Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies – 24 January 2020

“Joanna

Some gigs stand in the memory.

Last Friday, we had Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies. The band was Joanna Eden vocals, Chris Ingham piano, compére and backing vocals, Mark Crooks sax, Arnie Somogyi bass, George Double drums. Joanna is one of the finest singers in the UK, with a great love of the lyrics. Chris is a superb researcher, giving us the background to the songs. Mark is a wonderful tenor player, and to my mind, an even better clarinetist. Arnie does what fine bassists do, with solid and interesting accompaniment. George is a great accompanist to singers, an excellent drummer.

Both sets started off with the instrumental quartet. We had Neal Hefti’s theme from “The Odd Couple”, and, from “The Fabulous Baker Boys”, David Grusin’s “Jack’s Theme”. I think we ought to book this quartet for a full gig.

The banter between Joanna and Chris was great fun. Chris said Joanna couldn’t sing in Portuguese, but would only vocalise. In the Mancini/Miglacci “It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio stasera)”, Joanna’s voice soared in Portuguese in this up-tempo Latin number. To be fair, Chris had a great solo, and Mark’s solo and accompaniment to the singing were both excellent. “The Pink Panther” would have been proud.

There was a special moment in the last number before the demanded encore. From Disney’s “The Aristocats” we got “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” (Al Rinker), in which George did a terrific Krupa, with Mark climbing high as Goodman.

Bacharach has cited “Alfie” as his personal favorite of his compositions. Joanna sang gloriously and powerfully on this tune: it is so easy to make it maudlin. Joanna did not.

We had, of course, a series of Bond themes. My favourite was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, called “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” for “Thunderball”. It was perfect in mood, chords, intent, but not in name, but the producers said no good, write one called “Thunderball”..

It was one fine gig: beautiful singing, great arrangements, perfect playing.

Next week, 31 January, a BIG BAND. The Horn Factory is with us, and I haven’t room to list the 18 musicians. We will have fast moving, hard hitting, contemporary jazz from this East Anglian band.

Take care,
Dave

Jim Rattigan’s 12 piece band: Pavillon – 17 January 2020

“Jim

Jim Rattigan‘s band gave us a heap of joy last Friday. All of the tunes were written and arranged by Jim. The tunes were excellent, and the arrangements special. There were 13 tunes in the two sets, and Jim made use of a lot more than 13 combinations of instruments as well as tempo changes in this well balanced programme. It was a great gig from beginning to the encore, with some avery special moments.

The band was named Pavillon after the French word for the bell of Jim Rattigan’s French horn. The band features saxophonists Martin Speake on alto, Andy Panayi on tenor and Mick Foster on baritone, Percy Pursglove on trumpet and flugel, Robbie Robson and Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Mark Nightingale on trombone, Sarah Williamson on bass trombone, pianist Hans Koller, double bassist Dave Whitford and Martin France on drums.

As well as a stunning Andy Panayi solo on “Strong Tea”, there was a ‘Yeh Jess * ” moment. When odd things happen you get magic. Someone missed their solo, so Hans jumped in with a lovely one. Hans’s solo on “Ballad Blue” was just beautiful. Jim had a stunning solo on that one.

Martin’s accompaniment was not a moment. It was just special throughout the gig.

I loved the “battles” between groups of similar instruments:the saxes almost doing cutting, and the trumpets firing off each other, in 4s and 8s.

This was the last gig of the band’s tour, so I am sorry you will not get to hear Jim’s stories. In particular, why the first tune was called “Timbuck3”.

Next week, 24 January, brings Joanna Eden’s Jazz at the Movies.
“One of the finest combos in the country and a seriously talented vocalist…*a great evening that satisfied both jazz and movie buffs. Quite a trick” – Jazz Journal
Joanna Eden Vocals, Chris Ingham Piano, Mark Crooks Sax, Arnie Somogyi Bass, George Double Drums
“Bloody marvellous!” Dame Cleo Laine

Take care,
Dave

* In the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall gig, there was a magic moment, when in “Sing, Sing, Sing”, Jess Stacey jumped in with an unplanned solo, one of the greatest piano solos ever. Benny was heard to mildly admonish Jess, clearly heard to say “Yeh, Jess”.

