On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told ...
The superficially glamorous world of film-work was one distraction. That spring (Tubby) Hayes had recorded the soundtrack for the Hammer thriller Hysteria ... in May 1964 the quintet began filming for the Amicus horror portmanteau Dr Terror's House Of Horrors ...
... the entire quintet found themselves co-opted as actors in Voodoo, one of the film's five stories ... The plot was risible: played by Roy Castle, trumpeter "Biff" Bailey and his band - the Hayes quintet - visit the West Indies, a land of exotic tribal drums and imported cockney vocalists. When Bailey is caught transcribing some sacred ritual music, the voodoo god Dambala promises to exact a woeful revenge, which he eventually does, although not before wrecking the trumpeter's polite supper-club set featuring guest Kenny Lynch ...
Click on the picture for a clip from the film.
The final nightclub sequence, in which a hurricane destroys Bailey's arrangements, also proved hilarious "They had this huge wind machine," (remembers Allan Ganley), "and we're playing and we all have to make out we're falling over. The first time we did it we all burst out laughing. The director was going mad as we had to do all these retakes..'
If Dr Terror's House Of Horrors never quite added up to a cinema masterpiece, its true value continues to lie in the wonderful colour footage of the Hayes quintet at close to the end of its life.
From The Long Shadow Of The Little Giant, courtesy of the author, Simon Spillett.
Name the UK saxophonists (click on the picture for the answers)
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
The National Theatre is staging a revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's play set in 1920s Chicago and inspired by the life of the eponymous blues legend. It is being staged between 26th January - 18th May at the Lyttelton at the National. London SE1.
Chicago, 1927. In a recording studio on the city’s South Side, a battle of wills is raging. Ma Rainey, Mother of the Blues, uses every trick in the book to fight her record producers for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she’s determined that ‘Black Bottom’, the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way. But Levee, the band’s swaggering young trumpet player, plans to catapult the band into the jazz age. His ambition puts them all in danger.
Inspired by the real-life Ma Rainey, the play speaks powerfully of a struggle for self-determination against overwhelming odds. Sharon D Clarke plays Ma Rainey.
Click here for details.
Time To Vote - Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2016.
Voting is now open for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards which will take place at the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion on Tuesday 10 May 2016.
Entries are open to everyone, and forms can be completed online from the JazzUK website at www.jazzuk.org.uk. The final deadline for entries is 12 noon Thursday 18 February 2016.
The Parliamentary Jazz Awards are organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), co-chaired by Jason McCartney MP and Lord Colwyn, and supported by the music licensing company PPL in conjunction with JazzUK, Jazzwise, and the Musicians’ Union.
The categories for the 2016 Awards reflect the ever-increasing scope of talent from within the UK’s jazz scene and include:
• Jazz Album of the Year (released in 2015 by a UK band or musicians)
• Jazz Vocalist of the Year (UK-based vocalist who impressed in 2015)
• Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year (UK-based musician who impressed in 2015)
• Jazz Ensemble of the Year (UK-based group who impressed in 2015)
• Jazz Venue of the Year (including jazz clubs, venues, festivals and promoters)
• Jazz Media Award (including broadcasters, journalists, magazines, blogs [such as Sandy Brown Jazz], listings and books)
• Jazz Education Award (to an educator or project for raising the standard of jazz education in the UK)
• Jazz Newcomer of the Year (UK-based artist, musician or group with a debut album released in 2015)
• Services to Jazz Award (to a living person for their outstanding contribution to jazz in the UK).
PPL has been supporting the awards since 2005. APPJAG has over 100 members from the House of Commons and House of Lords, across all political parties. Its aim is to encourage a wider and deeper enjoyment of jazz, to increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of the industry and issues surrounding it, as well as promoting jazz as a musical form, and to raise its profile both inside and outside of Parliament.
Click here to put forward your nomination.
Jazz Vinyl From Your Newsagent
In January, the publisher DeAgostini began to market a collection of jazz vinyl albumsthrough newsagents. Similar to other themed publications they have marketed, the idea is to encourage people to collect the whole set over a period of time. The first issue is sold at a 'tempter' price. In this case, issue 1 is Miles Davis's Kind of Blue - at £4.99 - a snip, even if you don't buy any further issues. Issue 2 is John Coltrane's Blue Train at £9.99. After that with issue 3 (Billie Holiday's Lady In Satin), the full price kicks in at £14.99 an issue. But there are all sorts of freebies and offers if you subscribe. There is an issue every two weeks, so doing the sums, you would be committing around £390 a year.
The collection is being marketed worldwide for 'jazz lovers and new listeners alike, for those who have always collected vinyl records and for those who have never touched one'. DeAgostini are also offering a belt-drive Pro-Ject record player at £199 (with built-in pre amp and USB functionality) for those who do not have a deck.
The initiative raises many interesting points. For some time now, there has been talk of a renewed interest in vinyl. This project says that DeAgostini believe that there is enough of a market to invest in this product and in particular, to focus on jazz rather than another genre. They have presumably done their market research. The LPs are virgin vinyl at 180g and have the original sleeve artwork (all things that people say they would like). The albums also come with additional notes about the recording and a listening guide.
It is also interesting that the collection is being sold through high street newsagents (as well as being sold online) rather than through record outlets, although many of these are also increasing their stock of vinyl and selling record players. There must also be an assumption that there are enough people interested in jazz who have sufficient disposable income to be able to spend £30 plus a month on albums rather than (or as well as) download or stream music. Clearly in their record deck with USB offer, they are anticipating that listeners might want to transfer the music to other digital devices.
At the time of writing this I have bought the first issue and it certainly looks well produced. It will be interesting to see whether the project actually has a large impact on vinyl sales and on jazz listening. Click here for details. Click here for our page looking at the issue of vinyl sales over the past few years - and let us know what you think.
My Funny Valentine
This month's quiz is all about love. After all, slap bang in the middle of February comes St. Valentine's Day. I'm sure you will have a Valentine's card (or two), but if not, here is my Valentine's Day card to you in the form of this month's quiz.
In whose Quartet album did Chet Baker take a solo on My Funny Valentine in the 1950s, a song with which he would always be associated?
If you think you know the answer, go to our quiz page and try to answer the other fourteen quiz questions and then check out the 'Answers' page where you will also find some interesting videos.
Click here for the Jazz Quiz.
Rare Footage of Sandy Brown
There is an expression ‘As rare as hen’s teeth’; well, I am grateful to Alvin Roy for showing me a hen’s tooth.
At last, some film footage of clarinettist Sandy Brown. The 32 minutes come from 1968 when Sandy played a gig in Prague in the Czech Republic. The translation of the wording with the video says: ‘Scottish clarinettist Sandy Brown played in one of two alternatives to the cancelled concerts of the 5th Annual Jazz Festival in Prague's Lucerna in 1968. He was accompanied by the rhythmic group of Gustav Brom Orchestra’. Milos Kejr, who was there at the gig tells me that the members of the rhythm section were Josef Blaha on piano, Imre Mozi on bass and Bill Moody (USA) on drums.
Gustav Brom was a Czech bandleader, arranger, clarinettist and composer whose big band started playing Dixieland, moved on to Swing and then to the West Coast jazz style. He died in 1995.
The five tunes played are Lady Be Good, When Sunny Gets Blue, Sermonette (thank you to those who helped me out on this one), In The Evenin’ (with a vocal by Sandy) and The Brotherhood Of Man (from the show How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying). Why, in his introduction to the last tune, Sandy says that the audience wants to hear that tune I don’t know. Bill Brown in Australia wonders whether ‘the 'Brotherhood' reference might be to the socialist set up of that time? I know that when the Graeme Bell Band went there in 1947 it was before the communist takeover’.
Peter Maguire of Jazz Clubs Worldwide tells us that The Prague Spring started in January 1968, and that the Tschechoslowakisches International Jazz Festival took place at Lucerna Hall on 21st November, which the organizers succeeded in putting through in spite of the the invasion by Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries.
This was a significant period in the history of Czechoslovakia. 'The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalisation in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until 21 August when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to halt the reforms'.'
According to Wikipedia 'The Prague Spring reforms were a strong attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. After national discussion of dividing the country into a federation of three republics, Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision to split into two, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. This was the only formal change that survived the end of Prague Spring, though the relative success of the nonviolent resistance undoubtedly prefigured and facilitated the peaceful transition to liberal democracy with the collapse of Soviet hegemony in 1989.'
This could well have been the reason for Sandy Brown's comments.
Chris Miles says: 'I note an interesting sartorial contrast between his appearance and the band's. That shirt and tie combo!'
Click here for the video, it is good quality film with equally good quality sound.
National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School
Applications are invited for this week-long residential Summer School at Uppington School in Rutland. The Summer School will bring together England’s most gifted and talented young jazz musicians aged 14 -18. NYJC say: 'During the week you’ll be working with twelve of the nation’s leading jazz educators – all of whom are internationally renowned performers. Tutors include NYJC’s Founding Artistic Director Issie Barratt, Dominic Ashworth, Christine Jensen, Laura Jurd, Mark Lockheart, Gareth Lockrane, Mark Mondesir, Liam Noble, Jeremy Price and Percy Pursglove.'
'The focus of the course is to develop your improvisation and interactive skills, build confidence, provide professional guidance, performance experience and meet likeminded and talented musicians within the context of small group improvisation. Summer School participants will be asked to pay a course fee of £400.
The closing date for applications is 5.00 pm on 19th February. Auditions take place around the country during March and April. Click here for more information. NYJC can offer means-tested bursaries for those who need financial help. For more information about course fees and bursaries click here.
Taster Jazz Workshop for Female Musicians
NYJC is also offering a taster jazz workshop run by members of CLE (NYJC's all female ensemble) at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG from 3-5pm on Sunday 14th February. The workshop, supported by NYJC's Artistic Director Issie Barratt, will cater for all levels of ability from beginner to advanced and is designed to support young female musicians aged 11-18 interested in meeting and working with other girls, generating original material and developing their improvisation and band leading skills. Click here to book your place.
Financial Support For Live Touring
Arts Council England has approved funding of £32,000 for the Northern Voluntary Jazz (NorVol) Network for promoters in the north of England in partnership with the Apollo Jazz Network's musicians community. Their aim is to establish a touring infrastructure for live jazz featuring international musicians. NorVol will host a series of performances and workshops at their venues and Apollo, run by trumpeter Kim Macari, will develop gig exchanges and artist collaboration between different jazz scenes.
The first scheduled event is a tour in May featuring US trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Steve Crocker for Norvol says: 'We’re really pleased at this news. It is a vindication of what the 30 Northern jazz clubs and festival promoters in the network have been aiming to do. The international touring programme will enable volunteer run jazz clubs – the backbone of the jazz scene in the North to show off some of the best jazz artists in the world to their audiences'. 'This focus on collaboration - artistic collaboration as well as partnering with organisations – is what Apollo Jazz Network has always been about,' adds Kim Macari.
[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].
Blackberry winter comes without a warning
Just when you think that spring's around to stay
And you wake up on a cold, rainy morning
And wonder what on earth became of May.
Some years ago, I walked into the room where the television was on. It was broadcasting a performance by countertenor David Daniels and guitarist Craig Ogden, and the song was Blackberry Winter. I sat spellbound. The track is on their album A Quiet Thing, and you probably need to listen to it in a quiet place to get the best from it. My sister-in-law kindly bought the album for me that Christmas.
Hearing a countertenor is unusual.
A countertenor is described as: 'a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano voice types. The countertenor range is generally equivalent to a contralto range, extending from around G3 to D5 or E5, although a sopranist (a specific kind of countertenor) may match the soprano's range of around C4 to C6. Countertenors often are natural baritones or tenors, but rarely use this vocal range in performance.
The term first came into use in England during the mid-17th century, and was in wide use by the late 17th century. However, the use of adult male falsettos in polyphony, commonly in the alto range, was common in all-male sacred choirs for some decades previous, as early as the mid-16th century.' Earlier, opera had engaged the castrati, but countertenors moved in to replace those singers who no longer had their bits removed to enable them to sing high.
In popular music, the Bee Gees did well during the Disco era with their falsetto Saturday Night Fever and other recordings, but to listen to David Daniels, there is a different voice quality to that of the Brothers Gibb. It is, as I suggest, best to find somewhere quiet to enjoy this - click here. It is not jazz, but patience, that is to come.
Blackberry winter only lasts a few days
Just long enough to get you feeling sad
When you think of all the love that you have wasted
On someone who you never really had.
So what is a Blackberry Winter? It is an American term used in the south and mid-west to describe a short, unexpected cold snap that can come in after the first few warm days of spring when blackberries are in bloom. Dave's Garden, an international community of gardeners, says: 'Oldtimers knew that blackberries need a cold snap to set buds on the blackberry canes, so as sure as night follows day, there will be a cold snap when the blackberries bloom.'
There are similar terms used elsewhere, based on the same premise, and so we have cold snaps that are called 'Dogwood Winter', 'Whippoorwill Winter', and 'Redbud Winter'. Apparently another term used is 'Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter', after a type of winter long underwear which you can put away after the last cold snap.
The idea of warm love having a cold snap has inspired a number of composers to write songs about Blackberry Winter. Although we don't get to hear his song, in this brief video, Country singer Bill Anderson talks about the idea behind using Blackberry Winter as a theme - click here.
The song we are unwrapping here is the one sung by David Daniels and written by American composer Alec Wilder with lyricist Loonis McGlohon. Here is a video of it sung by Hilary Kole - click here.
I'll never get over losing you
But I had to learn that life goes on
And the memory grows dim, like a half-forgotten song
Til the blackberry winter reminds me that you're gone
It is surprising that Alec Wilder's songs are not more recognised and that we don't hear more of him. Born Alexander Wilder in Rochester, New York in 1907, he was a self-taught composer. We read that: 'He was good friends with Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett and other luminaries of the American popular music canon. Among the popular songs he wrote or co-wrote were I'll Be Around (a hit for the Mills Brothers), While We're Young (recorded by Peggy Lee and many others), Where Do You Go? (recorded by Sinatra), It's So Peaceful in the Country and Blackberry Winter. He also wrote many songs for the cabaret artist Mabel Mercer, including one of her signature pieces, Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneden's?. Unusually for a composer, Wilder occasionally wrote his own lyrics including those for his most famous song I'll Be Around. Other lyricists he worked with included Loonis McGlohon, William Engvick, Johnny Mercer and Fran Landesman.'
