Rob Barron Quartet – 27 July 2018

Rob Barron Quartet - 37 July 2018

What a day. Four and a half hour drive to Heathrow (my wife almost missed her flight), four and a half hour drive straight to the club, arrived 5:30, leaving poor Gerry to do all the work. Ran the sound check on empty. Along comes 8pm, and the quartet starts to play. This tight, accurate, quietly impassioned band woke me up in the first few bars, and enthralled me throughout.

We had Rob Barron‘s quiet intensity on piano, Nat Steele‘s perfect melding on vibraphone, Jeremy Brown innovative on bass, and Josh Morrison’s excellent drumming.

The music was entirely standards. The arrangements were excellent, with tempo changes from the originals, fascinating re-timing of key notes, great dynamic variation and new vibes: Rob has a penchant for Latin. The sound of vibraphone and piano together was reminiscent of the George Shearing group, and a little of MJQ. So mostly familiar tunes, a sound remembered, fine and delightful arrangements, Oh yes, superb musicianship. I shouldn’t have to say that at Fleece Jazz.

My notes were a total mess, forgot to bring a proper pen, used a Sharpie, can’t read them. But a few tunes stand in the memory. Josh’s solo on Gershwin’s “Who Cares” was one, Jeremy’s solo on Cedar Walton’s “The Newest Blues” was another . Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing” had a stunning solo from Nat.

Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” was an opportunity for Rob to wallow in the song’s sentimentality, which he avoided. The emotion and intensity of this beautifully played ballad was there without the shlock. In “Encounter”, on the “Love for Sale” chords, (sorry, can’t read the composer, might have got the song title wrong), Rob used the full range of the piano dynamics, throwing in a handful of very funny quotes.

It was an excellent gig, and the playing even got me through the de-rig and safely home. Thanks, guys.

The next gig is on 10 August. Do not expect a gentle time. It is the ever popular and frightening Fletch’s Brew, with Mark Fletcher drums, Freddy Gavita trumpet, Ross Stanley organ and Laurence Cottle Bass.
“We haven’t had anything like this in New York for over twenty years.” – Wynton Marsalis

Take care,

Dave

Chris Ingham’s Dudley Moore Show – 13 June 2018

Chris Ingham's Dudley Moore Show - 13 June 2018

It was a superb show that Chris and his friends gave us, and show is definitely the right word. It was presented by fine musicians: Chris Ingham on piano, vocals, research, compere; Paul Higgs on trumpet, flugel, vocals; Geoff Gascoyne on bass and vocals; George Double on drums, vocals.

Chris’s thesis was that Dudley Moore was not just a great jazz pianist, but a very fine composer as well. Chris thinks that the best compositions were from the early work, mostly in the 60’s. Wikipedia gives Oscar Peterson and Errol Garner as influences, but Dudley had a strong classical background (he was an accomplished organist). When studying the music on vinyl (no written music is available), Chris was finding Debussy and Ravel chord progressions that worked perfectly as jazz.

Listening to the music was a great pleasure, sometimes intense sometimes very jolly. Everybody had great solos and accompaniment. But in a way, the star feature of the evening was Chris’s discussion of the music, Dudley’s need for love, and other fascinating aspects of Dudley’s life and music.

The music was almost all Dudley’s. There were a few tunes that are strong in my memory on a Sunday morning. First, “Amalgam” with its intense and complex piano part and Paul’s serene flugel accompaniment. It ended with a memorable piano arpeggio which segued into Kern’s “Yesterdays”. The solos and 4’s from all four were stunning.

After the beautiful “Waltz for Susie”, with Paul using the straight mute, we had some hilarious soprano (ish) backing from Geoff, Paul and George on “Song for Susie” which had us in stitches. That was the last tune of the set, but the encore continued in a similar vein with “Goodbye”.

The up tempo “Poova Nova” (new prostitute?) also had backing vocals. Chris’s vocals on “Love Me” were intense and dark..”Sad One For George” had Paul using the Harmon mute to beautiful effect.

It was a special evening from musicians that we know well.

On the 27th of July, we have the Rob Barron Quartet. Rob has played for us as a sideman several times,: his work was loved by the audiences. He is a London based jazz pianist, arranger and composer and has been described as one of the most creative and versatile musicians of his generation.
Rob Barron ~ Piano, Nat Steele ~ Vibraphone, Jeremy Brown ~ Bass, Josh Morrison ~ Drums
Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Freddie Gavita – 29 June 2018

Freddie Gavita - 29 June 2018

Happy Canada Day, everybody.

We last saw Freddie Gavita playing with Fletch’s Brew, complete with stomp boxes and the joyous Fletch madness. On Friday, Freddie brought just his trumpet, his music and a beautiful golden tone. The band was: Freddie Gavita ~ Trumpet, Tom Cawley ~ Piano, Calum Gourlay ~ Bass, Josh Blackmore ~ Drums.

Freddie’s music is very engaging, It ranges from very slow balladic sonority to double time bebop. The tunes are memorable, even hummable. And of course the musicianship is stunningly good from all four The second set opened with “Alpha”, in which Freddie alternated legato and fast staccato phrases in a wonderful solo. His “Yearning”, played with the Harmon mute, was beautiful in tune and execution. If you missed the gig, buy the CD.

He has an excellent rapport with the audience. His stories on the songs were interesting and informative. It seems to be accepted that the music should stand on its own, and I have some agreement with that. But Freddie didn’t preach, or make extended comments.

I have always loved Tom Cawley’s playing. He seems to become part of the piano while remaining absolutely alert to the other three musicians. His accompaniment is wonderful, and his soloing is memorable, particularly in the ballad “Beloved”.

Calum Gourlay has graced our stage a few times lately, and in my view, the more the better. He has a solid pulse and plays excellent solos, not least in the quirky tune “Pull Your Socks Up”.

Josh Blackmore was not the youngest person in the room. Late in the first set, a young couple (older than Josh) and their 5 month old baby came in. All three loved the performance. Josh’s technique on all of the tools is spectacularly good. He does not bounce about on his throne, but you can see his smile as the ideas flow. I loved his use of just rims in “Turn Around”, and the malllets in the 5/4 “The Bough”.

This was a really fine young band which deserved a bigger audience.

We are now on the twice a month summer schedule. The next gig is Chris Ingham‘s Dudley Moor Show, with Chris on Piano, Paul Higgs on Trumpet, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and George Double on bass.
“A vibrant and moving homage.” – Downbeat
“An intimate and heartfelt pleasure” – London Jazz News

Take care,

Dave