    John Law Piano

    Sam Crockatt Saxes

    Hendrik Jensen Bass

    Alex Goodyear Drums

    “. . . so full of joy that it can renew your faith not just in jazz, but in music itself”

    - Independent on Sunday

    A prize-winning classical prodigy on piano, John turned away from classical piano studies to pursue jazz and improvised music when he was 23, and has been involved in, and acclaimed for, a wide variety of contemporary jazz and classical projects ever since - from solo piano concerts and albums, trio and quartet tours and recordings, to large scale works for his semi-classical ensemble Cornucopia.

    Formed in 2016, as a counterfoil to pianist John Law's group Congregation (which mixed contemporary jazz with electronic sounds and backing tracks), Re-Creations began life as a fun project, with the aim of playing many different tunes from different musical genres. The fact that audiences almost always knew the songs, meant the group’s material was at the same time very accessible.

    This quartet's repertoire includes jazz classics by Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and George Gershwin, plus tunes from pop/rock/indie bands such as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Radiohead. Gradually, classical pieces have started appearing in the repertoire, including a version of the Kyrie from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle and Satie’s Gymnopédie.

    "Melodic contemporary jazz with a strong rhythmic pulse and some strikingly memorable and original tunes”

    –  Sandy Brown Jazz

     


    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,

    Dave


    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,

    Dave

      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

    Dave

      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) 

    On Wednesday, 3 January 2022 – DaVES QUARTET

    Dave Lyons Saxes

    Maciek Pysz Marimba

    Dave Jones Bass

    Stee Jordan 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


    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

    Dave


    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,

    Dave


    Thoughts on Art Themen Trio – 24 November 2021

    [caption id="attachment_1351" align="aligncenter" width="451"]Art Themen Trio, 24 November 2021 A brilliant gig at Fleece Jazz[/caption]

    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.

    Take care,

    Dave


    On Wednesday, April 27, 8:00pm – Julian Costello Quartet “Connections” £18

    Julian Costello Saxes

    David Beebee Piano

    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


    On Wednesday, March 9, 8:00pm – UNIVERSAL CONNECTION, £18

    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


    On Wednesday, February 9, 8:00pm – Nighthawks presents Jazz from the Movies £18

    Matt Wates Sax

    Roy Hilton Piano

    George Trebar Bass and Leader

    Pete Hill Drums

    Says leader George Trebar:

    “Nighthawks is my latest project featuring the talents of Matt Wates on Alto, Roy Hilton on Piano and Pete Hill on drums. I feel very privileged to work with these superb musicians who between them cover a vast range and set of experiences performing, composing and arranging. Matt is a multiple Jazz Award winner on Alto, Roy has played piano for Sonny Stitt and Buddy Greco and Pete is the drummer for Alfa Mist.

    This band explores Film music within a classic Jazz Quartet from the music of Michel Legrand to Burt Bacharach and Elmer Bernstein from films such as Butch Cassidy, Taxi Driver and Thomas Crown affair, with arrangements by myself. We also perform our own compositions and an eclectic mix from the Jazz canon. ”


    Thoughts on Alina Bzhezhinska’s Hip Harp – 12 November 2021

    This was a marvellous gig. But first the scene needs setting.

    Visualise our stage from your left to right. You will first see Joel Prime with his extensive percussion kit. Joel played a duo with Alina the last time she was with us. Then Alina Bzhezhinska behind a concert harp, sitting so you could just see her feet on the pedals. Behind her and a little to the right electric bassist Mikele Montolli stood. To the right of Alina, Jay Phelps played his trumpet on most of the tunes. On the far right (not that far, not a very big stage) drummer Adam Teixeira held court. We had stereo percussion.

    We started off with “Soul Vibrations” (I think by Sun Ra), with the quartet. This was a lovely blast of a sg, with a strong third beat that had us into the band in  4 bars. There were duos between Alina and the two percussionists, reminiscent of her first gig with us where she played to amazing sets with Joel, as the other musicians were blocked in traffic.

    Alina’s “For Carol” was next up, with Jay using his Harmon mute. We haven’t seen Jay in too long, and I had forgotten how good he is.

    The set finished with “Los Cabballos“ (the horses) by Carlos Chávez. Can music be onomatopoeic? You could hear the horses throughout the song. 

    Here I am looking for highlights of a top class evening, when every song had something to say. Everyone had solos and they were all grand. We finished with “Action Line”, (Ray Davies?).Both Alina’s and Jay’s solos were memorable. Please can this group come to us again so that a much larger audience will see them outside of the London Jazz Festival.

    On Wednesday the 24th of November, the legend that is Art Themen will  be with us, Art on tenor, Steve Whittaker on Hammond and George Double on drums. Do join  us.

    Take care,

    Dave 


    On Wednesday, April 13, 8:00pm Elaine Delmar and her Trio – £22

    Elaine Delmar Vocals

    Barry Green Piano

    Simon Thorpe Bass

    Bobby Worth Drums

    Let others speak for the wonderful Elaine Delmar:

    “Ageless, evergreen singing...as beautiful and talented as ever...she's marvellous!” - Michael Parkinson 

    Her style is a mixture of Broadway musical punch and jazz-inflected subtlety. She has the belting defiance of a torch singer at times and the knowing raised eyebrow rasp of a blues artist, but also a hushed, confiding intimacy where it is appropriate, it is a blend that invites the widest possible audience. - John Fordham, The Guardian

    and

    “★ ★ ★ ★ The pianist Barry Green has self-produced a handful of enterprising recordings for his Moletone label that are testament of a song melody-driven contemporary post-bop manifesto.” - Jazzwise

    “Simon Thorpe is one of the UK's best-known jazz bassists. He was nominated in 2016 and again in 2017 for a British Jazz Award, and is a firm Fleece Jazz favourite” - Dave

    “Bobby Worth is drummer to the stars” - Dave


    On Wednesday, February 23, 8:00pm Simon Thorpe’s “Jivin’ Miss Daisy” – £25

    Simon Thorpe Bass and Bandleader

    Liz Fletcher Vocals

    George Hogg (dep for Enrico Tomasso) Trumpet

    Malcolm Earl Smith Trombone and Vocals

    Luke Annesley Saxes and Clarinet

    Alex Garnett  Saxes and Vocals

    Colin Oxley Guitar

    John Pearce Piano

    Matt Skelton Drums..   

    Jivin' Miss Daisy is an amazing band with lots of energy and the best songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and many many more from the wonderful age of swing, jazz and jive.

    Bass player Simon Thorpe established Jivin' Miss Daisy in 1999.  Since then the band has gone from strength to strength . You can be sure Jivin' Miss Daisy will have the audience dancing, partying or just singing along. JMD play your choice of classic songs from Gershwin, Cole Porter and Ellington through to Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

    What an amazing lineup! Nine superb musicians that we know well and love, ready to jive you with pleasure.

    “Cheery vocals...good-time feeling...strong soloists...this band should put smiles on plenty of faces!” - Jazz UK Magazine


    On Wednesday, January 26, 8:00pm John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits Trio” – £18

    John Etheridghe, Pete Whittaker and George Double

    John Etheridge Guitars

    Pete Whittaker Organ

    George Double Drums

    John’s trio includes Pete Whittaker on organ, and George Double on drums, and John on a plethora of guitars. Blue Spirit came about through John’s love of the perennially attractive combination of Electric Guitar and Organ. Blue Spirits have a take on this well known combination in a way that connects with the bluesy, intense side of John’s playing .There are plenty of typical swing elements, augmented by soulful ballads and fiery funk outings. The aim is to groove and move! This band has been popular on the club circuit for many years and always delivers.

    John’s history includes playing with Grapelli, heading Zapatistas, duos with John Williams, and his own bands. As well as  a world class player, he is a classy raconteur. 

    Pete is a piano player who migrated to Hammond organ after hearing the classic 1950s &60s Jimmy Smith records. He is a Hammond star.

    George's playing and recording credits include Dame Shirley Bassey, Grammy Award Winner Jack Jones, Marc Almond, Mica Paris, Ruthie Henshall and Kym Mazelle. His West End and touring theatre record includes stints on Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Avenue Q, Sinatra and Anything Goes.


    On Wednesday, January 12, 8:00pm Sara Dowling: “The Jazz of Judy Garland” – £20

    Sara Dowling Vocals

    Chris Ingham Piano

    Dario De Lecce Bass

    George Double Drums

    “Her voice has all the qualities that you find in the great singers” - Guy Barker

    “How soon before it will become normal to think about her as one of the best jazz singers this country has? “ - Sebastian Scotney – London Jazz News

    “Rarely does a jazz singer grace our scene with such breathtaking authenticity and natural flair. Dowling is this thing” - Ian Shaw

    We travel back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, with songs like Get Happy and Puttin' on the Ritz from musicals like Meet Me in St Louis, The Harvey Girls, A Star is Born and more.

    Sara is now recognised as one of the UK’s leading jazz vocalists. Her distinctive voice owes much to her Irish father and Lebanese mother, surrounded by the records of her father’s jazz collection and the chant like voices of Lebanese singers.

    Voted ‘Best Singer’ – British Jazz Awards 

    The Chris Ingham Trio is welcome back  to our stage. Chris, Dario and George have given us many a delightful gig.


    Thoughts on Hexagonal – 27 October 2021

    Thoughts on  Hexagonal , 29 October 2021

    Three superb horn players were with us on Wednesday. Hexagonal’s music involves complex rhythms, often different for each horn. Their timing and intensity was, to my ears, perfect. The sound was really exciting. We had Greg Heath on Tenor and Soprano,  Jason Yarde on Alto and Baritone, and Graeme Flowers on Trumpet and Flugel. Greg was the band’s announcer.

    John Donaldson arranged the music for the band. He is a formidable pianist. It was great to have bassist Matt Ridley back. Drummer Tristan Banks got caught in traffic and people glueing themselves to roads, so he arrived after the sound check so he didn’t have a chance to set his levels. All three of these guys were a delight to hear. 

    The music was amazing, very exciting, varied and often fun. This is what you would expect, I suppose, as it was all related to two great musicians and composers, McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku. I had the pleasure of hearing McCoy in New York a few years ago and the power was overwhelming. They opened with  Tyner’s “Walk Spirit Talk Spirit”. You were hit by just the horns and a surprising and wonderful vibe before the rhythm section came in to support it. Beautiful solos all round.

    Mseleku’s lovely ballad, “My Passion” gave John a  chance to display delicacy and intensity at the same time. Again the solos were captivating.

    Just one more. Jason Yarde told us about his “Hill Climbing on the Tyner side”. He had two different compositions played simultaneously, great fun to listen to.

    Lovely gig. Greatly looking forward to Alina in two weeks time.

    Take care,

    Dave

    Thoughts on The Clark Tracey Sextet, 25 September 2021

    One of the odd things about jazz is that often, the more deps the better. Quentin Collins (trumpet and flugelhorn) was hired for the band in time for his name to be published. Trombonist James Wade Sired  and pianist Matt Carter were the reps on the night. Tom Ridout on alto and tenor saxes and recorder, James Owston on bass and of course, Clark Tracey on drums were on the original list. So you might expect their rehearsal and soundcheck to be interesting. 

    It was: interesting and fun, and intense and jolly. And it led to a really great gig. 

    Clark has got to be one of our very top drummers (as well his great arranging and composing). His soloing is beautiful, often melodic, always fresh and varied. He is a superb accompanist, which was his primary role for this band. There was one spectacular solo in the last number, Blakey’s “New World”. Much of the music was from the standard repertoire. There were a couple of Clark’s. He apologised for the pun in his “Mark Nightingale Sings”. We had a section from Stan Tracey’s “Devil’s Acre”. 

    Tpm Ridout supplied us with a starry production of his “Vega”, There was something very special in the first set when the and played a Welsh “Lament”, with Tom on recorder. The rhythms were complex, the band weaving through the central recorder voice. It was just so beautiful. 

    The first sound we heard was the horn chorus from Quentin, Tom and James D.R, on the up-beat “One by One” by Wayne Shorter. I am sure of the title and composer because Clark is one of the few leaders that tells his audience what and who by. Thank you.

    So for the rest of the evening, we were spellbound by what we heard. The tone and improvisational complexity of Quentin’s playing, whether on trumpet or flugel, James Darcy Sired’s  fine trombone playing, and James Owston’s speed, musicality and movement on bass. As an improvising accompanist and as a soloist, Matt Carter was excellent.

    As the happy audience went home, I noted that Clark will be back with us for our Christmas gig. Hoorah, and hoorah again if any of these musicians were to grace our stage again.

    Take care,

    Dave


    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


    On Wednesday, 22 December 2021: The Alan Barnes Sextet; Ellington/Strayhorn Revisited – £25

    Allan barnes,, Ellington and Strayhorn

    Alan Barnes Saxophone,

    Robert Fowler Saxophone,

    Karen Sharp Saxophone,

    David Newton Piano,

    Simon Thorpe Bass,

    Clark Tracey Drums

    Alan Barnes is a prolific international performer, composer, arranger, bandleader and touring soloist.  He is best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone sax, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with a musical expression and collaborative spirit that have few peers. As a raconteur he has no jazz peer.

    His range and brilliance have made him a “first call” for studio and live work since his precocious arrival on the scene more than thirty years ago.

    We will be treated to a Christmas reprise of his brilliant Ellington/Strayhorn album.


    On Wednesday, November 24, 8:00pm The Art Themen Trio – £16

    Art Themen Trio picture of Art

    Art Themen Saxophone,

    Pete Whittaker Hammond Organ,

    George Double Drums

    We are delighted to have three of our favourite musicians with us. Art Themen's Wikipedia page chronicles his illustrious jazz career. We love his tone, musicality and joy in playing.

    Pete Whittaker is organist for the best. The Hammond B3 beast he brings is in itself a marvel.

    "George Double’s fine and delicate drumwork offering a shimmering background"  LONDON JAZZ NEWS.


    On Wednesday, November 10, 8:00pm Alina Bzhezhinska’s Hip Harp – £18

    Alina Bzhezhinska's Hip Harp

    Alina Bzhezhinska Harp,

    Jay Phelps Trumpet,

    Mikele Montolli Bass,

    Adam Teixeira Drums,

    Joel Prime Percussion

    “Alina Bzhezhinska… throws a spellbinding party to awaken the senses” - London Jazz News

    "…Bzhezhinska shares with Alice (Coltrane) a mastery of the jazz harp.” ★★★★★, The Times

    Alina Bzhezhinska is one of the most exciting and dynamic harpists based in the UK. Her imaginative programmes have established her reputation as a harpist of exceptional accomplishment. She has had the honour of playing at European Parliament, at the Queen’s 80th-birthday celebrations at Balmoral Castle and at the King of Thailand’s birthday celebrations in Bangkok.

    Jay, Mikele, Adam and Joel are outstanding players in their own right.