Click here to listen to Billie Holiday singing Alec Wilder's I'll Be Around with the Herb Ellis Orchestra.
'In addition to writing popular songs, Wilder also composed classical pieces for exotic combinations of orchestral instruments. The Alec Wilder Octet, including Eastman classmate Mitch Miller on oboe, recorded several of his originals for Brunswick Records in 1938-40. His classical numbers, which often had off-beat, humorous titles ("The Hotel Detective Registers"), were strongly influenced by jazz. He wrote eleven operas; one of which, Miss Chicken Little (1953), was commissioned for television by CBS.' Apparently, Sinatra also conducted an album of Wilder's classical music. He wrote a definitive book American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900–1950 (1972). With lyricist Loonis McGlohon (who was also his cohost on a 1970 radio series based on the book) he composed songs for the Land of Oz theme park in Banner Elk, North Carolina.'
The Alec Wilder Octet which is mentioned above, included the oboist, conductor, recording producer and A&R man, Mitch Miller. Strangely, it seems the Mitch Miller Orchestra featuring Bernadine Read put out an alternative song called Blackberry Winter, this one composed by Lindeman and Stutz that, in my opinion, is not a patch on Alec Wilder's song - click here (if you must).
The romantic notion of a Blackberry Winter reminds us of the brief life of the Mayfly. Mayflies "hatch" (emerge as adults) from spring to autumn, not necessarily in May, in fact one of the most famous English mayflies is the fisherman's "March brown mayfly". Apparently the English poet George Crabbe, compared the brief life of a newspaper with that of mayflies, both being known as "Ephemera", things that only live for a day. Did you know that uniquely among insects, mayflies possess paired genitalia - the male and female both have two sexual organs? What do they do on the one day they are alive? At least a Blackberry Winter passes, for the Mayfly the outlook is not so optimistic.
In the circumstances it seems surprising that any band or group would call themselves 'Mayfly' - presumably they would not expect to be around for long? But click here for an accapella group called Mayfly singing They Can't Take That Away From Me. They say 'The idea for the Bossa Nova interpretation is stolen from Brasilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias'.
I get so lonely, most of all in springtime
I wish I could enjoy the first of May
But I seem to know that blackberry winter
Is not so far away......It's not so far away.
We turn now to a much more 'raw' interpretation of Blackberry Winter. This is by Marlena Shaw from her album Dangerous. The Chess and Blue Note labels singer was first introduced to music by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a jazz trumpet player. In an interview with The New York Times, she told the reporter “He [Jimmy Burgess] introduced me to good music through records - Dizzy [Gillespie], Miles [Davis], a lot of gospel things, and Al Hibbler, who really knows how to phrase a song.” Click here to listen to her version of Blackberry Winter.
Blackberry Winter has found its way to the title of books (Margaret Mead and Sarah Jio), a very strange film by Brent Stewart, and band names such as the hillbilly band Blackberry Winter who recorded music for Debra Granik's excellent award-winning movie Winter's Bone starring Jennifer Lawrence.
But we leave you with this beautiful instrumental version of Blackberry Winter played by Keith Jarrett (piano), Charlie Haden (bass) and Paul Motian (drums) from the album 'Bop-Be' (Impulse!, 1977) - click here.
I get so lonely, most of all in springtime
I wish I could enjoy the first of May
But I seem to know that blackberry winter
Is not so far away......
You Suggest : Jackie Cain and Roy Kral
This month Brian O'Connor says: 'I shall continue to make my case for Jackie and Roy. Regrettably totally underrated. Just look at their output between the late forties and 1995 - the Alec Wilder Songbook, tribute to Bogey, almost endless good taste, great jazz, and fine concept albums. The exception? 1968’s Grass where they went electric and tried to join in with the current UK pop scene.'
Jackie Cain and Roy Kral were a husband and wife jazz vocal team in which Roy played piano as well as singing.
They first got together in 1946 with the Charlie Ventura band and performed until Roy Kral's death in 2002. Jackie Cain died on September 15, 2014.
Click here for a video of them performing (probably on NBC's Today show) not in the 1960s as someone suggests, as in the interview that follows they talk about the death of their daughter, Nicky, in 1973. The video ends with them performing Day By Day from Godspell.
OK, I'm a sucker for Fran Landesman's songs. Click here to listen to Jackie Cain in 1975 singing Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most. It was first recorded for the Trio Records album Jackie Cain and Roy Kral in 1955, but has been reissued since then on Storyville and Black Lion records. The album included Barney Kessel, Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne. Roy Kral co-operated with Fran Landesman on the tune Stopping The Clock - click here to listen to Mark Murphy singing the song. (Mark Murphy also does a nice version of Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most).
But we should go back to the start. Click here for them singing with Charlie Ventura's Septet in Pasadena in 1949 playing Euphoria with Charlie Candoli on trumpet, Benny Green on trombone and Boots Mussulli on baritone sax.
Brian O'Connor points us towards them performing the tune Lazy Afternoon in 1955 (from the 1954 musical The Golden Apple). It is a number taken very slowly that showcases Jackie's voice - click here. Placed on YouTube from an LP, unfortunately the quality of the recording does not do her justice.
Fairly early in their career, Jackie and Roy were befriended by composer Alec Wilder, who wrote the liner notes for the Jackie Cain and Roy Kral album. They had always featured Wilder's songs and, ten years after his death, paid tribute by recording an entire album of them, An Alec Wilder Collection.
Brian O'Connor says that he thinks they made a mistake in the album Grass, trying to make a 'pop' record. I am inclined to agree. Here is a video of them singing a cover of the unfamiliar Beatles' song The Word - click here.
So let's finish with Jackie Cain, Roy Kral and a big band. Here they are with So Its Spring with the Bill Holman Orchestra from the 1957 album Free And Easy - click here.
Alastair Penman is a British saxophonist with Masters’ degrees in both Information and Computer Engineering (University of Cambridge) and Saxophone Performance (Royal Northern College of Music). He plays in both classical and jazz settings, including with the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra, Ardente Opera, The Beethoven Ensemble, Ensemble BPM and Cambridge Touring Opera. He has received awards from the City Music Foundation, Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the RNCM (Fewkes and Harwood Scholarships) and St Catharine’s College (Music Tuition and Dudley Robinson Awards). He was also a finalist in the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Competition 2012 and the RNCM Gold Medal Competition 2013.
In a jazz setting, Alastair has played at Montreux, London and Tarrega Jazz festivals and at venues including Budapest Jazz Club, Casa del Jazz (Rome) and The Bull’s Head (Barnes). Alastair has performed with jazz greats Mike Gibbs, Steve Waterman, Clare Teal, Mark Nightingale, Gareth Lockrane, Julian Arguelles, Liane Carroll, Issie Barratt and John Helliwell. He has a strong interest in the fusion of live saxophone performance with electronic effects, backings, and enhancements to create often previously undiscovered sound-worlds.
Hi Alastair, tea or coffee?
Tea please! One after lunch, one mid afternoon and one after dinner, unless it's a long day...
Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?
Can I have one of each? OK, I’ll take the Bourbon then!
Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker or Jimmy Giuffre?
For me, it’s Art Pepper - I became somewhat obsessed with his playing when I was about 17 and he’s probably still my strongest influence from the jazz world. That said, I love all of the above - if pushed I’d probably take Parker from the three, but it’s a close call. Shorter is the only one I’ve had the chance to hear live – I wish I’d been able to hear them all!
Milk and sugar?
Just milk - do you have soy?!
What have you been doing recently?
For the past few months, my main focus has been my new album, Electric Dawn. I had a great time working with John Harle on the disc and recording it at his studios in Kent. He’s a phenomenal musician and producer with a brilliant ear - he had a big influence on the disc. After finishing the recording, I had to make sure that the whole disc was reproducible live - programming all of the electronics and ironing out bugs (there were a couple of scary moments early on when my laptop crashed mid-piece whilst practising!) - before launching the album with a few gigs. I was lucky enough to play at the Royal Northern College of Music’s Saxophone Day a few months back, which was a huge honour as I’ve been attending the event for years and past performers have included the likes of Ian Ballamy, Chris Potter, Bob Mintzer and Julian Arguelles!
[Click here for a video introduction to Alastair's new album Electric Dawn which we shall review on this website next month].
What have you got coming up in February and March?
I’ve got a bit more of a focus on the classical side of my playing over the next few months. I’m doing a recital of some beautiful French saxophone repertoire with pianist Edward Liddall at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on February 9th, and then I’ve got a couple of gigs with the Borealis Saxophone Quartet, with whom I play soprano sax (click here for a video). It’s an exciting time for the quartet as we’ve just had a change in personnel so we’re all getting used to the new line-up. On 5th March, we’ve been invited up to the RNCM to give a late night concert in their chamber music festival, which should be good fun - it’s always a pleasure to play at the RNCM since it’s where I studied and where the quartet formed. I’ve got a few other projects in their infant stages as well - watch this space!
Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?
I love the new album from Carl Raven and George King, which was out before Christmas (Scenes From A Life) - really beautiful playing, and Carl’s use of electronics with the sax is so seamless. I’ve also been enjoying hearing where both Tom Green and Misha Mullov-Abbado are going with their groups - I was lucky enough to play a lot with both of them and some of the guys in their bands when we were all at Cambridge together. Maybe we’ll play together again one day - who knows?! I’ve also heard that Andy Scott’s SaxAssault have been back in the studio recently, which can only mean there’s some hard hitting sax playing coming our way soon!
Always! Oh dear, are we onto the next packet already?!
[Click here for Alastair Penman's website].
Edition Records Photo Winner
Last month we reported that Edition Records were inviting photographers to submit an image they think might grace the sleeve of a new album, to be called Northern Edition. The album, curated by BBC Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington, showcases the music and artists from across the Edition catalogue influenced by, or based in, Scandinavia. The photograph had to be based on a Nordic theme and the winner's picture would feature as the front cover of the new album.
The winner of the competition was Knut Utler with this atmospheric photograph. Fiona's track selection for the album is:
1. ODDARRANG – The Sage
2. SPIN MARVEL – Dust in Eye Beam
3. MARIUS NESET – Boxing
4. DANIEL HERSKEDAL – The Mistral Noir
5. ALEXI TUOMARILA – Seven Hills
6. PER ODDVAR JOHSANSEN – Let’s Dance
7. MEADOW – Badger
8. PHRONESIS -Eight Hours
9. VERNERI POHJOLA – Cold Blooded
10. DAVE STAPLETON – North Wind
11. DRIFTER – Breathing out my soul
12. DANIEL HERSKEDAL / MARIUS NESET – Neck of the Woods
The album will be released on 25th March
Click here for the Edition Records website where Fiona Talkington also describes her selection.
Help With Musical Definitions No 20.
A means of checking whether all the musicians are back from the bar.
Mezz Mezzrow - Really The Blues
Novelist Bernard Wolfe's collaboration with clarinettist Mezz Mezzrow - Really The Blues - the story of the clarinettist from Chicago, is to be re-published in February by New York Review Books with a new introduction by the New York Times jazz critic, Ben Ratliff.
'Mezz Mezzrow was a boy from Chicago who learned to play the sax in reform school and pursued a life in music and a life of crime. He moved from Chicago to New Orleans to New York, working in brothels and bars, bootlegging, dealing drugs, getting hooked, doing time, producing records, and playing with the greats, among them Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller. Really the Blues, the jive-talking memoir that Mezzrow wrote at the insistence of, and with the help of, the novelist Bernard Wolfe, is the story of an unusual and unusually American life, and a portrait of a man who moved freely across racial boundaries when few could or did, “the odyssey of an individualist . . . the saga of a guy who wanted to make friends in a jungle where everyone was too busy making money.”
Click here for details.
Paperback copies of an 2009 publication by Souvenir Press are also available from Amazon - click here.
Uncertainty For Brecon Jazz Festival
Brecon Jazz Festival has had a chequered history. From 2009 it had been run by the organisers of the Hay Literature Festival. In 2012, the Arts Council for Wales appointed the Orchard Media Group to run the festival and the event has had four years of successful staging.
In 2015, The Arts Council for Wales supported the festival with £100,000 of funding, but now the Council says that the Festival should take a break in 2016 and Orchard Media Group has announced that they will be ending their involvement, quoting 'financial reasons' for their decision. In Jazzwise magazine, Orchard director Pablo Janczur is quoted as saying : 'People see many thousands of visitors on Brecon's streets and the pub tills ringing on festival weekend each year and think the event is in rude health. But the reality is they are not swelling the festival coffers, even though we bear a lot of their costs. To bring in the big names that jazz lovers desire relies on ticket sales, and the Brecon venues are just not set up to enable enough of those sales to happen.'
Truths in Disguise - Jazz Caricatures
A caricature is putting the face of a joke on the body of a truth.
Bill Evans © J.H. Thomson
Jimmy Hall Thomson is one of the UK’s most able caricaturists. His work over the years has captured the essence of many musicians and others. As Barry Fantoni has said: ‘The illustration Jimmy did of me remains a treasured possession. He spared no effort in making my prominent nose even bigger and my long hair even longer. Like all first-class caricatures, the portrait ended up looking more like me than I actually looked.’
Jimmy Thomson was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1937. After his time at Rockwell Junior and Secondary Schools where his drawing was not encouraged, he started work in 1954 working as a cartoonist with local Meadowside publishers D C Thomson (no relation). Their art department at the time had some top comic and boys-paper artists, creating British comic magazines. The newspaper, magazine and comics company now also has offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and London’s Fleet Street. Jimmy was also studying life drawing, fashion drawing and sculpture under Alberto Morrocco at Dundee College of Art. Jimmy says: 'What made me go towards being an artist? I liked drawing
random funny faces. Before starting with D C Thomson I worked as a lab assistant in zoology and pathology
labs in the local University. The wonderful thing about Thomson's was that some of the older
artists were still there - those who practically invented the look of the boys' papers through
their illustrations for story headings. I learned much just from being amongst them. I first started drawing caricatures at DCs for TV and radio columns in
Dundee Evening Telegraph and Post - some time around 1956/57 - also for back page illustration on Romeo in the later 50s before I left.'
