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May 2015

On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told

Miles Davis, in his autobiography, tells how Billy Eckstine's band had come to St. Louis to play at a place called the Plantation Club, which was owned by some white gangsters. 'St. Louis was a big gangster town back then. When they told Billy that he had to go around to the back door like all the other black folks, he just ignored them and brought the whole band through the front door ... Forget about the playboy look and air he had about himself. Billy was tough. So was Benny Carter. They both would drop anybody they thought was disrespecting them in a minute. But as tough as Benny was—and he was—Billy was tougher.'

'So these gangsters right there on the spot fired Billy and brought in George Hudson, who had dark Terry in his band. Then Billy took his band across town to Jordan Chambers' Riviera Club, an all-black club in St. Louis, located on Delmar and Taylor - in a black part of St. Louis. Jordan Chambers, who was the most powerful black politician back in them days in St. Louis, just told Billy to bring the band on over.'

Miles Davis Autobiography

'So when word got around that they were going to play the Riviera rather than the Plantation, I just picked up my trumpet and went on over to see if I could catch something, maybe sit in with the band. So me and a friend of mine named Bobby Danzig, who was also a trumpet player, got to the Riviera and went on in to try and catch the rehearsals. See, I already had a reputation around St. Louis for being able to play by that time, so the guards knew me and let me and Bobby on in.'

'The first thing I see when I got inside was this man running up to me, asking if I was a trumpet player. I said, "Yeah, I'm a trumpet player." Then, he asked if I got a union card. I said, "Yeah, I got a union card, too." So the guy said, "Come on, we need a trumpet player. Our trumpet got sick." This guy takes me up on the bandstand and puts the music in front of me. I could read music, but I had trouble reading what he put in front of me because I was listening to what everybody else was playing.'

'That guy who ran up to me was Dizzy. I didn't recognize him at first. But soon as he started playing, I knew who he was. And like I said, I couldn't even read the music - don't even talk about playing - for listening to Bird and Diz

Who's This?


One of the most popular UK jazz clarinettists in the 1950s, his ancesters had come to England from Romania and anglicised their name. He was born in Stepney, London in 1928 and his father, a tailor, played the violin.


Who's This?


He learned to play the flute but switched to clarinet when he was at Camberwell School of Art. During a period with the R.A.F. he played with the Eager Beavers, a band from R.A.F. Wroughton, and on his discharge joined Ken Colyer who in 1949 was forming the Crane River Jazz Band. The band had a residency at the White Hart pub in Cranford and charged a shilling for admission. When Colyer left in 1952 to journey to New Orleans the clarinettist joined the Chris Barber band. 

The band had humble beginnings but when they played the Royal Festival Hall in 1954, the critics went along following a rumour that Princess Margaret would be there. She didn't arrive but the band received excellent reviews, especially the clarinettist. In 1957, he recorded the tune Petite Fleur with a small group from the Barber band for the album Chris Barber Plays Vol. 3. The number was issued as a single in Germany where it was so successful Pye Records released it in the U.K. It reached number 3 in the charts and then number 5 in America.

Eventually he left Chris Barber and formed his own band with Johnny Parker and Diz Disley and he toured regularly. In 1972, he played with a reunion of the Crane River Jazz Band and from 1975, took part in reunions with Chris Barber. In 1987, he and Lonnie Donegan formed a band.

He is quoted as saying: "I've had youngsters tell me that they want to play the clarinet like me. I tell them not to aim so low,” and “How can any jazz musician get conceited? He only has to put on the records of the great masters to wake up to his true status."

He died in November 2010 at the age of 82. Not sure? Click here for a video of him playing The Old Rugged Cross in 1990. He also appears in the documentary Momma Don't Allow (see below).



Momma Don't Allow - Were You There?

The BBC is looking for people who were present at the recording of the Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson classic archive documentary MommaMomma Don't Allow image Don't Allow made at the Wood Green Jazz Club in 1956. If you were there or can help, please contact us (click here).

The band features the Chris Barber Jazz Band and is available on YouTube in 2 parts.

Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

The film is an important record of the music and its fans at the time when 'traditional jazz' was being discovered by young people and of one of the UK's most popular bands in their early years.

You can also read our page about Wood Green Jazz Club at the Fishmongers Arms if you click here.





The Axeman's Jazz

This crime thriller by Ray Celestin won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger prize for Best Debut Crime Novel of 2014, was recommended The Axeman's Jazz bookby Claudia Winkleman on the Radio 2 Arts Show, and was included in The Guardian's Crime Books of the Year.

The Guardian summarises the plot: 'Inspired by the serial killer thought to have been responsible for 12 murders in New Orleans between 1918 and 1919, Ray Celestin's first novel, The Axeman's Jazz initially stays close to the known facts and includes a letter, published in the newspapers at the time, which was supposedly sent by the original Axeman. The writer, who, like the author of the famous 1888 "Jack the Ripper" letter, gives his address as "Hell", promises to claim his next victim at a specific date and time but says that he will spare those "in whose home a jazz band is in full swing". As with the Ripper, the real killer's identity remains unknown, and Celestin has three characters struggling to work out who he or she might be. Detective lieutenant Michael Talbot heads the official investigation; his former partner, Luca d'Andrea, recently freed from prison for corruption, is tasked by the mafia to discover whodunnit; and 19-year-old Sherlock Holmes fan Ida Davis, a secretary for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, decides to branch out on her own . . . ' Even Louis Armstrong is included among those trying to track down the serial killer.

Crime Review says: '(Ray Celestin's) New Orleans, a year after the end of the First World War, is a truly nasty place, riddled with massive and endemic corruption, racism and organised crime all echoing the throbbing chords of the 'new' black music of blues and jazz . . . Celestin's characters are totally realistic, from the back street whores of Storyville to the opium-addicted reporter who knows far more than he should. But it is his ungarnished and, often deeply unflattering, descriptions of the people and the town itself which make this book such a memorable and genuinely compelling read.'

Click here for more information.




Tony Williams Cymbals

Writing in Jazzwise magazine, editor Jon Newey reports that the Istanbul Mehmet Cymbal company is launching a Tony Williams Tribute Cymbal series. Miles Davis said of his drummer: 'There ain't but one Tony Williams when it comes to playing the drums ...Istanbul Mehmet cymbals Tony was always the centre that the group's sound revolved around.'

Tony Williams played a K Zildjian cymbal set that was made in the 1950s and that was given to him by Max Roach. When Wiliams joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963, he was just seventeen years old. He played the K Zildjian cymbals on all the classic Columbia recordings from 1963 to 1967.

Click here for a video of Tony Williams playing Joshua with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1964.

After Tony died, his wife Colleen kept the cymbals in a separate case. She has now collaborated with the Istanbul Mehmet company in reproducing the original cymbals. When Jon Newey met Tony and his wife in 1993, Tony told him how it was very difficult to find anything close to them. Jon adds: 'This was one of the most distinctive and influential cymbal sounds in jazz - dark, dry and intense - and drummers have strived to get close to it ever since ... (now) ... every detail was analysed, weighed, measured and recorded to produce a set of hand made cymbals as close as possible to the original set.'

The company says: 'To ensure absolute integrity in the recreation process, Colleen Williams, Tony’s wife, personally hand carried the original cymbals to the Istanbul Mehmet factory in Istanbul.  Every aspect of these legendary cymbals has been meticulously replicated by the Istanbul Mehmet master artisans to ensure that the Tribute models be as close in sound as possible to the originals. The Tony Williams Tribute Cymbal Limited Edition Set features 22’’ Ride, 18’’ Crash and 14’’ HiHats, together with deluxe leather cymbal bag, a selection of rare Tony Williams photographs and a Certificate of Authenticity. Limited to 250 serialized sets.'

Click here for the company website. The cymbals will be available from this summer.





Jazz Quiz

I Write The Songs
That Make The Whole World Swing

Question Mark

Have we made it too easy for you this month? We give you the titles of fifteen songs / tunes and ask you to identify theBen Webster Cottontail composers / lyricists. We even give you a choice of three answers ... how kind we are! So - we are looking for high scores this month.

For example:

Which bandleader wrote Cottontail?

Duke Ellington, Count Basie or Fletcher Henderson.


If you think you know the answer, go to our quiz page and try to answer the other fourteen quiz questions and then check out the 'Answers' page where you will also find some interesting videos.


Click here for the Jazz Quiz.





Calum Gourlay for International Society of Bassists Competition

UK bassist Calum Gourlay, whose recent solo album we reviewed last month, has been selected as one of 10 semi-finalists in the International Calum GourlaySociety of Bassists (ISB) Jazz Competition. This year it takes place during the first week of June in Colorado.

Calum says: 'I'm totally blown away to have made it to this stage and excited to get a chance to showcase my music in another country.'

The ISB was founded by the world-renowned virtuoso Gary Karr in 1967. With some 3,000 members in over 40 countries, the ISB is an organisation for those who teach, study, play, repair, build and enjoy the double bass. It serves as a forum for communication among bassists throughout the world and across a wide variety of musical styles. Members receive the journal, Bass World, three times per year and the "Bass Line" newsletter twice yearly. Every two years the ISB holds an international convention and double bass competition, a composition contest, and now, a makers competition.

The Jazz Division of the competition awards the Scott LaFaro prize of $2,500 and an expenses-paid concert to open the 2017 ISB Convention. Jazz Division contestants must be older than 17 and younger than 31 on the day the competition begins. We wish Calum well.

Click here for the ISB website.

Click here for our review of Calum's album Live At The Ridgeway.




Jazz FM Awards

The radio station JazzFM has announced its shortlist for their 2015 awards and are asking people to vote for their favourites. The categories and the shortlist are:

Live Experience of the Year: Loose Tubes (Cheltenham Jazz Festival); Blue Note 75th Birthday (EFG London Jazz Festival); Jamie Cullum (Love Supreme Jazz Festival).

UK Jazz Act of the Year: GoGo Penguin; Polar Bear; Sons Of Kemet.

Album of the Year: Ambrose Akinmusire - The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint; Chris Potter Underground Orchestra - Imaginary Cities; D'Angelo - Black Messiah; Dianne Reeves - Beautiful Life; Polar Bear - In Each And Every One; Troyka - Ornithophobia.

JazzFM logoBreakthrough Act: Bill Laurance, GoGo Penguin, Peter Edwards.

Instrumentalist of the Year: Alexander Hawkins, Laura Jurd, Shabaka Hutchings.

Jazz Innovation of the Year: Henry Threadgill, Jason Moran, Theo Croker.

International Jazz Artist of the Year: Antonio Sanchez, Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy.

Blues Artist of the Year: Dr John, Otis Taylor, Valerie June.

Soul Artist of the Year: D’Angelo, Jarrod Lawson, Lalah Hathaway.

Vocalist of the Year: Alice Zawadzki, Lauren Kinsella, Zara McFarlane.

Lifetime Achievement – to be presented to Hugh Masekela.

To cast your vote click here.



Album Released: 27th April 2015 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings


Samuel Blaser

Spring Rain

Robin Kidson reviews this record for us:

Samuel Blaser is a Swiss trombonist. On Spring Rain, he is joined by three other musicians: Russ Lossing on keyboards, Drew Gress on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The trombone, of course, has an honourable history in jazz. Even so, a trombone-led quartet is stillSamuel Blaser Spring Rain album something of a rarity and, as such, has one significant advantage – it doesn’t sound like much else around.  

Spring Rain is a tribute to the music of the late Jimmy Giuffre, an American jazz musician and composer prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for a highly popular type of folk-jazz – one of his compositions, The Train and the River, opens the classic film, Jazz on a Summer’s Day. But Giuffre also had a keen interest in free jazz and, in the sixties, led an experimental trio with himself on clarinet, Paul Bley on piano and Steve Swallow on bass. The trio were particularly interested in exploring forms of group improvisation. It is this free jazz, group improvisation side of Giuffre that Blaser wants to honour on Spring Rain. Steve Swallow himself makes a contribution to the liner notes.

The term “free jazz” may put some people off but this isn’t wild and angry, hooting and honking. For the most part, Blaser sticks to the conventional tonal range of the trombone – and even when he doesn’t, his experimenting is always melodic and absorbing. Many of the tunes are played in a slow and measured – even quiet – way. It is often difficult to tell when composition ends and improvisation begins.    

