Jacqui Dankworth at the IJF – 24 June 2018

Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood

The Ipswich Jazz Festival is an annual event of jazz performances, art, and jazz education. It is run by Neil Bateman. Fleece Jazz hosted the Jacqui Dankworth gig at the festival, but most of the work was done by Neil. We are very grateful to him for the immense amount of work he poured into the festival, and into our wonderful gig. Many thanks, Neil.

And thanks to Jacqui Dankworth (vocals), her husband Charlie Wood (vocals, piano and arrangements) and Chris Allard (guitar) for such a marvelous gig.

Each set started with three tunes with Charlie and Chris. In the first set, three excellent tunes by Charlie, my favourite being “Stay With Me”, which showed his Nashville background. To start the second set, we had the Carmichael/Gorrell “Georgia On My Mind”. Charlie has a great rapport with the audience, and he told a story about how the lyrics came about. He gave the tune a Ray Charles vibe. It was a beautiful arrangement, beautifully played, with lovely solos from both Charlie and Chris.

One of the things I love about Jacqui (other than a great voice, great presence and a love of the words) is that she takes risks. Take for example “Windmills Of Your Mind. Michel Legrand wrote the music, the English lyrics were by Alan and Marylin Bergman, and the French lyrics by Eddy Marnay. Jacqui used them both. The arrangement was of course by Charlie. The windmills were present in the arrangement, Jacqui’s delivery and the incredible vocalization choruses. The latter felt somehow Arabic: beautiful, scary. That one will stay with me. She followed it with Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns”, which was arranged as an art song. Unusual, and very beautiful.

But the evening was full of fun, too. Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” was great fun, with Jacqui and Charlie exchanging 4s. Duke Ellington and Irving Mills wrote “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, and the three on the stage had a whale of a time with it. So so did we.

So thanks to Jacqui, Charlie and Chris for the music, Neil and Chris for arranging the gig and to a lovely audience who had a great evening.

Next Friday, 29 June, we are back home, with the wonderful trumpeter Freddie Gavita. You have (and will) see him with Fletch’s Brew, but this is his own band: Tom Cawley on piano,Calum Gourlay on bass and Josh Blackmore on drums. Freddie won the British Jazz Awards Best Trumpeter. His music has a global appeal. Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Roger Beaujolais Quartet – 15 June 2018

Roger Beaujolais Quartet, 15 June 2018
Roger Beaujolais burst onto our stage in hirsute splendour, and full of energy. The first song of the first set, Lane/Harburg “Old Devil Moon” had an almost shocking beginning, and spendid solos by all four of the band. The evening continued in that fashion, with the band having such fun up there.

Roger, of course, was on vibraphone, Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Dave Barry. on drums.

It was a tumultuous week for the band. Both Robin and Winston Clifford had car troubles, Winston’s extending to this gig. Dave was pretty new to the band, having played only one gig with them. As usual, (but see the comment about the encore) no-one could tell.

The evening was planned, or rather happened, with great standards and some fine tunes by Roger. There was something common about them all: you could hear that all four had grown up with the blues as their foundation. Sometimes it was loud and clear as in the funky blues by Roger, “Admission Impossible”, but always there. Roger and Dave had exceptional solos in the latter.

Everybody loves Jobim, and the band’s take on “How Insensitive” was just beautiful. But if one tune is to stick in my mind from the evening, it would be Montgomery’s “Full House”. The head of this 3/4 tune had all four playing different riffs, making a four times cross-rhythm that was magical. Maybe I mean cadence, not riff. Don’t care. It was stunning.. Simon had a wonderful solo on this one.

Robin was his usual intense listening self. His solo in Roger’s “In the Meantime” was exceptional. Roger’s cadenza on this one was exceptional.

The enduring memory of the gig was the fun that the band, and therefore the audience, were having. Every quote, every invention, brought smiles or even giggles (or groans in the case of a quote or two) from the players. This showed most strongly in the encore, Grant Green’s “Jean de Fleur”, chosen after some discussion. Roger, Robin and Simon had this one more or less in their muscle memory. Dave had never played it before, and their were no charts. Not to worry, Roger scatted a riff for Dave, and away they went. You know how musicians cue each other with subtle movements, or by returning to a resolving riff? Not on this one. Simon did some body directing while soloing. It was a riot. It was also fine music.