In 1960, Jimmy moved to Edinburgh to work with the Scottish Daily Mail until the newspaper closed. 'The Scottish Daily Mail
taught me more,' Jimmy remembers. ' My caricature work began to mature. I remember sitting in a small room
drawing Hastings Banda (the leader of Malawi from 1961 to 1994) - I was terrified.'
Jimmy returned to Dundee to work at Valentine's studio, where he stayed for the next twenty-four years designing and scripting humorous greetings cards - 'Valentines greetings cards was a different story
altogether. Opportunities for caricatures were limited to special cards for visitors or special
occasions.' He also contributed work to the Glasgow Herald, Daily Record and Sunday Mail.
Jimmy also secured work with the Melody Maker, the first ever newspaper devoted to popular music and jazz. In the early 1970s Melody Maker was selling a quarter of a million copies a week. It had a reputation for its excellent photographs, well-written articles and its humour – includingJimmy Thomson’s unique caricatures – he drew musicians from every genre, jazz, pop, folk, everyone who was famous in the world of popular music. Over thirteen years Jimmy did around 700 drawings for Melody Maker. Jimmy says: 'My working for Melody Maker was thanks initially down
to Jack Hutton, editor and trumpet player. I sat in with him and Eggy Ley many times at
The Tattie Bogle Club (close by Carnaby Street ) in the 60s. I did do some drawings for Jazz Review when Peter Clayton was editor
around 1960 (?) - oh, and for Record Mirror when Isidore Green was editor. ' Jimmy's work has also been published in New Society, Jazz Journal and, more recently, The Oldie. In 1984, Jimmy became a freelance artist.
Jimmy says: ‘I had to work fast when I freelanced with the Melody Maker. I could never recapture the mood of my drawings from back then as they were very much in the moment and quick. They would often request work on the Tuesday and I would have to have it posted by the Thursday. It was the same when I worked for the Scottish Daily Mail in Edinburgh. I learnt a lot of techniques from sitting next to other artists, like Doug Phillips, when I worked in DC Thomson in Dundee back when I was starting out. It was a great experience. I use a Gillot 290 nib as it is flexible and you can vary the line thickness as you create them. The only drawback with that is when the nibs break and splash the ink but it’s worth it for the results you get.’
And then there was the occasion when Jimmy I took samples of his work to show Carlo Krahmer of Esquire Records, not
realising that he was blind. 'Was I embarassed?!' he says.
Jimmy has a particular interest in jazz – he plays clarinet, and recalls that he bought one of his clarinets from Billy Amstell - and through his work over the years he has made strong contacts with many jazz musicians and people in the jazz world. Jimmy says: 'My first sitting in was with Dave Carey in London, while with Ken Gallacher,
who then told this to Acker in Dundee, 1959, leading to me duetting with
him on Trouble In Mind. Acker never forgot me.'
A long-time friend has been American clarinettist Pee Wee Russell. Jimmy says: ‘I knew Doug Dobell (of Dobell’s Record Shop) quite well, I drew his Christmas cards for a number of years. I met Jeff Atterton at 77 Charing Cross Road. (Jeff Atterton was a lanky Englishman who was the jazz aficionado at the Sam Goody Store on West 459th Street in Manhattan). It was he who introduced me to Pee Wee through one of my caricatures. It led me to a ten year exchange of letters with Pee Wee. And Jeff got my drawing of Condon into The Eddie Condon Scrapbook of Jazz.’
Photograph © J H Thomson
'This photograph was taken in Manchester in October 1964 when Pee Wee played at the Sports Guild. Pee Wee (second left) is pictured with Doug Dobell, George Ellis and G E Lambert (both jazz writers at that time). Doug Dobell was, of course, the owner of Dobell's, the famous London record shop. George Ellis wrote for Jazz Beat (Jazz News) amongst other publications. G E Lambert was an author as well as a jazz critic and his Kings of Jazz books are available as free downloads Kings of Jazz : Johnny Dodds (click here); Kings of Jazz : Duke Ellington (click here).'
Pee Wee was also a painter and Jimmy has some of Pee Wee’s work. Jimmy says: ‘What can I say about Pee Wee's painting except that I always thought there was a hint of a ‘red indian’ blanket about it - but, of course, it is totally him. No botched landscapes, still lives, flower studies - but straight into the paint for its own sake. He swapped it for some caricatures which I believe his nephew possesses. Actually, Mary, his wife purchased the paints for him after visiting an exhibition of paintings by my late friend Neil Dallas Brown. Mary was impressed at the time.'
'I met Pee Wee in the flesh at Manchester Sports Guild. He was suffering from a hiatus hernia
but sent me out quietly for a bottle of whisky. I was amazed at his range
of volume playing with the Alex Welsh band.'
'Pee Wee once mentioned that Bud Freeman
would come round to cadge lunch from him and Mary.
Of course, Bud was very charming. I sat in with him twice when he came to Dundee. This one of my paintings of Pee Wee was exhibited at the IBM gallery in Madison Avenue.’
Pee Wee Russell © J H Thomson
'Pee Wee was not forward but conversational when asked questions. Mary described him as 'irascible'. While at Manchester Sports Guild, sitting in the lounge, Ken Gallacher
(then sports writer on Daily Record) asked about the Summa Cum Laude orchestra -"could have been good - conflict of personalities". Athough I didn't have much chat
with him, I got the impression that he could be quite reserved. In one letter he said -"Had to stop painting to go and play at the Metropole, a real sewer!" All my letters
from him and Mary, and pics, and a reed - are in the National Jazz Archive. Someone said to me then - "Is he resting on his laurels?" I replied, "wonderful
Jimmy also worked for Alex Marshall who ‘ ... left Scotland for California many years ago, before which I did some work for him - caricatures of Wet Wet Wet, and, before he left for USA commissioned me to draw Les Paul and Wild Bill Davison. He took these drawings with him and delivered them framed to the very subjects. In Santa Barbara, he built up his own graphic design business, and, as a guitarist/banjoist formed the band Ulysses S. Jasz which has been 16 years resident at The James Joyce there. ‘Good-time jazz’, I think you'd call it, but it can be seen on You Tube. Bob Efford who used to play tenor with Ted Heath sits in occasionally. ’
Alex Marshall initially graduated with a degree but later studied printing and graphic design in London and established his own firm, Marshall Arts. From the late 1960s to 1980 he was a graphic designer for the music industry. Many of the top record labels and recording artists of that time were his clients, including: A&M Records, Capitol Records, Virgin Records, Decca Records, UA Records, MCA Records, McCartney Productions, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Chieftains, Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Doobie Bros, and many others. In 1980, he moved his business to Santa Barbara, where he has been ever since. Alex has also played guitar and banjo with numerous classic jazz bands throughout Europe and California.
Wild Bill Davison © J H Thomson
Click here for a short video on You Tube about the Ulysses S. Jasz band. Alex Marshall started the band in 1998. He said in one interview: ‘I knew the owner of the pub, an Irishman from County Kildare by the name of Tommy Byrne. I bumped into him at another pub. He was visiting here from New York before he opened the James Joyce. When it came time to start jazz there, he said that's what he wanted to have on a Saturday night. ... It was a dream come true for me -- a banjo player from Scotland having his own band in Santa Barbara.’
In 2014, there was an exhibition of Jimmy’s work at Freedom Hair Exhibitions in Dundee who have been promoting the work of local artists since 2012. Click here for their website page on the exhibition.
In interview for the exhibition, Jimmy was asked whether any of the people he drew owned any of his caricatures? Jimmy said ‘Yes, quite a few. They include George Melly (jazz and blues singer), Stephane Grappelli (French jazz violinist), Neil Sedaka (American singer, pianist and composer), Les Paul (American Jazz, country, blues guitarist and songwriter. Also creator of the famous guitars), Bill Wyman (former bass player of The Rolling Stones), Barry Fantoni (author, cartoonist and musician. Most famous for his work with ‘Private Eye’) and Cheech and Chong (comedy duo who appear in films and did stand-up).'
Of his favourite caricatures he includes: ‘Eubie Blake (American ragtime pianist) is one of my favourites. I enjoyed doing all the crosshatching and really like the final drawing. His quote “If I’d known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself” is great. He lived until he was 96. Samuel Beckett (Irish novelist, poet and playwright) is also a favourite as I have reworked him several times, each time the number of lines gets less and less. I also like Alice Cooper (Rock Musician).’ Click here for the interview.
Eubie Blake © J H Thomson
Of his favourite musicians, Pee Wee Russell obviously holds a key place in Jimmy's life, but which others? 'Musicians I admire? Well, Sandy Brown, of course. I sat in with him at Fishmongers Arms,
Wood Green - standing shoulder to shoulder with Nat Gonella! Sandy lived upstairs from Jack Hutton. I loved Jimmy Giuffre, Ben Webster, and too many others to list. I played alongside
Jimmy Deuchar on two occasions.
Scared me to death. He doubled up
the tempo of Sweet Georgia Brown Wow! He could transpose at will.
Just a remarkable musician/arranger.
Under-rated. And a nice guy.'
'I liked Bud
Freeman's rumbling-tumbling style - oh, and Wild Bill
Davison - and so on. Some moderns too: Mulligan,
Desmond, Basie band, Ellington - I met him face to face in Glasgow with my friend Ken Gallacher, a huge jazz
fan. Should say magnificent-face! I gave him a drawing
but was a bit overcome by his presence. Ken was doing
a concert report - must been 1958/59?'
Jimmy’s artwork has been auctioned at Sotheby’s and bought by collectors, and the University of Kent have an archive of some (but not all) of his drawings. He retired from working commercially in 1995 and now spends his time painting, writing poetry, and playing jazz on his clarinet.
Jimmy and Irving Miskell-Reid of Freedom Hair with one of Jimmy’s Melody Maker covers at the 2014 exhibition
George Melly © J H Thomson
Do You Have A Birthday In February?
for February Birthdays
AQUARIUS (The Water Bearer)
20th January - 18th February
The universal solar system has been waxing (growing) since December 21st. Your personal solar cycle waxes from your birthday onwards when 90 % of the planets are moving forward. Mars is still in your 10th house showing great current promise.
TIs this the dawning of the age? Make the most of your Aquarian tendency to be able to think clearly, interpreting information from the abstract, an ideal time to play some new, challenging music. Perhaps to start, listen a couple of times to Charlie Parker playing Anthropology (click here) and move on from there.
PISCES (The Fish)
19th February - 20th March
Mars, your financial planet is still in Scorpio but planentary momentum is forward this month. There is fast progress towards your goals, but you might find yourself working harder, overcoming more obstacles.
You are in a very spiritual period, and your natural intuitive and emotional faculties are worth tapping into. Use contemplative jazz to help you relax and allow you to develop your inner strengths and insight. Perhaps Keith Jarrett playing I Thought About You (click here) or something similar?
Carl Orr(Guitar, Bandleader)
[Click here for a video of Carl playing Mirage with the Billy Cobham band].
Hi Carl, tea or coffee?
Coffee please. Espresso.
Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?
Charlie Christian, John McLaughlin or Pat Metheny?
I’m influenced by all three of them. Charlie blasted on the scene with a new instrument, the electric guitar; his playing was completely original and highly charismatic. John defined jazz-rock guitar. Pat rebelled against what John was doing and steered things in a completely different direction which has turned out to be extremely influential as he very quickly grew into a musical visionary who simply could not be ignored and he has created a body of work of a degree of breadth and ambition that no other guitarist comes close to.
However, John is my guy. He was the first guitarist to figure out how to play the guitar as a powerful virtuoso instrument of improvisation to rival the saxophone. He has also written a lot of highly original music. I transcribed many of his solos and spent countless hours practising them so I know his improvisational approach intimately.
Milk and sugar?
One sugar please. No milk.
Tell me about Fletch’s Brew.
Fletch’s Brew grew organically at Ronnie Scott’s Club. Mark Fletcher started to get lots of gigs doing the ‘Late Late Shows’ on the weekends; he was booking a lot of different musicians and then, as I turned out to be available most of the time, I wound up doing most of the gigs, and eventually all of them. The same thing happened with the other musicians, trumpeter Freddie Gavita and bassist Steve Pearce. We had a couple of good years from about the beginning of 2013. We played mostly original tunes and developed a unique, highly interactive style, and had a huge dynamic range from super quiet all the way up to 11. It was a lot of fun for a while, we did dozens of great gigs. I am very thankful to Fletch for the opportunity to play so much great music.
[Click here for a video of Fletch’s Brew playing Invitation in 2013].
What gigs have you been doing since Fletch’s Brew?
I’ve been playing with my band, which is very different to Fletch’s Brew, funkier and more accessible, and sounds at times like a modernised Headhunters with a lunatic playing the guitar out front. The band is Bill Mudge on keyboards, Giovanni Pallotti on bass and Davide de Rose on drums. You may be familiar with Bill, but you probably don’t know the names of the two Italians as Giovanni is very young and Davide mainly plays with African artists and isn’t known in the jazz scene, despite being one hell of a jazz drummer He is the son of highly respected Italian jazz pianist Nino de Rose.
I am also spending a lot of time promoting my latest album, Forbearance. It’s a very lavish project based around my acoustic guitar, produced by Tim van der Kuil, who plays guitar with Adele, and boasting strings and horns arranged by Grant Windsor, and my dear friend Billy Cobham is guesting on one track.
What are you planning for the coming year?
To do an Australian tour and to expand my audience, both geographically and airplay-wise.
Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?