So, listening to the album is a satisfying and interesting experience but a jazz fan might ask – is it jazz or modern classical music? And then a supplementary: does it matter? It clearly does not matter to Samuel Blaser who says: “…you can’t categorise my music in one space. I want people to know that there is jazz, blues, classical music, beautiful melodies and no boundaries”. Amen to that.
Most of the twelve tracks on the album are Blaser compositions and they tend towards the contemporary classical music end of the spectrum. A track like Homage, for example, sounds like the sort of test piece a young aspiring trombonist might play on BBC Young Musician of the Year. It is a short piece for solo trombone which allows Blaser to show off his considerable virtuosity.

The title track, Spring Rain, has all four musicians contributing to a sound picture of rain in all its manifestations: the plopping sound of individual rain drops, the quiet hush of drizzle, the gush of heavier rain. All of the musicians are seeking to coax new sounds from their instruments but this isn’t experimenting for its own sake – everything is done with the purpose of enhancing the soundscape of spring rain.

Of the other Blaser compositions, Missing Mark Suetterlyn is a passionate, tumultuous piece with a slight blues feel to it which builds to a satisfying conclusion. Umbra is a joint composition with Russ Lossing and is a short duet for piano and trombone where the trombone plays Samuel Blaserwistfully against more ominous notes from the piano. The First Snow is a louder piece with Lossing on synthesisers sounding a bit like Herbie Hancock.

Trippin’ is another piece for solo trombone and is more recognizably jazz than many of the other tracks. You can tap your feet to it for a start. Blaser uses a mute and sounds at times like Miles Davis or even early Cotton Club Ellington. Blaser’s complete control of his instrument is on full display and he often makes the trombone sound like a full brass band rather than just one instrument. Counterparts is a jagged, urgent piece with some neat interplay between trombone and drums.

There are three Giuffre compositions on the album. Cry Want is a trombone/piano duet and is a slow, dark piece with a very distinctive and sombre theme played on piano. Scootin’ About really does scoot about in an up tempo, lively, even amusing way. Trudgin’, on the other hand, trudges but there is an engaging steady rhythm and a bluesy feel to it.

Finally, there are two Carla Bley compositions. Bley is the ex-wife of Paul Bley and the current partner of Steve Swallow, all of which serves to emphasise the Jimmy Giuffre connection. Temporarily is definitely jazz, rhythmically and melodically. It has a South African township jazz feel to it and some vigorous and effective acoustic piano work by Lossing. Jesus Maria is the last and longest track on the album. It is also probably the most conventionally jazz piece with the bass being much more prominent than on other tracks. It is a quiet, thoughtful piece which develops in a very satisfying and absorbing way.

Click here for a promotional video from Whirlwind Recordings introducing Spring Rain.

Click here to sample the album.

You can see Samuel Blaser playing Cry Want live if you click here.

Samuel Blaser is bringing a trio to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 2nd May.

Robin Kidson





Andrew Linham


[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where your computer might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].


Andrew Linham


Andrew Linham is more than a talented young jazz reeds player, he is a performer with a portfolio that is hard to keep up with. In his mid-twenties he plays in several bands, leads his own big band and small groups, composes and arranges music, is a primary school teacher, a music tutor and is up to his ears in theatre, something that is evident in his teaching and music. Inherent in it all is a wacky sense of humour that bubbles up in Andrew Linham Quartethis conversation as well as in his work.

Click here for a video of Andrew's Quartet playing Wednesday Afternoons from their album Abandoned Silence filmed at Oliver's Jazz Bar in Greenwich in 2012.

Born in the London Borough of Havering, he is back in that area after graduating from the Leeds College of Music. His parents are not trained musicians - his mother can tap dance and his father can play piano by ear - and yet both Andrew and his younger brother, Ryan, have careers in music (Ryan graduated from the Royal College of Music and plays classical trumpet, flugelhorn, piano and percussion).

When Andrew was six, his mother taught him to tap dance. 'I remember dancing to Leaning On A Lampost,' Andrew says. 'I think it is interesting how dance informs music and vice versa. I also started to learn piano at that age. I went through my grades at primary school in Upminster and then picked up the saxophone at senior school taking it to Grade 8. I can play flute and clarinet although I lean more towards the sax, and at that stage was playing mainly classical music, Chopin, Debussy.'

I commented to Andrew that many jazz musicians seem to like the 'romantic' music of Ravel, Debussy, et al. and he believes that there is a theory that this music appeals to the artistic side of the brain.

During this time, Andrew continued his interest in performing, remembers taking the lead in several shows including playing James in Roald Dahl's James And The Giant Peach. This love of theatre was well-formed at this time and has continued to run in parallel to his music.

Andrew went to The Cooper's Company and Coborn School in Upminster. In the sixth form he was scoring and arranging music for theatre performances of Agamemnon and discovered Charlie Parker. 'I heard Charlie Parker's Now's The Time, and then went on to listen to Wayne Shorter', says Andrew. 'A friend, Richie Howard, made me buy a Charlie Parker sax book, and I guess that is where my interest in jazz started.' HeAndrew Linham Abandoned Silence album left Cooper's in 2007 and was accepted at Leeds College of Music. 'It was a good course,' he remembers. 'They were encouraging, positive and communicative and we had some great tutors including saxophonist Jim Corry (of Jamiroquai), saxophonist Simon Kaylor and trumpeter Jamil Sharif.'

When he graduated with a BA (Hons) in 2010, he won a Yamaha Jazz Scolarship Award from Yamaha and Jazzwise. Andrew wanted to return to London and applied to do a master's degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and followed this in 2012 by releasing his first album Abandoned Silence with his Quartet. On the album, Andrew plays alto sax with Rob Brockway (piano), Darren McCarthy (double bass) and Dan Paton (drums). Robert Shore, reviewing the album in Jazzwise magazine said: '“It’s a neat set of originals, mixing poised, tender balladry and more uptempo boppish material ... The lineage from Kenny Garrett is evident. Whether on rapid-fire or slow-burn setting, Linham is a musician of tremendous invention and flow.”

Click here to listen to I Will Not Forget You from the album.

The Yamaha Scholarship led Andrew to attend the 2012 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show. NAMM is the world's largest trade-only event for the music products industry held every January in Anaheim, California and is one of the two largest music product trade shows in the world. In 2014, Andrew went to the NAMM European counterpart, the Musik Messe in Frankfurt. The event attracts numerous famous musicians, many of whom are endorsed by exhibitors and come to promote their own signature models and equipment. Andrew now endorses Yamaha saxes and SaxRax saxophone stands.

2012 also saw Andrew begin to become involved in primary school teaching of music. He currently works half a day a week as Head of Music at Goodrington School running music courses there from Nursery to Year 6 each term. He teaches woodwind and piano at Havering Music School Milly and the Minotaur posterthroughout the week and runs a jazz course there on Saturday mornings, teaching one-to-one and running the wind band and choir. He has been Musician in Residence at Ardleigh Green Junior School and teaches his own tailor made music programme at Endgayne Primary School.

Andrew's love of theatre takes up his Wednesday, Thursday, Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch where he is currently involved in a production of Dr Seuss - The Musical. 'This is a more light-hearted production,' Andrew says. 'Most of our previous productions have been more serious. Milly and the Minotaur in 2014 was about a nine-year-old in hospital helped through the worst times by her secret friend, a Minotaur! The Edelweiss Pirates earlier this year was set in 1943 in Germany where a group of young Germans started a resistence to the regime.'

It is not surprising that Andrew's theatrical life surfaces in his big band, the Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra. The band is filled with talented young musicians, many of them graduates from the London music colleges. One musician described Andrew's approach as 'not involving a great deal of rehearsal, but playing the music to see what develops,' and that opens the way for some excellent jazz improvisation. Andrew agrees that his attitude is that the band should enjoy what they are playing, and that this enjoyment and fun should transfer to the audience. It is not unusual for him to bring comedy into his leadership of the Orchestra, something that goes back to playing Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestrain summer schools with the esteemed Michael Garrick. But don't be misled, this approach is founded on talented musicianship.

Click here for the Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra playing Andrew's composition and arrangement of Eli And The Monobrow at the 2014 Havering Art Festival featuring solos from Andrew, Tommy Andrews and Phil Meadows. This is not a professionally filmed video but it really illustrates how this band can swing.

Andrew's arrangements for the Orchestra feature a wide range of styles from the funk of compositions such as Apples Are Not The Only Fruit to the varied suite that is a pastiche of Dante's Inferno. In the version of the suite that I heard, I found the arrangements complex, driving and creative. The Delusions of Limbo featured fascinating clarinet, soprano sax and trumpet solos whilst Lust presented a Johnny Hodges influenced alto sax solo and an atmospheric bass solo.

Click here to listen to the Jazz Orchestra playing Wrath Out! from the Inferno Suite.

Andrew himself is currently playing baritone saxophone in his orchestra and other bands such as the London City Big Band. 'I bought the bari in 2009 with my student loan,' Andrew recalls. 'It cost most of my loan and I didn't eat for two weeks. I enjoy playing the baritone, but I mostly play it because others don't want to lug a big sax around.' Again, don't be fooled by Andrew's light-hearted comment, at one London City Big Band gigMimika the band and the audience urged him to go on playing a baritone sax solo until he ran out of breath!

Andrew's involvement with the band Mimika is a different fish kettle. Mimika was formed in 2010 by the Croatian composer and saxophonist Mak Murtic. Initially a 9 piece Balkan influenced jazz group with strings, clarinets, brass, rhythm section and vocals, the band evolved into a small orchestra with stronger urban and contemporary influences to feature brass, woodwinds, vocals, a full rhythm section (including the tuba) and recently a narrator with all the band members acting theatrical roles as well as playing their instruments. Click here for a video of Mimika playing Fractal Forests. Click here for more about Mimika.

In terms of where the future will lead, Andrew has a very open approach. For him it is very much a question of 'throwing things up and seeing where they will land'. He would like to start writing for particular musicians in the Orchestra and would love the band to be able to play at Ronnie Scott's Club. His involvement in theatre is bound to continue and he would like to choreograph the Dante's Inferno suite as well as develop his educational music projects.

Wherever things land, Andrew Linham will continue to make a valuable contribution to strands of music and theatre that will educate children and young people, encourage improvisation by talented musicians and bring enjoyment to many.

Click here for Andrew Linham's website.




Tony Milliner - My Favourite Things

Gene Ammons - Five O'Clock Whistle

Tony Milliner

For this month’s track, Tony picks a recording by saxophonist Gene Ammons from the album Uptight (although it has been released on other albums).

Tony says: 'Gene Ammons's style was characterised by symmetrical, straightforward solos supported by a big Gene Ammonsfat sound which pervades, rather than assaults the ear. I like Five O'Clock Whistle, but take another recording of his, The Breeze And I, which is exuberant and a great tune to ad lib on.'

Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons ('The Boss') was the son of pianist Albert Ammons. He came from Chicago and in 1944 he joined Billy Eckstine's band playing alongside Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon (Eckstine apparently called Ammons 'Jug' after straw hats ordered for the band would not fit the saxophonist). From 1947 Ammons led a group, including Miles Davis and Sonny Stitt before Gene replaced Stan Getz in Woody Herman's Second Herd.

He was busy recording through the 1950s until, in 1958 he was sent to prison for two years for possession of narcotics. He was back inside for another seven years from 1962 for the same offence. When he came out he signed the largest contract ever offered at that time for the Prestige label. Gene Ammons died in Chicago in 1974, at the age of 49, from cancer.

Click here to listen to Five O'Clock Whistle.




Some you win, some you learn.





Album Released: 30th March 2015 - Label: Discus


Julie Tippetts and Martin Archer



Harriet Syndercombe-Court reviews this album for us:

Well established duo Julie Tippetts and Martin Archer bring us their fourth release - Vestigium.  This fourteen track album delivers an eclectic collection of grooves, spoken word and abstract electronic ideas.  The description may sound incohesive, but the journey Tippetts and ArcherJulie Tippetts Martin Archer Vestigium take you on is a thrilling rollercoaster. 

Both Tippetts and Archer have extensive musical experience between them.  However, it is the support from the vast collection of musicians that really cements the point of the work. The listener is to be taken down one path with several stop points along the way and each stop stretches musical imagination. The celebration of fusion music was accepted in the past, Tippetts and Archer hope that the listener hears this great history in this present recording.

As a fellow vocalist, I was most intrigued by the lyrics at first listen.  So many of the words draw the listener in and claim their majestic quality due to Tippetts’s exquisite diction.  Each lyric slips off the tongue with grace and conviction.  

