Paul Higgs: Pavane – 22 November 2019

“Paul

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.

Take care,
Dave

Nicolas Meier World Group – 15 November 2019

“Nicolas

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.

Take care
Dave

Simon Spillett Quartet – 8 November 2019

“Simon

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.

Take care,
Dave

Calum Gourlay Quartet – 1 November 2019; Notes by Peter Fairman

“Calum

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.

Dave adds:
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