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January 2017

Click for this month's:
New Releases
Jazz Venues

On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told

There was a place called the Douglass Club over on Twenty-eighth Street run by Edmond Johnson, an ex-pugilist, who owned his own night club for many years until he became a doorman. The Douglass was located one flight up above a stable. The piano man was a character known as Jumbo, and like Sewell, he was an old ragtimer ... One of the best ragtimers around was One-Leg Willie Joseph. You could catch him at a joint run by Mule Johnson and a man named Davis. Willie would walk in, park his crutch on the piano, and then proceed to take charge ...

You see, before World War I, the profession of playing ragtime piano in saloons was very active and growing all the time. Many famous stars of music and entertainment started their careers that way. Jimmy Durante started playing ragtime at Diamond Tony's on Coney Island ... Then the great composer Irving Berlin was at one time a singing waiter at Nigger Mike's in Chinatown. Pianist-bandleader Vincent Lopez, famous for his version of Nola, started as a pianist on the honky-tonk circuit .....


Scott Joplin piano battle

Click here for a scene from the movie Scott Joplin (1977) in which there is a competition between "professors" (brothel pianists) to win $100 from John Stark in Sedalia, Missouri. In the fictional movie story, Louis Chauvin, who is a better pianist but can't read/write music, teams up with Joplin and unleashes Maple Leaf Rag upon the public for the first time.

I did not get to hear the above guys when they started out - they were either before my time or worked in saloons where Negroes were not found...

To get back to One-Leg Willie ... Yeah, Joseph was one of the best of the old-time ragtime players. He had original ideas and never played the same number the same way twice; the melody would stay the same, but he would always vary the harmony. He was fast, real fast, and his fingers and brain seemed to be working together like a flash of lightning ....

He later became one of the most celebrated cabaret owners in Harlem.

From Music On My Mind by Willie 'The Lion' Smith

Name That Tune!

(Click on the picture for the answers)


What's this?


What's this?



What's this?





Happy New Year

Wishing you all a Happy New Year - I hope that 2017 will be kind to you. Here's Lightnin' Hopkins to kick it off - click here or on the picture.


Lightnin Hopkins Happy New Year

Whoo, ain't it grand? Ain't it a merry day?
Oh, ain't it grand, we the peoples, ain't it a merry day?
Think about Christmas gone and New Year's on its way

Yes, get it boy. Don't stop for nothing now!
Wear it out, tear it up, it don't make no difference!




Keswick Festival Back On

In 2016, news came through that Keswick Jazz Festival was to end. It appears that the Festival has taken on a new lease of life.

Keswick is to be re-named the Keswick Jazz And Blues Festival. The organisers say: 'The first Keswick Jazz Festival happened in 1992. It set out to celebrate the best of British traditional jazz, a style of jazz that evolved when British musicians in the '50s and '60s realised what great music the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival logoearly jazz musicians of New Orleans had been playing and they set out to emulate this, and develop their own style from it. Over the years the festival’s scope broadened to include other styles of jazz (even edging into folk, blues and rock and roll), but at its heart was the idea that the music should be enlivening and fun to listen to. International musicians have been invited to the festivals over the years and some have become a regular feature of the festival.'

'In 2016, Theatre By The Lake who had been running the festival for some 10 years or so decided that they could no longer do so, and this was the inspiration for the re-launching of the festival as the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival, programmed in venues around the town. In recent years audiences have enjoyed bands and musicians that are new to the festival, and in recognition of the fact that the history of jazz and blues are closely intertwined, the 2017 Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival will include a few more musicians that err on the blues side of jazz.'

Keswick Jazz And Blues Festival will run from Thursday May 11th to Sunday May 14th – 2017

Click here for more information.




British Jazz Awards

The winners of the 2016 British Jazz Awards were announced in December by Big Bear Music who also organise the Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival. The British Jazz Awards have been presented every year since 1987. By category, the winners were:

Simon Spillett


Trumpet: Rico Tomasso
Trombone: Mark Nightingale
Alto Sax: Soweto Kinch
Tenor Sax: Alex Garnett
Guitar: Nigel Price
Bass: Alec Dankworth
Vocal: Liane Carroll
Miscellaneous Instrument: Ross Stanley (organ)
Clarinet: Alan Barnes
Piano: Jason Rebello
Drums: Clark Tracey
Rising Star: Alexander Bone
Small Group: Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen
Big Band: Echoes of Ellington
Album of the Year: Held by Jason Rebello
Album of the Year Reissue: Tubby Hayes - Split Kick Live in Sweden 1972
Services to Jazz: Simon Spillett

Simon Spillett.






Jazz Quiz

It's A Date!

2017 - and it is 100 years since the Original Dixieland Jazz Band released the first commercial jazz recording in 1917. How many jazz recordings have been made since then is anybody's guess This month's Jazz Quiz asks about things that have occurred in jazz over those past 100 years.

Original Dixieland Jazz band


Question MarkFor Example:

In a book published in 1957, Jack Kerouac wrote: "Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans;before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge, vigorous and virile, blasting the horn for everything it had in waves of power and logic and subtlety - leaning into it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world."

What was the title of Jack Kerouac's book?




You can check how well you have done on the Answers page where you will also find some interesting videos - and don't forget to check your score.

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.




Do You Have A Birthday In January?


Your Horoscope

for January Birthdays

by 'Marable'





21st December - 19th January

As I advised you last month, your planetary power is now at its maximum Eastern position. I suggested that now is the time to use this power to change things that displease you and as we enter 2017, this year is shaping up to be a great year for your career. However, don't rush; you need to build up your position before a career push in the summer. What you do 'internally' matters - get yourself in a state of mind that has a firm goal in mind. Sometimes it is worth thinking ahead to the next goal but one and then saying to yourself: 'What goal can a I set that will take me on towards my main goal?'

Your health can be good too. The retrograde of your health planet, Mercury, suggests that until the 8th you should not make any major changes to your health regime but then work with your regime, don't take it for granted. Look after yourself in a positive frame of mind in the same way as the approach to your career.

As the Moon works through your sign on the 25th and 26th these days could bring love or social opportunities. Remember that others might take time to get to know you. Capricorns, like some Scorpios and Pisces can be deep and introverted; they tend to keep their own counsel and like to take things slowly.

For you, click here for a video of Billy Joel ('Piano Man') singing New York State Of Mind on The Old Grey Whistle Test. Richie Cannata is the saxophonist.





AQUARIUS (The Water-Bearer)

20th January - 18th February

Your ruling planet is Uranus; Aquarians have strong intellectual powers, the ability to communicate and to form and understand abstract concepts, and have a love for the new and avant-garde. You like to know and bring in the new, so it is no wonder you warm to jazz.

Saturn has been in your eleventh house for two years now and will be there for the year ahead. Saturn is your spiritual planet. Your social life is being reordered, you are beginning to firm good, supportive friendships with others who are if the same mind as you.

The Eastern, independent sector of your chart is dominant as your year begins and not only that, but you are entering a period of maximum independence and personal power. Self-confidence and self-esteem are set to grow and if you direct this properly, anything is possible.

There could be career success this month but that is just a prelude for successes later in the year. Until the 19th you have the opportunity to take advantage of spiritual insight and remember, spiritual insights always precede personal ones - often things happen 'through you' before they happen 'to you'. The 'drive' that follows, that passion for something, is what Aquarians need to get to the top.

'Nice work if you can get it - and you can get it if you try.'

For you, to start, click here for a brief video of the Benny Goodman Trio and then click here for a video of Jean-Paul Brodbeck Trio, each playing Nice Work If You Can Get It.






Jazz Photographic Memories

The Riverboat Shuffle


Ken Fletcher sends us these pictures from a leaflet advertising a Riverboat Shuffle in 1958. Just looking at the line up of bands shows how popular Riverboat Shuffle leafletthese events were. Organised by Jazzshows Limited, they said: 'Following the tremendous success of our second Floating Festival of Jazz, we have pleasure in announcing that we have again chartered both the 'Royal Daffodil' and the 'Royal Sovereign' for this year's event, which will be held on Sunday, 15th June. As last year, we shall be sailing from Tower Pier to Margate and back. To ensure that there will be plenty of room we are restricting the number ofRiverboat Shuffle bands passengers so that everyone will be comfortable. Each boat is designed to give the maximum protection and you can be sure of a wonderful outing whatever the weather.'

'The artistes who travel down on the 'Royal Daffodil' will return on the 'Royal Sovereign' and vice versa so that you will be able to see and hear all the bands and artistes at some time during the day.'

'Throughout the cruise the ships' bars will be open and drinks and food can be obtained all day. Luncheons, dinners and high teas will be served in the dining saloons but if you prefer to bring your own food you are quite at liberty to do so.'

The ships were scheduled to leave Tower Pier around 9.30 am, returning twelve hours later, allowing two hours ashore at Margate. '... the actual time of arrival back cannot be guaranteed owing to the tidal conditions in the Estuary.'

The price of tickets was £2 each and it was possible to pay by instalments. Under that plan, people could send 10/- deposit with the balance paid 'when you like, provided that all the money is in our hands by 1st June.'

Ken Fletcher says: 'Having mis-spent my youth in the North London Jazz clubs of the 1950s, I always enjoy people's recollections of those times.'


Riverboat Shuffle from Alex Revell


The other Riverboat Shuffle photograph above comes from clarinettist Alex Revell who says: 'Thought you might like to include this one in your next Bix Beiderbeckeissue. Taken on a riverboat shuffle. Don’t remember the date, but sometime in the late forties, or very early fifties, certainly before 1953.  Left to right: it’s Owen Maddox (I think), Chris Barber, me, Humph, unknown (I think a trombonist), Owen Bryce. Just to the right of Owen B  is his wife.'

Riverboat Shuffles are still organised although I doubt that they are the same as they were in the 1950s (click here).


The term 'Riverboat Shuffle' was presumably based on the bands that played for people on the Mississippi riverboats, but was probably coined by Hoagy Carmichael when he gave one of his compositions the name. Apparently, in the spring of 1924, Bix Beiderbecke came to Indiana University where Hoagy booked him to play a series of ten fraternity dances, and the two became fast friends. It was for Beiderbecke that Carmichael wrote his first piece, calling it Free Wheeling. Beiderbecke took it with him to Richmond, Indiana (100 miles to the East), home of the early record company, Gennett Records, waxed it with his seven-piece band, “The Wolverines” and changed the name to Riverboat Shuffle.



Click here to listen to Bix playing Riverboat Shuffle.

Hoagy's lyrics for the song said:

Good people, you're invited tonight
To the riverboat shuffle
Good people, we got rhythm tonight
At the riverboat shuffle
They tell me that slide-pipe tooter is grand
Best in Louisiana
So bring your freighter, come and alligator that band
Mister Hawkins on the tenor
Good people, you'll hear Millenberg Joys
In a special orchestration
Even mama Dinah will be there to strut for the boys
In a room full of noise
She'll teach you to shuffle it right
So, bring your baby
I'll be seeing you at the riverboat shuffle tonight


If you have memories of a Riverboat Shuffle - please let us know.




Video Juke Box

Click on the Picture for the Video




Lara Eidi Band Auld Lang Syne


Here's that wonderful singer Lara Eidi and her band with their take on Auld Lang Syne. In December, Lara performed her own arrangement of Mongo Santamaria's Afro Blue for "An Evening of Words and Music " organized by Ian Shaw and Side by Side for Refugees. Lara's arrangement featured an Arabic taxim introduction and ended with her own extra verse with original lyrics - click here for the video. The concert featured talents such as Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll, Georgia Mancio and others. Click here for the Tea Break Lara spent with us. We shall be hearing much more of Lara this year.




Dinosaur Together As One video image


Many congratulations to Laura Jurd and Elliot Galvin who became engaged in December. What could be more approriate than this video of Living, Breathing from their excellent band Dinosaur's 2016 album Together As One.





Benet McLean Moanin


Here's one of those gigs where you wish you were there! This is Benet McLean (piano), Conor Chaplin (bass) and Sam Gardner (drums) at St John Church, Oxford playing Moanin'. There are other videos from this concert that are worth checking out too.




Cleveland Watkiss You To Me Are Everything



Cleveland Watkiss sings the beautiful You To Me Are Everything from his recent album Song Diasporas with Jonathan Gee (piano), Larry Bartley (acoustic bass) and special guest Steve Williamson (tenor sax). Listen to the rest of the album here.




Trish Clowes My Iris


This is an introductory video to saxophonist Trish Clowes' new album My Iris released on the 13th January. Chris Montague is the guitarist, Ross Stanley plays organ and piano, and James Maddren, drums. We shall be reviewing the album next month, in the meanwhile they are playing gigs in January - click here for dates and venues.




Julian Dale Tapirs Tore My Spleen



Bassist Julian Dale plays his composition Tapirs Tore My Spleen.








Help With Musical Definitions No 31.


A note by a single instrument or voice as far down the register as possible.

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





Tracks Unwrapped

When You Wish Upon A Star

[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 some computers 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].


When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.


When you wish upon a star ... Well, of course nobody really believes it will make any difference. Why should it? It is a fairy tale fantasy. Or is it? Are Pinocchio you sure? Are there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy? Before we go down that road, let's spend a minute or two unwrapping the song.

When You Wish Upon A Star was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's 1940 film, Pinocchio. It won the 1940 Academy Award for 'Best Original Song', was the first Disney song to win an Oscar and was subsequently adopted as the theme song of the Walt Disney Company.

The American Film Institute ranked When You Wish Upon A Star seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History, the highest ranked Disney animated film song, and also one of only four Disney animated film songs to appear on the list.The song reached the top in Billboard's Record Buying Guide, a predecessor of the retail sales chart. Popular versions included those by Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Horace Heidt and Cliff Edwards.

Sung by Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) and a chorus, it plays over the opening credits and in the movie's final scene.

