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Dave's Notes, 19 September 2015 - Georgia Mancio

It is always a delight to have Georgia Mancio at our club. Last night, the context was special. She came in trio form, with Nigel Price on guitar, and Julie Walkington on bass, and made the club into our living room. So a quiet gig, with limited tonality. How did it work?

It worked beautifully. Her voice was at instrument level, not out front "singer" level. Her intonation and articulation are pretty well perfect, otherwise it would not have worked, Excellent arrangements helped as well. She sang Kurt Weill's "My Ship" in duet with just bass accompaniment, and a couple of pieces with guitar only. If I had to pick one thing that stood out from a very good crowd, it would be the second set medley: Jobim's "Bonita", Mancini's "Charade" and Artie Shaw's "Moonray".

There were times where the combination of Nigel and Julie reminded me of Charlie Bird tunes with his bassist (who I think was Keter Betts, but might have been brother Joe). It had a special fugal quality that I love. They did a lot of trading 4s, and in Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields "I Cant Give You Anything but Love", the three of them traded 4s, 2s and 1s, which got whoops from the audience.  Speaking of trading, Georgia traded 4s with Julie, whistling. I wish I could have hung some reverb on that.  

If you want to see Georgia in a totally different context she is in the Apex,  Bury St. Edmunds on Tuesday, with Alan Broadbent, Oli Hayhurst and Dave Ohm.

Next week. Oh, my, next week. the great Peter King, probably the finest alto player around and for some time, will be with us. This is not a gig to be missed. He brings Mike Gorman piano, Geoff Gascoyne bass and  Mark Fletcher drums to the party.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 September 2015 - Big Screen Trio
When we get deps, we get the best. Matt Skelton finds himself on a televised prom with the John Wilson orchestra, and we get the wonderful Steve Brown, enough of whom we do not see. Our president, David Newton was leading on piano, and Tom Farmer on  bass. What a great piano trio!  They had so much fun up there.

The Big Screen Trio treats movie music as jazz. Some of the choices were surprising. Picking the theme from "Chariots of Fire" was interesting. Vangelis only used three chords for the theme. David made it about 30 in his intro and solos. Steve was memorable on this one: right hand brush running the race, left hand mallet accenting the piano, through the whole song.

David's phrasing and dynamics are exceptional. In the  Mandel/Mercer "Emily" from the Americanization of same, David used a minimum of notes like a gorgeous line drawing, making you see what was not drawn. Lerner and Loewe did not write "Heather on the Hill" from Brigadoon as a jazz tune. David, Tom and Steve made it so. David's choice of chords was exciting in this ballad. Oh, he can use lots of notes too, as in "Get Me to the Church on Time".

Tom is a superb bassist, particularly when he is having a good time. He moves with the music, and will conduct bits of other peoples solos when they tickle him. His solo on Raskin's "Laura" particularly caught the ear. On that one, Steve used mallet, brushes, sticks and hands to vary the drum tonality to accent the other players.

They did fast stuff too, but this is long enough, now. A wonderful gig.

And another next week. Georgia Mancio sings in Portuguese, French, Spanish. And English. She brings with her Nigel Price on Guitar, and Julie Walkington on bass. It will be a stunner. Be there.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 September 2015 - John Critchinson: Ronnie Remembered
I was worried that having to delay this note until today, I would forget about the gig. Not a chance. This was one that will stand in the memory.

All of the songs played were favourites of Ronnie Scott, flavoured with a few Ronnie jokes. "Son, if you do that, you will go blind". "Dad, I'm over here". The band had all played for Ronnie Scott, and many times in the club. They gave us a wonderful evening. They were John Critchinson piano, Mornington Lockett sax, Dick Pearce trumpet, Tim Wells bass, and Trevor Tomkins drums. John and Mornington shared the compere duties.

What stood out in an evening of excellent and excellently played music? Well, Mornie convinced Dick to pull out his Bb baritone horn and he got out his soprano. The combination of tonalities was a delight, but when they started trading 1s, would you believe, it was fugue come to life: memorable. They had such fun. Everybody traded 4s with Trevor, and they built a structure to play with which was stunning.

In Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heavan", both Critch and Tim had solos that will be remembered.  The piano solo on Kern's "All the Things You Are" was also in the stick in the mind variety.  On the next number Mornington had the most amazing cadenza, and an intro to the song which involved him chording. On a saxophone. How do you do that?

