Chris Bowden Quintet featuring Brian Corbett: “Unlikely Being” – 8 February 2019

“Chris

I don’t know what to write about this great gig. Superb and tuneful writing, great musicianship, fine solos, super accompaniment all the way through, and a very happy audience. That kind of does it.

Details, details.

The personnel were Chris Bowden on tenor and alto saxes, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, flugel and stompbox, Jim Watson on piano and keyboard, Chris Dodd on electric bass and Neil Bullock on drums.

Chris Bowden writes fine tunes. His orchestration is delightful and varied. He uses the two horns brilliantly. Bryan can vary his timbre either naturally, with a mute or with his stompbox kit. Chris uses that as one parameter, the other being whether the horns are in unison, a harmony or as in “Way Back Down”, a jazz battle, each soloing but listening. That plus his own lovely solos on both tenor and alto.

Bryan Corbett can do no wrong, says he admitting to bias. The range of timbres he gets is amazing. If I had to pick a favourite solo it would be the start of the second set, “Ridiculous Itinerary”.

Jim Watson played with Nigel Price a few weeks ago, on organ. For last Friday’s gig he played mostly piano, some keyboard, and sometimes both. I was looking forward to his piano playing and was not disappointed. Ideas just flow, and he has a great left hand. He had many fine solos, but his accompaniment was superb.

Chris Dodd wrote a lovely ballad, “Autumn Noon”. Jim had a beautiful solo on that one, as did Chris B. His solo on “We are a liar (sic?)” was special. Again, he provided excellent accompaniment.

Neil Bullock gave us a great duet with Jim on piano in “The Old God”. His accompaniment was very good indeed. I particularly loved his work on the last song of the evening, “Pollock Painting”, which was my favourite tune of the show. It was evocative of riding bicycles over wet paint slowly and some frenetic paint heaving in others. Everybody excelled on this one.

Next week, the beautiful voice and phrasing of the lovely Deelee Dubé will grace our stage, with Renato D’Aliello’ mellow saxophone beside her. Bruno Montrose will be on piano, Darren McCarthy on bass and Alfonso Vitale on drums. Deelee is a superb singer, don’t miss her.

Take care

Dave

Basil Hodge Quartet – 1 February 2019

“Basil

On Saturday after the gig, we went to visit my daughter to celebrate her birthday (50th!!), and this is the first time I have had to write about the truly splendid gig. No problems with remembering.

The Basil Hodge Quartet had Basil on piano, and alll of the compositions were his. Ed Jones played tenor and soprano saxes. Oli Hayhurst was our bassistl Winston Clifford was the drummer. Dream team.

Basil writes great tunes. Some are beautiful tunes, new, but easy to listen to. Some tell a tougher story and tell it well. His piano playing is a bit Monkish (not a bad thing). His solo in one tune, “Deep Down”, raised a smile on Ed’s face as the right hand made an extended counter-melody to the tune. His careful accompaniment was just the right underpinning to the band.

Ed is a saxophonist of power and intensity. He powers through the altisimo tenor range as in “Happy New Year”, sorter and powerful in “Tears of Joy”, where he switched into double time. In the opening number, “Jobim the Boss”, Ed Basil and Oli had great solos on that one

Oli is a frequent player at Fleece Jazz. He has perfect intonation and tons of Ideas. His solo in “Regrets” was stunning: in the words of Stan Tracey, ‘The right number of notes’. Throughout the gig, he was the foundation.

We haven’t seen Winston in far too long. The guy is my favourite drummer. His brush work on the 3/4 “Regrets” and on “Common Ground” where he held a complex repeated cross rhythm pattern while still seeming to anticipate soloists with (it seems) his other two hands. Solos? Lots, and the star solo goes to the upbeat “Hanging Out”.

