On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told ...
The story in Esi Edugyan's novel Half Blood Blues really starts in 1939 Berlin where a multi-racial jazz band finds themselves in trouble with Nazi Germany. Briefly into their lives comes Delilah Brown, a singer who knows Louis Armstrong:
"I was a sixteen-year-old girl from Monteal ... I was sure - sure - I just needed to find King Oliver, let him hear my voice, and it'd all start up for me. He'd just put an arm around me and introduce me to his Creole Jazz Band." ... One night I was outside Lincoln Gardens when Lil Hardin came out ... I thought Oliver might still be inside. So I slipped in ... And he was there alright." ...
"Have you ever seen King Oliver? I mean, in the flesh, up close? ... Well, he's a big fellow. Very soft in the middle ... The moment I came up behind them all standing there I knew it was him, I could just tell by the roll of his shoulders. But my god, he was so fat. I thought, Good god, he looks like a big ol' baby."
"When he turned round and saw me there, all of sixteen, he just laughed, and asked who let the baby in. And I said, I'd have thought you let yourself in, baldie. He wasn't offended at all. Oliver? He's got a hide thicker than a kettle skin ..."
"The gate standing there with him started laughing and laughing. Well, that was Louis. I guess it must have been funny. I was just this rail of a thing, talking big to old Oliver like that. Anyhow. Oliver didn't know what to do with me, but Lou took me home with him, put some hot food in me, gave me a place to sleep. Like an older brother would do." She nodded, sort of thoughtfully, "Old Lou saved me."
From Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan who was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011.
In the story, one of the band is arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen and he was black. Fifty years later two of the band go back to Berlin to find out what happened to him. The journey brings to the surface secrets long buried.
Name the movie (click on the picture for the answers)
Starring James Stewart and Juny Allyson
Starring Jack Webb and Peggy Lee
Starring Forest Whitaker
The Last Swanage Jazz Festival?
It seems that the team behind Swanage Jazz Festival are calling it a day and that next year's Festival, the 28th of the seaside venue's festivals, could be the last. Running a Festival is a challenge and all credit to Fred Lindop and his team for the work they have put in.
It is ironic that in June we published an article by Annette Keen about the success of the Swanage Festival (click here) and the problems faced by the Keswick Jazz Festival which will be much reduced next year and which we also discussed (click here). The two festivals have been quite different in approach, Keswick has mainly concentrated on 'Traditional' Jazz whilst Swanage has been more varied, and perhaps the reasons behind their problems are different too.
Perhaps someone will come forward to take on Swanage Festival when the current team retires, but in the meanwhile the dates booking for their finale are 14th to 16th July 2017.
Woody Allen's Café Society
Woody Allen's new film Café Society is due for release in UK cinemas on 2nd September. He seems to have a formidable work programme that brings out a new movie just about every year and reviews vary with each one. It must be virtually impossible to maintain people's expectations with such a prolific output. From our point of view, the interest is as much in the background soundtrack as the film. Woody Allen's love of jazz and his own clarinet playing ensures that most, if not all of his films have a good jazz soundtrack.
The title of the film, Café Society, could be a bit misleading because of its association with the American club of the same name that in the late 1930s early 1940s was the first non-segregated club in the US. Its founder Barney Josephson, a shoe salesman from Trenton New Jersey who fell on hard times and thought he would try his hand at club management, said: “I had been to Europe in the early thirties, and had visited the political cabarets, where there was very pointed satire,” he said. “And I’d seen Gypsy Rose Lee doing a political striptease at fundraising affairs in New York for the Lincoln Brigade. I conceived the idea of presenting some sort of satire and alternating it with jazz music.”
Jazz At Café Society is also the name of Alex Webb's popular current show that tells the story of Josephson's Café Society, which promoted racial equality and progressive causes – and played host to some of the finest musical talent of the 20th century, including Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and many others.
Woody Allen's film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Bobby Dorfman who decides to move to Hollywood, where he takes a job running menial errands for his uncle, a talent agent, and falls in love with his uncle's secretary, Veronica (Kristen Stewart). When she chooses someone else, Bobby returns to New York to run a high-class nightclub with his gangster brother Ben, and the successful club becomes a focus for gangsters as well as the rich and famous. Ben is arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced for murder. Bobbie goes on running the nightclub alone, and his and Veronica's paths continue to cross.
Click here for the trailer. The trailer itself confirms the jazz soundtrack and gives you a glimpse of a jazz band playing at the club. The soundtrack features a collection of the music from the 1930’s with much played by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks although there are tracks by Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Ben Selvin: 'The music is featured prominently in the movie and has been chosen by Woody Allen himself. Woody Allen says about the soundtrack: “The soundtrack consists of music from the 1930s since that’s when the picture takes place. Most of the material is Rodgers and Hart ... very dominant in those years and Lorenz Hart has that bitter sweet romantic quality that defines the spirit of the movie itself.”
On Rotten Tomatoes the verdict is: "Café Society's lovely visuals and charming performances round out a lightweight late-period Allen comedy whose genuine pleasures offset its amiable predictability." and Variety gave the film a mixed review, writing, "Café Society leaves you dreaming of the movie it might have been had Woody Allen made it by doing what he’s done in his best work: nudging himself out of his comfort zone."
National Jazz Archive Open Day
As part of the Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence Project, the Archive will be holding an Open Day on Saturday 10 September, between 10.00 am and 3.00 p.m. On display will be intergenerational reminiscence Archive and contemporary material, together with footage from reminiscence sessions held over recent months, recordings of interviews recorded as part of the project, a youth media opportunities stand, and light refreshments.
The National Jazz Archive was awarded £83,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence Project which began in January. The project gives people the opportunity to learn about and contribute to the National Jazz Archive through a programme of performance, oral history and reminiscence. It is exploring how different generations have promoted, performed, supported, and documented our jazz heritage. Through interviewing and recording talks and discussions at intergenerational workshops in Age UK Activity Centres the project records and conserves the reminiscences of a generation of people who had to make considerable investment to access music. Recorded music is a part of the workshops, with live music by young musicians at some of them.
Interviews with older jazz musicians, jazz club promoters and supporters will form a permanent record of anecdotal jazz history. The project works with the Black Cultural Archives to encourage participation from the older black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities, including local musicians associated with these communities. Loughton Youth Project participates in and films the sessions. The interviews and memories collected by the project will be made available on the Archive’s website and will contribute to an exhibition celebrating the people and places that have shaped jazz music across the UK.
If you go to the open day they say: 'Why not bring in your own jazz memorabilia to share with us?'
Click here for details.
This month's quiz asks you fifteen questions starting with 'Where?'
The clues are based on song lyrics .....
Where is this tune singing you to sleep? - 'The rumble of a subway train,
The rattle of the taxis,
The daffydils who entertain At Angelo's and Maxi's.'
You can check how well you have done on the Answers page where you will also find some interesting videos - and don't forget to check your score.
Click here for the Jazz Quiz.
NYJO Receives Funding Award
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra has received an award from Arts Council England for £150,000. The money, from the Arts Council's 'Catalyst Evolve' Programme will support NYJO funding over the next three years.
'Catalyst Evolve' is a new initiative to support organisations in fundraising in order to attract more private giving. The Evolve fund will help organisations develop successful and sustainable fundraising models so that money raised will be matched by the fund over a period of three years. It is expected that organisations will continue to generate new money for the sector beyond the end of the grant programme. In all, 140 varied projects will collectively receive a total of £17.5 million through the Catalyst Evolve programme. (Click here for more details).
Nigel Tully, Executive Chair of NYJO, said: ‘This grant is a milestone for NYJO and will help us to expand and develop the inspirational work we do with audiences and young musicians across the country; we know they love our visits, and we want to take the jazz message more often to more people in more parts of the UK. The grant will have a tremendous positive impact on jazz education and performance in this country, which is at last starting to give the jazz art-form the recognition that it deserves.’
Launching Splash Point Jazz Club, Eastbourne
A couple of months or so ago, Annette Keen wrote an article about running a jazz club (click here). Now she tells us about putting her toe in the water again:
There's an old Ronnie Scott joke that runs like this: 'Anyone can make a million out of running a jazz club. You just have to start with two million.'
I'm reminded of this quite sharply as I turn up to the Fishermen's Club on the seafront in Eastbourne, for a chat about ... running a jazz club.
I know all about the perils, and the work involved, but it's been a while and I've missed the buzz of it. After sixteen years promoting the jazz at the Under Ground Theatre, then a two year stint organising the jazz content of Eastbourne College's ProMusic concert programme at the Birley Centre, then a year long break, I feel ready to start again. But it's daunting, not only because of the finances (thanks Ronnie for those few insightful words...) but what if I can't make this work? What if the jazz fans don't come or those that do don't like the venue? What if the sound isn't right? What if the musicians don't like playing there? What if, what if...
Neal Richardson's Splash Point Music is behind this. He already has two clubs running successfully, at Seaford and at Brighton, and he'd like to bring the brand to Eastbourne. I'd like to run a club again. So far, so good.
The third point of the triangle is, of course, the venue. And so here I am, talking to Andy at the Fishermen's Club about a once-a-month jazz club in their function room upstairs. We discuss what they can offer (club price drinks for a start...) and what I need to have.
I look at the room – the last time I was here was for a 60th birthday party and today I'm seeing it through quite different eyes. It's a really nice space, self-contained from the rest of the club downstairs, with its own bar and toilets. There's a stairlift for anyone who can't manage the stairs unaided. There are sea views! (OK, this is not essential, but it's nice...). Andy is enthusiastic, willing to do whatever he can to help, including with the publicity. Most importantly, there is loads of free parking immediately adjacent to the Club.
We strike a deal. It's all fine, and it's going to work. Jazz in Eastbourne has just found itself a new home. Come on in the water's fine.'
Opening Night: 28th September at 8pm, upstairs at The Fishermen's Club, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AA. Tickets £10, on the door.
Stellar line-up: Art Themen and Andy Panayi (saxes), Roy Hilton (keys), Bobby Worth (drums), Nigel Thomas (bass).
'Unfolding In Tempo'
Saxophonist Tom Harrison is releasing his album Unfolding In Tempo in October. The album, inspired by the legacy of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, was recorded live at two different venues from Tom's February 2016 tour and features Cleveland Watkiss on vocals, as well as Steinway Artist Robert Mitchell, MOBO-nominee David Lyttle and bassist Daniel Casimir.
Tom says: 'The whole experience of performing such sacred material is like walking a high wire - trying to balance respect for, and understanding of the tradition, with a fresh and unique approach. To walk the wire can be very intimidating. The way is narrow, and the weight of tradition bears heavy; it is very easy to slip off, to plunge into the mundane, the quotidian, as Billy Strayhorn might have put it. Yet it is that very tension, that danger, that breathes life into a performance, gives it meaning, forces the improviser to tell a story partially devoted to reminiscing, but one that is continually unfolding in tempo.'
Tom Harrison and Cleveland Watkiss
We preview the album with Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge, a bonus track recorded at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho in February. There is beautiful playing by Tom Harrison and pianist Robert Mitchell that signals good things from the forthcoming album.
Click here for Chelsea Bridge.
The Water Is Wide
[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].
How much emotion can you pack into a song? Well, I guess that depends on the song and the musician or singer. The Water Is Wide is one that begs for emotion although not everyone has played it that way.
To introduce it, here is a video by pianist and saxophonist Annette Kreutz and Carolin Hild - click here.
The water is wide,
I can't cross over,
And neither have I wings to fly.
Build me a boat
That can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I.
The Water Is Wide is a traditional Scottish song. The lyrics we know best have, over time, emerged from the original lyrics and we'll visit those later, but for now we'll stick with those that are most familiar.
Now, in 2016, it is difficult not to read these lyrics without thinking of the current 'migration crisis', people leaving their countries for various reasons, paying large sums of money for a place on a crowded boat that might or might not make it across the sea. The hundreds that drown at sea.
There is a ship
And she sails the sea.
She's loaded deep,
As deep can be.
But not so deep
As the love I'm in,
I know not how I sink or swim.
And then the last verse that reflects attitudes to migration, the sympathy for those in desperate need and seeking safety and then a changing attitude as numbers of migrants increase.
Oh love is handsome
And love is fine,
The sweetest flower
When first it's new.
But love grows old
And waxes cold
And fades away like Summer dew.
