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 Adamsbrought both trumpet and flugel. Alan Barnesplayed 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.
A Bitter Dose (Bobby Watson)
Arabia (Curtis Fuller) Curtis Fuller was a trombonist and a Jazz Messenger between 1961 -1965
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.
Crisis (Freddie Hubbard) Freddie Hubbard was a trumpet player and a Jazz Messenger between 1961 and 1965
The Soulful Mr. Timmons (James Williams) Bobby Timmons was a jazz pianist in Art Blakey’s band between 1958-1961
Caravan (Ellington/Juan Tizol; arranged by Art Blakey) When Art Blakey recorded this for the album of the same name, he kicked off with a short sharp drum feature. Hubbard’s trumpet attacked the first solo and a fluent set of improvisations that are tight, exciting and bristle with expertise, ensues from each player.
* * * * * * *
Duck Soup (Art Blakey)
One by One (Wayne Shorter)
Body and Soul (Johnny Green) featuring Andrzej Baranek
10. A Wheel Within A Wheel (Bobby Watson)
11.We’ll Be Together Again (Carl T. Fischer)
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.
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.
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)
It’s Alright With Me (Cole Porter)
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.
Bouncy (Martin Speake
Unannounced (but very likely from the Universal Connection recording)
Unannounced (but very likely from the Universal Connection recording)
Four Four (Martin Speake)
What is there to say? (Vernon Duke/Yip Harburg)
A jazz standard performed by Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole and Gerry Mulligan
Father Sky (Martin Speake)
* * * * * * *
Balance (Martin Speake)
Based on Charlie Parker’s Moose The Mooche)
Heaven Energy (Martin Speake)
Dissolving Illusions (Martin Speake)
10.Conspiracy Observer (Martin Speake)
On Wednesday, May 11th, 8:00pm – The Gaz Messengers, £20
Gaz Hughes Drums and Bandleader
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.
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 ofopportunities 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 Hoggstepped 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 seemedto 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.
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 Hillon 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.
On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislaw Kaper)
Performed by Miles Davis and Bill Evans amongst others. From film of the same name from1947
Night Owls (George Trebar)
Stella by Starlight (Victor Young)
From film, The Uninvited. Has been performed by Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra amongst others.
Theme from Taxi Driver (Bernard Herrmann)
Laura (Johnny Mercer/David RaskinDune".) From film of the same name from1944.
Maudib(George Trebar) For the hero of the novel, "
Gone with the Wind (Allie Wrubel/Herb Magidson)Popular song performed by Frank Sinatra and Clifford Brown amongst others. Not related to the film.
*** * ***
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.
Midnight Cowboy (John Barry)
10.What are you doing the rest of your life? (Michel Legrand) from the film, ‘The Happy Ending’ (1969)
11.Sal’s Paradise (George Trebar)
Inspired by a character from Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ about the Beat Generation.
12.If I Were A Bell (Frank Loesser) from the musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’ (1950)
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.
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.
Careless Love (W.C. Handy/Spencer Williams)
Best known by Madeleine Peyroux’s version
Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell)
Best known by Ray Charles’ version
Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster)
Best known by Doris Day’s versionfrom Calamity Jane , later covered by Kathy Kirby
Broken Hill (John Etheridge)
Best known from Soft Machine era
Cold cold heart (Hank Williams)
Do Like Eddie (John Scofield) Dedicated to Eddie Harris
*** * ***
God Bless The Child (Billie Holliday & Arthur Herzog Junior)
Msunduza (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Performed when Ibrahim was with Dollar Brand
First Moves (Sonny Rollins)
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’
11.Sealed with a Kiss (Peter Udell and Gary Geld)
Best known by Brian Hyland
12.Wabash III (John Scofield)
13.Distant Voice (John Etheridge)
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
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 Dowlingis 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 DeLecheon 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.
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.
Thoughts on Art Themen Trio – 24 November 2021
[caption id="attachment_1351" align="aligncenter" width="451"] 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.