As far as live music goes, I heard Chick Corea play recently and Charles Altura, his guitarist is a monster with a very likeable, persuasive style, as is his drummer Marcus Gilmore, Roy Haynes's grandson. I also like the Israeli guitarist Yotam Silberstein and the amazing young Scottish guitarist Ant Law. I also heard Nils Petter Molvaer a couple of months ago and I was mesmerised for his whole set.
As far as recorded music, I discovered an underrated masterpiece recently, Jeremy Lubbock’s Awakening and I listen to it, in whole or in part, almost every day.
[Click here to listen to Jeremy Lubbock’s Awakening].
How do you think the world of jazz is looking at the moment?
I am thinking that jazz has no chance of increasing in popularity as long as musicians fixate on impressing other musicians as their main focus, driving the music inexorably into deeper and deeper obscurity and demoting it increasingly to the preserve of fellow musicians and a tiny minority of non-musician aficionados. Billy Cobham taught me about realising that the audience have paid good money to hear us play and we have to really communicate with them, and the best way to do that is to cast aside the ego and just be natural and present yourself with a degree of light-heartedness.
There’s a dearth of humour in jazz. I have witnessed many gigs in which nobody in the band so much as cracked a smile. There’s no need for showbiz “stage-smiling” or joking around, but, if the performers have a sense of gratitude for the privilege of playing music for a listening audience, happiness should naturally manifest itself. The great jazz musicians of the past such as Armstrong, Ellington and Goodman played music of the highest quality that was palatable to the average person. I do not play music that even vaguely resembles the music of any of those gigantic musical geniuses, but I am inspired by their example and seek to emulate it in a totally modern way.
I also believe that it’s important for musicians to seek out older musicians, bandleaders and composers, that is, to train with them onstage. Just practising and writing and studying is not enough. When I was young I sought out such training and as a result I worked with a great bassist/composer Jackie Orszaczky in Sydney for a few years, and he really trained me in playing effectively as part of a rhythm section. Then I trained with the great Australian saxophonist Dale Barlow (he played with Cedar Walton and Art Blakey), and he trained me in improvisation, keeping it interesting and using a different approach in every tune.
[Click here for a video of Carl playing Visby with Dale Barlow in 1995 at Wangaratta Jazz Festival Australia].
Then finally I trained with Billy Cobham, who gave me invaluable guidelines on how to play my instrument better, and trained me to really project and command the audience through finding a way to just be natural onstage, and to truly embrace and enjoy all good music, regardless of genre.
And remember, music is your contribution to world peace. If you keep that in the centre of your focus, you are able to rise above all the “noise” in your head (“Am I playing good enough?” etc).
[Click here to listen to Carl’s cover of Donald Fagen’s Tomorrow’s Girls].
Yes, I’ll always have another biscuit! Can’t you tell from my photos?
[Carl Orr’s latest album Forbearance is reviewed below. As Carl says: ‘It’s not a jazz album, so it will grievously disappoint from that perspective, but, it’s a finely-crafted showcase of my playing and composing with the intention of appealing to a large audience without an ounce of compromise’. – click here to listen to How Can I Say? from the album].
[Click here for Carl Orr’s website. Carl also has his latest news on Facebook - click here].
Ray Gelato and the Giants
Brian O'Connor took his camera to the Watermill Jazz Club in January to capture these pictures.
Richard Busiakiewicz © Brian O'Connor
Brian says: 'Just like the radio programme, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, I’ve never seen Ray Gelato. That is until the 7th of January at the Watermill Jazz Club in Dorking. For some reasons our paths have never previously crossed. This has now been remedied, and as with two other recent gigs I’ve attended, the music was tuneful, familiar, and extremely well performed. Even the jokes were welcome retreads of old favourites, ‘Do you like the suits the guys are wearing? You should, you’re paying for them.’
'No surprises at all during an energetic two hours, and somewhat the better for that. As ever, there’s a new CD to go with the gig.
Perhaps I’m becoming a bit nostalgic as my maturity intensifies, but I’m enjoying the ‘happy’ side of jazz for a change. Good stuff. to use a phrase.'
George Hogg © Brian O'Connor
Affectionately known as the 'Godfather Of Swing', Ray Gelato's music was recently described by Elfyn Griffith after last year's Bristol Jazz Festival as having 'a classic vibe of Italian/American New York of the 40's and 50's about it. Sharp-suited and with a vocal evocative of the era of the great crooners, Gelato has a big stage presence, laced with a joyous bonhomie ... The thing about Gelato is that he approaches swing with a twinkle in his eye and his tongue firmly in his cheek without letting up on the finely honed sharpness of his and his musicians' delivery of the music. The number Get Off The Phone, off new album Original Flavours, with its swipe at the modern culture of mobile phone obsession is a case in point.'
Andy Rogers © Brian O'Connor
'Ray's father was probably his first musical influence. A US airman from New Jersey, living in London, Ray's dad had brought over a huge collection of great records. Young Ray remembers hearing Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Bill Haley Little Richard, and many more, being played around the home while he was growing up. This love of music developed further when Ray was a teenager. Most nights, Ray could be found at London’s best Rock n Roll clubs, R 'n' B venues and live gigs. Discovering the sounds of Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, among many other legendary entertainers, who would later be huge influences on Ray's music.'
Ray Gelato © Brian O'Connor
'In 1979, Ray took up tenor sax. Studying hard at night school and with private tutors, he developed a life-long love of jazz tenor sax playing. He was introduced to such sax greats as, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster, etc. These masters became big influences on Gelato's sax playing. Around this time, Ray would ask to sit in with any live band that would let him! It was then that he realised that music was to be his life.' (Ray Gelato's website - click here).
Ray and Claire Martin have recorded We’ve got a World That Swings, a new CD on Linn records that will be out in May. Ray's 2015 album Original Flavours can be sampled if you click here. Click here for a video of Ray Gelato and the Giants playing Just A Gigolo. (Click here for our page on the song Just A Gigolo)
All photographs © Brian O'Connor.
For Brian O'Connor's website where you can find a gallery of his jazz photographs click here: www.imagesofjazz.com
Southend Facility for National Jazz Archive
The National Jazz Archive is opening a new facility at the Beecroft Gallery in Southend’s emerging cultural quarter on Saturday 6 February.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the National Jazz Archive – which boasts the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music – have signed a 10-year service level agreement which will see a new department of the Archive operate on the lower floor of the Beecroft Gallery in Southend, Essex.
The public opening will be from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 6 February 2016, with a celebration to launch the facility. There will be conducted tours of the research collections and museum exhibits, including the trumpets of Louis Armstrong, Nat Gonella and Humphrey Lyttelton, extensive papers from Humphrey Lyttelton, and Sir John Dankworth’s first piano. There will be music playing all day – with a live session headed by tenor saxophonist Simon Spillett at 3pm. Simon will also host showings of the new DVD about the great saxophonist Tubby Hayes ‘A Man in a Hurry’ at 1pm and 2pm (times to be confirmed).
The National Jazz Archive (Southend) will then be open to the public from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. Planned features in the future include:
- A research collection of books and periodicals
- Supporting collections of recorded jazz and interviews with jazz musicians
- Facilities for internet research and liaison with the Archive’s headquarters at Loughton, Essex
- Travelling and in-house exhibitions of jazz, art and artefacts
- Displays of instruments and jazz memorabilia.
The Archive hopes to recruit more volunteers to supplement its existing team and to secure funding so that it can further expand its activities.
Cllr. Mrs Mary Betson, Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism & Economic Development, said:
“Our aspiration as an authority is to cement our position as the leading hub for culture in the East of England, so attracting the National Jazz Archive is another great coup for the Borough. Culture is not only critical for our continued ability to draw tourists to our town and shores but also makes an enormous contribution to the wellbeing of our residents. That’s why the Council was keen to support the National Jazz Archive in their hunt for more space for expansion and why I’m delighted to be able to welcome the Archive to a part of the town that, with the museum, planetarium and recently relocated Beecroft Gallery, is rapidly establishing itself as a cultural quarter. I look forward to its opening on 6 February.”
The new National Jazz Archive facility is at the Beecroft Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6EX.
The Gallery is on Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, next to the Central Museum and close to the Civic Centre and Courthouse. A pay & display car park is beside the Gallery. Disabled parking is behind the Gallery.
Southend Victoria train station, on the Liverpool Street line from London, is just two minutes’ walk from the Gallery. Southend Central train station, on the London Fenchurch Street line, is a 5–10 minute walk.
Many local buses stop next to Southend Victoria Station. www.southendmuseums.co.uk
Jazz in Southend
Although the pre-war history of jazz in Southend remains misty, its position as a significant centre for the music since 1945 is unquestionable. From then and throughout the 1950s there were jazz clubs in the town as well as major venues including the Kursaal (which hosted all the greatest big bands of the era), the Odeon Cinema and Cliffs Pavilion. In turn these welcomed American jazz legends including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman and many more.
Today, there are five flourishing jazz clubs in the town which regularly feature top names from London’s jazz scene as well as local professional performers. Southend Bandstand features many local jazz bands during the weekend summer concerts.
Ken Colyer and Mac Duncan
From Wolfgang Buchhalter in Germany:
Let me utter a couple of late remarks concerning my hero Ken Colyer. I met him and Delphine many years ago, in the early fifties here in H. Unforgettable impressions! Ken was a genius, an extraordinary charismatic person. In my opinion, only two people made a real personal contribution to Jazz i.e. European Jazz History : Ken and Django Reinhard.
By all means in his early years he was a carbon copy of Bunk ... but what a copy! Sometimes he actually was better than him. Same thing with Sammy and early Lewis. There is some mistake about Ken´s pronunciation. He had read a lot and was no fool. It was the southern dialect of the Black (African American) population in New Orleans that he admired and tied to emulate. They laughed: "Man this guy comes from Europe and talks like us." When I was in New Orleans in 1960, Doc Souchon said they took him for a reincarnation of Bunk. I heard every kind of American Music, from Oldtime to Blues to Bluegrass etc. but Ken´s phrasing, timing and dynamic was better than most A.M.stuff.
By the way, one question comes to my mind. Many, many hours did I spend at old Studio 51 watching and listening like in a trance. They were the days of Wheeler, Ward, Duncan, Bastable. I read about all of them, only Mac Duncan who blew that great pumping trombone never is mentioned with a single word. How come?
Can you tell me anything? At this moment I am listening to Ken live in 1972 at the York Art Centre. Man... what a session!! I am 82 but still I dig that. All the best and keep on groovin.
[We would be very happy to feature an article about trombonist Mac Duncan - if readers would like to send me any infornation they have, please get in contact. Trombonist Malcolm 'Mac' Duncan was born in Yorkshire in 1930 and sadly took his own life at the age of just 51 yrs. I have some information from John Chilton's 'Who's Who Of British Jazz' but would welcome anything else - Ed.]
Frank Daniels writes: 'I remember one time
when I was with Tony Milliner, he wanted to meet up with Tim Mahn, who was staying
with the rest of the band in a hotel in Nottingham. We went for an afternoon stroll along
the banks of the River Trent, and Tim told us that the other guys in the band had been
ribbing him about his other job (as well as playing in the Al Fairweather-Sandy Brown band and the
Diz Disley String Quintet, he also had a lucrative job playing in a Strip Club on certain nights).
They had been saying such things as he wasn’t allowed out to play (jazz), except when the
girls permitted it. We also found this rather amusing, but Tim was after sympathy!!! Do you know what happened to Tim Mahn after he left Al and Sandy?
Please contact us if you are able to help with any information about bass player Tim Mahn.
Alan 'Coops' Cooper
Jamie Evans tells us that he has updated his website about clarinettist/saxophonist Alan Cooper - click here for 'Alan Cooper Remembered'.
Kingston Jazz and Bill Brunskill
Ann Clarke writes: 'The late fifties - those were good old days in Kingston. I was with my friend Carol Mayer who shared my love of Trad. which was inherited from my young father who had a collection of records. He would come and pick us up from the Fighting Cocks, only because it was an excuse to listen to Bill Brunskill. Carol and I were at Kingston Art school and life revolved around the venues, The Swan at Mill Street (Fridays?), Burtons (Thursdays) -The Fighting Cocks, where we drank cider, and once could afford 2 pints, and were dancing all the way home. We also went to the Commodore down by the river, ran by two men who took us home to try and find out whether they were gay or not. They decided they were. I remember one of the best dancers went under the nickname of 'Drake' - he had a beard. The Fighting Cocks was definitely the favourite.
(Click here for our page on Kingston Jazz and click here for our page on Bill Brunskill).
Colin Thompson - Clarinet
Marcus Thompson writes: 'It was great to find some pictures of my father on your site today (see the Marquess of Donegal article - click here). Sadly, my father died in 1985 having suffered from MS for many years. I still have a few records he made in the 1950s, mainly studio demos, but also an album made with Harry Walton called Dreamboat. My mother (still alive and kicking) remembers fondly the club mentioned in the story told by Jack Free on your page.
The Six Bells Chelsea
Bruce Turner fan Jack Marlow writes: ‘After visiting your site and seeing the "larger than life paintings of jazz musicians" mentioned by Bill Brown at the Six Bells pub in Chelsea page (click here), I thought that this information might be of interest.
Bill Philby, my uncle, had painted a two-colour mural of Louis Armstrong in the living room of his flat in Leyton. Jim Godbolt, a long time friend of Bill's, during a visit, asked Bill to paint six for the Six Bells. Bill Philby was working as a commercial artist from home at the time and he asked me to give him a hand doing the paintings and to paint a mural at Jim Godbolt´s flat. The larger-than-lifes were painted on 3ft x 6ft sheets of hardboard with emulsion paint. Bill traced black and white photos of the musicians and then reduced them, by eye, to a high contrast picture. The tracings were around 7 x 9 inches. A grid was drawn on the tracing paper and the hardboard for the transfer. The two colours were just the basic deep tone, then mixed with white to make the pastel shade.
As far as I can remember we painted: Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Pee Wee Russel, Fats Waller, the rest I don´t recall.
They were simply nailed into place, squared up by eye, on a wonderful sunny afternoon in the club hall.