This Friday, we have  the Big Screen Trio, led by Matt Skelton, who appeared a couple of weeks ago on a BBC prom, and earlier with the John Wilson prom, about movie music.  Matt brings presidente David Newton on piano and Tom Farmer on base, each one a prize winner. We will be winners too: the prize is hearing these guys do movie music.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 22 August 2015 - Basil Hodge Quintet: Ten Pieces of Silver
Well, there were actually 11 pieces of Horace Silver compositions, as we had the traditional encore, much called for by a very happy audience. Basil Hodge led a delicious band, true to the hard bop legacy of Horace Silver.

I am going to start with the bassist, Larry Bartley. As always, the bassist is the foundation and beat of the group. But Larry's accompaniment is exceptional. If you listen it is  musically complex, but always perfect for the moment. His solos on ballads were beautiful.

The drummer, Matt Fishwick, was a late addition to the group. As a non-musician myself, I marvelled at his ability to have the perfect accent at the right moment all through the evening. I loved his solo on "Nutvillle": intricate, with cross rhythms and fun.

Basil Hodge is an excellent pianist. with a penchant for the staccatto, which suits the hard bop material very well. That is not to say he cannot be lyrical, but his solo on "Blowin the Blues Away" I really loved. I like his announcements: just the right amount of information.

What a front line! Tony Kofi and Steve Fishwick blew their asses off. There were some superb solos. Both had solos on "Bagdad Blues"  that caught the ear. But what I enjoyed most was the harmonic work on heads, and particularly the trading of 2s in "Blowing the Blues Away".

We have the last summer rest next week, and in two weeks time, our new programme begins with explosive stuff. Remembrances of Ronnie Scott are brought to you by 5 guys, four of whom played a lot with Ronnie. Don't miss Mornington Lockett tenor sax, John Critchinson piano, Dick Pearce trumpet, Tim Wells bass and  Trevor Tomkins drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 July 2015 - Robert Habermann sings Gershwin
Last night Robert Habermann gave us a superbly structured show, rather than a gig. It was an evening's story:  his love and deep knowledge of the work and history of the Gershwins and his ability to communicate it in both song and speech made the evening work well.

A word about the arrangements. They were excellent, written for Robert, and not easy at all. The pianist was Bunny Thompson, who was a dep. He is an excellent accompanist. He had one solo number, a somewhat reduced piano reduction of "Rhapsody in Blue" which is amazing to attempt as a dep, and was as moving as that piece always is.

Robert took us through the growth and troubles of George and then Ira. We started with a very early joke song, "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em", written when he was 18, through to Ira's "Our Love is Here to Stay" after Georges death.  We got some songs written for Astaire ("Shall we dance", "They Can't Take That Away from Me", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"). We got music from the Pulitzer prize winning Porgy and Bess. We got his biggest moneymaker, "Swanee". Each song was prefaced by a little history and anecdote. Robert engages with the audience very well, and even got us to sing.

No gig next week...
But on Friday, 21 August, something special. Basil Hodge Quintet: Celebrating Horace Silver. It's got Basil on piano, Tony Kofi saxes, Steve Fishwick trumpet, Larry Bartley bass, Rod Youngs drums. You won't want to miss it.

Our September to December programme is now out. Please see our website.

Dave's Notes, 25 July 2015 - Kevin Flanagan and David Gordon: RipRap
Much of last night's music was written to accompany poetry readings. Even with no poets present, the music stood beautifully on its own - evocative, varied, and exquisitely played. This quartet of players is quite exceptional.

It was lead by Dr. Kevin Flanagan, on tenor and soprano sax. His dynamics and phrasing were always interesting, sometimes surprising, . In "The Old Year", written for a poem by Seamus Heaney described as "twisted kids music", the cartoon scariness was just right. His solo on Tyner's "Blues on the Corner" was special. I loved his trading twos with David.

David Gordon is a composer, harpsichordist, and stunning jazz pianist, with a left hand better than most people's right. On a Sonny Rollins tune, we had the trading twos, and David's trading with Tom on drums in his "English Isobars" was very funny.

Tom Hooper caught the ear and eye of the younger members ot the audience (we had quite a few). He has absolute control of intensity and volume. I loved his hands solo on "Our Lady of Guadalupe".  I enjoyed his brush work under Joel's solos.

The bass  playing of Joel Humann who we last saw with Robin Phillips in February, was something of a revelation. It ranged from a prayerful solo on the 3/4 number "A Personal Helicon" (again for a Seamus Heaney poem), to a driving up tempo solo on the Tyner number.