    On Wednesday, October 27, 8:00pm Hexagonal – £20

    The Hexagonal Sextet

    Greg Heath Tenor Sax,

    Jason Yarde Alto Sax,

    Graeme Flowers Trumpet,

    John Donaldson Piano,

    Matt Ridley Bass,

    Tristan Banks Drums

    This high energy sextet, with African and Jazz influences, was formed in late 2016, to perform the music of two titans of Jazz – Bheki Mseleku and McCoy Tyner.  It was an ambition born of love and experience; Simon Thorpe (the original bassist) and John toured with Bheki while Jason worked with McCoy.  These associations bring an authority and authenticity to the group’s music as well as having a strong influence on their original material.

    Since the bands inception it has released its critically acclaimed debut album McCoy and Mseleku and has played to enthusiastic audiences at club and festival appearances including  Love Supreme, Scarborough, and Herts festivals as well as concert recordings for BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Now and in session for Radio 3’s J-Z.


    On Wednesday, September 22: The Clark Tracey Sextet – £20

    Quentin Collins Trumpet,

    Tom Ridout Reeds,

    Daniel Higham Trombone,

    James Owston Bass,

    Will Barry Piano

    Clark Tracey Drums

    In his 42 years in the business of jazz, Clark Tracey has shown excellence and garnered awards in many guises: drummer, composer, leader, teacher for a start. He fosters great young talent in his groups. For us he is leading a stunning sextet, with himself as leader and drummer who brings great music and joy whenever he visits us.

    Mark Armstrong is a trumpeter, composer and educator. He is artistic director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Tom Ridout is a young reed player of whom Selwyn Harris of Jazzwise has said, “fiery, focussed soloing by impressive tenor saxophonist”.

    Daniel Higham is the lead trombonist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and has his own quartet. On piano will be Will Barry, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2016. He is part of numerous projects internationally, most prominently touring with Phronesis bassist Jasper Høiby. In 2015, electric bassist James Owston took up the double bass and joined the jazz course at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He is currently in his fourth and final year, studying with Arnie Somogyi and Mark Hodgson.


    On Wednesday August 25, 8pm: £18 The David Newton Trio

    Dave Newton Piano,
    Adam King Bass,
    Steve Brown Drums

    David Newton is a ten times winner of the British Jazz Awards, and our Honorary President. Adam and Steve are stars in their own right. These three friends of Fleece Jazz are the epitome of the jazz trio. They imbue standards and originals with depth, clarity and joy. Don't miss them.


    On Wednesday: August 11, 8pm: £18 – A Portrait of Cannonball

    Tony Kofi Saxes,
    Byron Wallen Trumpet,
    Alex Webb Piano,
    Andrew Cleyndert Bass,
    Alfonso Vitale Drums

    “Tony Kofi’s full-bodied sound, clear articulation and committed attack carry the immediacy and impact of the established masters of the jazz saxophone...his improvisations.....tell stories and have emotional purpose”Financial Times;
    “There is so much respect in jazz circles for Tony Kofi” Jazzwise; “Wallen proved himself as engaging a showman as he is brilliant trumpeter, composer and bandleader” Jazz Views


    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".

    Babelfish – 10 January 2020

    “Babelfish Brigitte Beraha is an explorer, an improviser, a singer who thinks deeply about the lyrics. She sang for us on Friday backed by a superb trio. On stage were Brigitte Beraha on vocals, Barry Green on piano, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis. The programme was very well balanced, with songs by Brigitte and Barry, some standards, and a few surprises. Aaron Copland's composition of Emily Dickenson's poem "Heart, We Will Forget Him" was turned into a lovely, sad jazz ballad, which somehow segued naturally into "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (Harry Carroll composer, Joseph McCarthy lyricist). But a bigger surprise was a song that Brigitte considers the most beautiful one ever written. It was written in the late 1600s by Henry Purcell. It is "Dido's Lament" from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas". The band began and ended with a close and beautifully played and sung rendition of the Purcell, but the central part of the song was filled with quite amazing cross improvisations by the whole band. Brigitte sang the verse as well as the chorises of Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You". I love singers that sing the verse. Brigitte scats a lot, but varies the articulations to suit the songs, as in this one. I love what they did with Jobim's "Wave". Paul plays the most expressive tambourine. Barry had a stunning solo. Paul and Brigitte had a fascinating duet. Chris' solo was superb. It was a very good night, Next week a 12 piece band, "Pavillon", led by French horn player Jim Rattigan. The band features saxophonists Martin Speake on alto, Andy Panayi on tenor and Mick Foster on baritone, Percy Pursglove, Robbie Robson and Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Mark Nightingale and Sarah Williamson on trombone, pianist Hans Koller, double bassist Dave Whitford and Martin France on drums. It will be a great evening. Don't miss it. Take care, Dave

    Ian Shaw with Barry Green – 3 January 2020

    “Ian After Friday's gig, I was wondering about why I loved the gig so much, just one voice and pianist, But what a voice, what a pianist! Ian Shaw's basic instrument is excellent. It is what he does with it that is so amazing. He has complete control of timbre, intonation, enunciation, dynamics, phrasing, and probably a bunch more components of voice that I don't know about. More important is how he uses that control. He is an improvising singer, and his flights of improvisation make the words have more meaning. Barry Green says he is working on "the right number of notes" (as Stan Tracey said), Without a pile of virtuosity, which I know he has, the phrasing and dynamics need to be perfect in the moment as he hears Ian sing, and they are. He gave us many thoughtful solos. That's right, Ian, don't tell the sound guy about a special guest. Hannah Horton played sax on the seventh tune of the first set, and again in the second set, and her tenor sounded just fine unamplified. Ian had constructed a delightfully varied and meaningful programme, and his presentation of the music was often great fun, and always interesting. I loved it when he sang so beautifully the rarely heard verse of Richard Rogers' "With a Song in My Heart". "September in the Rain" (Harry Warren composer, Al Dubin lyricist) gave us a chance to hear some wonderful extended scatting in this up tempo version of the song. Barry's accompaniment on Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" was sparse, with lovely phrasing, each note placed just right. His solo on Jack Segal's "I Keep Going Back to Joe's", one of my favourite songs, was wonderful. Leonard Cohen started as a poet, and wrote some novels, so it is not a surprise that he was a consummate lyricist. "Dance Me to the End of Love" was extra special, in a very special evening. Ian gave the words such meaning, through the whole range of his voice. Barry's accompaniment and solo were sublime. Next week, 10 January, Babelfish returns, Brigitte Beraha vocals, Barry Green back again on piano, Chris Laurence bass, Paul Clarvis drums/percussion. Ian Mann says of Brigitte, "One of the most adventurous young vocalists around, a musical explorer..". Take care, Dave

    Kevin Flanagan Quartet – 20 December 2019

    “Kevin Well, it is Christmas day, and I hope you are all having stunningly good holiday. This is the first time I have had time to write some notes out a truly wonderful gig, and I have lost my notes. The Kevin Flanagan Quartet had Kevin on tenor and soprano saxes, David Gordon on piano, Joel Humann on bass and a dep on drums, Oliver Reynolds.

    About Olivier. One of the joys of rigging the club is watching the musicians rehearse. Oliver was completely new to the music. The the music was complex and nuanced. One of the songs was in 5/4, 4./4, and a bit in 3/4. Comes the show, and no-one would have known that Oliver was a dep. He gave a marvelous performance.

    Kevin's powerful playing had a very close connection with the audience, whether an up tempo monster of a song, or a ballad. David Gordon is a consummate player with a left hand as good as the right. His continuing classical work on harpsichord may have something to do with this. Joel is a superb accompanist and a fine soloist.

    If there was one song that stuck in my memory, it would be McCoy Tyner''s "Search for Peace". Lots of musicians love this song. The quartet on Friday played the best I have heard at the club. It was the intensity, the listening, the gentleness and the power, and the wonderful solos that starred this song in and evening of superb playing.

    On Friday, and Octet for the holidays. Just look at this lineup!
    Alan Barnes Saxes, Robert Fowler Sax, Karen Sharp Sax, James Copus Trumpet, Mark Nightingale Trombone, Dave Newton Piano, Simon Thorpe Bass, Clark Tracey Drums

    Do join us for a holiday spectacular. Take care, Dave


    David Newton Trio – 13 December 2019

    “David I just received the photos of the David Newton Trio gig, with Peter the photographer's comments: "Brilliant gig on Friday night. 'The One and Only' it truly proved to be. Three Guys at the top of their game Dave/Simon/Winston (D.S.W trio) From the very first note to the last, Superb !! Clean,clear and swing.". No argument there, then. I love the piano trio form, and this one was world class. Our world class trio was David Newton using the whole piano, star bassist Simon Thorpe and the amazing Winston Clifford on drums and vocals. Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" opened the gig. If anyone felt like the piano trio form was boring they would have been put to shame by their interpretation, musicianship, tightness as a group and sheer exuberance. That was followed by Gene de Paul's beautiful "I Remember April", in which all three guys had exquisite solos. Something about David and improvisation: you sometimes see a keyboardist drop his left had as the right works out an idea. I saw David develop a string of ideas with the left hand. His hands are truly equal partners, which is not that common. He also uses the soft pedal to modify the instrument's tonality. There is only one other jazz musician that I remember doing that. This man's range in speed, power, delicacy was amazing. We heard all of these in the Chopin Prelude in C minor, Simon had lovely solos and intros throughout. I particularly remember his solo on "I Remember April". His accompaniment was consistently brilliant. His grin at the work of the other two was infectious. I was hoping that Winston would sing, and was not disappointed. In the first set, Guy Woods' "My One and Only Love" showed us Winston's deep tenor to counter-tenor range, beautiful phrasing and flow of ideas. In the second set, he had great fun with "Bye Bye Black Bird" (Ray Henderson). His scatting was delightful. Oh yes, he is also and mostly a world class drummer. It was a gig I will long remember. But... Next week, the 20th, Kevin Flanagan brings his excellent quartet, Kevin Flanagan Tenor sax, David Gordon Piano, Tom Hooper Drums, Joel Humann Bass. This is a Fleece Jazz favourite, do come.

    Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy: Sweet Little Mysteries – 6 December 2019

    “Sarah I have written before about leaders who have a close connection to the audience. Sarah Jane Morris Is the best example of this art. Whether speaking about the music or the musicians, or singing in her inimitable style, she draws the audience to her, includes them in. This, plus world class musicianship from all four, made for a great gig. Sarah Jane Morris was the arranger with Tony Remy on many of the songs, guitarist Tony Remy was superb, as was bassist Henry Thomas and drummer Martyn Barker. All three instrumentalists were backing singers as well. The programme started with two songs from Sarah Jane's repertoire. Most of the rest of the gig was dedicated to the songs of John Martyn. She ended with three more from her own repertoire. It fascinated me that two of the songs were new to Henry and Martyn, but they picked up the key, the chords and the vibe after listening for a chorus. The listening was visible and palpable throughout. Favourites? Maybe John Martyn's "Solid Air", which opened the second set. The encore was John Martyn's "I Don't Wanna Know About Evil", in which Tony and Henry had superb solos, and we all joined in. Most leaders introduce the band again at the end of the gig. Sarah Jane gave us fascinating stories about each of them. Her stories throughout the gig about John Martyn were very interesting. They added a lot to this wonderful gig. Next week, Friday the 13, don't be scared. You will be in the safe hands of one of the finest pianists about anywhere. The Dave Newton Trio includes Simon Thorpe on bass and Winston Clifford on drums. Take care, Dave

    Tom Green Septet – 29 November 2019

    “Tom Tom Green's septet gave us a wonderful gig, I don't understand why people didn't come in numbers. The band is young and not well known, and people are edgy about original music. Well, the musicianship was exemplary, the music was accessible, and the sound of the four horn chorus was thrilling. We had Tom Green on trombone, James Davidson on trumpet and flugel, Tom Smith on alto and soprano saxes, Sam Miles on tenor sax, Sam James on piano, Matthew Read on bass and Dave Hamblett on drums. What is not thrilling is loosing my notes again. I can tell you about the arrangements. Most of the tunes were written by Tom Green, and all of the arrangements and the programme order were by him. The programme order was a good mix of tempo, style and a few standards. I thought the arrangements were special. Tom gave us the full force of the four hour chorus in unison, harmony, counterpoint and free. He arranged for just about every combination of duo. There were a lot of excellent mixtures of counterpoint and cross-rhythm. And there was room for blowing: everybody had great solo, and there were some stunning intros, One other thing, Tom had a warm presence as leader talking to us. I hope to see this band back soon. Next week is a special treet for Fleece Jazz, with Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy doing the music of John Martyn: Sweet Little Mysteries. Sarah Jane Morris vocals/arrangements, Tony Remy uitars/vocals/arrangements, Henry Thomas bass and Martyn Barker drums, Do not miss this force of nature and a stunning trio of instrumentalists. Take care, Dave ,

    Paul Higgs: Pavane – 22 November 2019

    “Paul Talk to non- trumpet-playing musicians about Paul Higgs, and they say he is the best, as well as a very clever arranger. They should add that he has great contact with the audience, and he and his band have great fun, so we do too. He presented a lovely programme with a band that sometimes sounded much bigger than it was, and sometimes small and delicate. This was an evening of gentle (with one exception) but complex arrangements, all by Paul, and some of his own tunes. The band was Paul Higgs on trumpet, Andy Watson on guitar, Chris Ingham on piano, Jerome Davies on bass, Natalie Rozario on cello and George Double on drums. Let's deal with the exception first. Paul's work had been swinging, accurate, lovely tone, but not virtuosic all evening till this point. He told the story about the BBC continuity announcer who had trouble saying Rimsky Korsakov's name, so he practiced hard, and then, live said, "And now, Rimsky Korsakov's Bum of the Flightlebee". So guess what came next? Talk about virtuosity from all of them! Paul's fingers pushing valves faster than one could see. Natalie's super fast work, making the cello sound like a swarm of angry bees as well as high speed accompaniment; the others all accurate, of course, and grinning at each other's work. The first number of the gig was Paul's "Pavane", a lovely gentle dance. Somehow the cello made the quintet sound like a small concert orchestra, all of the timbres present. It was followed by Sammy Fain's "Secret Love", in which Paul had an excellent solo (one of many), and George showed his imagination with the brushes. I wish I could read my writing on the sixth number, "Baren something", because Natalie had a superb extended intro and solo on that one. Gerry ran the second set, and I sat down, unfortunately in the dark. I wrote something for each tune, but can read about 10% of it. So I know that Chris, Jerome and Andy had fine solos, but cannot tell you on which numbers. A pity, because the whole gig was a wonderful experience. This was a band with a special sound, musicians of the top drawer enjoying each other's work, fine arrangements, and lots of fun. Find the CD on Paul's website, do. Next week, the stage gets bigger to accommodate the Tom Green Septet. Press comments: "Some of the most exciting original music I've heard for a long time" Dame Cleo Laine. "A kaleidoscope of harmony that is not only phenomenally skilful, but absorbing and endlessly entertaining, too" - Dave Gelly, **** . We will have Tom Green trombone, James Davidson trumpet/flugel, Tom Smith alto sax, Sam Miles tenor sax, Sam James piano. Matthew Read bass, and Dave Hamblett drums. Do join us. Take care, Dave