Perhaps this is an observation that reflects my young and naive years, but hidden under each flowing or spiky lyrical phrase, is a basic emotion, action or memory.  I understand that this is the general basis for song writers, but it isn’t often approached in such a poetic way.  It was the support of Archer’s yearning horn lines that led me to really delve into the Julie Tippettswords.  The writing, playing, and improvisation, is admirable.

As Tippetts fronts the album, Archer is like a swan.  His musicianship and phenomenal free playing experience makes the album poised and expansive.  Not only does Archer play multiple instruments, he also provides electronic assistance.  It’s these eerie effects, which have been expertly delivered not only by Archer, but also from Chris Bywater.  This particularly stood out for me in Shiver Across The Soul.  As Peter Fairclough (drums and percussion) and Seth Bennett (double bass) cement the groove with the laid back feel akin to a Chaka Khan track, the subtle, slightly sporadic sounds which hop in and out are, at first, a surprise, but thereafter a joy to search for.

This body of work comes in two CD’s, neither side wins first place.  I found the first CD, or side A as it is referred to in this case, slightly more contemporary.  The vocal techniques were more stretching.  This however, does not mean I lost any respect for Side B.  I loved the groove-based tracks, especially Stalking The Vision.  This piece not only boasts Tippetts's ear for harmony, but Archer really gets his ‘moment’. Martin Archer Towards the end, the horn sings over the vocal line, each a lament in its own right. 

Martin Archer says: "We'd like the listener to think of this work as being part of a lineage which builds not just on all the music we've both made over the last decades, but which might also include major statements such as Centipede's Septober Energy, Soft Machine's Third, or Carla Bley's Escalator Over The Hill. That's the scope we're chasing."

This album pushes the boundaries of many genres.  Not only do we hear the traditions of jazz, whether it is influences of swing, extended techniques, or free playing.  We also have the challenge of traditional R&B beats sounding away from the usual rap, or head nodding vibe we’re used to.  Tippetts and Archer have done as they set out to do.  They’ve delivered a work that could sit well with all ages and could possibly influence single-minded listeners to open their ears to a new genre.

Julie Tippetts (voice, acoustic guitar), Martin Archer (keyboards, electronics, woodwind), Peter Fairclough (drums and percussion), Seth Bennett (double bass), Gary Houghton (lead, rhythm and glissando guitars), Michael Somerset Ward (flutes, saxophones, sea flute), Kim Macari (trumpet), Lee Hallam (trombone), Chris Bywater (laptop), James Archer (electronics), Michael McMillan ( guitar), Heather Cordwell (violin), Aby Vulliamy (viola), Mick Bardon (cello).

Click here for full track details and to sample the album.

Harriet Syndercombe-Court is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a session and backing vocalist and teacher.
The Diamond Skyline Orchestra and Pandoras Jukebox




That Track


Avalon is one of those interesting numbers that spans the ages. It emerged in 1920 when it was performed and co-written by Al Jolson. Jolson's Avalon postercollaborators on the tune were Buddy Gard De Sylva and Vincent Rose - Buddy De Sylva had performed on stage from the age of four in a song and dance act and he went on to compose and arrange with the Gershwins. His first hit Look For The Silver Lining, written with Jerome Kern, was also a hit in 1920. Later, with Lew Brown, Buddy De Sylva was responsible for a host of jazz standards including The Birth Of The Blues, Black Bottom, Varsity Drag, Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries and The Best Things In Life Are Free.

Vincent Rose came to America from Italy when he was seventeen. His band, Vincent Rose and his Montmartre Orchestra played for 35 years from around 1905. In 1920 he wrote Whispering with John Schonberger (lyric by Richard Coburn), a hit for Paul Whiteman, and Linger Awhile, written in 1923 with Harry Owens and recorded by Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan. Perhaps his other best known tune is Blueberry Hill written with Larry Stock and Al Lewis, and recorded by Glenn Miller and Fats Domino. Placido Domingo

And then Jolson, DeSylva and Rose ran into a problem. The Puccini estate took the tune to court where it was ruled that the melody had been nicked from an aria in the opera Tosca and the Puccini estate were awarded the royalties!

The aria was E lucevan le stelle ("And the stars were shining") sung by tenor Mario Cavaradossi, a painter in love with the singer Tosca, while he waits for his execution on the roof of Castel Sant'Angelo.

Click here for a video of the aria sung by Placido Domingo filmed in 1992. The production was performed in the exact places of the Tosca libretto. Now click here to listen to Al Jolson's version - same tune? Different style!


I found my love in Avalon
Beside the bay.
I left my love in Avalon
And I sailed away.
I dream of her in Avalon
From dusk till dawn.
So I think I'll travel on
To Avalon.


By the 1930s Avalon was doing well. The Benny Goodman Quartet recorded a version that they revisited years later in 1980 when Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Benny Goodman came back together with George Duvivier on bass for this film of them playing their swingtime version - click here.

What do we know about the origins of the tune? Avalon is of course the mythical island in the legends of King Arthur where the sword Excalibur was forged and where Arthur went to recover after the Battle of Camlann. The word is thought to be from the old Welsh language aball, meaning "apple/fruit tree". The Welsh cleric and writer, Geoffrey of Monmouth who was a major influence in the popularity of the King Arthur legend, referred to it in Latin as Insula Avallonis in the Historia and later as Insula Pomorum the "isle of fruit trees" (from Latin pōmus "fruit tree"). Around 1190, Avalon became associated with the area around Glastonbury in Somerset, still seen by some as a mystical location. Visit it Avalonsometime and walk down the main road and alleys with the various spiritual shops and those selling crystals, dreamweavers, incense and herbal remedies.

What is now known as Glastonbury was, in ancient times, called the Isle of Avalon. It is virtually an island, for it is completely surrounded by marshlands. In Welsh it is called Ynys Afallach, which means the Island of Apples and this fruit once grew in great abundance. After the Battle of Camlann, a noblewoman called Morgan, later the ruler and patroness of these parts as well as being a close blood-relation of King Arthur, carried him off to the island, now known as Glastonbury, so that his wounds could be cared for. Years ago the district had also been called Ynys Gutrin in Welsh, that is the Island of Glass, and from these words the invading Saxons later coined the place-name 'Glastingebury'. (The Glastonbury Music Festival does not actually take place in Glastonbury but in the nearby village of Pilton, but it offers an opportunity to visit Avalon).

I don't think Teddy Wilson ever played Glastonbury, but click here for a video of him playing Avalon with the Dutch Swing College Band in 1976.


Every morn' my memories stray
Across the sea where flying fishes play.
And as the night is falling
I find that I'm recalling
That blissful all-enthralling day.


The only link between Somerset's Glastonbury and the DeSylva / Rose tune Avalon is the notion of a place of respite and recovery. The tune actually refers to Avalon - a holiday resort in California. Located on Santa Catalina, a rocky island in the California Channel Islands, Avalon is the southernmost city in Los Angeles County. Avalon Bay has a harbour and beaches forming the centre of the town's activity. The pedestrian walkway has decorated pavements, fountains, palm trees, and a Catalina Island 1930sfancy serpentine seawall. In the 1920s and 1930s Avalon was a popular resort destination for the film community of Hollywood.

Click here to see a video of Catalina Island in the 1930s.

The island was originally inhabited by the Tongva tribe who did good business mining and trading soapstone. When the Spanish sailed in, they claimed the island as theirs but by the 1830s, the island's entire native population were either dead or had migrated to the mainland. In time, seal hunters from Russia and America set up camps on the island killing otters and seals for their pelts. Pirates also found that the island had plenty of handy hidden coves, and the short distance to the mainland and its small population, made the island ideal for smuggling activities.

In the 1850s–60s, rumours went round that there was gold on the island. There was a minor (sic) gold rush but they didn't find any. (Presumably the pirates had theirs well hidden!). Over the years the island was owned and sold to various owners. The development of the island as a holiday resort began at the end of the 19th century and in 1919 Mr William 'Chewing Gum' Wrigley owned most of the shares and it was he who put a lot of effort into developing the tourist Avalon Harbourtrade. The family owned the island until 1975, never it seems biting off more than they could chew.

In 1981, actress Natalie Wood drowned in one of the harbours while on holiday with Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken; the island was a favourite escape place for Clark Gable who the fostered Marilyn Monroe, in her early years, pretended was her father. At seventeen, Marilyn married to avoid returning to her foster home, and she and her husband Jim Dougherty lived on Catalina Island when he was stationed there in 1943. You can see Avalon Harbour right now from their live cam if you click here!

Catalina Island also stages the Jazztrax Festival each year. JazzTrax is an American radio station playing mainly smooth jazz and this year their 29th festival is in October - 'All Concerts held in the Historic 1929 Avalon Ballroom... looking Out To Sea'. Who is playing? Regrettably, names I do not recognise - Click here.


Beside the bay.
And I sailed away.
I dream of her in Avalon
From dusk till dawn.
So I think I'll travel on
To Avalon.


Informal Jazz album


If you thought that the tune Avalon was reserved for the swing era, think again. Click here to listen to an excellent version from John Coltrane and Elmo Hope from 1956.

The album is Informal Jazz and the band is John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Elmo Hope (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums).


Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass


Here is another treat - a video of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass performing Avalon in Hanover in 1975 (click here). Ella stumbles with the lyrics at the beginning, apologises but doesn't break stride and goes on to show the wonderful working relationship she had with guitarist Joe Pass. Despite not developing the all the songs lyrics they make the tune work.

Although it is a diversion, it is worth going on to listen to them playing You Turned The Tables On Me from the same session (click here).


Art Pepper Warne Marsh


Our final version comes from Art Pepper and Warne Marsh accompanied by images of the musicians, Avalon and Catalina Island (click here). Suitably a West Coast geographical place to wind up.

The tune is also on the Art Pepper The Complete Freewheeling Sessions album click here for the download, click here to listen to the track.




I dream of her in Avalon
From dusk till dawn.
So I think I'll travel on
To Avalon.



Help With Musical Definitions No 11.

Super Tonic

A tonic that comes with the gin already in it.






Photographic Memories

Phil Kent and Bob Wallis


Phil Kent and Bob Wallis

Phil Kent writes:

'Many years ago, in the seventies, I was the bass player with Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen. Searching in a cupboard recently, I found this photo of Bob Wallis on Trumpet and myself on double bass. I used to play bass with Sandy Brown in the basement of The Hope and Anchor in Islington in 1973.'

These days, bassist Phil Kent works as a DJ on the Jazz Programme at Somerset's community radio station 10Radio. Originally from Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, Phil became interested in jazz in the early ‘60s after having seen the Dudley Moore/Roy Budd trios. He moved Phil Kent to London where he studied jazz music and improvisation with eminent jazz virtuoso bass player Peter Ind. After two years, he decided to go professional, and went on to play with most of Britain’s top jazz musicians, including, saxophonist Tubby Hayes, Acker Bilk, Brian Lemon, Sandy Brown, and drummer Phil Seaman.

He was, for many years, the regular bass player with the Storyville Jazzmen. His main early influences were Pete McGurk, Ron Matthewson, and latterly the superb American bass player Brian Bromberg. Having toured Europe for almost 15 years, Phil decided to slow the pace down a bit, and so he bought a cottage in a small village in Somerset. These days, he is still very much involved with music by running a fan club for Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, as a result of which he is mentioned in several books about The Rolling Stones. He also runs jazz websites including one in recognistion of Dudley Moore and another about Horst Jankowski He still plays double bass, and is now concentrating on solo acoustic bass, and multi-tracking, as well as being part of the team that presents Sounds Like Jazz at the radio station.

We would welcome sharing any photographs you might have hidden away. Just email or post them to us with a little about the time and place and any other memories you have. Click here for our contact details. Click here for our Photographic Memories page and see what other people have sent in.




Album Released: 6th April 2015 - Label: Unit Records

featuring Dave Liebman

Jazz Talks

Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us.

The Swiss trio Vein consists of twin brothers; Florian on drums and Michael Arbenz on piano, together with Thomas Lähns on bass. Their chemistry and formidable accomplished musical interplay as a trio is well proven with their previous album releases and live performances,Vein Jazz Talks al bum however as Michael states, “We all wanted to learn in a traditional way by playing with the great players of an older generation”.

This album was recorded in Basel in just one afternoon without any rehearsal. There are no cover notes included but there are thirteen tracks on this latest album and as they have done before, it features a guest horn player who, this time, is the great American veteran saxophonist Dave Liebman. Three of the tracks are very short (the longest of which is 1 minute 39 seconds) and in each of these, Leibman partners a different trio member with his playing. As well as the three short improvised tracks, there is one track composed by Liebman, three standards given an interpretation by the group and the remaining tracks are composed by Michael or Florian Arbenz.