Babelfish – 10 January 2020

“Babelfish

Brigitte Beraha is an explorer, an improviser, a singer who thinks deeply about the lyrics. She sang for us on Friday backed by a superb trio.

On stage were Brigitte Beraha on vocals, Barry Green on piano, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis.

The programme was very well balanced, with songs by Brigitte and Barry, some standards, and a few surprises. Aaron Copland’s composition of Emily Dickenson’s poem “Heart, We Will Forget Him” was turned into a lovely, sad jazz ballad, which somehow segued naturally into “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” (Harry Carroll composer, Joseph McCarthy lyricist).

But a bigger surprise was a song that Brigitte considers the most beautiful one ever written. It was written in the late 1600s by Henry Purcell. It is “Dido’s Lament” from Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”. The band began and ended with a close and beautifully played and sung rendition of the Purcell, but the central part of the song was filled with quite amazing cross improvisations by the whole band.

Brigitte sang the verse as well as the chorises of Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You”. I love singers that sing the verse. Brigitte scats a lot, but varies the articulations to suit the songs, as in this one.

I love what they did with Jobim’s “Wave”. Paul plays the most expressive tambourine. Barry had a stunning solo. Paul and Brigitte had a fascinating duet. Chris’ solo was superb.

It was a very good night,

Next week a 12 piece band, “Pavillon”, led by French horn player Jim Rattigan. The band features saxophonists Martin Speake on alto, Andy Panayi on tenor and Mick Foster on baritone, Percy Pursglove, Robbie Robson and Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Mark Nightingale and Sarah Williamson on trombone, pianist Hans Koller, double bassist Dave Whitford and Martin France on drums. It will be a great evening. Don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave

Ian Shaw with Barry Green – 3 January 2020

“Ian

After Friday’s gig, I was wondering about why I loved the gig so much, just one voice and pianist, But what a voice, what a pianist!

Ian Shaw‘s basic instrument is excellent. It is what he does with it that is so amazing. He has complete control of timbre, intonation, enunciation, dynamics, phrasing, and probably a bunch more components of voice that I don’t know about. More important is how he uses that control. He is an improvising singer, and his flights of improvisation make the words have more meaning.

Barry Green says he is working on “the right number of notes” (as Stan Tracey said), Without a pile of virtuosity, which I know he has, the phrasing and dynamics need to be perfect in the moment as he hears Ian sing, and they are. He gave us many thoughtful solos.

That’s right, Ian, don’t tell the sound guy about a special guest. Hannah Horton played sax on the seventh tune of the first set, and again in the second set, and her tenor sounded just fine unamplified.

Ian had constructed a delightfully varied and meaningful programme, and his presentation of the music was often great fun, and always interesting. I loved it when he sang so beautifully the rarely heard verse of Richard Rogers’ “With a Song in My Heart”. “September in the Rain” (Harry Warren composer, Al Dubin lyricist) gave us a chance to hear some wonderful extended scatting in this up tempo version of the song.

Barry’s accompaniment on Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” was sparse, with lovely phrasing, each note placed just right. His solo on Jack Segal’s “I Keep Going Back to Joe’s”, one of my favourite songs, was wonderful.

Leonard Cohen started as a poet, and wrote some novels, so it is not a surprise that he was a consummate lyricist. “Dance Me to the End of Love” was extra special, in a very special evening. Ian gave the words such meaning, through the whole range of his voice. Barry’s accompaniment and solo were sublime.

Next week, 10 January, Babelfish returns, Brigitte Beraha vocals, Barry Green back again on piano, Chris Laurence bass, Paul Clarvis drums/percussion.
Ian Mann says of Brigitte, “One of the most adventurous young vocalists around, a musical explorer..”.

Take care,
Dave