    Nicolas Meier World Group – 15 November 2019

    “Nicolas I had to go home at half time, not very well, so I missed the second set. The first set was bloody marvelous. I didn't bring my notes home, so this is written from memory. The musicians were: Nicolas Meier, who only brought 3 guitars, one unfretted, this time; Richard Jones superb on the violin; Kevin Glasgow who played electric bass, solid and a super listener; Demi Garcia brilliant on percussion. The programme took us around the world with beautifully arranged music. The tunes were mostly written by Nicolas in the first set. Nicolas is good on the talk mic, giving us information about the tunes. I heard music from 6 continents in the first set. They included a stunning evocaation of tan Australian desert, California clearly calling, the cross rhythms of sub-Saharan Africa - you get the idea. Musicianship and communication of this level is rare. The solos were wonderful. I could pick out one that Demi did, if I had my notes. Sorry if you missed the gig, but not as sorry as I am, because I did hear how good this group is. Next week, 22 November, the excellent trumpeter, Paul Higgs, who last appeared for us as a pianist as well as a trumpeter, brings his gently atmospheric melange of classical, jazz and new age vignettes. The sextet is Paul Higgs on trumpet, Andy Watson on guitar, Chris Ingham on Piano, Jerome Davies on bass. Natalie Rozario on cello and George Double on drums. This will be a lovely evening. Take care Dave

    Simon Spillett Quartet – 8 November 2019

    “Simon A most enjoyable band played for us on Friday. Top musicianship, great communication with the audience and among themselves, good programme and arrangements. I loved the contrasts in speed (and how!) and timbre. So thanks to: Simon Spillett on tenor sax, Rob Barron on piano. Alec Dankworth on bass and Spike Wells on drums. The first tune sets the evening's tone. Tubby Hayes' "Royal Ascot" was played at Formula 1 speed. Stunning solos by Simon and Alec on this one. It was followed by Schwartz's "Alone Together". Rob had a solo that thrilled us, and Spikes 4s with Simon were special. Then the tone in two senses, timbre and style changed. I love Wolf's "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most", with the wonderful lyrics of Fran Landesman. Simon's tone was warm and sweet for his solo on this one, such a contrast to the tough tone in Royal Ascot. The set ended with Clark Terry's "Opus Ocean". We were back to F1 speeds, with a terrific solo by Spike. And the second set got even better. The pick of the evening for me was a Miles Davis blues. Spike had wonderful 16s with Simon, and the rest had memorable solos. A great gig. And another to follow! Nicolas Meier has been with us many times. Hi-Fi magazine says "The virtuosity is jaw-dropping and the sound is so big that you keep expecting to hear the roar of stadium applause. A real trip.". This is a very special band: Nicolas Meier on lots of guitars, Richard Jones on violin, Kevin Glasgow on bass and Demi Garcia on percussion. Take care, Dave

    Calum Gourlay Quartet – 1 November 2019; Notes by Peter Fairman

    “Calum Calum Gourlay !!  . Well, this guy can certainly make the Big Double Bass sing. A deep rounded sound giving us some quite extraordinary solos to a very  appreciative audience . Originally playing the Cello on his musical journey. fortunately  for us changing to the Double Bass at the tender age of 14.   He leads this Quartet on a Tour promoting its debut new Album "New Ears" of which I purchased a copy and currently playing it whilst writing these simple words.As expected all tunes were played  at last nights gig, and are "All" originals , written by Calum. I always find that originals, if any good ,get even better after several hearings. All these do exactly that. THOROUGHLY RECOMMENDED !!    " NEW EARS" The two front horns, Helena Kay Tenor Sax, and Kieran Mc Cloud Trombone, played impeccably and blended their individual Tones producing a combined beautiful sound. Sax and Trombone a lovely tone in unison. Both also gave us some lengthy intriguing solos. James Maddren, was the odd one out tonight . He is from England. All other three originate from Scotland     A  very gifted Drummer in  constant demand  from both younger and established Jazz Musicians / Bands  Seen and heard at Fleece many times. Great Drummer. Dave adds: Next week, the amazing Simon Spillett will be with us. The super saxophonist brings quite a band: Rob Barron on piano. Alec Dankworth on bass and Spike Wells drums. “A miraculous player who sounds like a reincarnation of Tubby Hayes but with his own personality. Catch him wherever he is. Astounding!” - John Martin, The Jazz Rag

    A Portrait of Cannonball – 25 October 2019

    “A As the interval after set 1 began, an audience member said to me, "you are going to have to find a lot more superlatives for this one". Whisperings of "best gig" occurred. Yes, it was that good, so this will be a shortened note. Details don't matter. The personnel for this amazing gig were Tony Kofi on alto sax, Andy Davies on trumpet and flugel, Alex Webb on keyboard, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Dave Ohm on drums. Tony and Alex compered the gig. we got an excellent picture of the life and career of Cannonball Adderley as the show went on. The programme followed Cannonball's career, and included work that he recorded, some that he wrote, some that was written for him, an example of the latter being Miles Davis's "Nardis". A couple were by brother Nat. There was a fine balance between ballads and up tempo tunes. Everybody soloed wonderfully. Everybody accompanied with strong empathic connections to their colleagues. Everybody seemed to be having a good time. So did we. I want to single out two people. Dave Ohm was a dep, new to the music. He played as if he had been part of the band for years. Both Tony and and Alex made a point of thanking him for his fine work. So do I. Samuel on the desk produced beautiful sound. He worked particularly hard to make the keyboard feel like an acoustic instrument. Part of the function of the club is to give gigs to fine young musicians. You may not have heard of the names in the Calum Gourley Quartet, but you will soon, they are special musicians. Helena Kay is on saxophone; Kieran McCloud plays trombone; James Maddren (you might know this name) is on drums; the gig is led by bassist Calumn Gourley. The music will be great. Come along. Take care, Dave

    Benn Clatworthy Quartet – 18 October 2019

    “Benn We haven't had tenorist Benn Clatworthy in far too long. The wonderful pianist John Donaldson delighted us recently, and again last Friday. Simon Thorpe, with his bass and grin, is always welcome. New to us was Darren Beckett, a drummer of style, dynamic and tonal range on a very small kit. The audience loved the Benn Clatworthy Quartet. Benn constructed a very good programme, varied in mood, speed and tone. He plays mostly in the upper registers of the tenor sax, with big changes in timbre. Some examples: the opening number of the first set was his "The Pursuit". His tone was weighty, perfect for this tough up tempo number. The next number was Strayhorn's "My Little Brown Book". This was a 3/4 ballad, and Benn's beautiful solo had a lightness and sweetness that was delightful, He also has a good rapport with the audience, having fun, but telling us what we need to know. The programme left tons of room for the trio to blow. People who knew were anticipating wonders from John, and were not disappointed. His solo on Ellington's Latin up beat "Angelica" was very special. Darren had an excellent solo on "Angelica", but the one that caught my ear was Benn's "Bolivian Odyssey". Darren has all the speed and technique, and fast streaming ideas, but he is not afraid of being very sparse with the notes. Simon's accompaniment is always special. His work, solo and accompaniment on Tyner's "Search for Peace" was outstanding. He had a great duet with Darren on "Blues for Dicky" (I think by Torolf Mølgaard). Simon watched the others closely, often with a big grin on his face. The song of the night for me was "Search for Peace". It had superb solos and accompaniment from all, but more important, you felt what Tyner was writing about. A special gig to be followed by another. We will gather together (in the Garden Room, please note) for "A Portrait of Cannonball". This is a super band. We will have Alex Webb on keyboards, Tony Kofi on alto sax, Andy Davies on trumpet, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Dave Ohm on drums. "An absolute blast, one of the most exciting gigs of the year … a brilliant all-round package."- London Jazz New "Kofi’s spirited approach was supported by a tight rhythm section and Andy Davies, whose trumpet solos were sharp and clear." - Jazzwise

    Catherine Lima Band – 11 October 2019

    “Catherine I was really sad to have to leave the Catherine Lima gig at the interval, because the first set was a cracker. I am told that it got even better in the second set. So this will be a truncated note. The Catherine Lima Band is: The beautiful voice and presentation of Catherine. Her love of the words just shines through. We know and admire Paul Higgs as a trumpeter, but for this gig he was (mostly) on the piano,, quite excellent. He also had superb work on the trumpet, and the melodica also made an appearance. The rest were new to us, but I hope they will return. Alex Field played electric and nylon stringed acoustic guitars. We need to see him back at the club. Alex Keen was our bassist. He is an excellent soloist and a star accompanist. Our drummer was Jason Campbell, a guy who knows how to play a room. I enjoyed his work on this gig. Catherine gave me a set list with authorships, so the research was all done for me. Thank you, Catherine. She gave is an excellent start (that first song is so important) with a Latin tinged "A Taste of Honey" (Scott/Marlow). She has an excellent voice and lovely technique, which gave us the words and their emotional effects. So we started off happy, and got happier through the set. The lady can scat, as she showed us on Gershin's "S'Wonderful". Catherine's phrasing on the Altman/Lawrence "All or Nothing At All" was superb.l. The Mendez/Bergman blues, "Centerpiece" gave Paul a chance to bring out his beautiful green trumpet. He comped behind the vocals and had a wonderful solo. The melodica made an appearance on the Green/Hayman "I Cover The Waterfront", appropriate tonality somehow for the song. I am really sorry to have missed the second set. I hope we have them back. Next week, the Benn Clatworthy Quartet graces our stage again. They are Benn Clatworthy tenor sax, John Donaldson piano, Simon Thorpe bass, Dave Ohm drums. "Some of the most emotive and creative jazz this side of Sonny Rollins" - Edinburgh Evening News. Take care, Dave

    Renato d’Aiello plays the music of Cedar Walton – 27 September 2019

    “Renato David Lyons is on holiday so he has asked me to do the review. Normal service will be resumed next time around! The evening was an homage to the work of Cedar Walton, the pianist, composer and arranger. Born in Dallas, USA in 1934 he produced some lingering melodies and jazz classics which were performed superbly by Renato D’Aiello and his companions. The first set opened with the Hungarian pianist, Mátyás Gayer backed by Nicola Muresu on double bass and Alfonso Vitale on drums. All three had short solo parts which helped establish the format of the evening. Next up was Cedar’s Blues which highlighted the elegant playing of Renato and Roberto Rossi. Homage to Cedar was written by Mátyás and he led the band before the relaxed and dapper Renato played a beautiful tenor solo. To my mind this had a slight calypso feel to it and as the evening unfolded this variation of style and mood was clearly evident. The Maestro was a slower song and the following ballad, You’ve Changed allowed us to experience the smooth and mellow style of Roberto in his solo. The final number in the first set was Firm Roots. An up-tempo Walton number which was delivered with pace and energy by all concerned. The gentle harmonies of Martha’s Prize opened the second set. Roberto Rossi on trombone took lead before handing off to Renato d'Aiello. Both added their instrumental character to this lovely and clear sounding piece. The tempo increases for the next number which has Renato and Roberto taking a double lead before each performs superbly in their solo leads. Portrait of Jennie was, for me at least, the stand out number of the evening despite not being penned by Walton. Renato played this ballad with a slow and perfect delivery. Superb timing and compassionate playing. The final number is loosely interpreted as “Red Eyes”. At thirteen minutes this was the longest number of the evening and allowed all to highlight their individual skills. Renato and Roberto led in a double act before handing off to each other 17 times for their individual input. They came together for the all-in finale. A fitting end to the night……but of course, being Fleece Jazz, it wasn’t. The encore was a piece called No More. It, and the rest of the evening left the audience wishing for LOTS MORE! No gig next week, but the delightful Catherine Lima brings her band on 11 October: Catherine on vocals, Paul Higgs on piano, Alex Field guitar, Alex Keen bass and Jason Cambell drums. This gig will be a delight. See you there, Dave T

    Tammy Weis Quartet – 20 September 2019

    “Tammy Tammy Weis has a beautiful mezzo voice. She is a composer and lyricist, and the text is so clear when she sings. The arrangements were excellent. I had Gershwin's "Summertime" starred in my notes for the arrangement. The evening was mostly music sung and loved by the great Julie London, with songs from the late 50s and 60s. London was an actor and a pin up girl, but we know her as a singer. With Tammy were Nigel Price on guitar, Julie Walkington on bass and Matt Fisher on drums. Watching Nigel accompanying is fascinating. He seems to be in the singer's mind with his highly varied work. Fun too, He and Matt had a great time improvising together on Cole Porter's "Love for Sale". Nigel had fine solos. His solo on Pablo Beltran Ruiz's "Sway" was particularly lovely. Matt's solo on Bart Howard's "Fly Me To The Moon" stood out. I have always enjoyed Julie's playing as an accompanist and a soloist. There was a beautiful duet with Julie and Tammy on Ray Henderson's "Bye Bye Blackbird". But even though there was lots of room for the instrumentalists to shine, this was a singer gig. A beautiful voice, a love of the words, timbre changed to suit each song, all good. Good writing, some Tammy's, some with Tom Cawley. A lovely selection of Julie London related songs. I think my favourite was Sonny Burke's and Paul Francis Webster's "Black Coffee", but there was not a dud in the evening. Next Friday, Renato d'Aiello will be playing the music of Cedar Walton; Renato d'Aiello Tenor sax, Roberto Rossi Trombone, Mátyás Gayer Piano. Nicola Muresu Bass, Alfonso Vitale Drums. Do Join us. Take Care, Dave

    Bonsai – 13 September 2019

    “Bonsai Bonsai are: Rory Ingham on trombone, Dominic Ingham on violin and vocals, Toby Comeau on piano and keys, Joe Lee on bass, Jonny Mansfield on drums, and one terrific band. They all write, producing interesting, complex yet accessible music. The arrangements are interesting and diverse, lots of interesting grooves and lots of blowing room. From the opening number, Dominic's "Bonsai Club", to the encore, Jonny's "Itchy Knee", the band gave us a delightful evening. I want to talk a bit about musical education. Most of these guys are just out of conservatory (first class degrees abound). So that mastery of the instruments should be a given, and was. But where did they get the blues from? Maybe listening to good rock? We were very short staffed at this gig, but Gerry and I, with help from Dougy and others got through the work just fine. We are pleased that we should be back to full staff for the next gig. That gig is the Tammy Weis Quartet. We loved Tammy when she was with us last time. She brings a great band. "With a grand slam triple threat of sexy smooth vocals, great songwriting and a knockout band with stellar musicianship, a performance with Tammy Weis is unforgettable." - Randy Bachman. The band is Tammy Weis Vocals, Nigel Price Guitar, Julie Walkington Bass. Matt Fisher Drums. Do join us. Take care, Dave

    Dave Lewis’s 1UP Band – 30 August 2019 – Peter

    “Dave Peter Fairman writes: Gerry asked me if I can do a few words about last nights gig as it is not his forte (his words). I see you have already said something on our site concerning, However I did say to Gerry I would help. Here goes my take in the simplest of ways;- Dave , you are correct in your assumption that  this was indeed a good gig, no, not good. it was "GREAT" !!! From the start to finish all the players were absolutely on top form , with their Vocalist , "Lizzie Dean" mesmerisingly breathtaking. With an excellent, well attended audience enthusiastically showiing  their appreciation during and after each song/tune, the Band clearly was inspired to make this one of the best gigs if not the best gig of the year.Everything they performed , worked so well. They say perfection does not exist, well, this came pretty damn close. This is an incredible Band and any recommendations simply would not be high enough.. Their encore number even have everyone on their feet jigging and swaying to their  music's beat. What a Band ;-  We had Dave Lewis on Tenor Sax, Robin Aspland on Piano, Al Cherry on Guitar, Neville Malcolm on Bass, Rod Youngs on Drums and the formidable Lizzie Dean on Vocals. The next gig on 13 September is Bonsai. They blew us away the last time this young band with blues in their soul played for us: they were formerly known as Jam Experiment.