Oh did they have fun up there, enjoying each other's work, and playing their asses off. They had a great time. So did we.

Our next gig is on 7 August. Weekly gigs resume in September with a powerful programme. But till then, come hear the love songs and stories of Gershwin sung by Robert Habermann. You won't regret it.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 11 July 2015 - Mark Crooks Quartet
Last night, the wonderful Mark Crooks Quartet played to an audience which included 8 university students from Oklahoma. They really enjoyed listening to music which was popular before their parents were born.

And so did the rest of the audience. Mark has a love of the Great American Songbook, but he did throw in one original (more later).

Mark on clarinet has incredible phrasing and subtle dynamics. Listening carefully, each note seems crafted (of course, the technique is invisible as it should be unless you concentrate on it). He is a Getzian powerhouse on sax. I love the way his body moves with the music.

He and Colin Oxley on guitar had some stunning duos. Some were accompanied by bass and drums, some not. In the one origin number they played,  "Hollow Alto", based on  "Strike up the Band" chords, the two had beautifully accurate high speed unisons and terrific counterpoints on the original line. The duo on Evans' "Since We Met" was lovely. Colin had some excellent solos, of course. The on on "Mr. George caught the ear.

Jeremy Brown is a "go to" bassist. His solo on "Skylark" was perfect. As an accompanist, he is superb.

We are amazingly lucky in the deps we get. Josh Morrison had his debut at Fleece Jazz. He is an excellent drummer. He had a fine solo on a Jobim number, and his accompaniment was exemplary.

Next week, we have a rest, but the week after, Kevin Flanagan's RipRap, with Kevin on sax, David Gordon piano,Joel Humann bass and Tom Hooper drums. Totally different, lots of humour, great jazz. See you there.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 July 2015 - Jacqui Hicks Quintet
When a singer is also an instrumentalist, you expect (and we certainly got) a sensibility about the music above the average. Jacqui Hicks has a fine voice, is an excellent story teller. Technically she managed difficult intervals as if they were simple, and she had that rare ability to sing accurate and tonally varied high notes quietly.  It was a lovely gig to work on, and the audience was most complimentary.

Her choice of music was mostly familiar. Clapton's  rock ballad "Wonderful Tonight", and Jacqui's hit "Monday Monday" i guess were exceptions to jazz standards, and beautifully sung they were. The upbeat numbers were a treat. I hope we see her back at the club.

I loved it  when in the Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay", bassist Dave Green was watching Jacqui with a grin of approval. His playing was, as always, sterling. The solo on "Masquerade is Over" particularly caught the ear. Always a pleasure to see him.

Martin Shaw had two quartet band pieces, "Secret Love" and "But not for me". His use of both flugel and trumpet, the latter with varied mutes from time to time is just superb. He is a great accompanist as well,  

With Chris Ingham on the piano you are always in safe  hands. Thoughtful accompaniment and excellent soloing expected and received.

George Double as always seemed to be enjoying himself on the drums, rocking with his body as well as sticks and brushes. He only had two extended solos, and a few trading 4's and 2's, which wer fun and exciting. The rest of the time he was an accompanist, and superb at it. A drummer who plays the room.

Next week, an instrumental group that we have not had at the club for far too long. Mark Crooks, brings clarinet and tenor sax, the wonderful ,Colin Oxley on guitar, Jeremy Brown bass and Ed Richardson drums. I would travel a long way to hear this group.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 20 June 2015 - Clare Teal at the New Wolsey Theatre
If there is anything better than seeing a full house of over 400 people at the lovely New Wolsey theatre, it is being present at a Clare Teal gig. And not just because she is such a consummate performer with a huge range. She is just so funny. Her stories to the audience, and musical jokes with the band had us full of laughter. The ballads were breathtakingly beautiful, and the drive in the upbeat numbers was intense.

And what a band! How wonderful to hear Jason Rebello again after far too long. Simon Little is a superb bassist. Jason and Simon were excellent backing singers. Well not always. In the Roberts/Fisher Ink Spot song, "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", Simon took the first lead vocal to great applause, and we discovered that Clare is a very good backing singer.

The drummer was Matt Skelton. Matt was a dep. How do you do that? In performance, he was spot on, and displayed his big range of technique, using all of the implements, and his hands both on the drums and clapping.