Click here for the original trailer for the film.

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.


Pinoccio was only the second full-length animated film from Disney after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Initially, it bombed at the box office but when it was re-issued in 1945 things changed - it went into profit and secured its long-term popularity; now it has a rare 100% rating on Strombolithe website Rotten Tomatoes.

From our childhood we all know Carlo Collodi's story of Pinocchio. The concept has a striking similarity to modern day film and television dramas such as Humans and Westworld in which robots develop consciousness. In the movie, Jiminy Cricket is the narrator of the story in which a woodworker, Geppetto, makes a puppet who he names Pinocchio. Before falling asleep, Geppetto makes a wish on a star that Pinocchio would be a real boy. During the night, a Blue Fairy visits the workshop and brings Pinocchio to life, although he still remains a puppet. She informs him that if he proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, he will become a real boy, and assigns Jiminy to be his conscience.

On waking, Geppetto finds his dream has come true. He sends Pinocchio to school but on the way, the boy meets Honest John (a fox) and Gideon (a cat) who entice him to join a puppet show run by Stromboli. Of course, Pinocchio becomes the star attraction and Stromboli keeps him locked up to stop him returning home.

Click here for a clip from the film with Pinocchio and Stromboli.

The Blue Fairy reappears and wants to know why Pinocchio is not at school? As Pinocchio makes excuses, his nose grows longer and longer as he lies. In the end, he tells the truth and the Fairy sets him free, but that bad Honest John and Gideon soon catch up with him and sell him to a coachman who is recruiting foolish little boys to take to Pleasure Island (NB. Not 'Treasure Island' and I am not at all sure of the connotations here).

Click here for the scene where the coachman takes the boys to Pleasure Island.

We now enter Lord Of The Flies territory. Without rules or authority to enforce their activity, Pinocchio and the other boys soon engage in smoking, gambling, vandalizing, and getting drunk, much to Jiminy Cricket's dismay. Jiminy discovers that the island hides a curse: the boys brought to Jiminy Cricket and star Pleasure Island are literally transformed into donkeys and sold into slave labour. Pinocchio manages to escape, only partially transformed into a donkey.

When they arrive back at Geppetto's workshop they find that he has gone in search of Pinocchio, only to have been swallowed by a giant whale and is now living in his belly. Pinocchio jumps into the sea accompanied by Jiminy to rescue Geppetto and is swallowed by the whale as well. Pinocchio works out a plan to make the whale sneeze. The plan works, they are sneezed free, the whale chases them, smashes their raft, giving them a chance to escape, and everyone survives - except Pinocchio.

Luckily, the Blue Fairy decides that Pinocchio has proven himself brave, truthful, and unselfish and he is reborn as a real human boy. Jiminy is given a gold badge that certifies him as an official conscience. 'Always let your conscience be your guide.'

Click here for the final scene and a return to our song.


Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true


So what has jazz got to do with it? Well, the song has been covered by many jazz musicians over the years. Let's start with Louis Armstrong's version from the album Disney Songs The Satchmo Way. I have chosen this particular YouTube track because of the excellent selection of Firehouse Five Plus Twopictures of Louis and children that go with the song - click here.

While we are still talking 'Disney', did you know that during the 1950s the Disney Studios had their own jazz band? The Firehouse Five Plus Two was a popular band with a number of successful recordings to their name. The band was formed from members of the Disney animation department. Initially, the personnel were: Danny Alguire (cornet) [Fingerprint expert formerly with L.A. police department]; Harper Goff (banjo) [Illustrator at Warner Brothers and Colliers Magazine, Disney designer and Imagineer]; Ward Kimball (trombone, siren, tambourine, sound effects, leader) [Lead Animator], Clarke Mallery (clarinet); Monte Mountjoy (drums); Erdman (Ed) Penner (soprano saxophone, bass saxophone on early recordings, later switching to tuba) [Writing department] and Frank Thomas (piano) [Animator]. Others joined in over the course of time and also played with other bands including George Probert (clarinet and saxophone - Bob Scobey, Kid Ory); Dick Roberts (banjo - The Banjo Kings) and George Bruns (trombone - Turk Murphy). The band existed from 1949 to 1972.

Click here for a video of the band playing Everybody Loves My Baby. Animated Animators.

Now, is there something special about stars? The song says:


When a star is born
They possess a gift or two.
One of them is this.
They have the power to make a wish come true.


Why would a star have any influence over us at all? Why do we check our Horoscopes? Why do we have star signs? I guess most people know their star signs (mine is Scorpio). Generally speaking we accept that people born under star signs have certain attributes in common. I once went to a talk where the speaker argued that people, again generally, have certain physical features and that you can relate these to their star sings. She claimed she could indentify a person's star sign from their features and even produced pictures to prove her point.

We accept that the sun and moon have an effect on our planet, on the tides, on our moods. There are those who believe strongly that planting seeds should take place at certain phases of the moon to achieve the best result. The website gardeningbythemoon.com argues: 'Planting by the moon is an idea as old as agriculture, based both in folklore and superstition, but there are scientific ideas to back it up. The Earth is in a large gravitational field, influenced by both the sun and moon. The tides are highest at the time of the new and the full moon, when sun and moon are Full Moonlined up with earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls upon the subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages growth. The highest amount of moisture is in the soil at this time, and tests have proven that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.'

The word 'lunatic' comes from a belief that the moon (from the Latin word luna, meaning "moon") had an effect on people's mental health. Studies appear to have been inconclusive, but the theory still exists, and certainly evidence has been found in other species - fish, insects - and marine iguanas (which live in the Galápagos Islands) time their trips to the sea in order to arrive at low tide. So do stars have an influence too?

Perhaps that doesn't warrant 'wishing on a star'. Not that that bothers pianist Keith Jarrett whose trio plays the number in this video - click here. This lovely arrangement was filmed in Tokyo in 1986. The trio: Keith Jarrett (piano), Gary Peacock (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Gary Peacock takes a fine early solo, Keith Jarrett is as inventive as ever and the three musicians are as together as you would wish. As the camera pulls away at the end the stage lighting even allows us one or two off-stage stars.

Wikipedia tells us: 'Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for human meaning in the sky; it seeks to understand general and specific human behavior through the influence of planets and other celestial objects. It has been argued that astrology began as a study as soon as human beings made conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles, appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show that lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago. This was a first step towards recording the Moon's influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organising a communal calendar ... The system of Chinese astrology was elaborated during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE) and flourished during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE), during which all the familiar elements of traditional Chinese culture – the Yin-Yang philosophy, theory of the five elements, Heaven and Earth, Confucian morality – were brought together to formalise the philosophical principles of Chinese medicine and divination, astrology and alchemy.'

Click here for guitarist Joe Pass playing his solo arrangement of When You Wish Upon A Star in Vienna in 1988.

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you,

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

So is it worth wishing on a star? I guess you have to let your conscience be your guide. But always remember: If your heart is in your dreams No request is too extreme When you wish upon a star As dreamers do. Evidence for that is Jacob Collier, one of today's brilliant jazz stars. If you have not yet discovered Jacob, seek him out. We leave this unwrapping with Jacob and his mum, Suzie, playing When You Wish Upon A Star - click here.




Tea Break


[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 some computers 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].


Will Arnold-Forster


Will Arnold-Forster


In November 2016, guitarist Will Arnold-Forster was awarded a Yamaha Scholarship as he graduated from the Jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Born in London, Will began playing at the age of five and after ten years of classical training, caught the jazz bug when he was 17. He was a member of Gary Crosby's Jazz Warriors and then went to the Guildhall to study with tutors guitarist Colin Oxley and Steve Fishwick. He works in a Quartet with saxophonist Sam Braysher, bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer David Ingamells as well as playing with a variety of other musicians including the Dixie Strollers with whom he plays guitar and banjo. Until recently he has been dividing his time between the Edinburgh and London jazz scenes.


I caught up with him for a Tea Break:

Hi Will, tea or coffee?

Tea please.

Milk and sugar?

Just a bit of milk, no sugar - thanks.


Congratulations on your Yamaha Scholarship Award this year. Has it been helpful, and what of yours is on the CD that is being issued with Jazzwise Magazine this month?

Thanks very much, yes it has been helpful. One of my favourite parts was getting to meet and play with the other scholars from around the country, they're a really great bunch and we had fun hanging out the day we did the gig at Portcullis house. Myself and saxophonist Sam Braysher recorded a duo rendition of a Bud Powell tune ('So Sorry, Please') for the C.D. .. It was one of my first experiences of recording anything really, I found it quite stressful! 


Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Digestive - (but the one with chocolate on top).




Charlie Parker

Lester Young

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

That's very tricky ... I think I'd go with Charlie Parker and Lester Young ...


What would you ask them?

I'd just want to shut up and let them talk really ... I think I'd be too close to dying of happiness to ask them anything interesting! I'd particularly love it if they'd brought their horns along ... 





I hear you previously played with Jazz Warriors. Was that a good experience?

Yes that was great, I played quite a lot of classical guitar before starting to play jazz and Jazz Warriors was fantastic for me, it came at the time I was really starting to get into it. It was great to hang out every weekend / after school with other musicians my age from all over town interested in learning about the music, and Gary Crosby was always there teaching anyone wanting to learn.


Will Arnold-Forster at the Jazz Nursery


Click here for a video of Will playing Stan Getz's Hershey Bar at the Jazz Nursery with Sam Braysher (saxophone), Dario Di Lecce (double bass) and David Ingamells (drums).



Will Arnold-Forster and Kansas Smitty


What gigs have you played recently?


Myself and my former teacher from Guildhall, Colin Oxley, have had some nice gigs recently, we did a late show at Ronnie Scott's (a Quartet with Steve Brown and Dario Di Lecce) and a gig the following week at Jazz Nursery (a Quintet with Matt Home, Calum Gourlay and Mark Crooks). I've also really enjoyed playing with any of the Kansas Smitty's crew when I get the chance.


What have you got coming up in the New Year? Are you still travelling between Edinburgh and London?

Just bits and pieces really, more sideman stuff than as a leader. I'll head over to New York for a long-ish holiday to go and listen to some of my favourite musicians / hopefully get a couple of lessons as well. Yes I am still splitting my time between Edinburgh and London, though sadly that will come to an end in the spring when I'll be moving back to London for good!  




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

Sam Braysher - he's got a beautiful record coming out soon. A duo album that he recorded in New York with pianist Michael Kanan.

[Click here for Sam's article on this site where he discusses Charlie Parker's recording of Cherokee]


Another biscuit?




Will Arnold-Forster


Click here for more Tea Breaks


Utah Tea Pot




Full Focus

John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis: The Hot Spot



[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 some computers 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].


'Full Focus' is a series where musicians and others discuss a jazz track or tracks in detail. The idea is that you are able to listen to the track that is discussed as you read about it. If you have a track on an album that you have released you might like to share the ideas behind it and talk about how it developed - if so please contact us.

This month, Steve Day considers a film soundtrack featuring John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis - The Hot Spot.


The Hot Spot Soundtrack


“I’m gonna take you down to the riverside, hang you up Baby, by your neck, I’ve got the Mad Man Blues.”  Even in the new terrorised millennium of the 21st century, John Lee Hooker’s grim dark demon lyric to Mad Man Blues is shot through with caustic pain and misogynyJohn Lee Hooker which grows all the more gruesome as the song continues; casual domestic violence voiced not just by the words but by the rough recording, his big booted foot stomping on the floor, the guitar picked and strung out as if it is the body of the song’s victim, the whole lo-fi eminence rattling like a damaged stone in a can. This late 1950’s recording was my first introduction to John Lee Hooker.  I bought the Chess Records EP in Keddies Department Store in Southend High Street, Essex when I was about 12 years old.  Mad Man Blues has never left me, I still play it when I need to physically touch the darkness and see how deep down is its descent. 

John Lee Hooker had a long career, but he never ever quite cured himself of the pain and terror that came with that early Joe Van Battle recording in Detroit, back in a time when the city was even harder than it is now.  The myth of America being great back in those golden days is classic cowboy propaganda, the truth is the un-United States was a tough, proud country, bruised and beaten.  In the coming years its President would be gunned down in the street at The Grassy Knoll, followed by the assassination of a man called Martin Luther King whose crime was “to have a dream”, and history would write its own epitaph, embarking on a stampede into Vietnam and the Watergate era. Writing this on the eve of 2017, Mad Man Blues now sounds like a prophecy.

Click here to listen to John Lee Hooker's Mad Man Blues.

In 2016, the Columbia/Legacy label released a ‘new’ curated double CD package called Freedom Jazz Dance focusing on Miles Davis’s classic quintet, the one with Herbie Hancock, piano, Tony Williams, drums, Ron Carter, bass and the great wizard, Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone and interpreter of the soul.  I’m sure I’ll get to it because it is a complete recorded encounter of the whole studio rigmarole of laying down the tracks for Miles Smiles, one the greatest studio sessions put out by this quintet.  But, this I know, if you want to really experience these five phantoms together, you have to go to the live recording made at the Plugged Nickel, a club in Chicago, Illinois in 1965.  Several years ago I bought the Plugged Miles DavisNickel dates as if I was taking out investments.  Back then Columbia were searching the archives for every last bit of the legend which could make them a dime, and presumably a nickel.  Freedom Jazz Dance is evidence that they are still at it.  The thing is, Plugged Nickel really was worth it. By any stretch of the imagination what went down in Chicago during that residency was undoubtedly the total truth about what it means to play jazz.  If I could light the J-word up in neon I would, because on this occasion we’re not talking some preserved display of past glories, or a dead music-form resurrected to titillate the senses of suits and chiffon, the Plugged Nickel is a definitive rendering of the jazz arts.  An acoustic quintet abstracting composition into a new music so absolutely pertinent to time, place and its own context, that for many, many months I was listening to nothing else. 

