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

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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

A good jazz deal if ever there was one (or two).

If you become a Friend of Fleece Jazz, your yearly subscription will give you a £4 discount on every gig you attend, and a bonus free gig after your Friends card has been fully stamped. Pretty good for £45, eh? Just see Peter on the megastore at gigs.

If you live a bit of a distance away, there is a special hotel deal. A double occupancy room, breakfast, and, oh yes, two jazz tickets, all for £109 is a pretty good deal. This is subject to availability. Call the hotel on 01206 262836.

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 *****