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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,




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

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

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

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