[The pictures can be glimpsed in the photograph of Al Fairweather and Sandy Brown on the Six Bells page]
Pete Lay writes:
Regarding Richard Thomas's piece about Steve Lane LPs (click here) - John Deffray’s Creole Jazzband wasn’t from Chatham – they were a London based band run by clarinettist John Defferary – formed in the mid 1960s, they had a regular Monday night at The Whyte Hart, Drury Lane, London, played the Faversham Jazz Club (at the Fleur De Lis pub) on a Tuesday night and other clubs on the West London Jazz Society’s list on other nights. The LP shown VJM LC7 is in my collection. My brother Mick Lay played drums in the band. Rest of the line-up: - Roger Link (bass), Harmer Johnson (piano), Dave Carpenter (trumpet), Barry Weston (trombone) and Brian White (guitar). Pleased to say all these guys are still alive.
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Thank you to those people who have liked our Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook page and who have commented on posts. I hope that you have found the items there of interest. Using Facebook gives us a chance to share information that arrives between issues of What's New Magazine. If you do visit our Facebook page, please Like us and Share us with your friends. (If you are not on Facebook, please tell your friends about us anyway!).
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:
Barry Cooper - UK Professor of Mathematics in Leeds with a passion for jazz, and, more generally, experimental music. He co-founded the Leeds Jazz non-profit organisation in 1984, and helped attract top artists including Art Blakey and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
Paul Bley - Canadian pianist influenced by Bud Powell. His first wife was pianist Carla Bley, who as well as Annette Peacock, was a strong musical collaborator with Paul. At 18 he had the opportunity to accompany such giants as Lester Young and Charlie Parker; in 1953 he was invited by Charles Mingus to supervise a recording by the bassist’s 10-piece band, and in return he was given his own first session as a leader, in a trio with Mingus on bass and Art Blakey on drums. With Carla, their band was joined by alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman and the trumpeter Don Cherry - changing not just the line-up of the group, which became a quintet completed by the bassist Charlie Haden and the drummer Billy Higgins, but its entire approach. He would go on to play with Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor amongst many others. Click here for Paul Bley and Chet Baker playing Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye. Click here for a video of Paul playing solo piano in 1973.
Johnny Rogers - UK saxophonist from North London who, along with Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth, was a founder member of Club Eleven, pioneers of bebop in the UK. Towards the end of the 1940s he was influenced by bebop whilst playing at a club frequented by American servicemen, and in 1948, he joined 10 others to rent a basement in Windmill Street, Soho, to rehearse and eventually perform for a paying public. While playing with Joe Loss, he met and married a saxophonist with Ivy Benson's band and the two ran a jazz club together in Redcar. Eventually they retired to a small farm in Glaisdale but Johnny went on playing until 1990 when poor health prevented him playing further.
Johnny Rodgers - UK clarinettist who played with the Gambit Jazzmen. Johnny passed away the day before saxophonist Johnny Rodgers and it is easy to confuse the two names, but their jazz styles were different, Johnny Rodgers playing very much in the' traditional style'. Click here for a video of Johnny Rodgers playing Peteite Fleur (Thank you to Mike Scroxton for recommending this). Picture by Laurence Cumming.
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 Originally Released: April 22nd, 2015 - Label: CD Baby
In For The Out
The band "Plunge" is led by trombonist, Mark McGrain, graduate of Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA who went on to author the Berklee Guide to "Music Notation" but who is now resident in New Orleans. "Plunge" was founded in 1996 and In For The Out is the fourth album from the band following on from Falling With Grace, Dancing On Thin Ice and Tin Fish Tango. For this album the personnel are Tom Fitzpatrick (tenor sax and flute), Tim Green (saxello and baritone sax), Kirk Joseph (sousaphone), Simon Lott (drums and electronic percussion), James Singleton (double bass), Robert Walter (organ) and Mark McGrain (trombone and alp-horn).
Unusual but welcome are extensive notes about the inspiration for the album and each track. The name of the album recalls a phrase used by an old friend and means that it is prudent to plan for the dismantling of something which is only ever temporary. The inspiration for the album was the life of Mark McGrain's brother Tim who sadly died after a long illness.
Given the sensitivity of the context the description of each track is copied from Mark McGrain's composer's notes:
"The album opens with The Jilt (track 1 - trombone, organ, sousaphone, drums), an odd measured, tripped-up stumble over the threshold of indisputable fact. It’s the slap against the cheek; the ice hitting the spine. It’s the crash we didn’t see coming; that moment when we come face to face with our own mortality and it both startles and scares us. Monkey Mitts (track 2 – trombone, organ, sousaphone, drums) is a reference to a comment my brother Tim once made during a conversation we had concerning the chaos and apparent incompetence on the part of government in the early days after the federal flood of 2005. Tim explained that after all, “monkeys are flying the plane.” This song is about the maniacal hand of fate; the trickster’s prank; demons at play and ultimately about blame—denial, and anger. It’s always those pesky monkeys, right?"
Click here to listen to The Jilt.
"The next track, Schoolie’s Day (track 3 – trombone, tenor sax, organ, sousaphone, drums) is about understanding; the process of gaining the knowledge and wisdom to see, as clearly as possible, what’s ahead. Falling With Grace (track 4 – solo trombone) is about calmly accepting that which will unfailingly come to pass.
With The Speed of Darkness (track 5 – trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, organ, double bass, sousaphone, drums) I’ve tried to convey the sense of panic resulting from accelerating physical decay. No matter how well prepared one may be, it seems nonetheless to be a shock when reality hits. I watched my brother from a time when he could walk nearly normally. Then, gradually he became awkward, soon clumsy, and eventually dependent upon a cane - two canes - braces. He would fall and it was very difficult to get him back up again. With his mobility so drastically hampered life was getting bleak from limitation. Then came the wheelchair - a total game changer. It made my brother a new man being able to cruise his neighborhood and take walks with friends - giving kids rides. Second Man Suit (track 6 – trombone, organ, double bass, sousaphone, drums) was composed with that transition in mind."
"As Angels Roar (track 7 – trombone, saxello, tenor sax, double bass, drum) is an expression of the sense of injustice and the pain in recognizing the terminal truth of death. If As Angels Roar is the dark cloak of doom, track 8, Beyond the Night (trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, double bass, drums), is the catharsis of believing in something more; that one’s legacy will outlive the decaying body - a good reason to push onward. Track 9, Exit Strategy (trombone, flute, baritone sax, double bass, drums with hands),is about planning one’s final campaign - tying up loose ends and defining what one stands for. For my brother Tim, that meant standing up for the disparaged and disenfranchised. He recognized the non-abating trend of economic isolation between the world’s wealthy and it’s impoverished and he practiced empathy and unity. Hence the title of track 10, Hymn To The End Of Rampant Disparity, Entropy Suite Part 1 (trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, double bass, drums)."
"On track 11, Bear And Eagle Meet Raven (trombone, double bass, drums) the native American totems representing knowledge and intelligence (Bear and Eagle were my brother’s totems) meet up with the mercurial trickster (again those pesky monkeys); end game, the dance of death. The final blow is cast in track 12, Too Weak to Exhale (alphorn, double bass, drums) as the body fails itself, unable to release the toxins of it’s own making. With Love Alone (track 13 – trombone, saxello, tenor sax, double bass, drums) was composed for, and performed at my brother’s memorial. It’s about release and the idea of ascension. In this case a gentle release as the soul lets go. It’s about growing wings. This track features the late Tim Green on saxello. Tim passed away not long after this recording. Though deeply missed, Tim’s ethereal voice and lithesome soul continue to inspire. Birmingham Songo (track 14 – trombone, tenor sax, organ, sousaphone,) is a celebration of freedom gained and the legacy shared by one who brought so much joy to us in life.. As a final reminder, though, of the vastness of forever, An Unspannable Divide (track 15 -- solo sousaphone) plays out the final echoes resounding, so long as our lore and ritual perpetuate them."
Mark McGrain, New Orleans 23rd March 2015
The style of the music on the album divides pretty much into two with one half (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 14) providing infectious melodies from horns and organ and funky rhythms from sousaphone and double bass. There is also some great percussion, particularly on track 5 which is essentially a drum solo and track 14 where an Afro-Cuban style is evident and lovely solos from trombone and organ and on the Latin tinged track 9 flute and baritone sax. The other tracks (4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15) have a much freer style with lots of improvisation, sometimes solo, sometimes in various combinations. These latter tracks are uncompromising and difficult to appreciate but complement those that are more accessible.
Music has a unique ability to sound the way emotions feel and this album is a very interesting personal statement by a composer and musician in memory of his brother. It is very well worth listening to simply as an album of music but knowing the inspiration for it adds a great deal.
Click here to sample the album.
Click here for the extensive background notes to the album and the tracks.
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Album Released: 1st October 2015 - Label: CD Baby
Remembering Ol' Blue Eyes (Songs of Sinatra)
June Bastable reviews this album for us:
We all know that it was the 100th anniversary of Francis Albert Sinatra’s birth in December 2015. And here is a truly wonderful tribute by that supreme guitarist, Lou Volpe, who has released the first Standard album of his career in remembrance and homage to Sinatra, combining the influences of jazz, bossa nova, blues and swing!
Lou Volpe was born in New York and is well-known not only on the New York music scene but also world-wide as a master of the jazz guitar. His sound is seductive, elegant, passionate! He has performed and recorded with such diverse artistes as Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Bo Diddley, David “Fathead” Newman, Chet Baker, Liza Minelli, Lionel Hampton, Roberta Flack, Phoebe Snow, Manhattan Transfer and many others, and has toured with Bette Midler, Judy Collins and Herbie Mann (for whom he also composed, arranged and co-produced): tours ranged over the US, Europe, Africa and Japan.
Click here for an introductory video.
Volpe’s artistry ranges from his famous round sound, through single-note runs, rich chords, thrilling twangs, orgasmic crescendos and a certain delicate filigree fretwork.
And now we have this beautiful selection of Sinatra songs where Lou Volpe makes his guitar “sing” by “finger-picking” the melody as if he were uttering the lyrics! Entrancing and wonderful stuff! The only piece not part of the Sinatra catalogue is Carlos Santana’s Europe which is included as a dedication to the “brilliance of Frank”. The other thirteen tracks on this album are drawn from the Great American Songbook and include I’ll Remember April; Speak Low; It Was a Very Good Year; You Go To My Head; A Foggy Day; One For My Baby; Days of Wine and Roses; That’s Life; Softly As I Leave You; The Best is Yet to Come; I Get a Kick Out of You; All the Things You Are and I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
Click here to listen to You Go To My Head.
Each track employs a selection of musicians chosen from the following superb and world-class personnel: Lou Volpe (guitar, keyboards, bass (on track 13); Delmar Brown (keyboards); Mel David (keyboards); Onaje Allan Gumbs (keyboards); Stanley Banks (bass); Leo Traversa (bass); Buddy Williams (drums); Sipho Kunnene (drums - track 13) and Gary Fritz (percussio)n.
Out of these gorgeous lyrical melodies, this ecstatic reviewer has to choose I’ve Got You Under My Skin (track 13), performed in a bossa nova tempo, as the very favourite out of this stunning and exceptional collection of Sinatra standards.
Click here to listen to I've Got You Under My Skin.
Click here to listen to samples from the album.
June Bastable is the wife of the late jazz musician, Johnny Bastable. She is a writer and author of two books Some People and These People available from Amazon, Waterstones, etc.
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Album Released: 1st October 2015 - Label: CD Baby
The 14 Jazz Orchestra
Nothing Hard Is Ever Easy
Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:
For those who think that big band music should capture a nostalgic spirit of the music of days gone by, The 14 Jazz Orchestra may not be what they are looking for. But for those who are uplifted by orchestral jazz as initially defined by Duke Ellington and continued over the years by visionaries like Charlie Mingus, George Russell and Gil Evans, their debut album will be a joyful revelation.
The orchestra is comprised of some of Miami’s most accomplished jazz and studio musicians under the direction of the remarkable arranger/conductor Dan Bonsanti, the 14 Jazz Orchestra has been delighting audiences with its exciting and challenging contemporary jazz since its initial performance in October 2013.
This album covers the full spectrum of the modern jazz era, spanning nearly 70 years. All the arrangements are by Bonsanti with the exception of one, U.M.M.G which is Clare Fischer’s take on this Billy Strayhorn tune. The orchestra members are all alumni of the Frost School of Music, part of the University of Miami, and they are joined here by three guest artists. These are bassists Will Lee and Mark Egan along with drummer Marko Marcinko.
The album has 11 tracks, 10 arranged by Bonsanti and 1 re-orchestrated by him as mentioned previously. The shortest is just over 4 minutes and the longest 9 and half minutes.
The opening track, U.M.M.G swings from the start with seamless solos from Ed Maina on alto sax, Dante Luciani on trombone and Jim Gasior on piano and is a good rousing start to the rest of the album. Palladium, the Wayne Shorter song, is driven by the keyboards and drums and it is exciting to hear an unusual flute solo from Ed Mania. The relaxed, yet boisterous, arrangement finishes with Ed Calle on tenor sax and Jim Gasior on keyboards. Track 3 is John and Mary by Jaco Pastorius, with very slow and soulful keyboard led sections, followed with Ed Calle on soprano sax playing some flourishing solos characterised by almost Caribbean feel.
Other tracks of note are, Pools, with interesting interplay between keyboards / tenor sax and then keyboards / guitar, all driven by the percussion and highlighted by bright, clear guitar and sax solos. A slightly slower than usual tempo for Hit the Road Jack, features Cisco Dimas’ trumpet playing. Again we have some first rate (accomplished) trumpet playing, this time from Ray Chicalo, on Take My Hand Precious Lord, and Peter Brewer’s baritone sax shows what an enjoyable instrument it can be when played well.
Paul McCartney’s With a Little Help From my Friends is a beautiful swinging version with the tenor sax to the fore, backed by Will Lee’s bass beautifully adapted to the ‘big band’ feel. The last track, You’re Under Arrest, has a faster beat after some of the slower tracks, with enjoyable solos from tenor sax, trombone, keyboards, and guitar, which overall give it a quirky/comedic feel which I enjoyed.