From the moment Herbie Hancock plays those opening piano chimes signalling the start of If I Were A Bell it feels as if there is nowhere else to go but Chicago.  I have never been there.  Instead, from my tiny home in the English countryside, I listened like a Lord, on the legacy of someone else’s knowledge of what it is to touch creativity in the passing moments of a club full of people having a night out on the town in the Windy City.  I later realised that around the time Miles, Wayne, Herbie, Ron Carter and Tony Williams were playing the Plugged Nickel I had just about got as far as buying Mad Man Blues in Southend-On-Sea.  Sometimes it’s worth checking out the dates, just to put our lives in context.

All this brings me to The Hot Spot, a dodgy noir of a film that Dennis Hopper brought out in 1990 based on Charles Williams’s piece of pulp fiction, Hell Hath No Fury.  Unloved sex, second-hand violence and a bank robbery, it could be Mad Man Blues recreated for a time when things were more innocent than they are now, though it didn’t feel like it at the time.  This not downtown Detroit, that had been and gone. Oceanway Studios, Hollywood is sun burn cocaine-California.  On The Hot Spot soundtrack there are no rotten eggs like Joe Van Battle, neither are there pure-toned jazz Buddhists like Wayne or Herbie. This time it’s John Lee Hooker, at the tender age of 69, scratching some guitar, moaning and mumbling the blues idiom.  Alongside are Taj Mahal, playing acoustic dobro together with blues slide specialist, Roy Rogers (who has nothing to do with his namesake, the old TV cowboy hero of yesteryear). Sat at the mixing-desk is record producer, Jack Nitzsche (Phil Spector, Rolling Stones, Neil Young) ripping-off the composition credits.  Okay, there’s also Earl Palmer on drums and the well known session bassist, TimDon Johnson and Dennis Hopper on set Drummond, plus some occasional electric keyboards from Bradford Ellis.  I’m not interested in the film, but the soundtrack, despite the rather tacky organisation behind it, is a special entity because Dennis Hopper managed to persuade one additional musician to join the ensemble.  Miles Davis. 

For context, click here for the trailer for the movie.


Don Johnson and Dennis Hopper on set.


So the story goes; as a young boy Dennis Hopper had a chance meeting with Miles Davis, who was kind to him.  It seems they made a connection (sic).  When I first heard this it all sounded rather apocryphal, though a film buff friend of mine assures me there is a grain of truth in the tale.  The Hot Spot is low profile. It doesn’t figure in a lot of people’s must-listen lists.  John Lee Hooker aficionados don’t seem to refer to it very often, possibly because even on Mr Hooker’s own terms, these are not so much songs, rather they are vocal riffs rubbed along the surface of music like fraying sandpaper; quality shredded sandpaper.  It’s a moody, bleak rough-reel session, which could go all the way back to Mad Man Blues if you let it take you that way. Except that there is Miles Davis.  And he stands darkly in the wings emoting like a ghost who has forgotten he is supposed to reside in the spirit world.  Miles Davis beautifies his horn with notes that glisten from his breathy embouchure, shining long and looped.  His sound slithers  forth across the oh-so-basic tin bath, twelve bar blues structures, somehow making each one of them an invitation to the very heart of his genius.  So many times in his career he has almost surgically implanted his finest moments into arrangements scrapped free of fuss.  Bill Evans and Gil Evans, Wayne and Herbie, these were the guys who got the good-thing out of Miles.  And, intuitively, this is what John Lee Hooker was able to do. 

The old R & B Hooker never was a virtuoso in a technical sense BUT (a big thin, lean on the line ‘but’) he almost always played his ace hand in any situation, a mad man’s moan that could scramble the blues into instant sorrow.  Miles Davis picked up on this barren wasteland and bled his horn all over it.  If this isn’t gut wrenching music I don’t know what is.  And if the Plucked Nickel was the live mantra of the man, the strange, almost throwaway studio soundtrack, The Hot Spot, his act of penance.

You have to chase this kind of stuff down.  Your ears need to be patient.  The opener, Coming To Town begins with the old standby climb-down into a twelve bar blues played by every damn bar-band the world over.  And Roy Rogers’ slide lead is the ‘good ol’ boy’ riff favoured by just about every budding blues man. John Lee is uttering utterance like a guilty priest before the alter and the cross.  Yet even now there’s a dignity about The Hot Spot albumhow they place the beat and slow the stagger into the tonic. And then Miles alights on those simple chord changes like a guardian angel blowing a holy horn and you know, know for certain, that this is the commotion of the soul.  It is the personification of the blues struck through by a jazz master beating the air with the deliberate act of acid in your heart.  You don’t learn this at the Julliard School of Music; it can’t be rehearsed or practiced; the only way to get this deep into the groove is to have been the depositary of this much pain and had the guts to transpose into your technique to the point that you live with it, constantly.

Click here for Coming To Town.

What comes next?  In fact nothing else, what starts on Coming To Town can be found on Sawmill, Bank Robbery, Moanin’, right through to the closing End Credits.  The same soiled beatific sound, the relentless ache of madness which pervades the sparseness of the blues and sheer presence of the maestro jazz trumpet star who has come to the session because, well, Hopper asked him and he felt he could not say ‘no’.  Though god knows, he’d practiced that word often enough in his life.  The Hot Spot soundtrack maintains its wounded wonder just as Plugged Nickel retains its total definitive platform. 

Click here for Bank Robbery.

There is one track on The Hot Spot which has a slightly different feel to the others.  Gloria’s Story is not quite a blues and involves only Bradford Ellis’s electric keyboards back-dropping a short lament from Miles Davis.  In fact Miles has not changed tack one iota; he is as subtle as a soft punch that fractures.   The difference is that Mr Ellis is giving him a different shape.  In place of Roy Rogers’s defining twelve bar slide, Ellis offers this torch singer’s trumpet a minimalist melody line of synth and barely pressed notes from an electric piano.  When I get to Gloria’s Story it doesn’t feel out of place.  It crosses the ears for a little over three minutes as if the curtain has temporarily been pulled over to let in a little daylight.  And at the end, as the trumpet teeters on the edge of the last note only to be followed by Roy Rogers and Taj Mahal crawling the descending entry of another so-slow shuffle of pain, the curtain is pulled tight once more, and by the time they reach Murder, Miles is left to blow another beatitude to the defeated god of sorrow. The Hot Spot is a sore, sour place. There is no solace.  Eventually, the listener, has to close it down before it closes them down.  I put on Plugged Nickel’s Stella By Starlight just to give myself some air. 

Click here for Gloria's Story.

I would submit that John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis reach inner places on this recording which they never got to anywhere else in their illustrious careers.  It has a terrible (as in magnificent) simplicity and it hurts long after you have finished hearing it.  Profundity is stripped of its embroidery; laid bare. “Down by the riverside....” was not a place of revelation for John Lee Hooker, rather it was a mad man’s habitat for terror and despair.  This is where Miles Davis met him, almost on a whim, both responded to each other like brothers.  Beauty is a rare thing, so said Ornette Coleman.  Like on so many things, he was right.     

Click here to listen to Stella By Starlight by the Miles Davis Quintet Live At The Plugged Nickel

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk  



Django and Edith

Brian O'Connor sends us this picture he discovered on the internet of Edith Piaf looking at the injured right hand of Django Reinhardt.


Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf




Jazzwise Chooses Its Top Twenty

Last month we shared the Top Twenty New Releases of 2016 listed in the December / January issue of Jazzwise magazine. This month we share their list of the Top Ten Reissues of 2016. Jazzwise is still on sale and this issue carries a free CD by the 2016 Yamaha Jazz Scholars (highly recommended).

Jazzwise Top Twenty Jazz Reissues of 2016


Duke Ellington Far East Suite1. Bill Evans - Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest - (Resonance).
2. Miles Davis - Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Deries Vol 5 - (Columbia/Legacy).
3. John Coltrane - The Atlantic Years in Mono - (Atlantic/Rhino).
4. Larry Young - In Paris: The ORTF Recordings - (Resonance).
5. = Albert Ayler Quartet - European Radio Studio Recordings 1964 - (hatOLOGY).
5. = Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra - All My Yesterdays - (Resonance).
7. Cecil Taylor - Complete Live At The Cafe Montmartre - (Freedom).
8. Duke Ellington - Far East Suite - (RCS Victor/Legacy).
9. Sarah Vaughan - Live At Rosy's - (Resonance).
10. Charlie Parker - Complete Savoy Sessions - (Essential Jazz Classics).

Tubby Hayes Split Kick Live in Sweden
11. Count Basie / Lester Young - Classic 1936-47 Count Basie and Lester Young Studio Sessions - (Mosaic).
12. Charlie Parker - Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes - (Verve).
13. Peter Erskine Trio - As It Was - (ECM).
14. The Gil Evans Orchestra - Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix - (RCA Victor / Legacy).
15. = Stan Getz With Mose Allison - The Soft Swing - (Phono).
15. = Tubby Hayes - Split Kick: Live In Sweden 1972 - (Savage Solweig).
17. Duke Ellington - Complete Newport 1956 Concert - (Essential Jazz Classics).
18. = Sonny Rollins - A Night At The Village Vanguard - (Poll Winners).
18. = Miles Davis - The Last Word: The Warner Bros Years - (Warner Jazz).
20. Errol Garner - Ready Take One - (Music/Legacy).





Two Ears Three Eyes

The Steve Waterman Quartet


Steve Waterman


Alex Eberhard


Brian O'Connor was at the Splashpoint Jazz Club in Eastbourne on the 30th November where he captured these images of the Steve Waterman Quartet.

Brian says: 'This was the last gig of 2016 at the club. The Steve Waterman Quartet, featuring Steve on trumpet, Roy Hilton, piano, Steve Thomas, bass, and Alex Eberhard, drums.

Despite the bad weather there was a sizeable audience, and the jazz, as ever from Steve and Co., was relaxed and enjoyable.

The good news is that the Fishermen’s Club has extended the monthly jazz gigs for another six months, commencing in January.  They have so far been very accommodating for this new venture by Neal Richardson and his Splashpoint Jazz.

May the club go from strength to strength in the new year.'


Steve Waterman is professor of Jazz Trumpet at Trinity College of Music in London and visiting Jazz Trumpet specialist at The Royal Northern College Of Music and The Welsh College Of Music And Drama. He has several albums recorded under his own name. Click here for Steve's website.

Click here for a video of the Steve Waterman Trio playing Stella By Starlight at The Verdict, Brighton in 2012.




Steve Waterman Quartet


All pictures © Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz

Brian O'Connor's hard back book, packed with hundreds of photographs is now available. It can be obtained from Brian at: Brian O’Connor, 48 Sarel Way, Horley, Surrey RH6 8EW. Tel: 01293 774171. Email: info@imagesofjazz.com. The book is priced at £25 plus £4.95 post and packing (UK).





Jazz Photographic Memories

The Art Wood Combo


Tony Freer, who has put together a history of the band, sends us the photographs and pianist Pete Simkins remembers the Art Wood Combo:

I joined the Art Wood Band in the summer of 1958, so far as I can recall. I had started playing jazz in public in 1954, at the tender age of 15, while in the Sixth Form at Ealing Grammar School in West London.   My Dad was a fine jazz and swing tenor sax player in the Coleman Hawkins style but my early playing years were spent mostly with a traditional jazz outfit, the Omega Jazz Band. I am still in regular touch with the leader and trumpeter Pete ‘Mitz’ Mitton. The Omega Jazz Band, for a time, had a Sunday night residency at the Viaduct Inn, Hanwell, and the interval group was the Ted Wood Skiffle Group – which is how I first came into contact with the family. The Omega Jazz Band, after a reasonably successful period for a local outfit – including regular Saturday night gigs at the legendary Eel Pie Island venue on the Thames, and a television appearance from the Hammersmith Palais, quietly broke up and most of its members – including me – formed a band with a slightly more mainstream, swing-based style (Basie, Ellington, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson, Buck Clayton were among our idols).

On a hot summer night in 1958 I found myself sitting in with the Art Wood band at the Greenford Community Centre – only half a mile from my then home. It may have been an audition without me knowing it (perhaps following a recommendation from Ted Wood, since, apart from Jim Willis, the guitarist, I didn’t really know anybody else in the band). The repertoire was mostly Fats Domino/Joe Turner R&B stuff, with lots of singing from Art (‘Blueberry Hill’ etc) but as much of it was blues-based, I appear to have coped OK and was offered the piano chair. Again so far as I can recall, Art Wood Combothe line-up was by then Art (vocals), Lenny Case (tenor sax), Jim Willis (guitar), Reg Squires (bass) and Reg Dunnage (drums).

That summer my family moved from Greenford to Wealdstone, near Harrow. Little Lenny Case (a very good-looking young chap, who was not much over 5 foot tall) lived with his family in a flat above a shop in Wealdstone High Street, within walking distance of my home – so we quickly became good chums. Reg Dunnage (originally from Ipswich and then still possessing a strong Suffolk dialect) lived in a pre-fab at Northolt and used to give Lenny and I a lift to gigs in his tiny barrel-type Ford 8, a death trap on wheels! I was always in the back seat, behind Reg, usually submerged under a pile of drum cases.   Reg could never remember the registration number of the car, which often caused problems when we were stopped by the police on our way home from late-night gigs.   I remember one evening when Reg announced to Lenny and I that the car had an electrical fault near the petrol tank and that if a needle on the dashboard reached a certain point, we were to evacuate the vehicle! Being technically dyslexic all my life, I was in no position to question this and I recall bailing out of the car at least once in the middle of the busy Uxbridge Road between Hanwell and Southall!!

