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

Clark Tracey Quintet: “No Doubt” – 22 February 2019

“Clark

Except for the presence of the wonderful Clark Tracey, the combined age of the musicians was actually less than mine. I hate it when that happens.

Clark has been working with these four musicians for a couple of years, during which they all have garnered garlands and awards. Their musicianship is just stunning.

So Clark (on drums, for those that don’t know) led and arranged the music for Alex Ridout on trumpet, Sean Payne on alto sax, Elliott Sansom on piano and James Ouston on bass. Clark planned just a few long numbers in each set so that everybody got a chance to blow, and blow they did.

Take Sean’s solo on Victor Feldman’s “Joshua”. Sean loves the high range of the alto sax and has complete command of it, playing most of the solo in that range and using the low range for accent. James had a beautiful bass intro on this one.

Alex had a superb high speed solo on her own “Top Dog”. In contrast, in David Raskin’s “Laura”, she produced a truly beautiful tone on this very slow ballad. The piano accompaniment by Elliot was perfect.

Elliott has such speed in his fingers that I was worried that our upright piano action could not cope (it did). He can play slow with intensity too: Kenny Wheeler’s “Foxy Trot” had him produce a Sati like intro. I also loved his solo on the Adderly (Nat, I think) “Funk”.

James controls the bass from top to bottom. It was tricky to pick a single solo from this young master, but probably his in “Top Dog” was most memorable.

Our good friend Clark brought us a great band, excellent arrangements, clear and informative announcements (thank you, thank you) and superb drumming. There were some extended 4s trading, and a great solo in Hank Mobley’s “Take Your Pick”.

On Friday, The John Turville Quintet featuring the superb Julian Arguelles will be with us. Don’t miss this stellar band: John Turville piano, Julian Arguelles tenor/soprano sax, Robbie Robson trumpet, Dave Whitford bass, James Maddren drums

Take care,
Dave

Deelee Dubé and Renato D’Aliello – 15 February 2019

“Deelee

Because of my medical problems, I have not had time to write up this stunning gig. As a holding exercise, can I just say that Deelee sang like several varieties of angel, Renato played his butt off. The arrangements were his, and great. Bruno Montrone is a superb pianist. A strong bassist was needed, and Adam King filled the bill. The young Alfonso Vitale is a wonderful drummer.

The audience was delighted by a great gig.

Chris Bowden Quintet featuring Brian Corbett: “Unlikely Being” – 8 February 2019

“Chris

I don’t know what to write about this great gig. Superb and tuneful writing, great musicianship, fine solos, super accompaniment all the way through, and a very happy audience. That kind of does it.

Details, details.

The personnel were Chris Bowden on tenor and alto saxes, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, flugel and stompbox, Jim Watson on piano and keyboard, Chris Dodd on electric bass and Neil Bullock on drums.

Chris Bowden writes fine tunes. His orchestration is delightful and varied. He uses the two horns brilliantly. Bryan can vary his timbre either naturally, with a mute or with his stompbox kit. Chris uses that as one parameter, the other being whether the horns are in unison, a harmony or as in “Way Back Down”, a jazz battle, each soloing but listening. That plus his own lovely solos on both tenor and alto.

Bryan Corbett can do no wrong, says he admitting to bias. The range of timbres he gets is amazing. If I had to pick a favourite solo it would be the start of the second set, “Ridiculous Itinerary”.

Jim Watson played with Nigel Price a few weeks ago, on organ. For last Friday’s gig he played mostly piano, some keyboard, and sometimes both. I was looking forward to his piano playing and was not disappointed. Ideas just flow, and he has a great left hand. He had many fine solos, but his accompaniment was superb.

Chris Dodd wrote a lovely ballad, “Autumn Noon”. Jim had a beautiful solo on that one, as did Chris B. His solo on “We are a liar (sic?)” was special. Again, he provided excellent accompaniment.

Neil Bullock gave us a great duet with Jim on piano in “The Old God”. His accompaniment was very good indeed. I particularly loved his work on the last song of the evening, “Pollock Painting”, which was my favourite tune of the show. It was evocative of riding bicycles over wet paint slowly and some frenetic paint heaving in others. Everybody excelled on this one.

Next week, the beautiful voice and phrasing of the lovely Deelee Dubé will grace our stage, with Renato D’Aliello’ mellow saxophone beside her. Bruno Montrose will be on piano, Darren McCarthy on bass and Alfonso Vitale on drums. Deelee is a superb singer, don’t miss her.