Next week, no gig at the hotel on Friday, but on Sunday, 24 June the great Jacqui Dankworth, her husband Charlie Wood, and our own Chris Allard will be playing at St. Peters on the Waterfront in Ipswich as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festivall. 7:30 for 8pm as usual. Don’t miss it.
We will be back home on the 29th with Freddie Gavita’s band.

Take care
Dave

Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet – 8 June 2018

Great apologies to: Asaf Sirkis – Drums/Compositions/Konnakol, Sylwia Bialas – Vocals/Compositions, Frank Harrison – Piano, Kevin Glasgow – Bass. Dave was away, so no proper blog, and Peter was on holiday, so no pictures. Not good enough for what was reported to be an excellent gig.

My excuse was my 56 wedding anniversary with Canadian guests. Peter was in Spain.

QCBA: Brandon and Quentin, 1 June 2018

QCBA: Quentin and Brandon, 1 June 2018
Sam’s Notes, 4 June 2018

Last night saw the return of several Fleece Jazz familiars with acclaimed organ driven quartet ‘QCBA.’ Headed up by the frontline heavyweight duo of Quentin Collins (tr) and Brandon Allen (ts), this aptly titled ensemble exhibits a roster of original compositions infused by the unmistakable colour of the Blue Note catalogue from the 1950’s and 60’’s; a stalwart of the hard-bop golden era. It is primarily through QCBA’s dedication to original compositions that this group surpasses the pitfalls of pastiche, which when coupled with outstanding levels of musicianship ensured an evening of engaging and highly enjoyable improvised sound. 


In addition this line-up featured the widely appreciated and remarkably in-demand character of Ross Stanley at the Hammond organ, supported by the fresh presence of QCBA’s newest recruit, drummer Lloyd Haines. It is between unrelenting moments of musical brilliance [articulated well in the old axiom ‘man, this guy can really cook’] that one begins to notice the extraordinary lengths to which Stanley dedicates himself to this craft. Be it simply [what would seem to most] the logistical nightmare of transporting a fully-functioning Hammond organ and accompanying Leslie cabinet across the country on a nightly basis, to the unfaltering positivity that his character brings to the music: it is no surprise that everybody loves making music with this guy. 


Lighting up a fire under the whole ensemble and filling the shoes of Enzo Zirilli, Lloyd Haines represents the newest generation of improvising musician; notably younger than QCBA’s more seasoned constituents, Haines brings to the music an intensity and firmly-planted sophistication far beyond that which his years might suggest. His solo on Collins’ composition ‘Feurteventura’ held
the room captivated as he assembled brushed rhythmic structures into a narrative whose pinnacle coincided with a cymbal flying magnificently from its stand in what was an unforeseen but wholly musical punctuation to his larger musical statement.

QCBA’s promise to deliver one of the ‘hardest hitting frontlines’ in the business was not overstated; from the countless cutting heads and tightly woven melodic motifs to their exceedingly inventive and dexterous improvisations, Collins and Allen demonstrated a virtuosity and fluency in their dialogue that stood testament to their years of experience on the scene. Allen’s composition ‘Modal Transition’ provided a canvas reminiscent of Joe Henderson’s mid-60’s aesthetic that when contrasted with a more intimate composition found in ‘Oscar’s Lullaby’ shows this group’s rangeand versatility as they approach a well-trodden musical palette with fresh intention and vigour.

QCBA’s latest release “Beauty In Quiet Places” is out now on the Unbuntu Music label.

Needless to say it is the continued support from you, our patrons at Fleece Jazz that makes unmissable evenings like this possible on a weekly basis. Please continue to support your local community of live Jazz music here at the Fleece. We look forward to welcoming world-renowned drummer Asaf Sirkis and critically-acclaimed vocalist Sylwia Bialas on June 8th as they present original compositions that celebrate music from a wide range of genre with their ‘International Quartet


Words by Samuel Hollis

From Dave:
Sorry, pictures, later: Peter Fairman is on holiday.
Next week, the Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet, of whom the Los Angeles Reviews said “Bialas’s voice is not only exceptional, both in timbre and range, but her improvisations are stunning. She uses her voice like an instrument, wordless, powerful, soaring…”. Asaf Sirkis ~ Drums/Compositions/Konnakol, Sylwia Bialas ~ Vocals/Compositions, Frank Harrison Piano/Keys, Kevin Glasgow ~ Electric Bass