The three of us used to rendezvous with Art before gigs at the Wood’s house at Yiewsley. It was there that I made the acquaintance of a certain Ronnie Wood (then about six or seven?). I remember playing with him on the floor of the living room a few times, though I doubt very much if he still remembers me! The band’s main residencies, so far as gigs were concerned, were at the Yiewsley Football Club (Saturday evenings).  Here a fine and greatly underrated British modern jazz tenor sax player, the late Chas Burchell, sometimes sat in, as did saxist Barry Kerswell, who later joined the outfit. We also had a regular Friday evening at what was either the Ivy Leaf Club or perhaps the British Legion (my memory fails me here) in West Drayton. This could be checked by other means for the interval group was Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, who achieved some fame in the pop world. Their presence allowed us to get away with a few jazz numbers which might otherwise have gone down like a lead balloon.

Our horizons gradually expanded, as did the band. Somebody got us on to the United States Air Force officers' and sergeants' mess entertainment circuit, and I certainly remember travelling to bases such as Greenham Common, Alconbury, Bentwaters and Woodbridge. These were good gigs – reasonably well paid and usually with a steak supper thrown in.   However, they ended late and involved a lot of travelling. Bentwaters and Woodbridge were but a few miles from Ipswich, where Reg Dunnage hailed from and we sometimes stayed overnight at his parents’ house. The downside was that I had to share a bed with Lenny and Reg – not an experience I would care to repeat too often.

The best USAF gig ever was a sergeant’s Saturday afternoon wedding at Third Air Force Headquarters at Ruislip (very near home). The booze (particularly Bourbon) was flowing freely and we were all well and truly ‘at the races’ by the time the gig ended. The problem was that the barman Art Wood Combothen filled Reg’s drum cases with even more booze before we left and we still had an evening gig at a Netball Club Dance at a school hall in South Harrow to fulfil. Since we were absolutely paralytic by then, I have no idea how we got through the latter gig – but the organisers booked us to come back the following year.

After gigs in the West Drayton area we frequently went to Heathrow airport for a late-night snack in the Grill and Griddle restaurant there. Chinese and Indian restaurants were not as common then (1959) or as well-used by musicians as they later became. We used to look at the departure boards and dream of destinations like Chicago and New York. I finally got to sit in at a New York jazz club in 1975! Once we emerged from the Grill and Griddle into a thick London fog and only got home to Harrow by sitting Lenny on the bonnet of Reg’s car and indicating to Reg by arm movements where the kerb was! Fortunately, we had done the journey so often that, between us, we remembered where all the turnings should be (and were).

Another venue we frequented was the White Hart at Southall – a very famous West London jazz pub (Chris Barber’s band was among the regulars). We were lucky enough to play there a few times and twice the well-known tenor saxist Red Price sat in with the band (remember him from the hit ‘Hoots Mon’ by Lord Rockingham’s Eleven?) – making us sound much better than we actually were!

I can’t recall the date(s) but somewhere around 1959-60 we won a talent competition in West Drayton, the prize being an audition for the Carroll Levis Discoveries programme on the BBC – this being a primitive and early incarnation of ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. We got through the audition and duly appeared on a broadcast from the Finsbury Park Empire (I think on a Wednesday evening). We played ‘St Louis Blues’ – one of Art’s big features. Whether or not a tape of this survives in the BBC archives, I’ve no idea, though I doubt it.

This was about as famous as this particular incarnation of the Art Wood band ever got!!   By the time of the broadcast we had expanded the front line to four horns, including Barry Kerswell (on alto and baritone saxes),  the quiet-mannered  and urbane Gerry Waite on trumpet and the slightly wild and unreliable but very likeable Irish trombonist Johnny O’Donoghue – who had a disconcerting habit of spluttering loudly into his beer every so often. This is the band depicted in the photo taken at the Blue Circle Club at Ruislip around 1960, where we had a Sunday-night residency for a few months. The band by then was firmly into a jazz, rather than R and B approach – probably driven, if the truth is told, principally by Lenny, Barry and myself. By 1961 the Art Wood Combo, as it was latterly known, had amicably drifted apart. Barry, Lenny and I formed the nucleus of the Barry Kerswell Sextet (playing largely modern jazz), with Dick Bidwell on trumpet, Barry Warwick on bass and Bart Monaghan on drums.

I might add that, throughout these years, I was an undergraduate, reading history at King’s College London, which meant that I could commute daily to University on the Bakerloo Line and live at home! As I had won a State Scholarship and had a generous student grant (those were the days!), I was well-off for a student and actually paid for the grey band uniforms which one or two of the Combo are seen wearing in the BluePete Simkins and Bob Wilbur Circle photos. In 1961 I moved to Brighton and my playing days in West London came to an end, though I did attend a reunion of the Art Wood band many years later while Art and Ted and Lenny were still alive. I last saw Ted at the Keswick Jazz Festival about eight years ago when he was with Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band. I have exchanged Christmas cards with Barry Kerswell, who, when I last heard from him, still lived in Yiewsley.

Pete Simkins jamming with the great American reedman Bob Wilber, Chipping Campden, May 2015

I now live in Cheltenham and am still playing at the age of 77 (78 in March 2017) - though gigs here in the classic jazz/mainstream style are infrequent. However, I do occasionally have the pleasure of playing with the great American reedman Bob Wilber, who has a home in Chipping Campden, and earlier in 2016 I backed trombonist Roy Williams and trumpeter Enrico Tomasso at the Bridgnorth Jazz Festival.

Bob Wilber was, of course, the star pupil of the legendary Sidney Bechet in New York in the 1940s.  Since then he has appeared on countless recordings, notably with Eddie Condon's band and the World's Greatest Jazz Band of Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart.  He also led his own band, the Bechet Legacy, and co-starred with the late Kenny Davern in Soprano Summit.  I first got to know him when he (and Kenny) guested with my Dad's band in Sussex in the 1970s.  We got reacquainted when he appeared at the Norwich Jazz Party a few years ago.

Click here for more of our readers' Photographic Memories. If you have a photograph and a memory that you would like to send in, then please get in touch. Contact details are here.



Jazz At The Tron

The Tron Theatre in Glasgow’s popular monthly Sunday afternoon jazz series returns on 29th January when internationally acclaimed pianist Brian Kellock and bassist Kenny Ellis play selections from the standards repertoire.

Kellock is best known for his partnership with fellow Scot, saxophonist Tommy Smith and as the accompanist of choice for innumerable visiting Brian KellockAmerican musicians including Scott Hamilton, Stanley Turrentine and Sheila Jordan. His relationship with Ellis dates back to the 1980s when they formed the rhythm section with drummer John Rae in the then state of the art Scottish jazz group, the John Rae Collective, which also featured trumpeter Colin Steele, saxophonist Phil Bancroft and guitarist Kevin Mackenzie.

Don Paterson

Brian Kellock


Ellis and Rae subsequently became Kellock’s partners in the trio that recorded his award-winning Live at Henry’s album before Rae moved to New Zealand. Kellock and Ellis have a long-standing residency in the Shore Bar in Leith and their easy-going rapport and depth of repertoire, similar to that of Kellock and Smith, ensures that they can create high level sets spontaneously.

Following Kellock and Ellis, guitarist and much decorated poet Don Paterson leads his new band, the Don Paterson Situation on 26 February. Scottish National Jazz Orchestra alto saxophonist Martin Kershaw pays tribute to alto saxophone legend Art Pepper on 26 March and guitarist Nigel Clark takes a break from touring with popular violinist Tim Kliphuis to play the music from his solo album, Under the Stars, on 23 April.


Don Paterson

The series is coordinated by pianist Euan Stevenson who will accompany singer Georgia Smith in a presentation of Old Songs, New Songs on 28 May in between commitments with the New Focus group he co-leads with saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski. The sessions run in the theatre’s atmospheric Victorian Bar from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.





Jazz Remembered

Adrian Rollini


Adrian Rollini


I once heard the sound of Adrian Rollini's bass saxophone described as being like the sound of a great bear. Somehow, for me, Rollini's bass sax has been embedded in my jazz memories. The first time I heard it was in a 78 rpm recording of Bix Beiderbecke's 1927 Jazz Me Blues - everybody talks about Bix's cornet solo, but Rollini is ever there in the background and dropping in from time to time, adding colour and a taste of fun to the piece - click here.

Adrian Francis Rollini was born in New York to Italian parents on June 28th, 1903. He started taking piano lessons when he was just two and at the age of four, played a fifteen-minute recital at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Among the selections played were Chopin's Minute Waltz. Hailed as a Adrian Rollinichild prodigy and was billed as "Professor Adrian Rollini." His brother, Arthur, was also a musician who played saxophone with Benny Goodman's Orchestra.

Adrian later recorded the Minute Waltz with his Trio and the number was filmed - click here.

By age 14 Adrian was leading his own group of neighbourhood boys, playing both piano and xylophone. He left high school in his third year and started to cut piano rolls for the Aeolian company on their 'Mel-O-Dee' label, and the Republic brand in Philadelphia. At 16, he joined Arthur Hand's California Ramblers and by then was playing piano, drums, xylophone, and bass saxophone. When Hand retired, Rollinitook over the band.

During the 1920s, a number of classic recordings were issued by the California Ramblers and their subgroups - the Little Ramblers and the Goofus Five - and Adrian Rollini is thought to be the person who introduced the Goofus to jazz.. According to his brother in his book Thirty Years With The Big Bands, Adrian Rollini came home with a bass saxophone one day and in a week knew how to play it!

Click here to listen to the Goofus Five playing Arkansas Blues from 1927. (Chelsea Quealey, trumpet; Bobby Davis, clarinet, soprano and alto sax; Sam Ruby, tenor sax; Adrian Rollini, goofus and bass sax; Irving Brodsky, piano; Tommy Fellini, banjo; Herb Weil, drums).

Adrian Rollini

It is said that: 'It was during his work with these groups that he developed his distinctive style of saxophone playing. Rollini's swing and impetus are quite evident; "Clementine (From New Orleans)", "Vo-Do-Do-De-O Blues", and "And Then I Forget" are among some of the best recordings that not only typify the era but showcase the prominence and power that Rollini brought to the table. He was also recording with many other jazz bands at this time, including his playing with Bix.

Click here to listen to Clementine (From New Orleans) from 1927. The vocalist is Sadie Green (Beth Challis).

In the late 1920s, Adrian and other members of the Ramblers came to London to play in Fred Elizalde's band at the Savoy Ballroom.

Here he is playing If I Had You with Elizalde - click here - with Al Bowlly taking the vocals.

In 1928, Adrian Rollini returned to America where he began to write with Robbins Music Corporation, but he was continuing to play and record with the Dorsey Brothers, Jack Teagarden and others. In 1933, he formed the Adrian Rollini Orchestra (a studio group assembled for recording and which were clearly more commercial recordings), the Adrian Rollini Quintette, The Adrian Rollini Trio (primarily late 1930s) and Adrian and his Tap Room Gang.

Here's the Tap Room Gang playing Weather Man in 1935 - click here.

In this video clip, we can see Adrian Rollini briefly playing xylophone in The St Louis Blues - click here. The clip is from 1937 and is of Richard Himber's orchestra. Himber who had played with Rudy Vallee's Connecticut Yankees, had one of the top "sweet" dancebands of the 1930s. (Quite Adrian Rillini and Allen Haulona bit of background information comes with the video).

Rollini was beginning to play his vibraphone more and it is noted that Rollini recorded on bass sax for the last time in 1938. We read that he went on to play hotels, as well as arranging and writing songs behind the scenes, but he never did any big recording once the big band era really got underway, although he did take part in jam sessions.

Click here to listen to Adrian Rollini's Quintet in 1938 playing Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (My Dear Mr Shane) with Bobby Hackett (trumpet), Frank Victor (guitar), Harry Clark (string bass), Buddy Rich (drums), Adrian Rollini (vibraphone) and - Sonny Schuyler (aka Sunny Skylar) vocals.


Adrian Rollini with Allen Haulon (guitar)


Adrian Rollini can be seen in a 1938 short entitled "For Auld Lang Syne" starring James Cagney, "Himber Harmonics" (1938) where he appears Adrian Rollini and his Orchestrawith the trio, and "Melody Masters: Swing Style" (1939) - sadly, none of these appear to be available on Youtube.

Adrian Rollini died on May 15, 1956, at the age of 52 and for a long time the circumstances of his death were somewhat of a mystery. According to the Melody Maker he was found lying in a blood-splattered car, and one of his feet was almost severed. The article also says he died of a heart attack and lung collapse. According to the book, Jazz and Death: Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats (2002), the author, M.D. Frederick J. Spencer (also a coroner) went back and analysed Rollini's death along with many other jazz greats, and discovered Rollini truly died of mercury poisoning. During his 18-day stay in hospital, he had developed a resistance to feeding and so a glass tube had been inserted into his stomach. The tube was weighted with mercury and somehow the tube broke, exposing Rollini to mercury poisoning.

In 1998, Adrian Rollini was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Click here to listen to Bill, the last recording Adrian Rollini made on bass sax. The song comes from the musical Showboat (Just My Bill). Buddy Rich is on drums again and Jackie Russin on piano.

Click here for our page of 'Jazz Remembered'






Matt Monro

Richard Moore who works with Matt's daughter Michele for the Matt Monro Estate has come across an item we have on our Profile page for Bunny Austin. On the page, Bunny sent us a photograph of the occasion where he played at Ron Weedon's wedding. Richard has picked up onBunny with Matt Monro two things that Bunny wrote at the time:

'This picture was taken in the late 1950s when pianist Ron Weedon was married. Matt Monro was a guest and sang with our quartet which included George Cox, a very fine pianist. One of the guests had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and taped Matt singing with the band - someone has a collector's item!'

Richard and Michele ask whether anyone might know of what happened to Ron Weedon and whether the recording Bunny mentioned might still exist? Please contact us if you can help.

If there was ever any doubt that Matt Monro could swing, listen to this recording of a live performance at the BBC Saturday Club in 1963 of It's Alright With Me with Matt and the Johnny Spence Orchestra - click here. Michele Monro says: 'This is one of my favourite tracks of dad letting rip!'.