    Ben Crosland’s “Ray Davies Songbook Vol 2” – 16 August 2019

    “BenBen Crosland's "Ray Davies Songbook Vol. 2". Ben was playing a fretless bass guitar, Josephine Davies played tenor and soprano sax, Chris Allard was the guitarist, Jim Watson doubled on piano and keys, and Dylan Howe was our drummer. Here are some general things to say about the gig. Ray Davies (in one case with his brother) wrote music which is very amenable to jazz treatment. Ben's arrangements were superb, and not trivial. The general level of musicianship was very very high, with great solos from everyone. The audience loved the gig. I have to go behind the scenes to explain about some of the magic. Josephine was a late dep. She had the charts in advance. She, because of a previous commitment, arrived at 7:30, had a half-hour chat with Ben, and walked onto the stage with the band and began to play the tenor on Ray Davies' "Victoria". Perfectly. Now Gerry and I knew that she was cold reading, as did the musicians (including one in the audience who knew the situation). From my point of view, what she did was pure magic. Some of the musicians told me it was cold reading beyond what they had heard before. Just to make it more interesting, Ben had written many duets for sax and guitar, some up-tempo, some balladic, some unison, some in harmony. Josephine didn't just get the notes right. She got the phrasing right. Oh, by the way, I loved her solos (her soprano solo on "Dandy" was a good example). , Chris, Ben and Dylan played beautifully throughout, each with some standout solos. But there is one other bit of magic I want to tell you about. Ray and his brother Dave wrote "Celluloid Heros". Ben's charts indicated an improvised piano intro, and after the head, a piano solo. Jim extended the intro and had us gasping: how do those ideas and changes of texture happen? He carried the ideas into the solo where he was chord constrained and had us gasping again. I think musically this was the highlight of the evening. No gig next week, but on 30 August, Dave Lewis's 1UP Band returns, with Dave Lewis tenor sax, Lizzie Dean vocals, Al Cherry guitar, Robin Aspland piano, Neville Malcolm bass, Rod Youngs drums. Dave's arrangements and the band's sound are steeped in the blues: Dave's St. Louis roots come through. We would be pleased if you would join us. Take care Dave

    John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” – 9 August 2019

    “John Early Saturday morning after John Etheridge's wonderful gig, we were off to visit darling daughter, somewhat slowed down coming and going by a power failure. Ironically, in the middle of all of the storm havoc, the fault was internal to the house. Anyway, thus the late report. People love John. Quite a few travelled long distances to hear him. It is easy to understand. His techniques in every style of playing, the skill with looping, the flow of ideas, the invention of arrangements on the fly are part of the story. But people really like his rapport with the audience. He tells us what we need to know about the songs, and much more, often very funny. This is also improvisation. He also uses musicians who have similar skills and a similar blues spirit embedded in their hearts and hands. Pete Whittaker is bassist, obbligato and soloist master on the organ. Drummer George Double is a superb accompanist, and his solos and 4s are filled with interest. The three are one unit, moving and bending their contribution with the ideas of their colleagues. All the songs were great to hear and hear about. My notes show two that stood out. John's "The Venerable Bede" was on the dark side of blue. John and Pete both had fine solos on this one. George's accompaniment was special. Bob Dorough's and Ben Tucker's "Comin' Home Baby" was our encore: fast, loud, stunning from all three. Enough. Part notes, part memory of a wonderful gig. Next week, Dave Lewis returns, this time with his 1UP Band. Dave Lewis Tenor Sax, Lizzie Dean Vocals, Al Cherry Guitar, Robin Aspland Piano, Neville Malcolm Bass, Rod Youngs Drums. "Kinda jazzy, kinda bluesy, kinda souly, lots of influences, great singing, great playing ..." - Paul Long, BBC producer. Take care, Dave

    Hexagon – 26 June 2019

    “Hexagon After the gig, I heard from the retiring audience: "Best gig this year by far"; "One of the best gigs I have ever been to". Which makes it very difficult for me to find standout details in a standout gig. The front line was Graeme Flowers on trumpet and flugel, Greg Heath on tenor and soprano saxes and Jason Yarde on alto and baritone saxes. The back line was John Donaldson on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Tristan Banks on drums. The music celebrated McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku. Most of the arrangements were by John Donaldson. He gave us an immense range of instrumental combinations and solo patterns as well as beautiful heads. All six of them had fun, played beautifully and with soul and a strong blues base. Take Bheki's "Joy". Graeme was on trumpet, Greg on soprano and Jason on alto. John had arranged one or two chorus interchanges between pairs of musicians. Wonderful variations and sharing of ideas. Jason wrote a song for McCoy, and the lesser-known (pity, that) Andy Hill. The two have very different compositional and playing styles. He introduced the song, explaining the title and the pun: "Hill Walking on the Tyner Side". The music worked beautifully! Not so sure about the pun... I am going to stop now, or I would have to write 20 pages more, I think. It was a really extraordinary gig, everybody at the very top of a very high quality game. We were lucky to have quite a few young people in the audience, at least two of whom were musicians. The two very young drummers kept their eyes on Tristan throughout the show, and Tristan kindly chatted with them for quite some time after the gig. No gig next week, but on August 9, John Etheridge is back with "Blue Spirit". John on a whole bunch of guitars, Pete Whittaker on organ and George Double on drums. It will be a stunning gig, don't miss it. Take care, Dave

    Joanna Eden’s “Sondheim and Me” – 12 July 2019

    “Joanna Gigs with surprises are often the best. This one was packed with them. There was the odd mutter before the gig that "it won't be jazz" and some of it wasn't but all of the numbers gripped the audience and made them smile. The players were Joanna Eden on vocals and keyboard, Gerry Hunt on soprano and tenor sax, flute, clarinet, guitar and ukelele (really), Russell Swift on bass and George Double on drums. Another delightful surprise was Lee MacDonald, a superb musical comedy singer who arrived to sing the fifth number of the first set. The music was mostly Sondheim, mostly jazz interpreted and all had very fine arrangements. Joanna gave us the background to each song and her relation to it. So we begin. Michael announces the band, who are on stage. A hiatus. Joanna runs onto the stage, late for the audition and full of apologies. She is permitted to sing, and sings from the front mic "Broadway Baby" from Sondheim's "Broadway Baby" accompanied initially by solo ukelele. The audience is caught. Half way through, she says "I can play piano too", and finishes the song at the keyboard with the rest of the band. This woman will never have to play the maid. A massive thank you to the rest of the band. I wanted to concentrate on the singing, but Gerry, Russell and George played beautifully, and each had excellent solos. Surprise number 3. Lee arrives, and sings "Not Getting Married" from Company. The song is the story of Amy, with stage fright about marrying Paul, with help by the wedding planner. Lee MacDonald sings all three parts. Joanna and Lee do a stunning duet (not the only one) in "Ladies Who Lunch" with Gerry's soprano sax making appropriate comments. Joanna also gave us three of her own songs. "Soul Cocaine" was a birthday present. IKEA was a brilliant song about DIY. Lee sang "L'Oreal Man", a waltz about an old lady and a young man. I am a Sondheim fan, and I found the evening totally enchanting. I spoke with some members of the audience who were not previously interested in musical theatre. They are going to buy a bunch of Sondheim (and Joanna). No gig next week, but on July 26th, we get the music of McCoy Tyner from a top drawer sextet. John Donaldson Piano, Greg Heath Tenor Sax, Jason Yarde Alto Sax, Graeme Flowers Trumpet/Flugel, Simon Thorpe Bass, Tristan Banks Drums Take care, Dave

    Art Themen Trio – 5 July 2019

    “Art The Art Themen Trio gave us a brilliant gig. Art played mostly tenor sax and some soprano. Pete Whittaker played organ, so that is chordal plus bass. George Double excelled as always on drums. There are always high expectations when a legend like Art, who has worked with just about everybody important, arrives. Expectations exceeded. Pete is a consummate organist. His bass lines are always lovely. George played his ass off as always, but always to the room - a sound man's dream. The first song set the tone. It was Dexter Gordon's "Cheesecake", up tempo and jolly. Pete has a breathless solo on this one. Art make a thorough exploration of the altissimo range of the tenor. George's accompaniment was excellent and worth listening to on its own. Art's conversations with the audience about the history and characters of the pieces were much appreciated. However Art's jokes are sometimes worse than mine (for example of mine, see end). It just got better from there. Lots of stunning solos, excellent arrangements, great communication. A couple of songs really caught my mind. Stan Tracey's suite "The Cardiff Chapter" had a tune "Funky Day in Cardiff Bay". The trio had so much fun with it. Herby Hancock's "What If I Don't" had Art playing both tenor and soprano, a wonderful set of 4s with Art, Pete and George, and breathtaking flows of ideas from all. Please may they be back. Next week the lovely Joanna Eden will bring "Sondheim and Me". Joanna has a beautiful voice, a musician's sensibility, and great skill on the piano. With her will be Gerry Hunt on reeds, Russell Swift on bass and George Double on drums. I am not sure if he is sleeping over. Take care, Dave Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy.

    Alina Bzhezhinska – 14 June 2019

    “Alina Sometimes, when fate smacks you around the head, the result is truly brilliant. Harpist Alina Bzhezhinska and drummer Joel Prime arrived and set up, and we waited for our friends Tony Kofi and Larry Bartley. And then the phone call. Failing car, masses of traffic, 50 miles away. So what to do? What we got was a duo. harp and drums. The last time we had such a duo was The Stravinsky Duo, Will Butterworth (piano) and Dylan Howe (drums), and it was wonderful. But that was their superb take on two Stravinsky pieces, planned to the bar. Alina and Joel put their heads together and structured an amazing two full sets of wonderful music, wonderfully played, all without reading (save one tune). We got the musicianship one expects from two world-class players, of course. We also got a varied and fascinating programme, with music from Alina, Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane and others. So Alina's beautiful abstractions to bebop and blues were in the mix. Many of the tunes were on Alina's CD, with Tony's saxes and Larry's bass, do buy it, it is a cracker. Talking about solos would be a little silly in the context. Only a little, because the whole evening was an improvisation in a way. Joel had beautiful intros and solos. The brush solo on Alina's "Following A Lovely Sky Boat" is in my memory. Alina's improvisation was a delight throughout. Speaking of improv, we had one free jazz tune. (Tune? yes, in the development). Joel laid down a riff, Alina tuned in, and they built a great piece. It gave both of them the opportunity to display the range of timbre and dynamics of their instruments. We are used to drummers doing this, but it was jaw-dropping to hear what the harp could do with timbre. Alina played it like a guitar close to the soundboard, built slides up and down a string, used percussion ... She also spoke to us simply but with passion about the music, its background, and about the instrument and what it could do. Best wishes to Tony and Larry, and we hope to see all four again soon. No jazz until July 5, which will be the Art Themen Trio. Art Themen sax, Pete Whittaker organ, George Double drums. It will be special. Do come. Take care, Dave

    Tim Kliphuis Trio – 24 May 2019

    “Tim Canadians like me have a difficulty with British understatement. To say that the Tim Kliphius Trio was a bit special, even in the context of the musicianship the club gets, is the best I can do. The music was varied and fascinating, the musicianship exceptional. If they have fun, we have fun. And they did. Tim Kliphuis played a soon to be famous Belgian violin at a special exhibition. Nigel Clark played a beautiful classical guitar by George Lowden. Roy Percy played a small double bass with a big, rich tone. The evening started off with John Lewis's "Django". I first heard the Modern Jazz Quartet in my teens, and they turned me onto jazz. I was an only Bach guy before then. You could hear both MJQ and Django Reinhardt clearly in the music, particularly in Nigel's solo. The fourth tune was the presto movement, Concerto #4 of Bach's six Brandenburg Concerti. It was a trio reduction from the work they did with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. It was true to Bach and to jazz, really wonderful. Of course it helps that Bach swings. In this and the other classical pieces we heard, people said that they sounded like a full orchestra. Tim was double and even triple and quadruple stopping. Yes, it is possible if you are fast enough to do it sequentially. He was also playing harmonics in, it seemed, all of the positions of the violin as if they were not in any way exceptional or difficult, but just a high note. Whole phrases in harmonics! Nigel was adding percussion to the guitar, and Roy to the bass. Marvelous. The arrangement took us through lots of styles, including, (I think), Irish folk. We also had Vivaldi's "Winter" from his "Four Seasons", all three musicians adding percussion; a Gabriel Fauré Nocturne, more Bach, "Brandenburg #3, Allegro", Paganini's "Caprice #24". The latter is probably best known for the Lloyd Webber arrangement for the South Bank Show. The trio had great fun with Stephane Grappelli's "Piccadilly Stomp", a fast Hot Club number. What was particularly noticeable was the quality of the accompaniment from all three, but in this number, particularly from Nigel. You could feel them listening. If you missed this gig, it is the first of a UK tour. Find them and go. A break for a couple of weeks will heighten the anticipation of the stunning harpist Alina Bzhezhinska, playing, among lots of other things, the music of Alice Coltrane. What a band! Alina on harp, Tony Kofi on sax, Larry Bartley on bass and drummer Joel Prime. Make sure that 14 June is in your diary. Take care, Dave (and editor Roberta)

    Liane Carroll – 12 May 2019

    “Liane Liane Carroll has been a great friend to the club, but to come to us to do a benefit is extra special. And what a gig! She is truly a remarkable performer and person. She has a great warm voice, a superb sense of phrasing, and more important even than those is her love of the words. Now, couple that with her great piano playing... In the second set, we had her husband, Roger Carey, playing bass guitar. Roger works in many genres. His jazz playing is excellent and passionate. What to say about the gig? Just saying that Liane sang for us should tell you what a gig it was. The programme was a mix of well known and a few not so well known, with a good balance of tempo and mood. There were a few that really affected me. W.C. Handy's "St. Lous Blues", in the first set had Liane playing at least 5 grooves. This was followed by two songs which she associated with her mother, Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary wrote the music and lyrics to "Here's To Life", and Hoagy Carmichael wrote "I Get Along Without You Very Well". Liane sang this with an immense depth of passion without a hint of soppiness. In "Autumn Leaves", (music by Joseph Kosman, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer), Liane had an amazing counterpoint section with the bass line, improvisation and voice. In the Loewe/Lerner "Almost Like Being In Hove" (pardon me, "Love" -- you never know what the woman is going to say), Roger had a fine solo. His accompaniment throughout the set was top class. Liane sang and played 23 songs. Each one deserves a comment. If you were there, you knew it. If you were watching the football, you would just be jealous. No gig next week folks we are on our summer schedule. but on 24 May, the man who is considered by many to be he heir to Grappelli will be with us: Tim Kliphuis Violin with Nigel Clark Guitar and Ray Percy Bass. See the great man in the intimate setting of Fleece Jazz. Take care, Dave

