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,

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

The Fishwick Brothers play Duke Pearson and Cedar Walton

Fishwick Brothers play Cedar and Duke  11 May 2018

If Duke Pearson and Cedar Walton were at Fleece Jazz last Friday, they would have left very pleased. The Fishwick brothers’ quintet brought them to us beautifully. The band was Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Matt Fishwick on drums, Dave O’Higgins on tenor sax, Rob Barron on piano and Luca de Lecce on bass.

Steve promised a programme of two halves, the music of Duke Pearson in the first set, Cedar Walton in the second. There was a nice balance of blues, ballads, up tempo and between in both sets. Steve’s explanations of the history of the tunes was very interesting.

We started off with one of the many blues tunes of the evening. “Ready Rudy”. It was written as a tribute to a hero of mine, the amazing sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who worked with just about everybody at Blue Note Records and others. That set up the audience for a great evening of straight ahead jazz, all of its period, superbly played. Both Steve and Dave had excellent solos in that one, and in many others through the evening.

Steve modified his bright clear tone for the ballads. For “You Know I Care” and “Rainy Night” , he made the tone darker. “Empathy” was played with the Harmon mute, which can sound squeaky in the wrong hands. Not with Steve.

Matt was superb throughout. He had very big ears, making it easy for me on the desk to balance the band. Solos and trading 4’s were all spot on. The solo in “Los Malos Hombres” was particularly good.

Dave gave us powerful work throughout. His solo in “Ugetsu” (“Fantasy in D”) was special. That tune, I think, was may favourite of the evening, with its almost fugal head and outro. Everyone had super solos in that tune. “One Flight Down” had him triple timing.

Dario had fine solo in that one. It was his Fleece Jazz debut and I hope very much that we see him again.

The solo I remember most from Rob was on “Los Malos Hombres”. That tune also showed his accompaniment skill, of a very high order, under the beautiful horn chorus. He is returning to us in the summer with his own band.

Lovely evening, happy, small audience. Why small? No idea. Help.

Next week, we are again in familiar territory with the music of Philly Jo Jones. The world class drummer, Luca Santaniello leads this superb quartet, with Steve Fishwick returning to us on trumpet, Gabriel Latchin on piano and Calum Gourley on bass. Come along and hear some great straight ahead jazz.

Take care,


A Cry for Help

Dear Friends,

Sadly we do seem to have a problem. Recently we have had more losses than profits and our cash reserve has vanished. That this state of affairs should arise as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary is I am sure you will agree, sadly ironic. The short answer is, “bums on seats” or to be accurate, not enough bums on our seats. Every week I implore you to come again soon and bring all your friends, or at least, some of them, so please, please try to do that and keep us, and jazz, alive in Suffolk.

Just to remind you, we are a voluntary organisation with no external help or funding so whether we sink or swim is in your hands. Keep us afloat please!

Michael Burgess,
Chair, Fleece Jazz at Stoke by Nayland Hotel

Chris Allard Band, 4 May 2018

Chris Allard Band,  4 May 2018
I often find that the guitar/piano combination is a little muddy, as they both live in the same sonic area. On Friday we had two stunning players, no mud in sight: each instrument rang out clearly.

Chris Allard‘s Band was Chris on guitar, Ross Stanley on piano, Oli Hayhurst on bass and Nick Smalley on drums. They played some of Chris’s tunes, a few standards, each sufficiently extended to allow lots of blowing time. We were treated to some great solos from all four of them.

Ross first, because he epitomized the magic that non-musicians like me can never figure out. Ross arrived late due to a lunchtime gig far away. He missed the sound check and any rehearsal. He saw some of Chris’s detailed charts about a half an hour before the gig. Don’t tell anybody. You couldn’t notice. The man played as if the music was totally familiar, without losing the freshness. You see? Magic.

Chris brought one small stomp set which he used with considerable delicacy. Chris has technique to die for, plectrum, classical and combined. The solos that stuck in my memory were in his “Morphic Resonance” and in his ode to his as yet unborn child, “Critter”, the opening number of the gig. Ross’s accompaniment for “Critter”, was also memorable.

Oli and Nick used the blowing toom to great effect as well, but it was their listening and accompaniment which I enjoyed most.

