Tim Kliphuis Trio – 24 May 2019

“Tim

Canadians like me have a difficulty with British understatement. To say that the Tim Kliphius Trio was a bit special, even in the context of the musicianship the club gets, is the best I can do. The music was varied and fascinating, the musicianship exceptional. If they have fun, we have fun. And they did.

Tim Kliphuis played a soon to be famous Belgian violin at a special exhibition. Nigel Clark played a beautiful classical guitar by George Lowden. Roy Percy played a small double bass with a big, rich tone.

The evening started off with John Lewis’s “Django”. I first heard the Modern Jazz Quartet in my teens, and they turned me onto jazz. I was an only Bach guy before then. You could hear both MJQ and Django Reinhardt clearly in the music, particularly in Nigel’s solo.

The fourth tune was the presto movement, Concerto #4 of Bach’s six Brandenburg Concerti. It was a trio reduction from the work they did with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. It was true to Bach and to jazz, really wonderful. Of course it helps that Bach swings.

In this and the other classical pieces we heard, people said that they sounded like a full orchestra. Tim was double and even triple and quadruple stopping. Yes, it is possible if you are fast enough to do it sequentially. He was also playing harmonics in, it seemed, all of the positions of the violin as if they were not in any way exceptional or difficult, but just a high note. Whole phrases in harmonics! Nigel was adding percussion to the guitar, and Roy to the bass. Marvelous. The arrangement took us through lots of styles, including, (I think), Irish folk.

We also had Vivaldi’s “Winter” from his “Four Seasons”, all three musicians adding percussion; a Gabriel Fauré Nocturne, more Bach, “Brandenburg #3, Allegro”, Paganini’s “Caprice #24”. The latter is probably best known for the Lloyd Webber arrangement for the South Bank Show.

The trio had great fun with Stephane Grappelli’s “Piccadilly Stomp”, a fast Hot Club number. What was particularly noticeable was the quality of the accompaniment from all three, but in this number, particularly from Nigel. You could feel them listening.

If you missed this gig, it is the first of a UK tour. Find them and go.

A break for a couple of weeks will heighten the anticipation of the stunning harpist Alina Bzhezhinska, playing, among lots of other things, the music of Alice Coltrane. What a band! Alina on harp, Tony Kofi on sax, Larry Bartley on bass and drummer Joel Prime. Make sure that 14 June is in your diary.

Take care,
Dave (and editor Roberta)

Liane Carroll – 12 May 2019

“Liane

Liane Carroll has been a great friend to the club, but to come to us to do a benefit is extra special. And what a gig! She is truly a remarkable performer and person. She has a great warm voice, a superb sense of phrasing, and more important even than those is her love of the words. Now, couple that with her great piano playing…

In the second set, we had her husband, Roger Carey, playing bass guitar. Roger works in many genres. His jazz playing is excellent and passionate.

What to say about the gig? Just saying that Liane sang for us should tell you what a gig it was. The programme was a mix of well known and a few not so well known, with a good balance of tempo and mood. There were a few that really affected me.

W.C. Handy’s “St. Lous Blues”, in the first set had Liane playing at least 5 grooves. This was followed by two songs which she associated with her mother, Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary wrote the music and lyrics to “Here’s To Life”, and Hoagy Carmichael wrote “I Get Along Without You Very Well”. Liane sang this with an immense depth of passion without a hint of soppiness.

In “Autumn Leaves”, (music by Joseph Kosman, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer), Liane had an amazing counterpoint section with the bass line, improvisation and voice.

In the Loewe/Lerner “Almost Like Being In Hove” (pardon me, “Love” — you never know what the woman is going to say), Roger had a fine solo. His accompaniment throughout the set was top class.

Liane sang and played 23 songs. Each one deserves a comment. If you were there, you knew it. If you were watching the football, you would just be jealous.

No gig next week folks we are on our summer schedule. but on 24 May, the man who is considered by many to be he heir to Grappelli will be with us: Tim Kliphuis Violin with Nigel Clark Guitar and Ray Percy Bass. See the great man in the intimate setting of Fleece Jazz.