Big Pete Deuchar

Colin Harper writes: 'I'm working on substantially revising/expanding a short chapter on Big Pete Deuchar that appeared as an ebook extra with my John McLaughlin biog 'Bathed In Lightning'. I'll be publishing a limited edition hard-copy version of the ebook extras next year, and thought it a good opportunity to fully explore Pete's career (outside of his short involvement as John McLaughlin's first bandleader in 1959-60).'

'I've done a couple of new interviews and I'm exploring a couple of research avenues and trawling vintage magazines, but I wondered if your readers had any information?'

If you can help, Colin can be contacted through his website at www.colin-harper.com




Albert Hall

Albert HallI was intrigued last month when Eddie Sammons mentioned a trumpet player named Albert Hall in his information about singer Marion Williams. I had not heard of the name (other than the London concert building) so Eddie enlightened me and sent a photograph of Albert:

'Albert Hall was one of the founder members of the Eric Delaney Band. He was a very fine trumpeter and often did duets with his peer Bert Courtley. Eric recorded the two on an early Mercury disc by the band – “Sweet Georgia Brown”.  When Bert left to form the Courtley-Seymour Band, Albert had Kenny Ball as his new partner.'

'Albert’s real name was Alwyn (possibly Welsh?) but the Albert connotation was probably inevitable. There are a number of “Albert Halls” around and I include a certain building. It is thus not easy to find information about him. He did make a commercial LP for Columbia to display his undoubted technique. It is rather pop orientated. I made a CD of it from Eric Delaney’s copy which I suspect he had as he was probably the drummer on it in addition to his obvious support for the musician he admired.'

'I have a Jazz Club broadcast by Eric in which Albert is featured but, frankly, other than as a session man, not that much exists. He was part ofthe Jack Parnell Big Band and recorded with Jack in 1952/53. He moved to Geraldo again about 1952/3. As Eric was with Geraldo at that time, I suspect Eric induced Albert to join his new band which was just a year away. Albert passed away some years ago.'




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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!). Facebook

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Departure Lounge


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


Dave Shepherd


Dave Shepherd - Popular UK clarinettist born in Walthamstow, London. He took up the clarinet at 15 and was soon playing with Freddy Randall. He fronted his own band after returning from National Service, joined Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots in 1951, went to New York for a year before returning to play with the Jazz Today Unit. He was part of the Dill Jones Quartet and made numerous broadcasts on BBC Radio with his own Quartet. In 1980, Dave was recruited by the impresario Peter Boizot as a founder member and leader of the PizzaExpress All Stars in Dean Street, Soho. Eventually moving to Hampshire, he continued playing with the All-Stars until 2001, while fitting in dates with Digby Fairweather’s Great British Jazz Band and playing solo gigs.




Alphonse Mouzon


Alphonse Mouzon - American jazz and fusion drummer and keyboard player born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was part of the first Weather Report band. He also played with Larry Coryell's Eleventh House and Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and others. “Because my mind is open, I don’t want to always be identified as just a jazz drummer,” Mr. Mouzon told Modern Drummer magazine in 1979. “I got my start through jazz, and I’m not putting it down. But there are other things I do.”




Herb Hardety


Herb Hardesty - American saxophonist born in Louisiana who started out on a trumpet said to have been given to his stepfather by Louis Armstrong. In his teenage years he played with some leading New Orleans bands, including those of Sidney Desvigne and Oscar “Papa” Celestin. He was playing in Dave Bartholomew’s band when he first worked with Fats Domino, though he was unaware of him at the time. Mr. Hardesty thought that he and his bandmates were going to record for “The Fat Man,” a radio detective drama, not accompany Mr. Domino, whose given name is Antoine, on his 1949 song “The Fat Man.” Herb and Fats Domino went on to work together for nearly 50 years.




Peter Burden - Eric Jackson wrote in December: Just heard of passing today of Peter Burden. Altoist Peter Burden was a presence on the Hastings and Brighton circuit for decades and was playing up to a few weeks ago. His early career started with the Southampton University Big Band and a subsequent highlight was as a member of Joe Lee Wilson's backing group, the Joy Of Jazz, leading to appearances at the Ljubljana and Camden festivals. More recently he ran a workshop in Bexhill and made local appearances backing Chris Hutchinson (son of Hutch). Click here for more comments. We do not yet have an obituary for Peter.


Trevor Trueman - Alan Royle shared on Facebook the news that drummer Trevor Trueman from Hyde, Cheshire had passed through the Departure Lounge. We have no other details so please let us know if you have any other information about Trevor.


Mike Dine - Upbeat Recordings have announced that Mike Dine of 504 Records has died. "I worked with Mike for the best part of 30 years. He will be greatly missed. Not many details yet but our thoughts are with his sister". The label 504 Records was founded by Mike Dine in 1978 and specializes in New Orleans traditional jazz. The name is inspired by the New Orleans telephone area code.


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.







Album Released: 4th November 2016 - Label: Pavillon Records


Jim Rattigan's Pavillon

Strong Tea


Robin Kidson reviews this album for us:

Jim Rattigan is a French horn player with an impressive CV which, in addition to six years with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, also includes playing on soundtracks for the James Bond and Lord of the Rings films, accompanying a range of artists from Adele to Carla Bley, and working in various bands led by Mike Gibbs. InJim Rattigan's Pavillon String Tea 2010, he formed his own 12 piece band called Pavillon (the French word for the bell of the horn) to record Strong Tea “as a 50th birthday present to myself”. For reasons not entirely clear, the album has only recently been released. Pavillon is also currently on tour playing tracks from the album plus some newer pieces.

In addition to Rattigan, the band includes Martin Speake (alto sax), Andy Panayi (tenor sax), Mick Foster (baritone sax), Percy Pursglove (trumpet and flugelhorn), Steve Fishwick (trumpet), Robbie Robson (trumpet), Jeremy Price (tenor trombone), Sarah Williams (bass trombone), Hans Koller (piano), Dave Whitford (bass), and Gene Calderazzo (drums).

The French horn is not an instrument normally associated with jazz. Apparently, it is a difficult instrument to learn and play, and does not have the flexibility often required in jazz. You wouldn’t know this from hearing Rattigan’s playing on Strong Tea. He is able to exploit the benefits of the instrument – mainly, that beautiful mellow tone - whilst playing superb, often intricate, solos. He is also a most accomplished composer and arranger – all the tracks on the album are his own work. (Incidentally, there is an interesting interview with Rattigan in the December issue of Jazz Journal in which he describes the technicalities of his chosen instrument).

The first track on Strong Tea is Parkwood Fair which begins with a short bass solo from Dave Whitford. Gene Calderazzo joins him on drums and gradually, a jazz-rock rhythm emerges. Rattigan plays an imaginative solo with an occasional echo from a muted trumpet. Calderazzo drives the whole thing on with some effective drumming. There are teasing little snatches of the whole band playing – it’s almost like a wild animal is being kept on a leash. It’s a very effective way of building up excitement and anticipation. Eventually, the leash is let slip Jim Rattigan and Pavillonand the whole band comes into its own. There are few things more thrilling in jazz than a big band in full flow. The rhythm changes towards the end of the track towards something more Ellington than Bitches Brew, an indication of how confident Rattigan is in marshalling the resources of a big band into any number of different styles.

Dulwich Park, the second track, has a jaunty, memorable tune. The arrangement has some complex touches which the band carries off with aplomb. There are virtuosic solos from Rattigan, Andy Panayi on tenor sax, and Percy Pursglove on flugelhorn.

The title track, Strong Tea, has a nice swinging beat and a touch of the late lamented Brotherhood of Breath about it. As with Parkwood Fair, Rattigan’s solo is accompanied by occasional echoes from a muted trumpet. It’s a nice and effective touch. There are also solos from Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Martin Speake on alto sax, and Jim Rattigan Hans Koller on piano.

Won Over the Eight has a bluesy, sultry feel with the whole ensemble in full cry. The tension is built in a most effective and exciting way. Rattigan’s solo is particularly heartfelt and thrilling. The whole piece is an object lesson in how to write and arrange for a large ensemble.


Jim Rattigan
Photograph by Hayley Lambert


The final track, 24/7, is a punchy, quite complex piece which, again, builds and releases tension in a series of climaxes. Mick Foster takes a solo on baritone sax, another instrument which can be cumbersome but not in the hands of Foster who has a nice tone and can be as flexible as any tenor or alto. Jeremy Price plays a confident solo on trombone, Robbie Robson solos languidly but effectively on trumpet, and Rattigan again performs wonders.

The album is quite short by modern standards – five tracks taking just under 40 minutes in total. Perhaps it’s another indicator of Jim Rattigan’s musicianship (and showmanship) that he leaves the audience wanting more.   

Pavillon is currently on an Arts Council supported tour. They perform at:

Fleece Jazz, Stoke-By-Nyland on 13th January,
Jazz Café Posk in London on 14th January, and
The Spin in Oxford on 19th January.

Click here for a short video of Jim Rattigan introducing the tour. Click here for a video of Pavillon performing live. They are playing a piece called Mung Beans (not on the Strong Tea album).

Click here for more information about Jim Rattigan and Strong Tea, including samples of the tracks.

Click here for details and to sample the album.


Robin Kidson

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Album Released: October 2016 - Label: Ropeadope Records



Vol. 02


Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Yago Vazquez (piano, electric Rhodes); Pablo Menares (bass); Rodrigo Recabarren (drums); Kyle Nasser (tenor & soprano saxophones).

Strange name isn’t it? 'Beekman'; take a look at the cover of Vol. 2 which has a mythical woodpecker-like bird with a slightly extended beak surrounded by miniature naked figures riding the feathered creature as if it were aBeekman Vol 02 unicorn or a surreal horse. Weeee-ird! Beek or Beak, better put the music on. 

This album opens with Canción Al Licor De Ave, the first few bars have a rippling piano figure, which in turn is joined by a tenor sax melody, played soft and warm as those jazz reed guys used to do when soft and warm was the byword for the tenor saxophone. (I won’t mention the names because you already know them.) Canción Al Licor De Ave is the only composition on the album written by Beekman’s drummer, Rodrigo Recabarren, but there’s no-prize to know why it comes first. It’s an elegantly plotted composition with a band performance to match. The two Chileans, Pablo Menares and Recabarren, are a sensuous pairing; gliding bass and drums with finesse inside a distinct rhythmic ‘jazz’ orthodoxy. I suppose I just mean they are a clean springboard. Their groove comes from a true touch, not a hard slam. And Yago Vazquez’s piano and Kyle Nasser’s saxophone, both borrow from giants who have stood on the same stage long before they knew the word ‘gig’, yet now make it sound so certainly their own. 

Click here to listen to Canción Al Licor De Ave.

Canción is a performance that enables me to feel good on a dark wet day and sets me up for the rest of the album. But, Beekman the bird, as in Carolina Arevalo’s intriguing artwork, drew me into the Peruvian jungle in a Beekmanway that I could not have imagined. What a person thinks of as ‘strange’ is really only your own lack of knowledge. I digress, Moved By Clouds is the second track on the album. It has a clever time signature and another nifty tenor feature which opens up the door to piano. Mr Vazquez’s grand keyboard has a smart, smooth hurdle over the chords and until he breaks back on Kyle Nasser’s tenor - which is somewhere between the late Michael Brecker and the very current sax star Chris Potter, a modest musician who eloquently talks through his reeds. Is this what Kyle Nasser means by Moved By Clouds? Something about a wisp of transparent white in the wind, yet they fill up the sky. He moves in a straight line down the scale, yet he’s parting gifts, smart flourishes which keep the ears guessing the eventual outcome. And again Mr Recabarren is patterning the drum figures, containing the band, keeping the quartet pecking at the composition, Beekman’s beak sharp and probing.

Click here to listen to Moved By Clouds.

It’s not all clipped and edged – the bass player, Pablo Menares contributes a ballad composition which has a short, precise bass passage, hardly a solo as such, rather En Otro Lugar feels like somewhere else; a late night melody for saxophone and piano behind double bass and brushed drums, plus pinged cymbals, offering up a threaded cushion of percussion. It is a performance of creative touches, Recabarren cutting off a dynamic with just a flick-tip of his hi-hat, Vazquez smudging his left hand chord for emphasis. 

This ear to detail is present throughout Vol. 2, when Yago Vazquez switches to his Rhodes electric piano on Something Unsettled it doesn’t feel like a gimmick, more a man who just wants to sing with a different partner for the sake of the sound alone. Or the fact that they bother to give Kyle Nasser’s twisting acappella tenor study time. On the Intro to Verdict’s Out the horn is given its own track and title, I guess because they realise how good it really is – like saying, “Listeners, we know you’re going to want to pick this little gem out, so we’ve made it easy for you.” Pablo Menares's second composition on Vol.2 is Perdón, the Spanish word for ‘sorry’. I have always thought the S-word a rather brave statement. Well worth saying if you really mean it, and totally redundant if you don’t. Somewhere in Menares’s life he means it, this performance is a slow burn lyrical ballad that breathes humanity without saying another single word. Once again Kyle Nasser circles the song through his horn – playing the line, improvising on the intervals rather than the melody. It’s followed by a tender, balanced solo over a speciality drum part, Menares himself drawing down a thumbed bassline leading to one of Valquez’s piano breaks which, not for the first time on this recording, reminds me of someone special like Victor Feldman. I think it’s as much to do with the touch as the notes themselves. You know how some pianists can cry a piano, Yago Vazquez is able to do that. He sobs like grown men do when they hurt.

Click here for a video of Beekman playing Perdón.

I came to the curiously named Beekman without any prior knowledge. I’ve played Vol.2 numerous times over the last couple of weeks. Late at night with a small drop of liquid in the glass and only my ears softening the darkness; early in the morning with the first cup of tea and a brisk laptop keyboard typing the first trash of the day which later gets deleted. Beekman, Vol.2 still kept surfacing. I’ll be keeping this one. Right now we all need reminding that there is an antidote to harshness, that we can do so much better with beauty than the callous call of bullies. Try a little Beekman this winter. Enjoy.