    Eyal Lovett Quartet + Blue Dahlia: 3 May 2019

    “Eyal Two bands for the price of one: the lovely Blue Dahlia and the superb Eyal Lovett Quartet. Dahlia Dumont has a lovely light voice. She sings in French, and some English. The latter is her native language, she is American, based in Paris. She plays the ukulele and is excellently accompanied by Daniele Borgoto on bass guitar and Aurimas Goris on button accordion. There was a nice mix of her own very good compositions and some French standards in a well designed short programme. Her "Ayo", about an aunty, had some fascinating tempo variations. A non-French speaker would have no trouble in hearing the emotions and the humour from her singing. I loved her rendition of Edith Piaf's and Marguerite Monnot's "L'Hymne à l'amour". She showed the power in her voice singing her tune "Reasonable. Daniele and Aurimas are clearly very fine musicians in their own right. Here they provided the accompaniment with style, sensitivity and accuracy. The audience loved them. They also liked the extra intermission to go to the bar while we re-rigged the stage. Eyal's band was A12ed badly, so the audience got to hear the sound check. I heard murmers: "this is going to be very good". It was much better than good.. The band is Eyal Lovett on piano, Eran Har Evan on guitar, Aidan Lowe on drums and Thomas Kolarczyk on bass. The mood in the first set could be quite dark. Take Eyal's "Turmoil", a war story in music. Thomas's bass solo was hugely affecting, heavy with sorrow. Eyal spoke more of peace. War was provided by Eran's immense guitar solo, filled with fire and shot. Aidan showed us a master class in accompaniment. Eyal 3/4 tune "Japanese Tale" had a solo from him that will stand in the memory. His whole body plays, not just his fingers. Special thanks to Martin Webb for supplying the drum kit, with four snares for Aidan to choose from. The second set was much lighter. Why Eran would choose to write "Falafel" I am not sure, but I am very glad. A lovely light bass solo from Thomas. Eyal's "Everybody Knows" gave Eran a chance to solo with tones like an organ: beautiful. But the prize in a night of prizes was Eyal's "Attitude", which needs a story. Someone kept telling Eyal to do something about his attitude. So he wrote this song, and when the guy phoned asking what are you doing, he said "I'm working on my 'Attitude'". I remember a pub in a village in the Fens called "Walk the Dog". All four solos were stunning, funny, filled with harmony and counterpoint. A superb quartet. We want them back again. The next gig is very special, and not on a Friday. On Sunday 12 May, 2pm in the Garden Room, the very special Liane Carroll is doing a benefit for us! She keeps winning jazz singer of the year, and is a superb pianist. One more thing. She is filled with fun. Do be there. We need you, you need her. Take care, Dave

    Christian Brewer Quartet – 26 April 2019

    “Christian No apologies for the lack of notes the past few weeks. I was in Canada with friends and family, hail, snow, 20C above, everything but rain. We had a wonderful time. I am told that the Sara Oschlag and Ant Law gigs were excellent. I was back for the Christian Brewer Quartet and it was a delight. Christian Brewer plays alto and soprano saxes, and he brought Leon Greening on piano, Adam King on bass and from New York, Mark Taylor on drums. The set list contained a lot of standards and a few lovely tunes by Christian. Each tune had high points and subtleties. It is a pity more people were not able to hear such beautifully played familiar music. Mark first. He brought a minimal kit: kick, snare, crash, ride, high hat. He is a maximal talent. His accompaniment is spot on, with perfect volume. A good example of fine accompanying was on Chick Corea's "Bud Powell". He had amazing solos. The one that sticks in memory (sorry) was on Mike Nott's "Dawn Bird". He combines speed with subtlety in a unique way. His playing throughout was fascinating and a great pleasure to hear. Adam is a young, award winning bassist, and we were rewarded by his presence at the club. He is not a solemn player: he grins at the unexpected in his colleagues work, and surprisingly, at his own. Christian's excellent blues, "In the Spur of the Moment" gave Adam the opportunity for a stunning solo. Leon truly inhabits the piano, becomes part of the instrument when soloing. The ideas flow at an incredible rate. Solo after solo had the audience entranced. I particularly loved his solo in Burton Lane's "Old Devil Moon". Beautiful intros are a specialty. We need to see him much more often. Christian is a lyrical, toneful and tuneful saxophonist on both alto and soprano. I love his tone. Great solos, of course, in "In the Spur of the Moment" and Jim Snidero's bossa nova "Reluctance" as examples. His own tunes were easy to hear, with lots of blowing room. "Marketa" gave everyone a chance to produce superb solos. Next week, two bands for the price of one with an early start. The French singer Dahlia Dumont brings her Blue Dahlia project to begin the evening. And then the award winning pianist Eyal Lovett brings his love of melody to two sets sure to be stunning. See you there? Take care, Dave

    Fletch’s Brew – April 5, 2019

    “Gig Fletch was back with a grand band of his own. Fletch's Brew is always welcome to shake the walls. Wonderful gig. Mark Fletcher led from the drums. The set list was invented on the fly, but displayed a pretty well balanced evening. Jim Watson was splendiferous on both piano and keyboards, sometimes both at the same time. Jim Hunt blew the roof off on tenor sax. Laurence Cottle on electric bass provided a wonderful foundation and pulse. Jim Hunt first. He is a local boy (went to school in Stoke by Nayland). He played at the place that was the genesis of Fleece Jazz, the Peacock pub in Chelsworth. Jim is a superb tenorist. He has great control over volume and tone. In most of the tunes, he played with a tough bebop tone, an example being a monster solo in Goldings (sorry, lost the first name) "Sound Off". In Sammy Fain's "Secret Love" and some others, his soloing was particularly tuneful. But in Monk's "Ask Me Now", the tone was sweet, an old fashioned big band sound. We had a collection of brilliant solos to remember from him. Jim Watson next. He has played for us quite a few times recently on piano, organ and keys, each time a revelation. It was piano (mostly) and keys this time. Lots of top drawer solos, inventive and varied in dynamics and mood. I listened carefully to his accompaniment, in which he found himself in the minde of the soloist. His solo in Wayne Shorter's Black Nile stands in the memory. Laurence Cottle is a master of his instrument, of course. The joke about bassists is that when they solo it is time to chat with your neighbour. Not with Laurence. He is so inventive. I listened to technique on his solo on "Black Nile". He used normal single line, finger style chording in a melody string and harmonics. The thing is that they flowed by so naturally only a geek like me would take notice. He had a wowser of a solo on Avishai Cohen's "Smashed". And Fletch? Well the first thing you notice is that he is coiffed and bearded. Then he slams into the first number of the night, Coltrane's "Some of the Blues", and yep; he is a genius. This being his own band, he had lots of soloing opportunities. The brush solo on "Secret Love" was beautiful. The extended solo on "Sound Off" was breathtaking. The thing for me, though, is his listening, Now all four of them do that. They are proper jazz musicians. Mark seems to sense what they are going to do. He is such fun to watch, and he is a good compere. Thanks for a stunning evening, Fletch. Next week, a beautiful singer from the south coast, Sara Oschlag will be with us. She will be bringing a superb trio: Tony Kofi on saxes, Jason Henson on guitar and Simon Thorpe on bass. Sara is a singer with a musician's ear and a superb sense of swing. Take care, Dave.

    Sean Kahn Quartet – 29 March 2019

    “Sean Intensity is the word that comes to mind from Friday's glorious gig. Our players were led by Sean Khan, on alto and soprano saxes, with Sam Leake on piano and keys, Lorenzo Bassignani on electric bass and Laurie Lowe on drums. Did the audience like them? They demanded two encores. Some players don't let their bodies reflect the music they are playing. Sean's body is hugely expressive, as the notes fly by or sustain. He gave as a programme of his own writing and standards, nicely balanced between slow and fast, tough and gentle. The first number, his "Said" was a great introduction to his work. It had a strong middle eastern vibe. Sean's solo was very powerful, with huge fast strings of notes across the entire instrument. It was very special to hear and see. It was followed by another original, "Waltz for Hermeto" which showed us his intensity on a slower piece. His use of dynamics was striking. What was particularly special was his accompaniment when the others soloed. What a debut at the club! He will be back. Sam Leake has played for us before, so we know his work to be excellent. He played piano and keyboard. I enjoyed his work all through the gig. If there was a highlight, It was the last tune in the first set, Monk's "Blue Monk". Sam is also capable of speed, but on this one, his playing was very Monk like (or maybe Stan Tracey like), sparse in places. A real joy. Lorenzo Bassignani was new to us. He is a master of his instrument of course, whether soloing, or providing the pulse and foundation for the others. I loved his solo on Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight". As an accompanist he was superb. I noticed this most in Shorters "Yes or No", very fast. It was with John Law in 2016 that Laurie Lowe was last with us. On Friday, he reminded us of his talent. He had a few long solos, the best was probably in the second set, Hermeto Pascoal's "Mixing Pot". He played a larger kit with two toms, and got a big range of timbre from it with both sticks and brushes. Next week, a Fleece Jazz favourite, Fletch's Brew returns, but with some differences in the lineup. Mark Fletcher leads from the drum kit with Jim Hunt tenor sax, Jim Watson piano and keyboards and Laurence Cottle bass. Across evolving line ups the central ethos of the "Brew" remains commitment to spontaneity, whether playing original compositions or new arrangements across the jazz styles. And there is another commitment: a great deal of fun and joy. Don't miss it. Take care, Dave

    The John East Project – 22 March 2019

    “The We don't often get a septet at Fleece Jazz, and to get one as marvelous as this is exceptional. We had: John East's excellent vocals and (real vintage) Hammond and Leslie, Mark Fletcher magnificent on drums, Freddie Gavita depping beautifully on trumpet and flugel, Nigel Price majestic on guitar, the great electric bassist Steve Pearce, Dave Lewis a star as always on tenor sax and Dan Hewson doubling on trombone and piano (not at the same time, but I bet he could). What a lineup indeed! And they didn't disappoint. From opening song to encore they sent energy, accuracy, artistry and fun out to the audience. Going through each of their solos would be silly: all fine. I do want to concentrate on one player. Mark was hidden most of the time in the back row of a crowded stage. I spent some time listening to his accompaniment. He seemed to be right in the mind of the players, supporting soloists and at the same time hearing the rest of the accompanying players. Accompanying is an art, and Mark was spot on whether it be a quiet vocal ballad, a mid-pace blues or a full on up tempo song. We had that kind of variety in the programme, which made the gig move just fly by, with an audience wanting much more. I should mention the arrangements. It was clear in a short rehearsal that this was not trivial stuff. The audience would only know that Freddy was a dep because John told them. We had a glorious evening. Next week we have the Sean Khan Quartet. Sean's blissful and gifted alto sax playing demonstrates a rare technical prowess, an understanding of Jazz history and a raging determination to carve out its future. We have Sean Kahn on alto & soprano sax, Sam Leake on piano, Lorenzo Bassignani on bass and Laurie Lowe on drums. Sean’s second album was described simply by Jazzwise as stunning, the acclaim and success of this album led to Sean and his band playing to sell out crowds at Ronnie Scott’s and The Jazz Cafe. I hope to see you at what promises to be an excellent gig. Take care, Dave

    Steve Fishwick Quartet – 15 March 2019

    “Steve On Friday we had four top guys without a chordal instrument, so I expected an interesting sound from trumpet, sax, bass and drums. More than interesting: it was a very fine gig. Steve Fishwick (t) led the group in partership with Alex Garnett (s), with the New Yorker Mike Karn (b), and twin brother Matt Fishwick (d). These gentlemen are steeped in the bebop tradition, and it was mostly a bebop evening, with tunes by Steve and Alex, Monk and Johnny Green. I think the arrangements were shared between Steve and Alex, and they were terrific, and not easy. Steve takes his music visually very seriously (but watch the expressive eyebrows). On Friday he was visibly having a fun time up there. His command of the instrument, particularly in the high registers, is about perfect. His solo on his tune, "The Creep", particularly caught my ear. He used a cup mute, which is an old design, and sounds a bit like a Harmon mute, but a bit sweeter. He played the flugel on two tunes. On Alex's "Rio de Ron" the flugel in unison and harmony with the sax gave a delightful change of timbre. "Rio de Ron" translates as "River of Rum". Alex was the compere for the gig, and we got quite a history of his favourite Demerara rum. In addition, he gave us a lot of information about the tunes and their background, often very funny. There was some very quick banter with the audience. Oh yes, and he played like an angel. It is difficult to pick out one solo to comment about from such a fine evening's performance, but his solo on Steve's "Kaftan" was a delight. If you advertise your bassist as being a busy man in New York, you expect some special playing, and we got it. Mike Karn has all the basics, of course: perfect intonation even when double stopping, and an accurate pulse. What makes him exceptional is the idea flow. Two solos stood out for me: "Rio de Ron", and Monk's "Reflections". Matt spent five years playing very successfully in New York. "If you make it here...". He plays the room, volume level always right. He hears his colleagues: the phrase is "he has big ears". And when he solos, it is always great. I particularly loved his solo on Steve's fast blues, "Wroth of Karn". So was the trading 4s with sax and trumpet on Steve's "Kaftan. This excellent quartet will be followed on Friday by a monster septet playing many familiar tunes. It is led by John East, a frequent player at the 606 club in London. What a lineup! John East Hammond Organ and vocals, Mark Fletcher drums, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Nigel Price guitar, Steve Pearce bass, Dave Lewis tenor sax and Dan Newson trombone and piano. You really don't want to miss this one. Take care, Dave