Click here for a video of Vein and Dave Liebman playing live.

The opening track, All the Things You Are, is played with an improv. interpretation, so we have playful sax with some interesting interplay with Michael’s piano with good support by bass and drums. Negative Space was composed by Dave Liebman and starts with a piano intro. full of clear notes which is then joined by some refined soprano sax playing by Liebman showing his full range. I had mixed feelings about Veinthis track, some really good passages I liked and some I was not so keen on.

Small Talk 1 is a mysterious and vibrant short track with the bass joined by a staccato sax. Possibly out of the three short tracks this one worked the best for me, followed by Small Talk 2 with its ‘late evening’ feel and lastly Small Talk 3.

Autumn Leaves swings with some tuneful solo piano and solo bass. Clear Light is my favourite track with a slow Asian feel to it and its melodic recorder playing making it very atmospheric. Waking With A Start has jangling juxtapositions and staccato timing which lend this track a feeling of disorientation engendered by the title. The album’s final track is You And The Night And The Music which really highlights the group’s feeling for swing. It has a nice mix of tenor sax and the other instruments, with some good solo sequences.

This album is a bit of a mix with its acknowledgement to earlier jazz but with a real contemporary feel.  The obviously competent musicians all patently enjoyed playing together and it shows. They have one foot planted in a base of swing whilst the other strides boldly into the unknown.

Click here to sample the album.

Click here for a video introduction to the Jazz Talks album.

Tim Rolfe                            





Fionna Duncan


[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where your computer might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].

A month or two ago, Anthony Abel mentioned Fionna Duncan in his memories about 'Finding Trad' (click here). We didn't have a picture of Fionna at the time to go with the article and so we asked if readers could help. In response, we have received several together with comments of surprise that we have not featured Fionna before on the site.

Fionna Duncan

Click here to listen to Fionna Duncan singing Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave To Me with Ian Menzies and the Clyde Valley Stompers.

The heroescentre website (heroescentre.co.uk) tells us that Fionna Duncan was born in the Temperance Hotel, Garelochhead, Scotland during a ‘black out’ in the second month of World War 2. She was due to be born in the family home in Portincaple, but the doctor refused to come to deliver her. It was therefore left to the Naval personnel stationed in the hotel to bring Fionna into the world.

The family moved to Glasgow for her father’s business where Fionna went to Rutherglen Academy. There she joined a ballad and blues club and sang in Gilbert and Sullivan operas as well as joining the Bankead Players amateur dramatic group. Fionna did well at the Academy where she came away with a Higher Music Pass and was singing with various jazz bands in the area until in 1955 she became the vocalist with the Lindsay MacDonald Modern Jazz Quartet which had a regular Saturday night spot at Glasgow University’s Snug Bar.

On a trip to America in 1956 Fionna sang on radio and television and was approached by Riverside Records with a recording contract. PreferringFionna Duncan and Clyde Valley Stompers not to move to the United States, she started performing on a weekly BBC Glasgow live broadcast of ‘Skiffle Club’ with The Joe Gordon Folk Four. After a short time singing with Glasgow’s Steadfast Jazz Band she joined The Forrie Cairns All Stars and later The Clyde Valley Stompers.

Click here to listen to Fionna singing Salty Dog Blues with the Clyde Valley Stompers - Ian Menzies (trombone); Malcolm Higgins (trumpet); Forrie Cairns (clarinet); Norrie Brow (banjo); John Cairns (piano); Bill Bain (bass).

Fionna Duncan with the Clyde Valley Stompers
Photograph courtesy of the National Jazz Archive

In an interview in 2011 (see below), Fionna talked about the bands that were around in those early days, including Sandy Brown’s band: ‘I did some broadcasts with Sandy and Al Fairweather and Sandy’s band, which was a great band .. he was a larger than life man, quite terrifying. Before we went into the broadcast we would go and meet in this pub to talk about what numbers we should do and it was right off the cuff, you know, and he’d be standing at the bar, big black beard, leather hat, leather jacket, leather trousers, singing at the top of his voice, and we stand there all quiet, and there were all these guys in bowler hats, all the businessmen, all looking ... Sandy was great though, a lovely man.’

Between 1964 and 1970 Fionna moved to London where she hosted the ‘Georgian Nightclub’ in the West End, and during this time she sang with  many top jazz musicians and their bands including those Humphrey Lyttelton, Kenny Ball, Warren Vache, Grover Washington and Sweets Edison. During this period she was also singing regularly ‘The Georgian Dixielanders’.

Fionna Duncan 2In her 2011 interview she remembers a time when the band would play in Liverpool and: ‘The Beatles were our interval group there, they were really funny .. I kept thinking why don’t you change your name? I kept thinking of ‘Beasties’ ..’ She also talks about her singing style and why her voice is recognisable, wondering whether it is the vibrato. How she always found it difficult to mime to recordings as she always sang songs differently each time – ‘I think I was the only one on Top Of The Pops to sing live!’

Photograph courtesy of Anthony Abel

In the early 1970s, Fionna returned to Glasgow and continued to work and tour Europe and America where she performed in California and Michigan. In 1985 she formed her own Trio with Ronnie Rae on bass, Brian Kellock on piano and John Rae on drums.

At the Glasgow International Jazz festival in 1996 Fionna started the first of her workshops for young jazz singers in collaboration with Professor Madeline Eastman. In her 2011 interview with Radio Magnetic Fionna talks about how she first went to Madeline Eastman’s Jazzcamp in the United States: ‘I had a great time ... the ages were from sixteen up .... I was the oldest, I think I was fifty-five at the time .. I felt like granny bringing up the rear ... but I tell you what, she actually made me think about what I was doing. She’d stop you and she said ‘Why do you do that?’ and I’d say ‘It’s just something I do’ and she’d say ‘well, don’t do that.’ Realising that there were few young jazz singers in Scotland, Fionna went straight into the Glasgow Jazz Festival office and saw Derek Norman.Telling him the situation, Fionna said: ‘I really want to run a school and bring Madeline Eastman over to help me do this, and he said ‘right’ .. and really helped tremendously ...’

The workshops gradually became more and more successful and have attracted singers from both home and abroad. In 1999 the Fionna Duncan Vocal Jazz Workshops were allocated lottery funding from the Scottish Arts Council to take the workshops all over Scotland.

At the 2011 Glasgow Jazz Festival, Radio Magnetic recorded an interview by Keith Bruce with Fionna (click here to listen) after she had sung a session with Ryan Quigley’s Big Band. She had not been singing for two and a half years following an operation. Her vocal chords were affected, but she made a great recovery.

She talked about working with Brian Kellock since he was about seventeen, and winning 'Stars In Their Eyes' where she met Forrie Cairns in around 1956 when Fionna was playing ukulele. Forrie asked her to join his band. Trad jazz was ‘huge’ then she says. ‘Callum Kennedy was theFionna Duncan album rival band ...There was no other music for dancing other than Scottish dancing. There wasn’t really a pop thing then ...’ Fionna understood that to be a jazz singer you had to sing like Bessie Smith, or, according to Fionna’s brother who had a modern jazz band, Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald.  

The recording shows how at ease and how amusing Fionna is, and there are some lovely anecdotes in this interview.

Album image suggested by Thorbjørn Sjøgren
Click on the image for details of the album.


The Glasgow Jazz Festival website tells how 'For many years the renowned singer Fionna Duncan hosted the Late Night Club.  She made it look effortless, bringing up the newer young performers earlier in the night when the Club was quieter, encouraging Glasgow musicians she knew to step up with an eye out for visiting guests carrying instruments. Guitarist Nigel Clark recounts a story from the days that the Festival club was at the Lorne Hotel in the early 90s.

“A lot of the Glasgow gigs are quite concerty, so it was great when they have those late night jam sessions.  They gave you a chance to hear people playing in a less formal setting, and playing standards rather than their album material.  There was one fantastic jam session at the Lorne Hotel when the famous American sax player Grover Washington Jnr played all night in a completely different style to how he had played in concert.”

Fionna Duncan remembers the same night “He was sitting at a table, with his back to me, signing records and I didn’t realise who he was.  He got Fionna Duncanup and played, and I remember thinking I hope he’s OK because this is quite hard music.  He was great, afterwards I thanked him and admitted I didn’t know who he was, and the audience fell about laughing.  He stayed up playing the rest of the set”

Click here to listen to Fionna singing On The Sunny Side Of The Street with the JBBO (Jazz Band Ball Orchestra) in Zamosc, Poland in 2000.

In 2013 and 2014, Fionna performed at the Stair Arms in Pathhead. Writing for the Pathhead Music Collective, Emma Jackson said of the 2013 gig: ‘The phrase ‘living legend’ is overused a lot but when it comes to describing Fionna Duncan I would defy anyone to think of a more appropriate title. Other superlatives could include ‘captivating’; she certainly had over 70 people hanging on her every note at the Stair Arms on Sunday 2 February when she made her comeback appearance after 21 years. Other interesting anecdotes that came up in conversation included an explanation of the nautical term behind the song ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’, the Russian translation of Joppa (not for the faint-hearted) as well as some great banter between Fionna Duncan and the band consisting of Ronnie Rae on bass, Brian Kellock on piano and Pathhead’s own Tom Bancroft on drums. There was even a special guest appearance from Phil Bancroft on sax.  Described by one audience member as “the most laidback jazz’” she has ever seen the afternoon was a treat for music fans from across the generations’.

Click here for a video of Fionna singing All Over Now at Wighams Jazz Club in March 2014 with Forrie Cairns (clarinet) ; Colin Steele (trumpet); Brian Kellock (piano) and Tom Bancroft (drums).

Since 1993, Fionna has lived at her family home in Garelochhead. Fionna Duncan was nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award for her services to Jazz Education in 2008 and she was named Best Jazz Vocalist at the 2009 Scottish Jazz Awards.



New Orleans 1930s Home Movies

Last month we discovered some rare footage of New Orleans in the 1920s (click here). This month, Susan Enefer has brought our attention to New Orleans 1930sthis short collection of home moviews of New Orleans in the 1930s accompanied by a Johnny Dodds Bucktown Stomp soundtrack (click here). It stops rather abruptly, but it is fascinating nevertheless.

The trams running down the middle of the road, the brief look of a street-corner group at 2.05 mins that really 'looks the part', the cemetery with its above-ground graves and what looks like a paddle steamer ferry to Algiers.

The footage only runs for just under 3 minutes, but it captures the time and place.




Glasgow Art Club Bridges Jazz Programming Gap

Rob Adams reports that Bridge Music, the organisation that stages weekly jazz concerts in Glasgow Art Club, has established a Glasgow jazz collective to promote local musicians in the city centre venue while it waits for news of financial support from Scotland’s arts funding body,Chris Whitehouse Creative Scotland.

Chris Whitehouse

Bridge promotions came to a halt at the end of March when Creative Scotland turned down the company’s application for 2014/15 but a fresh application is to be considered and the result is expected to be announced in September. The Glasgow Art Club promotions run in partnership with Brian MolleyEdinburgh’s Jazz Bar, offering touring bands a two-night stopover in Scotland, and have presented musicians and bands from the U.S. and across Europe, as well as giving a platform to Scottish talent. Among those who have appeared recently are saxophonists George Crowley and Alex Garnett, trumpeter Bruce Adams, guitarists Przemyslaw Straczwek and Jim Mullen, and horn quartet Brass Jaw.

Brian Molley

“The Jazz Thursdays series at the Art Club has attracted a loyal audience and its enforced shutdown would leave a big gap in Glasgow’s jazz provision,” says Bridge Music’s Bill Kyle, who has been involved in jazz promotions in the city since the 1970s. “We had a venue available, with a piano, a PA and a drum kit for bands who need one, and we decided to throw it open to bands who otherwise wouldn’t find a suitable gig with a listening audience.”

A programme running through to the end of June has now been confirmed and will feature bassist Jay Kilbride’s band (May 7); drummer Chris Whitehouse’s Connected, which recently released its first album, Grounded (May 14); bassist Brodie Jarvie’s septet (May 21); Scottish National Jazz Orchestra trombonist Chris Greive’s Soundbone Trio (June 4); guitarist Joe Williamson’s Square One Quartet; saxophonist and former Jazzwise magazine one to watch Brian Molley’s Clock quartet (June 18); and saxophonist Andy Baker’s Illusive Tree (June 25).




