Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy: Sweet Little Mysteries – 6 December 2019

“Sarah

I have written before about leaders who have a close connection to the audience. Sarah Jane Morris Is the best example of this art. Whether speaking about the music or the musicians, or singing in her inimitable style, she draws the audience to her, includes them in. This, plus world class musicianship from all four, made for a great gig.

Sarah Jane Morris was the arranger with Tony Remy on many of the songs, guitarist Tony Remy was superb, as was bassist Henry Thomas and drummer Martyn Barker. All three instrumentalists were backing singers as well.

The programme started with two songs from Sarah Jane’s repertoire. Most of the rest of the gig was dedicated to the songs of John Martyn. She ended with three more from her own repertoire.

It fascinated me that two of the songs were new to Henry and Martyn, but they picked up the key, the chords and the vibe after listening for a chorus. The listening was visible and palpable throughout.

Favourites? Maybe John Martyn’s “Solid Air”, which opened the second set. The encore was John Martyn’s “I Don’t Wanna Know About Evil”, in which Tony and Henry had superb solos, and we all joined in.

Most leaders introduce the band again at the end of the gig. Sarah Jane gave us fascinating stories about each of them. Her stories throughout the gig about John Martyn were very interesting. They added a lot to this wonderful gig.

Next week, Friday the 13, don’t be scared. You will be in the safe hands of one of the finest pianists about anywhere. The Dave Newton Trio includes Simon Thorpe on bass and Winston Clifford on drums.

Take care,
Dave

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

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

Benn Clatworthy Quartet – 18 October 2019

“Benn

We haven’t had tenorist Benn Clatworthy in far too long. The wonderful pianist John Donaldson delighted us recently, and again last Friday. Simon Thorpe, with his bass and grin, is always welcome. New to us was Darren Beckett, a drummer of style, dynamic and tonal range on a very small kit. The audience loved the Benn Clatworthy Quartet.

Benn constructed a very good programme, varied in mood, speed and tone. He plays mostly in the upper registers of the tenor sax, with big changes in timbre. Some examples: the opening number of the first set was his “The Pursuit”. His tone was weighty, perfect for this tough up tempo number. The next number was Strayhorn’s “My Little Brown Book”. This was a 3/4 ballad, and Benn’s beautiful solo had a lightness and sweetness that was delightful, He also has a good rapport with the audience, having fun, but telling us what we need to know.

The programme left tons of room for the trio to blow. People who knew were anticipating wonders from John, and were not disappointed. His solo on Ellington’s Latin up beat “Angelica” was very special.

Darren had an excellent solo on “Angelica”, but the one that caught my ear was Benn’s “Bolivian Odyssey”. Darren has all the speed and technique, and fast streaming ideas, but he is not afraid of being very sparse with the notes.

Simon’s accompaniment is always special. His work, solo and accompaniment on Tyner’s “Search for Peace” was outstanding. He had a great duet with Darren on “Blues for Dicky” (I think by Torolf Mølgaard). Simon watched the others closely, often with a big grin on his face.

The song of the night for me was “Search for Peace”. It had superb solos and accompaniment from all, but more important, you felt what Tyner was writing about.

A special gig to be followed by another. We will gather together (in the Garden Room, please note) for “A Portrait of Cannonball“. This is a super band. We will have Alex Webb on keyboards, Tony Kofi on alto sax, Andy Davies on trumpet, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Dave Ohm on drums.
“An absolute blast, one of the most exciting gigs of the year … a brilliant all-round package.”- London Jazz New
“Kofi’s spirited approach was supported by a tight rhythm section and Andy Davies, whose trumpet solos were sharp and clear.” – Jazzwise

Catherine Lima Band – 11 October 2019

“Catherine

I was really sad to have to leave the Catherine Lima gig at the interval, because the first set was a cracker. I am told that it got even better in the second set. So this will be a truncated note.

The Catherine Lima Band is:
The beautiful voice and presentation of Catherine. Her love of the words just shines through.
We know and admire Paul Higgs as a trumpeter, but for this gig he was (mostly) on the piano,, quite excellent. He also had superb work on the trumpet, and the melodica also made an appearance.
The rest were new to us, but I hope they will return. Alex Field played electric and nylon stringed acoustic guitars. We need to see him back at the club.
Alex Keen was our bassist. He is an excellent soloist and a star accompanist.
Our drummer was Jason Campbell, a guy who knows how to play a room. I enjoyed his work on this gig.

Catherine gave me a set list with authorships, so the research was all done for me. Thank you, Catherine. She gave is an excellent start (that first song is so important) with a Latin tinged “A Taste of Honey” (Scott/Marlow). She has an excellent voice and lovely technique, which gave us the words and their emotional effects. So we started off happy, and got happier through the set. The lady can scat, as she showed us on Gershin’s “S’Wonderful”. Catherine’s phrasing on the Altman/Lawrence “All or Nothing At All” was superb.l.

The Mendez/Bergman blues, “Centerpiece” gave Paul a chance to bring out his beautiful green trumpet. He comped behind the vocals and had a wonderful solo. The melodica made an appearance on the Green/Hayman “I Cover The Waterfront”, appropriate tonality somehow for the song.

