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Sandy Brown Jazz
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August 2016

Click for this month's:
Ten New Releases
Gig Listing

On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told

In April 1962, EMI's Abbey Road Studios had still to achieve the iconic status ultimately bestowed upon them by an as-yet little-known beat group from Liverpool. From the outside the building looked no different from countless other Georgian townhouses in leafy St. John's Wood. Once through the front door, however, you were presented with an impression of surprising space. Even Studio Two, where we had been told to report, was big enough to accommodate a fifty-piece orchestra ...

But George Martin soon had us in relaxed mood and feeling just as at home as we could have been in the cosy confines of the average jazz club.

Tall, slim and gentlemanly, George possessed the same friendly, unassuming and enthusiastic qualities as his colleage Ron Richards ... George explained that, since the use of multi-track tape machines had yet to become the norm at Abbey Road, no post-session remixing would be possible. Whatever went down on tape would be what came out on record ...


Clyde Valley Stompers



Two run-throughs and one take later, George called us up to the control booth to hear how our version of Peter And The Wolf sounded ... The balance George had created was spot-on, the recorded sound vibrant, and the nods of approval exchanged by the boys confirmed that we were happy with our contribution as well. But with one reservation ...

'I made a squeak on the clarinet in the last chorus,' I confessed ... George Martin merely laughed. 'It was a great take, and nobody's going to notice your little fluff. I didn't!'


From Don't Call Me Clyde, Jazz Journey of a Sixties Stomper by Peter Kerr.

Click here for a video of the Clyde Valley Stompers playing their version of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in 1962.


Who's This?

Name the singer (click on the picture for the answers)

Who's This?


Who's this?


Who's this?




Tea Breaks

Utah teapot

Not having taken a Tea Break in July, we take three in this issue - it's a wonder we get any work done!

Scroll down to read our Tea Breaks with Christine Tobin, Owen Dawson and Lara Eidi or click here for our page of Tea Breaks. Do you know the significance of the Utah Teapot image we use for this item?




Rob Luft Wins The Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize

Guitarist and composer Rob Luft has been named as the winner of this year’s Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize. The prize is awarded each year to a young artist who demonstrates excellence in both performance and composition, selected from all graduating jazz musicians at the prestigious Rob LuftRoyal Academy of Music in London. The prize includes release of Rob's proposed recording on the Edition record label. Rob, the sixth recipient of the prize will release his album in 2017. The judging panel – Edition Records boss Dave Stapleton, the Academy’s Head of Jazz Nick Smart, together with Evan Parker, saxophonist and lifelong collaborator of the late Kenny Wheeler – met in June to decide the winner.

Having joined NYJO at the age of 15, Rob Luft went on to study on the jazz programme at the Royal Academy of Music. Subsequently, he co-founded the tango quintet The Deco Ensemble, with whom he has released one album, ‘Encuentro’ (2015), featuring the music of Argentinian composers such as Astor Piazzolla. Rob is a member of Byron Wallen’s “Four Corners”, Martin Speake’s “Mafarowi” and Enzo Zirilli’s “Zirobop”.

Rob received the Second Prize in The 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition. He also is the recipient of the 2015 Peter Whittingham Award as part of two collective ensembles – Patchwork Jazz Orchestra and jazz-rock quartet Big Bad Wolf (see Owen Dawson's Tea Break below). He appears on Liane Carroll’s latest release on Linn Records (Seaside – 2015), Brazilian singer Luna Cohen’s new album on the Catalonian independent Temps Record label (November Sky – 2016), and the debut album from Enzo Zirilli on Milanese label UR Records (Zirobop – 2015).

Click here for a video of Rob playing Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' to a passing audience as part of Sky Arts Guitar Star series.




Bayou Maharajah

Documentary films seem to be doing better than bio-pics these days. Searching For Sugarman and the Chet Baker Let's Get Lost documentaries seem to win hands down over biopics like the Miles Davis film Miles Ahead or the Beach Boys Love And Mercy, and yet the biopics are the ones that Bayou Maharajah posterreach the multiplexes.

Lily Keber's 2013 film Bayou Maharajah is only likely to be shown at arthouse cinemas and you will have to look out for it to catch it.

The documentary takes a look at the life of James Carroll Booker, the Louisiana pianist who mixed gospel, jazz boogie-woogie, classical and blues into a style of his own. Reviewing the film in the Sunday Times, Kate Muir awards it 4 stars and reminds us that Booker's single Gonzo (heroin) inspired Hunter S Thompson's drug-fuelled 'gonzo' journlism. She says: 'Booker's fingers move so fast they blur on screen as he improvises endless ripples of grace notes, and the archive footage of New Orleans and his concerts is wonderfully weird: his prediliction for dressing as a (very camp) cop at the piano, and wearing a piratical eye patch added to his mysterious charm.'

Click here for the trailer.

Dr John said Booker was 'the best black, gay, one-eyed genius that New Orleans has ever produced.' (There can't be that many others?). Hugh Laurie also describes the 'joy, wit, intelligence and sheer bloody mayhem' of Booker's music. James Booker died in 1983 from 'addiction and mental problems that stemmed from being hit by an ambulance as a child'. He was just 43.

James BookerWriting in The Observer, Wendy Ide says: 'This documentary about the damaged, unpredictable brilliance of Booker captures something of his skills as a performer but struggles to fully convey the bottled lightning of his mercurial personality. The man who referred to himself as the Black Liberace shrouded himself in myths, the better to protect the vulnerable individual underneath the afro wig stuffed with cannabis and the star-adorned eyepatch. Bayou Maharajah is worth watching for the performance footage alone.'

Bayou Maharajah came to cinemas in July. Click here for a short video of people talking about James Booker. Further screenings in August are booked for:

Monday 25 July - Crouch End Picturehouse, London
Tuesday 2nd August - Home, Manchester
Wednesday 3 August - Regent Street Cinema, London
Thursday 4th August - Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London
Sunday 14th August - Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London

But you can also arrange to set up a screening in your local community - click here for details.





Chet Baker - Born To Be Blue

And so we come to the next biopic, also out in cinemas now. At the time of 'going to print' with this issue of What's New, the film had not reached Born to be Blue postermy local cinemas and so I have to rely on others' reports. Inevitably it will be judged against Bruce Weber's acclaimed 1988 Let's Get Lost documentary about Chet Baker (click here for the trailer for that film).

Writing in the Sunday Times, Edward Porter says: 'Like Miles Ahead, the recent film about Miles Davis, this biopic of another jazz trumpeter, Chet Baker, blends fact and fiction. The idea seems to be that jazz's fluid creativity justifies a similar approach to biography, but where does this actually get us? Robert Budreau's film, set in the 1960s, shows Baker (a reedy-voiced Ethan Hawke) trying to kick heroin with the help of a loving girlfriend (Carmen Ejogo). Ultimately, he has to choose between her and his addiction, so she's a vital figure in the story, yet she is also a made-up character. If the movie had gone all out with its artistic licence, like the Dylan fantasia I'm Not There, that might have been something, but what's on offer - pleasant though it is in its period Americana - is no more lively or useful than a typically stodgy biopic.'

The plot decription, such as it is, says: 'Set largely in 1966, Baker is hired to play himself in a movie about his earlier years when he first tried heroin. He romances actress Jane Azuka (a fictional character, a composite of several of Baker's women in real life, portrayed here by Carmen Ejogo) but on their first date, Baker is attacked by thugs and his front teeth smashed. As Baker recovers from his injury, his embouchure is ruined and he is unable to play trumpet any better than a novice. Meanwhile, he must answer to a probation officer, and ensure he Born to be Blue posteris employed, while sticking to his regime of methadone treatment.' The jazz score to the film was created by composer and pianist David Braid. The audio for trumpet performances in the film was done by Kevin Turcotte. Hawke took trumpet lessons from Ben Promane, and requested video of Turcotte recording, in order to mime the playing during the shoot.

Click here to watch the trailer.

If you look online there are various critiques of the film, some applauding Ethan Hawke's performance. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an audience rating of 85%, while Andrew Barker in a subtle review in Variety says that the film is "about a character who happens to share a name and a significant number of biographical similarities with Chet Baker, taking the legendary West Coast jazz musician's life as though it were merely a chord chart from which to launch an improvised set of new melodies".

The general consensus is a film that gets up to 3 stars. I guess it depends on how far you judge it as a movie and how far as a representation of the music and musician. As I have said before, I wonder how far these biopics influence an image of jazz in the mind of the general public and / or how far they encourage people to explore the music further. I also wonder whether it would be judged differently if it were not a biopic but a fictitious drama.



BBC Proms 2016

Albert Hall

As we reported last month, it looks as though jazz will have an increased presence in this year's Promenade Concerts in July and August.

Iain Ballamy and Liane Carroll will be taking part in a celebration of Shakespeare's anniversary when they perform Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland on 5th August, and Jamie Cullum will be presenting an evening of late-night jazz with the Roundhouse Choir and Heritage Orchestra on 11th August.

Jacob Collier and vocalist/bassist Richard Bona will be celebrating Quincy Jones with Jules Buckley's Metropole Orkest on 22nd August, and the Sao Paulo Jazz Symphony will be playing Brazilian music from street sounds to avant garde on 24th August. Kamasi Washington will be playing on 30th August when his band is joined by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley.

Click here for more information.





Jazz Quiz

West Coast Wordsearch


Stan GetzQuestion Mark



Just for a change we have a Wordsearch puzzle for you this month. Amongst the letters in a grid are the names of sixteen musicians associated with 'West Coast Jazz'. The names could read horizontally, vertically, backwards or forewards. All you have to do is to find them.




You can check how well you have done on the Answers page where we have included a couple of West Coast videos - and don't forget to check your score.

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.





The Write Stuff

Have you got the write stuff? Founded and organised by Jazzwise magazine and Serious (producers of the EFG London Jazz Festival), this new writer's initiative is taking place for its 14th year in November. The series of workshops and mentoring sessions takes place at London's Southbank during the EFG London Jazz Festival (11th - 20th November). The Write Stuff gives new jazz and improv writers a valuable free opportunity to work with professional journalists to improve their writing skills and develop an understanding of music criticism and the workings ofThe Write Stuff the jazz and mainstream music press and blogosphere, as well as getting to see a bunch of concerts!

The Write Stuff will include sessions on feature writing and live reviews by Jazzwise writer and BBC broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre; an insight into the history and development of the UK jazz and music press with Jazzwise editor in chief Jon Newey, and a workshop on how to run a jazz website, blogging and social media with Jazzwise editor Mike Flynn, alongside input from other The Write Stuff groupwriters and jazz industry figures.

To apply, you should submit by email a 300-word review of a gig/concert that you have seen recently, together with a CV and full contact details by Monday 10th October 2016 to learning@serious.org.uk with 'The Write Stuff' in the subject line. Applicants must be 18 years old or over and be available in London on the following dates: Friday 11 November (evening), Saturday 12 - Sunday 13 November and Saturday 19 - Sunday 20 November.

Howard Lawes who regularly writes album reviews for this website attended The Write Stuff a couple of years ago and says: 'As the course was being run during the EFG London Jazz Festival there were lots of opportunities to sample the best in jazz music and to write reviews which could be discussed with a professional journalist. A really interesting session was a real, live interview with the Israeli born, New York based jazz musician Oran Etkin who was about to perform in the EFG London Jazz Festival. Oran proved to be the ideal interviewee with really interesting views on composing and playing jazz, the influence of world music and music education ... Kevin LeGendre rounded the course off re-iterating the importance of writing style, communicating with the reader and always being on the lookout for interesting opportunities in all types of media where journalism skills are important. Everyone agreed that the course had been informative, thought provoking and enjoyable and expressed their gratitude to Jazzwise and Serious for providing this unique opportunity.'



.... and so to our first Tea Break ....


Tea Break

Lara Eidi


Lara Eidi


Lara Eidi is one of those singers who connects with the audience as soon as she starts to sing. Perhaps psychologists can explain the gift – and it is a gift – personality? a love for what she is doing? an empathy with the music and the band? knowing she can take her great voice where she wants it to go? Whatever it is, it gained her a distinction and an appreciative audience at her final recital for her Master’s degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in June.

Lara Eidi is a singer-songwriter of Greek, Lebanese and Canadian ethnicity previously living in Greece and now based in London. She recorded her first album, an EP, Little People in 2012 followed by a further EP, Tell It Like It Is in 2014. She has played in Beirut, Lebanon (International Music Festival) and at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Her Lara Collective band became established in Greece where they made a number of videos that are now available on Youtube. If you get the chance to hear her sing live, don't miss it.

We invited Lara to take a Tea Break:


Hi Lara, tea or coffee?

Hello! Coffee, without a doubt! A good coffee with a good friend is a must in life.

Milk and sugar?

Chocolate or cinnamon!!


Lara Eidi


If you could ask two past jazz musicians or vocalists to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

Ohhh - a massive tea break with everything be would be ideal! But I would say Nina (Simone). I'd have coffee and a jam with Nina. I could listen to her stories all day and I'm convinced Oscar Peterson would be the most delightful coffee buddy.

What would you ask them?

I'd like to think I'd listen to them play. Anything I would ask would result into music. It was their truest form of expression. But I'd ask Nina how did she muster so much courage in her music and individuality to speak out on issues which prevented her and so many others to  perform in the first place?


[Click here for a video of Lara singing Nina Simone's Be My Husband. The video was recorded on a rooftop in downtown Athens with Stavros Parginos (cello) and Giotis Paraskeviades (guitar)].




Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Digestive biscuit. I'm always the one with cookies and a pint of cider at a jazz gig.

How did your degree course at Guildhall go?

Oh wow! Biggest roller coaster ride of my life. But the universe smiled and I graduated very happily and successfully. Moreover I learnt more about myself as an artist then I ever thought imaginable. Gratitude.

How was your final recital?

Amazing ! So fun! I felt totally free, and the musicians were freaking awesome!

[Click here for a video of Lara's final recital at the Guildhall College of Music and Drama in June with Edwin Ireland (bass); Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet); Jamie Saffiruden (piano) and Adam Teixeria (drums)]


What have you got coming up in the future?

‘I've got rhythm ...’ - no just kidding! I've got some exciting projects coming up. I aim to really create a larger platform for crossover jazz, and am excited to finish some new compositions, ideally for an album. It's been two years since I've written, and now I've got so much inspiration it's inevitable!

iyatra Quartet


Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

I heard the iyatra Quartet recently - it's exactly the sort of thing that should be encouraged - classical and jazz musicians coming together for a major fusion of well, music! Also, I would recommend Jacob Collier but who hasn't heard of him?