    John Turville Quintet featuring Julian Arguelles – 1 March 2019

    “John The musicians were John Turville on piano, Julian Arguelles on tenor and soprano sax, Robbie Robson on trumpet, Dave Whitford on bass and James Maddren on drums. So we were assured of musiacianship of the highest order. And what about the music? Well, it was excellent, some of it stunning, some a little challenging (a good thing in my view). Some tunes were written by John, one by Robbie, and the rest were standards. The programme had a nice variation in tempo and style. John varied the composition of the band, with quartets and duos. All of the tunes were long enough to let people blow. Lets take a look at a few of the tunes. John's "A Month in Tunisia" (sic) had Julian and John play an intro that was Arabic in character. Julian's tenor had just the right timbre, and he covered the range of the instrument. It moved into serious bebob. Julian's solo was something special, with amazing long phrases. Julian's circular breathing is almost invisible. People should listen a bit to the accompaniment. Dave and James wove beautiful counter-melodies and rhythms, just right for John and Julian. Robbie didn't play on this one. Next came Diago Schissi's "Cancon Quattro". Wonderful rhythms in the arrangement and great solos by John and Robbie as a duo. With the quintet in action, Robbie had a stunning solo in Kenny Wheeler's "The Jigsaw", My favourite piece was John's "Interval Music". This was a duo, John, and Julian on soprano. It was not based on any normal chordal system, but on a modern classical system of 12 tones, a tone row. It was truly beautiful, It was a bit strange to hear a French art song at a jazz gig. I like strange. I could write about every tune, because each had something different and special about it. Those three should give you a flavour of a superb gig. No gig next week, rest for the wicked, but on 15 March, the return of the bebop trumpeter, Steve Fishwick, with Alex Garnett on saxophone, the American multinstrumentalist Mike Karn on bass, and brother Matt Fishwick on drums. Please come along, you will not regret it. Take care, Dave

    Clark Tracey Quintet: “No Doubt” – 22 February 2019

    “Clark Except for the presence of the wonderful Clark Tracey, the combined age of the musicians was actually less than mine. I hate it when that happens. Clark has been working with these four musicians for a couple of years, during which they all have garnered garlands and awards. Their musicianship is just stunning. So Clark (on drums, for those that don't know) led and arranged the music for Alex Ridout on trumpet, Sean Payne on alto sax, Elliott Sansom on piano and James Ouston on bass. Clark planned just a few long numbers in each set so that everybody got a chance to blow, and blow they did. Take Sean's solo on Victor Feldman's "Joshua". Sean loves the high range of the alto sax and has complete command of it, playing most of the solo in that range and using the low range for accent. James had a beautiful bass intro on this one. Alex had a superb high speed solo on her own "Top Dog". In contrast, in David Raskin's "Laura", she produced a truly beautiful tone on this very slow ballad. The piano accompaniment by Elliot was perfect. Elliott has such speed in his fingers that I was worried that our upright piano action could not cope (it did). He can play slow with intensity too: Kenny Wheeler's "Foxy Trot" had him produce a Sati like intro. I also loved his solo on the Adderly (Nat, I think) "Funk". James controls the bass from top to bottom. It was tricky to pick a single solo from this young master, but probably his in "Top Dog" was most memorable. Our good friend Clark brought us a great band, excellent arrangements, clear and informative announcements (thank you, thank you) and superb drumming. There were some extended 4s trading, and a great solo in Hank Mobley's "Take Your Pick". On Friday, The John Turville Quintet featuring the superb Julian Arguelles will be with us. Don't miss this stellar band: John Turville piano, Julian Arguelles tenor/soprano sax, Robbie Robson trumpet, Dave Whitford bass, James Maddren drums Take care, Dave

    Deelee Dubé and Renato D’Aliello – 15 February 2019

    “Deelee Because of my medical problems, I have not had time to write up this stunning gig. As a holding exercise, can I just say that Deelee sang like several varieties of angel, Renato played his butt off. The arrangements were his, and great. Bruno Montrone is a superb pianist. A strong bassist was needed, and Adam King filled the bill. The young Alfonso Vitale is a wonderful drummer. The audience was delighted by a great gig.

    Chris Bowden Quintet featuring Brian Corbett: “Unlikely Being” – 8 February 2019

    “Chris I don't know what to write about this great gig. Superb and tuneful writing, great musicianship, fine solos, super accompaniment all the way through, and a very happy audience. That kind of does it. Details, details. The personnel were Chris Bowden on tenor and alto saxes, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, flugel and stompbox, Jim Watson on piano and keyboard, Chris Dodd on electric bass and Neil Bullock on drums. Chris Bowden writes fine tunes. His orchestration is delightful and varied. He uses the two horns brilliantly. Bryan can vary his timbre either naturally, with a mute or with his stompbox kit. Chris uses that as one parameter, the other being whether the horns are in unison, a harmony or as in "Way Back Down", a jazz battle, each soloing but listening. That plus his own lovely solos on both tenor and alto. Bryan Corbett can do no wrong, says he admitting to bias. The range of timbres he gets is amazing. If I had to pick a favourite solo it would be the start of the second set, "Ridiculous Itinerary". Jim Watson played with Nigel Price a few weeks ago, on organ. For last Friday's gig he played mostly piano, some keyboard, and sometimes both. I was looking forward to his piano playing and was not disappointed. Ideas just flow, and he has a great left hand. He had many fine solos, but his accompaniment was superb. Chris Dodd wrote a lovely ballad, "Autumn Noon". Jim had a beautiful solo on that one, as did Chris B. His solo on "We are a liar (sic?)" was special. Again, he provided excellent accompaniment. Neil Bullock gave us a great duet with Jim on piano in "The Old God". His accompaniment was very good indeed. I particularly loved his work on the last song of the evening, "Pollock Painting", which was my favourite tune of the show. It was evocative of riding bicycles over wet paint slowly and some frenetic paint heaving in others. Everybody excelled on this one. Next week, the beautiful voice and phrasing of the lovely Deelee Dubé will grace our stage, with Renato D'Aliello' mellow saxophone beside her. Bruno Montrose will be on piano, Darren McCarthy on bass and Alfonso Vitale on drums. Deelee is a superb singer, don't miss her. Take care Dave

    Basil Hodge Quartet – 1 February 2019

    “Basil On Saturday after the gig, we went to visit my daughter to celebrate her birthday (50th!!), and this is the first time I have had to write about the truly splendid gig. No problems with remembering. The Basil Hodge Quartet had Basil on piano, and alll of the compositions were his. Ed Jones played tenor and soprano saxes. Oli Hayhurst was our bassistl Winston Clifford was the drummer. Dream team. Basil writes great tunes. Some are beautiful tunes, new, but easy to listen to. Some tell a tougher story and tell it well. His piano playing is a bit Monkish (not a bad thing). His solo in one tune, "Deep Down", raised a smile on Ed's face as the right hand made an extended counter-melody to the tune. His careful accompaniment was just the right underpinning to the band. Ed is a saxophonist of power and intensity. He powers through the altisimo tenor range as in "Happy New Year", sorter and powerful in "Tears of Joy", where he switched into double time. In the opening number, "Jobim the Boss", Ed Basil and Oli had great solos on that one Oli is a frequent player at Fleece Jazz. He has perfect intonation and tons of Ideas. His solo in "Regrets" was stunning: in the words of Stan Tracey, 'The right number of notes'. Throughout the gig, he was the foundation. We haven't seen Winston in far too long. The guy is my favourite drummer. His brush work on the 3/4 "Regrets" and on "Common Ground" where he held a complex repeated cross rhythm pattern while still seeming to anticipate soloists with (it seems) his other two hands. Solos? Lots, and the star solo goes to the upbeat "Hanging Out". The second set opened with a tune I knew pretty well, "The Thirteenth Amendment". The tune spoke about the abolition of slavery in the USA, and about unfinished business. The bass entry can be over-egged, but not by Oli. He was brilliantly simple, direct, and a little scary. Everybody absolutely blew their asses off, the audience clapped and hollered afterwards, and one of the musicians said loud enough to hear, 'follow that'. So to follow a great gig with my favourite drummer will be a great gig with my favourite trumpet player, Bryan Corbett. The band is led by Chris Bowden alto sax, Bryan Corbett plays trumpet and flugel, Jim Watson returns on piano, Chris Dodd plays bass and bass guitar and our drummer is Neil Bullock. "Atmospheric tunes, extended arrangements, powerful performances and good old fashioned grooves" - London Jazz News. Take care, Dave

    Alan Barnes Quartet – 25 January 2019

    “Alan Alan's dry wit and humour permeated this grand gig. Four of the best just got up there and played, hardly any charts. Five elements made up this grand evening: Alan Barnes on baritone and alto sax and clarinet, Robin Aspland on piano, Arnie Somogyi on bass, Matt Home on drums and an audience that loves the music and loves the musicians. Sad there were not more of the latter to enjoy it. I am not sure whether there was a partial set list or Alan made up the list as he went along (which was part of the fun). These guys know each other and the music so well that all the ensemble was tight. There was one song in which Alan had to tell Robin the 5 complex chords for the bridge: 10 seconds. Got a laugh from the audience, which was probably the intention. The music ranged from proper bebop (Charlie Parker's "Steeplechase"), through beautiful Jobim (A Felicidate), a Strayhorn ballad ("Lotus Blossom") to the upbeat Walton "Bolivia". Alan played the last two on baritone, and what was striking was his use of tone. In "Lotus Blossom" the tone was clear, sweet, beautiful. In "Bolivia" it was appropriately strong and rough. A couple of solos to mention. Matt had a stunning brush solo in Alan's beautiful "One for Mo", which was written for his daughter Molly. Alan was glorious soloing in "Los Caracol", with Matt laying down a complex groove. Arnie gave us a stunning solo in this one. And that for snails. Robin had a beautiful solo in the Jobim. But the overall gig was a delight from beginning to end, and clearly the audience wanted more and more. Next week. we are delighted to host Basil Hodge again. "Hodge generates more piano power...his starry front liners frequently lock horns in a harmonic manner reminiscent of Horace Silver's groups." says Chris Yates of Jazz UK. What a lineup: Basil Hodge piano, Ed Jones tenor sax, Oli Hayhurst bass, Winston Clifford drums. This is something special, folks. Take care, Dave

    Nigel Price Quartet – 18 January 2019

    “Gig Another stonking gig, but here's the thing. Last week and this week we had almost identical instrumentation (baritone sax last week, tenor this), but they were two very different gigs. Nigel Price led on guitar, Vasilis Xenopoulis on tenor, Jim Watson on organ and Joel Barford drums. Even when they played the same tune (Montgomery's "Full House") the approach was very different. Nigel put us in the mood instantly with an upbeat "Indian Summer" (Victor Herbert). We got three fine solos from guitar, horn and organ, and a sparkling set of 4s with the drums. Nigel's solo on Jones' "Bitter Sweet" was wonderful. Lots of smiles from the players as they accompanied solos. In fact the listening factor was huge all through the gig. Nigel also had some lovely a cappella intros: intricate, flowing, always building to the tune. Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream", was a good example: Nigel threw in a few chords on harmonics as accents. Vasilis is a tenor star. He had lovely unison work on heads, and ace solos all the way through the gig (well, they all did). I think Vasilis's solo on Blossom Dearie's "Sweet Georgie Fame" did stand out. I had forgotten how good Jim's organ playing was. He gave us interesting bass lines throughout. Like his colleagues, his accompaniment was meticulous, anticipating almost what the soloist would do. His solo on "Bitter Sweet" was superb. I think Nigel was showcasing the young Joel Barford, and so he should. What a stunning drummer! He had superb solos, 4s that made people smile, and listening accompaniment. To end the gig, Nigel constructed an amalgam of "Straight No Chaser" and "Billy's Bounce" (Monk and Parker). Everybody blew their butts off, but Joel was given the central position and was amazing. The tune that got to me, and I will remember was one of Nigel's. "Smokescape" was strong and ethereal at the same time. Lovely. Next week, Alan Barnes brings saxes, clarinet, great humour and a fine lineup: Alan Barnes saxes, Robin Aspland piano, Arnie Somogyi bass, Sebastiaan de Krom drums. It will be an amazing gig, see you there. Take care, Dave

    Tony Kofi and the Organisation: Point Blank – 11 January 2019

    Tony Kofi and the Organisation: Point Blank - 11 January 2019 I finally got to watch, rig and run a gig! Any gig would have been great, but this one was special. Tony Kofi brought his Organization to play music mostly from his highly regarded album "Point Blank". We had Tony on baritone saxophone, Pete Whittaker on the organ, Simon Fersby on guitar and Peter Cater on drums. As Tony tells it, he went to a rehearsal with the group with an old tenor sax, which disintegrated during the session. But Tony had a bari in his boot, and the group loved the sound. We could hear why. The timbre range of the instrument is amazing: growl, power, clarity, ballad softness, not to mention the pitch range from bass to altisimo, all available under Tony's fingers. Many of the tunes required the power of the sax, but the clarity and sweetness of Tony's solo in Bencriscutto's "Summer in Central Park" was lovely. Great solo on this 3/4 tune. Pete W. didn't bring his Leslie speakers, but it mattered not. We got the full sound and soundscape as if the rotating speakers were physically there. His is one of the very top organists. I love his bass lines. He says they are pretty ordinary. I respectfully disagree. We got the full range of the instrument and Pete's imagination in Tyner's "Search for Peace". Simon is an excellent guitarist, whether playing in accompaniment or soloing. His careful use of stomp boxes gave us timbre changes as needed. He had lots of fine solos: Martin's "Cisco" with a bit of fuzz, dirt in Monk's "L.S. Blues" and pure tone on Mancini's "Theme from Mr. Lucky". Peter C. had beautifully solid grooves under the heads and solos and a couple of excellent solos himself. I particularly liked his solo on "Cisco". He is a very listening drummer. When Tony went through a series of quotes in a solo on Smith's "Ready and Able" and hit a real stinker, Peter's bass drum rang out with a "boom-BOOM" without breaking the groove. These guys have the blues embedded in all their playing. No surprise, then, that the highlight of the evening for me was "L.S. Blues". It got to the heart. When it was finished, there was that lovely little delay before the audience applauded and whooped. Next week, a guitar led gig, the hugely talented Nigel Price brings Jim Watson on organ, Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor and Pete Levett on drums. It will be a good one, folks. Do come. Take care, Dave

    Sax Appeal – 28 December 2018

    Sax Appeal - 28 December 2018 This was a gig comprising only original tunes. And yet a large audience came and had the most wonderful time. They knew that Derek Nash would excite them. The whole band was having so much fun.The fun infused into the top class musicianship and radiating to the audience. Just look at the lineup. Saxes, left to right: Bob McKay on baritone, flute and piccolo Matt Wates on alto and one stinker of a joke Derek Nash on alto, soprano, hitty things and all the compositions save one written with his dad Paul Booth on tenor, amazing playing Brandon Allen on tenor, ditto Back line: Pete Adams on piano, power personified Phil Scragg on bass guitars, terrific intensity Nic France grand playing, depping on drums. I have got notes on all the tunes, filled with who had what great solo. They all played their asses off, and listened to each other. It was impossible to pick favourites from such fine solos. Most of the evening was from Derek's new album, "Big Bad Trouble". The title tune was played in the first set. There is something about a beautifully harmonized horn chorus that puts a shiver down my spine: an amazing sound. They ended with an oldy, "Voodoo Rex" (which you can see on our Youtube channel, fleecejazz1). If I had to pick a favourite it would be Brandon and Paul trading 4s on this one. We all give thanks to eight stunning musicians for the best sendoff of 2018. And now there is 2019. We begin with Chris Ingham on piano and Mark Crooks on sax giving us a musical portraite of Stan Getz, with Arnie Somogyi on bass and George Double on drums. It will be a cracker. Don't miss it. Have a happy, healthy New Year, all. Take care, Dave, and the copy editor, Roberta

