Alan Barnes Octet – 27 December 2019


Five great horns on the front line and a world class back line gave us a wonderful show last Friday.

What a lineup! Alan Barnes alto and clarinet, Robert Fowler tenor and clarinet, Karen Sharp baritone and clarinet, James Copus trumpet and flugelhorn, Mark Nightingale trombone, Dave Newton piano, Simon Thorpe bass and Clark Tracey drums.

Most of the music was written by Alan, with the superb orchestrations by Alan with Mark’s editorial strength. The second set was top and tailed by very different renditions of Lucille Bogan’s “B. D. Woman’s Blues”, Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” graced that set. Alan wrote eight of the tunes to feature the individual players.

And that horn chorus was just wonderful: varied, always interesting, with stunning musical surprises. The solos of the featured musician were all a delight, but solos in other numbers were up to the same standard. There were just so many great solos that I can not pick out individual ones. Well, maybe Clark’s 9/8 extravaganza, Karen’s “Karens Waltz”, Robert’s “Nostalgic”, Alan’s “Everybody Knows”, Mark’s “French for Nightingale” (if I can read my writing), David’s gentle bossa, James’ “The Barrister”, Simon’s “Escapology”. What a wonderful evening!

Next Friday, January 3rd, a voice and presentation at the very top of the field, accompanied by one of our finesr pianists. Ian Shaw will be with Barry Green on our stage. You cannot miss this combination in the intimate Fleece Jazz room.

Take care, and a happy healthy New Year to you all.


Kevin Flanagan Quartet – 20 December 2019<


Well, it is Christmas day, and I hope you are all having stunningly good holiday. This is the first time I have had time to write some notes out a truly wonderful gig, and I have lost my notes. The Kevin Flanagan Quartet had Kevin on tenor and soprano saxes, David Gordon on piano, Joel Humann on bass and a dep on drums, Oliver Reynolds.

About Olivier. One of the joys of rigging the club is watching the musicians rehearse. Oliver was completely new to the music. The the music was complex and nuanced. One of the songs was in 5/4, 4./4, and a bit in 3/4. Comes the show, and no-one would have known that Oliver was a dep. He gave a marvelous performance.

Kevin’s powerful playing had a very close connection with the audience, whether an up tempo monster of a song, or a ballad. David Gordon is a consummate player with a left hand as good as the right. His continuing classical work on harpsichord may have something to do with this. Joel is a superb accompanist and a fine soloist.

If there was one song that stuck in my memory, it would be McCoy Tyner”s “Search for Peace”. Lots of musicians love this song. The quartet on Friday played the best I have heard at the club. It was the intensity, the listening, the gentleness and the power, and the wonderful solos that starred this song in and evening of superb playing.

On Friday, and Octet for the holidays. Just look at this lineup!

Alan Barnes Saxes,
Robert Fowler Sax,
Karen Sharp Sax,
James Copus Trumpet,
Mark Nightingale Trombone,
Dave Newton Piano,
Simon Thorpe Bass,
Clark Tracey Drums

Do join us for a holiday spectacular.

Take care,

David Newton Trio – 13 December 2019


I just received the photos of the David Newton Trio gig, with Peter the photographer’s comments: “Brilliant gig on Friday night. ‘The One and Only’ it truly proved to be. Three Guys at the top of their game Dave/Simon/Winston (D.S.W trio)
From the very first note to the last, Superb !! Clean,clear and swing.”. No argument there, then. I love the piano trio form, and this one was world class.

Our world class trio was David Newton using the whole piano, star bassist Simon Thorpe and the amazing Winston Clifford on drums and vocals.

Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” opened the gig. If anyone felt like the piano trio form was boring they would have been put to shame by their interpretation, musicianship, tightness as a group and sheer exuberance. That was followed by Gene de Paul’s beautiful “I Remember April”, in which all three guys had exquisite solos.