Take care

Dave

Basil Hodge Quartet – 1 February 2019

“Basil

On Saturday after the gig, we went to visit my daughter to celebrate her birthday (50th!!), and this is the first time I have had to write about the truly splendid gig. No problems with remembering.

The Basil Hodge Quartet had Basil on piano, and alll of the compositions were his. Ed Jones played tenor and soprano saxes. Oli Hayhurst was our bassistl Winston Clifford was the drummer. Dream team.

Basil writes great tunes. Some are beautiful tunes, new, but easy to listen to. Some tell a tougher story and tell it well. His piano playing is a bit Monkish (not a bad thing). His solo in one tune, “Deep Down”, raised a smile on Ed’s face as the right hand made an extended counter-melody to the tune. His careful accompaniment was just the right underpinning to the band.

Ed is a saxophonist of power and intensity. He powers through the altisimo tenor range as in “Happy New Year”, sorter and powerful in “Tears of Joy”, where he switched into double time. In the opening number, “Jobim the Boss”, Ed Basil and Oli had great solos on that one

Oli is a frequent player at Fleece Jazz. He has perfect intonation and tons of Ideas. His solo in “Regrets” was stunning: in the words of Stan Tracey, ‘The right number of notes’. Throughout the gig, he was the foundation.

We haven’t seen Winston in far too long. The guy is my favourite drummer. His brush work on the 3/4 “Regrets” and on “Common Ground” where he held a complex repeated cross rhythm pattern while still seeming to anticipate soloists with (it seems) his other two hands. Solos? Lots, and the star solo goes to the upbeat “Hanging Out”.

The second set opened with a tune I knew pretty well, “The Thirteenth Amendment”. The tune spoke about the abolition of slavery in the USA, and about unfinished business. The bass entry can be over-egged, but not by Oli. He was brilliantly simple, direct, and a little scary. Everybody absolutely blew their asses off, the audience clapped and hollered afterwards, and one of the musicians said loud enough to hear, ‘follow that’.

So to follow a great gig with my favourite drummer will be a great gig with my favourite trumpet player, Bryan Corbett. The band is led by Chris Bowden alto sax, Bryan Corbett plays trumpet and flugel, Jim Watson returns on piano, Chris Dodd plays bass and bass guitar and our drummer is Neil Bullock.
“Atmospheric tunes, extended arrangements, powerful performances and good old fashioned grooves” – London Jazz News.

Take care,
Dave

Alan Barnes Quartet – 25 January 2019

“Alan

Alan’s dry wit and humour permeated this grand gig. Four of the best just got up there and played, hardly any charts. Five elements made up this grand evening: Alan Barnes on baritone and alto sax and clarinet, Robin Aspland on piano, Arnie Somogyi on bass, Matt Home on drums and an audience that loves the music and loves the musicians. Sad there were not more of the latter to enjoy it.

I am not sure whether there was a partial set list or Alan made up the list as he went along (which was part of the fun). These guys know each other and the music so well that all the ensemble was tight. There was one song in which Alan had to tell Robin the 5 complex chords for the bridge: 10 seconds. Got a laugh from the audience, which was probably the intention.

The music ranged from proper bebop (Charlie Parker’s “Steeplechase”), through beautiful Jobim (A Felicidate), a Strayhorn ballad (“Lotus Blossom”) to the upbeat Walton “Bolivia”. Alan played the last two on baritone, and what was striking was his use of tone. In “Lotus Blossom” the tone was clear, sweet, beautiful. In “Bolivia” it was appropriately strong and rough.

A couple of solos to mention. Matt had a stunning brush solo in Alan’s beautiful “One for Mo”, which was written for his daughter Molly. Alan was glorious soloing in “Los Caracol”, with Matt laying down a complex groove. Arnie gave us a stunning solo in this one. And that for snails. Robin had a beautiful solo in the Jobim.

But the overall gig was a delight from beginning to end, and clearly the audience wanted more and more.

Next week. we are delighted to host Basil Hodge again. “Hodge generates more piano power…his starry front liners frequently lock horns in a harmonic manner reminiscent of Horace Silver’s groups.” says Chris Yates of Jazz UK.
What a lineup: Basil Hodge piano, Ed Jones tenor sax, Oli Hayhurst bass, Winston Clifford drums. This is something special, folks.

Take care,
Dave

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

Liane Carroll title=

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