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

Rob Barron Quartet – 27 July 2018

Rob Barron Quartet - 37 July 2018

What a day. Four and a half hour drive to Heathrow (my wife almost missed her flight), four and a half hour drive straight to the club, arrived 5:30, leaving poor Gerry to do all the work. Ran the sound check on empty. Along comes 8pm, and the quartet starts to play. This tight, accurate, quietly impassioned band woke me up in the first few bars, and enthralled me throughout.

We had Rob Barron‘s quiet intensity on piano, Nat Steele‘s perfect melding on vibraphone, Jeremy Brown innovative on bass, and Josh Morrison’s excellent drumming.

The music was entirely standards. The arrangements were excellent, with tempo changes from the originals, fascinating re-timing of key notes, great dynamic variation and new vibes: Rob has a penchant for Latin. The sound of vibraphone and piano together was reminiscent of the George Shearing group, and a little of MJQ. So mostly familiar tunes, a sound remembered, fine and delightful arrangements, Oh yes, superb musicianship. I shouldn’t have to say that at Fleece Jazz.

My notes were a total mess, forgot to bring a proper pen, used a Sharpie, can’t read them. But a few tunes stand in the memory. Josh’s solo on Gershwin’s “Who Cares” was one, Jeremy’s solo on Cedar Walton’s “The Newest Blues” was another . Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing” had a stunning solo from Nat.

Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” was an opportunity for Rob to wallow in the song’s sentimentality, which he avoided. The emotion and intensity of this beautifully played ballad was there without the shlock. In “Encounter”, on the “Love for Sale” chords, (sorry, can’t read the composer, might have got the song title wrong), Rob used the full range of the piano dynamics, throwing in a handful of very funny quotes.

It was an excellent gig, and the playing even got me through the de-rig and safely home. Thanks, guys.

The next gig is on 10 August. Do not expect a gentle time. It is the ever popular and frightening Fletch’s Brew, with Mark Fletcher drums, Freddy Gavita trumpet, Ross Stanley organ and Laurence Cottle Bass.
“We haven’t had anything like this in New York for over twenty years.” – Wynton Marsalis

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

Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet – 8 June 2018

Great apologies to: Asaf Sirkis – Drums/Compositions/Konnakol, Sylwia Bialas – Vocals/Compositions, Frank Harrison – Piano, Kevin Glasgow – Bass. Dave was away, so no proper blog, and Peter was on holiday, so no pictures. Not good enough for what was reported to be an excellent gig.

My excuse was my 56 wedding anniversary with Canadian guests. Peter was in Spain.

QCBA: Brandon and Quentin, 1 June 2018

QCBA: Quentin and Brandon, 1 June 2018
Sam’s Notes, 4 June 2018

Last night saw the return of several Fleece Jazz familiars with acclaimed organ driven quartet ‘QCBA.’ Headed up by the frontline heavyweight duo of Quentin Collins (tr) and Brandon Allen (ts), this aptly titled ensemble exhibits a roster of original compositions infused by the unmistakable colour of the Blue Note catalogue from the 1950’s and 60’’s; a stalwart of the hard-bop golden era. It is primarily through QCBA’s dedication to original compositions that this group surpasses the pitfalls of pastiche, which when coupled with outstanding levels of musicianship ensured an evening of engaging and highly enjoyable improvised sound. 


In addition this line-up featured the widely appreciated and remarkably in-demand character of Ross Stanley at the Hammond organ, supported by the fresh presence of QCBA’s newest recruit, drummer Lloyd Haines. It is between unrelenting moments of musical brilliance [articulated well in the old axiom ‘man, this guy can really cook’] that one begins to notice the extraordinary lengths to which Stanley dedicates himself to this craft. Be it simply [what would seem to most] the logistical nightmare of transporting a fully-functioning Hammond organ and accompanying Leslie cabinet across the country on a nightly basis, to the unfaltering positivity that his character brings to the music: it is no surprise that everybody loves making music with this guy. 


Lighting up a fire under the whole ensemble and filling the shoes of Enzo Zirilli, Lloyd Haines represents the newest generation of improvising musician; notably younger than QCBA’s more seasoned constituents, Haines brings to the music an intensity and firmly-planted sophistication far beyond that which his years might suggest. His solo on Collins’ composition ‘Feurteventura’ held
the room captivated as he assembled brushed rhythmic structures into a narrative whose pinnacle coincided with a cymbal flying magnificently from its stand in what was an unforeseen but wholly musical punctuation to his larger musical statement.

QCBA’s promise to deliver one of the ‘hardest hitting frontlines’ in the business was not overstated; from the countless cutting heads and tightly woven melodic motifs to their exceedingly inventive and dexterous improvisations, Collins and Allen demonstrated a virtuosity and fluency in their dialogue that stood testament to their years of experience on the scene. Allen’s composition ‘Modal Transition’ provided a canvas reminiscent of Joe Henderson’s mid-60’s aesthetic that when contrasted with a more intimate composition found in ‘Oscar’s Lullaby’ shows this group’s rangeand versatility as they approach a well-trodden musical palette with fresh intention and vigour.

QCBA’s latest release “Beauty In Quiet Places” is out now on the Unbuntu Music label.