It was a lovely gig, and I hope a great start to the Ipswich Jazz Festival. It is also worth noting how helpful and professional the Wolsey staff were - just a delight to work with.

No gig next week, but on 3 July another fine singer Jacqui Hicks, comes with a stunning band: Jacqui on vocals, Martin Shaw trumpet, Chris Ingham piano, Dave Green bass, George Double drums. You will love this one.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes = 13 June 2015 - The John East Project
John East brought to Fleece Jazz a popular and classy sextet. In fact,, you could think of it as nonet with all the doubling going on.

John East plays a beautiful Hammond, Leslie and all, beautifully. He has an excellent baritone voice, and sang with great phrasing and articulation - there was a song that I had never understood before last night, and John's storytelling made them clear. I will never hear "God Bless the Child" again without thinking of the financial implications. 'Mashing' it with "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was a bit of genius.

Scott Baylis is also a Fleece Jazz newbie. He plays trumpet, flugel and piano, sometimes switching from piano to trumpet in a single bar. An excellent player on all three instruments.

The rest of the band we know well and love. Dave Lewis gave us the power and range of his tenor sax, I remember his 1Up band with real pleasure. Carl Orr's consummate guitar playing, pure tone or overdrive growl, was a joy. Steve Pearce drives the band from the bas guitar: his sound lifts the band (John made a comment to that effect).

With a really big range of songs, Mark Fletcher had the opportunity to show how inventive he is. Amazing, fun, and appropriate.  His level matched the band perfectly.

I would be delighted to see any of these guys back at the club. I think so would the audience. Quite a bit of money was raised for one of the local churches from this gig.

Looking forward. Wow. Clare Teal at the New Wolsey in Ipswich is sold out, but don't forget the Ipswich Jazz Festival, with some great gigs over  the next two and a bit weeks.. And on July 3, Jacqui Hicks brings a quintet that will blow you away.

Take care,

Dave


Dave's Notes, 6 June 2015 - Will Butterworth Quartet
If you have not heard a musician for a while, you forget how very good they are. Just doing the sound check for the Will Butterworth Quartet was a pleasure. As important, they are a unit that hear each other anew, yet know the material well. The partnership is such that you don't want to comment on a particular musician.

But I will.

The first set was entirely Will's music. There were two extended pieces covering an amazing range of genre (bop, blues, gospel, bordello...) in  a similarly amazing range of time signatures. They also showed the range of talent of the musicians. Will is a "right number of notes" kind of pianist. If you listened critically, the delicacy of his phrasing and dynamics shone. No flash, just talent.  Chris Nicholls is not the band's usual drummer, but that was not apparent from the performance. He draws  a larger than usual range of tone from his kit.  Seb Pipe is  a faultless and interesting altoist. His tone can sound like the great Bobby Wellins (I hope Seb isn't pissed off by the comparison).  Seb, Will and bassist Nick Pini had a great time with some lovely tunes in the two pieces, which made the music accessible to the standards only crowd.

I hadn't heard Nick in quite a while. The guy's bow technique is excellent. Terrific and thoughtful solos and intros were arranged for him.

The second set was entirely standards. We had van Heusen's "Like Someone In Love", Coltrane from Parker's "26-2",  Redman and Razaf's "Gee Baby Ain't I Good  to You" ... Great fun, interestingly arranged, and chances for all musicians to shine. Which they did.

Next week, quite a big band, with the John East Project. We have  John East on Hammond organ and vocals, Mark Fletcher drums, Steve Pearce bass, Carl Orr guitar, Scott Baylis trumpet, flugel and piano, abd Dave Lewis tenor sax. Tickets are going very well, so do call if you want to come to this gig. The proceeds are going to Edwardstone church.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 23 May 2015 - Barb Jungr: This Wheel's on Fire
I sat there so absorbed in the music that I didn't take any notes. When Barb Jungr sings, or tells a tale, she demands your total attention. Our photographer, Peter, said that he was fortunate to have been there to witness such a gig.

There was a fuller sound than her duo gigs, with Barry Green on piano, and Davide Mantovani on double bass. Barry was new to the music, which made the sound check fun and truly educational for Gerry and me. As a non-musician, it always throws me how little communication musicians need to relay complex musical ideas. Of course, the performances were faultless.

Every great singer has to be a storyteller when singing, and so Barb is. Not every one is a raconteur of such skill. Her chat between numbers was hilarious, and meaningful with it.