Something about David and improvisation: you sometimes see a keyboardist drop his left had as the right works out an idea. I saw David develop a string of ideas with the left hand. His hands are truly equal partners, which is not that common. He also uses the soft pedal to modify the instrument’s tonality. There is only one other jazz musician that I remember doing that. This man’s range in speed, power, delicacy was amazing. We heard all of these in the Chopin Prelude in C minor,

Simon had lovely solos and intros throughout. I particularly remember his solo on “I Remember April”. His accompaniment was consistently brilliant. His grin at the work of the other two was infectious.

I was hoping that Winston would sing, and was not disappointed. In the first set, Guy Woods’ “My One and Only Love” showed us Winston’s deep tenor to counter-tenor range, beautiful phrasing and flow of ideas. In the second set, he had great fun with “Bye Bye Black Bird” (Ray Henderson). His scatting was delightful. Oh yes, he is also and mostly a world class drummer.

It was a gig I will long remember. But…

Next week, the 20th, Kevin Flanagan brings his excellent quartet, Kevin Flanagan Tenor sax, David Gordon Piano, Tom Hooper Drums, Joel Humann Bass. This is a Fleece Jazz favourite, do come.

Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy: Sweet Little Mysteries – 6 December 2019


I have written before about leaders who have a close connection to the audience. Sarah Jane Morris Is the best example of this art. Whether speaking about the music or the musicians, or singing in her inimitable style, she draws the audience to her, includes them in. This, plus world class musicianship from all four, made for a great gig.

Sarah Jane Morris was the arranger with Tony Remy on many of the songs, guitarist Tony Remy was superb, as was bassist Henry Thomas and drummer Martyn Barker. All three instrumentalists were backing singers as well.

The programme started with two songs from Sarah Jane’s repertoire. Most of the rest of the gig was dedicated to the songs of John Martyn. She ended with three more from her own repertoire.

It fascinated me that two of the songs were new to Henry and Martyn, but they picked up the key, the chords and the vibe after listening for a chorus. The listening was visible and palpable throughout.

Favourites? Maybe John Martyn’s “Solid Air”, which opened the second set. The encore was John Martyn’s “I Don’t Wanna Know About Evil”, in which Tony and Henry had superb solos, and we all joined in.

Most leaders introduce the band again at the end of the gig. Sarah Jane gave us fascinating stories about each of them. Her stories throughout the gig about John Martyn were very interesting. They added a lot to this wonderful gig.

Next week, Friday the 13, don’t be scared. You will be in the safe hands of one of the finest pianists about anywhere. The Dave Newton Trio includes Simon Thorpe on bass and Winston Clifford on drums.

Take care,

Tom Green Septet – 29 November 2019


Tom Green’s septet gave us a wonderful gig, I don’t understand why people didn’t come in numbers. The band is young and not well known, and people are edgy about original music. Well, the musicianship was exemplary, the music was accessible, and the sound of the four horn chorus was thrilling.

We had Tom Green on trombone, James Davidson on trumpet and flugel, Tom Smith on alto and soprano saxes, Sam Miles on tenor sax, Sam James on piano, Matthew Read on bass and Dave Hamblett on drums.

What is not thrilling is loosing my notes again. I can tell you about the arrangements. Most of the tunes were written by Tom Green, and all of the arrangements and the programme order were by him. The programme order was a good mix of tempo, style and a few standards. I thought the arrangements were special.

Tom gave us the full force of the four hour chorus in unison, harmony, counterpoint and free. He arranged for just about every combination of duo. There were a lot of excellent mixtures of counterpoint and cross-rhythm. And there was room for blowing: everybody had great solo, and there were some stunning intros,

One other thing, Tom had a warm presence as leader talking to us. I hope to see this band back soon.

Next week is a special treet for Fleece Jazz, with Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy doing the music of John Martyn: Sweet Little Mysteries. Sarah Jane Morris vocals/arrangements, Tony Remy uitars/vocals/arrangements, Henry Thomas bass and Martyn Barker drums, Do not miss this force of nature and a stunning trio of instrumentalists.

Take care,