As with all big bands that play well together, it takes the solos to provide the highlights, which this album does on most tracks. It shifts effortlessly from one style to another making the whole album flow from one track to the next.
Click here to sample the album
Click here for videos of the band playing some of their numbers on their website.
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Album Released: 185 - Label: Palmetto Records
Steve Day Reviews this album for us:
Balancing Act are Mike Holober (piano); Kate McGarry(voice); Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn); Dick Oatts (alto and soprano saxophone, flute); Jason Rigby (tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet); Mark Patterson (trombone); John Hebert (double bass); Brian Blade (drums).
Arranged and produced by Mike Holober, that’s what it reads on the sleeve and by the time I reach the shimmering orchestration of the final track, When There Were Trains, I can almost see the pianist’s hand raised in the air to wave out a nicely nuanced ending to music which seems to have simply glided through my ears. This is a smooth operation and one I allowed myself to enjoy.
Look at the line-up: Dick Oatts on alto saxophone, a positive stellar stalwart of the legendary Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, as important an icon in New York as the statue of liberty herself. Then comes the great Brian Blade on drums; if you caught my review last October of David Berkman’s recent album you’ll understand the significance. No argument, these musicians are deluxe definite. No jazz buff ought to deny themselves the opportunity to listen to the difference a crack team bring to a session. Mike Holober selected this line-up carefully from people he knows well. Marvin Stamm’s brass has a very precise palette which reminds me of Kenny Wheeler. Kate McGarry’s voice is a whispered particle, and yes, she’s recorded Norma Winstone material in the past, though she is her own person, no question. Mr Holober’s own piano contains a long lyrical line that covers time and motion – there’s nothing tense about his playing, any sense of a tight grip falls from his fingers.
Balancing Act is a title well considered, there is a terrific sense of internal proportion within these performances. The weighing up of each moment, even something like the Mark Patterson’s trombone break delivered with a swagger on the starter track Book of Sighs, feels as if it breathes direct from the song rather than being imposed upon it. These are seasoned American ‘jazz’ players who have found a session which is exactly positioned between the intentions within the superbly crafted writing and the art of extemporising. This is all their music, I am quite sure of that.
Five of the tracks are written by Mike Holober and a sixth by his compatriot, tenor player Jason Rigby providing the key contribution, Idris, in memory of the great funky drummer Idris Muhammed. There are also two ‘standards’. In my view, Mike Holober should have dispensed with them in favour of his own writing. His own songs like Book of Sighs, Grace At Sea and When There Were Trains are truly evocative studies....., damn it, they are a caress of the spirit from experienced musicians who have put aside ‘the session’ in favour of articulating the elemental. And the truth is, I am sucker for a smart horn section expanding over a drummer who is riveting the rhythm underneath them.
Click here to listen to When There Were Trains.
There are multiple examples of the state of the art here. On Grace At Sea Jason Rigby’s tenor saxophone statement coolly whirls out of the section like he has the wind in his sails. On Canyon the horns balance the reeds and brass solos to classy effective affect because the section playing is creaming the colours too. It is why I described Idris as a key track, it is the only one on the album that doesn’t involve voice. What Idris does is enable the listener to put all those clean horn/brass arrangements into their own lead line without ‘balancing’ off of Kate McGarry’s singing. She is undoubtedly special, but so too are Oatts, Rigby and Patterson, and of course Mr Blade. Idris is nicely judged.
Balancing Act. Left to right: Mark Patterson (trombone), Marvin Stamm (trumpet), Mike Holober (piano/composer/arranger), Dick Oatts (alto), Kate McGarry (vocals), Jason Rigby (tenor), Brian Blade (drums), John Hébert (bass). Photograph: Colleen Chrzanowski
Click here for Mike Holober playing Canyon live in 2014.
I’ve said the two non-band originals on this album don’t work as well as the material by Mr Holober and Mr Rigby. The first, Billy Joel’s song Lullabye: Goodnight My Angel nearly makes the transition. At almost eight minutes in length, it uses voice throughout but no words until the final sixty seconds. Until that point the arrangement intriguingly repeats the central melodic line, almost like romanticised minimalism, and plants a short piano solo into the proceedings as if Debussy was given the gift of Brian Blade’s subtle percussion. The arrangement produces an absorbing ambient abstraction. In my view, it is a pity Kate McGarry felt the need to sing Billy J’s words at the end of the track. His words sound fey; the dénouement disappoints. The other non-original is Piece of My Heart a classic song from 1967 that Erma Franklin, Aretha’s sister, absolutely turned into turbo on the original definitive recording (Janis Joplin muscled in on the song a year later). Marvin Stamm’s trumpet break on this Balancing Act version is nicely timed, but overall the song feels out of place, like walking into the wrong room at a party.
Even this quibble is an indicator of how much I rate the rest of what is happening on this absorbing album. Mike Holober’s writing, lyrics as well as music, come from someone who has his own landscape-muse somewhere out in the wide yonder of America. I value the sense of wonder this band bring to that material. There’s an innate drama about Balancing Act which comes from experience, musically sure, and crucially the living of a life.
Click here for details.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 18 November 2015 - Label: Dark Companion
Mujician Solo IV
Live In Piacenza
If there were such a thing as a UK 'Jazz Hall Of Fame', pianist Keith Tippett's name would be there. He is one of the UK's great jazz improvisers, and has been since before many musicians will remember. This album is a treat, his first solo album for fifteen years.
Recorded in 2012 at a live performance in Italy at the Conservatorio Nicolini in Piacenza, it features around 45 minutes of solo improvisation on a Steinway Grand Piano before an appreciative audience. Keith Tippett's playing is distinctive. He always performs on a grand piano so that he is able to incorporate the pebbles and pieces of wood that rest on the piano strings and that he uses to provide a natural percussion, a feature that is used to full effect on the first twenty minutes or so of this recording.
I asked Keith whether he approached a performance such as this with some pre-formed ideas, and the answer was basically 'no'. Before the performance, he will think about how he is feeling and from that how he will approach the start of the piece. For this concert, he says that he was feeling calm, and decided to begin in a quiet way, so from the initial applause as he approaches the piano and readies himself, the anticipation of the audience is almost tangible.
There is only one track on this album, Keith plays one piece, the length determined by no clock ticking on the wall, but from experience, an understanding of more or less how long he is expected to play, but not confined by any particular 'tunes' or compositional limits. It is not possible, therefore, to describe the album track by track, and so I shall try and give a sense of how I hear it.
The perfomance starts slowly, left hand and low, and then the right hand comments occasional replies, sometimes sharp and strong, sometimes tender. You can hear the natural percussion brought in effectively from time to time. For me, there is at times a comparison with listening to classical music, Ravel or Debussy, but with clear jazz references.
At around ten minutes the mood changes to a quick high treble with more prominent percussion, and a slower recurring theme emerges underneath before the right hand explores above that with increasing complexity. Around twenty two minutes in, the left hand starts a rhythmic underpinning and then eases away to allow quiet explorations in the higher register. And then the low rhythm creeps back in stronger and louder, fingers fast, and I'm asking 'how can someone keep that up?' We suddenly realise that the theme from Londonderry Air / Danny Boy has appeared and gone, and still the bass rolls on. And then other references that I think I should know but that disappear in the improvisation. We are now almost forty minutes in and everything is happening - and then that everything stops and Keith Tippett takes the piano keys, his percussion and the piano strings to gently create a different, pensive mood and a quiet lyrical outro. And then silence before the audience applauds and whistles their appreciation.
This is music to last. As a child, Keith Tippett's daughter, Inca, came up with the name 'Mujician' to describe her father. It has been a long time for this Solo IV recording to follow the Solos I to III recordings, but it has been well worth the wait. On the CD cover, the producer Max Marchini writes: ' ... people were mesmerized ... The music moved from soul to soul and there was a common feel of joy and spiritual, mystic consciousness ..' They have managed to capture this on the album.
This is a limited edition, numbered CD. Click here for details.
Photograph of Keith Tippett © Ian Maund
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Album Released: 12th October 2015 - Label: ACT
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Romain Collin (piano, sound design & programming); Luques Curtis (double bass); Kendrick Scott (drums); plus Mino Cinelu (percussion); Megan Rose (vocals); Jean-Michel Pilc (whistles); Grey McMurray (guitar); Laura Metcalf (cello).
Oh, yes. This has not come from nowhere. I see that, I hear that. When Wayne Shorter advised Romain Collin to Press Enter the brevity of the advice was telling and succinctly positive. What anyone else says is rather beside the point. Mr Collin has undoubtedly got to do this, to play this, it hardly matters what I think about it. Listen to this Frenchman based in America, it becomes obvious that this music is driven out of one individual’s prime need to move forward, it sounds a totally necessary requirement, to play the part. The bare fact is Press Enter is made up of compositions, but in the experience of listening to them it is like putting your ear to a conversation that has to be heard simply because it is there in front of you; a man has something pressing to say and somehow you are compelled to hear it. This is an art felt entry and cannot be ignored.
I have good friends who are pianists. It feels as if I have been listening to the piano all my life. All those pianists who inhabit my home with their recordings, the maestros with fingers that look as if they have been stretched to stalks compared to my own stubby little hands. The welling up of the hammered harp; 52 white keys and 36 black, the press and release of those precise pedals beneath the feet, the possibilities in the awe of a sustain chord. So what is it to be, the grandeur of Art Tatum or an awful rendition of Chopsticks? There, that is a way to begin a review. And strange as it might read, I am not making any claims for Romain Collin being ‘the best’, ‘the greatest’ etc, such statements seem unnecessarily conclusive and do not make a lot of sense. All I can truthfully say is, there is immediacy to this music which requires attention. The only two things I can do is describe what I’ve heard, and provide some basic information about Mr Collin. After which you too must decide whether you wish to Press Enter.
Click here for an introductory video.
99 the starter track is only just over two minutes long. The piano is in repetition, like a pulse, the drums are a big 4/4 with filler rolls rumbling a tumble, there is a wordless vocal line in the back of the mix. 99 is the sound of a pianist signing a melody straight through a rhythm section. He completes the action and the piece finishes abruptly. Clockwork could be a continuation of 99 but isn’t. The melody is pirouetted by the piano, Luques Curtis’ double bass holds a drone underneath and Kendrick Scott’s drums are interactive. When Mr Collin builds his solo it is Jarrettesque in that funky way Keith Jarrett developed with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock.
Raw, Scorched And Untethered is the longest track, rightly so it builds from another repeated circle. A melodic line that carries the whole six minute sequence back inside itself. There are several pauses, as if the trio come to the edge, and collectively move on. The studio sound at the Clubhouse, Rhinebeck, New York is very bright and clear. The piano is right at the front of the mix with the drums close up as if they come from the same hand.
Holocene is a tune by Justin Vernon, the singer-songwriter behind the alt-folk rock band Bon Iver. For the first few bars the melodic line is solo piano played out and then given emphasis by cymbals and a slip of ambient guitar. Romain Collin moves the melody into rhapsody without lifting the tune away from its origins.Kids features an additional musician, the pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, here, not playing any keyboard. His role is to whistle. It introduces a sense of frailty.
Webs; this is not frail. Of all the tracks on Press Enter it is the one that travels the furthest. The big melody line is present but it is exploratory. The initial refrain is offered up as if the intention is symphonic. Roman Collin “has composed orchestral scores for motion pictures”, so perhaps Webs may have originated from that context. By the end Kendrick Scott has pitched his drum kit into the very centre of proceedings. It is as if the pianist clothed the drummer in a web. San Luis Obispo is to all intents and purpose solo piano ‘enhanced’ by some kind of ‘sound design’. I am sure many people would consider this a ‘pretty’ tune; Mr Collin doesn’t chose to disturb it. On this occasion San Luis Obispo is not a starting point for abstracting the melody, harmony or pulse, it is played straight, almost untouched like a present that has not been played with. Maybe this is a piece that Romain Collin will come back to at some future date.
Event Horizon is a short sound collage using the voices of men from The Innocence Project, an American non-profit organisation which assists people who have been wrongfully convicted to seek justice through the use of DNA evidence. There is an air of stillness about the music, it carries words of pain, desperation and sadness. We are perhaps only too aware that as well as pressing Enter, there is also a need to create an Exit for people.
The Line (Dividing Good and Evil Cuts Through The Heart Of Every Human Being) is a title worthy of consideration, especially as it comes immediately after The Innocence Project collage. Mino Cinelu, the French percussionist who worked with Miles Davis in his ‘come back’ band in the early 1980’s, is a guest on this track. The percussion is the dividing line; the piano ripples and seems to soften the centre space. We are told ‘The Line’ in the title cuts but this piano is a ‘marker’, it carries no blade and strikes no lethal wound, though I hear a sense of resolution in the final note.
‘Round About Midnight is probably Thelonious Monk’s most well-known composition. It was written with some input from Duke Ellington’s trumpeter, Cootie Williams, later Bernie Hanighen wrote lyrics, though neither are credited here. Sometimes it feels as if every jazz musician on the planet has come up against Round Midnight. Monk’s own solo version is (in my view) the definitive performance, but the Miles Davis study in stealth, with an arrangement by Gil Evans and a band including John Coltrane, is a beautiful diamond in the dark. And a leftfield classy croon worthy of mention is Robert Wyatt’s quirky version of ‘Round About Midnight from five or six years ago. In 2007 Romain Collin graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, so it is interesting that he decided to record this particular multi-covered composition out of all the seventy plus Monk tracks available, and did so solo. I think it is actually the best track on the album. He spins the melody yet at the same time moves fractionally away from it, folding up the final with all the etiquette of a man who has enjoyed where he has just been.
Click here to sample the album and for details. Click here for
Romain Collin's website.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 13th October 2015 - Label: Myna Records
Prepare A Place For Me
Robin Kidson reviews this record for us:
Oscar Perez is an American pianist and composer, born and currently based in New York. On Prepare a Place for Me, he is joined by Thomson Kneeland on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. Alto saxophonist, Bruce Williams, also joins the band on five of the nine tracks.