Take care,
Dave

Eyal Lovett Quartet + Blue Dahlia: 3 May 2019

“Eyal

Two bands for the price of one: the lovely Blue Dahlia and the superb Eyal Lovett Quartet.

Dahlia Dumont has a lovely light voice. She sings in French, and some English. The latter is her native language, she is American, based in Paris. She plays the ukulele and is excellently accompanied by Daniele Borgoto on bass guitar and Aurimas Goris on button accordion.

There was a nice mix of her own very good compositions and some French standards in a well designed short programme. Her “Ayo”, about an aunty, had some fascinating tempo variations. A non-French speaker would have no trouble in hearing the emotions and the humour from her singing. I loved her rendition of Edith Piaf’s and Marguerite Monnot’s “L’Hymne à l’amour”. She showed the power in her voice singing her tune “Reasonable.

Daniele and Aurimas are clearly very fine musicians in their own right. Here they provided the accompaniment with style, sensitivity and accuracy.

The audience loved them. They also liked the extra intermission to go to the bar while we re-rigged the stage.

Eyal’s band was A12ed badly, so the audience got to hear the sound check. I heard murmers: “this is going to be very good”. It was much better than good.. The band is Eyal Lovett on piano, Eran Har Evan on guitar, Aidan Lowe on drums and Thomas Kolarczyk on bass.

The mood in the first set could be quite dark. Take Eyal’s “Turmoil”, a war story in music. Thomas’s bass solo was hugely affecting, heavy with sorrow. Eyal spoke more of peace. War was provided by Eran’s immense guitar solo, filled with fire and shot. Aidan showed us a master class in accompaniment.

Eyal 3/4 tune “Japanese Tale” had a solo from him that will stand in the memory. His whole body plays, not just his fingers.

Special thanks to Martin Webb for supplying the drum kit, with four snares for Aidan to choose from.

The second set was much lighter. Why Eran would choose to write “Falafel” I am not sure, but I am very glad. A lovely light bass solo from Thomas. Eyal’s “Everybody Knows” gave Eran a chance to solo with tones like an organ: beautiful. But the prize in a night of prizes was Eyal’s “Attitude”, which needs a story.

Someone kept telling Eyal to do something about his attitude. So he wrote this song, and when the guy phoned asking what are you doing, he said “I’m working on my ‘Attitude'”. I remember a pub in a village in the Fens called “Walk the Dog”. All four solos were stunning, funny, filled with harmony and counterpoint.

A superb quartet. We want them back again.

The next gig is very special, and not on a Friday. On Sunday 12 May, 2pm in the Garden Room, the very special Liane Carroll is doing a benefit for us! She keeps winning jazz singer of the year, and is a superb pianist. One more thing. She is filled with fun. Do be there. We need you, you need her.

Take care,
Dave

Christian Brewer Quartet – 26 April 2019

“Christian

No apologies for the lack of notes the past few weeks. I was in Canada with friends and family, hail, snow, 20C above, everything but rain. We had a wonderful time. I am told that the Sara Oschlag and Ant Law gigs were excellent. I was back for the Christian Brewer Quartet and it was a delight.

Christian Brewer plays alto and soprano saxes, and he brought Leon Greening on piano, Adam King on bass and from New York, Mark Taylor on drums. The set list contained a lot of standards and a few lovely tunes by Christian. Each tune had high points and subtleties. It is a pity more people were not able to hear such beautifully played familiar music.

Mark first. He brought a minimal kit: kick, snare, crash, ride, high hat. He is a maximal talent. His accompaniment is spot on, with perfect volume. A good example of fine accompanying was on Chick Corea’s “Bud Powell”. He had amazing solos. The one that sticks in memory (sorry) was on Mike Nott’s “Dawn Bird”. He combines speed with subtlety in a unique way. His playing throughout was fascinating and a great pleasure to hear.

Adam is a young, award winning bassist, and we were rewarded by his presence at the club. He is not a solemn player: he grins at the unexpected in his colleagues work, and surprisingly, at his own. Christian’s excellent blues, “In the Spur of the Moment” gave Adam the opportunity for a stunning solo.

