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

Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione – 14 September 2018

Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione - 14 September 2018

We were very late getting into our rooms for this gig, so Samuel and I worked our butts off solidly until the audience started to come in. The sound check ended at 7:29:30. There was just enough time before the gig to eat and to finish some details, and then Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione came on to stage to totally take over our consciousness. It was half way through the second set that I realized that I wasn’t taking notes…

The first thing one was conscious of was the sheer power and emotion of Sarah’s presentation. The second thing was Antonio’s mastery of just about every guitar technique that there is. And then the third thing. The two of them are of one mind on stage, a perfect partnership.

They gave us a few covers, and quite a few with Sarah’s lyrics with Antonio writing the music to the poems. Some of them were from their new album, “Compared to What”. The title song featured in the second set. It was written by Gene McDaniels, but I remember and loved it as it was performed by Mose Allison. The two of them made it their own with amazing power and understanding of the tough lyric. It was recorded in 1969 by Roberta Flack, but it is unfortunately just as relevant today.

Sarah sings songs for which the words are the key. She delivers with range and power, often sprechgesang in style, always powerful.

Antonio gave us some solo pieces. The one that sticks in my mind is his “Alhambra”. I had heard him play it before at the club, and it had almost literally taken me back to my visit to Granada. So I thought it would be interesting to listen to it again. Three bars later and I was walking by the water pools in the Spanish sun. On a lighter note, (sorry), Antonio is a very good backing singer.

No, the evening was not one of total gloom and seriousness. There was lots of joy and fun in it. My abiding memory (and there will be one) will be the two working as one.

On Friday, a piano/sax quartet to die for. Kate Williams on piano brings the amazing Stan Sulzmann on saxes, Oli Hayhurst on bass and David Ingamells on drums.
“…crisp, incisive and totally at one with the rhythmic ebb and flow.” – “Williams has a quality rare among jazz composers: a musical vocabulary that’s all her own” The Observer *****

Georgia Mancio Quartet – 24 August 2018

Georgia Mancio Quartet - 24 August 2018
What a happy band! Georgia Mancio‘s quartet were such a joy. Georgia at the top of her form, Kate Williams‘ elegance on piano, Georgia’s brand new husband Dave Ohm stonking on drums and the young and brilliant Conor Chaplin on bass.

The music was a mix of joy and sorrow, covers and her own work. The latter included several pieces composed by Alan Broadbent, with Georgia’s lyrics. If you missed the gig (or even if you haven’t) you can get a taste of their Songbook on youtube.

There are very few singers who have superb intonation and articulation, and still communicate emotion clearly. Georgia is one of these. She can also communicate a lot of fun. She does these things in English, Italian, Portuguese, spoken word, whistle and scat. Communication is the right word: she has great rapport with the audience. Our photog, Peter, said, “Not being a singer man it has to be “very” good to maintain my full attention. Last nights gig did just that to my pleasant surprise. She got the right combination of musicians. Each excellent in their own right as expressed in their personal solos, but much more than that, they really gelled together. Surprisingly , Georgia did explain at the end of the gig that it was the first time they have all played together as a unit. It certainly was not noticed at all “.

There were so many highlights to her performance. Here are just two. The Broadbent/Mancio “Tell the River” was an art song, a lied. Just Georgia and Kate on this one. Truly beautiful. Warren’s “September in the Rain” had her scatting and whistling (again, perfect intonation).

Kate is coming to us in a month with her own quartet, including the great Stan Sulzmann. Last night, her accompaniment was somehow precise and fluid, with thoughtful and surprising solos. I love the clarity of her work, as in her solo on Jobim’s “Brigas Nunca Mais (No More Fighting)”

I hate it when people a quarter of my age show up and be brilliant. Conor seems to have perfect intonation over the whole instrument, and superb technique to go with it. His intro on Silver’s “Strolling” bounced around the low register of the instrument. Other solos were primarily at the top of the range, intricate, great ideas and speed.