Barb has a great tool-kit. Her pitch range is surprising, low baritone to damn near coloratura. Her tonal range is also huge. She uses it so naturally to build the story of a song. I will pick just two.

Jimmy Webb's "Witchita Lineman" was not what I thought of as one of the great love songs until I heard Barb sing it. Thinking back, I can hear her careful use of tone and volume to bring home the longing and need of the poor guy up a power pole somewhere. Listening, the technique is invisible, as it should be.

Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind". is familiar to us all, and Barb said she had to revisit it carefully to include it. Now here the story is in words we all know, and Barb made their meening clear for us.

If you missed last night, she is at the Brighton Festival onthe 27th with "This Wheel's on Fire", and in Cambridge on th 29th with the "Hard Rain" material.

No gig next week, but...
Rising piano star Will Butterworth is with us on June 5th, with , Seb Pipe alto sax, Nick Pini bass, Chris Nicholls drums. Will's playing and writing are a revelation.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 9 May 2015 - Jim Hart's Cloudmaker Trio
You can count on Jim Hart bringing something new to the table every time he comes. Last night, it was so new it was learned in the sound check, more on this later, but in summary: a wonderful gig by three superb musicians.

The piece in question was Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun". It was partly in 5/4, with solos in 3/4, and the 5 bars had a complex cadence. Gerry and I learned a lot from the process, and from the performance. The audience got what sounded like a finished piece that they knew well, and they loved it. Michael Janisch's solo on this one was exceptional.

The star in the first set was Monk's "Epistrophy". Jim had a long, fascinating intro. His left hand was doing a ground bass in cross rhythm with his right, which was a candenza ending with the Monk tune. It will stand in the memory. James Maddren had a solo which was almost melodic. Well, all his work is good, and he has such a good time, grinning away.

There was lots of Jim's writing, but we had standards too. The encore was Shearing;s "Conception", sending us home in just the right mood.   But we had beautiful ballads as well. Jim's "Sponges" was special. On the wild side we that Jim's "Post Stone", where he used bows, toys, top mutes, lots of stuff. No need for fancy electronics. This was difficult music, right down my street.

No gig next week, we are having a quieter summer, but on 22 May, the unmissable Barb Jungr and Simon Wallace, with their "This Wheel's on FIre" gig. She is cabaret and jazz singing at its best. Don't miss it.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 2 May 2015 - Ant Law Quintet
People have said to me that they don't like contemporary jazz because it hasn't got any tunes. Proof that they were dead wrong is common, but exemplified by the Ant Law Quintet, who played a stormer of a gig last night. They even made it worse. Not only was some of the music new: three of the band had their Fleece debut last night.

Let's start with the musicianship. Ant is an amazing guitarist, totally in command of his instrument. He moves from plectrum to finger to both at the same time. His writing is stunning. He displayed both memorably on the second number, "Mishrajati" (sp?). The south Indian themes and rhythms were amazing. I loved his solos on most numbers, but particularly that one.

That is not to say that they cannot play standards. On a beautiful arrangement of "Skylark", Michael Chillingworth made his alto fly. His bass clarinet solo on "Waltz" caught the ear during the first number.  He had a duo with James Maddren on the first number of the second set had the audience hooting with pleasure. James will be with us next week as well, so if you love great drumming, be there.

Tom Farmer treated us to a rerity: extended solos bowing. We don't get enough of that. Tom appears to dance with the bass: he is having far too good a time up there.

Our pianist, Sam Leak, as well as being new to us, was a dep for the first time with this music. As accessible and tuneful as the music was, it was complex and difficult technically, The art is to make it look easy, and Sam did that. His solos on "Rhythm a Ning" and the beautiful "Entanglement" were a joy.

For astronomy buffs, "Entanglement" is about the love story of Epimetheus  and Janus, two moons of Saturn that swap orbits every four years. The tune is spacey and very evocative.

One more thing. All five of them were playing their asses off, and clearly loving it.

Next week, we welcome back vibraphonist Jim Hart, with his Cloudmaker trio; Michael Janisch on bass and James Maddren on drums. Again, contemporary jazz with lots of tunes, folks. See you there.

Take care,


Dave





Dave's Notes, 12 April 2015 - Chris Ingham Quartet: Celebrating Hoagy
Sorry for the delay in writing this. Not the gig's fault. It was a delight.