I am really sorry to have missed the second set. I hope we have them back.

Next week, the Benn Clatworthy Quartet graces our stage again. They are Benn Clatworthy tenor sax, John Donaldson piano, Simon Thorpe bass, Dave Ohm drums. “Some of the most emotive and creative jazz this side of Sonny Rollins” – Edinburgh Evening News.

Take care,
Dave

Charity gig in Bildeston

There will be a charity jazz concert in Bildeston on 4th October in aid of MIND. THREEBOP are a rising London vocal trio and band. People can see details and book tickets on this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swing-in-the-autumn-charity-fundraiser-in-aid-of-mind-tickets-64789865231 Many thanks Peter Bullen

Tammy Weis Quartet – 20 September 2019

“Tammy

Tammy Weis has a beautiful mezzo voice. She is a composer and lyricist, and the text is so clear when she sings. The arrangements were excellent. I had Gershwin’s “Summertime” starred in my notes for the arrangement.

The evening was mostly music sung and loved by the great Julie London, with songs from the late 50s and 60s. London was an actor and a pin up girl, but we know her as a singer.

With Tammy were Nigel Price on guitar, Julie Walkington on bass and Matt Fisher on drums.

Watching Nigel accompanying is fascinating. He seems to be in the singer’s mind with his highly varied work. Fun too, He and Matt had a great time improvising together on Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale”. Nigel had fine solos. His solo on Pablo Beltran Ruiz’s “Sway” was particularly lovely. Matt’s solo on Bart Howard’s “Fly Me To The Moon” stood out.

I have always enjoyed Julie’s playing as an accompanist and a soloist. There was a beautiful duet with Julie and Tammy on Ray Henderson’s “Bye Bye Blackbird”.

But even though there was lots of room for the instrumentalists to shine, this was a singer gig. A beautiful voice, a love of the words, timbre changed to suit each song, all good. Good writing, some Tammy’s, some with Tom Cawley. A lovely selection of Julie London related songs. I think my favourite was Sonny Burke’s and Paul Francis Webster’s “Black Coffee”, but there was not a dud in the evening.

Next Friday, Renato d’Aiello will be playing the music of Cedar Walton; Renato d’Aiello Tenor sax, Roberto Rossi Trombone, Mátyás Gayer Piano. Nicola Muresu Bass, Alfonso Vitale Drums. Do Join us.

Take Care,

Dave

Bonsai – 13 September 2019

“Bonsai

Bonsai are:
Rory Ingham on trombone,
Dominic Ingham on violin and vocals,
Toby Comeau on piano and keys,
Joe Lee on bass,
Jonny Mansfield on drums, and
one terrific band.

They all write, producing interesting, complex yet accessible music. The arrangements are interesting and diverse, lots of interesting grooves and lots of blowing room. From the opening number, Dominic’s “Bonsai Club”, to the encore, Jonny’s “Itchy Knee”, the band gave us a delightful evening.

I want to talk a bit about musical education. Most of these guys are just out of conservatory (first class degrees abound). So that mastery of the instruments should be a given, and was. But where did they get the blues from? Maybe listening to good rock?

We were very short staffed at this gig, but Gerry and I, with help from Dougy and others got through the work just fine. We are pleased that we should be back to full staff for the next gig.

That gig is the Tammy Weis Quartet. We loved Tammy when she was with us last time. She brings a great band.
“With a grand slam triple threat of sexy smooth vocals, great songwriting and a knockout band with stellar musicianship, a performance with Tammy Weis is unforgettable.” – Randy Bachman.
The band is Tammy Weis Vocals, Nigel Price Guitar, Julie Walkington Bass. Matt Fisher Drums. Do join us.

Take care,
Dave

Dave Lewis’s 1UP Band – 30 August 2010 – Peter

“Dave

Peter Fairman writes:
Gerry asked me if I can do a few words about last nights gig as it is not his forte (his words).
I see you have already said something on our site concerning, However I did say to Gerry I would help. Here goes my take in the simplest of ways;-
Dave , you are correct in your assumption that  this was indeed a good gig, no, not good. it was “GREAT” !!!
From the start to finish all the players were absolutely on top form , with their Vocalist , “Lizzie Dean” mesmerisingly breathtaking.
With an excellent, well attended audience enthusiastically showiing  their appreciation during and after each song/tune, the Band clearly was inspired to make this one of the best gigs if not the best gig of the year.Everything they performed , worked so well.
They say perfection does not exist, well, this came pretty damn close.
This is an incredible Band and any recommendations simply would not be high enough.. Their encore number even have everyone on their feet jigging and swaying to their  music’s beat.
What a Band ;-  We had Dave Lewis on Tenor Sax, Robin Aspland on Piano, Al Cherry on Guitar, Neville Malcolm on Bass, Rod Youngs on Drums and the formidable Lizzie Dean on Vocals.

The next gig on 13 September is Bonsai. They blew us away the last time this young band with blues in their soul played for us: they were formerly known as Jam Experiment.