Click here for details and to sample.

Click here for the Beekman website and to hear selections from the album.

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk


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Album Released: 25th November 2016 - Label: Lake Records (2 CDs)


Ian Wheeler

Remembering Ian Wheeler

Ian Wheeler's talent and contribution to British jazz was significant and this 2 CD compilation from Lake Records is a timely reminder of how easy it can be to forget those who have helped to build the history of the music. Fortunately we have some of their recorded playing preserved - it is worth taking time to listen to it.

Ian Wheeler played clarinet, alto and soprano saxophones and harmonica, and examples of his work with all those instruments are covered in this collection which ranges from 1954 to 2000. There are twenty tracks on each CD played by various personnel in the bands of Ian Wheeler himself, Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, HeftyRemembering Ian Wheeler Jazz, the Sims-Wheeler Vintage Jazz band, the Ian Wheeler - Sammy Rimington band and a band brought together by Lake Records in May 2000 comprising Ian Wheeler, Tony Pringle (cornet), Ole 'Fessor' Lindgreen (trombone), Ray Foxley (piano), Keith Stephen (guitar), Ray Cansdale (bass) and Paul Adams (drums).

Ian Wheeler was born in London in 1931. He started out on banjo, moved on to guitar and then in Charlie Connor's band, changed to clarinet. He formed his first band, the River City Jazz Band, in 1952 when he was 21. A year later he joined Mike Daniels, but a bout of TB put him in hospital. Paul Adams's liner notes tell us: 'Ian told me that ... he wasn't sure he would continue to play so he organised and paid for a recording session. The engineer was John R.T. Davies and the musicians were Chris Barber's band without Chris.' These are the first 2 tracks on this album where we can hear Ian duetting with both Monty Sunshine and Pat Halcox.

The TB didn't stop his career and by the end 1954 he was playing in Ken Colyer's band, replacing Acker Bilk and turning professional. The four tracks with the Colyer band come from 1959. When Ian's friend trombonist Mac Duncan left Colyer, Ian left too and put together a band with Acker's trumpet player, Ken Sims. We have two tracks from 1960, Bye And Bye and Savoy Blues which were 'rescued' from a box of tapes by Lake Records. There is some nice playing by Mac Duncan on a steady, foot-tapping Savoy Blues with Ken Sims's growling trumpet before Ian's clarinet takes a solo. Unfortunately the band ended up in a car crash and Ian was hospitalised, but Monty Sunshine had now left the Barber band and Chris Barber came calling. Ian joined them in 1961 and we have 5 tracks from 1962 to 1965 to capture that period.

In 1968, Ian moved to the West Country and set up a scuba diving business and carried on playing with a band of his own until in 1973 when he teamed up with trumpeter Rod Mason. Also living in the West Country was trumpeter Keith Smith and together Ian and Keith formed Hefty Jazz, and we are lucky to have two tracks, Sweet Lorraine and S'Wonderful, from this great band in this collection. I love the smooth, rounded sound Ian Wheeler captures on Sweet Lorraine and it is nice to hear Peter Ind on bass, particularly his solo on Savoy Blues. Dick Wellstead takes the piano solos - Keith Smith is not present on these 'Quartet' recordings.

Ian Wheeler's work with reeds player and flutist Sammy Rimington emerged from links through Hefty Jazz and the Ian Wheelercompilation has 9 tracks from 1978 when they co-led a band with Ralph Laing (piano), Wayne Chandler (banjo, guitar), Harvey Weston (bass) and Tony Allen (drums). In 1979, Chris Barber called again, this time to ask Ian to replace Sammy Rimington! It was now the Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band and track 18, Alligator Hop with Ian duetting with clarinettist John Crocker, is from this time. Whilst with Chris, Ian worked on other projects and a set of recordings under his own name was made in 1993 bringing together again Rod Mason and Fessor Lindgreen with Ray Foxley (piano), Vic Pitt (bass) and Colin Bowden (drums) and on Melt Down, we can hear Ian Wheeler on harmonica after a strong solo statement from Rod Mason and on each side of a brief, assured solo from the Danish trombonist. (Ian's recording Ian Wheeler at Farnham Maltings was voted the best new jazz recording of 1993 by the Music Retailers Association).

The next chronological track on this album is from 1996 when Chris Barber was on tour and the track South captures for posterity Ian, Acker Bilk and John Crocker on the recording with the three clarinets intertwining and soloing - John solos first, Ian second and Acker third (they should go from left to right on your stereo). From the Lake Records Jazz Band recording from 2000, don't miss Ian's lovely, sensitive clarinet solo on Hollandaise.

Ian Wheeler spent his final years running a pottery and gift shop in Polperro, Cornwall with Maria, his second wife. He died on the 27th June 2011. You can read his obituary here and Paul Adams's liner notes that come with these 2 CDs are comprehensive - together with this collection of his recordings spanning 46 years, we have a deserved tribute to a fine musician.

Click here for details and to sample the album.

Click here for a video of Ian Wheeler playing When The Saints Go Marching In with the Barber band in 1965 (not on the album).

Ian Maund

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Album Released: 25th November 2016 - Label: Edition Records


Stuart McCallum and Mike Walker

The Space Between


Howard Lawes reviews this album for us:

Salfordians and Mancunians probably need no introduction to this guitar duo, who have both entertained and educated residents, students and visitors for many years.  Stuart McCallum graduated from the University of Salford where Mike Walker was a tutor and both are now tutors at the Royal Northern College of Music.  Mike Walker is perhaps best known for his work with the band led by Nikki Iles, The Printmakers, and with GwilymStuart McCallum and Mike Walker The Space Between Simcock in the band, The Impossible Gentlemen, who released an album recently called Let's Get Deluxe which received many excellent reviews. 

Stuart McCallum has worked extensively with a variety of other musicians including his Cinematic Orchestra colleague, Richard Spaven and has released albums under his own name including  Distilled in 2011 and City in 2015.  Both these albums demonstrate McCallum's thoughtful and measured approach to his music that produces melodic sound panoramas often enhanced by orchestral elements such as string sections.  In City, co-written and performed with and produced by drummer, Richard Spaven, he demonstrated his ability to sensitively accompany vocalists and in a previous album with Mike Walker entitled Beholden the music was described in the Guardian as "quiet but compellingly lyrical".  Another venture was the writing of a score for the ballet Ultimate Form choreographed by Kenneth Tindall and performed by Linder Sterling at Tate Modern in London.

The photograph on the front cover of The Space Between is of High Force waterfall in Teesdale, water cascading through a rocky canyon before crashing into the river below, which might suggest music that is both noisier and more turbulent than McCallum fans have been used to.  There are nine tracks on the album, six compositions by McCallum and three by other composers although track 5 which is an excerpt from Debussy's String Quartet in G minor is arranged by McCallum.  On the album, Stuart McCallum plays acoustic guitar and electronics while Mike Walker plays electric guitar. A string quartet of Laura Senior and Gemma South (violin), Lucy Nolan (viola) and Peggy Nolan (cello) play on tracks 1, 3, 6 & 7. 

The first track on the album is paradoxically called And Finally; there is a percussive rhythm throughout suggesting perhaps an Irish dance and McCallum's acoustic melody is joined by the string quartet before Walker's improvised section on electric guitar. The second track is Alfie, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1966 film starring Michael Caine and famously sung by Cilla Black; McCallum and Walker provide a lovely version with changes in tempo and dynamics that enhance this very famous, romantic song. 

Click here for a live video version of Alfie from a house concert in March 2016 with Mike introducing the tune.

Moment Us is multi-layered, mellow jazz which McCallum is well known for, incorporating electronics and string quartet and building to crescendos that give the impression of a much larger ensemble, while Yewfield, referring to a Creative Retreat in the Lake District has a distinctly folk-music style.  Track 5 is an arrangement for guitars of Debussy's String Quartet in G minor and is a very short piece of very nice guitar playing. The title track, The Space Between, begins with some electronica and string quartet, McCallum introduces some classical style Stuart McCallum and Mike Walkerguitar while Walker harmonises with the string quartet which soars beautifully as string quartets do so well;  the meaning of the title track is explained as "expressing McCallum and Walker’s abiding love of melody and space, their friendship and respect, and the multifarious sounds and timbres that their instrument has to offer". 

Photograph by Porl Medlock

Next comes As the Trees Waltz, a very agreeable dance tune that will have you swaying, like the trees in the wind. McCallum provides the melody while Walker pitches in with some high register electric guitar solo.  My Ideal has been performed as vocal or instrumental by several jazz greats such as Chet Baker, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, and this guitar version seems just as interesting and worthwhile. Which takes us to the last track called Sky Dancer, a much more upbeat piece with a distinct North African feel incorporating percussion and some great jazz guitar from Walker while McCallum provides the ever more insistent rhythm.

Superficially this album could just be described as some enjoyable guitar playing, but when it is really listened to, the richness of the music and the variety of influences is revealed and is very rewarding.  Stuart McCallum is clearly a very good composer, arranger and musician which should fill his tutor at the University of Salford with considerable pride while Mike Walker, as ever, delivers masterful performances, seemingly effortlessly.

Click here for an introductory video.

Click here for details and to sample.


Howard Lawes     


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Album Released: 28th October 2016 - Label: Firehouse 12 Records


Mary Halvorson Octet

Away With You

Filipe Freitas reviews this album for us:

Originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, and now based in Brooklyn, New York, Mary Halvorson, a skillful guitarist, unpredictable improviser, gifted composer, and unavoidable figure of the avant-jazz current generation, has been very active in New York since 2002.

The 36-year-old guitarist did her jazz studies at the Wesleyan University and the New School, which gave her extra tools to develop a very unique sound and a bold musical concept that has no parallel in the modern andMary Halvorson Octet Away With You diversified world of jazz. Her outstanding features include rich harmonic designs, which sound simultaneously twisted and beautiful, and an out-of-the-box improvisational vision that encompasses complex patterns, audacious phrases, and dazzling atonal and polytonal approaches.

Highly in-demand in the last couple of years, the unconventional Halvorson has participated in several recordings as a sidewoman in addition to the release of her first solo album, Meltframe, and a few audacious duo and trio projects that she leads and co-leads, like her own trio (with John Hébert and Ches Smith), Secret Keeper (with Stephan Crump), The Out Louds (with Ben Goldberg and Tomas Fujiwara), and Thumbscrew (with Michael Formanek and Tomas Fujiwara). Other relevant collaborations include but are not limited to fantastic musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot, Jessica Pavone, Tom Rainey, Taylor Ho Bynum, Peter Evans, Nate Wooley, and Tim Berne.

To give the most appropriate course to her tempting new album, Away With You, Halvorson brought together an extraordinary octet. The resultant body of work confers on her, once and for all, the statute of large-ensemble leader. The band members are the same as she gathered in 2013 for the release of Illusionary Sea, with the addition of Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar. It comprises Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Jon Irabagon on alto saxophone, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jacob Garchik on trombone, John Hébert on bass, and Ches Smith on drums.

Evincing a more melodic and cerebral approach than her previous works, the recording starts with Spirit Splitter (No. 54), a distortedly symphonic volcano that spills rapturous counterpoints and steamy exchanges. Saxophonist Jon Irabagon puts his best foot forward, showing why he’s considered an outstanding improviser. Halvorson brands her quirky, tense chords right after a reverberant collective improvisation packed with horn sounds.

Click here for a video of the Octet playing Spirit Splitter live at The Stone, New York City, in June 2016.

Her probing guitar dominates Away With You (No. 55), a frolicking avant-pop piece that also counts on trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson’s unpretentious speeches and Ches Smith’s freethinking yet methodical drumming. The Absolute Outmost (No. 52) features Susan Alcorn playing her pedal guitar steel in a meditative way. Halvorson, opting for unusual sounds, and John Hébért, who bows the bass accordingly, join her until the fourth minute, time Mary Halvorsonwhen the reeds erupt and a flamboyant rhythm is installed. Ingrid Laubrock excels with a portentous solo that encompasses melodious lines, hints of bop phrasing, and explosive temper.

Other notable tunes are Fog Bank (No. 56), a suspenseful piece sculpted by guitar, bowed bass, and trombone; Safety Orange (No. 59), an exquisite guitar-horn irreverence played at 3/4 tempo; and the conclusive Inky Ribbons (No. 53), an unattached melodic song embellished by beautiful guitar interactions and featuring the reedists by turns.

Away With You is Halvorson’s most enlightened and maturest work so far. The gallant sonic tapestry weaved through the fabulous arrangements enhances the collective rather the individual. Still, sectional free forms and ravishing improvisations remind us that Halvorson’s uncanny knack for playing out of standardized zones remains intact. For our contentment!

Click here to listen to the album. Click here for purchase details. Click here for Mary Halvorson's website.

Filipe Freitas jazztrail.net


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Album Released: 5th January 2017 - Label: Pirouet


Frank Kimbrough


Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:

Frank Kimbrough is a New York based pianist and a member of the Maria Schneider orchestra.  This ongoing musical relationship has resulted in a number of Grammy award-winning projects, and one of Maria’sFrank Kimbrough Solstice compositions is the last track on his new album, Solstice.  

Frank Kimbrough himself has some 20 critically acclaimed albums under his own name.  In 1992, Kimbrough helped found the Jazz Composers Collective, an organisation that lasted for 13 years.  He also has an on-going nine-year stint teaching at the Juilliard School.  On this recording, he is joined by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield and they have been playing together for over 20 years.  As Frank states, “I selected compositions that speak to me in ways that are unique and personal. Jay and Jeff didn’t know what we were going to play and didn’t see the music until we arrived at the date.  There was almost no discussion and no rehearsal - we simply began to play”.  Most of the pieces are first takes.