Of course, I love the work of Hoagy Carmichael, but only 4 exceptional musicians and very good research could have produced such an enjoyable evening. We had the familiar, but not always as we know it:  "Old Rocking Chair" was  clearly about death, and "Heart and Soul"s over-familiar chords (except for the bridge) got special treatment, Eric Morcambe fashion.

Chris Ingham has a voice eminently suited to Hoagy's music: expressive, accurate and down to earth. Couple that with his excellent pianism, and his fascinating patter and it could make a great solo act. He gave us a superb history of the man, some sad, some funny, and even a lesson in chord construction.

But when you have a band  as good as this, things get even better. Paul Higgs on trumpet, used his mutes and plunger with just the right intensity for each song. I have not heard him an a while, and have forgotten how good he is. The trumpet makes a point as well, as Hoagy and Bix Beiderbecke were great friends. Paul played a blinder, but his solo on "Skylark" was soaring.

George Double had a solo on "Old Hong Kong" that was terrific, very funny in places. His work throughout the gig was spot on.

The Reverend Andy Brown was the boss on bass, driving the band, with some excellent intros and solos. My favourite piece (it always has been) was "Baltimore Oriole". It was a duet between Andy and Chris, with Chris standing away from the piano. Tough and sad, but with an enigma. The straying lady is an Oriole, the two-timer is a Jaybird. What kind of a bird was the narrator?

Well follow that. How about the Bryan Corbett Quartet, with Bryan on trumpet/flugel, Al Gurr piano and keyboards, Neil Bullock drums and Ben Markland bass. We are recording this one for them, so come and be part of a great evening of jazz.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 28 March 2015 - Tom Green Septet
Seven young musicians came to us last night and enthralled us with their musicianship, the writing and arranging, and the stunning music that they gave us. It was a busy night, with us recording the sound, and Rob making a professional video of the evening. The combination of those will appear on Youtube in due course, for those who missed this excellent gig.

All the music except one tune was written by our leader, Tom Green.. It is not surprising that Tom wins writing awards. The music has that rare combination of tightly written, beautiful harmonies and rhythms, and yet lots of room for the individual musicians to blow. And blow their asses off they did.

I will not go through each guy, as they were such an equal team: I will just name them.
TOM GREEN ~ Trombone
MATTHEW HERD ~ Alto and Soprano
SAM MILES ~ Tenor
JAMES DAVISON ~ Trumpet
SAM JAMES ~ Piano
MISHA MULLOV-ABBADO ~ Bass
SCOTT CHAPMAN ~ Drums
I would have any of them back to the club, singly or in any combination.

As the family DIYer (and hating it), I loved their scary, raucous "DIY".  Really scary groove, with tough trades between Tom's trombone and James' trumpet, and Sam's tenor and Matthew's alto.  Tom has a thing about atmospheric conditions. Both "Arctic Sun" (a phenomenon I know well) and "Winter Halo" had moments of stunning beauty, to me, descriptive. The variations in the use of the horn chorus worked so well.

So we had  (another) brilliant gig last night. Follow that?

Oh, yes. The one and only Liane Carroll sings and plays for us next week, Friday 3 April. I suggest you book for that one. She is a 5* lady with vocals and piano, and a presentation that is always surprising, often very surprising.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 March 2015 - The Derek Nash Picante Latin Band
Dancing at Fleece Jazz? You bet your twinkle toes!

Derek Nash and Dominic Ashworth got together to build a  Latin "Library" album. That is one that media can use for themes, extracts, etc, and pay royalties for (and there have been some). They had so much fun recording it that they now have a new gigging band, the Derek Nash Picante Latin band. Our evening was filled with joyous music by Derek and Dominic (and two by Derek). We got vibrant, exciting, beautifully written and arranged Latin music from across the Latin spectrum played by a wonderful sextet. It is going to be hard to pick out favourites, the whole evening was so absorbing. Maybe "The Bexley Social Club".

Derek Nash played baritone, tenor, alto, soprano. I love his interaction with the band, and his showmanship and easy connection with the audience. It is clear why he wins awards. If I had to pick out a solo, it would be his on "Bexley Social Club", about more in a bit.

Dominic Ashworth played semi-acoustic and "fiddle" guitars. His solo on Derek's "Seville" was breathtaking.

Robin Jones is an amazing percussionist. He played a full conga set, as well as some delightful toys. The Cuíca looks like a bongo, but is a "laughing gourd", making squeaks and scrapes at various pitches. Whistles, a tambourine like instrument whos name I have forgotten but was amazingly expressive, all contrubuted. I think he is the best in the business. His solo on "Corona" (think "tequila") was stunning, but the accompaniment was just perfect. A little audience participation here.