That is not, of course, the origin of the song which is also known as O Waly, Waly. The original lyrics go back to the 1600s. Cecil Sharp published the song in Folk Songs From Somerset (1906), and it is said that it is possibly based on the unhappy first marriage of James Douglas, 2nd Marquis of Douglas to Lady Barbara Erskine. It is that sadness in a relationship that 'grows cold' that forms the heart of the song and part of the emotion that goes with it, but it is also something in the composed music that wrings emotion out.
The story of James Douglas is told something like this: James, second marquis of Douglas, born in 1646, succeeded his grandfather, William Douglas, in 1660, and was a privy councillor to Kings Charles II and James VIII. James, a young man, after being engaged for marriage with the daughter of one Widow Jack, a taverner at Perth, was wedded at Aba House to Lady Barbara Erskine, daughter of the Earl of Mar.
In 1681, Lowrie of Blackwood, who is said to have been a rejected suitor of Lady Erskine, told James that there was a rumour going round that Barbara had been sleeping with another man. James promptly dropped her and the child she had born him. The sorrows of the Marchioness of Douglas were described in a popular ballad of the day. Her father took her home and she never remarried.
Here is a great jazz rendering of the tune by the Charles Lloyd Quartet (click here)
The lyrics to the song have often been changed over the years. Wikipedia tells us: 'The modern lyric for The Water Is Wide was consolidated and named by Cecil Sharp in 1906 from multiple older sources in southern England, following English lyrics with very different stories and styles, but the same meter. Performers or publishers would insert, remove and adapt verses from one piece to another: floating verses are also characteristic of hymns and blues verses. Lyrics from different sources could be used with different melodies of the same metre. Consequently, each verse in the modern song may not have been originally composed in the context of its surrounding verses, nor be consistent in theme.'
Pete Seeger popularised the modern version, but there are many old variants of the song. O Waly Waly (Wail, Wail) may sometimes be a particular lyric, sometimes a family tree of lyrics ... Benjamin Britten used the melody and verses of The Water is Wide for his arrangement - which does not have the O Waly, Waly verse, yet is titled Waly, Waly.
A different melody is used for the song When Cockleshells Turn Silver Bells, also subtitled Waly, Waly. A key ancestor is the lyric Waly, Waly, Gin Love Be Bonny from Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany (1724). This is a jumble of verses from other lyrics including Arthur's Seat Shall Be My Bed (1701) and The Distressed Virgin (1633) ... The use of cockleshells and silver bells in Thomson's version (1725) pre-dates the earliest published Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (1744), and may relate to torture ...'
Here is a short documentary with Pete Seeger about building a boat and which has footage of him singing The Water Is Wide - click here. The documentary focuses on boats, in particular about building a replica of a sloop. Pete Seeger sings the song beautifully, but the background imagery of boats somehow detracts from the story behind the lyrics.
'The Water is Wide also influenced lyrics for other folk and popular songs, such as the modern version of the Irish Carrickfergus (1960s) and the American Sweet Peggy Gordan (1880). The Irish song Carrickfergus, shares the lines but the sea is wide/I cannot swim over/And neither have I wings to fly. This song may be preceded by an Irish language song whose first line A Bhí Bean Uasal ("It was a noble woman") matches closely the opening line of one known variation of Lord Jamie Douglas: I was a lady of renown. However, the content of the English-language Carrickfergus includes material clearly from the Scottish/English songs not found in any known copy of A Bhí Bean Uasal, suggesting considerable interplay between all known traditions'. Although Carrickfergus also contains the lines I wish I had a handsome boatsman
To ferry me over my love and I, it somehow lacks the emotion of The Water Is Wide (Carrickfergus is about someone missing their homeland).
A nice version of Carrickfergus by Loudon Wainwright III was used in the television series Boardwalk Empire - click here. There are various versions of this on Youtube, I think this one has the better sound although unfortunately it cuts short at the end. It also shows a still from the film with the caption "They can drown for all I care, as long as they pay."
Which brings us to O Waly, Waly (Wail, Wail). The lyrics are much longer and sung specifically by a woman (The Water Is Wide could be by either gender). Wikipedia carries them (click here) and they scan to go with the tune we know. They also carry the emotion of a love betrayed and lost, even more than The Water Is Wide:
O waly, waly, but love be bonnie (beautiful),
A little time while it is new,
But when 'tis auld (old), it waxeth cauld (cold),
And fades away like the morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my heid (adorn my head)?
Or wherefore should I kame (comb) my hair?
For my true love has me forsook,
And says he'll never love me mair (more).
O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am weary.
'Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaws (snow) inclemency,
'Tis not sic cauld (such cold) that makes me cry,
But my love's heart grown cauld to me.
Oh, oh! if my young babe were born,
And set upon the nurse's knee,
And I my sell were dead and gane,
For a maid again I'll never be.
So what is it about The Water Is Wide that carries the emotion? The lyrics are not long, within a short three verses the song captures the mood of hope turning to sadness and regret. Is it the lyrics that suggest the emotion or does the construction of the music also convey that same change in feeling?
In this version by Bänz Oester and The Rainmakers from 2012 (click here) the tune is taken much faster and the emotion in the song is only just held by the saxophone, but the fine interpretation is one of the few effective jazz improvisations of the song available on Youtube. I like this.
The 'The Water Is Wide' has been used more generally to describe difficult situations and the challenge or seeming hopelessness in overcoming them. In 1972 Pat Conroy used The Water Is Wide for the title of his fascinating book based on his work as a teacher in South Carolina.
Daufuskie Island, which is called Yamacraw Island in the book is a poor island lacking bridges and having little infrastructure. The book 'describes Conroy's efforts to communicate with the islanders, who are nearly all directly descended from slaves and who have had little contact with the mainland or its people. He struggles to find ways to reach his students, ages 10 to 13, some of whom are illiterate or innumerate, and all of whom know little of the world beyond Yamacraw. Conroy (called "Conrack" by most of the students) does battle with the principal, Mrs. Brown, over his unconventional teaching methods and with the administrators of the school district, whom he accuses of ignoring the problems at the Yamacraw school.
The book was made into a film called 'Conrack' in 1974 starring a young Jon Voight. Click here for an extract from the movie (which is available in full on Youtube).
So let's end by going back to the words and the tune with this version by Sheila Jordan and the E.S.P. Trio who take a slow approach to the song (click here) with some lyric changes but their interpretation has warmth ... and emotion?
The water is wide,
I can't cross over,
And neither have I wings to fly.
Build me a boat
That can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I.
Jacob Collier At The Proms
We have mentioned young musician Jacob Collier a few times on this website. His talent was recognised again in August when his beautiful orchestral arrangement of In The Real Early Morning was featured with the Metropole Orkest at this year's Promenade Concerts in an evening of music celebrating Quincy Jones.
If you missed it, or would like to enjoy it again, you can watch it if you click here. Jacob says: 'I feel such a lucky soul! What an indescribably special experience.' The song comes from Jacob's debut album In My Room.
A special performance.
Corey Mwamba is one of the U.K.’s most talented jazz vibraphone players. Born in Derby in 1976, he took lessons on a Yamaha organ when he was about eleven years old. “But I wasn’t all that interested in music,” says Corey. “My folks were into George Benson, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, but in the foolishness of youth, I wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t own any music until I reached sixteen when my first tape was an Otis Redding compilation. I got into jazz by the radio when I was trying to pick up a short-wave radio station while I was studying for my French exam. I had never heard anything like it! The broadcast was in French but I picked up on the name Jessica Williams. Anyway, I got hooked.”
As well as being in demand as a vibes player, Corey has been (and is) involved with a wealth of projects including Orrery - "Using the model of the orrery itself I created and devised new work to represent some of the ideas that shaped our thinking about astronomy and astrology around the time of the Enlightenment" and New Dark Art, a project exploring and demonstrating the ways in which improvisation, notation and conducting practices used in medieval music can inform and extend practice in composing for creative musicians. He also leads Out Front! A Derby-based music development organisation for the Midlands (click here to see Corey's various projects). In October, Corey will be going to Birmingham City University to study for a PhD degree so I caught up with him for a tea break while he still has a moment.
Hi Corey, tea or coffee?
Hmm. This time of day? Tea, please.
Milk and sugar?
Milk; one sugar, thank you.
If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?
At the moment, I'd raise Walt Dickerson and Herbie Fields.
What would you ask them?
I'd ask Walt Dickerson just to talk! Although I would ask him to
describe his voice on the vibraphone.
[Click here to listen to Walt Dickerson playing It Ain't Necessarily So]
I'd ask Herbie Fields about his
influences and where he thought music was going to go at the time when
he was playing with Benny Harris - if you listen to Fields around that
time, he's making Dolphy-like intervallic leaps on the sax, before the
advent of bebop. I find that kind of thing really interesting.
Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?
What have you been doing recently?
In August, I did a gig/recording with Dave Kane and
Joshua Blackmore in Derby for a record on Two Rivers that's coming out
next year. I've been writing a piece for twelve great musicians that was
commissioned by Jazz North-East; actually forcing myself to use
standard Western notation for a change! Also thinking about sound on
the vibes (hence summoning Dickerson) and reading up on phonetics. I have been working with the sound artist Gawain Hewitt, playing at Contrapop Festival in Ramsgate with
the organist and composer Lauren Redhead and with Black Top in Derby.
[Click here for a video of Corey with Dave Kane and Joshua Blackmore from 2013]
On the admin side, I run a jazz organisation called Out Front! and
we've reached a halfway point; so we're evaluating what's happened
so far, and how we can improve. I'm also trying to write up the
health/well-being benefits of earlier start times for musicians. I've
also made some headway formulating ideas for local artist development
for Derby Jazz: I was made "artistic director" (i.e. programmer) in
[Click here for a video with Tony Kofi talking about his music at Derby Jazz before a gig including Corey Mwamba]
What have you got coming up in the next few months?
I'm playing with Andy Champion and Ntshuks Bonga in
Newcastle at the beginning of September, which is when the Derby Jazz
season starts. Totally unrelated to either Derby Jazz or Out Front!,
I've organised Chicagoan flautist Nicole Mitchell to come to Derby and
play in a duo with Mark Sanders in the middle of September. I've got
Sloth Racket (with Cath Roberts) at the end of September; and then I
start my PhD at Birmingham City University in October.
Out Front! has "The Week" (of gigs) at the end of October; and then in
the first week of November there seems to be nothing happening at all.
But in the third week, Out Front! has Maggie Nichols, Joelle Leandre
and Irene Schweitzer.
Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?
I'll just mention three: Johnny Hunter,
Inclusion Principle, George Crowley's Can of Worms.
[Ed: See our review of Johnny Hunter's album While We Still Can. Click here for the video introduction to George Crowley's Can Of Worms]
That would be lovely!
Help With Musical Definitions No 27.
French for 'Good To Go' .
Click here for our page of 'Alternative Definitions'. Send us yours ...
Don't Call Me Clyde!
Subtitled 'Jazz Journey Of A Sixties Stomper' Peter Kerr's book is an enjoyable read, descriptive and informative. It is not just about his time with the Scottish born band The Clyde Valley Stompers but a picture of the times. Growing up in East Lothian, the young Peter Kerr had a father who in the words of his wife was 'a poor imitation of a ham-fisted pub piano player', but Peter Kerr the elder was happy doing just that, and to play the accordion too whenever he could get his hands on one.
It was Peter's friend Derek who suggested that he and Peter learn to play the bagpipes, it was free, although they had to do out of school work to save for the practice chanter (melody pipe). Once again it was Derek who introduced them to the Dixieland B-side of a Theresa Brewer record and then the movie The Benny Goodman Story. 'If Barney Bigard's playing with Satchmo had hooked me on the instrument, Benny Goodman's stunning clarinet artistry hauled me in ... I'd have to get myself a clarinet.' Family friend Fergus had an opinion on jazz musicians: 'He'll end up dead in the gutter ... Prostitutes and rotgut booze. Way of life in that game. The pox and cirrhosis of the liver ... always ends the same.'
Peter's description of his school days leads into the 'Jazz Revival' of the late '50s, his discovery of wider jazz influences, gig nights at the Haddington Corn Exchange and his introduction to the Clyde Valley Stompers band: 'It transpired that, with over thirteen hundred punters piling into Haddington's Corn Exchange, the Clyde Valley Stompers had smashed yet another attendance record.' Meanwhile Peter gets a job as a civil servant in Edinburgh, forms his first band with the Hidden Town Dixielanders with friends Jim Douglas, 'Wee Bob' Sandie, Kimber Buglass and Jack Blair and with them travels to London for the Carroll Levis Discoveries programme (that early version of Britain's Got Talent) and an opportunity to visit the London jazz clubs.