Album released: 26th February 2015 - Label: Tum Records

Mikko Innanen

Song For A New Decade


Steve Day reviews this double album for us:

Mikko Innanen (alto & baritone saxophones, Indian clarinet, Uilleann chanter, nose flute, whistles, percussion); William Parker (1st Album only); Andrew Cyrille (drums).

Andrew Cyrille is among the iconic drummers of the last 40 plus years.  Working notably with Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and, critical to this recording, an overlooked legend of the alto saxophone, Jimmy Lyons, who surely must have inspired a young Mikko Innanen, though the Helsinki based musician wouldn’t have been old enough to hear the great man live.  In the 1980’s Lyons recorded for theMikko Innanen Song For A New Decade Black Saint label and William Parker and Andrew Cyrille were his bass and drums team.

The last time I caught Andrew Cyrille live was not in New York.  The man in the hip shades and Hawaiian shirt was sat behind a borrowed drum kit in downtown Gloucestershire, UK with tenor sax maestro, Paul Dunmall. I remember the gig because for the first thirty minutes Mr Dunmall exorcised a tangle of ghosts through his horn while Andrew Cyrille sat motionless, simply listening to this torrent of tenor complexities.  When the drums eventually broke cover they lifted up all the available music in the air and brought each constituent part together; an awesome performance that belied the situation. 

The first opportunity I get to hear Andrew Cyrille with Mikko Innanen I’m going to take it. The playing on the double album, Song For A New Decade, is outstanding.  One of the reasons for this depth of quality is the acute attention given by each musician to each musician.  I’m pleased that Sandy Brown Jazz doesn’t use a ‘star’ based system for grading recordings, if that were the case this one would get the whole night’s sky.

Mikko Innanen is from Finland but spends a lot of time in New York.  I don’t know what’s driving him but he’s a man on the move.  He’s half the age of Andrew Cyrille, but this is a reeds player who spent his formative years listening to the recorded music of the Great Saxophone Trinity (Bird, Coltrane, Ornette).  So, Mr Innanen has done all the big listening stuff and is now on his own case.  The first disk is 58 minutes of Innanen and Cyrille playing eight pieces in a trio with bassist William Parker, a magic musician so seriously riveting I could write reams.  Seven of these pieces use short sparse composed statements.  This material acts as a starter, harking back to the format of Ornette Coleman’s classic trio recording, At the Golden Circle Stockholm.

Innanen’s title track, Song For A New Decade makes use of a delightful ‘head’, plus an additional composed riff, before all three musicians move into an inaction articulated with great panache.  This is NOT frenetic music, neither is it passive; improvised, certainly, erratic, definitely not.  The second track, The End Is A Beginning has all the calm elegance of Ornette’s Morning Song.  I am not suggesting Mikko Innanen is some kind of ‘sound twin’, it’s just that you can hear the journey.  The one piece the Trio play containing no pre-written material is Look For The Red Door; eloquent, ordered and utterly of its own making.  Cyrille’s tight tom-tom pulse throbs a backdrop against Innanen’s song-like Mikko Innanenuse of Indian clarinet, enabling William Parker’s plucked bass to ripple a road straight through with all the assurance of a seasoned traveller.  It is a stunning recital. 

On the second disk there is a different modus operandi, equally inventive.The intimate encounter between Mikko Innanen and Andrew Cyrille consists of a continuous 54 minute duet, albeit divided into six separate ‘songs’. Songs For This Decade (note the slight title change for this disk) is ultimately rewarding because of the sense of trust established. This is not a battle, rather a joint adventure. Here are two men, a 37 year old Fin (known, but not that known), a 76 year old Black American (one of the true master drummers of the avant garde). Musicians from such different backgrounds and life experiences, yet they come together so empathetically. Song 1 is a glorious beginning. Mikko Innanen’s horn improvising a declaration of intent under which Andrew Cyrille rolls like a one man Black church urgently rap clapping the preacher to greater heights. Song 2 builds a dialogue; reeds stretch and pinch, tighten and come loose; percussion in detail: tom-tom, bells, high hat used as speech rather than rhythm, gong marking an open meditation. Song 3 hovers between the two musicians like a microtonal web. Bewilderingly nose flute and a rattle of percussion produce music of exceptional delicacy and beauty.

Song 4 has Cyrille pressurising a compressed drum roll to the point where it picks apart your ears so intently they are alert to every tap, stroke and flurry coming off the kit. Then comes Innanen’s entry; like a long Buddhist prayer-horn way up in the Himalayas reverberating to a single second of silence. Song 5, drums tumble, rolling over and over until they patter as hard rain. Song 6 starts with a different type of percussion solo, wood and skin beating a melody. The younger man delivering hard boiled alto; together Innanen and Cyrille complete the set speaking in volumes without drowning out tenderness.

Nearly an hour long, this whole dialogue has had its roots in the great John Coltrane/Rashied Ali drum duet, Interstellar Space.  As inspiring as that was, that was 1967.  Decades have passed into a new millennium; j-music moves on and we are now included in that journey.  Sun Ra, that mesmerising sage of a bandleader, used to tell the guys in his band: “Give up your death.”  Meaning free yourself up to the point where your music produces life.  I don’t claim to fully understand such implications but it sounds awesome, in Songs For This Decade I feel Innanen and Cyrille are close to that aspiration.

An Afterword: Tum Records, the Helsinki company who are responsible for this release, should be congratulated on the excellence of the CD production. Quality line notes, photography and the use of Markus Konttinen’s painting, ‘Dark Story’, for the cover design make for an integrated, high standard package. 

Click here for an introduction to Mikko Innanen. Click here for biographical information on Mikko Innanen, Andrew Cyrille and William Parker. Click here for Student Studies – Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Andrew Cyrille & others.

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk




The Thames Hotel, Kingston-upon-Thames

Last month, Noreen Wills in Australia wrote: 'I’ve just been looking at your blog about the jazz scene in an around Kingston on Thames in the 1950s and 1960s (click here). I grew up in the area and remember going to the Thames Hotel in the early '60s.  My friend and I used to go on two different nights; Jazz on one night (Mondays I think) and Rock-pop on Friday’s.  My memories are vague (it's a long time ago) and wonder if you confirm that this venue hosted music events other than jazz during this period.  (I’m researching for a biography I’m writing).  I do remember it was a great venue, full of atmosphere. I also noted your reference to a gig at the Hinchley Wood College (in Esher) in the mid '50s and wonder if you knew or knew of my brother Ron Wills who was a student there around that time.  He went on to be a senior sports journalist on Fleet Street.'

Mike Walmsley replies: 'The Thames Hotel was a steady jazz venue well into the early 70's. The last band I saw there in November 1970 was Alex Welsh on a friday night. There was a huge line-up but my wife and I were 'ghosted' in by an old friend, the late Teddy Layton, a very under rated clarinettist. Back in the late '50s-early '60s the usual programme was Denny May running Thursday and Saturday with Ken Colyer and Sonny Morris, Friday usually Mike Daniels, with occasionally Acker or Alex Welsh. I left U.K. in 1970 and don't know of any other musical genre there up to then.'

Les Muscutt

In our feature on Banjo Jazz, John Jack was asking if anyone knew of the whereabouts of Les Muscutt. Mike Walmsley also tells us: 'I was lucky enough to be asked by Les to be his best man for his wedding to Babs. At the time I was doing a 'house job' at St George's Hospital, Hyde Park corner so it would have been either '64 or '65. He played (with Banjo George from 'The Tatty') at my wedding reception in '66, leaving shortly after for New York. Les went to New Orleans, leaving for a short time to play with Trummy Young, possibly in Hawaii, later returning to N.O, running a band there. He had to retire after heart surgery and I regret to say that he died last year. Babs is still in New Orleans.'



Cook's Ferry Inn, Royal Forest Hotel Cooks Jazz Club and The Prince Albert, Chingford

David Gent has been reading our page about the historic Cook's Ferry Inn jazz venue (click here) and writes: 'It is worth noting that when jazz at the Cooks Ferry ended, a new club, which I think was intended to be its successor, came into being at the Royal Forest Hotel in North Chingford. It was called Cooks Jazz Club, and featured trad jazz on Sunday evenings. I can remember (among others) Kenny Ball - a lot better than I had feared; Mike Daniels' Big Band - a great group who appeared  regularly, playing Fletcher Henderson/early Ellington-style music; Terry Lightfoot; and Alan Elsdon. Another jazz pub worth noting in that area was the Prince Albert in South Chingford; now long gone, inevitably. Every Wednesday they had a house band led by drummer Stan Harley with a pianist named Monty and a very good vibes-player called Bunny or Buddy. Sitters in were encouraged. On Saturday nights a good pianist named Rex Kyle had  a regular trio, and the excellent guitarist Terry Smith (who went on to work with Dick Morrisey) was a regular guest. I remember the pianist John Burch and vibes-player Jim Lawless appearing there too. And a lot of singers, among them a local guy named Roy Cameron.'



Wood Green, the Starting Gate and John Dankworth's School Jazz Society

Adding to our page on the Wood Green Jazz Club (click here), David Gent also recalls: There was for a short while another jazz pub in Wood Green: the Starting Gate. Music was in a very small room above the pub. I remember hearing Pete Lemer's very avant-garde band there, and sitting so close to them that the bell of the tenorist's horn was practically in my pint. I also remember my mate's (non-jazz loving) girlfriend talking without cessation throughout the whole gig! I went to a school called the Sir George Monoux Grammar; some years before Johnny Dankworth had been a pupil, and he started a jazz appreciation society which organised regular concerts and "Jazz Band Balls". I remember  the Fairweather-Brown All-stars playing a concert at the school in I think 1961.'



Jazz and Folk

David Gent's third message regards our page on Jazz and Folk (click here). David says: 'In the essay on Jazz and Folk there is reference to a photograph credited to M Sharrat and CMcD. Could the latter be Chas McDevitt? He was very active on the folk scene before having a hit record with his Skiffle Group. Later on he opened a coffee bar in Soho, inevitably named the Freight Train. This would have been very early 60s: a girl I worked with in those days went there every Sunday night with her friends and thought herself very daring for doing so.'



The Essential Album Collection

Which jazz albums make up a collection of classics? We suggest an album each month so that we can gradually build up a list - in no particular order. Do you have these? Click here for our Essential Albums page where you will find the suggestions that have been put forward so far.

Artie Shaw - The Very Best of Artie Shaw

Clarinettist Artie Shaw features among the best of the swing big band leaders and there are a number of albums of his music available as you would expect. Very Best of Artie Shaw albumThis album gives a selection of his recordings and is rated with five stars by listeners.

One reviewer says: 'This is one of the best single CDs available of music by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. Shaw was one of the great innovators of swing jazz of the 1930s and 1940s, always seeking artistic ways to express himself as a clarinet player and a bandlear, despite the heavy commercial pressures he faced (he frequently broke apart his bands when he could no longer tolerate the `business' side of the music business).'

'This CD contains a wide variety of selections that Shaw picked himself. They contain music from his three major bands: the 1938-39 band that was the most popular musical group in the country for those two years, the enormous 1940-42 band (with a large string section), and the little-appreciated 1944-45 band.'

'I personally think that the Artie Shaw collection "Begin the Beguine" (available on the RCA Bluebird label) is a bit stronger than this one, with a focus on more of his hits from the 1938-39 band -- as an album, it swings much harder -- but the variety here is greater, and the sound quality somewhat better.'

Another commentator points out that the information on the Amazon site regarding the tracks is not quite correct. Nevertheless ...you can sample the album if you click here.




A priest and a horn player reach the gates of Heaven. The horn player is admitted, while the priest is not. "Why?" asks the bewildered priest. "Because," says St. Peter, "When you preach, everybody falls asleep, whereas when the horn player is due, everybody prays!" 




Album Released: 17th February 2015 - Label: Sunnyside Records


Nick Sanders Trio

You Are A Creature


Saxophonist Howard Lawes reviews this album for us:

You Are a Creature is the second album from young American pianist Nick Sanders.  The trio has Nick Sanders on piano, Henry Fraser on bass and Connor Baker on drums.  The musicians met at the New England Conservatory where Sanders studied piano under Fred Hersch and Jason Moran; Jazz Times reports “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world"; and it is aNick Sanders You Are A Creature school where Sanders was able to immerse himself in both classical, Prokofiev is a favourite, and jazz.

You Are a Creature has been produced by Sanders's mentor, Fred Hersch thus continuing the relationship established at the New England Conservatory.  The title of the album and the tracks are somewhat ambiguous, the picture on the cover shows a contortionist perhaps pointing to the fact that the music on the album is innovative and unconventional.