    Liane Carroll -14 December 2018

    Liane Carroll title= I have not been able to produce these notes for some time, because of health problems and crap network access in hospital. Last night was the first time in ages that I was able to help rig, run the sound check and the show, and help clean up. Maybe it was the force of nature that is Liane Carroll that carried me through. What a gig! After a difficult trip from Hastings (the band all live there), we had a show that was fresh, lively, affecting, and musically stunning. Liane organized the sets in single numbers and in groups: the evening had a texture to it that made it pass almost too quickly. This was aided by Liane's popcorn mind. Maybe its an old joke, but the first number was called "Almost Like Being In Hove". Would Lerner and Loewe have approved? I hope so. The two guys were terrific. Roger Carey played stunning bass throughout, with some lovely solos. Russell Field is an excellent drummer, who also had some extended solos that got the crowd whooping. But it felt like there was one mind on stage, the guys hearing Liane and she them, just about faultless through an evening of improvisation and unexpected happenings. Liane varies her vocal range, timbre, intensity, volume (not the same) throughout her singing. She scats a lot, very inventive. What blows my mind is that she seems to do the same on the piano at the same time, almost fugal at times. One number in particular will stick with me. She did a solo, Kern's "Ol Man River", that everyone knows, but her take was hugely affecting. Next week, no gig, but a whopper on the Friday 28 with the return of "Sax Appeal". You will hear a horn chorus that you will never forget. Just look at the lineup: Derek Nash Saxophone & Compositions, Matt Wates Saxophone, Brandon Allen Saxophone, Paul Booth Saxophone, Bob McKay Saxophone, Pete Adams Piano, Phil Scragg Bass, Mike Bradley Drums Happy healthy holidays to you all, and Take care, Dave

    Paul Booth Quartet – 5 October 2018

    Paul Booth Quartet, 5 October 2018 It was an honour to be at the gig, which is too pretentious a phrase for a gig that was so much fun. Paul, Steve, Dave and Andrew raised listening intensity to an amazing level, and shared their joy and intensity with us. Paul Booth led the band with his powerful tenor playing, using the whole range of tone and pitch of the instrument. Steve Hamilton flew in from Edinburgh for the gig, and flew back after it: his fingers, feet and whole body flew on the piano. Dave Whitford on bass was the pulse, adapting to it as it changed, moving it when he needed to, all this melodically and with perfect intonation. Andrew Bain must be loved by his students: he was a wonderful example of technique and shared emotion last night. The band gave us Paul's originals, and some covers. The originals were great, decided upon late, and surprising. Who would have expected Edgar Sampson's "Stompin at the Savoy"? "Bb OK, guys?". But I want to concentrate on one of Paul's compositions, and one cover. The first set ended with an as yet untitled number of Paul's. Steve began with some beautiful ambient abstractions which had the audience enthralled. As the other instruments came in the tempo increased and the music became spikey. Ideas from each player kept piling in, changing the tempo and the mood, making build after build. When it was over I heard "That was a treat" from more than one listener around me. Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail" was played in the second set. Paul played a beautiful extended intro before the others came in. One would expect that Paul had made an arrangement for the number. Not so. If you closed your eyes you heard a seamless arrangement. Eyes open, the subtle cues were sometimes apparent. The tune stared as a fast bebop, Steve very spikey on the piano. There was a stunning duo between bass and drums, leading to a very slow passage. They then brought it back to it's original speed. Then the doubled it. And doubled it again. And again. Everybody, us too, was breathless. Follow that, then. Easy. Next week, we have the beautiful voice and presence of Joanna Eden, singing songs around the life of Ella Fitzgerald. Of Joanna, Time Out says "The UK's answer to Diana Krall and Norah Jones". The Chris Ingham Trio, (Chris on piano, Joe Pettitt on bass and George Double on drums) will be with her. Joanna will be bringing her stunning new album, "Truth Tree". Take care, Dave

    Jon Shenoy’s Draw by Four – 28 September 2018

    Jon Shenoy: Draw by Four - 28 September 2018 The trouble, you see, is that "Jon Shenoy" is not a well known name. Jon's Draw by Four band came and gave us a delightful evening of straight ahead jazz in which the blues influence was clearly heard throughout, and the far too small audience had a great time. Some were even moved to get up and dance! Jon Shenoy played tenor and soprano saxes. Will Bartlett played the excellent Viscount Legend organ that sounded just about like a B3. Guitarist Sam Dunn had mastery of plectrum and classical technique. David Ingamells, depping on drums, delighted us last week with Kate Williams, and again in a different context last night. The music was partly Jon's, partly standards, in a nicely balanced programme. The balance was interesting as many of the songs were chosen on the fly. Jon has an engaging connection to the audience. He doesn't rabbit on, but gives us the information we need for each song. He is very generous, providing lots of blowing room for the band. I liked all of his own tunes, and loved some of them: he is a fine composer and an excellent arranger. I liked the way he wrote for duos between most combinations of the band. And a very good player. He wrote "A Salinas Song" for his daughter Salina. The song is in 3/4. Jon had a stunning solo and a great set of 4s with Sam, on tenor for this song. "Whiskey and Rye" (two spirits in the same song?) was another great tune with a fine solo on the soprano. Will Bartlett is a considerable organist. He was featured on Leon Carr's "Marriage is for Old Folks". The intro and solos were special. Will had a lovely intro on Jon's "Three for Tea". His playing throughout was superb. In the opening song of the evening, the organ sound hits you and sets the tone for the whole show. Sam Dunn stood quietly at the back of the stage, but played his ass off (as Peter King would say). His duo with Jon's soprano on Jon's "Sickert Tales", sometimes doubling, sometimes counterpoint, I loved his solo on Arthur Schwartz's "You and the Night and the Music". It was great to see David Ingamells back so soon. He is one hell of a drummer, big ears, great skill. Lots of great solos, In Jon's "Pedal Power" he had an extended intro that put me in mind of Evelyn Glennie's solos on snare. His playing behind Sam's fuzzed guitar on Jon's "Night Trip" was just great (as was Sam's solo). We wish Carole a quick recovery from her broken ankle, so she and Mike can be back with us at gigs. Next week, the master saxophonist Paul Booth will be with us. We have Paul on saxophone, Steve Hamilton piano, Dave Whitford bass, Andrew Bain drums. Ronnie Scott has likened saxophonist Paul's style to that of the late Tubby Hayes - and John Fordham to the lyricism of Stan Getz and John Coltrane. A gig not to be missed. Take care, Dave

    Kate Williams Quartet – 21 September 2018

    Kate Williams Quartet - 21 September 2018 When musicians of quality arrive at the club with the intension of having fun, it is pretty well guaranteed that we will have fun too. And when the evening includes the nuance and thoughtfulness of Kate Williams and the power of Stan Sulzmann, we get a really great gig. The band was Kate Williams on piano, Stan Sulzmann on tenor, Oli Hayhurst on bass and David Ingamells on drums. Jazz musicians have that listening thing and care for one another: this habit was taken to its limits from the time the band arrived for the sound check through to the encore. After the hellos and hugs, they had a gentle discussion of what they should play, and how they should play each piece. The music itself was the medium for discussion as they played. It was wonderful to be a part of it. David had not been with us since 2016. He came with the Philip Clout band and impressed us then. He plays the room beautifully, making mixing really easy. His accompanying is top drawer. He had excellent solos on the penultimate number, "Too Young To ... (for heaven's sake, Dave take better notes)" and Johnny Green's "Out of Nowhere", the latter all on toms. Lovely to see David back at the club. Oli is a frequent and very welcome visitor. His solo on Jobim's "Portrait in Black and White" was full of Latin emotion, partially due to the use of some beautiful extended double stopping. The same technique made his solo in Gershwin's " My Man's Gone Now" very special. Stan is a true powerhouse who is capable of great subtlety as well. His intro Arthur Shwartz's "Alone Together" was breathtaking. All his solos were great, but on Kern's "Nobody Else But Me" he really caught the ear. You don't get spectacular stuff from Kate. You get power where it is needed, and a big dynamic range. But mostly, you get beautifully imagined nuance and subtlety. The range of emotions she gave us on the Jobim was memorable. Her solo on Guy Wood's "My One and Only Love" was lovely, as was the playing of the whole band. I don't know why they were surprised that the audience demanded an encore, but they though a bit, and decided on "Blue Monk", and sent us home very happy. Next week, someone new to Fleece Jazz. A young man who loves bebop named Jon Shenoy will be playing tenor and clarinet, with Will Bartlett organ, Sam Dunn guitar and Chris Draper drums. Press comments include "A total master of all his instruments ...Shenoy can hardly contain the force of his own inventiveness. - Pete Long (MD. Ronnie Scotts Big Band). "A unique multi-instrumentalist, he plays with sophistication, heart and soul and is equally eloquent on each1 - Claire Martin OBE Another new name rocks the Brirish Jazz scene. Don’t miss this one. Take care, Dave

    Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione – 14 September 2018

    Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione - 14 September 2018 We were very late getting into our rooms for this gig, so Samuel and I worked our butts off solidly until the audience started to come in. The sound check ended at 7:29:30. There was just enough time before the gig to eat and to finish some details, and then Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione came on to stage to totally take over our consciousness. It was half way through the second set that I realized that I wasn't taking notes... The first thing one was conscious of was the sheer power and emotion of Sarah's presentation. The second thing was Antonio's mastery of just about every guitar technique that there is. And then the third thing. The two of them are of one mind on stage, a perfect partnership. They gave us a few covers, and quite a few with Sarah's lyrics with Antonio writing the music to the poems. Some of them were from their new album, "Compared to What". The title song featured in the second set. It was written by Gene McDaniels, but I remember and loved it as it was performed by Mose Allison. The two of them made it their own with amazing power and understanding of the tough lyric. It was recorded in 1969 by Roberta Flack, but it is unfortunately just as relevant today. Sarah sings songs for which the words are the key. She delivers with range and power, often sprechgesang in style, always powerful. Antonio gave us some solo pieces. The one that sticks in my mind is his "Alhambra". I had heard him play it before at the club, and it had almost literally taken me back to my visit to Granada. So I thought it would be interesting to listen to it again. Three bars later and I was walking by the water pools in the Spanish sun. On a lighter note, (sorry), Antonio is a very good backing singer. No, the evening was not one of total gloom and seriousness. There was lots of joy and fun in it. My abiding memory (and there will be one) will be the two working as one. On Friday, a piano/sax quartet to die for. Kate Williams on piano brings the amazing Stan Sulzmann on saxes, Oli Hayhurst on bass and David Ingamells on drums. "...crisp, incisive and totally at one with the rhythmic ebb and flow." - "Williams has a quality rare among jazz composers: a musical vocabulary that's all her own" The Observer *****

    Georgia Mancio Quartet – 24 August 2018

    Georgia Mancio Quartet - 24 August 2018 What a happy band! Georgia Mancio's quartet were such a joy. Georgia at the top of her form, Kate Williams' elegance on piano, Georgia's brand new husband Dave Ohm stonking on drums and the young and brilliant Conor Chaplin on bass. The music was a mix of joy and sorrow, covers and her own work. The latter included several pieces composed by Alan Broadbent, with Georgia's lyrics. If you missed the gig (or even if you haven't) you can get a taste of their Songbook on youtube. There are very few singers who have superb intonation and articulation, and still communicate emotion clearly. Georgia is one of these. She can also communicate a lot of fun. She does these things in English, Italian, Portuguese, spoken word, whistle and scat. Communication is the right word: she has great rapport with the audience. Our photog, Peter, said, "Not being a singer man it has to be "very" good to maintain my full attention. Last nights gig did just that to my pleasant surprise. She got the right combination of musicians. Each excellent in their own right as expressed in their personal solos, but much more than that, they really gelled together. Surprisingly , Georgia did explain at the end of the gig that it was the first time they have all played together as a unit. It certainly was not noticed at all ". There were so many highlights to her performance. Here are just two. The Broadbent/Mancio "Tell the River" was an art song, a lied. Just Georgia and Kate on this one. Truly beautiful. Warren's "September in the Rain" had her scatting and whistling (again, perfect intonation). Kate is coming to us in a month with her own quartet, including the great Stan Sulzmann. Last night, her accompaniment was somehow precise and fluid, with thoughtful and surprising solos. I love the clarity of her work, as in her solo on Jobim's "Brigas Nunca Mais (No More Fighting)" I hate it when people a quarter of my age show up and be brilliant. Conor seems to have perfect intonation over the whole instrument, and superb technique to go with it. His intro on Silver's "Strolling" bounced around the low register of the instrument. Other solos were primarily at the top of the range, intricate, great ideas and speed. Dave is always a welcome player at the club. Last night he was special. The highly political Broadbent/Mancio "Same Old Moon" gave him an opportunity for an extended solo in which the emotion was palpable. Of course, whether with sticks, brushes (or one brush and one stick), or hands, he was the foundation of the quartet. He understood the room, and played his butt off. One nonmusical thing. Georgia, like many of her colleagues, is involved in work with refugees. To aid this, she had a successful collection after the gig. More power to her for this sometimes very scary work that she does. We have to wait three weeks for the next gig. September 14 brings us Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione. They have each been compared to an array of musical geniuses including Janis Joplin and Tom Waits (vocally) as well as Jimi Hendrix (instrumentally); a comparison Antonio wears with pride. They also exude a wonderful chemistry when performing together. This is a special event, not to be missed. Take care, Dave

    Fletch’s Brew – 10 July 2018

    Fletch's Brew - 10 July 2018 I had to get up very early Saturday morning to pick my wife up from Heathrow, so I was unable to stay for the second set of this marvelous gig.. I will chronicle the gig as best I can. The gig was led by the indomitable Mark Fletcher on the drums. We got to see the wonderful young trumpeter, Freddie Gavita in a different guise from the gig he gave us with his own band. Laurence Cottle is a supreme bassist, this gig, on the 6 string bass guitar. Ross Stanley arrived with a keyboard, not the advertised organ, but there is nothing artificial about Ross: the keyboard was an original Fender Rhodes. As I missed the second set, I would like to talk a little about the sound check. Samuel, his friend Matt and I rigged, and Samuel ran the show, excellent sound for the gig. Ross arrived very late, so there was no testing of his levels until the first song of the gig. So the early arriving trio rehearsed a bit. Laurence and Freddie had a "play this tune" contest (I think Laurence won, but what do I know?), Mark joined in, showering hits on both of them indiscriminately. It was a riot to watch. I wish I had caught the name and composer of the first tune. It was way up-tempo, and featured a fiery solo by Mark, not the last. It was certainly not a tune rehearsed in the sound-check, but the four of them were tight as a ... I need another cliché here. No clichés in the music. Ross comes up with wonderful chords and ideas, whether soloing or accompanying. The group can be tender. Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" had Freddie using the Harmon, perfect for this lovely ballad, beautifully played. The improvised intro was just Freddie leading, Ross accompanying, You could see and feel them listening. The set ended with Freddie's "Turnabout", in which Laurence had a solo that used every bit of the instrument, with out in any way being cute or tricky. So too short a write up of a great gig. They will be back, and it will be all new and just as much fun. We have to wait two weeks for the stunning singer, Georgia Mancio, to grace our stage with song, story, three languages, scat and whistle. Her vocals are supported by Kate Williams piano, Steve Watts bass and Dave Ohm drums. "an object lesson in subtlety ... in the impact of nuance ... It's beautiful" - All About Jazz ***** You can get a £4 discount on all gigs for a year if you become a Friend of Fleece Jazz. See Peter on the megastore. Take care, Dave