Next Friday, the music of Cedar Walton and Duke Pearson, with a superb quintet led by the Fishwick brothers. We will have Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Matt Fishwick on drums, Dave O’Higgins on sax, Rob Barron on piano and Dario De Leche on bass. This band deserves a big audience, and by the way, so do we.

Take care,


Who writes these posts?

Just so you know, most of these posts have been and will be written by Dave Lyons, and proofread (and sometimes rewritten) by his wife, Roberta, who’s patience over many years is astonishing.

Barb Jungr, 27 April 2018

Barb Jungr, 27 April 2018
When people walk out at the end of the gig and say “it was a privilege to be here”, you know you had wonderful gig. It was Barb. How else?

Barb Jungr sang, told stories, played harmonica. Jenny Carr played piano and sang. Dudley Phillips played bass, and sadly didn’t sing.

The music was a superb reworking of the CD Barb made 18 years ago of Bob Dylan songs, and a few new ones. Barb’s discussions of the songs, their background and her connections were a wonderful bonus on top of the music. We learned some of the dark side of Dylan as well. Her rapport with the audience is singularly powerful.

We know and remember from recordings and live performances how good her voice is, but it is a shock when she hits you with her first number, “Things have changed”. The beautiful a cappella opening to “Every grain of sand” was memorable. “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” had people crying.
Barb’s harmonica playing is strong and evocative. The arrangement and performance of “What Good Am I” was just beautiful. My favourite was “Chimes of Freedom”. The poetry is important and powerful, and Barb gave every word the strength and position it required.

Jenny Carr had some excellent solos. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” was one. I would rather concentrate on her accompaniment. On “I Want You”, her accompaniment was both delicate and intense. How to do you do that? The presence of Dudley’s bass gave Jenny free range for her left hand. She is a super backing singer, with perfect harmonies, and a voice and vibrato to match Barb’s.

Dudley’s solo on “Don’t Think Twice, Its All Right” was special. His perfect timing and intonation made the foundation for the songs perfect. He brought a CD to sell, himself playing bass and singing, and I am sorry we didn’t get to hear him sing on Friday.

To kick off our new season, we have the Chris Allard Band: Chris on guitar, Ross Stanley piano, Oli Hayhurst bass and Nick Smalley drums. “Allard’s master class in electric jazz guitar was worth the price of admission in it’s own right!” – Harrogate Festival. Don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave’s Notes, 22 April 2018 – Gill Manly

Gill Manly, 20 April 2018
Fleece Jazz tries to provide variety with excellent musicianship, and we had a winner again last Friday. Gill Manly’s superb voice and wide ranging choice of material was beautifully supported by Trevor Hyatt on mandola, guitar, backing and up front vocals, and Thomas Coffey on guitar and backing vocals. Gill did some backing vocal work too: what a team! The audience loved her. The problem is that there were far too few of you.

Gill;s theory that every culture has its equivalent of the blues, whether happy or sad, was the guiding force in the design of the set list. The variety was impressive. Of course, with Gill, the first song was a great blues, Doc Pomus’s “Lonely Avenue”.
We got a taste of the range of tone and dynamics which is a feature of her singing. Of course, without the words, it is a vocal exercise. Gill cherishes the words.

It became clear later (partly because she said so) that she is influenced by Mark Murphy, the great improvising jazz singer that we recently lost. Her interpretation of McCartney/Lennon’s “Eleanor Rigby” was amazing. Just to show the range of the evening, we had Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”, a traditional Cajun Creole tune whose name I missed, the traditional blue grass song “Sorrow All My Days ” (I think that is the title). The encore was gospel (evangelical, originally African American) “Lets Go Down to the River to Pray”.

Thomas sang the high part of the backup harmonies and played excellent guitar. His solo on the Cohen song was moving. What was interesting was the variety of guitar styles used to fit the song.

Trevor has a voice suited to Cab Calloway’s Grammy Hall of Fame “Minnie the Moocher”, and the Seasick Steve number (I forgot the name, sorry). In the latter, Gill did some terrific scat. Trevor played a mandola, which is a mandolin with a different tuning, and guitar. He also changed genres with ease.

A lovely gig for us lucky few.

Next week. a singer with a very special take on everything she does. Barb Jungr will be with us. I cannot wait to hear how she handles the work of Bob Dylan. Jenny Carr on piano and Dudley Phillips on bass are the perfect accompaniment for this star. Book for this one, she is very popular.

Take care,