The first track sets the tone, entitled Let's Start it combines pianistic devices including dissonance, syncopation and changes of rhythm that encourages the listener to take notice.  Tracks two to five, Wheelchair, Red Panda, Round You Go and Room are a series of relatively tranquil pieces with the feeling of nocturnes such as those composed by Erik Satie.  The pieces demonstrate a fusion of classical and jazz styles that is unusual but very accessible to both types of listener.

Click here for a video of the Trio playing Room.

You Are a Creature, the title track, is much more in the bebop jazz mould with driving rhythms, Nick Sanders Triodissonant harmonies and some solo playing from Connor Baker.  Carol's Kid is a thoughtful piano piece with right and left hands taking turns to provide two differing themes while Zora the Cat suggests a stalking animal that may or may not catch its prey.

Repeater features bass and percussion in leading roles with the piano picking up on short phrases in a freely improvised style until a melody evolves towards the end. The beautiful Keep on the Watch is a track that reminds the listener of classic jazz melodies and has a memorable haunting theme while Day Zombie is a slow piece that lives up to it's title and sounds decidedly menacing.

The last track is the classic, Ornette Coleman composition The Blessing expertly re-arranged by Nick Sanders and highlights the individual skills of all the musicians as a fitting climax to a really interesting and recommended album.  As has been demonstrated many times by pianists such as Amina Figarova, Zoe Rahman and Will Butterworth a classical music training provides an excellent basis for great jazz.

Click here to sample the album.

Click here for a video of the Nick Sanders Trio playing Keep On The Watch in Boston in 2012.

More information about Nick Sanders is available on his website http://nicksandersmusic.com/.

Howard Lawes





Two Ears, Three Eyes

On the 15th April photographer Brian O'Connor went to the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London's Soho for a celebration of Frank Holder's 90th birthday and shares with us these pictures from the gig.


Frank Holder


Frank Holder was born in Guyana in 1925, his career has spanned working with The Dankworth Seven, Kenny Baker, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriott, Bill Le Sage ... the list goes on. He recorded for both the Pye and Decca labels and later branched out into variety and cabaret. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s he was singing and playing bongos with a range of bands and orchestras and in 1991 he performed with Frank Holder and bandBarbara Thompson's band Paraphernalla. In 1994, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Frank has continued to perform, including singing at the 2011 gala jazz event: A Tribute to John Dankworth and the Big Band held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, in an ensemble that featured the cream of British jazz associated with Dankworth's musical legacy.

Brian says: 'Frank Holder celebrated his 90th birthday in style at the Pizza Express, Dean Street, Frank Holderon Sunday 26th April.  Singing, scatting, playing the bongos, dancing and joking, he worked his way through standards and Latin tunes for just on two hours, with the energy of man half his age.  His voice showed barely a trace of his maturity.' 

'A packed house gave a well deserved standing ovation at the finish.  He was accompanied by fellow musicians who have become a tightly knit group, having played together many times - Geoff Castle (piano), Stan Robinson (saxophone), Shane Hill (guitar), Val Manix (bass) and Les Cirkel (drums).'

Looking back at his early days in the UK when he appeared at the 100 Club in Oxford Street at the time it was owned by the Feldman brothers, Frank said: 'At Feldman's, a black man would be accepted when you couldn't appear at clubs like the Mayfair or Embassy. Black guys like Coleridge Goode and Ray Ellington were welcome, and all that mattered to Robert and Monty Feldman was that you were a musician.'

Click here for a video of Frank and Shane Hill playing and singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. The video cuts off quite abruptly but it illustrates well Frank's style in a beautiful version of the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg standard.

Click here for more about Frank Holder.

(Photographs © Brian O'Connor, imagesofjazz.co.uk)





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American 'Jazz Heroes' 2015

The Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) in America sponsors an annual award for local Jazz Heroes - activists of positive influence on their American Jazz Heroes musical communities. JJA is a non-profit organization of media professionals, in collaboration with grassroots organisations and supporters in 22 U.S. cities who run JazzApril, an annual campaign celebrating local music during Jazz Appreciation Month.

The 'Jazz Heroes' have been described as an "A Team: of activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz." This year's heroes include music educators, providers of financial, logistical, media and moral support, artists who put extra effort into community engagement, including presenters and producers of Washington D.C.'s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, Philadelphia's Ars Nova Workshop, and a dentist who recorded a late 1960s pop-rock hit and now offers health care to his jazz patients at steeply discounted rates.

Others include: Mark Sumner Harvey, minister-trumpeter-catalyst of Boston jazz; Kim A. Clarke, producing 'Lady Got Chops' on a shoestring; Virginia DeBerry, turning a jazz desert fertile; Tatsu Aok, bridging jazz, blues, Asian improv and more, and Dr. Michael White from New Orleans for 'ensuring the future of early jazz traditions'.

Click here for the full list of 'Heroes'.



We've got a sensational new group playing at the club for the next two weeks....tenor sax player Stan Getz is back and is joined in the front line by the jazz violinist Stuff Smith.....It's called the Getz stuffed quintet...

Ronnie Scott




Album released: 3rd March2015 - Label: Jazzeria Records

Matt Criscuolo

Headin' Out

Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Matt Criscuolo (alto saxophone); Tony Purrone (guitar); Preston Murphy (bass); Ed Soph (drums).

If you are interested in modern jazz stretching beyond be-bop, delivering sharp music with technically clean solos, this recording could be your cup of tea (or Bourbon shot).  There’s plenty of premier playing in evidence.

Alto sax player, Matt Criscuolo, is billed as leading this quartet “with Tony Purrone”.  It is significant Tony Purrone is a guitar player.  There’s no keyboards, the guitar does the whole job – diamond bright fast soloing, alternate lead lines, a wealth of specialist chord changes, a lock onMatt Criscuolo album rhythm to the bass and drums who are master-classing the swing-thing like it’s never gone out of fashion.  ‘Out’ of fashion?  The album’s called Headin’ Out.  In the 1960’s another alto sax player, the forever mercurial genius that was Eric Dolphy, produced a revered classic, Out To Lunch, as well as Out There and Outward Bound.  I can’t believe a player like Matt Criscuolo isn’t alluding to Dolphy on this recording.  In Mr Dolphy’s case the ‘Out’ signalled that he was literally playing ‘outside’ the standard chord changes and harmonic framework.  On Headin’ Out Tony Perrone invents plenty of chord structures but there is more than one way out of most situations.  For instance, there’s a smart reading of Sippin’ At Bells, written by a twenty-one year old Miles Davis, put together in 1947 for himself and Charlie Parker.  Bird was playing tenor sax rather than his usual alto on this session, Miles’s debut as leader. On the Criscuolo/Purrone version the saxophone/guitar breaks slice into the original riff cutting it up for breakfast, disposing of the cluster chord sequence and literally heading out into a new ascetic.

The fact that Criscuolo and Purrone choose to slit Sippin’ is a pointer to how switched on they are to framing their own music.  Throughout most of this session Purrone’s guitar is a genuine blade runner, his own two compositions Karma At Dharma and R 5 10 Select, catch his dazzle-at-speed technique.  Okay, occasionally the momentum is so damn fast its Matt Criscuoloclear the guy is not just playing ‘out’.  This sounds like rehearsed and practiced-into-place-music, nothing wrong with that of course, but it belies the spontaneity ethic of playing outside the harmonic frame, a different thing. 

Matt Criscuolo

Tony Purrone most definitely is a tour de force; the old Randy Weston standard, Little Niles is stretched out to the margins in the solo parts, with Criscuolo towards the end, tonally orchestrating air through his reed in crescendos of sound keeping Purrone’s guitar itching for action.  Once the guitarist hits it, those six strings take over and blister, not in some heavy metal frenzy, this is punctuated classy jazz guitar and it seems to have the effect of allowing Matt Criscuolo’s alto to find the full story when he’s back in and blowing. 

Next up, they repeat the trick.  By the time these two soothsayers get to the final couple of minutes of Criscuolo’s interestingly structured At Night, I’m utterly convinced about how far they’re heading.  Both sax and guitar are reeling-in abstracted sound.  I’d be interested to hear the sax player begin this piece from the same place he finishes it.  Here, in the finality of At Night, he is making new music.

I’m listening to a band who seek to make subtle deviations from, what amounts to a classic string driven post-bop quartet.  For example, there are nine tracks yet on only one, Centripetal, does the saxophone actually make its entry from the get-go.  On all the others, guitar or bass dictate the introduction at the beginning of the piece.  Matt Criscuolo apparently opens doors for others, but once inside he is blowing bold gold saxophone in order to find the way out.  In my view, if Criscuolo is truly serious in continuing his quest to be Headin’ Out, at some point he’ll need to create even more space for himself.  I would like to hear him in an open trio of saxophone, bass and drums.  For musicians like him there are always going to be choices, for the moment, Sippin At Bells will do very well.  Make mine a cup of tea.

Click here to listen to Miles Davis’s Sippin’ At Bells (1947) and click here to listen to Matt Criscuolo Sippin’ At Bells (2014).

Click here to sample the album.             

Steve Day    




Departure Lounge

Information has arrived about the following musicians or people connected to jazz who have passed through the 'Departure Lounge' since our last update. Click on their names to read their obituaries where we have them:


Ralph Sharon

Ralph Sharon - Pianist born in the UK who played with the Ted Heath and Frank Wier bands and had his own recording and broadcasting sextet. He emigrated to America in 1953 where he became Tony Bennett's accompanist. From 1966 to 1979 he moved to Los Angeles where he accompanied other singers including Nancy Wilson and Rosemary Clooney until he eventually returned to work with Tony Bennett. He finally retired to Colorado but continued to play in the local jazz scene until shortly before his death. Click here for an interview with Tony Bennett talking about Ralph Sharon. Click here for the text of an interview with Ralph Sharon at the National Jazz Archive.




Ron Ware - Ron was the leader and cornet player for the Barbecue Jazz Band that started up in 1950 and in 1952 featured Ron Ware (cornet/leader), Mick Clift (trombone), David Morgan/Frank Bond (drums), Kenneth Eltringham (clarinet), Terry Bowler (tuba), Brian Powell (piano) and Cyril Davies (banjo/vocals). Ron's cousin, Geoff Fordham tells us that Ron sadly passed through the Departure Lounge in March - he was 89 and had been ill for some time.

On our Information requests page, Roger Trobridge had been asking about the Barbecue Jazz Band: 'Can anyone help with more information about the Barbecue Jazz Band acetate Barbecue Jazz Band and the musicians who played in it? It probably lasted from 1950 to 1952 and met in The Hut, Yiewsley, Hillingdon? It appears that the band was recorded at The Hut by someone with a portable machine who recorded direct to a disc. The players all got a disc afterwards. Roger, who has a recording on an aluminium disc coated with plastic (an 'acetate'?) which looks unplayable, also wonders if anyone can help with more information about this? The label has the words 'A Gold Star Recording and the brand SMS around the central hole: HUT 29-1-52.'

Roger is also interested in finding out about people who were recording some of the early bands in the 50s in the clubs. 'Not the proper labels who had their own studios. I think there was a shop in Oxford Street where bands could go and I think there was a singer called George Brock who had a recorder...'

Geoff says: 'Ron's widow told me yesterday that she has a copy of his record though I don't know if it's playable. The family hope to play the record at Ron's memorial.


Alex Balmforth - It has been sad to hear of that Alex Balmforth passed through the Departure Lounge in March. Although not a jazz musician (as far as we know), Alex contributed articles to this website and a number of other publications. His articles on Jazz and Folk, and his profiles of Beryl Bryden and Archie Semple continue to be read. We are not aware of an obituary for Alex, please let us know if you come across one.





One From Ten

We spend time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.

Chris Hodgkins & Dave Price

Back In Your Own Backyard


Chris Hodgkins Dave Price albumIf albums came in a tin, this one would deliver exactly what it says on it. Here we have a trio of trumpet, piano and bass (occasionally two basses) playing numbers like Drop Me Off In Harlem, Struttin' With Some Barbecue, Sunday, Buddy Bolden's Blues and Almost Like Being In Love. The album should appeal to many.

This is a departure from previous albums by Chris Hodgkins Present Continuous and Future Continuous made with bassist Alison Rayner and guitarist Max Brittain, partly because this is a conscious return to interpreting early jazz and partly because it involves Chris's regular band of Dave Price (piano) and Erika Lyons and/or Ashley John Long (bass).