Leon truly inhabits the piano, becomes part of the instrument when soloing. The ideas flow at an incredible rate. Solo after solo had the audience entranced. I particularly loved his solo in Burton Lane’s “Old Devil Moon”. Beautiful intros are a specialty. We need to see him much more often.

Christian is a lyrical, toneful and tuneful saxophonist on both alto and soprano. I love his tone. Great solos, of course, in “In the Spur of the Moment” and Jim Snidero’s bossa nova “Reluctance” as examples. His own tunes were easy to hear, with lots of blowing room. “Marketa” gave everyone a chance to produce superb solos.

Next week, two bands for the price of one with an early start. The French singer Dahlia Dumont brings her Blue Dahlia project to begin the evening. And then the award winning pianist Eyal Lovett brings his love of melody to two sets sure to be stunning. See you there?

Take care,
Dave

Fletch’s Brew, 5 April 2019

“Gig

Fletch was back with a grand band of his own. Fletch’s Brew is always welcome to shake the walls. Wonderful gig.

Mark Fletcher led from the drums. The set list was invented on the fly, but displayed a pretty well balanced evening. Jim Watson was splendiferous on both piano and keyboards, sometimes both at the same time. Jim Hunt blew the roof off on tenor sax. Laurence Cottle on electric bass provided a wonderful foundation and pulse.

Jim Hunt first. He is a local boy (went to school in Stoke by Nayland). He played at the place that was the genesis of Fleece Jazz, the Peacock pub in Chelsworth. Jim is a superb tenorist. He has great control over volume and tone. In most of the tunes, he played with a tough bebop tone, an example being a monster solo in Goldings (sorry, lost the first name) “Sound Off”. In Sammy Fain’s “Secret Love” and some others, his soloing was particularly tuneful. But in Monk’s “Ask Me Now”, the tone was sweet, an old fashioned big band sound. We had a collection of brilliant solos to remember from him.

Jim Watson next. He has played for us quite a few times recently on piano, organ and keys, each time a revelation. It was piano (mostly) and keys this time. Lots of top drawer solos, inventive and varied in dynamics and mood. I listened carefully to his accompaniment, in which he found himself in the minde of the soloist. His solo in Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile stands in the memory.

Laurence Cottle is a master of his instrument, of course. The joke about bassists is that when they solo it is time to chat with your neighbour. Not with Laurence. He is so inventive. I listened to technique on his solo on “Black Nile”. He used normal single line, finger style chording in a melody string and harmonics. The thing is that they flowed by so naturally only a geek like me would take notice. He had a wowser of a solo on Avishai Cohen’s “Smashed”.

And Fletch? Well the first thing you notice is that he is coiffed and bearded. Then he slams into the first number of the night, Coltrane’s “Some of the Blues”, and yep; he is a genius. This being his own band, he had lots of soloing opportunities. The brush solo on “Secret Love” was beautiful. The extended solo on “Sound Off” was breathtaking. The thing for me, though, is his listening, Now all four of them do that. They are proper jazz musicians. Mark seems to sense what they are going to do. He is such fun to watch, and he is a good compere. Thanks for a stunning evening, Fletch.

Next week, a beautiful singer from the south coast, Sara Oschlag will be with us. She will be bringing a superb trio: Tony Kofi on saxes, Jason Henson on guitar and Simon Thorpe on bass.
Sara is a singer with a musician’s ear and a superb sense of swing.

Take care,
Dave.

Sean Kahn Quartet – 29 March 2019

“Sean

Intensity is the word that comes to mind from Friday’s glorious gig. Our players were led by Sean Khan, on alto and soprano saxes, with Sam Leake on piano and keys, Lorenzo Bassignani on electric bass and Laurie Lowe on drums. Did the audience like them? They demanded two encores.

Some players don’t let their bodies reflect the music they are playing. Sean’s body is hugely expressive, as the notes fly by or sustain. He gave as a programme of his own writing and standards, nicely balanced between slow and fast, tough and gentle.