Prepare a Place for Me is straightforward contemporary piano jazz, melodic with a strong, if sometimes convoluted, rhythmic pulse. There is nothing here to frighten the horses. Three things, however, save it from the run of the mill. First, Perez’s playing style which is original and absorbing. There is a faint latin tinge there but not as much as one might expect given his Cuban heritage. Second, some great tunes, all but two of which are original Perez compositions. Finally, the technical accomplishment of the musicians, all of whom are masters of their instruments.
The album begins with the upbeat Perez composition, Just Everything, which has a complex rhythm but soon settles into a vigorous and exciting groove. There is something of John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet here. The melody and improvisations often go to some unexpected places which makes for an absorbing listening experience.
The second track is Perez’s arrangement of the Thelonius Monk standard, ‘Round Midnight. Again, the beat is complicated and the musicians just about hang on to it in a way which is often quite thrilling. The arrangement has a latin flavour to it; and Perez’s playing is idiosyncratic with a staccato, percussive feel and some interesting little runs – rather like Monk, in fact, but a development of Monk rather than an impersonation. He uses part of the Miles Davis arrangement of the tune to good effect.
The bluesy Headin’ Over, another Perez original, sees Bruce Williams join the band on alto sax. He adds another dimension to the playing with some confident improvisations in various styles – sometimes Cannonball Adderley, sometimes Ornette Coleman. He also plays on the next track, Snake Charm, which, as the title suggests, has an eastern vibe. It is a complicated tune which must have been difficult to play but the musicians carry it off with aplomb. There is some lovely interplay between Perez and Williams.
Williams drops out of the next two tracks. Message To Monterey, has a pretty, upbeat, foot tapping tune and some fine drum work by Garnett. The Nearness of You is an arrangement of the Hoagy Carmichael ballad. Perez played it at the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition in 2014 and it helped him win second place. The tempo varies in an interesting way from gentle and reflective to something more swinging. The interplay between the three musicians is quietly impressive – as it is on the other tracks. Perez places a lot of emphasis on this interaction and says: “When you’re younger, you’re out to impress with your playing, aiming to turn heads. But now I feel that the emphasis is on just making the music all it can be – not concentrating on sounding as impressive as possible as an individual but on trying to make the other players sound great. I want the vibe to be as communal as can be, and I think that’s when music – especially jazz improvisation – thrives.”
Click here to listen to Message To Monterey.
Williams returns on Prepare a Place for Me, the title track. There is a strong religious element in Perez’s CV. He has served for many years as music director of St. Edwards Church in Harlem, for example, and is accompanist for the Nightingale/Bamford Gospel Choir. Prepare a Place for Me is inspired by this religious, gospel background. It goes through several different moods – reflective, bluesy, urgent – which seamlessly run into each other. There are solos from all four musicians and the track has a hypnotic ending with Perez and Kneeland playing a simple figure over and over again, and Garnett drumming beautifully on top of this. Click here for a video of the quartet playing Prepare a Place for Me.
Mushroom City uses a Brazilian baiao rhythm and has a memorable solo from Williams on alto. The final piece, Song for Ofelia, is unlike any of the other tracks. Perez has this to say about it: “This song has a special place in my heart. I wrote it many years ago after the passing of my grandmother, Ofelia Betancur. She was the matriarch of the entire family and showed incredible strength through many of life’s difficulties. My daughter Ofelia has her same spirit.”
The first part of Song for Ofelia sounds a little like the Psalm section of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with Alvester Garnett being very Elvin Jones-ish. The playing becomes very intense until the mood is broken by a change to a slightly more upbeat tempo and some further great interaction between alto and piano. It ends with a mesmerising theme repeated several times.
Click here for more information on Oscar Perez and his music – including a rendering of Snake Charm.
Click here to sample the album.
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Album Released: 2015 - Label: www.carlorr.com
Guitarist Carl Grant Orr has a substantial jazz history. In 1984 -1985 he was at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA; he has taught guitar at The Australian Institute of Music, Brunel University, Middlesex University, London Centre Of Contemporary Music and The Academy of Contemporary Music, and he has recorded eight albums as leader. You will also find him on recordings by Billy Cobham, George Duke, Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker, Gary Husband and Bennie Maupin. His long association with Billy Cobham is witnessed in this, Carl's latest album with Cobham playing drums on the track John and Evelyn.
Despite this back story, and despite the presence on the album of some prestigious jazz musicians such as trumpeter Freddie Gavita, Carl tells me 'It’s not a jazz album, so it will grievously disappoint from that perspective, but, it’s a finely-crafted showcase of my playing and composing with the intention of appealing to a large audience without an ounce of compromise.'
Well, it is true that the album is different from other jazz recordings by Carl and draws on many other genres, but it certainly does not disappoint and does give us that showcase of his playing. The line-up varies from track to track, some of the eleven with a number of contributing musicians, others - the title track Forbearance and the closing track Precious Baby Boy are solo guitar and Cherryville is in the company of fellow guitarist Tristan Seume. The music was recorded between June 2013 and October 2014.
The album opens beautifully with Forbearance, quiet melodious acoustic guitar introduced by bell-like harmonics and underlying rhythm. American Daydream takes us firmly into American folk music in the company of Grant Windsor (piano, organ), Giovanni Pallotti (double bass), Francesco Mendolia (drums) and Joao Caetano (percussion). The duet Cherryville is a faster, short jig that morphs into Lennon and McCartney's Mother Nature's Son with vocals by Jasmine Nelson. The band is extended here to include Grant again (piano), Steve Pearce (double bass), Mark Fletcher (drums), Oliver Langford and Emma Smith (violins), Max Baillie (viola), Ian Burdge (cello), Freddie Gavita (trumpet), Nichol Thomson (trombone), Graeme Blevins (tenor saxophone) and Dave Lee (French Horn). This is a nice arrangement, full of tone and atmosphere that emphasises the variety that you will find on the album.
How Can I Say? at track 5 opens with Freddie's trumpet taking us into a catchy romantic theme that would work well with visual footage, Carl's guitar playing above the background. Another nice arrangement.
Click here to listen to How Can I Say?
John And Evelyn with Billy Cobham guesting on drums is a gentle piece led by Grant Windsor's sensitive piano. Cobham's drums are percussive against the romantic dance of the band. Ride The Elephant at track 7 features Carl's guitar in a quartet with Windsor, Pearce and Fletcher, shades of mountain music with a steady rhythm and atmosphere with Grant Windsor's bansuri playing (the South Asian flute made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes). People Need Healthcare, Not Guns reflects Carl's Buddhist philosophy (see Carl's website). It is another opportunity to focus on his guitar playing an attractive piece accompanied by Gavita, Thomson and Blevins. The traditional West Fork Girls opens a toe-tapping square dance with stomps and Curtis Stansfield playing melodica. This is get-up-and-join-hands-dance music for sure and far too short at 2 minutes!
Click here to listen to West Fork Girls.
Ironbridge, the penultimate track brings us Carl's guitar with the strings of Langford, Smith, Baillie and Burdge again. Beautiful, gentle acoustic guitar with another attractive theme. Most of the tunes on this album are compositions by Carl Orr and if you are a guitar teacher, you should check them out. The album closes with the reflective guitar lullaby Precious Baby Boy.
O.K. So not strictly a 'jazz' album, but a jazz musician playing what has been described by Walter Kolosky (John McLaughlin biographer) as “A stunningly beautiful feast for the ears”. Carl says: 'The album can be purchased directly from my website (www.carlorr.com), via the Paypal buttons. The purchaser doesn’t need to have a Paypal account.'
Ten New Releases / Re-Releases
One From Ten
We spend time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.
Urbie Green Big Band
Complete 1956 – 1959 Recordings
The American trombonist Urban Clifford "Urbie" Green was born in 1926 in Mobile, Alabama. He toured with Woody Herman, Gene Krupa and recorded with virtually all of the major jazz musicians of the 1950s and 1960s. Some of his best recordings of the 1970s were with Dick Hyman, Maynard Ferguson and Doc Severinsen. His trombone sound is especially noted for its warm, mellow tone, even in the higher registers where he is more fluent than most trombonists. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995. He lives with his wife, Kathy, in Pennsylvania.
This collection of Urbie's work over 2 CDs covers a period during the 1950s. The original albums included are CD1: All About Urbie Green and Let's Face The Music and Dance. CD2: Jimmy McHugh in Hi-Fi and The Message. Over the two CDs the personnel include:
John Carisi, Nick Travis, Doc Severinsen, Bernie Glow, Joe Wilder (tp), Eddie Bert, Billy Byers, Lou McGarity (tb), Al Cohn, Hal McKusick, Rolf Kuhn, Don Lanphere, Gene Quill, Pepper Adams, Sol Schlinger (saxes), Dave McKenna, Hank Jones (p), Barry Galbraith (g), Vinnie Burke, Teddy Kotick, Milt Hinton (b), Osie Johnson, George Wettling, Nick Stabulas (d), among others.
Reviewing the album in Jazzwise magazine, Alyn Shipton says: 'The flawless trombone of Green is the hallmark of this collection of one ABC and three RCA albums from 1956-59, but with the fine charts from Al Cohn and a tasteful selection of standards, each component is a gem'.
Click here for details. Click here to sample.
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. Stacey Kent -
Tenderly – (OKeh Records)
[Click here for details. Click here for video. Click here for review]
2. The Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet -
You’ve Got To Dig It to Dig It, You Dig? – (Jazzizit)
[Click here to sample and for details. Click here for review]
3. Urbie Green Big Band -
Complete 1956 – 1959 Recordings – (Phono - 2 CDs)
[See One From Ten above]
4. Houston Person - Something Personal - (Highnote)
[Click here to sample and for details. Click here for review]
5. Snowpoet - Snowpoet - (Bandcamp / Two River Records)
[Click here for details and to sample]
6. Echoes Of Swing - Dancing - (ACT)
[Click here to sample and for details. Click here for review]
7. Georgie Fame and the Last Blue Flames -
Swan Songs – (Three Line Whip)
[Click here to sample and for details. Click here for review]
8. Thelonious Monk -
Complete 1947 – 1956 Trios – (Essential Jazz Classics)
[Click here to sample and for details]
9. Corrie Dick - Impossible Things – (Chaos Collective)
[Click here to sample and for details. Click here for review. To be reviewed on this site next month]
10. Joe Williams / Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison -
Complete Small Groups Sessions – (American Jazz Classics - 2 CDs)
[Click here for details]
Help Me Information
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with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)
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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 ...
Screening Tubby Hayes - A Man In A Hurry - 5th February
The Regent Street Cinema are selling tickets for their screening of the Tubby Hayes - A Man In A Hurry documentary film on February 5th to be followed by a Question and Answer session. A live band and a DJ are also pencilled in, so it should be a cracking evening. So if you missed the launch night Foyles, click here for ticket information.
'Tubby was a regular face in and around the Soho of the late 50s and the 1960s, performing in The Jazz Couriers with Ronnie Scott from 1957 to early 1959 with his own quartet being the headline act on the opening night of the Ronnie Scott Jazz Club in Gerrard Street in 1959. A household name in the early 1960s, who performed on iconic film soundtracks to ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘Alfie’, Tubby, due to the rise and rise of pop music and a crippling heroin habit, was almost a forgotten man by his untimely death at 38 in 1973.
The film, which has already been described as a UK version of ‘Searching For The Sugarman’ is narrated by actor Martin Freeman with singer Paul Weller as exec producer.'
Regent Street Cinema is 2 minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube station. Click here for more details.
Empirical Pop Up Jazz Lounge 22 – 27 February 2016
Old Street Underground Station
UK jazz group Empirical has announced an exciting new project to take their music direct to Londoners in February 2016. For six days from 22 – 27 February, the band will take over a retail unit in the centre of Old Street Underground Station and transform the space into a pop-up Jazz Lounge. Listeners are invited to visit the lounge for lunchtime and evening commute live sets, with late night sessions scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Early birds will also be able to catch an 8.00 am mid-week performance. All gigs will be free of charge.
Continuing to draw strong influence from the 1960s, the residency series aims to capture the spirit of an era when bands often played several sets a day over many weeks. Road-tested in their highly successful six-day stint at Foyles London bookshop in the run-up to the recording of Empirical's new album Connection, due out next Spring, the residency concept gives the band intense practice whilst allowing the audience to witness the creative process as the band develops new material.
Old Street Underground Station was chosen for its high footfall (35,000 daily station users) and the vibrant demographic mix the area attracts. As a result of the collaboration between Transport for London and Appearhere, the station itself has recently become a trendy hotspot featuring ever-changing pop-up shops and a rooftop bar in the centre of Old Street roundabout. Empirical are also inviting Hackney and Islington schools and community groups to sign up to free educational workshops during the Jazz Lounge, demonstrating the principles of jazz improvisation and giving younger audiences a chance to experience live jazz at more suitable times.
Empirical believe that this radical approach of taking their music directly to Londoners in their daily lives will connect them to new audiences. They aim to take the pop-up Jazz Lounge concept nationwide in 2016/17, setting up in places not normally associated with jazz in major cities across the UK. The pop-up Jazz Lounge project is made possible by support from Arts Council England, the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Transport for London and Appearhere.
Tom Green Back On Tour
The very excellent Tom Green Septet is back on the road in Hampshire on 2nd February, and Devon and Cornwall from 7th - 9th March 2016 for a repeat of their first tour. Tom says: 'Expect lots of new material as well as compositions from our acclaimed debut album "Skyline".' Having seen the first tour, this is well worth putting in your diary if you are in the area:
Tuesday 2nd February: Bedales Jazz, Petersfield, Hampshire, 8pm
Monday 7th March Beaver Inn, Appledore, Devon, 8.30pm
Tuesday 8th March St Ives Jazz Club, St Ives, Cornwall, 8.30pm
Wednesday 9th March The Bosuns Charlestown, St Austell, Cornwall, 8pm
Click here for Tom talking about the track Equilibrium from the album.
I caught guitarist Nick Costley-White and his band playing to a big audience in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall in January. This is a very impressive band and their next gig is at the Vortex, Dalston, London on the 3rd February.