    Rob Barron Quartet – 27 July 2018

    Rob Barron Quartet - 37 July 2018 What a day. Four and a half hour drive to Heathrow (my wife almost missed her flight), four and a half hour drive straight to the club, arrived 5:30, leaving poor Gerry to do all the work. Ran the sound check on empty. Along comes 8pm, and the quartet starts to play. This tight, accurate, quietly impassioned band woke me up in the first few bars, and enthralled me throughout. We had Rob Barron's quiet intensity on piano, Nat Steele's perfect melding on vibraphone, Jeremy Brown innovative on bass, and Josh Morrison's excellent drumming. The music was entirely standards. The arrangements were excellent, with tempo changes from the originals, fascinating re-timing of key notes, great dynamic variation and new vibes: Rob has a penchant for Latin. The sound of vibraphone and piano together was reminiscent of the George Shearing group, and a little of MJQ. So mostly familiar tunes, a sound remembered, fine and delightful arrangements, Oh yes, superb musicianship. I shouldn't have to say that at Fleece Jazz. My notes were a total mess, forgot to bring a proper pen, used a Sharpie, can't read them. But a few tunes stand in the memory. Josh's solo on Gershwin's "Who Cares" was one, Jeremy's solo on Cedar Walton's "The Newest Blues" was another . Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing" had a stunning solo from Nat. Johnny Mandel's "A Time for Love" was an opportunity for Rob to wallow in the song's sentimentality, which he avoided. The emotion and intensity of this beautifully played ballad was there without the shlock. In "Encounter", on the "Love for Sale" chords, (sorry, can't read the composer, might have got the song title wrong), Rob used the full range of the piano dynamics, throwing in a handful of very funny quotes. It was an excellent gig, and the playing even got me through the de-rig and safely home. Thanks, guys. The next gig is on 10 August. Do not expect a gentle time. It is the ever popular and frightening Fletch's Brew, with Mark Fletcher drums, Freddy Gavita trumpet, Ross Stanley organ and Laurence Cottle Bass. "We haven't had anything like this in New York for over twenty years." - Wynton Marsalis Take care, Dave

    Chris Ingham’s Dudley Moore Show – 13 June 2018

    Chris Ingham's Dudley Moore Show - 13 June 2018 It was a superb show that Chris and his friends gave us, and show is definitely the right word. It was presented by fine musicians: Chris Ingham on piano, vocals, research, compere; Paul Higgs on trumpet, flugel, vocals; Geoff Gascoyne on bass and vocals; George Double on drums, vocals. Chris's thesis was that Dudley Moore was not just a great jazz pianist, but a very fine composer as well. Chris thinks that the best compositions were from the early work, mostly in the 60's. Wikipedia gives Oscar Peterson and Errol Garner as influences, but Dudley had a strong classical background (he was an accomplished organist). When studying the music on vinyl (no written music is available), Chris was finding Debussy and Ravel chord progressions that worked perfectly as jazz. Listening to the music was a great pleasure, sometimes intense sometimes very jolly. Everybody had great solos and accompaniment. But in a way, the star feature of the evening was Chris's discussion of the music, Dudley's need for love, and other fascinating aspects of Dudley's life and music. The music was almost all Dudley's. There were a few tunes that are strong in my memory on a Sunday morning. First, "Amalgam" with its intense and complex piano part and Paul's serene flugel accompaniment. It ended with a memorable piano arpeggio which segued into Kern's "Yesterdays". The solos and 4's from all four were stunning. After the beautiful "Waltz for Susie", with Paul using the straight mute, we had some hilarious soprano (ish) backing from Geoff, Paul and George on "Song for Susie" which had us in stitches. That was the last tune of the set, but the encore continued in a similar vein with "Goodbye". The up tempo "Poova Nova" (new prostitute?) also had backing vocals. Chris's vocals on "Love Me" were intense and dark.."Sad One For George" had Paul using the Harmon mute to beautiful effect. It was a special evening from musicians that we know well. On the 27th of July, we have the Rob Barron Quartet. Rob has played for us as a sideman several times,: his work was loved by the audiences. He is a London based jazz pianist, arranger and composer and has been described as one of the most creative and versatile musicians of his generation. Rob Barron ~ Piano, Nat Steele ~ Vibraphone, Jeremy Brown ~ Bass, Josh Morrison ~ Drums Do come along. Take care, Dave

    Freddie Gavita – 29 June 2018

    Freddie Gavita - 29 June 2018 Happy Canada Day, everybody. We last saw Freddie Gavita playing with Fletch's Brew, complete with stomp boxes and the joyous Fletch madness. On Friday, Freddie brought just his trumpet, his music and a beautiful golden tone. The band was: Freddie Gavita ~ Trumpet, Tom Cawley ~ Piano, Calum Gourlay ~ Bass, Josh Blackmore ~ Drums. Freddie's music is very engaging, It ranges from very slow balladic sonority to double time bebop. The tunes are memorable, even hummable. And of course the musicianship is stunningly good from all four The second set opened with "Alpha", in which Freddie alternated legato and fast staccato phrases in a wonderful solo. His "Yearning", played with the Harmon mute, was beautiful in tune and execution. If you missed the gig, buy the CD. He has an excellent rapport with the audience. His stories on the songs were interesting and informative. It seems to be accepted that the music should stand on its own, and I have some agreement with that. But Freddie didn't preach, or make extended comments. I have always loved Tom Cawley's playing. He seems to become part of the piano while remaining absolutely alert to the other three musicians. His accompaniment is wonderful, and his soloing is memorable, particularly in the ballad "Beloved". Calum Gourlay has graced our stage a few times lately, and in my view, the more the better. He has a solid pulse and plays excellent solos, not least in the quirky tune "Pull Your Socks Up". Josh Blackmore was not the youngest person in the room. Late in the first set, a young couple (older than Josh) and their 5 month old baby came in. All three loved the performance. Josh's technique on all of the tools is spectacularly good. He does not bounce about on his throne, but you can see his smile as the ideas flow. I loved his use of just rims in "Turn Around", and the malllets in the 5/4 "The Bough". This was a really fine young band which deserved a bigger audience. We are now on the twice a month summer schedule. The next gig is Chris Ingham's Dudley Moor Show, with Chris on Piano, Paul Higgs on Trumpet, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and George Double on bass. "A vibrant and moving homage." - Downbeat "An intimate and heartfelt pleasure" - London Jazz News Take care, Dave

    Jacqui Dankworth at the IJF – 24 June 2018

    Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood The Ipswich Jazz Festival is an annual event of jazz performances, art, and jazz education. It is run by Neil Bateman. Fleece Jazz hosted the Jacqui Dankworth gig at the festival, but most of the work was done by Neil. We are very grateful to him for the immense amount of work he poured into the festival, and into our wonderful gig. Many thanks, Neil. And thanks to Jacqui Dankworth (vocals), her husband Charlie Wood (vocals, piano and arrangements) and Chris Allard (guitar) for such a marvelous gig. Each set started with three tunes with Charlie and Chris. In the first set, three excellent tunes by Charlie, my favourite being "Stay With Me", which showed his Nashville background. To start the second set, we had the Carmichael/Gorrell "Georgia On My Mind". Charlie has a great rapport with the audience, and he told a story about how the lyrics came about. He gave the tune a Ray Charles vibe. It was a beautiful arrangement, beautifully played, with lovely solos from both Charlie and Chris. One of the things I love about Jacqui (other than a great voice, great presence and a love of the words) is that she takes risks. Take for example "Windmills Of Your Mind. Michel Legrand wrote the music, the English lyrics were by Alan and Marylin Bergman, and the French lyrics by Eddy Marnay. Jacqui used them both. The arrangement was of course by Charlie. The windmills were present in the arrangement, Jacqui's delivery and the incredible vocalization choruses. The latter felt somehow Arabic: beautiful, scary. That one will stay with me. She followed it with Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns", which was arranged as an art song. Unusual, and very beautiful. But the evening was full of fun, too. Gershwin's "Lady Be Good" was great fun, with Jacqui and Charlie exchanging 4s. Duke Ellington and Irving Mills wrote "It Don't Mean a Thing", and the three on the stage had a whale of a time with it. So so did we. So thanks to Jacqui, Charlie and Chris for the music, Neil and Chris for arranging the gig and to a lovely audience who had a great evening. Next Friday, 29 June, we are back home, with the wonderful trumpeter Freddie Gavita. You have (and will) see him with Fletch's Brew, but this is his own band: Tom Cawley on piano,Calum Gourlay on bass and Josh Blackmore on drums. Freddie won the British Jazz Awards Best Trumpeter. His music has a global appeal. Do come along. Take care, Dave

    Roger Beaujolais Quartet – 15 June 2018

    Roger Beaujolais Quartet, 15 June 2018 Roger Beaujolais burst onto our stage in hirsute splendour, and full of energy. The first song of the first set, Lane/Harburg "Old Devil Moon" had an almost shocking beginning, and spendid solos by all four of the band. The evening continued in that fashion, with the band having such fun up there. Roger, of course, was on vibraphone, Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Dave Barry. on drums. It was a tumultuous week for the band. Both Robin and Winston Clifford had car troubles, Winston's extending to this gig. Dave was pretty new to the band, having played only one gig with them. As usual, (but see the comment about the encore) no-one could tell. The evening was planned, or rather happened, with great standards and some fine tunes by Roger. There was something common about them all: you could hear that all four had grown up with the blues as their foundation. Sometimes it was loud and clear as in the funky blues by Roger, "Admission Impossible", but always there. Roger and Dave had exceptional solos in the latter. Everybody loves Jobim, and the band's take on "How Insensitive" was just beautiful. But if one tune is to stick in my mind from the evening, it would be Montgomery's "Full House". The head of this 3/4 tune had all four playing different riffs, making a four times cross-rhythm that was magical. Maybe I mean cadence, not riff. Don't care. It was stunning.. Simon had a wonderful solo on this one. Robin was his usual intense listening self. His solo in Roger's "In the Meantime" was exceptional. Roger's cadenza on this one was exceptional. The enduring memory of the gig was the fun that the band, and therefore the audience, were having. Every quote, every invention, brought smiles or even giggles (or groans in the case of a quote or two) from the players. This showed most strongly in the encore, Grant Green's "Jean de Fleur", chosen after some discussion. Roger, Robin and Simon had this one more or less in their muscle memory. Dave had never played it before, and their were no charts. Not to worry, Roger scatted a riff for Dave, and away they went. You know how musicians cue each other with subtle movements, or by returning to a resolving riff? Not on this one. Simon did some body directing while soloing. It was a riot. It was also fine music. Next week, no gig at the hotel on Friday, but on Sunday, 24 June the great Jacqui Dankworth, her husband Charlie Wood, and our own Chris Allard will be playing at St. Peters on the Waterfront in Ipswich as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festivall. 7:30 for 8pm as usual. Don't miss it. We will be back home on the 29th with Freddie Gavita's band. Take care Dave

    QCBA: Brandon and Quentin – 1 June 2018

    QCBA: Quentin and Brandon, 1 June 2018 Sam's Notes, 4 June 2018 Last night saw the return of several Fleece Jazz familiars with acclaimed organ driven quartet 'QCBA.' Headed up by the frontline heavyweight duo of Quentin Collins (tr) and Brandon Allen (ts), this aptly titled ensemble exhibits a roster of original compositions infused by the unmistakable colour of the Blue Note catalogue from the 1950's and 60’'s; a stalwart of the hard-bop golden era. It is primarily through QCBA’s dedication to original compositions that this group surpasses the pitfalls of pastiche, which when coupled with outstanding levels of musicianship ensured an evening of engaging and highly enjoyable improvised sound. In addition this line-up featured the widely appreciated and remarkably in-demand character of Ross Stanley at the Hammond organ, supported by the fresh presence of QCBA’s newest recruit, drummer Lloyd Haines. It is between unrelenting moments of musical brilliance [articulated well in the old axiom 'man, this guy can really cook'] that one begins to notice the extraordinary lengths to which Stanley dedicates himself to this craft. Be it simply [what would seem to most] the logistical nightmare of transporting a fully-functioning Hammond organ and accompanying Leslie cabinet across the country on a nightly basis, to the unfaltering positivity that his character brings to the music: it is no surprise that everybody loves making music with this guy. Lighting up a fire under the whole ensemble and filling the shoes of Enzo Zirilli, Lloyd Haines represents the newest generation of improvising musician; notably younger than QCBA's more seasoned constituents, Haines brings to the music an intensity and firmly-planted sophistication far beyond that which his years might suggest. His solo on Collins’ composition ‘Feurteventura’ held the room captivated as he assembled brushed rhythmic structures into a narrative whose pinnacle coincided with a cymbal flying magnificently from its stand in what was an unforeseen but wholly musical punctuation to his larger musical statement. QCBA’s promise to deliver one of the 'hardest hitting frontlines' in the business was not overstated; from the countless cutting heads and tightly woven melodic motifs to their exceedingly inventive and dexterous improvisations, Collins and Allen demonstrated a virtuosity and fluency in their dialogue that stood testament to their years of experience on the scene. Allen's composition 'Modal Transition' provided a canvas reminiscent of Joe Henderson’s mid-60’s aesthetic that when contrasted with a more intimate composition found in 'Oscar’s Lullaby' shows this group’s rangeand versatility as they approach a well-trodden musical palette with fresh intention and vigour. QCBA’s latest release "Beauty In Quiet Places" is out now on the Unbuntu Music label. Needless to say it is the continued support from you, our patrons at Fleece Jazz that makes unmissable evenings like this possible on a weekly basis. Please continue to support your local community of live Jazz music here at the Fleece. We look forward to welcoming world-renowned drummer Asaf Sirkis and critically-acclaimed vocalist Sylwia Bialas on June 8th as they present original compositions that celebrate music from a wide range of genre with their ‘International Quartet Words by Samuel Hollis From Dave: Sorry, pictures, later: Peter Fairman is on holiday. Next week, the Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet, of whom the Los Angeles Reviews said "Bialas’s voice is not only exceptional, both in timbre and range, but her improvisations are stunning. She uses her voice like an instrument, wordless, powerful, soaring...". Asaf Sirkis ~ Drums/Compositions/Konnakol, Sylwia Bialas ~ Vocals/Compositions, Frank Harrison Piano/Keys, Kevin Glasgow ~ Electric Bass

    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, Dave

    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, Dave

    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)

    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 Dave