Back in Edinburgh the band was 'taking up more and more of our time' and hanging out at the city's jazz venues brought them increasingly into contact with other bands and musicians, some of whom began to play with the band. A couple of recordings were released with the band name changing from the 'Hidden Town Syncopators' to 'Pete Kerr's Dixielanders', but Pete and the others were still juggling everyday work with their music and he describes well how musicians have to balance their playing with work that brings in money - and then the situation when the offer of a residency on the Continent comes along - the response of employers, parents and other band members. The opportunity seems too good to miss - until the residency ends, and then 'What Am I Gonna Do Now?' as an earlier chapter heading asks.
It was 1961 and Pete describes the circumstances where he was re-introduced to the Clyde Valley Stompers, now called Ian Menzies and the Clyde Valley Stompers, or more affectionately 'The Clydes'. His audition and then time with the band, touring, personnel changes, the responsibility of leading the band, the business and 'political' implications, etc. that take up the following chapters will ring bells for many musicians and bands. The success of 'hit' recordings like their jazz version of Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf is described both in its making and the resulting popularity and then as Pete says: 'Being busy can be a breeze, as long as everything's running smoothly, but it doesn't take much to turn a breeze into a hurricane. And ill winds have a habit of not turning up singly, as I was about to find out ....'
Click here for a video of the Clyde Valley Stompers playing Peter And The Wolf in 1962.
At a time when 'pop' music was becoming increasingly prevalent, the jazz interpretation of classical pieces could become a two-edged sword with accusations of 'selling out'. Balanced with the expectations of managers, the issue of contracts and royalties and personal health issues and the change of band name to Pete Kerr's All-Stars, again give a reflection of the time, the business, the life of a jazz musician / bandleader, and Pete Kerr's story places them all well.
Click here for details of the book.
Do You Have A Birthday In September?
for September Birthdays
VIRGO (The Virgin)
22nd August - 22nd September
There are two eclipses this month that will have a bearing on you and it is advisable to relax more during them. The solar eclipse on the 1st occurs in your own sign and those born between September 25th and October 5th will feel it most strongly. This eclipse signals a redefinition of the self, your personality and self-concept.
The lunar eclipse on the 16th occurs in your 7th house and bears on relationships. Good relationships will survive testing, weaker ones might not. There could be life-changing kinds of dramas in the lives of your friends and they may need you.
Organisational relationships might also see changes both professionally and in personal organisation. Check you have backed up important files, that your anti-virus protection is up to date and whether it is time to update your personal internet information.
For you here is a video of guitarist Stanley Jordan and his Friends, Dudu Lima and the Habib Faye Band playing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (click here).
LIBRA (The Scales)
23rd September - 22nd October
You are likely to have an eventful month ahead. Jupiter enters your sign on the 10th bringing optimism and and the Sun entering on the 22nd signals personal pleasure - so all in all, things should be good. The two eclipses this month should not have too much bearing on you but are worth keeping in mind.
The solar eclipse on the 1st in your 12th house of spirituality could bring a realisation that brings changes in practice and attitude, and the lunar eclipse on the 16th is in your 6th house and that might bring changes in work environment or conditions either in your present situation or a new one.
Every lunar eclipse brings the opportunity for career change, not necessarily literally but perhaps in changes in the circumstances around your career. Changes for those who you work with might lead to some readjustment in your own situation but remember, your sign signals positivity this month so those changes could be positive for you.
For you here is a video of Emma Smith and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra with Feeling Good (click here).
Fat-Suit's new album Atlas is due for release in October on the Equinox label - we'll let you know when it is available. In the meanwhile Howard Lawes takes a look at Fat-Suit and an ear to what is on the way:
Whereas a group of musicians is usually referred to as a band or orchestra, the word collective is actually the collective noun for a collection of nouns, however in recent times the word 'collective' has been used to describe a band that varies in size according to circumstances and has been adopted by Fat-Suit. 'Outfit' is another word used to refer to a band and the name Fat-Suit apparently stems from a comment describing them as a large outfit.
Enough semantics; the fixed part of Fat-Suit is: Murray McFarlane (trumpet and flugelhorn), Alex Sharples (trumpet and flugelhorn), Scott Murphy (tenor and soprano saxophone), Liam Shortall (trombone), Mhairi Marwick (violin), Utsav Lal (keyboards), Alan Benzie (keyboards), Craig McMahon (keyboards), Dorian Cloudsley (electric and acoustic guitar), Andrew Cowan (electric guitar), Angus Tikka (bass guitar), Martyn Hodge (percussion and drum pad), Stephen Henderson (percussion), Mark Scobie (drums), Ewan Laing (drums); and for this album the guest musicians are: Megan Henderson (vocals), Izzie Pendlebury (clarsach - Gaelic harp), Katie Rush, Adam Sutherland, Ailsa Taylor (violin), Sarah Leonard, Christine Anderson (viola), Alica Allen, Rachel Wilson (cello), Phil Hague, Glyn Forrest (marimba).
Fat-Suit originated within the Glasgow-situated Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where Modern Jacobite, Dr. Tommy Smith is the professor heading the Jazz Department and several of the musicians have played in the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra. Atlas is released by Equinox Records, a new label featuring mainly contemporary, Scottish music and committed to promoting new talent. The album was recorded in the intimate surroundings of the Cottier Theatre in Glasgow in 2015.
Commentators have described Fat-Suit music as a mix of Folk, Jazz, Funk and Dance and the press release from Equinox cites American bands Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck as influences along with the Scottish band GoGo Penguin. Interestingly, John Fordham, the Guardian jazz critic, recently awarded Snarky Puppy a rare 5 stars for their latest album, Culcha Vulcha, almost apologising for the fact that he had done this despite the album containing little in the way of explicit improvisation and maybe this bodes well for bands such as Fat-Suit's which are pretty much in the same vein. On the other hand a letter from Eddie Lawes (no relation) in Jazzwise magazine headlined "No GoGo area..." bemoans the current trend of jazz being "transformed into a mindless opiate for brainless, collective, hedonism". It seems likely, and it must be both artistically and commercially sensible for the new, young musicians of Fat-Suit to want to play music that appeals to their contemporaries; less youthful jazzers will find the music somewhat different to what they are used to, but evolution in Jazz, like everything else is inevitable.
The album consists of ten tracks with some rather obscure titles starting with Colours Burst Behind Closed Eyes; this title may be a line from a poem about love by Avery Robertson called Born at Last. The music starts with strings playing a repeated motif with all the other instruments gradually becoming involved, reaching a crescendo and then fading away again - this is very much an introduction to the album. The title of the second track is Mr Hinomaru, which is a name given to the national flag of Japan. The music starts with heartbeat-like gentle thudding before string plucking gives it a typical Japanese feel - presumably Izzie Pendlebury's clarsach taking the place of the traditional Japanese koto - before the horns arrive with a lovely, upbeat melody which then gives way to marimba and a swooping, soaring violin solo. This piece really demonstrates the multi-layered richness of sound achievable with a beautiful arrangement and large ensemble.
The next track, Sparks, begins conventionally with percussion, guitar and horns and then, taking a cue from the title, electronic effects are used to explore various interesting avenues employing different instruments. Muscle In My Link features keyboard solos and conversations with big band style backing. Track 5, For The Wicked is also the name of a Romanian Nu-Metal band - lots of black clothes and tatoos in the style of Black Sabbath. The Fat Suit track certainly includes some great electric guitar and the finale shows they can rock with the best of them. Twister Clouds is a contrapuntal piece with some lovely piano and saxophone melodies played simultaneously over familiar sounding arrangements of Joe Zawinul's composition Birdland performed originally by jazz fusion band Weather Report.
In contrast Cowfords is Scottish folk music at its most sublime and highlights the exquisite violin playing of Mhairi Marwick who hails from Fochaber where Cowfords is situated. Messiah Complex, the title of the next track, suggests delusions of grandeur and is a brisk, rhythmic piece showcasing sections of the band and with several short solos giving individuals their moment of glory. Track 9 is called Septimus and begins with some tricky drumming but then settles into a lovely, swaying and brassy melody before highlighting a solo on electronic keyboard and the string section.
Click here for a live performance of Messiah Complex.
Track 10 has the most bizarre title, The Poor Brooks' Humble Fish Farm, and yet despite this inscrutability the music is a symphonic poem that provides both a memorable conclusion to the album and final example of the multi-layered, richness of sound which comes from such a large ensemble.
This album is full of wonderful, intelligent music, composed and played by some of the best young musicians in Scotland, it is varied in style containing folk and rock as well as some very good jazz music. The Fat-Suit collective has up to 26 musicians and an ensemble of this size, when well-drilled as they are and playing great arrangements, produces a huge, exciting sound that well justifies Atlas as a name for the album. For those of us who do not live close to Glasgow it may be a long time before we can experience a live performance from Fat-Suit but in the meantime Atlas provides an excellent alternative.
Click here for an introductory video.
JAZZ FANS BEWARE
... and read what your filthy habit can lead to!! Mike Rose at the National Jazz Archive shares this warning .....
Ollie Dowling of Quality Music in Dublin has been championing guitarist Louis Stewart for a long time. It was only a matter of months ago that Ollie was publicising Louis' regular gigs at J J Smyth's Dublin venue in Aungier Street and then when Louis became ill, keeping me updated about his progress. Sadly, Louis didn't pull through and passed through the Departure Lounge on 20th August. Since then, many people have paid tribute to his contribution to jazz.
Click here for a video of Louis Stewart playing at J J Smyth's in Dublin with the Phil Ware Trio.
Louis Stewart was born in Waterford and started out professionally in playing with Dublin showbands. (Readers might recall John Doyle's recent article about the distinctive nature of Irish Showbands - click here). When Louis played at the Montreaux Jazz Festival with pianist Jim Doherty in 1968, he received the award for 'Outstanding European Soloist' and was offered a scholarship to attend Berklee College Of Music. Instead he joined Benny Goodman's band in 1970.
Click here for a video of Louis with Benny Goodman playing Rose Room and Honeysuckle Rose. Billy Higgins is the pianist.
Louis began recording with his own band in 1976. Louis the First's sidemen included Billy Higgins, Peter Ind, Red Mitchell, Sam Jones and Spike Robinson. Later he began touring with George Shearing and eight albums followed often with bassist Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen. The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Stewart seems to have his musical roots in be-bop. He leans toward material associated with Charlie Parker and he spins out single-note lines that flow with an unhurried grace, colored by sudden bright, lively chorded phrases. His up-tempo virtuosity is balanced by a laid-back approach to ballads, which catches the mood of the piece without sacrificing the rhythmic emphasis that keeps it moving."
Peter Ind, Mundell Lowe and Louis Stewart in 1993
Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz
Click here for a video of Louis and Jim Doherty playing Charlie Parker's Donna Lee.
A blog on Jazz Guitar Online says: My favourite session he is on is playing live with the Tubby Hayes Quartet in 1969 on a BBC radio jazz programme - I'm not sure if this session ever got an official release but there are bootlegs of it floating around.
"His major recognition came on the BBC Jazz Club shows of December 18th 1968 and April 9th 1969.The first was the radio "debut" of Tubby's new quartet with Louis Stewart, Ron Mathewson and Spike Wells, and on the programme they appeared opposite the Joe Harriott quintet comprising Joe, Kenny Wheeler, Pat Smythe, Ron Mathewson (again!) and Bill Eyden, who played a wonderfully mixed repertoire by Kenny Wheeler, Ornette Coleman, Horace Silver and Joe himself.
Tubby had formed the quartet with Louis in late summer 1968, after the famous "Mexican Green" line-up of Mike Pyne, Ron Mathewson and Tony Levin had disintegrated following Tubby's drug-related period of seclusion. In fact, hearing that Hayes was looking for a guitarist, Stewart, who'd barely been in London a few weeks, decided to introduce himself to Tubby; "It was all very casual at first" he told writer Tony Wilson shortly afterwards, Tubby said it was the kind of thing he was looking for. Initially we rehearsed a lot. some of Tubby's compositions are quite unusual...there are some fast tempos that I haven't experienced. If Tubby wants to keep me, I'll be happy".