Dave is always a welcome player at the club. Last night he was special. The highly political Broadbent/Mancio “Same Old Moon” gave him an opportunity for an extended solo in which the emotion was palpable. Of course, whether with sticks, brushes (or one brush and one stick), or hands, he was the foundation of the quartet. He understood the room, and played his butt off.

One nonmusical thing. Georgia, like many of her colleagues, is involved in work with refugees. To aid this, she had a successful collection after the gig. More power to her for this sometimes very scary work that she does.

We have to wait three weeks for the next gig. September 14 brings us Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione. They have each been compared to an array of musical geniuses including Janis Joplin and Tom Waits (vocally) as well as Jimi Hendrix (instrumentally); a comparison Antonio wears with pride. They also exude a wonderful chemistry when performing together. This is a special event, not to be missed.

Take care,

Dave

Fletch’s Brew – 10 July 2018

Fletch's Brew - 10 July 2018

I had to get up very early Saturday morning to pick my wife up from Heathrow, so I was unable to stay for the second set of this marvelous gig.. I will chronicle the gig as best I can.

The gig was led by the indomitable Mark Fletcher on the drums. We got to see the wonderful young trumpeter, Freddie Gavita in a different guise from the gig he gave us with his own band. Laurence Cottle is a supreme bassist, this gig, on the 6 string bass guitar. Ross Stanley arrived with a keyboard, not the advertised organ, but there is nothing artificial about Ross: the keyboard was an original Fender Rhodes.

As I missed the second set, I would like to talk a little about the sound check. Samuel, his friend Matt and I rigged, and Samuel ran the show, excellent sound for the gig. Ross arrived very late, so there was no testing of his levels until the first song of the gig. So the early arriving trio rehearsed a bit. Laurence and Freddie had a “play this tune” contest (I think Laurence won, but what do I know?), Mark joined in, showering hits on both of them indiscriminately. It was a riot to watch.

I wish I had caught the name and composer of the first tune. It was way up-tempo, and featured a fiery solo by Mark, not the last. It was certainly not a tune rehearsed in the sound-check, but the four of them were tight as a … I need another cliché here. No clichés in the music. Ross comes up with wonderful chords and ideas, whether soloing or accompanying.

The group can be tender. Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” had Freddie using the Harmon, perfect for this lovely ballad, beautifully played. The improvised intro was just Freddie leading, Ross accompanying, You could see and feel them listening.

The set ended with Freddie’s “Turnabout”, in which Laurence had a solo that used every bit of the instrument, with out in any way being cute or tricky.

So too short a write up of a great gig. They will be back, and it will be all new and just as much fun.

We have to wait two weeks for the stunning singer, Georgia Mancio, to grace our stage with song, story, three languages, scat and whistle. Her vocals are supported by Kate Williams piano, Steve Watts bass and Dave Ohm drums.
“an object lesson in subtlety … in the impact of nuance … It’s beautiful” – All About Jazz *****

You can get a £4 discount on all gigs for a year if you become a Friend of Fleece Jazz. See Peter on the megastore.

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

Jacqui Dankworth at the IJF – 24 June 2018

Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood

The Ipswich Jazz Festival is an annual event of jazz performances, art, and jazz education. It is run by Neil Bateman. Fleece Jazz hosted the Jacqui Dankworth gig at the festival, but most of the work was done by Neil. We are very grateful to him for the immense amount of work he poured into the festival, and into our wonderful gig. Many thanks, Neil.

And thanks to Jacqui Dankworth (vocals), her husband Charlie Wood (vocals, piano and arrangements) and Chris Allard (guitar) for such a marvelous gig.