[Click here for a video introducing the iyatra Quartet's 2015 album This World Alone].


Another biscuit?

Why yes , thank you !

[Click here for a video of Lara singing at a live performance of Errol Garner's Misty at a private function in Athens]


[Click here for Lara's Facebook page]

Utah Tea Pot




Substance record shop

Looking For Rare Vinyl?

Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson has teamed up with the Viennese record shop Substance to establish a new specialised facility for obtaining rare vinyl recordings.

Substance says: 'We decided to build a new specialised platform for vinyl-collectors of rare avantgarde music, free jazz, improvised music, electronic/contemporary music, ethnic music and all related with a focus on experimental music!'

Substance is located at Westbahnstrasse 16, 1070 Wien, Vienna, Austria, but the facility is, of course, available online.

Click here for more information.





Late Junction Sessions on Vinyl


Gearbox Records logo


The vinyl record company Gearbox has joined forces with BBC 3's Late Junction programme to release a pair of 12-inch, 45rpm discs featuring a series of studio meetings between unlikely music collaborators.

BBC Late Junction Sessions: Unpopular Music includes artists such as Seb Rochford, Finn Peters, B.J. Cole and Nils Økland.

Click here for more information and to sample. Click here for the Gearbox website.





Tracks Unwrapped



[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].


You know the feeling of something half remembered
Of something that never happened, yet you recall it well.
You know the feeling of recognizing someone
That you've never met as far as you could tell, well.


In 1944, Otto Preminger produced and directed the film Laura. The movie has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and the American Film Institure named it one of theLaura movie poster 10 best mystery films of all time.

The music for the theme tune was composed by David Raksin. As a pianist, Raksin started out playing in professional dance bands when he was at high school, and his father, also a musician, taught him woodwinds. But David went on to study composition and arrangement and he was picked up by Charlie Chaplin as his assistant in composing the score for Chaplin's 1936 film, Modern Times, but his composition Laura has marked Raksin's place in musical history. Described as 'uniquely atmospheric and evocative' the tune's success almost causes us to forget that Raksin also wrote the music for other films including Forever Amber, Force Of Evil, Carrie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Bad And The Beautiful, Two Weeks In Another Town and The Redeemer as well as for hundreds of TV shows.

According to author William Zinsser in his book, Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs (click here), director Otto Preminger had chosen Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady as a theme for Laura, but Raksin felt it did not suit the character. So Raksin was given the weekend to come up something new. By Sunday, with nothing satisfactory on paper, he read a “Dear John” letter from his wife, and the haunting melody seemed to write itself. During Raksin's lifetime, Laura was said to be the second most-recorded song in history following Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust. Later in life, Raksin taught at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. He died in 2004, aged 92.

Click here for the trailer to the movie which ends with the main theme.

In the movie, Dana Andrews plays detective Mark McPherson who is investigating the killing of Laura (Gene Tierney), found dead on her apartment floor before the movie starts. On the apartment wall is a striking painting of the dead woman. Off screen, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) says: "I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Laura film stillSunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her. And I had just begun to write Laura's story when - another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. (The chiming of the antique clock on the half-hour attracts the detective's attention, and he walks over to it). I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in existence, and that was in Laura's apartment in the very room where she was murdered."

Step by step McPherson builds a mental picture of Laura from the suspects whom he interviews and gradually he too seems to fall under her spell. As he sits in Laura's apartment, ruminating over the case and his own obsessions, the door opens, the lights switch on, and in walks Laura Hunt, very much alive! As one reviewer says: 'To tell any more would rob the reader of the sheer enjoyment of watching this stylish film noir unfold on screen.'

The story evolves through flash backs where two suspects emerge, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price) a dim-witted, slithery Southern playboy/gigolo from Kentucky and Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) a cynical, mannered and prickly society columnist. Also in the mix is Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson) an aging, well-heeled, matronly socialite who has her eyes on Shelby Carpenter. So who is Laura and what actually happened? You'll have to see the film to find out. (You can watch the whole film here).


Laura is the face in the misty light,
Footsteps that you hear down the hall.
The laugh that floats on a summer night
That you can never quite recall.


The lyrics to the tune were not written at the same time as the film score. After the film had been released, Johnny Mercer was approached by Abe Olman of Robbins Music to write lyrics for Raksin’s theme. Mercer had seen the film, but did not remember the theme so Olman simply gave him the score and told him the title had to be 'Laura'. Mercer completed the lyrics we now know and by 1945, a year after the film's release, the song started to appear in the charts with Woody Herman's version becoming a million-seller.

Click here for the Woody Herman 1945 version with stills from the movie (Woody Herman himself takes the vocals).

Gene Tierney is often forgotten today, but she was a significant actor and like others in the film industry, such as Marilyn Monroe, Gene Tierney had her demons. Tierney struggled for years with episodes of manic depression. In 1943, she gave birth to a daughter, Daria, who was deaf and mentally disabled, the result of a fan breaking out of rubella quarantine and infecting the pregnant Tierney. Whilst separated from her first husband, Gene TierneyTierney met John F. Kennedy, a young World War II veteran, who was visiting the set of Dragonwyck in 1946. They began a romance that she ended the following year after Kennedy told her he could never marry her because of his political ambitions.

In 1953, Gene was suffering with problems of concentration. She dropped out of the film Mogambo and was replaced by Grace Kelly. While playing Anne Scott in The Left Hand of God (1955), opposite Humphey Bogart, Tierney became ill. Bogart had personal experience as he was close to a sister who suffered from mental illness, so during the production, he fed Tierney her lines and encouraged her to seek help. Tierney consulted a psychiatrist and was admitted to Harkness Pavilion in New York. After some 27 shock treatments, intended to alleviate severe depression, Tierney fled the facility, but was caught and returned. She later became an outspoken opponent of shock treatment therapy, claiming it had destroyed significant portions of her memory.


Gene Tierney


In late December 1957, Tierney, from her mother's apartment in Manhattan, stepped onto a ledge 14 stories above ground and remained there for about 20 minutes. Police were called, and afterwards Tierney's family arranged for her to be admitted to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. The following year, after treatment for depression, she was released. Afterwards, she worked as a sales girl in a local dress shop with hopes of integrating back into society, but she was recognized by a customer, resulting in sensational newspaper headlines. She made a comback in 1962 in the film Advise And Consent and went to appear in a number of films and television shows until 1980.

Click here for a 43 minute documentary about Gene Tierney.

Count Basie recorded a short version of Laura on a 1967 album Hollywood Basie's Way and the arrangement by Chico O'Farrill is typical Basie (click here - the flashing title disappears after a while). The band includes Harry Edison, Marshall Royal and Freddie Green.

In contrast, check out this Chet Baker recording of a very nice version of Laura from the album Incredible Chet Baker Plays and Sings. just as romantic and poignant as you would expect from the trumpet player (click here). On this recording he is accompanied by Bruce Thomas (piano), Jacques Pelzer (soprano sax), Gianni Basso (tenor sax) and Giancarlo Pillot (drums).

This next video by the Dexter Gordon Quartet shows the saxophonist interpreting the tune in a live performance with George Cables (piano), Rufus Reid (bass) and Eddie Gladden (drums). One commentator guesses that this came from around 1978 - 1980. Dexter had moved to Europe in the early 1960s saying that he experienced less racism and greater respect for jazz musicians there. He also stated that on his visits to the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he found the political and social strife disturbing. But in 1976 he returned to the United States and recorded a series J J Johnsonof live albums that were released by Blue Note from his stands at Keystone Corner in San Francisco during 1978 and 1979. They featured Gordon, George Cables, Rufus Reid, and Eddie Gladden. His return also renewed promotion of the Dexter Gordon catalog by Columbia (Savoy) and Blue Note. Click here for them playing Laura.

Charlie Parker also featured Laura on his album with strings but my final choice for this article goes to this recording by trombonist J.J. Johnson (click here). This is primarily a fine trombone solo but the other musicians are Tommy Flanagan (piano), Wilbur Little (bass) and Albert Heath (drums).


J J Johnson


Writing about the film Laura on the Rotten Tomatoes website, Sean Axmaker says: 'I’m a big fan of film noir, those shadowy, often hardboiled crime dramas, a morally-tarnished urban world of the forties and fifties. Laura (1944) is elegance incarnate in a genre known for its hard edge, the sleekest, silkiest noir of all ... In the gritty world of film noir Laura remains the most refined and elegant example of the genre, but under the tasteful decor and high society fashions lies a world seething in jealousy, passion, blackmail, and murder.' The tag line for the film Laura said: 'The story of a love that became the most fearful thing that ever happened to a woman!'

Well, Laura is a winner. The derivation of the name is the feminized form of the word laurus, Latin for "bay laurel plant", which in the Greco-Roman era was used as a symbol of victory, honour or fame. The name represents the embodiment of victory and strength.

In 1653, the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper described Laurel as: 'A tree of the Sun, and under the celestial sign Leo, and resisteth witchcraft very potently, as also all the evils old Saturn can do to the body of man, and they are not a few.'


And you see Laura on the train that is passing through.
Those eyes, how familiar they seem.
She gave your very first kiss to you.
That was Laura but she's only a dream.




Tea Break

Christine Tobin


Christine Tobin

Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor, Images of Jazz


Christine Tobin is one of my favourite vocalists. Born in Dublin, she has been part of the London jazz and improvisation scene since the late 1980s and during that time she has established herself not just in the UK and Ireland but internationally. She was already singing in Ireland before she became interested in jazz through hearing Joni Mitchell’s Mingus album, and decided to move to London where she worked with Jean Toussaint, Jason Rebello, Alec Dankworth and Mark Taylor. Christine took a degree course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and after graduating she formed, toured, recorded and sang with various bands. In 2008 she won the Best Christine Tobin and Liam NobleVocalist Award at the BBC Jazz Awards.

2010 saw the release of her Tapestry Unravelled album based on Carole King songs in a duo with pianist Liam Noble and two years later, her album Sailing To Byzantium, with settings of the poems of W.B. Yeats was described by Jazzwise magazine as ‘an unqualified masterpiece’. The album won Christine a British Composer Award in 2012. In 2014, she was named Jazz Vocalist of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.


Christine Tobin and Liam Noble

[Click here for a video of Christine and Liam Noble with Carole King's So Far Away]


A Thousand Kisses Deep


In 2014 Christine released A Thousand Kisses Deep, an outstanding album of Leonard Cohen songs of which the Irish Times said "Tobin invests these songs with their full meaning, and even finds the odd glimmer of hope where none was formerly apparent". That release was accompanied by a tour, not just of major venues, but to packed village halls in rural locations around the UK with her usual guitarist, Phil Robson and bassist Dave Whitford.


In December 2015, Christine moved to New York where she has been building up a strong following in the United States. In July, I caught up with her for a Tea Break:


Hi Christine, tea or coffee?

Coffee, please…strong. 

Milk and sugar?

A little milk, no sugar thanks.

Billie Holiday


If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

Billie Holiday and Rahsaan Roland Kirk


What would you ask them?

I’d ask Billie if she had been able to have more control over her own career or the artistic freedom to go in whichever musical direction she chose, where would she have gone artistically and what people would she have liked to collaborate with?

The question for Rahsaan would be the following: I read somewhere that Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of his and that he himself admired Hendrix. They were planning a collaboration. I would like to know how he envisioned their music making together? 

Christine Tobun



Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit? 

Mmmm….a Bourbon, neat please kind feller. 


Christine Tobin at Brecon Cathedral, Brecon Jazz Festival,
photograph by David Woodall



What gigs have you played recently?

I played at three North American Jazz Festivals recently; Rochester in New York, Edmonton and Vancouver in Canada, then back to NYC for a gig at Club Bonafide. I played with guitarist Phil Robson and the New York based Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese. It was our first time to play with Leo - he’s a musical tour de force and a really cool person too. 



Are you still featuring Leonard Cohen’s songs in your gigs?

Yes, I usually do at least two and occasionally I do a full programme of his songs - A Thousand Kisses Deep - which is also the name of the album I recorded of his songs back in 2014. In fact that was the concert/programme I was awarded the 'Herald Angel' for at the Edinburgh Festival back in 2013. Cohen is the biz!!

[Click here to listen to Suzanne from A Thousand Kisses Deep].


What else have you got coming up? I can’t believe A Thousand Kisses Deep came out two years ago! Time for another album?

I have a gig at a jazz club in New York City called Kitano on July 27 with Phil Robson guitar, John Hebert double bass and Colin Stranahan drums. Then I have a trio gig on August 8 at the Bar Next Door in the Village with Phil Robson and the great double bass player, Harvie S.

My new album PELT will be released in late autumn. I have a UK launch gig at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club, London on November 27. The songs are all original compositions. The lyrics and poems are by poet Paul Muldoon and music and arrangements by myself. 


Shai Maestro



I shall look forward to that. Let me know as soon as previews are available to share. Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

I saw an amazing gig here last week at Joe’s Pub by the young pianist Shai Maestro. He is an astonishing player who writes beautiful, other-worldly music. He has incredible focus and control and chops to die for! The sound world he creates draws you into another dimension - which let’s face it ……. in these times is definitely a good thing!

Shai Maestro





Another biscuit?

Yeah, go on then, I’ll have another Bourbon! Set ‘em up Joe, oh sorry I mean Ian.


I see American Bourbon has had an impact while you have been there! Perhaps they should start putting some into these biscuits!


Christine Tobin


Christine Tobin with Dave Whitford photo by Forbesnderson.com taken in Dundee
(Christine says: The gig was on an amazing big old ship, I can’t remember the name of it!!)


[Click here for a video of Christine singing Corner Of An Eye filmed on location in Margate, Kent, UK in 2011].

[Click here for Christine Tobin's website].


Utah Tea Pot






'Living, Breathing'


Dinosaur Together As One


Here's a chance to preview a track from the new Dinosaur album due out in September on Edition Records. Trumpeter Laura Jurd says: 'This band has been my musical/spiritual home for the past 6 years and I'm very happy to be sharing this new music with everyone. This track is entitled Living, Breathing from our debut album Together, As One which is coming out in September. Stupendous playing from Elliot Galvin, Corrie Dick and Conor Chaplin! We very much hope you enjoy the new sounds.'

