Alan Barnes Quartet – 25 January 2019

“Alan

Alan’s dry wit and humour permeated this grand gig. Four of the best just got up there and played, hardly any charts. Five elements made up this grand evening: Alan Barnes on baritone and alto sax and clarinet, Robin Aspland on piano, Arnie Somogyi on bass, Matt Home on drums and an audience that loves the music and loves the musicians. Sad there were not more of the latter to enjoy it.

I am not sure whether there was a partial set list or Alan made up the list as he went along (which was part of the fun). These guys know each other and the music so well that all the ensemble was tight. There was one song in which Alan had to tell Robin the 5 complex chords for the bridge: 10 seconds. Got a laugh from the audience, which was probably the intention.

The music ranged from proper bebop (Charlie Parker’s “Steeplechase”), through beautiful Jobim (A Felicidate), a Strayhorn ballad (“Lotus Blossom”) to the upbeat Walton “Bolivia”. Alan played the last two on baritone, and what was striking was his use of tone. In “Lotus Blossom” the tone was clear, sweet, beautiful. In “Bolivia” it was appropriately strong and rough.

A couple of solos to mention. Matt had a stunning brush solo in Alan’s beautiful “One for Mo”, which was written for his daughter Molly. Alan was glorious soloing in “Los Caracol”, with Matt laying down a complex groove. Arnie gave us a stunning solo in this one. And that for snails. Robin had a beautiful solo in the Jobim.

But the overall gig was a delight from beginning to end, and clearly the audience wanted more and more.

Next week. we are delighted to host Basil Hodge again. “Hodge generates more piano power…his starry front liners frequently lock horns in a harmonic manner reminiscent of Horace Silver’s groups.” says Chris Yates of Jazz UK.
What a lineup: Basil Hodge piano, Ed Jones tenor sax, Oli Hayhurst bass, Winston Clifford drums. This is something special, folks.

Take care,
Dave

Nigel Price Quartet – 18 January 2019

“Gig

Another stonking gig, but here’s the thing. Last week and this week we had almost identical instrumentation (baritone sax last week, tenor this), but they were two very different gigs. Nigel Price led on guitar, Vasilis Xenopoulis on tenor, Jim Watson on organ and Joel Barford drums. Even when they played the same tune (Montgomery’s “Full House”) the approach was very different.

Nigel put us in the mood instantly with an upbeat “Indian Summer” (Victor Herbert). We got three fine solos from guitar, horn and organ, and a sparkling set of 4s with the drums. Nigel’s solo on Jones’ “Bitter Sweet” was wonderful. Lots of smiles from the players as they accompanied solos. In fact the listening factor was huge all through the gig. Nigel also had some lovely a cappella intros: intricate, flowing, always building to the tune. Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream”, was a good example: Nigel threw in a few chords on harmonics as accents.

Vasilis is a tenor star. He had lovely unison work on heads, and ace solos all the way through the gig (well, they all did). I think Vasilis’s solo on Blossom Dearie’s “Sweet Georgie Fame” did stand out.

I had forgotten how good Jim’s organ playing was. He gave us interesting bass lines throughout. Like his colleagues, his accompaniment was meticulous, anticipating almost what the soloist would do. His solo on “Bitter Sweet” was superb.

I think Nigel was showcasing the young Joel Barford, and so he should. What a stunning drummer! He had superb solos, 4s that made people smile, and listening accompaniment. To end the gig, Nigel constructed an amalgam of “Straight No Chaser” and “Billy’s Bounce” (Monk and Parker). Everybody blew their butts off, but Joel was given the central position and was amazing.

The tune that got to me, and I will remember was one of Nigel’s. “Smokescape” was strong and ethereal at the same time. Lovely.

Next week, Alan Barnes brings saxes, clarinet, great humour and a fine lineup: Alan Barnes saxes, Robin Aspland piano, Arnie Somogyi bass, Sebastiaan de Krom drums. It will be an amazing gig, see you there.

Take care,
Dave

Tony Kofi and the Organisation: Point Blank – 11 January 2019

Tony Kofi and the Organisation: Point Blank - 11 January 2019

I finally got to watch, rig and run a gig! Any gig would have been great, but this one was special. Tony Kofi brought his Organization to play music mostly from his highly regarded album “Point Blank”. We had Tony on baritone saxophone, Pete Whittaker on the organ, Simon Fersby on guitar and Peter Cater on drums.

As Tony tells it, he went to a rehearsal with the group with an old tenor sax, which disintegrated during the session. But Tony had a bari in his boot, and the group loved the sound. We could hear why. The timbre range of the instrument is amazing: growl, power, clarity, ballad softness, not to mention the pitch range from bass to altisimo, all available under Tony’s fingers.

Many of the tunes required the power of the sax, but the clarity and sweetness of Tony’s solo in Bencriscutto’s “Summer in Central Park” was lovely. Great solo on this 3/4 tune.

Pete W. didn’t bring his Leslie speakers, but it mattered not. We got the full sound and soundscape as if the rotating speakers were physically there. His is one of the very top organists. I love his bass lines. He says they are pretty ordinary. I respectfully disagree. We got the full range of the instrument and Pete’s imagination in Tyner’s “Search for Peace”.

Simon is an excellent guitarist, whether playing in accompaniment or soloing. His careful use of stomp boxes gave us timbre changes as needed. He had lots of fine solos: Martin’s “Cisco” with a bit of fuzz, dirt in Monk’s “L.S. Blues” and pure tone on Mancini’s “Theme from Mr. Lucky”.

Peter C. had beautifully solid grooves under the heads and solos and a couple of excellent solos himself. I particularly liked his solo on “Cisco”. He is a very listening drummer. When Tony went through a series of quotes in a solo on Smith’s “Ready and Able” and hit a real stinker, Peter’s bass drum rang out with a “boom-BOOM” without breaking the groove.
These guys have the blues embedded in all their playing. No surprise, then, that the highlight of the evening for me was “L.S. Blues”. It got to the heart. When it was finished, there was that lovely little delay before the audience applauded and whooped.

Next week, a guitar led gig, the hugely talented Nigel Price brings Jim Watson on organ, Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor and Pete Levett on drums. It will be a good one, folks. Do come.

Take care,
Dave