Tubby was indeed very satisfied with Stewart, as he wrote later that year;"he handles the difficult 'comping' role unobtrusively and with taste in the absence of a piano in the quartet. In this role he follows Terry Shannon, Gordon Beck and Mike Pyne, and when I say I do not miss the piano, it is meant as the highest compliment".
Click here for a video of Tubby Hayes Big Band playing at Ronnie Scott's club in 1970. We think that's Louis Stewart taking a solo starting at about 4.58.
Louis Stewart in 2014
Photograph courtesy of Ollie Dowling
Louis Stewart composed a number of pieces based on the work of James Joyce, several of which appeared on the albums Milesian Source and Joycenotes. 'A brilliant sound allied to a crystal-clear tone has helped to make Stewart one of the outstanding guitarists in jazz. A virtuoso technique allows him to realize fully his endless inventiveness.'
Click here for a video of The Ballad from Joycenotes.
But Louis' home town was Dublin. He was recognised in 1998 with an honorary doctorate from the city's university and in 2009 he was elected to Aosdána, an Irish co-operative of artists engaged in literature, music and visual arts. Aosdána was established by the Irish Arts Council in 1981 to honour those whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland.
Click here for a video of Louis Stewart playing Fascinating Rhythm with Stephane Grapelli at Belfast Grand Opera House in 1986.
Click here for more videos of Louis.
'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'.
Two Ears Three Eyes
Smitty's Big Four
Brian O'Connor took his camera to Watermill Jazz Club in Dorking, Surrey where he took these pictures of Smitty's Big Four.
Brian says: 'Smitty's Big Four is a smaller version of the Kansas Smitty’s House Band that has a residency at their own Hackney London bar of the same name, 'Kansas Smitty's'. They are: Pete Horsfall (trumpet and vocals),
Giacomo Smith (clarinet),
Dave Archer (guitar) and
Ferg Ireland (bass).
'The band was founded by Giacomo Smith. Smith was born in Italy, grew up in New York, and is now resident in London They concentrate on the music of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Django Reinhardt. All four musicians were new to me, and I was pleasantly surprised at the mainly swinging music that unfolded.'
Writing in The Evening Standard newspaper, David Ellis has said: 'Jazz doesn't have to be niche: Kansas Smitty's is starting a new trend and cracking the genre open to a new, young audience. This bar is about turning jazz's exclusive and snobby reputation on its head, with the band clubhouse bringing original swing music, real people and great cocktails to East London. Some bars are about the drinks and some are about the experience. Smitty's is the latter - and wow, it's one hell of an experience. Wednesdays are a ticketed music night where the house band light up their instruments and burn the house down. Forget what you think you know about jazz: trumpeter Pete Horsfall and clarinet player Giacomo Smith lead their band with a rattling, crackling energy that had the young crowd howling and stomping their feet with sheer joy. The best reason to drink is make a happy moment happier: this underground jazz cave will put you in a terrific mood to start with, so sit back, take a sip of your julep and take off.'
Click here for a video of the full band playing Carolina Shout.
Brian continues: 'Pete Horsfall is not only proficient on trumpet but has entirely the correct voice for performing vocals of the era. Typical fayre consisted of ‘A Kiss To Build A Dream On’, What A Little Moonlight Can Do’, ‘Whisky Rag’, and ‘Kansas City Jazz’. 'An original, based on a video of Barry Harris playing Embraceable You and called Paradise was very effective. A very swinging and enjoyable couple of hours,' says Brian.
Click here for a video of Pete Horsfall singing and playing trumpet on How Can We Know?
Click here for a video of Smitty's Big Four playing Maple Leaf Rag.
Click here for a video of the full band playing The Black Paddy at the club in a video that captures the atmosphere and music.
Kansas Smitty's House Band released an MP3 album in October 2015 (click here for details and to sample) but you can watch a video trailer if you click here.
As well as their regular gigs at Kansas Smitty's bar, the band will be playing at King's Place, London on 9th September and on the 19th November as part of the London Jazz Festival.
All pictures © Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz
Ian Simms says: 'Here's an interesting snippet about Banjo George: he went off to Russia "just to have a look at it" (his words) and came back with a pretty little folk tune. Kenny Ball heard it, George said he could have it if he liked, and Kenny turned it into a No. 1 hit with Midnight In Moscow!'
Click here for more about Banjo George on our 'Banjo Jazz' page.
Peter Maguire has seen our page on 'All Nighters' (click here) and says:
Just looking through the page - to see information about the Dave
Burnham Band in Poland,
when I saw the Albert Hall All Nighter item:
At that time I was in the RAF stationed at RAF Tangmere. A
conventional and model citizen - latterly. Just a few months
before the Albert Hall event I had been taken by a friend called Peter
Nickolson to a jazz party at the Guildford School of Art and Design.
It transformed my life. Out went the blazer and tie. The grey
flannels. Shined shoes. In came a parody of the beat profile.
Epiphany that eventually found me playing around Soho clubs and
coffee bars and wearing more authentic beatnik gear.
But to recap. With a couple of friends I went to the Albert Hall All
Nighter and what a fantastic night it was. Non-stop music featuring
the better and lesser known bands of that era. The floor was heaving
with jivers. One thing I do remember was the multiplicity of curtain
drawn boxes. Who knows what was happening behind those curtains. The
entire event had an exhilarating feeling of almost total anarchy. It
was an experience that in some ways shaped my future life. Certainly
my ambition to become a jazz musician.
(Peter Maguire runs the website Jazz Clubs Worldwide)
Laura and Dexter Gordon
Thorbjørn Sjøgren writes from Denmark about last Month's Track Unwrapped, Laura, (click here):
As for the fine page on Laura, I can tell you that the Dexter Gordon version was recorded in Copenhagen on February 27th, 1978. On that occasion Dexter also played Fried Bananas (quartet) and The Jumpin’ Blues (with the Danish Radio Big band, conducted by Thad Jones). Actually you can spot Jones in the background (extreme right) at around 4:45. By the way, this was done on Dexter’s 55th birthday, and the big band start out by playing Happy Birthday (not sure whether this was included in the broadcast).
RAF Sundern Cellar Jazz Club 1958
Brian Stanley writes: RAF Sundern (bei Gutersloh). It was1958. We were allocated a cellar to start a jazz club on camp. I was one of the organisers and assisted in painting it out. No alcohol but we provided refreshments.
We had some useful musicians on camp but no clarinet until, after Christmas, a young lad came back with one he'd received as a present. He could just about get a squeak out of it but they made him stand up there poor chap just squeaking away and more or less unnoticed by the girls we bussed up from Gutersloh. They were intent on having a good time and seemed happy with our band.
I took the picture of the Cellar Jazz Club at the time. It wasn't until I was demobbed, March 1959, that I bought my clarinet in Shaftesbury Avenue, but too late. I missed my chance there.
Last month we started to put together a Profile of Eric Silk (click here); Roy Headland had written to ask if we could find out more about Eric and his Southern Serenaders.
Alan Bond writes: 'I have just come across the piece about Eric Silk and I can tell your correspondent that virtually all of The Southern Jazz Band's recorded output is available on Lake Records CDs (click here). There is some tremendous musicianship in what was always a tight little band. Their regular venue was the Red Lion at Leytonstone and it was two trolleybuses and a tube ride for us to get there but, oh boy, it was worth it. I can categorically state that the band was NOT in the Ken Colyer mould as Eric was very much like Steve Lane in his appreciation of 'classic' jazz rather than the revivalist New Orleans style. The outstanding sidemen in the band were Dennis Field, Alan Littlejohn(s) and Harry Lock but in later days Dennis Field had the trumpet chair all to himself. Among the other members of the band down the years were Teddy Layton, Ken Shepherd, Don Simmons, Pete Tamplin and Jack Gilbert.'
Please contact us if you can add more.
Eddie Sammons in Spain writes following David Van De Gevel's enquiry about Marion Williams:
Marion was indeed a very beautiful woman with a great voice. She sang with a variety of bands including Vic Lewis and Oscar Rabin. I know of her when she was with the Eric Delaney Band and also with his small group which he started in 1959. I spoke to her some years ago when I was compiling the book The Magnificent Eric Delaney (still available - click here). I remember Sheila Southern telling me that she had to take over from Marion in the Delaney Band and said “She (Marion) was wonderful!” and a very tough act to follow! Marion was briefly married to Derrick Francis (male singer with Delaney in the mid-1950s). They had a son, Paul, who is, I believe, a musician.
Marion made at least one record with Vic Lewis and may have recorded with Dankworth. She never recorded with the Delaney Band which is a great shame and I think that may have been for contractual reasons or simply that Eric did not let any of his singers perform on his recording with the only exception being Gene Williams. Luckily, when sorting through Eric’s bits and pieces, I found a number of tapes of his band and Marion is featured on some of the broadcasts. All have been transferred to CDs for my private pleasure.
When a local radio station here in Spain – TRE – did an hour tribute to the late Sir George Shearing, I was able to send a copy of Marion singing Lullaby of Birdland for inclusion. Apart from the obvious, it was relevant as the Delaney Band accompanied Marion. Eric and George were lifelong friends since they played together in the Ambrose Octet (1940/41).
Marion recorded Somebody Bad Stole De Wedding Bell for Columbia. She appears on a 1961 set with a group featuring Brian Auger (he of Trinity fame with Julie Driscoll). She sings East Of The Sun and the Sarah Vaughan influence shows (they were apparently good friends). Brian, who now lives in America, included the session on a double CD he issued. He generously sent me a copy. He describes Marion as being of the cool school of jazz noting that she was a frequent broadcaster and regularly appeared at Ronnie Scott’s.
Marion made at least one single for Decca (The Lonely One/I’ve Fallen Out Of Love) issued in 1962. Marion also cut a number of tracks for Woolworth’s Embassy label which did budget-priced cover versions of mainly, but not exclusively, pop music. The tracks I have traced and have are: Little Miss Lonely, Vacation, The Locomotion, Let’s Talk About Love and Opposites. I have heard that she made some discs for the Warner label but I have not been able to trace them. So my last disc date I have for her is a DeWolf LP Marion Williams Sings, Johnny Hawksworth Plays
It features seven compositions by the former Ted Heath bass player which he plays with a small group; Marion sings the vocal versions of the same tunes.
We have now opened a Profile page for Marion Williams (click here) please contact us if you are able to add to it.
'Chinese' Jazz Clubs and Uncle Manzi
Ralph Mayles writes: 'I was perusing your site today and saw an item about uncle Bonny Manzi (click here) and see you were looking for information about him. I didn't know him personally but I was a Mod in the mid '60s in Bristol and used to go to the Corn Exchange and Uncle Bonny did have a Tuesday Chinese Jazz Club Night there, although the music was mainly rhythm and blues. He brought bands like The (English) Birds (Ronnie Wood on guitar); The Steam Packet (Long John Baldry / Rod Stewart / Brian Auger etc.); Cream; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; / Graham Bond Organisation; Bo Diddley - to name a few. It was the place for up and coming underground R 'n' B artists and was my main hangout '65 till '67 ish. Wednesday was more Pop and I think was run by a guy called Freddy Bannister who did the West of England Rhythm & Blues Festival with Led Zeppelin etc., I believe, and then Knebworth. On Wednesday nights I did see The Byrds; The Walker Brothers; The Beach Boys; Kinks; Small Faces; The Hollies and lots of other bands that had hits in the charts at the time. Friday and Saturday were Records Nights
I didn't know Uncle Bonny's surname was Manzi until I started looking for information about him a few years ago ...
a guy called Lou Manzi is well known in the south for running Clubs although I'm not sure if they are related, but I would assume that with an unusual surname like that they probably were / are ....
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Tina May and Enrico Pieranunzi Hit The Road
Singer Tina May, and Italy’s outstanding, internationally acclaimed pianist Enrico Pieranunzi bring their 2015 recording, Home is Where the Heart Is, to the stage during September and October in a belated album launch tour that includes concerts in Edinburgh, Stirling, Southport, Luton, Leeds, and Liverpool. Since recording the album, which also includes contributions from saxophonist Tony Coe, May and Pieranunzi have been travelling separately almost constantly. May has made repeated journeys to the Far East and France and Pieranunzi has played gigs in New York and at the recent International Piano Trio Festival at Ronnie Scott’s. So finding a mutually suitable period to tour proved a problem.