Nick studied Jazz and Classical guitar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Phil Robson, Colin Oxley and John Parricelli, graduating with first class honours and awarded the 2011 Yamaha Jazz Scholarship for Outstanding Musicians. Nick is fast becoming one of the most in demand young guitarists in the London jazz scene. His band includes musicians such as Josh Arcoleo and Matt Robinson and with Sam Rapley on bass clarinet, they produce a distinctive sound.
Click here for details.
Patrick Cornelius New Album and Tour
Award-winning alto saxophonist-composer Patrick Cornelius has emerged as a dynamic new voice on the New York jazz scene. After a decade in New York City, the San Antonio native a current resident of Astoria, Queens has amassed an impressive body of work as a leader, beginning with 2006’s Lucid Dream and continuing with 2010’s Fierce and 2011’s acclaimed Maybe Steps, which All About Jazz hailed for its intricate use of straightforward melodies, evocative themes, and gripping contributions from his band mates. All About Jazz writer Dan Bilawsky said about Maybe Steps: “It continues to reveal more treasures and pleasures with repeated listening,” while Britt Robison of eMusic wrote: “Cornelius manages to operate in the modern mainstream while avoiding cliché, honing a subtle but distinctive style with his frequently restrained, artfully unpredictable phrasing on alto sax.”
Patrick Cornelius's new album While We're Still Young is due for release on 12 February 2016 and will be accompanied by a UK Tour.
6 February – Southport Jazz Festival
7 February – Herts Jazz Club, Welwyn Garden City
8 February – 606 Club, London (album launch)
11 February – SoundCellar, The Blue Boar, Poole
12 February – Birmingham Conservatoire of Music day time master class
12 February – The Jewellers Arms in association with Beat City UK Promotions, Birmingham
Click here for Patrick Cornelius's website.
Sam Crockatt New Album and Tour
British tenor saxophonist Sam Crockatt also releases a new album on the Whirlwind label in January with a tour that goes through to June. The album Mells Bells is launched on the 2nd February at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho. Other dates are:
8 January – Symphony Hall foyer, Birmingham
2 February – Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London (album launch)
3 February – Anteros Arts, Norwich
18 April – The Beaver Inn, Appledore
19 April – Western Hotel, St Ives
20 April – Restormel Arts, St Austell
21 April – Sound Cellar, The Blue Boar, Poole
22 April – Burdell’s Yard, Bath
23 April – Illminster Arts Centre
30 June – The Spin, Oxford
Jazz At The Movies
Chris Ingham's band Jazz At The Movies has a new album out called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (after the film of that name) that we shall be reviewing next month. In the meanwhile they are on tour with an album launch on 10th March in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The band are: Joanna Eden (voice);
Mark Crooks (sax/clarinet);
Chris Ingham (piano);
Rev. Andrew J. Brown (bass) and
George Double (drums). Jazz At The Movies is a jazz group formed specifically to interpret movie themes and soundtrack songs taken from a wide-range of silver screen sources both familiar and obscure. Their refined dramatic and jazz sensibilities produce sounds that celebrate the meeting point of songcraft and swingcraft. JATM have become a regular sell-out at Ronnie Scott’s, St James Theatre, the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room and many jazz clubs, theatres and Arts Centres throughout the UK. For their second JATM album Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the band interprets material from movies made between 1946 and 1990.
JATM will perform extensive dates in autumn/winter of 2016. So far the dates confirmed are:
Saturday, 23 January: LONDON Bulls Head, Barnes
Tuesday, 26 January: SOUTHEND Annie's Jazz
Tuesday 1 March: OLNEY Jazz Club
Thursday 10 March: LONDON Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall (CD launch gig)
Thursday 17 March: SOLIHULL Arts Complex
Saturday 23 April: BROADSTAIRS Memorial Theatre
Sat 14 May: BURBAGE Community Arts Festival
Click here for details.
John Law's Congregation
Pianist John Law has released a new album These Skies In Which We Rust and is on tour promoting the album with his band. The album features John Law: (composition/piano/keyboard/electronics/glockenspiel), Josh Arcoleo: tenor saxophone, Yuri Goloubev: double bass and Laurie Lowe: drums/percussion. The album is launched at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on 24th February.
Before that, there are other gigs during February and then on throughout the year. Click here for all the tour dates. The February and March dates are:
12/02/2016 : Chichester University, Chapel of the Ascension at 7:30pm
18/02/2016 : The George, Norton St. Philip at 8:00pm
19/02/2016 : Be-Bop Club, Bristol at 8:30pm
24/02/2016 : Pizza Express, Dean Street, London at 7:30pm LONDON CD LAUNCH!
02/03/2016 : Dempsey's, Cardiff at 8:45pm
03/03/2016 : Bonington Theatre, Nottingham at 8:00pm
04/03/2016 : Xposed Club, Glos. University, Cheltenham at 8:00pm
10/03/2016 : Blue Boar, Poole at 8:00pm
11/03/2016 : Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames at 8:00pm
15/03/2016 : St. Ives Jazz Club at Western Hotel, St. Ives at 8:30pm
16/03/2016 : Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple at 8:30pm
19/03/2016 : The Collection, Lincoln at 7:30pm
Liane Carroll at Loughton on 12 March
The British Jazz Award-winning pianist and vocalist Liane Carroll plays an afternoon concert in Loughton, Essex on Saturday 12 March, accompanied by Roger Carey on bass and Pete Cater on drums.
This concert is one of a series during 2016 to raise funds to support the work of the Loughton-based National Jazz Archive. Liane’s latest CD release ‘Seaside’ has recently been recognised as the best British album in the 2015 British Jazz Awards and Liane will be featuring tracks from the album during the afternoon.
Liane, a Patron of the Archive, said: “The National Jazz Archive does great work in preserving the history of our music. It’s a pleasure to perform on their behalf to help raise funds to support this work.”
Pete Cater, who is a trustee of the National Jazz Archive, has recently been voted one of the top eight jazz drummers in the world by Rhythm magazine.
The venue for the concert is Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB, close to the Archive’s home in Loughton Library, where there is extensive parking, 1 km from Loughton Station on the Central Line, and served by numerous bus routes. The concert starts at 2.30pm and tickets cost £15.
For details and to book tickets click here, email email@example.com or phone 020 8502 4701.
It is impossible for us to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where we will look at venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area.
I will choose some Gig Picks that you might find interesting - but check their website for other gigs. Where a venue doesn't have a website, then some details of what is taking place are included below.
Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com
Gig Pick - Saturday, 13th February - Seamus Blake (NYC) / Tommy Halferty Trio.
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 287855
Scotland: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen, AB25 1BU. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 4th February - Steve Fishwick Sextet.
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
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 3rd February - The Don Paterson Situation.
Scotland: Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street (at Blythswood Street), Glasgow, G2 4HU www.bridgejazz.co.uk
Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff, 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 10th February - Vitor Pereira Quintet.
Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, The Grand Theatre, 18 York St. Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2DL. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 5th February - The Graeme Wilson Quartet.
Gig Pick - Friday, 4th March - The JJ Wheeler Quintet.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: The Jazz Cafe, 25 - 27 Pink Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5DW. www.jazzcafe-newcastle.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 4th February - Entropi + Knotts / Rezaei Duo.
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).
Gig Pick - Sunday, 7th February - Mads Mathias Quartet at Seven Arts (1.30 pm)
Yorkshire: Jazz In The Spa, Boston Spa, Village Hall, High Street, Boston Spa. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk
Gig Pick - Saturday, 6th February - John Barnes + John Hallam + Tom Kincaid Trio
South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.sheffieldjazz.org.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 19th February - Gilad Atzmon's OHE. (At Millenium Hall).
Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 18th February - Johnny Hunter Quartet.
Birmingham: Birmingham Jazz Listings www.livebrum.co.uk/events/jazz
Gig Pick - Friday, 12th February - Vitor Pereira (At Red Lion, Warstone Lane).
Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com
Gig Pick - Next jazz gig: Wednesday, 2nd March - Oxley - Meier Guitar project.
Essex: North Weald, North Weald Village Hall, CM16 6BU Essex
Third Saturday of every month - 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm.
Jack Free's All Star Band with Jack Free (trombone), Peter Rudeforth (trumpet), John Crocker (clarinet), Tim Huskisson (piano), Murray Salmon (bass), Martin Guy (drums).
Buckinghamshire: Amersham Jazz Club, Beaconsfield SYCOB FC HP9 2SE. www.amershamjazzclub.co.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 24th February - Fenny Stompers.
Oxford: The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE www.thebullingdon.co.uk
Gig Pick - Tuesday, 23rd February - Alvin Roy's Reeds Unlimited (Free admission)
Oxford: The Oxford Jazz Kitchen, The Crown, Cornmarket Street, Oxford . www.oxfordjazzkitchen.com
Jam Sessions every first Wednesday of the month, 8.30 pm - 11.00 pm with Trish Elphinstone (saxophones), Peter Dixon (guitar) and Tim Richardson (drums) at
The St. James Tavern, Cowley Road, Oxford
Oxford: The Half Moon, The Half Moon, St Clements, Oxford.
Last Wednesday of each month - The Trish Elphinstone Quintet.
London: King's Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. www.kingsplace.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 4th February - Sir Willard White & Brodsky Quartet: The American Songbook.
London: LUME, www.lumemusic.co.uk
Gig Pick - Sunday, 7th February - Njanas & Far Reaching Dreams at The Vortex, Dalston
London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com
Gig Pick - Tuesday, 2nd February - Sam Crockatt Quartet - album launch.
London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 24th February - London City Big Band.
London: Ronnie Scott's Club, Soho, 47 Frith Street, London W1. www.ronniescotts.co.uk
Gig Pick - Sunday, 7th February - Bill Ashton's Graduates - an evening with NYJO founder and All Star band.
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
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 3rd February - Nick Costley-White Group.
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
Gig Pick - Friday, 12th February - J-Sonics.
London: The Bull's Head, 373 Lonsdale Road,
SW13 9PY. www.thebullshead.com
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 3rd February - Henry Lowther's Still Waters.
London: Putney, The Half Moon, 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. The band now plays the first Sunday and third Sunday of every month.
Sunday, 7th February and Sunday, 21st February - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm
London: e17 Jazz, Walthamstow, Gnome House, 7 Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, E17 6DS. www.e17jazz.com
Gig Pick - Tuesday, 23rd February - Solstice.
London: The Jazz Nursery, St Mary Overies Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. www.jazznursery.com
Kent: 144 Club, Nr Tunbridge Wells and Rochester, Finchcock's Musical Museum, Goudhurst, TN17 1HH. www.finchcocks.co.uk
Kent: The Roffen, New Road Rochester, ME1 1DX. www.144club.co.uk
Surrey: Harri's Jazz, Shepperton, Bagster House, Walton Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8LP. www.harrisjazz.com
Surrey: Thames Ditton, The George and Dragon, High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY.
Every Tuesday - The Geoff Driscoll Quartet - Geoff Driscoll (sax), Alan Berry (piano), Mike Durrell (bass), Don Cook (drums) plus guests - 8.30 pm
Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Friends Life Social Club, Pixham Lane, Dorking, RH4 1QA. www.watermilljazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 18th February - Malija (Lockheart/Noble/Høiby) Trio.
Sussex: Chichester Jazz Club, Pallant Suite, 7 South Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1SY. www.chichesterjazzclub.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday 19th February - The MJQ Celebration.
Sussex: Brighton Jazz Club, www.brightonjazzclub.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.
Thursday, February 18th and Thursday, March 3rd. 9.00 pm.
Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 19th February - John Law's New Congregation.
Somerset: Ilminster Arts Centre, The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0AN. www.themeetinghouse.org,uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 12th February - Kate Daniels Quartet with Graham Pike, John Horler and Alec Dankworth.
Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com
Gig Pick - Friday, 12th February - A Celebration of Sonny Rollins.
Dorset: Sound Cellar, Poole, The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1NE, www.soundcellar.moonfruit.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 11th February - The Patrick Cornelius Quintet.
Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com
Gig Pick - Tuesday, 16th February - HONn - Huw Williams(bass), Laura Jurd (tp), Alam Nathoo (sx), Elliott Galvin (acc/pn), Pete Ibbetson (dm).
Items Carried Over From Last Month
The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:
The People's History Of Pop
Rebecca Stewart is a reseacher working with 7 Wonder Productions that is making a new documentary called The People's History of Pop for BBC Four, due to air in 2016.
Rebecca says: 'We are currently crowdsourcing photos and audio/video of people's cherished music memorabilia - ticket stubs, diary entries, teen band recordings, wrist bands, rare footage and more - to tell the stories of British rock and pop music from the fifties to the noughties. Whether you were into skiffle, punk, hip hop or anything in between, we want to see your stuff and hear your stories! I noticed on your forum there are some interesting stories and memorabilia written about so I was wondering if you and your website's online community might want to share their experiences on our website: www.phop.co.uk'
'Everything sent in will be part of an incredible online archive and will culminate with a television series for BBC FOUR, featuring the best of what's been uploaded to the site. I would be grateful if you could share this on your website or with whoever you think may be interested. Listen out for mentions of us on BBC radio and TV too.'
Contact their website for more information and make sure jazz is included in the documentary.
Jazz Book Club Books
There are still a number of Jazz Book Club books looking for a good home. Sandy Pringle has asked if we could pass on his collection of books from the Jazz Book Club. Several have been taken, but there are others that might still be of interest to readers.
The Jazz Book Club (JBC) was a publishing project of Sidgwick & Jackson, a London-based publisher. Herbert Jones, the editor, and a distinguished panel, selected the works. Sixty-six issues, and various extras were published from 1956 to 1967.
Sandy Pringle's books are all hard back editions and the jackets - the paper covers - have gone. They are some fifty years old and so some have a few brown age spots on some pages.
Although the books are different thicknesses, to make life easy for me, if anyone is interested in any of the books I will post them out individually within the UK at £5 each to cover costs. Click here to see the list of books still available and how to go about obtaining them.
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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© Sandy Brown Jazz 2016