The first number, his “Said” was a great introduction to his work. It had a strong middle eastern vibe. Sean’s solo was very powerful, with huge fast strings of notes across the entire instrument. It was very special to hear and see. It was followed by another original, “Waltz for Hermeto” which showed us his intensity on a slower piece. His use of dynamics was striking. What was particularly special was his accompaniment when the others soloed. What a debut at the club! He will be back.

Sam Leake has played for us before, so we know his work to be excellent. He played piano and keyboard. I enjoyed his work all through the gig. If there was a highlight, It was the last tune in the first set, Monk’s “Blue Monk”. Sam is also capable of speed, but on this one, his playing was very Monk like (or maybe Stan Tracey like), sparse in places. A real joy.

Lorenzo Bassignani was new to us. He is a master of his instrument of course, whether soloing, or providing the pulse and foundation for the others. I loved his solo on Victor Young’s “Stella by Starlight”. As an accompanist he was superb. I noticed this most in Shorters “Yes or No”, very fast.

It was with John Law in 2016 that Laurie Lowe was last with us. On Friday, he reminded us of his talent. He had a few long solos, the best was probably in the second set, Hermeto Pascoal’s “Mixing Pot”. He played a larger kit with two toms, and got a big range of timbre from it with both sticks and brushes.

Next week, a Fleece Jazz favourite, Fletch’s Brew returns, but with some differences in the lineup. Mark Fletcher leads from the drum kit with Jim Hunt tenor sax, Jim Watson piano and keyboards and Laurence Cottle bass. Across evolving line ups the central ethos of the “Brew” remains commitment to spontaneity, whether playing original compositions or new arrangements across the jazz styles. And there is another commitment: a great deal of fun and joy. Don’t miss it.

Take care,
Dave

The John East Project – 22 March 2019

“The

We don’t often get a septet at Fleece Jazz, and to get one as marvelous as this is exceptional.

We had: John East‘s excellent vocals and (real vintage) Hammond and Leslie, Mark Fletcher magnificent on drums, Freddie Gavita depping beautifully on trumpet and flugel, Nigel Price majestic on guitar, the great electric bassist Steve Pearce, Dave Lewis a star as always on tenor sax and Dan Hewson doubling on trombone and piano (not at the same time, but I bet he could). What a lineup indeed!

And they didn’t disappoint. From opening song to encore they sent energy, accuracy, artistry and fun out to the audience. Going through each of their solos would be silly: all fine.

I do want to concentrate on one player. Mark was hidden most of the time in the back row of a crowded stage. I spent some time listening to his accompaniment. He seemed to be right in the mind of the players, supporting soloists and at the same time hearing the rest of the accompanying players. Accompanying is an art, and Mark was spot on whether it be a quiet vocal ballad, a mid-pace blues or a full on up tempo song.

We had that kind of variety in the programme, which made the gig move just fly by, with an audience wanting much more.

I should mention the arrangements. It was clear in a short rehearsal that this was not trivial stuff. The audience would only know that Freddy was a dep because John told them.

We had a glorious evening.

Next week we have the Sean Khan Quartet. Sean’s blissful and gifted alto sax playing demonstrates a rare technical prowess, an understanding of Jazz history and a raging determination to carve out its future.

We have Sean Kahn on alto & soprano sax, Sam Leake on piano, Lorenzo Bassignani on bass and Laurie Lowe on drums.

Sean’s second album was described simply by Jazzwise as stunning, the acclaim and success of this album led to Sean and his band playing to sell out crowds at Ronnie Scott’s and The Jazz Cafe. I hope to see you at what promises to be an excellent gig.

Take care,
Dave

Steve Fishwick Quartet – 15 March 2019

“Steve

On Friday we had four top guys without a chordal instrument, so I expected an interesting sound from trumpet, sax, bass and drums. More than interesting: it was a very fine gig.