“It’s really just the way things are as a freelance musician,” says May. “You take every gig that comes your way, assuming a gap will appear, and before you know it, the calendar’s moved on. We meant to go out and promote the album at the time of its release but eventually we just had to set aside a couple weeks in late September and early October and go out and do some concerts together.”
Released on 33 Records, the album continues May’s career as a lyricist as well as a singer. Having added words to jazz compositions by Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Bobby Watson in the mid-1990s, she teamed up with the great pianist Ray Bryant – accompanist to Carmen McRae and Betty Carter as well as sideman to Lester Young and Miles Davis – on The Ray Bryant Songbook, recorded at the legendary Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs in 2002.
On meeting Pieranunzi, she and the pianist struck up an immediate rapport and five of the nine tracks on Home is Where the Heart Is are collaborative efforts.
As at home playing the works of Rossini as he is Sonny Rollins, Pieranunzi has vast experience as an accompanist, and for a spell in the 1980s he worked with Chet Baker, the subject of the recent film Born to be Blue. He is also a recipient of France’s coveted Django d’Or award and a prolific composer.
“I love working with Enrico as a singer and as a songwriter,” says May. “He writes beautiful melodies that can immediately suggest ideas for lyrics and he seems to know intuitively where to be exactly at any one time in a song. I’m looking forward to the tour because we always have a great time together.”
Click here to sample the album Home Is Where The Heart Is.
Tue Sep 27: Langholm, Buccleuch Centre
Wed Sep 28: Findhorn, Universal Hall
Thu Sep 29: Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall
Fri Sep 30: Stirling, Tolbooth
Sun Oct 2: Southport, Clifton Hotel
Wed Oct 5: Luton, The Bear Club
Thu Oct 6: Leeds, Seven Arts
Fri Oct 7: Liverpool, Capstone Theatre
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:
Peter Webb - Peter's wife has informed us that Peter passed through the Departure Lounge in May. Peter was a clarinettist and a founder member of the Canal Street Jazz Band that played in the Kingston area of Surrey. He wrote to us in response to Ron Drakeford's page on 'Kingston Jazz' (click here).
Peter Webb circa 1958
Chris Haskins - Pianist Jamie Evans says: 'I played with Chris in the bands of Bill Nile, Lennie Hastings and Colin Symons in the 60s and 70s but hadn’t seen him in decades'. Bass player Chris Haskins was brought up in Bath and initially played in local bands. He moved to London in the 1960s where he played with Bill Nile's Delta Jazz Band playing regularly at the 100 Club, Studio 51 and many other popular venues. In 1970 Chris and his family moved to Sussex where he joined cornettist Rod Mason's band that also included reeds player Ian Wheeler. Although the band was based in Plymouth, they toured the UK and Europe regularly. In 1982, Chris moved to Germany where he played with The Piccadilly Six band. Click here for a video of the Piccadilly Six playing Tailgate Ramble in 2014.
Pete Fountain - New Orleans clarinettist Pete Fountain was born Pierre Dewey LaFontaine. As a child he suffered from weak lungs and he was advised to learn a wind instrument to strengthen them. At nine he took up the clarinet and by his mid-teens, was playing with bands along Bourbon Street. By the age of 20 he was already established and by 25 he had his own band, Pete Fountain and his Three Coins. Discovered by television he moved to Chicago and then Los Angeles but always missed New Orleans and eventually moved back, acquired a Bourbon Street saloon, the French Quarter Inn, where he played with his Three Coins, and set up a parade band, the Half-Fast Walking Club Band. His home was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and his health declined. Nevertheless he continued to play for a few more years before he retired. Click here for a video of Pete Fountain playing Tiger Rag in 1958.
Bobby Hutcherson - American vibraphonist born in Los Angeles but raised in Padadena, who in the 1960s adapted his instrument to a freer postbop language, often playing chords with a pair of mallets in each hand. He had initially learned piano until he heard Milt Jackson and acquired a vibraphone. In 1962 he came to New York and joined a band led by tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell and trombonist Al Grey. The band did not last long but Bobby stayed in New York where he was featured on Jackie McLean's album One Step Beyond. Moire than 40 albums followed with many notable musicians including Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy. Click here for the Bobby Hutcherson Quartet playing Jitterbug Waltz.
Ruby Wilson - American blues, soul and gospel singer known as the Queen of Beale Street. Born in Texas, she grew up singing in her church choir and moved to Memphis in 1972 where she became a fixture at Beale Street nightclubs, including Mr. King’s blues club, where she had a regular weekly performance. She recorded 10 albums, sang with musicians such as Isaac Hayes and B.B. King, toured Eaurope and Asia and appeared in films including Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune (1999), which opens in a blues club where Ms. Wilson is singing. Click here for a video of Ruby Wilson singing Let The Good Times Roll.
Toots Thielemans - Belgian legendary jazz harmonica player born Jean Baptiste Thielemans. He recorded with some of the most famous – and technically demanding – jazz musicians, including Jaco Pastorius, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Fred Hersch, Quincy Jones and Pat Metheny as well as many pop recording artists. His harmonica is featured on the soundtrack to the film Midnight Cowboy. He retired in 2014 due to ill health. Click here for more about Toots on our Harmonica Jazz page. Click here for a video of Toots Thielmans playing Bluesette in 2009.
Connie Crothers - American pianist and composer mentored by Lennie Tristano. Her playing encompassed 'free jazz' although she avoided labelling her music. She recorded a duo album, Swish, in 1982 with Max Roach and together they founded New Artists Records that continues to operate today. Click here for a video of Connie Crothers playing Come Rain Or Come Shine.
Rudy Van Gelder - American audio engineer born in Jersey City. He played trumpet, but not professionally, and it was not until 1959 that he became a full-time recording engineer. By then he had recorded Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He engineered many classic jazz recordings including John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Miles Davis’s “Walkin’,” Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” Sonny Rollins’s “Saxophone Colossus” and Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father.” He worked with the Blue Note, Prestige and CTI labels and received several awards recognising his contribution to jazz. Rudy passed through the Departure Lounge on 25th August.
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: 1st July 2016 - Label: Efpi Records
Johnny Hunter Quartet
While We Still Can
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Johnny Hunter (drums), Ben Watte (tenor saxophone), Graham South(trumpet) Stewart Wilson (double bass).
There are some great new drummers based in the UK who are currently out (and on) the traps and scoring highly in my little notebook; Johnny Hunter is among the frontrunners.
What’s New Editor, Ian Maund first put me on to Mr Hunter about a year ago when he gave me a ‘blind ear test’ listening to the Quartet’s first album Appropriations whilst we sipped Earl Grey tea in his living room. A couple of months later I caught Johnny Hunter playing in Nat Birchall’s band on their Invocations session. This year Ian sent me Cath Roberts’ Sloth Racket disk Triptych, with Mr Hunter in the drum chair (reviewed in April 2016). You know, Triptych is an album big on improv. Like all good music it demands as much from the listener as it does the ensemble. Pin the ears back, you’ll be rewarded with peach playing. Johnny Hunter’s drumming puts form into the frame when just about everyone else in The Sloth is stretching out to the maximum.
Hunter’s own Quartet is a very different equation. Like Kris Allen’s band that I reviewed last month, this is a smart quartet that is not using piano or guitar; there are no chords. Johnny Hunter has composed all the music and there is nearly as much scored material as improvisation. But the lack of piano releases the harmony-melody line coming off the two horns, and the double bass underneath is periodically surfacing and diving to the bottom, whale-deep. And the gorgeous solos. Of course, those simpatico solos I’ll get onto them. You see, let’s talk drums.
I am coming to regard Johnny Hunter as serious crème de la crème and it is not just about his playing, though he is a hell of a technician. His whole approach to the role of the drummer is a dynamic one, he arranges any band he is in through his drum kit. He’s such an articulate percussionist, even on a track like Misty’s Tail, which features a fabulously rounded, slowly-extending trumpet solo from Graham South. The way into the horn is the seductively restrained, slightly laid-back flop of Hunter’s sticks prodding at the imaginations of his compatriots like an orchestral conductor. Even when the focus is off him, and for sure both South and Ben Watte on tenor sax have some very fine moments on this session, you can’t help but be aware of The Drummer-Hunter. And it’s not about him battering his kit for attention, it’s just that he is a class act who is influencing the angles of a performance.
The version of Clockwork-Shy on the new album is considerably different to the live cut on YouTube (click here). It was recorded three months after the filmed gig and the album track has a lean spacey introductory drum solo not present on the live session. Even this solo is not an ego thing, the guy is playing music on a drum kit. He’s actually setting-up a scene for Graham South, Ben Watte and Stewart Wilson to inhabit. Anyone watching the YouTube clip can visually grasp his way of working by literally seeing his whole approach to accompaniment: through his body-mass, the flick of the sticks on the snare, the bass drum’s muted thud like a full-stop.
At the moment my favourite twelve minutes on the While We Still Can session are track 2 / track 3, Bass intro to..., Ayça. The first three minutes are given over to a pensive double bass solo reminiscent of the legendary Charlie Haden. Never mind that I allude to one of the great innovators of the instrument, Stewart Wilson signs his own signature. When the whole band break cover into the startling performance that is Ayça, it feels as if everyone involved is squeezing the muse for most of the moisture in the particles. There are several terrific time changes, emphasised and displaced. Both horns carry their own very different stories; South’s trumpet is an unfolding airborn sonnet and Watte’s tenor comes hewed from a rougher place, a spitting taut tone carrying a fully realised release of enquiry.
Click here for the Quartet playing Ayça live.
Most of the music on While We Still Can is immediate – the opening Overture and the (almost) title track, While You Still Can, are foxy, almost classic arrangements with their own singular twists – though While You has an outstanding breathy bellow of a solo from Watte with Hunter putting down a big ‘four’ behind him. On the other hand the two final tracks signal that Johnny Hunter is still after the narrative of things. Sum Dim is not recognisably Japanese but it is a taster menu of curiosity. Graham South is asked to expand his breath control to the very brink of the possible. There are some amazing small-ensemble leaps, dark drones, short snappy funky interludes which are then defused and then re-energised. This is what I want from 2016 musicians, the willingness to create new sound textures and make them mean something.
It is worth saying that Alex Bonney did the mixing on this session. I’ve come across him a few times now – he did an incredible job on Zhenya Strigalev’s Never Group album which we reviewed in April and on the Sloth Racket session referred to earlier. The Johnny Hunter Quartet recorded their album “in an afternoon” at Greenhouse Studios, Stockport. I like that attitude in musicians, to simply go in, take off your coat, know what you have to do and just get on with it. But the mixing, even for a so say, simple quartet, may take slightly longer. It is about separation, warmth, tone, detail and diligence. Bonny is good, if you want specific proof try the track Reprise.
Perhaps the most cerebral track has to come at the end. It is not always the case, yet it must be so. Reprise is a dry night; it opens at the pace of darkness with the odd squeal coming off the horns and the bass creaking like a door without oil. The melody line is bowed by Mr South, he’s way down the line like a lost soul that has nowhere to inhabit except the earth that runs through a man’s fingers. It is all over in under four minutes, it does not take that long to lose a sense of the here and now. I would like to say thank you to the Johnny Hunter Quartet for finishing an excellent recording in this manner of passing. There’s no flamboyance, just the short journey to the edge. While We Still Can should be heard While You Still Can.
Click here for details and to sample.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 19th August 2016 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings
Euan Stevenson and Konrad Wiszniewski
New Focus On Song
Robin Kidson reviews this album for us:
The pairing of jazz musicians with string groups or orchestras has had a chequered history. Bird just about carried it off with his Charlie Parker with Strings project, but other musicians have often struggled to achieve a successful integration. In 1961, Stan Getz had a go. The result was the album, Focus, a critical and artistic triumph which has been a benchmark for jazz-strings combos ever since.
Focus has been the inspiration for two Scottish musicians, Euan Stevenson and Konrad Wiszniewski, who have come together in a collaboration which they call New Focus. They produced a well-received album of that name on the Whirlwind Recordings label in 2012. And now comes a follow up album, New Focus On Song. Stevenson plays piano on the album and has composed all but three of the 13 tracks. The remaining tracks are by Wiszniewski who also plays tenor and soprano sax as well as clarinet and whistle. Andrew Robb on bass and Alyn Cosker on drums make up the jazz quartet at the heart of the album. The strings are provided by the Glasgow String Quartet (William Chandler and Lorna Rough on violins, Ian Budd on viola and Betsy Taylor on cello). Nicola Wiszniewska (flute) and Alina Bzhezhinska (harp) also feature on a number of tracks.