There are those who will know Chris Hodgkins from his work as Director of the UK jazz support organisation, Jazz Services. He is, of course, also an accomplished jazz trumpeter. When he retired from Jazz Services in 2014, Chris returned to his native Wales to record this album - hence the title Back In Your Own Backyard. He has played with Dave, Erika and Ashley on his visits to Wales over the past seven years. Having received awards for his services to jazz at the British Jazz Awards in 2002 and 2013, Chris also received a Services To Jazz Award in 2015 at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. He currently hosts a weekly show on Jazz London Radio.

Information with the album says: 'Aside from two originals and the poignant Black Butterfly, the repertoire suggests a formulaic Mainstream set that one might hear at a jazz party. But that narrow assumption vanishes once the music begins, for Chris, Dave, Erika and Ashley offer serene yet searching chamber jazz, refreshing improvisations on familiar songs.'

I find this partly true, Dave Price has a light touch and his piano takes the tunes out of the American roots, but Chris's trumpet recalls the origins with nods to Louis Armstrong in tracks like A Kiss To Build A Dream On Chris Hodgkinsand Black Butterfly whilst Swinging At The Copper Beech, written by Chris and Max Brittain has a muted trumpet solo reminiscent of Ellington and other big bands of that time. 'Searching chamber jazz' is rather misleading in some respects as it doesn't reflect the way many tunes on the album swing.

The tracks A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and Black Butterfly effectively feature two double bass lines. The sleeve notes only credit Ashley John Long on Black Butterfly but the track has a bowed and plucked bass playing together to nice effect and Chris's trumpet captures the emotion of the piece beautifully. Altogether there are seventeen tracks on this album, value for money indeed, stand out tracks for me are A Kiss To Build A Dream On, Struttin With Some Barbecue with its extended solo trumpet introduction, the dreamy Angel Eyes sounding like a film noir soundtrack, Black Butterfly, Swinging At The Copper Beech, and Buddy Bolden's Blues where the trumpet states the theme alongside a strolling bass before Dave Price joins in economically before taking a leisurely solo. The album ends appropriately with Just Friends in which each musician takes a bow but also shows how far this is a collective project.

Click here for details of the album - CDs are available direct from Chris and the album will be available digitally from 5th May. Click here for the following tracks on YouTube: Sweet Hearts On Parade; Angel Eyes; Sunday.

Click here for Chris Hodgkins's website where his gig list and other information is available.




Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues


The Ten

Our monthly ten suggestions of new releases or re-releases. (Although we might link to the digital albums to sample, the recordings are usually available as audio CDs as well).


Julia Biel Love Letters album


1. Julia Biel - Love Letters And Other Missiles - (Rokit Records)

[Click here to sample. Click here for a video of the track We Watch The Stars].




Ray Gelato album


2. Ray Gelato And The Giants - Original Flavours - (Double Scoop)

[Click here to sample. Click here for review]




Marcus Miller Afrodeezia album


3. Marcus Miller - Afrodeezia - (Blue Note)

[Click here to sample. Click here for a video introduction]




Chris Hodgkins Dave Price album


4. Chris Hodgkins and Dave Price - Back In Your Own Backyard - (Bell CDs)

[See One From Ten article above]




Teresa Brewer album


5. Teresa Brewer - The Songs Of Bessie Smith / It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing - (Ace Records)

[Click here to sample. Click here for a video introduction. Click here for more information]




Kevin Eubanks Stanley Jordan Duets album


6. Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan - Duets - (Mack Avenue)

[Click here to sample. Click here for a video of Morning Sun from the album]




Jimmy Giuffre Jim Hall Truio box set


7. The Jimmy Giuffre Jim Hall Trio - Complete Studio Recordings - (Phono) - 4 disc box set.

[Click here to sample. Click here for more information]




Dee Dee Bridgewater Feathers album


8. Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Dee's Feathers - (OKeh Records)

[Click here to sample]




Benny Greb Moving Parts album


9. Benny Greb - Moving Parts - (Herzog)

[Click here to sample. Click here for a video of Good Question from the album]




Partikel String Theory album


10. Partikel - String Theory - (Whirlwind)

[Click here to sample when released in May. Click here for an introductory video. To be reviewed next month]






Help Me Information
Long distance Information
Give me mention, then we'll see
Help me find a party ...

with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)

Can you help?

We regularly receive requests for information about musicians, music, etc. Responses sometimes come months after we have featured the request so we have started a separate page. Please click here to see if you can help ...



Album released: 3rd February 2015 - Label: Self Release

The Phil Chester Group

Open Door Samba

Vic Arnold reviews this album for us:

This group consists of Phil Chester (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones), Bob Quaranta (piano), Ian Froman (drums), Leo Huppert or JoeThe Phil Chester Group Open Door Samba Fitzgerald (bass), Katie Jacoby (violin), and Tomas Ulrich (cello). These later two only play on a few tracks. All of the tracks were composed by Phil Chester, and they were recorded in 2014.

Phil Chester has played saxophone in New York City's Ed Palermo Big Band for over twenty years, and  his group are regular players at Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan. Phil's father was a preacher in the southern-based Church of Christ, so it is not surprising that a number of compositions on this recording have a religious bias.

While all of the musicians perform well, the overall effect for me was that I found the music dull and instantly forgettable  Perhaps it is a matter of too much Sacred and not enough Secular? There are 12 tracks on this recording and it was not until I reached track 12, Cactus Blues that the recording came to life. Perhaps there is too much soprano saxophone for my liking, and the violin and cello did not add to the end result.

Mark S. Tucker at acousticmusic.com writes: 'Open Door Samba is exactly the sort of album I used to haunt Platterpuss Records (a store either in Hermosa Beach or Paradise, I forget which) in search of in the 70s, a well-ordered jumble of myriad influences so artfully wrought that one forgot that aspect while wallowing in hedonistic pleasures and intellectual analysis (itself a form of hedonism), both in equal measure, neither dominating (click here for his review).

Matthew Forss of the insideworldmusic.blogspot says: 'Phil Chester, creates a moving instrumental album of jazzy concoctions with a good dose of South American grooves, American sensibilities, and cheery Latin arrangements for a rousing and inventive result. The music is bouncy, meditative, dance-friendly, and soothing ... The fluttering sax sounds are emotive and display a blend of bluesy urgency and a happy beach day.' (click here).

While I am sure that this recording will be well received by some people, it just did nothing for me.

Click here to sample the album.

Vic Arnold. 


Peggy, Duke and Benny Come to Chingford

On Friday 29 May, the songs of Peggy Lee and the music of Duke Ellington performed in the style of the Benny Goodman Quartet will be staged as a fundraising concert for the National Jazz Archive. This concert is a unique coming together of three of the greatest names in jazz, featured in a wonderfully entertaining programme of much loved classics and fascinating, rarely heard repertoire. The venue is Chingford Assembly Hall, Peggy Duke and Benny showStation Road, Chingford, London, E4 7EN (500 m from Chingford Station), with parking close by, and good access by bus. 7.30pm, and tickets cost £17.

The show stars Georgina Jackson on vocals and trumpet (from BBC Radio 2 and Ronnie Scott’s), and Pete Long on clarinet and reeds (from ‘Echoes of Ellington’, Ronnie Scott’s and the Goodman Carnegie Hall Concert). Backing will be provided by Trevor Jones on piano, Pete LongAnthony Kerr on vibes, Dave Chamberlain on bass and Richard Pite on drums. This concert is one of a series during 2015 to raise funds to support the work of the National Jazz Archive, and is staged in conjunction with the Jazz Repertory Company, the people behind the popular ‘Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller at Carnegie Hall’ and ‘100 Years of Jazz in 99 Minutes’.

Pete Long

Pete Long explains the origin of the show: “I’d been going around the theatres with my Benny Goodman show, and Georgina had been broadcasting the Peggy Lee songbook with the BBC Big Band. I’d always fancied the idea of doing a Benny Goodman small band show, and as Peggy’s first job was with Benny in the 1940s, there was a link there. My business studies teacher, back in the 1980s, said that for marketing purposes, things were always easier to sell in threes so I figured we’d need another big name on the poster. In the 1960s, Peggy worked with the great Duke Ellington on the movie ‘Anatomy of a Murder’, and even co-wrote the dark but intensely groovy ‘I’m Gonna Go Fishin’’. As Duke is one of my great heroes, it felt natural to include his big songs in the set, and so the show was born.”

Click here for details and to book.



London Jazz Festival 2015

London Jazz Festival logoTickets are now on sale for this year's London Jazz Festival in November. Artists appearing include

Kurt Elling, Cassandra Wilson, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Nik Bärtsch, Sons of Kemet, James Farm (featuring Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland), Maria Schneider Orchestra, Jarrod LawsonAverage White Band & Kokomo, Jazz Repertory Company presents Paul Whiteman, Britten Sinfonia with Eddie Gomez and the opening gala Jazz Voice.  

Click here for the EFG London Jazz Festival website.




European Jazz Festivals 2015

The website www.jazzfests.net gives a comprehensive, month-by-month programme of Jazz Festivals in Europe - click here.



Some May Gigs


It is impossible for us to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where we will look at venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area.

I will choose some Gig Picks that you might find interesting - but check their website for other gigs. Where a venue doesn't have a website, then some details of what is taking place are included below.


Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 21st May - Greg Lloyd Group .

Dublin: Sugar Club, 8, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. www.thesugarclub.com

Dublin: National Concert Hall (NCH), Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. www.nch.ie
Gig Pick - Saturday, 2nd May - Manhatten Transfer.

Dublin: Whelan's, 25, Wexford Street, Dublin 2. www.whelanslive.com
Gig Pick - Sunday, 17th May - Mary Coughlan.

Dublin: John Field Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin 2. www.nch.ie
Gig Pick - Friday, 29th May - Giants of Ragtime and Stride Piano.

Dublin: The Academy, Abbey Street, Dublin 1. www.theacademydublin.com
Gig Pick - Saturday, 23rd May - Kormac's Big Band.

Wicklow: The Hot Spot Music Club, Harbour Lodge, Bayswater Terrace, Cliff Rd, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. www.thehotspot.ie
Gig Pick - Monday, 4th May - Proteus Jazz Band.

For other regular jazz sessions in Dublin contact Ollie Dowling from Quality Music Tel: 00 353 87 287855


Scotland: Fife Jazz Club, The Woodside Hotel, Aberdour. email: fifejazzclub@yahoo.co.uk

Scotland: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, 1a, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Gig Pick - Sunday, 3rd May - Edinburgh School of Music Showcase - 3.00 - 5.30 pm

Scotland: Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street (at Blythswood Street), Glasgow, G2 4HU www.bridgejazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 7th May - Jay Kilbride's Caturbhyas Quartet.


Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff, 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 13th May - Button Band.


Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, The Grand Theatre,18 York St., Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2DL. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Gig Pick - Sunday, 3rd May - Soweto Kinch Trio. (Part of the Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival).

Newcastle-upon-Tyne: The Jazz Cafe, 25 - 27 Pink Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5DW. www.jazzcafe-newcastle.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 21st May - Sarah Gail Brand / Mark Sanders Duo + Faye MacCalman Quartet.

Liverpool: The Capstone Theatre, Shaw Street, Liverpool, L6 1HP. www.thecapstonetheatre.com
Gig Pick - Friday 22nd May - Ant Law Quintet.

Yorkshire: SevenJazz, Leeds, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, or Inkwell Arts, 31 Potternewton Lane Chapel Allerton, Leeds. www.sevenjazz.co.uk
(Includes: Seven Jazz Improvisation Group, Seven Jazz instrumental workshops and Seven Jazz Voices Choir).
Gig Pick - Thursday, 7th May - Darius Brubeck Quartet at Seven Arts.

Yorkshire: Jazz In The Spa, Boston Spa, Village Hall, High Street, Boston Spa. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk
Gig Pick - Saturday, 23rd May - Fryer-Barnhart International Jazz Band.

South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.sheffieldjazz.org.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 14th May - Roller Trio.

Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 28th May - Nik Rutherford Quartet.

Birmingham: Birmingham Jazz Listings www.livebrum.co.uk/events/jazz
Gig Pick - Friday, 29th May - Vein.

Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 14th May - The New Orleans Z'Hulus.

Essex: The Headgate Theatre, Colchester, 14 Chapel Street North, Colchester CO2 7AT. www.headgatetheatre.co.uk

Essex: North Weald, North Weald Village Hall, CM16 6BU Essex
Third Saturday of every month - 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm. Jack Free's All Star Band with Jack Free (trombone), Peter Rudeforth (trumpet), John Crocker (clarinet), Tim Huskisson (piano), Murray Salmon (bass), Martin Guy (drums).