The second set opened with a tune I knew pretty well, “The Thirteenth Amendment”. The tune spoke about the abolition of slavery in the USA, and about unfinished business. The bass entry can be over-egged, but not by Oli. He was brilliantly simple, direct, and a little scary. Everybody absolutely blew their asses off, the audience clapped and hollered afterwards, and one of the musicians said loud enough to hear, ‘follow that’.

So to follow a great gig with my favourite drummer will be a great gig with my favourite trumpet player, Bryan Corbett. The band is led by Chris Bowden alto sax, Bryan Corbett plays trumpet and flugel, Jim Watson returns on piano, Chris Dodd plays bass and bass guitar and our drummer is Neil Bullock.
“Atmospheric tunes, extended arrangements, powerful performances and good old fashioned grooves” – London Jazz News.

Take care,
Dave

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

Sax Appeal – 28 December 2018

Sax Appeal - 28 December 2018

This was a gig comprising only original tunes. And yet a large audience came and had the most wonderful time. They knew that Derek Nash would excite them. The whole band was having so much fun.The fun infused into the top class musicianship and radiating to the audience. Just look at the lineup.

Saxes, left to right:
Bob McKay on baritone, flute and piccolo
Matt Wates on alto and one stinker of a joke
Derek Nash on alto, soprano, hitty things and all the compositions save one written with his dad
Paul Booth on tenor, amazing playing
Brandon Allen on tenor, ditto
Back line:
Pete Adams on piano, power personified
Phil Scragg on bass guitars, terrific intensity
Nic France grand playing, depping on drums.

I have got notes on all the tunes, filled with who had what great solo. They all played their asses off, and listened to each other. It was impossible to pick favourites from such fine solos.

Most of the evening was from Derek’s new album, “Big Bad Trouble”. The title tune was played in the first set. There is something about a beautifully harmonized horn chorus that puts a shiver down my spine: an amazing sound.

They ended with an oldy, “Voodoo Rex” (which you can see on our Youtube channel, fleecejazz1). If I had to pick a favourite it would be Brandon and Paul trading 4s on this one.

We all give thanks to eight stunning musicians for the best sendoff of 2018.

And now there is 2019. We begin with Chris Ingham on piano and Mark Crooks on sax giving us a musical portraite of Stan Getz, with Arnie Somogyi on bass and George Double on drums. It will be a cracker. Don’t miss it.

Have a happy, healthy New Year, all.

Take care,
Dave, and the copy editor, Roberta

Liane Carroll -14 December 2018

Liane Carroll title=

I have not been able to produce these notes for some time, because of health problems and crap network access in hospital. Last night was the first time in ages that I was able to help rig, run the sound check and the show, and help clean up.

Maybe it was the force of nature that is Liane Carroll that carried me through. What a gig! After a difficult trip from Hastings (the band all live there), we had a show that was fresh, lively, affecting, and musically stunning. Liane organized the sets in single numbers and in groups: the evening had a texture to it that made it pass almost too quickly. This was aided by Liane’s popcorn mind. Maybe its an old joke, but the first number was called “Almost Like Being In Hove”. Would Lerner and Loewe have approved? I hope so.

The two guys were terrific. Roger Carey played stunning bass throughout, with some lovely solos. Russell Field is an excellent drummer, who also had some extended solos that got the crowd whooping. But it felt like there was one mind on stage, the guys hearing Liane and she them, just about faultless through an evening of improvisation and unexpected happenings.

Liane varies her vocal range, timbre, intensity, volume (not the same) throughout her singing. She scats a lot, very inventive. What blows my mind is that she seems to do the same on the piano at the same time, almost fugal at times. One number in particular will stick with me. She did a solo, Kern’s “Ol Man River”, that everyone knows, but her take was hugely affecting.