There are 9 tracks to enjoy; the longest being the title track, Solstice, at just over 8 minutes.  The only original composition is the 6th track, called Question’s The Answer.  The CD package has four photographs of a variety of woodland foliage however there are no track notes until the back which lists the musicians, the tracks and the composer of each track.  The full track listing is as follows:

1. Seven by Carla Bley
2. Here Comes the Honey Man by George Gershwin
3. Solstice by Maryanne de Prophetis
4. The Sunflower by Paul Motian
5. Albert’s Love Theme by Annette Peacock
6. Question’s The Answer by Frank Kimbrough
7. From California With Love by Andrew Hill
8. El Cordobes by Annette Peacock
9. Walking by Flashlight by Maria Schneider

The first track, Seven, ably demonstrates that you do not need lots of instruments to produce good music.  A gentle but insistent start features restrained piano playing with gaps where background instruments space the piano melody which dominates progressively.  Here Comes The Honey Man is slow paced with repeated melody lines from the piano and bass each taking turns to lead.  The understated percussion adds depth at another layer.  All three musicians play as one with increasing pace before the piano finishes the track on its own.  

The title track, Solstice, has lovely clear melodic piano with subtle bass and drums joining and keeping the melody flowing.  The bass takes over half way through the track to produce a wonderful solo before the piano Frank Kimbroughreturns.  This is a track that is very relaxing to listen to.  

Click here to listen to Solstice.

With The Sunflower, we hear more percussion with a solo from Jeff Hirschfield, plus one from Anderson’s bass.  This track has a discordant and disjointed melody from drummer/composer Paul Motian but it works well.  Albert’s Love Theme is another very relaxing track with light, sweet and moody high refrains from the piano.  

Track 6, The Question’s The Answer, is a faster track with a complex series of notes falling over each other and running around a melodic theme.  The piano is very much the lead instrument here but well backed by bass and drums.  From California With Love has lots of cascading notes on the piano, with again the bass and drums providing support.  


Frank Kimbrough

El Cordobes was written by Annette Peacock for the Spanish bullfighter Manual Benitez Perez, and has more dramatic playing with the piano providing the changes in tempo and intensity.  This track has a very modern feel to it.  The last track is Walking By Flashlight.  I like the original orchestral version but this pared down version played by Kimbrough, supported by the soft brushes used on the drums, is also highly enjoyable, with its beautiful, clean, easy melody.

These musicians play brilliantly off each other and the balance in the playing is superb considering the spontaneous way the album was recorded.  A relaxing CD where even the complex sounds simple and minimalist.

Click here for details and to sample the album. Click here for an interview with Frank Kimbrough.

Click here for purchase details.

Tim Rolfe


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Album Released: 25th October 2016 - Label: Skirl Records


Anna Webber's Simple Trio



Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Anna Webber ( tenor saxophone, flute); Matt Mitchell (piano); John Hollenbeck (drums).

I’m coming in a little late in the day, this is Anna Webber’s second album on Skirl Records, Binary being the follow up to 2014’s Simple, recorded with the same line-up.  The more my ears have hung out with Binary the more I’m damn sure I want to peddle back and pick up on Simple

Over this last year it’s just been the way of things, I seem to have found myself listening to a lot of trios; obviously piano trios, but other kinds of three way partnerships too.  At the beginning of 2016, I was working on a book about the incredible Russian triptych that constitutes the legendary Ganelin Trio.  Their line-up was saxophones-keyboards-drums and hey, that’s what we have here on Binary.  Last month Sandy Brown Jazz featured tenorAnna Webber Simple Trio Binary sax giant Ivo Perelman’s massive Art Of The Improv Trio series.  Back in October What’s New published my review of the soprano sax star, Jane Ira Bloom’s Early Americans trio album which, like Anna Webber, has strong Brooklyn, New York connections - although Ms Bloom’s line-up is saxophone-bass-drums.  The popularity of three way configurations feels more than coincidental.  Maybe, there’s a financial element to it (I understand the importance of the ‘Economy’, it would be stupid not too) though in my view the real trio-driver is that serious improvisers value the inherent close connection that comes with a three way split.

Running through Binary’s intricate pattern of performances are six short exercises titled Rectangles1a,1b, 2, 3a, 3b, 3c.  They don’t appear in that order.  God forbid it was ever that easy, instead Webber scatters them across the set-list like seedlings of other, longer improvisations.  Rectangles 2 is the album opener, all sharp corners, blades of sax sound splitting hairs with John Hollenbeck’s abstracted drumming as precise as surgery. Matt Mitchell’s piano dances like Thelonious Monk.  Three intricacies caught in a box.  They then wade into a piece called Impulse Purchase (strange but true, I bought the recently released final album by Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra on the Impulse label on the same day as I received Anna Webber’s recording). Impulse Purchase is a fourteen minute examination of the relationship between three classy improvisers circling each other until they finally arrive totally entwined.  If that sounds hard work, as far as I’m concerned it is pure pleasure.  What could be a mish-mash of uncertainty in the hands of less articulate players is in fact a journey of robust sound construction.  A great listen, and to use Ivo Perelman’s definition, truly, a fine example of “the art of the improv trio”.

Click here to listen to Rectangles 2.

The other exciting discovery about finding Anna Webber’s music is down to her use of flute.  Tug of War is for me the key track.  This is flute, piano and percussion slicing through the obvious predictions of such a line-up and arriving in lots of different spaces and aural soundscapes; bewildering, esoteric, venturesome, there is a sense of tugging at the tunes – stretching the sound shape so it morphs into a guise of music which only exists in the moment of its making.  That description would hold up for everything on this album.  None of it will be heard live again in this form.  A recorded album is just that, a record of a past encounter.  When listening to an Anna Webberimprovisation which has been ‘preserved’, it is always pertinent to approach the outcome as if this is the first and last time you will ever hear it.  The flute, an instrument which can sometimes drift into pastoral air, is given body and soul by Anna Webber. Tug of War is a tough, exciting encounter, this flute doesn’t float, Webber weights it down forcing a clarity from the instrument which makes it feel vitally alive and dextrous, heaving wind onto the piano breaks and reacting to the crack coming off the drum kit.

The title track, Binary, begins with solo piano before being joined by an aerated tenor harmony drone. Those first two minutes as Matt Mitchell establishes this sober ballad-like melody within the confines of this trio are integral. ‘Three’ in binary  mathematics is represented as 11 (or “one, one”).  I have absolutely no idea exactly how Anna Webber is using the word Binary.  It is an ‘in’ word right now – travelling across disciplines and collecting different interpretations of meaning.  Perhaps it is this that attracts its usage to this collection of fascinating performances.  Certainly as the title track emerges from the piano shell it takes on numerous shapes within Anna Webber’s Simple Trio.  The simplicity of the initial study being gradually transformed by the continual, exquisite interaction between the piano-reeds-percussion.  By the time Anna Webber is extemporising through her tenor sax at the end of the piece, Binary seems to have undergone a complete change of colour.  The numbers too might well have reached an altered state, I wouldn’t really know, I was always lousy at maths.

Click here to sample the album on Bandcamp.

Sometimes a session comes completely new to the ears.  I hear it as an alert; I’ve got to go there now and I’ll be waiting for the next one.  Perhaps above all the instruments associated with improvisation, the tenor saxophone is the one that carries the weight of its own history as a burden.  Even before John Coltrane it was a heavy thing, over the last fifty years the ton of tenor offerings have grown to enormous proportions.  Anna Webber’s album has a fresh sense about it.  She carries history lightly and mathematics with ease.  On Binary the tenor talks in a recognisable language yet there are strong new accents.  I’d suggest Ms Webber’s flute is a brand new voice, I’ve had to listen up, there is serious stuff going on here. Matt Mitchell and John Hollenbeck reach into the trio’s Rectangles as if they are surgeons undertaking operations.  This is a three way trio each with its point.  I’d recommend spending a bit of time with this band.

Click here for details and to sample.

Click here for Anna Webber’s website.

Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk

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Album Released: 18th November 2016 - Label: Edition Records




Ralph Wylde (vibraphone), James Corpus (trumpet, flugelhorn), Sam Rapley (clarinet, bass clarinet), Cecilia Bignall (cello), Misha Mullov-Abbado (double bass), Scott Chapman (drums, percussion).

Mosaic is a six-piece band led by vibraphone player Ralph Wylde. Formed in 2014, it brings together in this debut album young musicians who have been making a name for themselves over the past few years. Ralph Wylde, a Mosaic Subterranea graduate from the Royal Academy of Music, was the winner of the 2015 Kenny Wheeler Prize and picked by Jazzwise Magazine as 'one to look out for'. Ralph says: 'Winning the Kenny Wheeler Prize, having been so inspired by his music, was a real honour, and the opportunity it gives me to release this record on Edition is incredibly exciting ... 'Subterranea' has allowed me to bring together some of my favourite musicians, and breathe life into the music.'

Aside from this band, and this album, Ralph Wylde plays with a variety of other contemporary projects including those of Yazz Ahmed, Sam Eagles, Rick Simpson, JJ Wheeler and Troykestra. Of the 7 tracks on this album, two of which are 'Interludes', the title track won the 2015 Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition. They are all Ralph's own compositions.

The album opens with White Horses. Ralph explains that it is influenced by the music of Steve Martland and Steve Reich: 'The opening chords are a response to Reich's City Life, and the more rhythmic sections reflect Martland's Horses Of Instruction. The latter is also where the title derives from, albeit adapted to present an image of waves breaking.' The opening chords are rich, giving way to a riff from the vibes and the brass entering and stretching the tune. The bass and drums underscore a slow, Ralph Wyldeextended outing from Sam Rapley's clarinet and eventually he passes the piece to Ralph's vibes solo before the chords return to close the track.

Kaira Konko takes its name from a scout lodge in Soma, The Gambia. Ralph explains that it places an emphasis on community and refuge. 'This piece aims to capture the contrast between the harsh reality of life in parts of Africa, and the sanctuary that is Kaira Konko ('Hill of Peace'). Cecilia's cello begins this beautiful theme with flavours of Ravel and joined by the vibraphone, they completely capture the concept described by Ralph. Clarinet and trumpet come in dancing lightly and it is James Copus's rippling trumpet that next takes a solo, presumably reflecting the less peaceful realities until the vibes bring reassurance whilst in the background clarinet and trumpet state a recurring motif.

The first two tracks have been 8 minutes and 12 minutes long and the first Interlude takes 4.28 minutes, beginning like a flight of bees, flies or birds and harmonics float through the air. The piece is an atmospheric soundscape that fades away to the title track, Subterranea. Ralph Wylde describes it as 'conjuring images of underground rivers and caves'. Vibes, light percussion and bass allow the bass clarinet, trumpet and cello to take us down where Misha Mullov-Abaddo's bass provides a very rewarding solo. An empathy of clarinet, bass and drums carries the track along and then hand over to the vibes to explore the journey until the band surfaces into daylight. Interlude II at just over 3 minutes is another tonal soundscape. I am not sure whether these interludes are intended to atmospherically bookend Subterranea, but that is the effect.

Cryptogram is a musical cryptogram - Ralph says: 'The pitches used in both the melodic line and chords are derived from my name. This idea was passed on to me by composer Patrick Nunn who has recently completedMosaic a series of cryptograms himself.' Sparse vibraphone notes and percussion start out the piece, gathering pace as the bass enters, and then trumpet, and the clarinet which floats along with a few historic references until a clear run-filled trumpet solo from James Copus. The pace stops and here the drums effectively carry rhythms that underpin the notes chosen by the rest of the band.

Reprise uses material from several of the pieces on the album, drawing them together into a unified finale. Starting with references to the soundscapes, some beautiful textures from cello and vibes, a lyrical reminder from trumpet and clarinet, and a short staccato ending.

This is a thoughtful, satisfying and accomplished album that should extend Ralph Wylde's reputation. He has chosen his musicians well and the arrangements on Subterranea allow each of them to contribute effectively to the whole.

Click here for a video introduction to the album.

Click here for details, to sample the album and to listen to Cryptogram.

Diary dates: The band will be playing at The Vortex, Dalston, London on 11th January, the RAM Jam in Kingston on 23rd March and The Lescar, Sheffield on 21st June.

Ian Maund



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Album Released: 14th October 2016 - Label: Motema


Donny McCaslin

Beyond Now

Filipe Freitas reviews this album for us:

Widely acclaimed saxophonist, Donny McCaslin, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, started to show enormous compositional and improvisational capabilities very early, namely in 1998, when he released his debut album Exile and Discovery. Other aesthetically rigorous works such as The Way Through, Soar, and InDonny McCaslin Beyond Now Pursuit all became intimately connected to a miraculous phase in his career that turned this Californian promise into a highly respected voice within the new jazz scene. During that period, collaborations with modernistic luminaries like Ben Monder, Antonio Sanchez, David Binney, Orrin Evans, Scott Colley, and Billy Drummond, were fundamental to make his spectacular tenor sound fly high.

After experimenting with the trio format in Recommended Tools, and the large ensemble in Declaration, the sax man changed direction by introducing an innovative quartet - Jason Lindner on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass, and Mark Guiliana on drums - whose distinctive groove and several influences were on the basis of the cerebral and caustic albums, Casting for Gravity and Fast Future. In the meantime, his name was heavily uttered when he was heard in David Bowie’s swan song, Blackstar, a happening that only increased his notability and also included the other members of his quartet.

Returning to a personal project, McCaslin reunites the Fast Future quartet and spices even more the old recipe by adding a few influential guest musicians to play on selected songs. Unsurprisingly, the nine tracks on Beyond Now intelligently combine a variety of variables that catapult McCaslin to the vanguard of the modern jazz. 