The original Focus album was a very American work. Stevenson and Wiszniewski may have used it as an initial model for New Focus but are no Getz clones and have moved the concept on by taking on board a number of other, more European influences including folk music, and classical composers such as Vaughan Williams, Debussy and Ravel. The result feels very British – or, on some of the more folky tracks, Scottish.
The track most clearly influenced by Focus is the Wiszniewski composition, Little Allegory (track 5). This has the spikiness and complexity of some of the original Focus tracks with the strings closely integrated into the whole, and some interesting shifts in mood and tempo. Saxophone playing has moved on since the days of Stan Getz and Wiszniewski’s superb playing on the track shows he has absorbed Coltrane et al as well as adding something of his own style.
The Stevenson composition Corea Change (track 7) also has Focus elements with again, some frenetic work by the strings but the string quartet soon drops away and we are left with great jazz quartet playing with Stevenson, Wiszniewski, Robb and Cosker really stretching out and showing what they can do. Much the same happens on Stevenson’s Fourths Ostinato (track 10): initial spiky string playing followed by the jazz quartet on its own playing straight ahead jazz with the added bonus of a nice drum solo from Alyn Cosker. There is also some straight jazz to be heard on the Wiszniewski composition, Destination Unknown (track 3) where the strings are dispensed with altogether and the jazz quartet again take over.
Both Stevenson and Wiszniewski can write a good tune and there are a number of tracks which masterfully integrate folk, jazz and, yes, pop elements into some memorable and eminently accessible music. On Sophia’s Song, for example, (track 4), Wiszniewski has written a haunting folk tune which hooks into the brain like a pop song. Wiszniewski plays both Low D Whistle and sax and the whole is driven along by an insistent rhythm superbly fashioned by Robb and Cosker.
Click here to listen to Sophia's Song.
Air in D Minor (track 1) and Green Park (track 2) shows that Stevenson can also write this sort of high quality folk/pop with memorable hooks. Green Park, in particular, would make a good television theme tune – Country File or Gardeners World, perhaps? Flora (track 12), again by Stevenson, is another piece which falls into this folk/pop category with another great tune and an attractive gentle jazz swing.
Click here to listen to Green Park.
Stevenson is a versatile composer seemingly at home in a number of genres. On both Braeside (track 6) and Ascension (track 8), he moves into classical music mode. Both pieces begin with the creation of Debussy-type impressionistic moods beautifully played by the strings. Gradually, Stevenson injects a jazz feel into the music slightly reminiscent of Gershwin. The pieces could almost be the background music to Hollywood films of the thirties or forties – Debussy meets Gershwin meets MGM.
Finally, two of the tracks, Piano Interlude (track 9) and Epilogue (track 13)) are short improvised pieces for solo piano, classically influenced but with a nice jazz tinge.
In New Focus on Song, then, Stevenson and Wiszniewski have created a wholly convincing synthesis of musical styles which integrate not only strings but other instruments into an absorbing whole. There is plenty of innovation and imagination on display here but the music is also completely accessible. Like much European jazz being produced these days, it manages to transcend old and increasingly outmoded musical categories whilst still staying true to some basic jazz roots.
Stevenson and Wiszniewski are currently on tour – go to the New Focus website for dates (and also further details of the project) at: http://new-focus.org/
Click here for details and to sample.
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Album Released: 15th July 2016 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings
Tori Freestone Trio
Tori Freestone (saxophone), Dave Manington (bass), Tim Giles (drums).
It's good to have Tori Freestone's Trio back with another recording. It was in 2014 that they released In The Chop House and Tori subsequently wrote about the title track and My Lagan Love for our in depth 'Full Focus' series (click here). This is the same trio and they know each others' work well; the early days of meeting in the Chophouse are behind them.
It was time for another album. Tori says: 'Whenever we go back into the studio, its so great to have a couple of days enjoying making music together. The more we tour in the UK and internationally the more the new ideas start to flow and develop, taking us up onto another level to where we can't wait to put this down on a new album.' The inspiration for the title is Tori's fondness for El Barranco de Masca in Tenerife with its beautiful, moutainous terrain and it's Tori's own artwork of that place that is found on the sleeve illustration. The recording has improvisations that are often first takes, and two of the nine tracks, The Press Gang and Identity Protection were commissioned for the EFG London Jazz Festival.
The album opens with Dave Manington's dancing bass introducing El Barranco and then Tori Freestone's relaxed tenor lyrically exploring the landscape. From the beginning you can tell that the players are comfortable, working off each other's ideas; saxophone and bass conversing and the drums pitched at the right level. The two commissioned pieces follow. The Press Gang opens with a folk-flavoured soulful saxophone against a rumble of drums and bass and the bass in turn picks up the piece for a while with the saxophone commenting behind. Identity Protection is a far more spritely folk-based outing led by the saxophone and then slowing into something more dreamy and the bass and drums come to the front but never drowning the saxophone which goes out working its way into a repeated phrase.
Click here to listen to El Barranco.
All Or Nothing At All is of course that well-known standard with its theme stated by saxophone and bass. I sometimes quote trumpeter Gerry Salisbury who said that he likes to hear a standard and to see what a musician does with it. Tori Freestone and Dave Manington make their improvisations on the tune with changes in tempo and tempos referencing back to the theme from time to time. Challenger Deep is one of two Dave Manington compositions and opens with what is described as a 'thrummed '60s soul bass riff' that underwrites the slow, soulful, 'deep' lead from the saxophone. Quetzalcoatlus is the second composition by the bassist. The title apparently refers to 'the largest prehistoric flying animal that ever lived' and indeed it flies off albeit lighter than you might expect of such a large creature. The bass solo flies nicely too.
A Charmed Life at track 7 opens with a gentle bass solo and then the saxophone echoes the theme from the bass with another wistful solo that becomes more complex as the piece progresses showing how well the saxophonist can use her instrument and imagination in improvisation. The penultimate track is Cross Wired. From its repeated opening phrase it tumbles forward with what is aptly described as having 'changing rhythms and moods'. The album closes with a reprise of The Press Gang which this time goes back to its traditional folk roots with Tori on violin and vocals.
I have scarcely mentioned drummer Tim Giles in this review and that is an omission. His playing is well-balanced and empathetic and although this is Tori Freestone's Trio, the three members each contribute to what is another interesting, varied and enjoyable recording.
Click here for details and to sample the album. Click here for Tori Freestone's website.
Over the coming months the Trio will be playing at:
4th September - Milestones Jazz Club, Lowestoft
8th September - The Vortex, London
27th September - Ashburton Live
28th September - Dempseys, Cardiff
7th October - The BeBop Club, Bristol
9th October - Marsden Jazz Festival, Huddersfield
3rd November - Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
31st January - Oxford Jazz Society, The Mad Hatter
5th February - Colchester Arts Centre
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Album Released: 6th May 2016 - Label: Nonesuch
Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
Cameron Skerrow reviews this album for us:
Vietnamese-American trumpeter Cuong Vu has been an associate of legendary guitarist Pat Metheny for some time now, first joining his critically acclaimed Group for 2003’s Speaking Of Now, and last appearing on 2007’s epic suite The Way Up. Vu himself claims that it was exposure to Metheny’s earlier 1983 live recording Travels that initially inspired him to be a musician, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the two ended up working together outside of their usual setting.
Yet the trumpeter’s latest offering, the aptly-named Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny, is something of a departure from the recognisable melodies and harmonies one might associate with Metheny’s Group. Here, Vu displays a much more enigmatic side to his playing, exploring his memorably quirky compositions with deft accompaniment from bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor, often venturing further out into more atonal and jarring soundscapes.
The album opens with Acid Kiss, a rock-infused theme that is gradually built up from nothing and which eventually evolves into an intense group improvisation. Metheny lends his support through use of multi-effects pedals, often imitating the extended techniques Vu uses to infuse his otherwise smooth and rounded tone with a degree of tension. The end of this track showcases the trio’s no-holds-barred attitude towards playing their music – Takeishi’s sound is often infused with distortion, and is commonly utilised in conjunction with Poor’s firey drumming to create a gripping, energetic texture. At first listen, one might be forgiven for thinking that this trio might belong more to the world of Nirvana than of a free improviser (had Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic studied jazz!).
Similar moments are found on the lengthy Tiny Little Pieces, which starts at a mellow, leisurely pace, before moving into a break-neck tempo over which Vu shines. Regular jazz fans will perhaps be drawn to the more bop-ish themes of Tune Blues and Not Crazy (Just Giddy Upping), the latter of which features Metheny adopting his trademark smooth guitar tone - it acts as an effective foil for Vu’s later more adventurous sonic explorations, using many of the aforementioned extended techniques, such as growling and squeaking. Both musicians remain sympathetic to one another throughout the album – where one will play with a mellower sound, one will do the opposite. In Metheny’s case, this includes using his fabled guitar-synth, by now a well-known tool in his arsenal.
It should be noted that whilst there is certainly no shortage of frenetic moments on this recording, the listener is also exposed to a number of quieter, calmer moments, which perhaps, because of their immediate surroundings, are particularly moving and beautiful. The track Let’s Get Back is one such example, evoking a strident ‘American folk’ feel, not entirely dissimilar to that often felt when listening to the distinctive themes of composers such as Aaron Copland. Along with Seeds Of Doubt, arguably the most restrained and ‘middle of the road’ piece, this composition provides an enjoyable refrain from the album’s other more hectic and demanding periods.
Click here to listen to Let's Get Back.
Overall this is an album definitely worth investigating, if nothing else to hear a fine trumpet player take charge in an unexpected setting. Metheny provides strong support as always – indeed, all of his usual trademark sounds are there, and the existing trio seem to reach incredible heights in through their unique interactions and improvisational flair.
Click here for details and to sample.
Click here for our profile of guitarist Cameron Skerrow
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Album Released: 17th June 2016 - Label: Discus
The Keith Tippett Octet
The Nine Dances Of Patrick O'Gonogon
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Keith Tippett (piano, composer), Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet, flugelhorn), Sam Mayne (alto and soprano saxophones, flute), James Gardiner-Bateman (alto saxophone), Kieran McLeod (trombone), Rob Harvey (trombone), Tom McCredie (double bass), Peter Fairclough (drums, percussion) with Julie Tippetts (voice on track 10).
Like Charles Mingus, one of his influences, Keith Tippett is now acknowledged as a superb world class improviser of spontaneous composition, yet both men were/are at their creative core, writers of scores and inspired arrangements which are pre-determined and worked on with the aid of pencil and paper. Just as Mingus’s greatest performances stem from what was initially written down, a case could easily be made that Mr Tippett’s written-through compositions like Septober Energy, Thoughts to Geoff, Tortworth Oak, A Loose Kite, Linückea and indeed his spell binding Dedicated To Mingus, are the classics on which he will be judged. Now add to this list - The Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon. What Mingus and Tippett share is the ability to write totally original material from their own marvellously leftfield perspectives, and then have the dots transformed by high wire performances using soloists and compatriots who understand the art of adventure.
I caught an early live ‘wily old fox’ performance of O’Gonogon a couple of years ago. Then, in the summer of 2015, I taped a Jez Nelson broadcast on to my hard-drive. The trouble with the latter version was that Mr Nelson was chatting away in-between the tracks. The guy is usually a good listen, but I needed to hear the music as a whole rather than broken up by a Jez-Jazz commentary. Patience is rewarded, here it is released on Martin Archer’s Discus label. The wait was worth it.
From the insistent opening, with its little nod to Yardbird tag, the collective reeds and brass are pushing and punching their way through the score and you know this 'in-memorial' to Keith Tippett’s family’s historical linage, with roots in rural Ireland, is not going to be bodhrans and fiddles. The Dance of The Return Of The Swallows sounds more like a bridge to Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. New York was built by Irish navvys and the air was sound-tracked by saxophones. In a real sense Tóibín and Tippett are both writing fiction factually.