Clearly Laura Jurd is too modest to mention her own playing! Each one of these musicians is very talented in their own right and together they make a formidable unit.

Click here for the video. Click here to pre-order the LP, CD or Download.



Help With Musical Definitions No 26.


Wandering musician of no fixed abode.

Click here for our page of 'Alternative Definitions'. Send us yours ...





Flying High - A Jazz Life And Beyond

In his review below, Jamie Evans was both exhilarated and saddened by the autobiography of British alto saxophonist, Peter King:


Although his book was published five years ago, I only recently got round to reading it and regret it took me so long.

First let me declare my interests. I have quite a lot in common with Peter King. We were both born at the beginning of World War II, brought up in humdrum family circumstances in the South London/Surrey region. We have both been troubled by addiction problems over the years although Peter massively more so than myself. We both made our own faltering attempts to copy the music of our jazz heroes by listening and copying in Peter King Flying High bookthe days when jazz tuition was rare and college courses were never even contemplated.

The resemblances end, of course, with the fact that Peter went on to become a world-class jazz saxophonist and I pottered about in an enjoyable role as a run-of-the-mill, semi-professional, mainstream pianist.

Enough, and now on to the real interest - alto saxophonist and renowned aero-modeller, Peter King. His life has been one of great extremes - an immense musical talent which unfortunately led into a downward spiral of chronic narcotic addiction which he courageously recounts. A travel phobia and a disastrous early marriage to Joy, were other ordeals he suffered.

Like most sax players Peter started with a simple system clarinet after being bowled over as a teenager by the grossly distorted Hollywood biopic, The Benny Goodman Story. Well, everyone starts somewhere and Peter kicked off in a South London pub, sitting in with a dixieland outfit and playing Ice Cream in Bb, a tune he didn’t know, but he received an encouraging reception. He progressed by being shown “hieroglyphics” by the banjo player. These were, of course, chord symbols.

Peter’s Damascene revelation, like so many modern jazz musicians was hearing Charlie Parker. The experience blew his mind and from then on, listening to the top players of the day, he acquired an alto sax and progressed to actually playing with top names like Don Rendell, Jimmy Skidmore, Harry Klein, etc. 

Click here to listen to Peter King soloing on Lush Life.

The real acid test came when he shared the stand with Tubby Hayes, at the time the acknowledged “guv’nor” on the British scene. Little was said by Tubby but later Peter heard that the Great Man had been favourably impressed. Another rite of passage had been negotiated and, one could say that the crowning point of his youthful apprenticeship while still a teenager, was to be invited to open a new venture, Ronnie Scott’s Club, in October 1959.

Peter, unlike some others of the jazz fraternity, was introduced to taking a “joint”, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately that was to lead to one of the most calamitous aspects of his life. 

He was becoming well known to all the top British musicians. Playing regularly at Ronnie’s and hearing the procession of US visitors, usually sax Peter Kingplayers, broadened his style and technique. A spell in John Dankworth’s big band felt to him like a final year at university where he gained lots of experience in sight-reading and section playing.

In 1961, another high spot in the King early days was hearing one of his great heroes, pianist Bud Powell, at a German jazz festival. Bud had a history of deep mental illness and frightened off many gestures of friendship with offensive and odd behaviour. 

Peter specifically went to hear Bud in a Parisian club where only a handful of punters had turned up and was scared of getting a mouthful of abuse from the pianist. However all went well when he sat in and was thanked with broad smiles and a handshake. It seemed Bud was impressed by “the spotty-faced, 21-year-old from England who sounded like Bird.”

Unfortunately an enjoyable “joint” progressed to a full-blown heroin habit and much of his early life was occupied with finding dealers or doctors who would prescribe narcotics to registered addicts. The dreadful withdrawal symptoms which users experience became a fearsome event.

The drug habit persisted for many years although with such a massive talent he still produced sublime music although like many top-class players he had to supplement meagre gig money with more mundane work to pay the bills. Fortunately, his later marriage to Linda helped him through the many years of addiction and he attributes both his survival and success as a musician very much to her love and support. He was desolated by her death a few years ago.

There are some fascinating jazz anecdotes contained in the book. 

One of his heroes, Ben Webster, who thought nothing of drinking three bottles of the hard stuff a day, alternating gin, whisky and vodka, was entertained at Peter’s parents’ place in Tolworth. Ben was treated to a traditional English roast dinner and was lost in gratitude.

On holiday in Majorca, Peter and Linda frequented a bar where Ron Rubin played solo piano. Another piano player, an American called Art Simmons used to come and play a bit as well. One night Linda, who had been a fair singer in the past, was persuaded to take the stand and sang a few tunes accompanied by Art who loved her voice. She nearly fainted when they told her that Art had been Billie Holiday’s accompanist.

On another occasion, a promoter with strange taste had booked Peter and former Charlie Parker trumpet man, Red Rodney, for a gig. The piano player turned out to be Art Hodes, a fine musician but more of a boogie expert. They all bit their lips like real pros and did the job playing 12-bar blues.

Looking back over a long career there so many great achievements in the King story.

In 2003 he finished many years of hard work writing an opera Zyklon, in collaboration with writer Julian Barry, based on the life of the Jewish scientist Fritz Haber who unknowingly helped invent the substance used for the mass murder of his own people by the Nazis (650 pages of fullyPeter King orchestrated score). Ironically the premiere was in New York where as a young hopeful he had hoped to establish his name as a jazz musician not as an opera composer.

He has played all over the world and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Russia, an honour not reciprocated in his own country. Peter also had the honour of playing Bird’s plastic Grafton alto in a Kansas City celebration.

Click here for Peter playing Kaper's Invitation with the Orquestra do Algarve in 2011.


Peter King
Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor (imagesofjazz.com)

My own interest in Peter King commenced one Saturday night in the Bull’s Head, Barnes, many years ago. I had heard this British alto player in various media but never live. He took the stand and launched into one of his favourite Wayne Shorter tunes, Yes Or No. With his regular drummer and pianist, Steve Keogh and Steve Melling, in full chase behind him, I could hardly believe my ears. In my long life playing and listening to top jazz performers, American, British and other, this was something very special - the searing tone, the impeccable technique and the endless flow of ideas.

I knew nothing of Peter’s addiction at that time and I am sure he had been clean for a long while but his gaunt, sad face bore the signs of a harrowing past. It was an evening of pure joy and I repeated my visit to Barnes whenever I could and I can only thank Peter King for the immense pleasure he has given me and many others over decades of listening.

Click here for a video of the Peter King Quartet at Jamboree Jazz.

Many autobiographical works often contain score-settling elements. But there is an almost total absence of these and Peter is continually surprised at the “niceness” of people he encounters - sometimes characters with reputations of being temperamental or difficult. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to him that being such an obviously nice man himself, even the most mean-spirited human being could only reciprocate in kind? 

This review only scratches the surface of an immensely interesting and enjoyable read and I would urge anyone who loves music - Bartok (Peter’s favourite “straight” composer) or Bird - to buy it.

Click here for details of Flying High.

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans manages a website remembering the late clarinettist Alan Cooper - click here.




Do You Have A Birthday In August?


Your Horoscope

for August Birthdays

by 'Marable'




LEO (The Lion)

21st July - 21st August

Last month on the 22nd the planetary power moved to its maximum Eastern position and it is still there until the 22nd August. It is a time for creativity and for feeling strong, but don't let that run away with you. Use feelings of strength and power wisely, be careful not to abuse them.

From the 22nd August, the month ahead could be turbulent for the world at large, there are two eclipses in September, a solar eclipse on the 1st and a lunar eclipse on the 16th. Despite this, you are personally still looking good, although you might want to take stock of your schedule during that time. Solar eclipses can force you to redefine yourself, to redefine your image. Lunar eclipses can bring spiritual changes, changes in practice and attitude sometimes even changes in teachings and teachers.

Venus is your career planet, she is fast moving and this year particularly so, there could be many short-term career trends and you are someone who can make speedy progress, just be aware of those times of lack of interest.

For you, click here for Sonny Rollins playing Billy Strayhorn's Raincheck.





VIRGO (The Virgin)

22nd August - 22nd September

This is a spiritual period for you. Last month on the 22nd your 12th house of spirituality became powerful and that will be the case until August 22nd, so be aware of the opportunity to take time to be calm. Sometimes it is good to be on your own and to allow insight to come. This can be a time for being independent, for standing on your own two feet. Your perspective might be different to that of others, but try to come to an understanding with them, you might both be right in your own way. Remember, the planetary power is now at its maximum Eastern position, the cosmos is supporting you and your personal goals.

Mercury, your ruling and career planet, is going retrograde on the 30th, so take advantage of the time until then. Mercury is in your sign for all of the month increasing your confidence and self-esteem. With the Sun entering your sign on the 22nd this spiritual time could see the possibility of a mentor entering your life and having an influence on the career aspects of your planet.

For you, click here for Chet Baker playing In Your Own Sweet Way with Michel Graillier (piano) and Ricardo Del Fra (bass).






Brecon Jazz Weekend

As with Keswick Jazz Festival, Brecon Jazz Festival has been dealing with funding problems this year as their sponsor, Orchard, has pulled outBrecon Jazz weekend and so Brecon Jazz Club is programming a weekend of events from 12th to 14th August instead with some top names booked to appear.

The gigs are taking place at Brecon Guildhall Theatre, Castle Hotel, Brecon Cathedral, The Muse and Theatr Brycheiniog and some of the musicians lined up include Trish Clowes, Jamie Brownfield and Liam Byrne with a BeBop Special, the Wales-Latin Jazz Ensemble with Tina May singing The Music Of Brazil and the Geoff Eales Trio, the Teddy Smith Big Band and Dennis Rollins' Velocity.

There will also be a 'Women In Jazz' exhibition at the Guildhall featuring photos and audio recordings from Jazz heritage Wales and Swansea Jazz Archive.

Click here for more details.





Tea Break

Owen Dawson


Owen Dawson


Trombonist Owen Dawson originally comes from Suffolk but having graduated from the Jazz course at Royal Academy of Music this year, is now based in London. He has played for the West End Show, Sinatra: the Man and His Music and regularly plays with top UK big bands including the the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, the London City Big Band, the London Jazz Orchestra and the BBC Big Band.

Owen is also an active composer, pianist and exponent of the electric trombone and co-leads the project Big Bad Wolf.  Big Bad Wolf is a London based band featuring washy guitars, ambient vocals, brassy hooks and deep grooves. It features Rob Luft on guitar, Owen Dawson on trombone, Michael De Souza on bass VI and Jay Davis on drums and percussion. Owen was awarded the 2016 Durham Distillery Composition Prize and in 2014 was winner of the British Trombone Society Don Lusher Award. He has also been the resident pianist of the Blues Kitchen Choir since its launch in August 2014.


Owen Dawson



Hi Owen, tea or coffee? 

Hi Ian, coffee please.

Milk and sugar? 

No thanks. 




If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite? 

Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall. I’ve been really into their duo playing for a while now, particularly a little bootleg of a gig in Bath that I was given by Mark Nightingale. On top of it being some of the most open and organic playing they also both sound like they’ve got a sense of humour so maybe they’d be a laugh during the tea break!  

Also I’m a big fan of Brookmeyer’s writing and arranging so I’d have plenty to ask him about that. One of my favorite charts of his is his arrangement of Skylark, particularly the intro. (click here for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra playing Bob Brookmeyer's take on Skylark).

Hob Nob, Bourbon, Custard Cream or digestive biscuit? 

Have you run out of Garibaldis??

Hermeto Pascoal



They do seem to run out quickly, I’ll see what’s in the cupboard. What gigs have you played recently?

I was extremely fortunate to be asked to be part of the big band for Hermeto Pascoal’s 80th birthday celebration at the Barbican in July which tops most other things I’ve done recently (or am likely to be doing soon)! 

Hermeto Pascoal



How are things going with Big Bad Wolf? 

Great! We’ve been pretty busy writing and playing over the last few months and we’ve just released a few live videos from a gig at the Green Note Big Bad Wolfback in May. I’ll leave the most exciting news for the next question though…   

[Click here for a video of Big Bad Wolf playing Canary In A Coalmine].


What have you got coming up in the next few months? 

…we’re going to record our first album! We won some generous funding from Help Musicians UK so we’re going to be heading to Giant Wafer Studios in Wales at the end of August. Keep your eyes peeled for updates!



I shall, let me know as soon as you have something to share or preview. Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for? 

Definitely the best gig that I’ve seen recently was the album launch of Matthew Bourne’s Moogmemory, which you must listen to … also in the same gig were Snack Family and a guitarist called Stef Ketteringham who are both incredible! 


Another biscuit?

Go on then, but only if it’s a Garibaldi!


[Click here for Big Bad Wolf playing Flats In Dagenham]


Utah Tea Pot



Female Musicians On The London Improv Scene

Female Musicians On The London Improv Scene is an online exhibition being curated by saxophonist Julie Kjær for the Google Cultural Institute on behalf of Sound and Music. Julie says: 'It has just been launched and I'm really excited.'

This series explores the life and work of 10 female improvising musicians on the London improv scene. Each musician has been answeringFemale Improvisers different questions about their music, work, career and thoughts about improvised music. Julie continues: 'When moving to London 7 years ago I knew very little about the London improv scene. I started going to different concerts and meeting musicians, and a whole new and exciting world opened up to me. The women chosen for this exhibition have all inspired me in some way, and have been very important to me and my career as an improvising musician in London. There are so many other great and important women on the improv scene in London that I could have included - if only the space and time allowed me to.'

'This has been a great opportunity to dig deeper and to learn more about these women and their music and what brought them to where they are today. I hope you will enjoy the series!'

Sound and Music will also bring the interviews as 'Spotlight' articles on the British Music Collections website. The first interview is with saxophonist Caroline Kraabel who talks about: Beginnings, Improvisation, Life and Career, The Instrument, The Work, Inspiration and other thoughts with audio and video illustrations.

Click here for the interviews.






Mass I-III



Oddarang Agartha


Oddarang is a Finnish jazz Quintet who will be bringing out their fourth album, Agartha, in September on Edition Records. The title takes its name from the legendary world that is said to reside in the Earth's core. ‘Agartha’ is raw, full of life and profound; beautiful, elevating and primal.

Mass I-III from the album is available to preview on video - click here.