Neil Anguilly played piano, organ and synth on his wonderful Korg beast. His hands move in a blur: I was afraid for the instrument. But the music ranges from delicate and lyrical to pounding and powerful, always appropriate. I guess the "Bexley.." solo was my favourite.

The bass guitar of Andy Staples did what it was supposed to, and more. His accompaniment was spot on all evening, and his solos were inventive and interesting.

I thought that Mark Cecil might get lost behind Robin, but not so. He is a strong and accurate drummer. There were several memorable solos, but I liked the "Bexley.." one best.

Derek had been on a tour which seemed to shadow a "Buona Vista Social Club" tour. He and Dominic wrote "Bexley Social Club" in their mode, and it was the hit of a very fine evening. Everybody soloed on it. By this time, several people were dancing. Derek did a deal with the audience: "No dancing, no encore". No problem. about 40 people found an inch or two of space in the crowded room to dance to the one cover of the night. It was a memorable evening.

Next week will be as well. We have a young band who sound wonderful, with interesting and accessible music. It is a septet, and sounds like a big band. Tom Green leads the band on trombone, with Matthew Herd alto and soprano, Sam Miles tenor, James Davison trumpet, Sam James piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado bass, Scott Chapman drums. We are recording so come and be part of it.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 14 March 2015 - Tim Whitehead: Turner and the Thames
First, J.M.W. Turner painted his beloved Thames, in major paintings and in tiny colour sketches in a little book.

Then Tim Whitehead went to the locations, and blew a cappella solos. These provided the structure, line, and indicated the harmonies for his quartet arrangements.

And if that sounds academic, you should have been there. This was exciting, accessible, new music from a great band. Tim projected the Turner sketches and paintings for us, and short videos of the solo performances. That and his clear commentary made the well constructed evening flow beautifully.

Tim is equally the master of tenor sax, soprano sax and bass clarinet (the range of the latter always amazes me)., I particularly liked the arrangements and Tim's solo on tenor for "Isleworth Ferry". His work and interplay with Jonathan Gee was quite wonderful.

It was great to have Jonathan back a the club. He has a way of getting into the heart of the music. In "Burning of Parliament", the interplay in this almost free piece was quite frightening. But like Tim, Jonathan can be lyrical, even sparse at need. That's Stan Tracey's "right number of notes" again.

Oli Hayhurst is a favourite bassist. His solo on "Thames at Waterloo Bridge" was memorable.

The drummer, Eddie Hick, we were told, was playing this music in public for the first time. We would never have known. How do they do that? There wasn't much opportunity for extended drum solos. That is, until the encore, which was a rip-roaring "Temptation". All four just let loose and blew.

This was a gig to savour. If you were not there, buy the CD.

Next week Derek Nash arrives. He always provides exciting music, but this time looks a bit special. it is his Picante Latin Band, and he bring some amazing people. Robin Jones has to be the best Conga player about today. We will have .Dominic Ashworth guitar,  Marc Cecil drums, Neil Anguilly keyboards, Andy Staples bass. It will be a wow evening.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 7 March 2015 - Christine Tobin
Christine Tobin loves words. She cares deeply about the lyrics and poetry that she sings. Her articulation is a good as it gets: every word is clear. It doesn't hurt that she has an excellent voice, and the imagination to us it, both in arrangements and while singing. Watching her, she seems to sing with her whole body.

She gave us a programme of standards, Leonard Cohen songs and Brazilian songs sung in Portuguese , nicely varied through the evening. It is hard to pick out favourites, but Cohen's "Famous Blue Coat", and Strayhorn's "Sophisticated Lady" particularly caught my ear. The opening number, Rogers and Hart number "I Didn't Know What Time it Was", was arranged partially in half time, partly normal time. In the latter, Christine scatted. The audience applauded as they would do an instrumental solo - that good.

It also doesn't hurt to have a first class band behind you if you are a singer. Gene Calderazzo is a wonderful accompanist, particularly fine in "Famous Blue Coat". Lots of good drum solos as well. "Yesterdays" (Kern/Harbach) was a particularly good example of excellent solos from all three instrumentalists.

Dave Whitford plays bass like he wants to move into the instrument, rocking with the beats he maintains.  The improvised intro to Cohen's "Tower of Song" was special, but he had many special moments fast and slow.