Each set started with three tunes with Charlie and Chris. In the first set, three excellent tunes by Charlie, my favourite being “Stay With Me”, which showed his Nashville background. To start the second set, we had the Carmichael/Gorrell “Georgia On My Mind”. Charlie has a great rapport with the audience, and he told a story about how the lyrics came about. He gave the tune a Ray Charles vibe. It was a beautiful arrangement, beautifully played, with lovely solos from both Charlie and Chris.

One of the things I love about Jacqui (other than a great voice, great presence and a love of the words) is that she takes risks. Take for example “Windmills Of Your Mind. Michel Legrand wrote the music, the English lyrics were by Alan and Marylin Bergman, and the French lyrics by Eddy Marnay. Jacqui used them both. The arrangement was of course by Charlie. The windmills were present in the arrangement, Jacqui’s delivery and the incredible vocalization choruses. The latter felt somehow Arabic: beautiful, scary. That one will stay with me. She followed it with Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns”, which was arranged as an art song. Unusual, and very beautiful.

But the evening was full of fun, too. Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” was great fun, with Jacqui and Charlie exchanging 4s. Duke Ellington and Irving Mills wrote “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, and the three on the stage had a whale of a time with it. So so did we.

So thanks to Jacqui, Charlie and Chris for the music, Neil and Chris for arranging the gig and to a lovely audience who had a great evening.

Next Friday, 29 June, we are back home, with the wonderful trumpeter Freddie Gavita. You have (and will) see him with Fletch’s Brew, but this is his own band: Tom Cawley on piano,Calum Gourlay on bass and Josh Blackmore on drums. Freddie won the British Jazz Awards Best Trumpeter. His music has a global appeal. Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Roger Beaujolais Quartet – 15 June 2018

Roger Beaujolais Quartet, 15 June 2018
Roger Beaujolais burst onto our stage in hirsute splendour, and full of energy. The first song of the first set, Lane/Harburg “Old Devil Moon” had an almost shocking beginning, and spendid solos by all four of the band. The evening continued in that fashion, with the band having such fun up there.

Roger, of course, was on vibraphone, Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Dave Barry. on drums.

It was a tumultuous week for the band. Both Robin and Winston Clifford had car troubles, Winston’s extending to this gig. Dave was pretty new to the band, having played only one gig with them. As usual, (but see the comment about the encore) no-one could tell.

The evening was planned, or rather happened, with great standards and some fine tunes by Roger. There was something common about them all: you could hear that all four had grown up with the blues as their foundation. Sometimes it was loud and clear as in the funky blues by Roger, “Admission Impossible”, but always there. Roger and Dave had exceptional solos in the latter.

Everybody loves Jobim, and the band’s take on “How Insensitive” was just beautiful. But if one tune is to stick in my mind from the evening, it would be Montgomery’s “Full House”. The head of this 3/4 tune had all four playing different riffs, making a four times cross-rhythm that was magical. Maybe I mean cadence, not riff. Don’t care. It was stunning.. Simon had a wonderful solo on this one.

Robin was his usual intense listening self. His solo in Roger’s “In the Meantime” was exceptional. Roger’s cadenza on this one was exceptional.

The enduring memory of the gig was the fun that the band, and therefore the audience, were having. Every quote, every invention, brought smiles or even giggles (or groans in the case of a quote or two) from the players. This showed most strongly in the encore, Grant Green’s “Jean de Fleur”, chosen after some discussion. Roger, Robin and Simon had this one more or less in their muscle memory. Dave had never played it before, and their were no charts. Not to worry, Roger scatted a riff for Dave, and away they went. You know how musicians cue each other with subtle movements, or by returning to a resolving riff? Not on this one. Simon did some body directing while soloing. It was a riot. It was also fine music.

Next week, no gig at the hotel on Friday, but on Sunday, 24 June the great Jacqui Dankworth, her husband Charlie Wood, and our own Chris Allard will be playing at St. Peters on the Waterfront in Ipswich as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festivall. 7:30 for 8pm as usual. Don’t miss it.
We will be back home on the 29th with Freddie Gavita’s band.

Take care
Dave