The band is: Olavi Louhivuori (drums, composer), Ilmari Pohjola (trombone), Osmo Ikonen (cello), Lasse Sakara (guitar) and Lasse Lindgren (bass). Oddarrang’s debut album Music Illustrated won the Finnish equivalent of the Grammies for best Jazz Album of the Year 2007. In 2013, they released, In Cinema, their third album,  an album that pushed the band into new worlds. They are described as an 'Experimental Finnish band ... Oddarrang make a genre-defying sound, influenced by jazz, classical, world music and postmodern rock.'




You Suggest

Dick Powell


Ian Simms writes: 'In a recent issue, cartoonist Jim Thomson asked about violinist Dick Powell. When I asked if anyone remembered the hot swing nights at the Gigi and borscht and tears, I forgot to mention the fantastic Dick Powell. He drove down from his home in Oxford several times a week to Knightsbridge, a great guy as well as a fab hot swinger. Sadly, he passed away from cancer in the early seventies.'

Dick 'Sweet' Powell was a swing violinist and double bass player who also worked as Richard Powell ARIBA, an architect specialising in model making. It is said that at one point he worked with Sandy Brown who was the acoustic engineer for Lansdowne Studios in London. Dick is also known for his violin playing on Rod Stewart's albums Every Picture Tells a Story, Gasoline Alley, Never A Dull Moment and Smiler. Apparently Rod heard him playing at Pizza Express and invited him to the Gasoline Alley sessions in 1970. You can see Dick by the right-hand goalpost in the gatefold of Rod’s 1972 album Never A Dull Moment and outside the pub with a pint in his hand in the gatefold sleeve of Rod’s 1974 album Smiler (click here).


Dick Powell Rod Stewart gatefold


Dick also appears on a number of other albums including some with Diz Disley. Diz and his band of semi-pros played every Thursday at Bert Niblett’s Dick Powell Club Django in London with Nevil Skrimshire and Denny Purssord on guitars, Dick Powell on violin and Timmy Mahn on bass. Other albums featuring Dick include Clarinet Jamboree (Part 1 Bilk and Lightfoot) and Diz Disley's Dinette.

Dick Powell died relatively young at the age of 49.  He used to live in London but in the late 1970s he and his family moved to Windrush Farm, a barn conversion in Ducklington (Oxfordshire).

I am grateful to Gypsy Jazz UK for this information where there is a page with people's memories of Dick Powell (click here) andfor this photograph of Dick (Sweet) Powell with Joseph Reinhardt and Diz Disley.

Unfortunately, there seems to be very little music by Dick Powell online. That is unfortunate because if you listen to this one track we do have, we can hear what we are missing. Click here to listen to Dick Powell and Diz Disley playing Shine.

In 2011, the Daily Mail ran an article about the 'bad luck' suffered by several people associated with Rod Stewart's famous recording of Maggie May (click here). The article includes 'Rod’s violinist was Dick ‘Sweet’ Powell, a well-known figure on the London jazz scene. Legend has it that the star paid him £10 for his work on the song Reason To Believe. He died young, too, in his 50s, of a cerebral haemorrhage.' Click here to listen to Dick Powell's solo on Reason To Believe.

'You Suggest' is our regular item where readers can suggest spending a little time with jazz musicians they feel have been neglected in recent years. Please contact us with your suggestion of a musician who you think should be recognised more, with a few words saying why.

Click here for our page of previous 'Your Suggestions'.



Near FM and Irish Showbands - John Doyle Looks Back

John Doyle hosts a Sunday morning radio programme on Dublin’s Near FM radio station.  In recent months he has been discovering traditional jazz music and including it in the programme. John tells us about it:

I select my records for Sunday morning while flipping through my CDs.  I have no advance knowledge of what I’ll play on Sunday morning.  My record collection is being permanently shuffled like a deck of cards.  Over weeks, I see every CD in my collection.

My style of presentation on radio cured a voice inferiority complex I had since 1965.  That year I heard an audio tape of a show I was on.  I hadNear FM logo acted in two short one-act plays, and some comedy sketches.  I considered myself unsuitable for acting and in later decades as radio grew, I had considered myself unsuitable for radio. I was attending a one-year adult media course in the local college during 1999/2000 and I started the radio show by invitation for my interest in music - I would not have approached the station myself. I had an unhappy first three-years talking normally and then I discovered that humour was the solution to my voice problem. Even when I did gain confidence for radio, I was often too shy to give my name.

Near FM is the community station for north-east Dublin.  It is about half-talk and half-music and the music programmes are mainly played during the evenings and weekends.  It is all voluntary. The music people are enthusiastic for their music and have complete freedom; they have no instructions from management. I think like a person of the fifties and sixties and to me, Dixieland jazz is an important part of the two decades. I also think of music in terms of mid-tempo to up-tempo, I rarely play slow records. I describe my music as simple, happy, and melodic. Happy means fast.

Often on bank holidays, I’ve done one-hour features of one type of music including an hour of Dixieland jazz and for more than a year, individual American labels for the years from 1955 to 1962. I say I only like Dixieland jazz.  Once, Palm Sunday 1980, I went to see Irish jazz guitarist Louis Luois StewartStewart, in a theatre that is now in another use.  I was only there for my liking of the guitar. I would not have gone if it were a concert of piano or brass instruments. The musicians with Louis were Jim Doherty on piano, Peter Ainscough on drums, and Dave Fleming on double-bass. I knew these musicians well from television appearances, especially from the talk/interview Late Late Show, hosted by Gay Byrne. The audience was sparse that night; a large pub would have been more suitable. I didn’t understand Louis’ music; it was a bit like hearing the same tune for the whole concert.  I could only appreciate the dexterity of his finger work on the neck of his Ibanez guitar, and his plectrum dexterity.


Louis Stewart


At the interval, I went to the wine and coffee bar located below the stage.  The only gap at the counter was beside Louis Stewart.  As I stood beside him, I felt intimidated by his international reputation.  As a simple person of music, I felt I didn’t have the right to stand in the same room as the man.  I was truly intimidated by a man whose music I didn’t understand, nor could appreciate. Adding to that, the theatre didn’t serve coffee on Sunday nights!


[Click here for a video of Louis Stewart with bassist Peter Ind playing Baubles, Bangles and Beads on the Spike Milligan Q7 television show in 1977].


A few years ago on the internet, I saw some 1962 information on Acker Bilk, in the American Billboard Magazine. According to Billboard, BBC television followed the Stranger On The Shore series, with a series called Stranger In The City. Billboard stated that Acker recorded a Dixieland jazz version of Stranger On The Shore, and called it Stranger In The City for the second series. Does anyone remember Stranger In The City?

[The only information we can find about Stranger In the City is here. Ed]


I also remember seeing photographs of The Barbara Thompson Jazz Group, in the British magazine International Recording & Beat Instrumental Monthly.  Barbara’s bass guitarist was a guy called Dill Katz.  In the eighties too, I saw Dill playing bass guitar on the BBC2 television’s children’s programme Play Away!

The Fendermen

I saw Dill many times in Dublin, from New Year’s Eve 1962 to late 1964.  He was a member of an English guitar instrumental group called The Fendermen.  They arrived in Ireland by my reckoning, October 1962.  I recall reading in the dance pages of the Saturday evening papers that The Fendermen were here for a month.  Around November, they were contracted as a backing group for an Irish female country music singer, Maisie McDaniel. Maisie and The Fendermen were excellent; to me their music was Country & Shadows.  They complimented Maisie’s two Fontana EPs, where she was backed by The Hunters from Cheshunt in London.

The Fendermen


In early 1963, the English bass guitarist left and was replaced by a bass guitarist from Dublin, Tony Harris.  Tony had the stature and looks of Jet Harris of The Shadows. When they arrived in Ireland in 1962, Dill on rhythm guitar was playing a Hofner Colorama, the 1961 design.  Gerry Kent on lead guitar played a Gibson 330.  By around April 1963, both Dill and Gerry were playing Fender Stratocasters.  The full Fender guitar sound of The Fendermen was fabulous. After eighteen months or more, Maisie and the group parted and the four Fendermen expanded into a seven piece Irish showband, called The Madrid.  On the Irish ballroom circuit the band was unusual for having five English musicians.  The English trumpet player was unusual too, for having a French horn.  The Madrid Showband was short lived, five or six months I reckon. The trumpet and saxophone players left to join The Caroline Showband, a band financed by Radio Caroline.  The Irish bass guitarist gave up playing.  The drummer went to Capitol ShowbandGermany.  The Irish lead singer went back to working on the railway.  Dill Katz would have gone back to England.  A disheartened lead guitarist Gerry Kent remained in Ireland for a time - months to a year. A great band was decimated. In my more than five years of showbands, I regarded Gerry Kent as the finest instrumental guitarist on the Irish scene.


Capitol Showband


Irish showbands were versatile, playing many forms of music.  Some bands included Dixieland jazz. The widely acknowledged best band for Dixieland was The Capitol Showband, the favourite band of musicians and the second most successful showband.  The Capitol played around ten Dixieland pieces over four-hour dances.  The Capitol’s style of Dixieland was based on The Dutch Swing College Band.    


[Click here for a video of Butch Moore and the Capitol Showband playing New Orleans and Bourbon Street Parade in 1984 - the video shows the way jazz was picked up by rock and roll with the showband playing New Orleans and then playing traditional jazz style for Bourbon Street Parade. Ed].


Irish showbands of the late-fifties and the sixties were permanently fresh.  The repertoires of bands had complete changes in three to four months.  They changed at record chart speed.  Irish dancers expected to hear the latest hits from the charts from showbands. There were exceptions to change but each band had some retained songs that fans wanted to keep hearing, regardless of what was in the charts.  Bands were often famous for their few retained songs; each band differed on retained songs.  These songs were like hits for individual bands.

In the showband era, more than 600 bands were registered with the Irish Federation of Musicians. In the sixties, Britain had its assortment of instrumental or vocal guitar groups - Ireland had its showbands.  On the matter of showbands, the North of Ireland would have been excluded from Britain.  Showbands were All-Ireland.

Click here for the Near FM website. Unfortunately John Doyle's programme is not broadcast online.



Two Ears Three Eyes

Peter Fraize Quartet

Brian O'connor took his camera to the Verdict Jazz Club in Brighton, East Sussex, in July to a gig by the Peter Fraize Quartet.


Peter Fraize

Peter Fraize


Milo Fell


Brian says: 'Saxophonist Peter Fraize, from Washington DC, has just made his first tour of the UK.  His gig at the Verdict was his third, and also only his third with Terry Seabrook (organ), Jack Kendon (trumpet), and Milo Fell (drums). That they sounded like a group who had been playing together for some considerable time, is a tribute to their collective talents.'


Milo Fell


Jack Kendon





'The band played repertoire from Peter’s recordings including a more than acceptable jazz version of the sugary Mandy, plus the lovely ballad You Stepped Out Of A Dream, this was a most satisfying couple of hours.' 


Jack Kendon


Raised in a musical family, Peter took up the saxophone age nine and formed his first jazz group by age sixteen. He attended the New England Conservatory, studying classical saxophone performance with Ken Radnofsky before travelling to The Netherlands to study with noted Dutch saxophonist Leo van Oostrom at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

Over the course of his career, Peter has been involved with a wide variety of groups, projects, and collaborations. In 1995 he joined the Emptys, a rock band which toured extensively throughout the East Coast and midwest. In 1997 he became a member of the Greg Hatza ORGANization, which in 1999 performed for three weeks at the Blue Note in Fukuoka, Japan. Since 2002 he has been a member of the Larry Brown Quintet, whose Hard Bop Cafe (2006) won the 2007 Wammie for best jazz recording. He has co-led groups with Italian trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini, the latest recording of which is Post-Deconstruction Redux (2015). He has also been a frequent collaborator with choreographers, incorporating spoken word, film, and electronics with improvised music and dance. He was nominated for DC Metro Area Dance Awards in original sound design in 2001 and 2002. Peter has recently been performing and recording with his Hammond organ group - click here for a video of them playing The Days Of Wine And Roses.

He has served as music curator for the DC International Improv Festival. Peter is also a highly regarded music educator. He joined the music faculty at the George Washington University in 1994 and has served as the Director of Jazz Studies since 1998.

His CD Organic Matter (2009) received the 2010 Washington Area Music Association award (“Wammie”) for Best Jazz Recording. His latest album Chord Lines / In the Groove is out later this year.


Terry Seabrook

Terry Seabrook

Click here for Peter Fraize's website.

All pictures © Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz








Banjo George

Mike Walmsley writes in response to Maureen Connolly's message last month about Banjo George (click here):

'I have many fond memories of George, learning and understanding chord sequences playing with him at "The Tatty Bogle" along with Eggy Ley, Neville Skrimshire and Les Muscutt. Just after I qualified I was a Houseman at St George's Hyde Park Corner and George called on a Saturday morning asking if I was free? As it happened , I was. He asked me to meet him at a tube station in the West End with my guitar. I did so and he said we were going to a house nearby, the occupants of which were at the church where their daughter was getting married.'

'We arrived before they returned, but George spoke to the man in charge of catering to guarantee a supply of beer and smoked salmon and we sat in a room until returning 'party noises' were heard. George then said: "Start playing some melody" and to my surprise the parents of one of the parties came in greeting George like a long lost friend and requesting various tunes from the '30s - '40s which we played. Out came the fivers and we left several hours later considerably 'better off'. I think my share was the equivalent of 2 months NHS House Officer stipend (we got 1 pound a day then!). Apparently George used to serenade the parents before WW2, and they obviously remembered him. Many times we used to gatecrash parties with George after a night at the Tatty and were always  welcomed by people who knew George. Happy days, now long gone, as someone said, our kind of music has an audience of senior citizens and their parents.'


Bill Greenow


Bill Greenow

Gloria Baldwyn adds to our Profile page on Bill Greenow (click here):


I was at Ealing Art School with Bill. He was the year above me. A talented musician but also a really good painter. His hero was Cezanne. I went to a few of Bill’s gigs in London. Ealing was a pretty amazing experience for many of us.

Among the ex- students are Freddie Mercury, Pete Townsend, Michael English, Mike Molloy (editor of The Daily Mirror) and Roger Ruskin Spear (Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band). That’s Bill at the front. Clasped hands and looking very serious!