Swallows is not Bop, instead it has all hallmarks of Tippett’s own musical history; tightly written and arranged, a massive SOUND and then the terrific drive-through throughout the whole ensemble which shouts and swings just like Duke Ellington said it should. By the time we reach Tom McCredie’s pithy loose twanging double bass break, part pause, part reflection we know we are into really good genuine stuff. McCredie’s interlude signals a boundary to be crossed and for a few more minutes there’s a tense huddle of activity among the band before they segue into track 2, The Dance of The Intangible Touching, one of those classic slow pieces which cradles a non-improvised solo from the leader and which seemingly floats off the fingers like a poem. I’ve played this part back several times recently. Throughout his career Mr Tippett has produced many such moments when he seems to hold the keyboard in a trance of melody. It doesn’t seem to matter to the listener whether he’s pre-written it, or simply found it in the moment of its making, either way he signs this music as his own. It’s a gift, and he does it here elegantly. Quite extraordinary.
The Dance of The Sheer Joy Of It All qualifies as a ‘folk’ dance, certainly in form, but James Gardiner-Bateman’s alto and Rob Harvey’s trombone don’t let in the céilidh band. Bateman’s solo break is decisive. He nails the speed and exuberance of the piece without turning it into pastiche. It’s an oh-so-clever interpolation on both the structure and idea of ‘dance’, he makes you want to whoop. In doing so he sets up Harvey’s bone to knock things about a bit and alter the shape of Sheer Joy. I first heard Gardiner-Bateman several years ago; he was sitting-in at a gig with Pee-Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley. He was decisive then too, socking it to the former JB Horns with a young man’s confidence, like he knew he could bring air and dynamics to the encounter. He did too and some! In the Tippett band he does a similar thing, opening up the whole theatre of the Octet.
Keith Tippett has always had an antenna toward alto sax players. The obvious great partnership was with the late Elton Dean, taken far too soon, yet a glorious investigator of the cutting edge. But there have been many other alto encounters like Dudu Pukwana and Trevor Watts, the Italian marvel Gianluigi Trovesi, and people closer to home like Kevin Figes and Aaron Standon. The alto saxophone is a very dextrous reed. Tippett’s affinity with the horn through his compositions and improv. enables players to spill out and find themselves in his music. What all these nine dances have is character. They offer themselves up as places where a musician can imprint their personality into the event without losing the essential Tippett signature. I suppose you could call it a sharing, he is in that sense a very generous writer.
Sam Mayne’s alto entry on The Dance of The Walk With The Sun On His Back is the kind of sax slow squeeze that tells a thousand stories. It comes off a luxurious written melody line that seems to make it easy for him. By the time they reach dance number nine, The Wily Old Fox of The Ballyhoura Mountains, we are utterly engaged with this man Tippett calls O’Gonogon. The tune is touch and go drama in the ensemble voicings set up by deep piano stabs, it culminates in Bateman’s alto and Fulvio Sigurta’s trumpet sparring for space. There really is a Wily Old Fox in this arrangement and he can out dance anyone who says otherwise.
The one sung song is The Dance of Her Returning a poignant coda featuring Julie Tippetts’ voice. It is taken from dance 8 in the series in which Sigurta’s flugelhorn is the only ‘singer’ gracing the melody. In the Tippett portfolio there is a little known composition entitled The Irish Girl’s Tear, which I haven’t heard performed for at least twenty-five years. I don’t know if it is called a lament, though that is how I hear this beautiful tender miniature which has no lyric as far as I know. Her Returning feels rather like a companion piece to The Irish Girl’s Tear. I think it is the mark of a great writer that he can, himself ‘return’ to his own past and produce a sequel (if that’s what it is) capable of taking us deeper into the entry point of who this imagined O’Gonogon character really is. Maybe it is yourself, sir. We will never really know.
One of the very best UK based jazz/music commentators is the writer Richard Williams - this is how he puts it: “There comes a point in the lives of certain great artists when they produce a work that summarises and builds on much of what has gone before in the course of a long and varied career. That’s how I felt when I first heard Keith Tippett’s Octet (play) The Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon...” Mr Williams got there before me, I can only concur. Mr Tippett, this is the one! Thank goodness that Richard Wiltshire had the foresight to commission it. Here is a album that needs to be bought. You won’t be sorry.
Click here for details and an extract from the album.
Click here for a live video performance.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 6th May 2016 - Label: Airmen Records
Lafayette Harris Jr
Hangin' With The Big Boys
Jamie Evans reviews this album for us:
Lafayette Harris Jr (piano), George Delancey (bass), Will Terrill (drums), Houston Person (tenor sax), Antoine Drye (trumpet), Caleb Curtis (alto sax), Jazzmeia Horn (vocals), Noel Simone Wippler (vocals).
Pianist Lafayette Harris Jr has impressive credentials, having worked with Roswell Rudd and Cindy Blackman. Also I am told he visited Britain with the late bebop giant, drummer Max Roach, so I was expecting some high-quality sounds. Is that what we get? On the whole, Yes.
Lafayette has a distinctive and melodic style, sometimes with delayed phrasing. On occasion, he seems to be stumbling to catch up with himself but in an appealing manner. On this album there are six of his own originals and one by his alto sax player Caleb Curtis. To balance the mix he has included four standards, one a piece of timeless Ellingtonia.
If, like me, you only appreciate female vocalists when they are of the Billie/Ella calibre it is probably best to approach certain tracks with caution. I think to kick off the album with Blue Skies as a vehicle for the two singers to generally mess about, is probably a false start. It is confusing, slightly off-key at times and doesn’t do justice to a classic Irving Berlin composition.
Nevertheless, all is redeemed on the next track with a ravishing version of Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood, featuring the breathy-toned tenor of veteran Houston Person, whose phrases are as smoky as a tumbler of Jack Daniels.
The title tune, Hangin’ with the Big Boys, is given a sprightly work-out for alto and trumpet, the inventive playing of Antoine Drye is especially notable. Alto man Caleb Curtis’s own composition The Wheelhouse is a lively romp for its creator, once more with some sparkling trumpet playing.
Drinking Wine Blues is a feature for singer Jazzmeia Horn (what a great name) while her co-vocalist, Noel Simone Wippler adds her voice to the ensemble on Little Kevin’s Embrace.
Another outstanding ballad interpretation comes from the tenor man in The Very Thought of You, a gorgeous Ray Noble tune fully and reverently honoured.
Apparently all the musicians featured here are New York-based and these days Lafayette likes to work in venues in or near the Big Apple.
Apart from my little niggle above, the album is well worth lending an ear, for the leader’s distinctive piano and some super tenor from Houston Person who, it must be said, rather steals the show.
Tracks: Blue Skies; In A Sentimental Mood; Hangin’ With The Big Boys; We In The House; Don’t Worry About It; The Zombie Blues; Little Kevin’s Embrace; Drinking Wine Blues; The Wheelhouse; The Very Thought of You; They All Laughed.
Click here for details and to sample.
Click here for Lafayette Harris Jr's website.
Jamie Evans manages a website remembering the late clarinettist Alan Cooper - click here.
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Album Released: August 2016 - Label: Crieff Records
Roy Sainsbury’s Rhythm Chiefs
featuring Dave Newton
You Said It
Robin Kidson reviews this record for us:
Jazz did not begin as a self-conscious art form. It evolved in dance halls, night clubs and whore houses as a music to dance to, have a good time, tap your feet. It was music from the other side of the tracks with a risqué reputation which proved irresistible to rebels of all stripes. Unfortunately, jazz has a tendency to want to forget these roots, to tame the music and divert it into the concert hall, to make it a music of the mind rather than the body and soul.
Jazz’s focus on improvisation means that it puts a premium on innovation, always wanting something new. At times, the innovation has been such that jazz has escaped any sort of mass audience and become the creature of a small intellectual elite – “that modern malice” said Louis Armstrong, “…you got no tune to remember and no beat to dance to”. Philip Larkin (who reviewed jazz for the Daily Telegraph as well as being a poet and university librarian) fashioned these tendencies in jazz into an influential (though not entirely convincing) argument against the whole modernist canon.
Actually, I rather like “that modern malice” – love it in fact. One of the problems with Larkin’s argument is that, in jazz as in other “arts”, today’s outrageous avant garde becomes tomorrow’s mainstream; yesterday’s innovation is today’s cliché. Even so, it is good to be reminded now and then of the roots of jazz and that, at heart, it is a music to be enjoyed by its listeners without too much in the way of thinking about it.
Which brings us to Roy Sainsbury’s new album, You Said It, as joyful an affirmation as you’re likely to hear these days of jazz as foot stamping, head shaking, having-a-good time entertainment to be wholeheartedly enjoyed by both performer and audience.
Sainsbury is a guitarist (performer and teacher) originally from Bristol but now based in the Midlands. He is joined on the album by his “Rhythm Chiefs” who are Dave Newton on piano, Charlie Wright on tenor sax, Bryan Corbett on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tom Hill on bass and Malcolm Garrett on drums.
The inspiration behind the album is Count Basie (now there was a crowd pleaser) or, more specifically, his small group work rather than the big band stuff. Sainsbury says that:
“…at the early age of fourteen, my father took me to Bristol’s Colston Hall to a concert by the Count Basie Orchestra. I had recently acquired my first guitar and I remember being mesmerised by the Basie rhythm section with guitarist Freddie Green glueing it all together. Many years later, one of my guitar students introduced me to a Basie small group album which captured the same spirit. Since then I have wanted to make an album inspired by the Basie small group…”
The album is mainly jazz standards but played with affection and skill and an engaging freshness, particularly in the improvisations. Sainsbury, by and large, is content to play the Freddie Green role strumming away in the background “glueing it all together”. He does, however, play a short but effective solo on the Sonny Rollins composition, Tenor Madness (track 3); and he has contributed two of his own compositions – the opening title track You Said It, and the closing track, Wendy’s Blues, named after his wife.
One of the interesting features of the album is the way in which six musicians manage to sound like a much bigger band. This is partly down to Wright and Corbett who both have full round tones. Wright’s Ben Webster type style is shown to particularly good effect on Webster’s own Did You Call Her Today? (track 7). Corbett is a superbly accomplished musician whose confident and imaginative solos can be heard throughout the album – check out his improvisations on I Thought About You (track 2), and the old chestnut, On A Slow Boat To China (track 8).
Dave Newton is another great musician. He plays beautifully on I’ll Be Around (track 4) accompanied by just bass and drums; and his solos on On A Slow Boat To China and I’ll Always Be In Love With You (track 10) are spot on as well as having a beguiling freshness to them.
The musicians are clearly enjoying themselves on the album – Tom Hill, the bassist who is originally from America and has played with the likes of Sinatra, said recording the album was the most relaxed and enjoyable time he has spent in a studio. There is a lovely moment at the end of Duke Ellington’s Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me (track 9) when the musicians dissolve into infectious laughter. That enjoyment readily communicates itself to the listener making the whole album a joyous and absorbing experience.
Click here for details and to sample the album.
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Album Released: 12th August 2016 - Label: Palmetto Records
The Fred Hersch Trio
Sunday Night At the Vanguard
Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:
The Fred Hersch Trio: Fred Hersch (piano), John Hébert (bass), Eric McPherson (drums).
Track Listing: A Cockeyed Optimist, Serpentine, The Optimum Thing, Calligram, Blackwing Palomino, For No One, Everybody's Song But My Own, The Peacocks, We See, Solo Encore, and Valentine.
I generally prefer “live” recordings which have a spontaneity about them over tracks recorded in a studio as the musicians are in charge of how they play the tune, and as Fred says “the acoustics of The Vanguard allow for whisper-soft playing and yet the sound magically fills the room.” The venue is over 80 years old and is known as “The Village Vanguard” in New York. Hersch visited there in 1976 to hear the great Dexter Gordon play on his return from a tour of Europe. He thinks it is the best place in the world to play with a piano trio and it has become his second home.
The present trio have recorded a number of well-received albums over the past seven years following on from the 2012 album Alive At The Vanguard, which collected some awards. This current album, according to Hersch, almost did not happen, as he had doubts about making a second live recording at the venue. But it was the sound check that decided him to assemble the recording team and go ahead with the recording over a weekend in March of this year. He states, “that I had a feeling that some special music was going to happen”, and after listening to the CD I have to agree with him.
Over the years, Hersch has performed and recorded with such notables as Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Billy Harper, Toots Thielmans and Art Farmer.
On this outing we have 10 tracks in all, 5 composed by Hersch and the remaining five which are covers of more unusual numbers from well-known authors. The longest track is over 10 minutes and the shortest at just over 3.