Steve Fishwick (t) led the group in partership with Alex Garnett (s), with the New Yorker Mike Karn (b), and twin brother Matt Fishwick (d). These gentlemen are steeped in the bebop tradition, and it was mostly a bebop evening, with tunes by Steve and Alex, Monk and Johnny Green. I think the arrangements were shared between Steve and Alex, and they were terrific, and not easy.

Steve takes his music visually very seriously (but watch the expressive eyebrows). On Friday he was visibly having a fun time up there. His command of the instrument, particularly in the high registers, is about perfect. His solo on his tune, “The Creep”, particularly caught my ear. He used a cup mute, which is an old design, and sounds a bit like a Harmon mute, but a bit sweeter. He played the flugel on two tunes. On Alex’s “Rio de Ron” the flugel in unison and harmony with the sax gave a delightful change of timbre.

“Rio de Ron” translates as “River of Rum”. Alex was the compere for the gig, and we got quite a history of his favourite Demerara rum. In addition, he gave us a lot of information about the tunes and their background, often very funny. There was some very quick banter with the audience. Oh yes, and he played like an angel. It is difficult to pick out one solo to comment about from such a fine evening’s performance, but his solo on Steve’s “Kaftan” was a delight.

If you advertise your bassist as being a busy man in New York, you expect some special playing, and we got it. Mike Karn has all the basics, of course: perfect intonation even when double stopping, and an accurate pulse. What makes him exceptional is the idea flow. Two solos stood out for me: “Rio de Ron”, and Monk’s “Reflections”.

Matt spent five years playing very successfully in New York. “If you make it here…”. He plays the room, volume level always right. He hears his colleagues: the phrase is “he has big ears”. And when he solos, it is always great. I particularly loved his solo on Steve’s fast blues, “Wroth of Karn”. So was the trading 4s with sax and trumpet on Steve’s “Kaftan.

This excellent quartet will be followed on Friday by a monster septet playing many familiar tunes. It is led by John East, a frequent player at the 606 club in London. What a lineup! John East Hammond Organ and vocals, Mark Fletcher drums, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Nigel Price guitar, Steve Pearce bass, Dave Lewis tenor sax and Dan Newson trombone and piano. You really don’t want to miss this one.

Take care,
Dave

John Turville Quintet featuring Julian Arguelles – 1 March 2019

“John

The musicians were John Turville on piano, Julian Arguelles on tenor and soprano sax, Robbie Robson on trumpet, Dave Whitford on bass and James Maddren on drums. So we were assured of musiacianship of the highest order.

And what about the music?

Well, it was excellent, some of it stunning, some a little challenging (a good thing in my view). Some tunes were written by John, one by Robbie, and the rest were standards. The programme had a nice variation in tempo and style. John varied the composition of the band, with quartets and duos. All of the tunes were long enough to let people blow. Lets take a look at a few of the tunes.

John’s “A Month in Tunisia” (sic) had Julian and John play an intro that was Arabic in character. Julian’s tenor had just the right timbre, and he covered the range of the instrument. It moved into serious bebob. Julian’s solo was something special, with amazing long phrases. Julian’s circular breathing is almost invisible. People should listen a bit to the accompaniment. Dave and James wove beautiful counter-melodies and rhythms, just right for John and Julian. Robbie didn’t play on this one.

Next came Diago Schissi’s “Cancon Quattro”. Wonderful rhythms in the arrangement and great solos by John and Robbie as a duo. With the quintet in action, Robbie had a stunning solo in Kenny Wheeler’s “The Jigsaw”,

My favourite piece was John’s “Interval Music”. This was a duo, John, and Julian on soprano. It was not based on any normal chordal system, but on a modern classical system of 12 tones, a tone row. It was truly beautiful, It was a bit strange to hear a French art song at a jazz gig. I like strange.

I could write about every tune, because each had something different and special about it. Those three should give you a flavour of a superb gig.

No gig next week, rest for the wicked, but on 15 March, the return of the bebop trumpeter, Steve Fishwick, with Alex Garnett on saxophone, the American multinstrumentalist Mike Karn on bass, and brother Matt Fishwick on drums. Please come along, you will not regret it.

Take care,
Dave