Eric Silk

Roy Headland writes:

I recently discovered the few recordings of Eric Silk's Southern Jazz Band packed with tightly performed tracks which must have been meat and drink to the lindy hoppers in London in the 50's and 60's. I can't find much information about Eric but it seems he wasn't commercial and a New Orleans purist in the Colyer tradition. I would like to know more about him and how he ended up. I believe he was in the insurance business and played the banjo and perhaps was destined for obscurity! It seems incredible, listening to his band, that he didn't merit his own entry in John Chilton's Who's Who of British Jazz (at least not in the 1998 edition that I have.)

[Until recently there was a track online of Eric Silk and the Southern Jazz Band playing Blues My Naughty Sweetie (Gave To Me) but this has since been taken down. The only track on Youtube is from the BBC JazzClub and the sound and recording quality is very poor. However, I did find online the photograph below of Eric Silk and his Southern Jazz Band, but the personnel are not named. If anyone can send us more information about Eric, please contact us and we'll share it - Ed].


Eric Silk and his Southern Jazz Band




Bob Wallis - Bellissima

John Griffeth has been searching for the composer of the tune that Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazz Band played in the 1962 film It's Trad Dad (known in America as Ring-A-Ding-Rhythm). The film included Chris Barber's band with Ottilie Patterson, Acker Bilk's Band, Kenny Ball and hisBob Wallis Jazzmen, Terry Lightfoot and his band and the Temperence Seven.

According to the International Movie Data Base, the tune was written by Milton Subotsky, a major British film maker of the time who with Max Rosenberg formed 'Amicus Productions' with the aim of producing low - to medium-budget horror and anthology films (they also formed 'Cinerama Releasing' in 1966), usually shot in England and Scotland. These included The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Scream and Scream Again (1970), Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Oliver Stone's first feature film, Seizure (1974). Prior to becoming a film producer, Subotsky was a composer of rock'n'roll songs. After Cinerama Releasing folded and went out of business in 1975 due to the lack of British investment, Rosenberg and Subotsky went their separate ways. Rosenberg rarely continued with film making, but Subotsky kept his hand in American horror films, helping to bring a number of Stephen King's novels to the screen. He died in 1991 of heart disease.

Click here or on the picture for the Bob Wallis band video from the film.




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Edinburgh Festival Jazz Fringe

Rob Adams points us in the direction of what's on:

Scottish jazz musicians go head to head with the stand-up comedy world and its high powered PR teams in the competition to attract audiences when the annual Edinburgh Fringe opens on August 5.

The Fringe, which is the world’s biggest arts festival, is an open event, with most of the performers in upwards of three thousand shows playing for no guaranteed fees. It’s a gamble that shows no sign of losing its allure as the event reaches its sixty-ninth birthday and with such a choice of shows available, audience numbers can reach only single figures even when companies hire sometimes shamelessly pushy, professional PR officers.

With limited resources jazz musicians are forced to take a leap of faith into self-promotion and one of the bravest ventures this year seesRyan Quigley saxophonist Paul Towndrow and trumpeter Ryan Quigley, both musicians who can normally command decent fees, staging their re-interpretations of Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown’s With Strings albums. It’s a one-off performance at Stockbridge Church on August 18, with all proceeds going to charity, and a strong contender as the classiest gig of the month.

Ryan Quigley
Photograph by William Ellis.


A significant amount of August’s jazz activity takes place in two venues that host jazz throughout the calendar: the Jazz Bar in Chambers Street, a 364 days a year operation, and the Outhouse in Broughton Street Lane, home to the popular fortnightly Playtime sessions and, like the Jazz Bar, a winner of newspaper The Herald’s Angel award for supporting live music.

At the Jazz Bar, established players including pianist Brian Kellock, Cannonball Adderley celebrants Mercy Mercy Mercy and vocalist Ali Affleck will slot into a round-the-clock-and-a-bit-more programme that also sees New Focus Quartet, pianist Paul Harrison and pianist-composer David Patrick launching, respectively, a new album, a trio in homage to Brazilian master Egberto Gismonti and a jazz adaptation of Debussy – with a ten Brian Molleypiece band. The Outhouse showcases saxophonist Brian Molley’s Clock Quartet and the Playtime Collective in a programme that also features American singers Barbara Morrison and Lillian Boutte, and Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin.


Brian Molley


Other regular venues get into the swing, including the Queen’s Hall, which hosts the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s Dave Brubeck tribute, and Summerhall, where guitarist Graeme Stephen premieres his latest silent film score, Metropolis with Amsterdam string quartet Zapp4 and drummer Tom Bancroft. Elsewhere, in the pop-up venues, violinist Alex Yellowlees and klezmer-influenced Moishe’s Bagel play at the Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides. Pianist and jazz educator Richard Michael explores the art of improvisation at artspace @ St Marks. Brian Kellock and saxophonist Dick Lee swing through the decades in the fabulously aroma-ed delicatessen Valvona & Crolla’s temporary theatre, and Parisian swing quartet Rose Room are among a programme of jazz, funk and folk attractions appearing in the re-modelled Merchant’s Hall.

With comedians appropriating jazz terminology such as improvising and riffing (leading in the latter case to a suggestion, possibly apt, of someone telling the same lines over and over again), it can be tough for musicians to get their message out to the public and audiences into their shows. Or, then again, perhaps this is more helpful than first seems to be the case. One what’s on website automatically shunts any kind of improvisation into the Comedy section – and if that means that jazz gigs attract the same lengthy queues as can snake round the Assembly Hall for stand-ups, the gamble will pay off.

For further details of the Edinburgh Fringe programme, log onto http://www.edfringe.com




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:

Charles Davis


Charles Davis - American baritone and tenor saxophonist born in Mississippi who played with Clark Terry, Sun Ra, Kenny Dorham and then in the 1970s played with many of the other top musicians of the time including John Coltrane, Philly Jo Jones and Dizzy Gillespie. In recent years, Charles had returned to playing tenor saxophone with the all-star Jimmy Heath big band while still taking the occasional tour with Marshall Allen’s Sun Ra Arkestra.

Click here for the Charles Davis Quintet playing For Us.




Don Friedman



Don Friedman - Born in San Franciso, pianist Don Friedman discovered jazz at the age of 15 when he moved to Los Angeles. He played with West Coast musicians like Shorty Rogers and Buddy Collette, moved to New York where he played with Buddy DeFranco, and then in the 1960s with the whole spectrum of jazz musicians from Clark Terry to Eric Dolphy to Bobby Hackett. He was also a prolific solo artist.

Click here for a short video of Don talking about playing with Ornette Coleman and Chet Baker. Click here for a video of Don playing with Joe Lovano in 2005.





Not all jazz musicians who pass through the Departure Lounge are reported in the national press, so if you know of anyone's passing that we should mention, please contact us with a few words about them, or a local obituary if one is available.

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Album Released: 17th June 2016 - Label: Michael Blum Music


The Michael Blum Quartet

Chasin' Oscar


June Bastable reviews this album for us:

Born in Great Neck, New York, Michael Blum’s parents encouraged him to study guitar from a young age, his father being a classically-trained guitarist with a passion for jazz, his mother an enthusiastic singer. By the age of 21, Blum had already released his debut album, Initiation, accompanied by the same trio appearing on this subject album, Chasin’ Oscar, i.e. Jim Stinnett on bass, pianist Brad Smith and drummer Dom Moio. BlumMichael Blum Quartet Chasin Oscar followed Initiation with his vocal debut, Commitment, in 2015.

It was on long drives each week to see his mentor, the bassist Jim Stinnett, when Blum was able to listen without interruption to Oscar Peterson’s music, mainly the 1964 album We Get Requests, with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. Blum became inspired to “learn to play the guitar like Oscar Peterson played the piano”, as he puts it.

“One of the things I really love about Oscar is his ability to do anything on his instrument,” adds Blum. “He could play fast or slow, hard or soft, pretty or nasty, bebop or blues – but he only played those elements that were perfect in the moment. He’s sorrowful and sometimes joyous; invigorating and sometimes solemn. Listening to him is always interesting, and I wanted to emulate his emotional range in my musical homage.”

Blum put his idea for this album to Jim Stinnett who wholeheartedly embraced the project and began by recommending Peterson’s 1970 Tristezo on Piano and instructed Blum to learn the title track’s solo note for note. Blum spent the next 18 months practising it, together with several other Peterson solos, for six to eight hours a day, learning the pieces by ear instead of transcribing them.  Several of the tracks on Chasin’ Oscar feature Blum performing faithful re-creations of Peterson’s original piano solos.

Blum and Stinnett first began collaborating over three years ago while Blum was still a student at Dartmouth College, and Blum describes their relationship thus: “When I first met Jim, he saw something in me that I don’t Michael Blum and Jim Stinettthink anyone had before. He recognised that I had all this passion and raw talent, but I didn’t know how to hone or channel it. Working with Jim has been a growing experience technically, emotionally and mentally because he always believes that I can do anything, even before I believe it. Having him around gives me the confidence to pursue my goals. Without him, I’d probably be aiming lower.”

And now all this inspiration and dedication has resulted in a great album which kicks off with an intricate piece, Peterson’s original Nightingale, followed by Gershwin’s soulful I Loves You Porgy, You Look Good To Me with Stinnett’s wonderful “walking” bass, and The Girl From Ipanema providing a groovy bossanova. Of particular note are the breath-taking note-for-note runs on Tristeza. Jim Stinnett contributed two of his original compositions to the album, i.e. the relaxed Pine and an atmospheric Whisper.

A couple of numbers, East Of The Sun and Tenderly, feature Blum as vocalist, with his straightforward and unembroidered crooning, somewhat reminiscent of Chet Baker in this reviewer’s opinion.

The nine tracks on Chasin’ Oscar are:

  1. Nightingale (Oscar Peterson)
  2. I Loves You, Porgy (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward)
  3. You Look Good To Me (Seymour Lefco, Clement Wells)
  4. The Girl From Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Joabim, Vinicius de Moraes, Norman Gimbel)
  5. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon) (Brooks Bowman)
  6. Tristeza (Haroldo Lobo, Niltinho)
  7. Pine (Jim Stinnett)
  8. Tenderly (Walter Gross, Jack Lawrence)
  9. Whisper (Jim Stinnett)


Click here to sample the album.

Click here to view Michael Blum and Jim Stinnett playing Nightingale (this reviewer’s favourite track!).

Click here for a live video of the Quartet and with Michael singing East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon).

Michael Blum’s style is deeply rooted in jazz and, with his next album, Expansion, he will venture further afield into jazz fusion. He asserts that he is less interested in the genre of his music, more in the emotion it arouses: “At the end of the day, my goal is to make music that reaches people.” In 2015, Michael was named the "Rising Star" guitarist in DownBeat Magazine's 63rd Annual Critics Poll.

Click here for Michael Blum's website.


June Bastable

June Bastable is the wife of the late jazz musician, Johnny Bastable. She is a writer and author of two books Some People and These People available from Amazon, Waterstones, etc.


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Album Released: 1st July 2016 - Label: Basho Records


The Impossible Gentlemen

Let's Get Deluxe


Howard Lawes reviews this album for us:

Mike Walker (guitar, dog whistle), Gwilym Simcock (piano, keyboards, french horn, flugel horn, accordion, vibraphone, marimba, percussion), Iain Dixon (soprano sax, tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute), Steve Rodby (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums).

The word 'supergroup' was coined in the late 1960's and referred to rock music bands formed of individually excellent musicians; early examples included Cream and Blind Faith; who came together for a brief period,The Impossible Gentlemen Let's Get Deluxe produced some great music and live performances but then split with each individual following their own musical direction.  Clearly jazz musicians are a more pragmatic bunch than rock musicians, often playing regularly in several different bands and as far as we know, most of the artistic toys stay in the pram.  The Impossible Gentlemen are regularly referred to as a 'supergroup' but unlike the rock music supergroups of old they show every  sign of durability and increasing success.

The band is built on a partnership between Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker, both exceptional musicians and as they demonstrate for the first time on this album, a formidable composing and arranging team.  Adam Nussbaum is a founder member of the band and a hugely experienced American drummer, Steve Rodby on double bass is another American musician with an exceptional CV (including album production), whilst new recruit Iain Dixon plays a wide variety of saxophones, clarinets and flutes. Previous albums: The Impossible Gentlemen (2011) and Internationally Recognised Aliens (2013) received praise from critics and audience alike and this latest album seems destined for even greater acclaim, already critics have awarded four and five stars in their reviews.

Mike Walker describes the ambition for the album as "to draw on a wider palette of sounds using melodies and counter-melodies, interweaving through the improvisations to form a broader narrative as a whole".  This desire was realised with the addition of Iain Dixon to the band and also by inviting the Crumbleton Strings to play on a couple of tracks.

The first track on the album is also the title track and wastes no time in demonstrating the strengths of band; the music is rich and melodious, double bass and drums provide a strong framework which other members of the band decorate with lovely solos, none more so than Mike Walker on his electric guitar. 

Click here to listen to the title track Let's Get Deluxe.

The second track, It Could Have Been A Simple Goodbye, was written before the untimely death of jazz pianist, John Taylor but is dedicated to him during the band's live performances; it certainly has an elegiac feel to it, particularly when Simcock plays simple chords alone while Walker's melancholic guitar strikes just the right tone.

Click here for a video of the band playing A Simple Goodbye live with an introduction by Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker.

Next comes the interestingly titled A Fedora For Dora which may or may not have something to do with a poem called Adorable Dora published in the book, Mind Control by Mort Walker and John Newcomb; whether there is a connection or not the footnote in the book seems very apt for this cheerful, upbeat track which is "To share your joy makes the joy more joyful". Track 4, Miniature,  the shortest track, starts with some acoustic guitar, continues with some very pretty, music box style piano, and is over all too soon.  Terrace Legend relates, in music, the story of  folk hero, Neil Baldwin, some-time circus clown, preacher and Stoke City Football Club kit man and the subject of an inspirational, BAFTA award winning TV documentary. Many instruments are involved in this beautifully arranged piece including great percussion, string ensemble and roars from a football crowd; Walker's wailing guitar provides drama while Simcock's piano is reflective, the finale is an inspirational crescendo as everyone joins in.

Dog Time could well refer to those hot, sultry days of summer when it is far better to chill out rather than engage in anything energetic, the music is slow, funky and shimmers like a heat haze, however Walker's guitar does generate some distinctly canine sounds which could point to another reason for the title; Simcock plays multiple The Impossible Gentlemenkeyboards on this track and Rodby's bass is heard to great effect.  Hold Out For The Sun begins with a cheerful melody from Simcock's piano, Nussbaum keeps a busy rhythm throughout and Dixon's woodwind enriches the group sound while Rodby and Walker contribute some short solos.