The opening tune, Shake Loose, pulses with hypnotic rhythmic chops and feels simultaneously urban and futuristic. With strong influences of pop-rock, jazz, and electronic music, the quartet proliferates a penetrating tension that remains elevated until its release through expansive harmonic progressions and the attractive melody of the chorus. A comparable approach is used in the melodious and patiently-driven Bright Abyss, another fantastic original that quickly connects to our senses through a sober, alert, and provocative instrumentation. The emotional grandeur brought into its final section, which is magnified by voices, has become McCaslin’s signature over the years.

Work with David Bowie must have been a great honour for these musicians. Grateful for the opportunity, they've agreed in the recording of two of his songs: A Small Plot of Land, featuring Jeff Taylor on vocals and Nate Wood on guitar, is a depressive chant whose inaugural regular beats gain a stronger perspective as Guiliana introduces richer drumming maneuvers; and Warszawa, which is strongly anchored in Lindner’s obscure interventions, becoming a suitable prop for McCaslin’s infatuations.

Click here to listen to A Small Plot Of Land featuring Jeff Taylor.

Click here for a video of Warszawa.

The quartet dabbles in ambient-electronic allures through the addition of Deadmau5’s Coelacanth 1, in which the quartet attempts to describe the beauty, but also the dangers of a distant planet; and Mutemath’s Remain, a Donny McCaslinsoulful blend of electronic, pop, and gospel that left me in a state of inebriant ecstasy. 

Glory only reinforces the bandleader’s dexterity as a composer and improviser, and at the same time features Lindner in a beautiful solo piano instance. The intensification of the closing harmonic cycles brought in more of the saxophonist’s swirling explorations.

McCaslin’s sound and ideas remain fresh and original, and Beyond Now stands a few steps ahead of the present time. It doesn’t only feel like a tribute to Bowie, but also as a reverent nod to boundless styles and freedom of expression. The band sounds tighter than ever, and as a pioneer of this type of fearless fusion, the saxist solidifies the present by keeping an eye in the future. After all, Donny is a jazz giant, a reputation founded on his own merit.

Click here for a video preview of the album. Click here for purchase details. Click here for Donny McCaslin's website.

Filipe Freitas jazztrail.net


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Albums Released: 25th November 2016 - Label: Strut Records


Sun Ra

Singles: The Definitive 45's Collection 1952 - 1991


Steve Day reviews a series of releases:

Released as a 3 CD digipack, a 3 LP set, and 10 x 45’s box-set, the collection features Sun Ra, John Gilmore, Pat Patrick, Marshall Allen, Billie Hawkins, The Qualities, Yochanan, Cosmic Rays, Hattie Randolph and many more.

Oh glory be, if this isn’t the most outer reaches of outer space then we are light years from home. Here are sixty-five tracks dating back to just about the start of time (for some of us).  Sun Ra and his Arkestra!  I’ll come clean, The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra - Volumes 1 & 2 for ESP Records, released in 1965 like twoSun Ra Singles examples of intelligence from another outer planetary connection, are among my prize possessions.  

A unique group of white British ‘progressives’ had a very particular understanding of early, Black American ‘jazz’.  Whether that conjecture included Sun Ra is probably beyond my (non) pay-grade.  What I know as fact is that a man named Herman Blount was playing piano for Fletcher Henderson between 1946-47, and he wasn’t on another planet.  In 1952, Sun Ra changed his name from Herman Blount to Le Sony’r Ra. In the same year, two great Scots, Sandy Brown and Al Fairweather, played Squeeze Me at their early Usher Hall Concert, and since then the whole ‘British’ understanding of jazz has connected with (dare I say) a ‘European’ perspective of the J-word.  As Willie Shake observed, time has both its entrances and exits.

Rightly this Sun Ra Singles collection looks back in order to dance forward.  And for that we have to inhabit Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit and the thin edge of the universe.  At times Singles is right-on brash-trash; garish, bold as brass and a fairground for the blues.  On occasions it feels like a collection of out-takes from a car boot sale, but the nuggets....  The bright gold that is Saturn and Velvet, both (possibly) left-overs from the Jazz in Silhoutte album, offer up a piercing light in a dark universe.  If a track like the Cosmic Rays with Sun Ra and Arkestra playing Daddy’s Gonna Tell You No Lie sounds like high pressure Doo-Wop, that’s because it is, and if Outer Space Plateau comes over like early solo improvisations on electric keyboards fused into a weird reeds arrangement owing nothing to no one, that’s exactly what it is.  And believe me, that makes both tracks especially special. 

Click here to listen to Saturn.

It also asks that we grab hold of the fact that throughout the late 1950’s and much of the 60’s, Black Americana music was having to straddle the strange duplicity of racist radio airplay, McCarthyism and the strangle hold of Sun Rathe commercial white dominated record companies. Sun Ra applied himself to breaking down the systems that ruled the music machine in the USA.  He had little choice; the entertainment business was full of negativity when it came to ‘race records’.  Sun Ra literally took himself and his band off to Saturn to get free of it. 


Sun Ra


Last year, when I first caught up with Le Sun Ra and his Arkestra’s take on Great Balls Of Fire on Youtube, the performance initially sounded like an extremely polite Bossa.  Dig deeper and it begins to take on the appearance of a paraphrase of the Otis Blackwell/Jack Hammer song, which clocked up well over a million sales for Jerry Lee Lewis.  The song became synonymous with ‘wild man’ rock 'n' roll, yet here it is poached like an egg, conservatively mainstream under Sun Ra’s presentation; a huge irony considering the totally avant-garde direction in which Sun Ra’s space travel would go.  ‘Wild’ in the Jerry Lee context had nothing to do with radical music and everything to do with ‘what sells records’.  Sun Ra had nothing to do with what sells records and everything to do with radical music.  Except that for the Arkestra, at this point in time, Great Balls Of Fire achieved neither purpose. Covers, like Balls of Fire and Gershwin’s A Foggy Day, were like masks – the face may be disguised but the fact that the mask is worn indicates an intention to present a problem.  It’s important that these tunes exist because they demonstrate the complete arc of Sun Ra’s interest.  He was after all, an artist of both the bizarrely ridiculous and the seriously unfathomable.

Click here for Le Sun Ra and His Arkestra Great Balls Of Fire.

There is a lot to savour in this extremely well packaged Singles collection – fantastical gems like The Bridge, or the curious mantra which curls through the corners of Rocket # 9 (which stops abruptly in its edit as if someone has pulled the power switch).  Then there is Blues On Planet Mars, a deconstruction of down-home R & B, to the point where it literally squeals, a special rare cruise through the single version of Mayan Temple unencumbered by much of its later orchestration and delivered by cranked electricity and broken percussion.  Temple probably would have been my favourite track on the whole collection if it weren’t for Disco 2021, which reacts to the ears like a counter balance to jiving in a straight line.  And then comes the original version of Nuclear War (“If they push that button, your ass gotta go.... radiation, mutation....”).  It is damn obvious that Sun Ra meant what he said.  The refrain became a regular concert inclusion.  For sure, no candidate played it during last year’s chase to the White House, they were too busy tipping the juke-box to Jerry Lee’s Great Balls Of Fire.

Like the Gilles Peterson Presents... Sun Ra album which we reviewed in November 2015, Singles is a case of Strut Records doing us all a favour and getting down into the archives and delivering yet another fabulous collection of material from one of the true innovators of ‘Great Black Music’ (Lester Bowie’s accurate term for jazz).  If not all the tracks neatly fit into the definition of ‘great music’ or even ‘jazz’, well, it’s really down to how you hear it.  Take out the ear plugs, listen at a decent volume and you’ll behold visionary music.  I would suggest that it is a requirement of Sandy Brown Jazz to always cover Sun Ra.  And if you encounter a little Doo-Wop along the way, tap your feet and don’t simply wait for Nuclear War.  Good luck.

Click here for details and to sample.

Click here for The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Volume 2.              

Steve Day  www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk


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Choice Cuts / Slim Pickings


In the above reviews we aim to look in detail at a selection of new albums we think you will find interesting, to give you some background to the recording and a description of what you are likely to hear so that you can decide whether you would like to investigate the albums further.

Clearly we are only able to review a limited number of albums in detail, so here we list a selection other new or re-released albums that you can explore further if they look of interest.


Rob Barron What's In Store



Rob Barron - What's In Store - (self released)
Rob Barron (piano); Colin Oxley (guitar); Jeremy Brown (bass); Joshua Morrison(drums).
Details / Sample.




Steve Turre Colors For The Masters



Steve Turre - Colors For The Masters - (Smoke Sessions)
Steve Turre (trombone, shells); Kenny Barron (piano); Ron Carter (bass); Jimmy Cobb (drums) plus Javon Jackson (tenor sax); Cyro Baptista (percussion).
Details / Sample. Review.



Beady Belle On My Own



Beady Belle - On My Own - (Jazzland)
Beady Belle (vocals); Mathias Eick (trumpet); Joshua Redman (tenor sax); Bugge Wesseltoft (piano, keyboards); Fran Cathcart (guitar); Reuben Rogers (bass); Gregory Hutchinson (drums); Audun Sandvik (cello); Torun Eriksen, Anja Martime Mark (vocals).
Details / Sample.



Francisco Mela Fe



Francisco Mela - Fe - (self release).
Leo Genovese (piano); Gerald Cannon (bass); Francisco Mela (drums). Guest - John Scofield (guitar).
Details / Sample. Review.





Andrew Cyrille Quartet The Declaration of Musical Independence



Andrew Cyrille Quartet - The Declaration Of Musical Independence - (ECM)
Andrew Cyrille (drums); Bill Frisell (guitar); Richard Teitelbaum (piano, keyboards); Ben Street (bass).
Details / Sample.





Soweto Kinch Nonagram


Soweto Kinch - Nonagram - (SKP)
Soweto Kinch (tenor sax, vocals); Reuben James (piano); Nick Jurd (bass); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).
Details / Sample.





Terell Staffiord Forgive and Forget


Terell Stafford - Forgive And Forget - (Herb Harris Music Co)
Terell Stafford (trumpet); Tim Warfield (tenor saxophone); Kevin Hays(piano); Greg Williams (bass); Rodney Green (drums).
Details / Sample. Review.





Steve Plews Tina May Telling Jokes


Tina May with the Steve Plews Trio - Telling Jokes - (ASC)
Tina May (vocals); Steve Plew (piano); Gavin Barras (bass); Johnny Hunter (drums).
Details / Sample.





Monocled Man We Drift Meridian



Monocled Man - We Drift Meridian - (Whirlwind)
Rory Simmons (trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards, guitar); Chris Montague (guitar); Jon Scott (drums); with guests Emilia Martensson and Ed Begley (vocals).
Details / Sample.











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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 ...



Some UK Jazz Venues



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Scotland: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, 1a, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. www.thejazzbar.co.uk

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


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

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

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

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

Yorkshire: Seven Jazz, Leeds, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, or Inkwell Arts, 31 Potternewton Lane Chapel Allerton, Leeds. www.sevenjazz.co.uk
(Includes: Seven Jazz Improvisation Group, Seven Jazz instrumental workshops and Seven Jazz Voices Choir).

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

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

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

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

East Staffordshire: Jazz On Tap, The Worthington Room, The National Brewery Centre, Horninglow Street, Burton upon Trent, DE14 1NG www.jazzontap.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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

Buckinghamshire: Amersham Jazz Club, Beaconsfield SYCOB FC HP9 2SE. www.amershamjazzclub.co.uk

Oxford: The Oxford Wine Cafe, 38 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN www.oxfordwinecafe.co.uk/jazz/

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

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

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

Oxfordshire: Witney Jazz, Burwell Hall, Thorney Leys, Witney OX28 5NP. www.witneyjazz.co.uk



Jazz London Live


Jazz London Live has become the key reference place for who is playing where in the London area - click here, and you can download their app to your phone etc. from a page on their website.



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

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

London: LUME, www.lumemusic.co.uk

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

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

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

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

London: The Green Note, Camden, 106 Parkway, Camden, London NW1 7AN. www.greennote.co.uk

London: The Forge, Camden, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden, London NW1 7NL. www.theforgevenue.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London: Putney, The Half Moon, Putney , 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. The band now plays the first Sunday and third Sunday of every month.
Sunday, 1st January and Sunday, 15th January - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Surrey: The Grey Horse, Kingston-Upon-Thames, 46 Richmond Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames, KT2 5EE. www.grey-horse.co.uk

Surrey: The Barley Mow, Shepperton, 67 Watersplash Road, Shepperton, TW17 0EE. www.themow.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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


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

Bath: Widcombe Social Club, Widcombe Hill, Bath, BA2 6AA
Jazz Times Three. 5th October; 2nd November 2016 then every 2 weeks. www.widcombesocialclub.co.uk.

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

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

Dorset: Blandford Forum, The King's Arms, Whitecliff Mill St, Blandford Forum DT11 7BE. Facebook

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

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

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



Jazz Talks: Buckinghamshire and Norwich Areas


Dr Bob Moore has contacted us saying:'I am a member of the U3A (University of the Third Age) Jazz appreciation section. I now have given four talks to them on each of the following: Louis Armstrong, US swing bands of the 40's, Modern Jazz Quartet and Stan Kenton. I should say that I am not a profession speaker but I have reasonable knowledge of the subject. Now that I have given the talks, it is most probable that they will gather dust in a cupboard  but if anyone local to me in High Wycombe is interested, I would be prepared to repeat the talk for free with possible expenses for petrol if far away.'' The talks mainly simply require a good audio system plus someone to put on the CD's but the Kenton talk does included some excerpts from Youtube on the internet but these could be edited out. If I use the Internet it would require screen plus associated equipment. The talks take about 90 min and the usual format is general background on the artist or group followed by tracks from CD's.'If anyone would like to take up Bob's offer, you can email him at drbobmoore-inbiltec@supanet.com


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

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


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Archie Shepp


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