Needless to say it is the continued support from you, our patrons at Fleece Jazz that makes unmissable evenings like this possible on a weekly basis. Please continue to support your local community of live Jazz music here at the Fleece. We look forward to welcoming world-renowned drummer Asaf Sirkis and critically-acclaimed vocalist Sylwia Bialas on June 8th as they present original compositions that celebrate music from a wide range of genre with their ‘International Quartet


Words by Samuel Hollis

From Dave:
Sorry, pictures, later: Peter Fairman is on holiday.
Next week, the Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet, of whom the Los Angeles Reviews said “Bialas’s voice is not only exceptional, both in timbre and range, but her improvisations are stunning. She uses her voice like an instrument, wordless, powerful, soaring…”. Asaf Sirkis ~ Drums/Compositions/Konnakol, Sylwia Bialas ~ Vocals/Compositions, Frank Harrison Piano/Keys, Kevin Glasgow ~ Electric Bass

David Gordon Trio – 25 May 2018

David Gordon Trio, 25 May 2018

I have been greatly looking forward to this gig. I had recorded the trio (with a different bassist) many years ago, and mixing the recording gave me weeks of pleasure. There was no disappointment last night.

David Gordon was bandleader, arranger and composer (for some) and stunning pianist. The latter was no surprise considering his prowess and popularity as a harpsichordist and classical pianist. The melodica is an interesting addition to his skill set.

Oli Hayhurst was relatively new to the music. I say this because listening to him you would not suspect this. Such lovely solos, and some excellent bowing, such as in David’s “Bebob Tango”.

Paul Cavaciuti looked like he was having the time of his life, smiling away through the evening. He used a huge array of hitty things: sticks, soft sticks, hands, two kinds of brushes, mallets and I might have missed something.

So we start with a basis of truly top class musicianship, wonderful listening among the players. In particular, i loved the beautiful dyamics which only comes from great listening. But what about the music?

Some of the tunes were a little old. 297 years in the case of “Brandy for 4”, David’s brilliant recomposition of the 4th of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto’s. That one will stand in the memory, and I cannot wait for the CD to come out. We got four variations that Goldberg would have loved. A reprise of 3 works from “Alexander Scriabin’s Ragtime Band varied from sonorous and sad, through 3/4 contemplation to latin. In the latter, “The Famous Etude”, the melodica gave just the right latin vibe. Paul’s mallets were compelling on this one.

Of David’s own tunes, the beautifully descriptive 6/8 “Greenland” was a special treat. The contrast in vibe with “April Fool” was fascinating. On this one, Paul’s dynamics were stunning. David and Oli had a section of trading 2s, brilliant.

And then, my old friend, “The Alchemist and the Cat-Flap” closed the evening (except for the encore).

Next week. big gig, QCBA: Quentin Collins trumpet, Brandon Allen tenor sax, Ross Stanley organ, Lloyd Haines drums. How can you stay away from that? Don’t. We need you there.

Take care,
Dave

Luca Santaniello Quartet – 18 May 2018

Luca Santaniello Quartet 18 May 2018

We are getting a lot of straight ahead bebop lately at Fleece Jazz, and last Friday’s gig was an exemplar. Luca Santaniello brought us music played and loved by the great drummer Philly Joe Jones. It was played superbly by this band, and loved by the audience.

Luca is a New York based Italian drummer. We had Steve Fishwick returning to us on trumpet. Gabriel Latchin graced our piano, and Calum Gourlay was the pulse on bass.

The evening started gently with Van Heusen’s “It Could Happen To You”, Steve on Harmon muted trumpet. Steve is a fine instrumentalist, but on Friday he was really on form. With the exception of eyebrows, Steve doesn’t show a lot on stage, but the heart and soul (the song came later) were strong in the music. Gabriel and Calum had excellent solos, and Luca showed his skill in 4s and 2s with Steve.

I didn’t hear the name of the next number (mia culpa). It was an up tempo number with an interesting structure, As well as head/solo/head there were “shouts” leading into a massive solo by Luca. Gerry and I got a taste of it in rehearsal, as it was new to most of the band, and it was wonderful to hear it come together in performance, fun to watch in rehearsal.

That was the pattern of the gig: a good mixture of tempi and genres, all music associated with Philly Joe, and often Freddie Hubbard, with whom he played often. The first set ended with a Brazilian flavoured “Speak Low” (Kurt Weill), fast and furious stunning solos by Gabriel, Calum and a wowser by Luca.

Steve played flugelhorn (my favourite instrument) on two numbers. Green’s “Body and Soul” had the Hubbard, rather than the Coltrane harmonies. Steve injected a light vibrato in a beautiful solo. In Haggart’s “What’s New”, the flugel delighted us again. Calum had a superb solo on this one. His instrument is new, but he plays with gut strings, and the bass sound is woody and lovely.

From Hank Mobley’s “Reaching Out” album, we had “Looking East”. There was an interplay between Gabriel and Luca that I will remember. You can see and feel Gabriel’s listening, reacting, and from time to time, proacting.

The encore was a lovely blues, in which Luca showed us his delicate touch with the sticks. Everybody went home happy.

Next week, we have a gig I have been looking forward to for a while. I love the work, the composition, the playing and the fun of David Gordon‘s trio. David is a huge talent on the piano (and harpsichord, but not next Friday), with compositional skills to match: the trio is a joy, and often filled with humour. Oli Hayhurst returns to us on bass, and Paul Cavacuiti is the excellent drummer.

“[David Gordon is] a richly gifted player with a sparkling style and boundless imagination” – Phil Johnson, the Independent

Take care
Dave