Click here to listen to Hold Out For The Sun.

Tracks 8 and 9 are called Intro To Propane Jane and Propane Jane respectively, a marching rhythm soon gives way to some simply fantastic rock music with Walker a tour de force on electric guitar.  The last track, Speak To Me Of Home, has a folksy feel to it and features Dixon on bass clarinet; Simcock's piano is as melodic as ever and brings the album to a calm and thoughtful ending.

Building on the success of their first two albums and their 2013 Parliamentary Jazz Award, this remarkable band is going from strength to strength.

Click here for details and to sample the album.

A tour is planned for October and the following dates are confirmed - new fans, of which there are likely to be many, should seek out a live performance if at all possible, old fans have probably already got their tickets:

Saturday, 8 October – Wolverhampton
Sunday, 9 October - Marsden Festival
Tuesday, 10 October Leeds College of Music
Wednesday, 12 October - RNCM Manchester with Psappha Strings
Thursday, 13 October - The Old Fire Station, Oxford
Friday, 14 October - Turner Sims, Southampton
Wednesday, 19 October The Old Market, Brighton
Friday, 21 October - Singen, Germany
Wednesday, 26 October - Munich, Bayerische Rundfunk
Thursday, 27 October - Mantova, Italy
Friday,  28 October - Wakefield Jazz Club

Click here for further information on the band's website.


Howard Lawes


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Album Released: 17th June 2016 - Label: Manushi Records


Zoe Rahman


Robin Kidson reviews this album for us:

Since 2001, when she released her first album, the British pianist, Zoe Rahman has won some of the most glittering prizes in contemporary music. Her 2006 album, Melting Pot, for example, won Jazz Album of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, no less. The album, Kindred Spirits, won Best Jazz Act at the 2012 MOBO awards. She has been a judge for the BBC Young Jazz MusicianZoe Rahman Dreamland of the Year, and is currently touring with Courtney Pine performing music from their duo album, Song (The Ballad Book).

Dreamland is her sixth album on her own Manushi label and her first completely solo piano recording. “I’ve been playing solo gigs for a long time”, she says, “so have built up a repertoire of tracks that I wanted to record and people kept asking me on gigs when I was going to record a solo album. Playing solo is very exposed and is both liberating and daunting, as it’s so much more open than working with other musicians. There’s so much scope in the instrument to create different sounds and rhythms and I draw inspiration from musicians who use the instrument like an orchestra”.

If a solo album can be daunting to play, it can also be daunting to listen to as well. Dreamland, though, is a joy from beginning to end. Rahman knows exactly how to pace a solo set – a fast piece is usually followed by a slower, more reflective track; a jazz or bluesy composition is followed by a piece influenced by other music traditions: folk, classical, Indian; and her own compositions are interlaced with those by a range of other writers. None of the tracks is particularly long (14 tracks in 50 minutes playing time) but, again, the well-judged pacing ensures an even mix of long and shorter pieces. All this means that the attention never wanders – and even if it does, you can always just sit back and marvel at Rahman’s impeccable technique.

The album gets off to the best possible start with the wonderfully original Red Squirrel, a complex piece full of notes, constantly changing and constantly inventive, exactly mimicking the jumpy, jerky movements of a squirrel. The National Youth Jazz Orchestra recorded Red Squirrel for its 50th anniversary album (reviewed on the website in January). Click here for Zoe Rahman playing the piece live with her trio.

This is followed by the lovely, slightly bluesy Fast Asleep, written by Rahman for her son. Then The Sheikh, written by Jessica Jennifer Williams and including some curiously effective plucking of the strings inside the piano. There’s a touch of Horace Silver in the playing with an infectious, foot tapping rhythm.

Kar Milono Chao Birohi is an arrangement of a song by the Bengali writer, Rabindranath Tagore and is a nod to Rahman’s part Bengali heritage. Zantastic is a short, up tempo piece again written for Rahman’s son. The style is boogie woogie, but not as we know it. The Epicentre was partly inspired by a recent spell as artist in Zoe Rahmanresidence with the Lincolnshire Youth Big Band. It starts off more as a contemporary classical music piece with a great sense of drama but gradually settles into something more rhythmic and jazzy with a hard edged blues feel.

These Foolish Things is an absorbing rendition of the old standard with Rahman’s trademark note-filled ornamentation and trills up and down the scales. The shadow of Thelonious Monk is never far away. Perhaps appropriately, the influence guiding J’Berg appears to be that great South African pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim but Rahman is too original and interesting a musician to be a slavish follower of any other stylist. The main influence at work in Zoe Rahman is Zoe Rahman.  

Crystal Clear is almost a pop song - an indication of how Rahman can write and play in a wide variety of styles. The Calling is a jaunty but quite complicated piece with interesting changes of direction and a showcase for Rahman’s considerable virtuosity. A Single Petal of a Rose is by Duke Ellington and is played in an Ellington style but with plenty of Rahman’s passion and drama.

Sunset in Blue is a great, foot-tapping tune by Abdullah Ibrahim, superbly played. On the Road is another Rahman original with all sorts of typical Rahman flourishes: interesting changes in direction, compelling rhythms, ornamental trills - but also completely absorbing. Finally, For Anais is named after Rahman’s niece and is a slower, more reflective piece which builds to an effective climax. It’s a nice ending to an absorbing album full of invention, drama and fun played by a brilliant composer and musician.

Click here for details and to sample.

For further information, click here for the Manushi Records website or here for Zoe Rahman’s own website.


Robin Kidson


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Album Released: 6th May 2016 - Label: Nonesuch


Pat Metheny

The Unity Sessions


Cameron Skerrow reviews this album for us:

I have only recently stopped reading a book in which the protagonist, Edmond Dantes, a once innocent and honourable young sailor, is reunited with one of his most bitter adversaries after many years apart. This rival thought him dead, having orchestrated a devious plan to have him thrown in jail and rot the rest of his life away. However, Dantes miraculously survives and escapes from prison, undergoing a huge personal transformation atPat Metheny The Unity Sessions the hands of his cell-mate, the Abbe Faria, whose worldly education and enormous hidden treasure allow him to completely disguise himself in the face of his former enemies. Playing the part of an esteemed and sophisticated raconteur in order to deceive one of his rivals, Dantes suggests that the newly-painted pictures adorning his apartment are less beautiful because they have not become old yet, and subsequently, lack that special quality with which aged items are often revered.

Although a rather cynical statement in itself, the protagonist at the very least indicates that the passing of time has a certain affect on numerous aspects of our lives. In the case of The Unity Sessions, Pat Metheny’s latest double-CD release, the passing of time has turned the combination of the guitarist’s new band and new compositions into a magnificent force.

I was fortunate enough to review Kin (<->), the first album by Metheny’s Unity Group in 2014, and despite some spirited playing and memorable new songs, I thought that the recording itself felt somewhat lacklustre. Simply put, The Unity Sessions is undoubtedly what that album should have been, including a range of compositions spanning some of Metheny’s newer Kin material and some older favourites.

After a year or so of intensive touring (150 or so dates), the Unity Group converged upon a small theatre in New York, to play two sets of their very much ‘broken-in’ repertoire one last time. The ensuing performance was captured on video and recorded live, released first on DVD and subsequently as this two-disc album. Metheny himself states:

“… I realized that the music we played during the two days of filming … truly illuminated how far we had come as a band during our time together. It is an unusual hybrid of being a ‘live’ record of a well-honed performing ensemble, but with a kind of looseness that the situation offered, that got us to a very special place that is captured so beautifully by my longtime recording engineer Pete Karam … It totally captures the best of what made our time together as a band so far such a fun and satisfying experience.”

Metheny fans will certainly not be disappointed with the sheer range of sonic worlds explored on this record.  The first disc kicks off with the gorgeous Adagia, showcasing the guitarist’s sensuous touch on nylon strings, whilst Sign Of The Season harkens back to his previous Group’s symphonic masterpiece, 2007’s The Way Up, incorporating invigorating crescendos and intriguing softer sections. Fans may also recognise similarities to a much earlier Metheny recording The First Circle, as we hear lush cymbal rolls and various piano ostinati.

Click here for a video preview of the album.

Saxophonist Chris Potter shines through the entire recording, participating in a break-neck speed duet on the old jazz standard Cherokee, warding off any bebop purists who might dare question his ability or respect Pat Methenytowards the much revered masters who came before him. His strong and prominent tone add extra weight to new Metheny ballads, such as the gorgeous This Belongs To You, at times recalling the guitarist’s former long-time sparring partner Michael Brecker.

Click here for a video of Pat Metheny playing This Belongs To You.

Old hits such as Phase Dance and Minuano are heard as part of an intriguing acoustic guitar medley, showcasing his uncanny ability to inject new life into melodies through subtle harmonic twists and variations. Similarly, another stand-out track is the 13 minute odyssey Come And See, which begins with the now infamous 42-string Pikasso guitar, created by master luthier Linda Manzer, one of Metheny’s long-time associates.  The timbre of the instrument is truly something to hear, conveying a remarkably Asian sound, over which Potter skilfully improvises. Drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Ben Williams provide rock-solid support throughout all of the performances, with Giulio Carmassi providing necessary textural additions through various pieces of hand-percussion and the like.

There truly is something for everyone on this album, be it in old favourites or newer compositions – no matter what the setting, Metheny’s band brim with vitality and energy from start to finish, making this recording essential listening for even the most casual fan.

Click here for details and to sample.


Cameron Skerrow

Click here for our profile of guitarist Cameron Skerrow


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Album Released: 17th June 2016 - Label: Truth Revolution Records


Kris Allen


Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Kris Allen (alto and soprano saxophones); Frank Kozyra (tenor saxophone); Luques Curtis (bass); Jonathan Barber (drum set).

Sometimes you put a recording through your sound-system-of-choice and the music makes an immediate match with your ears.  And so it was for me with Kris Allen’s Beloved.  This is a quartet who hold a lot of promise and absolutely no waste.  What we have are four highly skilled musicians who have stripped away the superfluous in order to source their own secrets.  If and when they disclose a little bit more they could be coping with a muchKris Allen Beloved higher profile. The drummer, Jonathan Barber is definitely going to be in demand.

This is how a quartet does it when they are focused and not just playing another session.  Here are ten scored ‘jazz compositions’ by the alto sax player Kris Allen.  They have come to break these scores open and expand them.  It does not happen on every track, but the success rate is nevertheless high.  On this recording Allen has dispensed with piano.  Instead, two melodically mature horn men individually twist tunes in and out of shape with assurance.  They have differing approaches yet come on like team-duo when the line demands. 

In Jonathan Barber they have a clever head, a drummer who bounces rhythm, moves emphasis and action to provide description. He has deft, sly strokes which work up against his patterning footwork giving smart hi-hat signals like an additional drum. Barber’s ears are sonic to his bass player companion.  Luques Curtis must have grown up listening to Mingus.  He is constantly stringing out a bass directive on the spot, plucking wonderful long extensions which carry the whole crew, at the same time fixing the bottom line of the no-chord quartet. On track two, Mandy Have Mercy, the double bass is totting up notes like a game of poker.

If Let Freedom Ring, Destination Out, New And Old Gospel mean anything to you then you will be able to plot Kris Allen’s influence easily enough.  They are all recordings by the master alto sax player Jackie McLean who died in 2006.  These days his name does not get mentioned as much as it should.  As well as producing a discography that plots the course of a Charlie Parker influenced alto from bebop to modal via Charles Mingus through to a subsequent encounter with Ornette Coleman (who played second horn trumpet to McLean on New And Old Gospel), Mr McLean was also an educator; the founder of jazz studies at the Hartford Artists Collective and the University of Hartford.  This is where Allen met McLean and began studying with him.

Jackie McLean was a diamond in the mine.  An outstanding iconic player with a signature squashed sound that Kris Allen Quartetwas totally unique to himself.  He was always the reference point for those who knew the real thing.  Kris Allen recognised his importance and listening to the Beloved album it is possible to hear the echo of their relationship.

On Bird Bailey the quartet feel their way through a cut-up of the Charlie Parker songbook which hints at McLean’s own obsessiveness with Bird.  Allen and Kozyra sharply slice these quotes.  Once I stopped trying to second guess Bird’s Ornithology and just let the two horns get on with it, Bird Bailey made perfect sense.

Beloved contains three quite different ballads: The title track is the stand-out, a beautiful peon to the leader’s partner, the pianist Jen Allen.  Lord Help My Unbelief is an exercise in slow breath control blowing on a written-through hymn to the ether.  And then there is More Yeah.  This one is all over in just three minutes, the band seem to close down on it.  It fades like mist on heat.  Such a shame because it begins in a very unhurried fashion with a tasty elegant bass introduction spreading forth across the two dexterous unison horns feeding off the sonorous wood of the instrument.  The fade suggests there was more in the can, it certainly feels as if they could have stretched things a lot further.

Click here to listen to the title track, Beloved.

For my money it’s ‘the up-tempo swingers’ (I sometimes feel like using colloquial retro language) which spark this session and give the Kris Allen Quartet the McLean connection.  The first two horn breaks on the album opener, Lowborn are superb.  The alto comes first, tearing up the chart and putting a new message on the stand.  Kris Allen is accurate, he leaps, he squeals, he comes all the way down the instrument then hits the top.  He is telling tales though he calls them 'proverbs'.  No one is going to talk over him, this is sculptured soloing.  Then comes Kozyra’s tenor sitting on his tail and producing more magic, albeit with a slightly more studied approach.  When they get back to the head both saxophones are swapping the dots between each other.  It doesn’t sound difficult, even though it is.

Towards the end of the session, on track eight, there is a genuine sax dual.  Hate The Game has the two horns chasing each other’s fireworks.  What I like about their approach is that they keep things light and airy.  Jonathan Kris AllenBarber’s drums are never muddled.  He is on their case throughout, yet he knows where the pulse is at all times which allows the frontline to sing with confidence.

The closer, Threequel, is a neat example of contemporary bop, it contains all the well known clichés – the bass solo breaking with the drum kit, the double horn melody tuned-in to a locked up tandem, the alto and tenor solos preaching perfection in a language we understand but can’t pronounce. You’ve almost certainly heard the formula before but music doesn’t always have to be a discovery, sometimes when the form is already known, the art is in the love of it.