Next week, no gig, but a whopper on the Friday 28 with the return of “Sax Appeal”. You will hear a horn chorus that you will never forget. Just look at the lineup: Derek Nash Saxophone & Compositions, Matt Wates Saxophone, Brandon Allen Saxophone, Paul Booth Saxophone, Bob McKay Saxophone, Pete Adams Piano, Phil Scragg Bass, Mike Bradley Drums

Happy healthy holidays to you all, and
Take care,

Dave

Paul Booth Quartet – 5 October 2018

Paul Booth Quartet, 5 October 2018

It was an honour to be at the gig, which is too pretentious a phrase for a gig that was so much fun. Paul, Steve, Dave and Andrew raised listening intensity to an amazing level, and shared their joy and intensity with us.

Paul Booth led the band with his powerful tenor playing, using the whole range of tone and pitch of the instrument. Steve Hamilton flew in from Edinburgh for the gig, and flew back after it: his fingers, feet and whole body flew on the piano. Dave Whitford on bass was the pulse, adapting to it as it changed, moving it when he needed to, all this melodically and with perfect intonation. Andrew Bain must be loved by his students: he was a wonderful example of technique and shared emotion last night.

The band gave us Paul’s originals, and some covers. The originals were great, decided upon late, and surprising. Who would have expected Edgar Sampson’s “Stompin at the Savoy”? “Bb OK, guys?”. But I want to concentrate on one of Paul’s compositions, and one cover.

The first set ended with an as yet untitled number of Paul’s. Steve began with some beautiful ambient abstractions which had the audience enthralled. As the other instruments came in the tempo increased and the music became spikey. Ideas from each player kept piling in, changing the tempo and the mood, making build after build. When it was over I heard “That was a treat” from more than one listener around me.

Duke Ellington’s “Cotton Tail” was played in the second set. Paul played a beautiful extended intro before the others came in. One would expect that Paul had made an arrangement for the number. Not so. If you closed your eyes you heard a seamless arrangement. Eyes open, the subtle cues were sometimes apparent.

The tune stared as a fast bebop, Steve very spikey on the piano. There was a stunning duo between bass and drums, leading to a very slow passage. They then brought it back to it’s original speed. Then the doubled it. And doubled it again. And again. Everybody, us too, was breathless.

Follow that, then.

Easy. Next week, we have the beautiful voice and presence of Joanna Eden, singing songs around the life of Ella Fitzgerald. Of Joanna, Time Out says “The UK’s answer to Diana Krall and Norah Jones”. The Chris Ingham Trio, (Chris on piano, Joe Pettitt on bass and George Double on drums) will be with her. Joanna will be bringing her stunning new album, “Truth Tree”.

Take care,

Dave

Jon Shenoy’s Draw by Four – 28 September 2018

Jon Shenoy: Draw by Four - 28 September 2018

The trouble, you see, is that “Jon Shenoy” is not a well known name. Jon’s Draw by Four band came and gave us a delightful evening of straight ahead jazz in which the blues influence was clearly heard throughout, and the far too small audience had a great time. Some were even moved to get up and dance!

Jon Shenoy played tenor and soprano saxes. Will Bartlett played the excellent Viscount Legend organ that sounded just about like a B3. Guitarist Sam Dunn had mastery of plectrum and classical technique. David Ingamells, depping on drums, delighted us last week with Kate Williams, and again in a different context last night. The music was partly Jon’s, partly standards, in a nicely balanced programme. The balance was interesting as many of the songs were chosen on the fly.

Jon has an engaging connection to the audience. He doesn’t rabbit on, but gives us the information we need for each song. He is very generous, providing lots of blowing room for the band. I liked all of his own tunes, and loved some of them: he is a fine composer and an excellent arranger. I liked the way he wrote for duos between most combinations of the band.

And a very good player. He wrote “A Salinas Song” for his daughter Salina. The song is in 3/4. Jon had a stunning solo and a great set of 4s with Sam, on tenor for this song. “Whiskey and Rye” (two spirits in the same song?) was another great tune with a fine solo on the soprano.