The first track is Rogers' and Hammerstein's, A Cockeyed Optimist, which has a slow subdued start on the piano flowing into a smooth melody which increases in pace as the bass and drums join and meld beautifully with the intricate rhythms which cascade from the piano, before slowing again towards the end of the track.
This is followed by four tracks composed by Hersch, Serpentine, The Optimum Thing, Calligram, and Blackwing Palomino. Of these, Serpentine is a somewhat dark and mysterious tune that keeps changing course, and just when you think you have the melody, it changes again - intricate playing on the piano with some laid back bass in the middle of the track. Blackwing Palomino is a tune in celebration of a type of pencil and is a swinging number with the drums coming to the fore, however they do not overwhelm the bass or piano but complement it.
Moving on, there is a version of the Paul McCartney song, For No One, which is exquisitely played and interpreted by Hersch. It starts and stays sensitive and is almost a solo performance on a melodic piano with subtle brushed drums and bass. Kenny Wheeler’s Everybody’s Song But My Own and Jimmy Rowle’s The Peacocks are nicely covered with intricate playing showing the full range of Hersch’s expertise.
Click here for a live performance by the Trio of The Peacocks in 2015.
Monk’s We See has a bright racing start which changes pace and is guided back by the commanding bass and hardworking drums to the main theme which has some neatly syncopated piano playing by Hersch. The album’s last track is a solo by Hersch called Valentine which is a haunting piece, showing off the intricacy and clarity of his piano playing and is a fine end to an excellent album.
Click here for a video of a live performance of Valentine.
Click here for details and to sample.
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Album Released: 1st September 2016 - Label: Spark! Label
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Angus Bayley (piano), Paul Trippett (bass), Dave Hamblett (drums), Nick Sigsworth (violin), Daisy Watkins (viola), Alaric Taylor (trumpet), Kieran McLeod (trombone).
This is a Scrapbook. It is the only word on the cover, underlined and dropped into the middle of the artwork. Presumably it is the intention to use the word to describe both the album and the band which originally came together in 2013. I have always thought of a Scrapbook as a place of personal memorabilia and ideas. As I listen to Angus Bayley’s nine compositions collected here it seems to me that is exactly what I am listening to, one man’s Scrapbook, the album as a compendium of his current position.
Angus Bayley is a scientific researcher and an inventor of sorts. Here it’s his tunes like Wrioter (correct spelling), Space Walk and Singer Man, all of which are neat discoveries and creative ideas that have percolated within his keyboard and come preserved in this interesting ensemble. If you track down Mr Bayley online you’ll find examples of all three pieces in a kind of demo format. I also found on YouTube the trombone player, Kieran McLeod, conducting a room full of brass performing Wrioter. Buy the album and you will hear the difference the rest of the Scrapbook septet have brought to these initial conceptions.
Dave Hamblett, the drummer, has popped up on a number of sessions reviewed on this website. It is plainly obvious why this is the case from one single listen-through of this new album. When he is present Mr Hamblett is like glue. Give the guy the opportunity and he holds this rather unorthodox line-up (two strings, trombone and trumpet, no reeds) together with a funky nonchalance, poking and prodding in all those spare corners. When Paul Trippett’s double bass is discreetly locked into the drummer’s rise and fall they make for a rhythm section that makes sense of these rather quirky, elastic tunes. What do I mean?
Scrapbook begins with Alex’s Song, built on a repeating refrain which could have come from a minimalist composer like Steve Reich. When I heard the opening few bars I thought that minimalism might be the direction of travel (which would have been interesting) but once the bone and the horn are in it dissolves into a bright contemporary bop thing. Trippett applies a bass break which lifts it nicely and once Hamblett is in, clicking the ride cymbal, the piece settles down gliding into a light groove. Mr Bayley obviously has a liking for his ‘Steve Reich’ refrain and introduces it again at the end. I think if he had loosened up the arrangement he’d have found there was more in that refrain than repetition. Certainly Henno that follows it allows everybody to caper a bit and that works a treat. It isn’t all like that.
Click here to listen to Henno.
The previously mentioned Wrioter features trumpet and trombone acting the role of a superior brass band playing a melody which could have been taken from a Charles Wesley Hymnal. It is extremely upright and English. When Angus Bayley drops in a couple of lone piano solos it gives a focused dynamic. I think a little more freedom would have helped to have taken things further, particularly for Hamblett and Trippett, who aren’t able to the touch the ground and which is a pity.
To my mind the standout performance is easily Triads. The title gives the game away as to its construction, which allows the personnel in the Scrapbook line-up to play to their strengths. The introduction has Alaric Taylor’s trumpet pressing out the written melody, and he pulls it off with aplomb. The Bayley piano is juggling the chords beneath him. The ensemble sound is full, the strings hold a cluster, ironically like a synthesiser. Hamblett is able to get on top of it with Trippett leaving the path free for Kieran McLeod to tuck in a soulful trombone break in amongst those Triads. At which point they abruptly end. You can almost feel it, Mr McLeod could have let go a fat slice of J. J. Johnson at this point, but instead Triads stops in its tracks. He’s damn good, McLeod, I wonder why they went for such a cut-off?
The final two tracks, Steam and Tides contain melodies poised on the piano. Hamblett shuffles them, Trippett holds on to them; Bayley handles them like precious objects. I am sure they are to him, but if you are going to form a septet around such compositions they have to be given up and allowed to fracture under whatever the other players can bring to your music. Steam is worthy of another shot at some point in the future. When Angus Bayley produces his own solo it could really pirouette and dazzle but here I feel it tends to get dragged down by the arrangement.
Yes, this is Scrapbook in name and Scrapbook by nature, a depositary of fragments and ideas. And for that I give Angus Bayley credit. I would much sooner someone step forth with fresh thinking than merely trot out the same old, same old. If not all of this music is yet fully formed, there is still a lot here which could blossom under further enquiry. This septet is now currently on tour. By the end of it they may well have a collective understanding of where they want to take this music. I believe they can fashion a future for it.
Click here for Angus Bayley soloing on Glide.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Ten New Releases / Re-Releases
One From Ten
We spend time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.
Tubby Hayes & Paul Gonsalves
Change of Setting
Saxophonist Simon Spillet, author of The Long Shadow of the Little Giant: The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes, says of this album released on 6th September:
'At last! It's here!
Change of Setting - the second of Tubby's recorded collaborations with legendary Duke Ellington tenorman Paul Gonsalves - is an album high up on the 'most wanted' list of all Hayes' fans.
Originally issued by World Record Club in the mid-Sixties but deleted soon after, it's long been a much sought after collectors' item, with copies of the vinyl often changing hands for inflated sums. This new Harkit issue marks the first time the album has appeared on CD and features the entire session in glorious STEREO sound (original stereo pressings of the Change of Setting LP are extremely rare). The album also features Brit-Jazz legends Ronnie Scott, Tony Coe and Terry Shannon, alongside Duke Ellington star Ray Nance on trumpet and violin. A 'must have' for all Tubby Hayes' fans!'
Harkit Records say of the recording: 'Originally released in the summer of 1967, it seemed to have disappeared—that is, until now in this sparkling remastered stereo release (first time on CD). Considered by fans of Hayes and Gonsalves to be one of the hardest-to-find and most sought-after of their recordings. They first joined forces on “Just Friends” in a rarity in more ways than one; British jazzmen rarely joined their US counterparts gathering around a microphone, let alone as equals.'
'This follow-up was financed by London saxophonist Jack Sharpe, this album is a real revelation of just how advanced and unafraid these fine musicians were to push the borders out and demonstrate here, what truly accomplished talents they were!
With his usual flair for explaining what you are about to hear, Tubby biographer and fellow saxophonist Simon Spillett has written an excellent essay to accompany the release.'
Tubby Hayes and Paul Gonsalves - Change Of Setting is released on Harkit Records on 6th September.
Click here for details
Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues
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).
1. Birmingham Jazz Orchestra - Rough Boundaries - (jacknaylor.com)
[Click here for details and to sample].
2. Kristian Borring - Silent Storm - (Jellymould Jazz)
[Click here for details. Click here for introductory video].
3. The Pete Hurt Jazz Orchestra - A New Start - (Trio)
[Click here for details and to sample. Click here for review].
4. Tubby Hayes and Paul Gonsalves - Change Of Setting - (Harkit Records)
[Click here to listen to Don't Fall Off The Bridge. Click here for details. See 'One From Ten' article above].
5. Tori Freestone Trio - El Barranco - (Whirlwind Recordings)
[Click here for details and to sample. Click here to listen to the track El Barranco. Reviewed above].
6. Stan Getz Quartet with Mose Allison - The Soft Swing - (Phono - quite expensive but with 11 bonus tracks)
[Click here for details. Click here for information about the original release. Click here to listen to To The Ends Of The Earth].
7. Dhaffer Youssef - Diwan Of Beauty And Odd - (Sony Okeh)
[Click here for details and sample when released in September. Click here for introductory video].
8. Tommy Smith and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra - Modern Jacobite - (Spartacus)
[Click here for details and to sample. Click here for introductory video].
9. Clare Teal with the Hallé Orchestra - Twelve O'Clock Tales - (MUD Records)
[Click here for details and to sample. Click here for introductory video. To be reviewed next month]
10. Kid Ory - The Kid Ory Collection 1922 - 28 - (Acrobat - 2 CDs)
[Click here for details].
Help Me Information
Long distance Information
Give me mention, then we'll see
Help me find a party ...
with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)
Can you help?
We regularly receive requests for information about musicians, music, etc. Responses sometimes come months after we have featured the request so we have started a separate page. Please click here to see if you can help ...
Scotland Treats Time Two In September
Scottish saxophone and piano duos, Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock and Konrad Wiszniewski and Euan Stevenson are playing intimate concerts around Scotland during September.
Smith and Kellock, who have also collaborated on Scottish National Jazz Orchestra projects including the internationally acclaimed Rhapsody in Blue Live and In The Spirit Of Duke albums, are long-time partners whose concerts are often constructed spontaneously, drawing on Smith’s wealth of international playing experience and Kellock’s history as the pianist of choice for Stanley Turrentine, Scott Hamilton, Herb Geller, Sheila Jordan, Art Farmer, and many others.
In an interview with the Herald newspaper in Scotland some twenty years ago, Kellock stated that his ultimate goal was to be able to play any tune he was asked to play – in any key. The interviewer opined that the pianist had long since passed that point and Smith would agree.
The saxophonist describes Kellock as his personal orchestra, which is one of the reasons they go out as a duo rather than working with a rhythm section: they are the complete package, as recordings such as their most recent album, Whispering of the Stars bear out.
From a younger generation, but one that has been deeply affected by Smith’s influence, Wiszniewski has been one of the stars of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s saxophone section over the past decade. His partnership with the superb pianist, composer and arranger, Euan Stevenson has produced one of the gems of the Scottish scene of recent years, New Focus. Originally conceived to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Stan Getz’s 1961 orchestral meeting with arranger Eddie Sauter, Focus, at Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Wiszniewski and Stevenson’s group has developed a life of its own, releasing its all-original, self-titled debut on Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind label in 2013. The group that played on both the Getz material and on subsequent recordings – album number two, New Focus On Song, was released last month - (see album review above) – is a nonet, with string quartet and concert harp joining a jazz quartet. It now tends to be reserved for special occasions, due to financial constraints, but the co-leaders can convey much of the atmosphere that Stevenson’s larger arrangements create in the more easily viable duo and quartet editions.
“There’s something very personal about playing with just saxophone and piano, although we love the energy that bass and drums bring to the music too,” says Wiszniewski. “We tend to concentrate on the melodies as a duo, rather than trying to compensate for the absent instruments, and trust that the compositions are strong enough to stand up in that setting.”
The New Focus Duo appears at:
Cupar Blues & Beyond Club, in Fife on Friday, September 16;
Craiglockhart Parish Church, Edinburgh, Saturday, September 17; and
The Hippodrome, Eyemouth, Sunday, September 18.
Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock play:
The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool on Thursday, September 1;
Paisley Arts Centre, Saturday, September 3;
Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, Thursday, September 8;
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, Friday, September 9; and
Nairn Community & Arts Centre, Saturday, September 10.
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:email@example.com
Scotland: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen, AB25 1BU. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Scotland: Fife Jazz Club, The Woodside Hotel, Aberdour. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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,
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,
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, 4th September and Sunday, 18th September - 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 email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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