Buckinghamshire: Amersham Jazz Club, Beaconsfield Sycob FC HP9 2SE. www.amershamjazzclub.co.uk
Gig Pick: Wednesday, 27th May - Tribute To Trad.

Oxford: The Oxford Jazz Kitchen, The Crown, Cornmarket Street, Oxford . www.oxfordjazzkitchen.com
Jam Sessions every first Wednesday of the month, 8.30 pm - 11.00 pm with Trish Elphinstone (saxophones), Peter Dixon (guitar) and Tim Richardson (drums) at
The St. James Tavern, Cowley Road, Oxford

Oxford: The Half Moon, The Half Moon, St Clements, Oxford.
Last Wednesday of each month - The Trish Elphinstone Quintet.


London: King's Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. www.kingsplace.co.uk
Gig Pick - Saturday, 9th May - Kairos 4tet.

London: Lume, Hoxton, The Long White Cloud, 151 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL. www.lumemusic.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 14th May - Corey Mwamba: New Dark Art.

London: e17 Jazz, Walthamstow, Orford House Social Club, 73 Orford Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9QR. www.e17jazz.com

London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com
Gig Pick - Saturday, 23rd May - Claire Martin Sings the Billie Holiday Songbook.

London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 28th May - London City Big Band.

London: Ronnie Scott's Club, Soho, 47 Frith Street, London W1. www.ronniescotts.co.uk  
Gig Pick - Sunday, 17th May - 'Too Cool' The Music of Chet Baker - The Sue Richardson Quintet featuring Karen Sharp - 12.00 midday.

London: The 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London W1D 1LL. www.the100club.co.uk (The 100 Club only occasionally stages jazz gigs these days)

London: The Forge, Camden, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden, London NW1 7NL. www.theforgevenue.org
Gig Pick - Sunday, 31st May - Dig A Little Record Fair and live jazz session.

London: Chickenshed Theatre Jazz Bar, Southgate, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE. www.chickenshed.org.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 22nd May -
Derek Nash Octet.

London: The Vortex, 11, Gillett Street, N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 29th May - John Etheridge.

London: Club Inégales, 180 North Gower Street (corner of Euston Street). www.clubinegales.com

London: Southampton Arms, Highgate Road, North London
Wednesdays, 8.00 - 10.00 pm: Dave Burman (piano) and Dave Eastham (alto / clarinet)

London: Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit, Marylebone, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH. www.thecockpit.org.uk

London: 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD. www.606club.co.uk
Gig Pick - Saturday, 23rd May - Bobby Wellins.

London: The Jazz Nursery, St Mary Overies Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. www.jazznursery.com

London: The Bull's Head, 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London, SW13 9PY. www.thebullshead.com
Gig Pick - Wednesday 6th May - The Nathaniel Facey Band.

London: Putney, The Half Moon, 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. The band now plays the first Sunday and third Sunday of every month.
Sunday, 3rd May and Sunday, 17th May - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm

London: Omnibus, Old Clapham Library, 1 Clapham Common Northside, London, SW4 0QW. www.omnibus-clapham.org

Kent: 144 Club, Nr Tunbridge Wells and Rochester, Finchcock's Musical Museum, Goudhurst, TN17 1HH. www.finchcocks.co.uk

Kent: The Roffen, New Road Rochester, ME1 1DX. www.144club.co.uk

Surrey: Harri's Jazz, Shepperton, Bagster House, Walton Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8LP. www.harrisjazz.com

Surrey: Thames Ditton, The George and Dragon, High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY.
Every Tuesday - The Geoff Driscoll Quartet - Geoff Driscoll (sax), Alan Berry (piano), Mike Durrell (bass), Don Cook (drums) plus guests - 8.30 pm

Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Friends Life Social Club, Pixham Lane, Dorking, RH4 1QA. www.watermilljazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 21st May - Steve Waterman Big Band.

Sussex: Brighton Jazz Club, www.brightonjazzclub.co.uk

Gloucestershire: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel, 24 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NR. www.kingshead-hotel.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 29th May - Andy Hughes Double Standards.

Wiltshire: Bradford-on-Avon, The Fat Fowl, Silver Street, Bradford on Avon, near Bath, Wiltshire BA15 1JX.
Monthly residency by two very talented musicians, pianist John Law and saxophonist Nick Sorensen. 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and admission is free

Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 1st May - Paul Riley Quartet.

Somerset: Frome, The Grain Bar, Frome, Somerset, . www.cheeseandgrain.com/bar

Somerset: Ilminster Arts Centre, The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0AN. www.themeetinghouse.org,uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 29th May - The Dave Newton Trio with Andy Panayi and Percy Persglove.

Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com
Gig Pick - Friday, 22nd May - The Sound Of Blue Note.

Dorset: Sound Cellar, Poole, The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1NE, www.soundcellar.moonfruit.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 28th May - The Veronique Joly Sextet.

Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com
Gig Pick - Tuesday, 26th May - Bruno Heinen and Kristian Borring - 'Postcard To Bill Evans'.


Items Carried Over From Last Month

The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:


A Music Business For A Grand

Got a music industry idea? Fancy a start-up grant? Aged 18-30? How far can a grand (£1000) get you? If you fancy a challenge and think you can create a viable music industry project or business with a maximum of £1000 in a 50/50 joint venture, then you can submit a business BBM BMC logoproposal in a competition being run by BBM/BMC (British Black Music / Black Music Congress) in association with Akoben Awards. The closing date is 11th May.

What do you have to do? You are asked to submit a business proposal (maximum of 4 A4 pages) outlining organisational (human/skills), financial (money/cash flow forecast) and marketing (promotion) plans for a music industry-related business idea/project as a 50:50 joint venture with BBM/BMC. Applicants must show that they can actualise the idea or project within a 6 month timeframe and with a maximum cash investment of £1000.  2 grants of a maximum of £1000 each are available. There are no interviews - decisions will be based solely on submitted business proposals. There is a £1 registration fee.

Click here for full details which you should read before taking part, or email editor@BritishBlackMusic.com, subject heading: A Music Business For A Grand.


New Orleans In The 1920s On Video

Bob Snelling brings our attention to this collection of brief video clips of New Orleans in the 1920s (click here). It may be short, but it gives an New Orleans in the 1920sauthentic flavour of the city at the time. Mike Scott, who recently wrote about the rediscovered footage on YouTube says: 'Whether in your Mamere's picture albums, in art galleries and museums, or, yes, even in your local newspaper, you've doubtlessly gazed with a certain amount of delight at sepia-toned photos of New Orleans dating from the city's 1920s Jazz Age. What you probably haven't seen, however, is very much film footage from the era.'

'That's for a good reason. While the city was home to what is considered the country's first permanent, for-profit movie theaters -- that would be Canal Street's 400-seat Vitascope Hall, which opened in 1896 -- film cameras were still relatively new-fangled things in the 1920s. Bulky, expensive and difficult to operate, they weren't the sort of gizmo to which ordinary people had access -- and certainly not the sort of thing they carried around in their pockets, as they do today.'

'But recent footage of the Big Easy purportedly dating to the city's Jazz Age heyday recently surfaced on the Internet, and it's a mesmerizing thing to watch. Running just more than three minutes -- and set to the sound of Hoagy Carmichael's song "New Orleans" -- (the video then continues to an item about the Ford motor company. Ed) the silent footage shows tantalizing glimpses of life in the city at the time. Among other things, we get scenes of Jackson Square; wrought iron balconies; a streetcar rumbling its way past the what appears to be old Strand Theatre, which operated at the corner of Baronne and Gravier streets; horse-drawn Carnival floats -- and hats, hats, hats.'


New Concert Hall For London

Plans are in hand to explore the idea of a new state-of-the-art concert hall in London. The government has announced a grant of £1 million for the Sir Simon RattleBarbican to lead a six-month feasibility study into the proposal. Most of the capital’s concert halls at the Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican have been criticised for their acoustics and a new venue would need to meet modern expectations. It is expected that funding for a new hall would come mostly from the private sector and the cost is estimated at over £200 million.

Sir Simon Rattle

The site of the Museum Of London, not far from the Barbican is being considered as one option with the Museum moving elsewhere. The new hall would be expected to provide educational facilities and share its music throughout the UK using digital facilities. Sir Simon Rattle, currently with the Berlin Philarmonic, has said that he would consider moving to the London Symphony Orchestra if better facilities were available.

A concern arises from the wording in one report that says: ‘If the new hall is built, the Barbican …would keep its existing venue but develop it more for non-classical music and other events.’ This appears to suggest that jazz would not be seen as a suitable genre to play at the new venue, and that seems unjust. Click here for more information.



Paul Whiteman: The King of Jazz - Bix, Bing and Rhapsody in Blue

As part of this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, the Jazz Repertory Company is presenting this show on Sunday, 22nd November at the Cadogan Hall in London.

Jazz Repertaory Company logoForward information tells us: 'It’s been over 40 years since a complete programme of the music of Paul Whiteman has been heard in London. Back in 1974 Keith Nichols collaborated with Bix Beiderbecke expert Dick Sudhalter and presented Whiteman’s music with his trademark authenticity and expertise. Now Keith is back with a 26-piece orchestra (including half a dozen violins) and a programme that features jazz piano titan Nick Dawson in Rhapsody in Blue (conducted by Ronnie Scott’s Big Band director Pete Long), jazz trumpet star Guy Barker as Bix and Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham (who toured the UK as Bing Crosby in 2014) returning to the role he has made his own.'

Paul Whiteman collage'Paul Whiteman’s gigantic orchestra was the biggest thing in popular music in the USA of the roaring twenties. The band was earning an astonishing $65,000 a week in 1927 and in that year Whiteman hired the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke along with other big names such as sax star Frankie Trambauer, violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang. The band scored four Number 1 hits in 1927 and the distinctive sound of ‘Bix’ and ‘Tram’ added an exciting new jazz flavour to the music of this musical behemoth. This concert features such classic hits of the 20’s as Dardenella, That’s My Weakness Now, Singin’ The Blues Till My Baby Comes Home, There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears and Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now.'

The concert includes Rhapsody In Blue: 'No tribute to the astonishing career of Paul Whiteman would be complete without including this masterpiece with which he’ll be forever associated.'

Click here for more information. Click here for a video of the Keith Nichols Paul Whiteman Orchestra playing Because My Baby Don't Mean 'Maybe' Now last November - Spats Langham takes the vocals.



Jazz Talks: Buckinghamshire and Norwich Areas


Dr Bob Moore has contacted us saying:

'I am a member of the U3A (University of the Third Age) Jazz appreciation section. I now have given four talks to them on each of the following: Louis Armstrong, US swing bands of the 40's, Modern Jazz Quartet and Stan Kenton. I should say that I am not a profession speaker but I have reasonable knowledge of the subject. Now that I have given the talks, it is most probable that they will gather dust in a cupboard  but if anyone local to me in High Wycombe is interested, I would be prepared to repeat the talk for free with possible expenses for petrol if far away.'

'The talks mainly simply require a good audio system plus someone to put on the CD's but the Kenton talk does included some excerpts from Youtube on the internet but these could be edited out. If I use the Internet it would require screen plus associated equipment. The talks take about 90 min and the usual format is general background on the artist or group followed by tracks from CD's.'

If anyone would like to take up Bob's offer, you can email him at drbobmoore-inbiltec@supanet.com


Similarly, Roy Headland who gives occasional talks to Norwich Jazz and Blues Record Club is offering to give talks with music to other groups in the Norwich area.Roy's email address is: royheadland@gmail.com.


Jazz Weekends

Tony and Denise Lawrence will be arranging their Jazz Weekends again in 2015. From March to November they book places in hotels around the UK with jazz entertainment provided.

As an example, in Bournemouth at the Wessex Hotel on West Cliff, three nights dinner, bed and breakfast including a five-course gala dinner will cost £209 per person with Kevin Grenfell's Jazz Giants featuring Matt Palmer, John Maddocks Jazzmen, and the Denise Lawrence Band with Ron Drake providing jazz in the ballroom during the evenings. Other weekends take place at Shrewsbury, Windsor, Dawlish, Banbury, Cheltenham, Lyndhurst and Stratford Upon Avon.

Click here for more details.

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The Directory includes regular features, articles, people profiles (let us know if you would like us to add a profile) and many other items including information about clarinettist Sandy Brown after whom this site is named.

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