Will Bartlett is a considerable organist. He was featured on Leon Carr’s “Marriage is for Old Folks”. The intro and solos were special. Will had a lovely intro on Jon’s “Three for Tea”. His playing throughout was superb. In the opening song of the evening, the organ sound hits you and sets the tone for the whole show.

Sam Dunn stood quietly at the back of the stage, but played his ass off (as Peter King would say). His duo with Jon’s soprano on Jon’s “Sickert Tales”, sometimes doubling, sometimes counterpoint, I loved his solo on Arthur Schwartz’s “You and the Night and the Music”.

It was great to see David Ingamells back so soon. He is one hell of a drummer, big ears, great skill. Lots of great solos, In Jon’s “Pedal Power” he had an extended intro that put me in mind of Evelyn Glennie’s solos on snare. His playing behind Sam’s fuzzed guitar on Jon’s “Night Trip” was just great (as was Sam’s solo).

We wish Carole a quick recovery from her broken ankle, so she and Mike can be back with us at gigs.

Next week, the master saxophonist Paul Booth will be with us.
We have Paul on saxophone, Steve Hamilton piano, Dave Whitford bass, Andrew Bain drums. Ronnie Scott has likened saxophonist Paul’s style to that of the late Tubby Hayes – and John Fordham to the lyricism of Stan Getz and John Coltrane. A gig not to be missed.

Take care,

Dave

Kate Williams Quartet – 21 September 2018

Kate Williams Quartet - 21 September 2018

When musicians of quality arrive at the club with the intension of having fun, it is pretty well guaranteed that we will have fun too. And when the evening includes the nuance and thoughtfulness of Kate Williams and the power of Stan Sulzmann, we get a really great gig.

The band was Kate Williams on piano, Stan Sulzmann on tenor, Oli Hayhurst on bass and David Ingamells on drums.

Jazz musicians have that listening thing and care for one another: this habit was taken to its limits from the time the band arrived for the sound check through to the encore. After the hellos and hugs, they had a gentle discussion of what they should play, and how they should play each piece. The music itself was the medium for discussion as they played. It was wonderful to be a part of it.

David had not been with us since 2016. He came with the Philip Clout band and impressed us then. He plays the room beautifully, making mixing really easy. His accompanying is top drawer. He had excellent solos on the penultimate number, “Too Young To … (for heaven’s sake, Dave take better notes)” and Johnny Green’s “Out of Nowhere”, the latter all on toms. Lovely to see David back at the club.

Oli is a frequent and very welcome visitor. His solo on Jobim’s “Portrait in Black and White” was full of Latin emotion, partially due to the use of some beautiful extended double stopping. The same technique made his solo in Gershwin’s ” My Man’s Gone Now” very special.

Stan is a true powerhouse who is capable of great subtlety as well. His intro Arthur Shwartz’s “Alone Together” was breathtaking. All his solos were great, but on Kern’s “Nobody Else But Me” he really caught the ear.

You don’t get spectacular stuff from Kate. You get power where it is needed, and a big dynamic range. But mostly, you get beautifully imagined nuance and subtlety. The range of emotions she gave us on the Jobim was memorable. Her solo on Guy Wood’s “My One and Only Love” was lovely, as was the playing of the whole band.

I don’t know why they were surprised that the audience demanded an encore, but they though a bit, and decided on “Blue Monk”, and sent us home very happy.

Next week, someone new to Fleece Jazz. A young man who loves bebop named Jon Shenoy will be playing tenor and clarinet, with Will Bartlett organ, Sam Dunn guitar and Chris Draper drums. Press comments include “A total master of all his instruments …Shenoy can hardly contain the force of his own inventiveness. – Pete Long (MD. Ronnie Scotts Big Band).
“A unique multi-instrumentalist, he plays with sophistication, heart and soul and is equally eloquent on each1 – Claire Martin OBE
Another new name rocks the Brirish Jazz scene. Don’t miss this one.

Take care,
Dave