Click here to listen to Threequel.

Kris Allen has made a good start here.  I’ve just about finished writing but I’ll still be listening.  It would be good to hear Beloved at a gig this side of the Atlantic.  I am sure Connecticut has its home attractions, but Kris, in your own words More Yeah; cross the pond and really convince us.  

Click here for details and to sample. Click here for Kris Allen's website.

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk


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Album Released: 15th July 2016 - Label: Capri Records


Mike Jones Trio



Jamie Evans reviews this album for us:

Mike Jones (piano), Katie Thiroux (bass), Matt Witek (drums).

Mike Jones is a new figure in the jazz piano genre to this reviewer although he has several albums to his name before this one. The keyboards man likes to be known as “Jonesey” and I can perhaps be excused my unfamiliarity on learning that he earns a crust (and hopefully for him, a nice big tasty one) playing in a Las Vegas hotel as MD and general factotum to the comedy/magic duo, Penn and Teller who are extremely popular andMike Jones Trio Roaring highly regarded on the other side of the Pond.

He has studied at Berklee  but you would be unlikely to hear of Jonesey in a more conventional jazz  outlet having spent the past 15 years in a full-time show business job but still sticking to his jazz leanings.

The album pays homage to compositions in the Great American Songbook all composed in the Roaring 20s and includes some very well-known material. The CD was recorded in New York in four hours including lunch and nearly all the tracks are first takes.

Jonesey’s influences are Dave McKenna, Oscar Peterson, with touches of Errol Garner's left hand, and the locked-hands chordal approach of George Shearing.

I have heard him doing a very passable left-hand walking bass-style McKenna impression on video but there are no examples here. That is unsurprising really. Why would one throw money into the Hudson by hiring a top bassist like Katie Thiroux and then cancelling her out?

Representative of the style of  the album is the first and longest track, Yes Sir, That’s My Baby. This number has probably never been played at such a slow tempo and is almost languid, with many funky Peterson style touches and a pleasing bass solo.

Home was written in 1931 so shouldn’t really be in this collection. I forgive this inaccuracy as I’m always a sucker Mike Jonesfor this lovely tune which Jonesey and drummer, Matt Witek, interpret as well as it deserves.

Irving Berlin’s I’ll See You In Cuba, is given as one might expect a Cuban treatment and again the pianist and his percussionist link and work seamlessly together.

In a totally different mood, another Berlin classic, What’ll I Do, is a solo piano piece. Plaintive and reflective, it is the only slow ballad here and the pianist resists too many technical tricks and really gets inside the composer’s unhappy but here unheard lyrics of a lost romance and the melancholy of a lonely former lover.

One can clearly discern all the pianist’s influences - the Peterson funky virtuosity , the McKenna scintillating right-hand runs and the Garner comping. Commendable as it all is I wished he would push himself up a level  and meld all these styles into his own individual sound. He certainly has the technique and potential.

But having said that, this album offers a most enjoyable outing by a trio who are having fun. Great straight-ahead music by performers who can definitely do the business.

Tracks: Yes Sir, That’s My Baby; If I Had You; I’ll See You In Cuba; Home; Mean To Me, I Found A New Baby; Me And My Shadow; What’ll I Do; I Can’t Believe That I’m In Love With You; Am I Blue.

Click here for details. Click here to sample (scroll down the page).

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans manages a website remembering the late clarinettist Alan Cooper - click here.


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Album Released: July 2016 - Label: Self production


The Bullingdon Jazz Quartet


Alvin Roy (clarinet), Alexander Hawkins (piano), Jez Cook (bass guitar on tracks 1,2 and 7), Roger Davis (bass on tracks 3,4,5,6 and 8), Charlie Stratford (drums).

These musicians play regularly with various bands at 'The Bully', the Bullingdon Arms in Oxford. For this albumThe Bullingdon Jazz Quartet they got together at the SAE Studios in Littlemore, Oxford for a one-take session recording 8 tracks of 'Standards'. The SAE Institute was founded in 1976 and has since grown to become the world’s largest, industry-focussed creative media educator with 54 campuses in 26 countries. The studios are a 'state-of-the-art' education facility and the recording was undertaken by students at the Institute. There are occasional problems with the mixing, but overall, this is a relaxed, straight ahead album.

It feels like the band is warming up as Van Heusen's It Could Happen To You opens the set and they are more settled as they move into an enjoyable take on the traditional C.C. Rider with a nice opening from Alexander Hawkins before Alvin Roy Alvin Roystates the tune. Alvin has a lovely clarinet tone, honed over years of playing with his various bands through which have passed many UK musicians including Alan Littlejohn, Ray Crane and Tony Milliner. His playing is imaginative, across the register with trills and flourishes and the occasional reference to other tunes.


Alvin Roy


Stella By Starlight follows and then a slow version of I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) with a nice solo from Alexander Hawkins who in 2016 was awarded 'Jazz Instrumentalist Of The Year' at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. I hadn't realised before how similar the opening Alexander Hawkinsof the latin flavoured Sombrero Sam is to The Beatles' Can't Buy Me Love. Alexander Hawkins has mainly played to the setting of the session but here he gets low down and dirty in a steady, driving solo. Click here to listen to Sombrero Sam.


Alexander Hawkins


The music slows again for Jerome Kern's Yesterdays before moving into I Cover The Waterfront (on the liner notes it says 'I Covered The Waterfront' but then I guess Alvin Roy has played it a few times!). The album closes as the band comes out with Alexander Hawkins leading them into a swinging version of Oscar Pettiford's Blues In The Closet.

The liner note says that the band 'got together to record these tracks just for the fun of it ... I hope you will enjoy listening (to the numbers) as much as the musicians enjoyed recording them.' This is a recording that doesn't set out to be a Top Ten 'dazzler', but if you like your jazz laid back and uncomplicated, this could suit you. It will probably suit the customers at The Bully in between bands.

Click here for details.

Ian Maund           


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Album Released: 18th March 2016 - Label: Origin Records


Marcos Varela

San Ygnacio


Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:

The bassist Marcos Varela was born and raised in Houston, and can trace his routes back to the historic Texas town (San Ygnacio) where his family have lived on the same ranch since at least the 1750s. He has been based in New York for the last 12 years. Drawing on collaborators from his time in New York, Varela has assembled aMarcos Varela San Ygnacio stand-out cast of veterans and peers for this recording. The album’s core rhythm section is composed of two jazz giants: pianist George Cables, a key mentor and drummer Billy Hart, one of Varela’s earliest employers. Other musicians on the album are trombonist Clifton Anderson, as well as saxophonists Dayna Stephens and Logan Richardson. Two tracks feature Varela’s one-time collective quartet of Arnold Lee (alto sax), Eden Ladin (piano) and Kush Abadey on drums.

Varela is a graduate of Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He arrived in New York to continue his studies and has performed with a wide range of other artists such as The Last Poets and The Mingus Big Band. He has also composed music for several TV and film projects. Varela states that “This record is a culmination of my New York experience. It features some of my favourite people to play with and recalls some of the positive experiences I’ve had during my New York days”. Legendry bassist, Ron Carter contributed to the liner notes, where he states that, “Varela’s tone, choice of notes and compositions will place his playing and name on the list of bassists to be heard”.

Three of the tracks come from Hart’s sextet repertoire:  Pepper and Picturesque are George Mraz compositions, while Lullaby For Imke comes from the drummer’s 2006 CD release. The first track is the only standard and is Cables’ bold arrangement of I Should Care. As Varela says, “The jazz community wants to hear Marcos Varelayou play over a standard and know you have that ability”. There are 11 tracks in all on the album, with track 10 being a short intro to track 11.

The first track, I Should Care, has a light and lively piano melody start which gains depth when the bass joins in with Billy Hart on drums. This is a nice arrangement by George Cables and skilfully executed.  We then have a track composed by Varela, Colinas De Santa Maria, named after the family ranch. I thought this might have a more Latin feel from the title, but we have a gentle melodic start giving an impression of space with fine solos from the alto sax, piano and bass before everything comes together again and ending almost soulfully.

Mitsuru, has an atmospheric bass start and then some fast paced trombone work from Clifton Anderson with the piano keeping the tempo high before solos from Varela and Hart.  Looking For The Light has some wonderful tenor sax from Logan Richardson and piano from Cables, and Varela’s bass solo on this track has a far better fit and seems more natural within the flow of the music. However, the last track, Where The Wild Things Are, is unexpectedly one of the most successful ‘out of comfort zone’ experimental tracks that I can recall for some time.

These are excellent musicians playing some exceedingly intricate and complicated pieces. Yet somehow I  get the impression this is marking an ending of a phase or a doctorate study with an abundance of solos, leaving me feeling that the album may actually be best appreciated by other musicians.

Click here for details and to sample.

Click here for Marcos Varela's website.

Full track listing:

1. I Should Care
2. Colinas De Santa Maria
3. Mitsuru
4. Lullaby For Imke
5. Sister Gemini
6. Pepper
7. Red On Planet Pluto
8. Looking for the Light
9. Picturesque
10. Where the Wild Things Are (Intro)
11. Where the Wild Things Are.

Tim Rolfe


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Album Released: June 2016 - Label: Leo Records


Slava Ganelin and Lenny Sendersky

Hotel Cinema


Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Slava Ganelin (Korg MicroStation, computer Dell keyboards); Lenny Sendersky (alto and soprano saxophones).

Over the last eighteen months Slava Ganelin, legendary keyboard player and pianist with the Ganelin Trio has been on a roll, check out recent Sandy Brown Jazz reviews.  Leo Records has been busy too, this single track forty-five minute live performance was recorded in Tele-Aviv on April 7th 2016.  By the 23rd June the CD, complete with artwork, came through my letterbox.  I thought I was fast, Ganelin is faster.

Hotel Cinema is both the title of the album and the name of the venue in which it was recorded, right in the centre of Te-Aviv in Dizengoff Square.  It’s a fairly intimate gig.  This live recording is different from any in-concert session I’ve heard by Slava Ganelin, and I’ve heard lots.  There is no grand piano here, only electric keyboards and the reeds player was completely unknown to me until the album arrived.  On Hotel Cinema Lenny Sendersky plays alto and soprano saxophone.  He used to be based in Copenhagen but is now living in Tel-Aviv, in 2013 he released his own album, Desert Flower, with guitarist Tony Romano and has also recorded with trumpeter, Randy Brecker. 

The Lenny Sendersky saxophone is nothing remotely like Vladimir Chekasin from the Ganelin Trio or Alexey Kruglov, who Slava Ganelin has been recording and touring with recently.  Chekasin and Kruglov are prestigious Lenny Senderskyplayers who drive to the edge, they are improvising composers, they are steeped in jazz-lore, instant on-the-spot musicians who share absurdity and tragedy as being mutually dependent.  Like the finest Japanese Noh character actors they inhabit their own worlds. 

My knowledge of Lenny Sendersky is much more restricted, he is undoubtedly a special player.  He can leap the line of his horn and emote at the very depth of Ganelin’s new composition but, unlike Chekasin and Kruglov, at no time does he take Vyacheslav Ganelin to the edge.  Chekasin would often push his compatriot to the point of departure, let him fall in order that he would be forced to devise his own creative rescue.  Maybe that is not something Ganelin wants anymore, hell’s teeth, he has had to deal with that expectation on all of his key recordings.  However uncomfortable that might be, that edge has given the pianist an innate ability to deal with the constant frisson of danger inhabiting the beauty of his most famous performances. This great keyboard wizard has thrived on being placed off-centre.  Lenny Sendersky is eloquent and fits this new scored music like a classical soloist; Daniel Barenboim could use a player of this magnitude. 

If the above analysis appears as if I am disappointed with Hotel Cinema, I’m not.  What I value from any musician is to play beyond expectation and that is what Ganelin is doing here.  Hotel Cinema is an orchestral suite without an orchestra.  In the promo for the album, Leo Feigin writes: “I could write .... that this is a new symphonic work performed by the 50-piece Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and nobody could tell the difference.” Slava Ganelin being Slava Ganelin has produced a vast orchestra from a table-top Korg keyboard and Dell computer programme.  The sound is huge and authentically of the moment, using no pre-recorded material.  This is not karaoke; strings, percussion, horns, reeds and crucially, electricity, burst forth as symphony.  No one could deny the man the authenticity and audacity of his own creation.  Okay, but the purpose of a review is not to merely marvel at the wonders of real time computerisation.  What is the end result?  What is the music like?

Hotel Cinema is formal, there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  Initially the opening prelude is smooth, spread out to reflect a wide-angle film set, credits could roll across the orchestration, gradually the music pans wide, Mr Sendersky’s reeds piping melody, sometimes blurring, at others haunting a deep shimmering chord.  A major strength of his playing here is that he folds his flurries on top of each other as if piling sound on sound.  In the central arena of this cinematic study Ganelin introduces melody after melody, billowing in grandeur and opulence only to feed into it rattles, literally shaken like a beggar asking for your leftovers so they can survive another night with essentials.  There is a wind and disembodied voices.  There is treated tuned percussion rushing riffs over a fanfare of horns; hard, loud, big percussion as threatening as Wagner, then something like Stravinsky’s wholly un-innocent innocent, Petrushka with Sendersky blowing a single note, pulling it into a purpose.  Two thirds of the way through there is a long moment of just alto saxophone pleading to be reconciled, followed by an ‘acoustic guitar’ (yes, a computerised guitar) which could have fooled me into thinking RalphSlava Ganelin Towner had turned up in Tel-Aviv.  And behind that pluck of nylon are voices, mixed back, a people kept back.  The final minutes of Hotel Cinema are broken into by improv cracking at the score before Ganelin lets the air in and his synthesised epilogue is cradled by a horn motif.

A reviewer has to deal with indications; I don’t claim to know the full story.  Slava Ganelin’s Hotel Cinema with Lenny Sendersky is, on one level, an entertainment:  “It is a balmy evening in the centre of our beautiful city of trade and commerce.  Tonight Ganelin the great Russian musician, now resident here with us in this shared new land of ours called Israel, he is performing tonight, giving us a concert with this new guy, Lenny Sendersky.  It’s a nice night for music.  Jazz, at least I think that’s what it’s called, though someone said he had written a symphony.  Sure, sure, Ganelin was once in that trio with Tarasov and that awkward fellow Chekasin. They say the Ganelin Trio were subversives. No, I don’t know either, but Ganelin he is now a good man, to be trusted.  This little concert is a simple affair, it will be fun, perhaps we can all go and have a meal later.  You like falafel?”