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 AboutJazz
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 in4 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 willbe with us, Art on tenor, Steve Whittaker on Hammond and George Double on drums. Do joinus.
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
“★ ★ ★ ★ 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 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 onHexagonal , 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 withTyner’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 achance 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.
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 Siredand 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’sfine 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.
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 accompanyinga 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.
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
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 Saxophone,
Pete Whittaker HammondOrgan,
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
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
Greg HeathTenor Sax,
Jason Yarde Alto Sax,
Graeme Flowers Trumpet,
John Donaldson Piano,
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
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.
Tim Whitehead Quartet – 28 February 2020
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
Georgia Mancio Quartet – 21 February 2020
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
Chris Biscoe and Allison Neale: Two of a Mind – 14 February 2020
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.
Jo Harrop sings Peggy Lee – 7 February 2020
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.
The Horn Factory – 31 January 2020
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:
Gilly Burgoyne Alto/Soprano/Flute, Lynsey Welham Alto, Jonathan Farnhill Lead Tenor, Mark Usher Tenor, Suzie Runnacles Baritone
Richard Steward, Ian Buzer trumpet/flugel, Steve Stone, Roger Morfey, John Burch
Paul Little, Andy Shipp, Steve Ball, Dave Turnage Bass Trombone
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
Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies – 24 January 2020
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.
Jim Rattigan’s 12 piece band: Pavillon – 17 January 2020
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
* 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
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.
Ian Shaw with Barry Green – 3 January 2020
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..".
Kevin Flanagan Quartet – 20 December 2019
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.
David Newton Trio – 13 December 2019
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
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.
Tom Green Septet – 29 November 2019
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.
Paul Higgs: Pavane – 22 November 2019
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.
Nicolas Meier World Group – 15 November 2019
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.
Simon Spillett Quartet – 8 November 2019
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.
Calum Gourlay Quartet – 1 November 2019; Notes by Peter Fairman
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.
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
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.
Benn Clatworthy Quartet – 18 October 2019
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
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.
Renato d’Aiello plays the music of Cedar Walton – 27 September 2019
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,
Tammy Weis Quartet – 20 September 2019
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.
Bonsai – 13 September 2019
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.
Dave Lewis’s 1UP Band – 30 August 2019 – Peter
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
Ben 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.
John Etheridge’s “Blue Spirits” – 9 August 2019
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.
Hexagon – 26 June 2019
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.
Joanna Eden’s “Sondheim and Me” – 12 July 2019
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
Art Themen Trio – 5 July 2019
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.
Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy.
Alina Bzhezhinska – 14 June 2019
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.
Tim Kliphuis Trio – 24 May 2019
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.
Dave (and editor Roberta)
Liane Carroll – 12 May 2019
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.
Eyal Lovett Quartet + Blue Dahlia: 3 May 2019
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.
Christian Brewer Quartet – 26 April 2019
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?
Fletch’s Brew – April 5, 2019
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.
Sean Kahn Quartet – 29 March 2019
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.
The John East Project – 22 March 2019
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.
Steve Fishwick Quartet – 15 March 2019
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.
John Turville Quintet featuring Julian Arguelles – 1 March 2019
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.
Clark Tracey Quintet: “No Doubt” – 22 February 2019
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
Deelee Dubé and Renato D’Aliello – 15 February 2019
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
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.
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.
Basil Hodge Quartet – 1 February 2019
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.
Alan Barnes Quartet – 25 January 2019
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.
Nigel Price Quartet – 18 January 2019
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.
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.
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
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.
Dave, and the copy editor, Roberta
Liane Carroll -14 December 2018
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
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".
Jon Shenoy’s 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Rob Barron Quartet – 27 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
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.
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
Jacqui Dankworth at the IJF – 24 June 2018
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.
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.
QCBA: Brandon and Quentin – 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
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
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.
Dave’s Notes, 22 April 2018 – Gill Manly
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.
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
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.