And that is how it is, on one level.  But I don’t take Vyacheslav Ganelin lightly.  Hotel Cinema is more than make-believe.  I’d suggest this is as serious a piece of music as any Ganelin has been involved in.  And whilst it does not have the emotional impact of Catalogue or Ancora Da Capo, or even last year’s stunning Live In Shenzhen, it would be foolish to underestimate the man.  I strongly recommend an aural visit to the Hotel Cinema, perhaps skip the meal afterwards.

Click here for a video of Slava Ganelin and Lenny Sendersky playing live in Jerusalem in 2015.

Click here for details and to sample.


Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk


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Ten New Releases / Re-Releases


One From Ten

Steve Day spends time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.


Elliot Galvin Trio



Elliot Galvin (piano, kalimba, melodicas, accordion, cassette player, stylophone); Tom McCredie (double bass); Simon Roth (drums, percussion, glockenspiel).

I’ve always had a sneaking regard for Edition Records, they are an inventive label, releasing music which vaguely falls within the contemporary ‘jazz’ context yet at the same time always pushing at what that might actually constitute.  For Edition ‘jazz’ is not a repetition of the past and their rationale for experimentation takes different forms, often quirky.  Punch is no exception.

Punch is the album title and opening track.  This is a Punch as in those unlovely lovable ‘Punch & Judy’ characters that reveal the male puppet as a psychopathic misogynist. The album actually opens with 44 seconds of sampled archive speech introducing Mister Punch ‘The Wife Beater’ andElliot Galvin Punch already the funny side of things has turned instantly dark.

Punch the performance is a smouldering piano trio taking a clipped count that has Galvin, McCredie and Roth pouring on climax after climax across fast repetition which gives away breaks to a sampled female ‘puppeteer’ – “Oh yes you did, didn’t he boys and girls”.  The three way duck and dive through Elliot Galvin’s composition and acoustic beat blocks is mesmerising until it ends with the awful, tragic sampled statement, “Now that does it, you’ve knocked the baby down the stairs.” The whole thing is over in the time it would take me to walk to the nearby corner-shop.  Punch is a brilliant uneasy opening.  It carries weight yet is lightly drawn, it holds child’s play up as a conduit for horror, it paraphrases the ridicule riddle of abuse.  Yes, all of this, and then Punch permissions piano, bass and drums to drive through an audacious theatre of music.  And that’s only the first of ten tracks.

Next up is Hurdy-Gurdy, written for accordion and transposed for the trio, albeit with a squeeze-box prologue.  Yes, strange but totally blistering. Elliot Galvin’s opening solo entry is finger busting and then like Punch, the trio power drive is given a run of breaks but this time they are filled by Mr Roth flipping his snare with snazzy brush rolls, in turn we get Tom McCredie’s stoic double bass setting up the accordion entry.  This accordion is seriously good and gimmick free. The piano entry and statement is of maestro proportions, Galvin’s old much loved accordion is a more humbling companion, wheezing and puffing like an instrument which knows its own way home.  The Hurdy-Gurdy experience is played out in four minutes and works wonders.  Two down, and I feel compelled to stay with the recording. 

Click here for a video of the band playing a live performance of Hurdy-Gurdy.

Tipu’s Tiger which follows is a genuine curiosity, using kalimba and glockenspiel to augment the trio’s front line instruments.  The unfolding, rippling aural depiction of a wooden musical automaton from the V&A depicting a British colonial soldier being eaten by a tiger is yet another strong 'Punch'.  The music, like the wooden tiger statue, appears to be an almost innocent dedication to a delightfully grotesque 18th century object Tipu's Tigercommissioned by the Tipu Sultan of Mysore in Southern India.  In fact neither Punch or Tipu’s Tiger, or this unique trio, are playing for laughs.  Elliot Galvin’s album is a piano trio wired to a muse that is essentially extremely hard, both in character and execution.


Tipu's Tiger showing its internal keyboard.


The whole album was recorded at an old ex-Soviet era radio station called the Funkhaus in what was East Berlin. It is a building of beautiful wooden rooms with great, natural, warm acoustics.  It looks one thing yet holds colder memories too.  This juxtaposition of dark and light, innocent and abuse, love and hate run right through the content of the Punch session. Even musically this cross-cut between two positions is not just eluded to but boldly sought out.  For example on track five, Blop, Galvin plays two self-customised melodicas, one standard the other detuned by a quartertone.  The result is a kind of weird klezmer type dance which is over and gone at speed.  In the going it passes from night to day.  In so doing it is a brief, modest piece of music darkening the shade of shadow.

Click here for a video of Blop.

But this juxtaposition holds like twisted wire; track seven is 1666 which references the year of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, evoking some of the sense of catastrophe that must have been felt at the time.  However the deep cut is more recent history.  It is the reading of Brecht/Weill’s Mack The Knife that seals the dark deal.

The song originates from the Threepenny Opera which was originally staged in Berlin in 1928.  Witty, satirical and bold in its critique of the rise of fascism, by 1931 Bertolt Brecht had written an additional final verse to underline the play’s opposition to the Nazi Party.  Two years later, 1933, Hitler was in power and Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht had to leave for America. Mack The Knife has been covered by everyone, from Bobby Darin to Louis Armstrong, Sting and Nick Cave.  In the 1980s the great Russian improvisers, the Ganelin Trio, still circumnavigating an Iron Curtain and a Berlin Wall, regularly played Mack as an encore in both The East and The West, sending-up both the humour and their own defiance.  I now know these encores well.  But here, a couple of decades on, Elliot Galvin goes completely in the opposite direction.  I am in awe of this Elliot Galvin Trioperformance.  The Elliot Galvin Trio strip sentiment and play-acting from the melody, offering it up instead as a slow staccato elegy, taking what ridicule there is left into a head-on crash with inherited damnation.  From Tom McCredie’s heavy, heavy, heavy bowed bass at its entry point, then the crunching power piano, through to the final short drum rolls and glockenspiel, played by Roth like a clock running out of time, I have to tell you this is a performance of some magnitude.  For me this is the Punchline to this album.  Right now, it feels like mandatory listening.

This is where I would have stopped.  This is not where Elliot Galvin chooses to end things.  The initial description coming up might make the final track sound like a throwaway, it isn’t. Cosy begins with a solo piano melody augmented by the band providing a whistled unison chorus-line.  A little sweet pretty tune, you could perform it for small children and not frighten them.  It then strikes up.  Cosy hits pay dirt, thumping out like Johnny Parker’s piano gymnastics with Humphrey Lyttelton’s band on the old 1950’s Joe Meek’s production of Bad Penny Blues. Hey, which way damnation? Not in this direction!

I was not been expecting this Punch.  It gave my head a crack.  It’s true, I had heard Elliot Galvin before, with the drummer Mark Sanders playing some decent improv.  Perhaps I should have expected it coming.  In many ways Punch is far more radical.  I strongly recommend the whole session.

Click here for details and to sample.

Album Released: 29th July 2016 - Label: Edition Records

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk




Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues


The Ten

Our monthly ten suggestions of other 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 where you might find more details).


Johnny Hunter Quartet While We Still Can


1. Johnny Hunter Quartet - While We Still Can - (Efpi)

[Click here for details and to sample. To be reviewed in our next issue]





Branford Marsalis Upward Spiral


2. Branford Marsalis Quartet - Upward Spiral - (Epic)

[Click here for details and to sample. Click here for Preview. Click here for review]





Oscar Peterson Trio Complete Jerome Kern Songbook


3. Oscar Peterson Trio - The Complete Jerome Kern Song Books - (Essential Jazz Classics)

[Click here for details. Click here for a taste of part of the original release].





Elliot Galvin Trio Punch


4. Elliot Galvin Trio - Punch - (Edition Records)

[See 'One From Ten' article above for details].





Blake & Cheek Let's Call The Whole Thing Off


5. Seamus Blake / Chris Cheek with Reeds Ramble - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off - (Criss Cross Jazz)

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





Oscar Pettiford Six Classic Albums


6. Oscar Pettiford - Six Classic Albums - (Avid Jazz - 2 CDs)

[Click here for details. Click here for more information].





Boris Kozlov Conversations At The Well


7. Boris Kozlov - Conversations At The Well - (Criss Cross Jazz)

[Click here for details and to sample. Click here to listen to Latin Genetics from the album].





Sonny Rollins Horace Silver Zurich 1959


8. Sonny Rollins Trio / Horace Silver Quintet - Zurich 1959: Swiss Radio Days Vol. 40 - (TCB)

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





Joanna Wallfisch Gardens In My Mind


9. Joanna Wallfisch - Gardens In My Mind - (Sunnyside)

[Click here for details and to sample. Click here for introductory video.





Kai Winding Trombone Panorama


10. The Kai Winding Septet - Trombone Panorama - (Phono)

[Click here for details. Click here to listen tor It's Alright With Me].









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Some UK Jazz Venues - Gig Link



It is impossible for me to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where I will list venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area. If you would like me to include links to other venue listings, please let me know.


Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com

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

Dublin: National Concert Hall, Dublin 2. www.nch.ie

Dublin: Flanagan's (Basement) Piano Bar, 61 Upper O'Connell Street, Dublin 1. www.flanagansdublin.com

Dublin: Whelan's, Wexford Street, Dublin 2. www.whelanslive.com.

Wicklow: The Hot Spot Music Club, Harbour Lodge, Bayswater Terrace, Cliff Rd, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. www.thehotspot.ie

For other regular jazz sessions in Dublin contact Ollie Dowling from Quality Music Tel: 00 353 87 2878755 or email:jazzindublin@gmail.com


Scotland: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen, AB25 1BU. www.thejazzbar.co.uk

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

Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff, 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk


Newcastle-upon-Tyne: The Jazz Cafe, 25 - 27 Pink Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5DW. www.jazzcafe-newcastle.co.uk

Cumbria: Kendal Jazz Club, The River Bar, Hawkshead Brewery, Stavely Mill Yard, Back Lane, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 9LR. www.kendaljazzclub.co.uk.

Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, The Grand Theatre, 18 York St. Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2DL. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk

Liverpool: The Capstone Theatre, Shaw Street, Liverpool, L6 1HP. www.thecapstonetheatre.com

Yorkshire: Seven Jazz, 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).

Yorkshire: Wakefield Jazz, Wakefield (College Grove) Sports Club, Eastmoor Road, Wakefield, WF1 3RR. www.wakefieldjazz.org

Yorkshire: Jazz In The Spa, Boston Spa, Village Hall, High Street, Boston Spa. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk

South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.sheffieldjazz.org.uk

Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com

Birmingham: Birmingham Jazz Listings www.jazzinbirmingham.co.uk

Hertfordshire: Herts Jazz Club, Welwyn Garden City, Screen2, Hawthorne Theatre, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6BX. www.hertsjazz.co.uk

Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com

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

Oxford: The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE www.thebullingdon.co.uk

Oxford: The White Hart, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE
From 28th September 2016: Last Wednesday of each month, 8,30 to 11.00 pm, Volunatry donations
- Oxford Kitchen Jam Session

Oxford: James Street Tavern, 47-48 James St, Oxford OX4 1EU.
First Wednesday of each month, 8.45 to 11.00 pm, Free entry - The Trish Elphinstone Quintet.


London: Jazz London Live, Listings website for London and South East. www.jazzinlondon.live

London: King's Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. www.kingsplace.co.uk

London: LUME, www.lumemusic.co.uk

London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com

London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk

London: Ronnie Scott's Club, Soho, 47 Frith Street, London W1. www.ronniescotts.co.uk  

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

London: Chickenshed Theatre Jazz Bar, Southgate, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE. www.chickenshed.org.uk

London: The Vortex, 11, Gillett Street, N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk

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

London: 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD. www.606club.co.uk

London: The Bull's Head, Barnes, 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London, SW13 9PY. www.thebullshead.com

London: Putney, The Half Moon, Putney , 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, 7th August and Sunday, 21st August - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm

London: The Hideaway, Streatham, 25 Streatham High Rd, London SW16 6EN. www.hideawaylive.co.uk

London: e17 Jazz, Walthamstow, Gnome House, 7 Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, E17 6DS. www.e17jazz.com

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


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 - Alan Berry (piano), Mike Durrell (bass), Don Cook (drums) plus weekly guests - 8.30 pm

Surrey: Guildford Jazz, 2 venues - Guildford and Godalming Rugby Club, Guildford Road, Godalming GU7 3DH (second Wednesday in month); Guildford Electric Theatre, Onslow Street. Guildford GU1 4SZ (Tuesday nights). www.guildfordjazz.wordpress.com

Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Betchworth Park Golf Club, Reigate Road, Dorking RH4 1NZ. www.watermilljazz.co.uk

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

Sussex: Splash Point Jazz Club, Seaford, Splash Point Jazz Club Seaford at The View, Seaford Head Golf Club, Southdown Road, Seaford. www.splashpointmusic.com

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

Sussex: Splash Point Jazz Club, Brighton Marina, Splash Point Jazz Club at The Master Mariner, Inner Lagoon, Brighton Marina. www.splashpointmusic.com

Sussex: Chichester Jazz Club, Pallant Suite, 7 South Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1SY. www.chichesterjazzclub.co.uk


Gloucestershire: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel, 24 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NR. www.kingshead-hotel.co.uk

Bath: Canary Gin Bar, 3 Queen Street, Bath.
Jazz Times Three. Click here for dates.

Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk

Somerset: Ilminster Arts Centre, The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0AN. www.themeetinghouse.org,uk

Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com

Dorset: Sound Cellar, Poole, The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1NE, www.soundcellar.moonfruit.com

Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com




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. A recent talk 'A Jazz Tour of Norwich and Norfolk' to an audience of 60 had the organiser saying: "Thank you for giving us such an informative and enjoyable evening,full of musical stars.The feedback was good and we hope to see you back with part 2." Other talks Roy has given include: Condon Jam Sessions; Clarinet Kings of Swing; Tommy Ladnier -"Mandeville to New York "; and a talk to Rotary on "The Winter Solstice" (their request) on Dec 21st which I managed to link in with Artie Shaw and called "The Shawtest Day"!

Roy's email address is: royheadland@gmail.com.


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