All four musicians seem to be in each other's minds while playing. This was particularly true with the guitarist Phil Robson. Phil doesn't show much, (except when he and Christine grin at one another: remembered quotes?), but the intensity of his playing was notable. His technique is so immaculate, with simultaneous  plectrum and fingering. He and Christine had fun trading 4s with Gene in Kern's "I'm Oldfashioned", in which he had a particularly  fine solo.

It was a lovely evening to too small a crowd. We need to do better.

Next week, Tim Whitehead's tribute to the painter Turner and his Thames paintings will be our gig. The lineup is Tim on sax, Jonathan Gee piano, Oli Hayhurst bass, Eddie Hick drums. This will be a memorable evening. Do join us.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 February 2015 - Josh Kemp Quartet


I was fussing with recording equipment for the first couple of songs of this superb gig, and didn't really get to enjoy the music for those two songs. It doesn't matter. I will have my mixes on my hard disk, and will listen to them often.  With luck, you will be able to hear and see some of the gig on youtube in a month or so. No promises.

Josh Kemp  laid out a programme of standards and  his own compositions, and a few surprises. Bach was not normally a jazz writer, although I think he swings like crazy. We got a lovely interpretation of the "Air on a G String".  My favourites from Josh's writing was the ballad, "Angel of the North", and the up tempo "Shrift".

Oh, yes, Josh plays. Does he ever. He has a big warm tone on the tenor, His soloing was always lyrical and inventive, even on high speed nimbers like "Shrift".

Dick Pearce has been a favourite trumpeter of mine since first I heard him. His flugel playing somehow makes that warm instrument even warmer. His solo on "Angel..." was beautiful, and evocative. Dick and Josh had some amazing improvised harmonic moments together; some lyrical, and some staccato,  as in "You'd be So Nice to Come Home To". Dick has an autobiography out, called "Dizzy Gillespie was At My Wedding". I bought it last night, and it turns out not to be good bed-time reading. It is far too funny and interesting.

A proper Leslie makes the organ so much better, and Pete Whittaker brought his to the gig. He is such a consummate player.  As an accompanist, he is superb, with his bass driving the songs. His solo in "You'd be so nice..." was a delight.

Josh stole Chris Higginbottom away from the Ronnie Scott  Allstars for the night. He is an awesome drummer that listens like crazy when accompanying. I can't pick out a favourite solo from the night: they were all great.


Next week, Christine Tobin graces our stage with "It Might As Well Be Spring". She brings , award winnng Phil Robson on guitar, Dave Whitford bass and Gene Calderazzo drums.

Please note a very special gig: we are hosting Clare Teal as part of the Ipswich Jazz Festival, at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich on June 19. More info at www.fleecejazz.org.uk/clareteal/

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 February 2015 - Robin Phillips Trio
Ok, not enough of our people have heard of Robin Phillips. They should have. We had a most enjoyable and varied gig last night with this excellent singer/pianist., thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

The trio (Joel Humann on bass, Alex Best on drums) gave us a well designed and varied programme. They were standards, mostly, but Robin's arrangements and interpretation was fresh and very interesting.  For example, Robin loves verses, and sang for us some very rarely heard introductions to well known songs. As he said, the verse places the song in the book of the musical from which it came. The verse from "Green Dolphin Street"  (great  song, crap movie) was lovely.

He also loves vocalese, that strange art of writing lyrics to an instrumental solo. My favourite was Eddy Jefferson's words gto the Dizzy solo on "Night in Tunisia". We got some vocalese from the art's originator, King Pleasure, and one excellent one on "It Could Happen to You", which Robin wrote.

But mostly, we got an excellent voice, big range, lots of depth, and a wonderful feel for the story of a song. His piano playing is first class. Towards the end, he worked just with bass and drums, standing to sing.

Joel and Alex were fine accompanists, both with "big ears", moving their dynamics and phrasing with the singer. Neither had extended solos, but the all the  solo work they did was a treat. Joel's work in " Besame Mucho" caught the ear, and Alex work with hands in the smokey Latin "Temptation" did as well.

Next week, the welcome return of saxophonist Josh Kemp. with Josh on  sax, Pete Whittaker organ, Dick Pearce trumpet and  Chris Higginbottom drums. Josh is an inventive, warm-toned and lyrical player, and should not be missed.

As you know, we are hosting Clare Teal and band on June 19 at the New Wolsey in Ipswich (part of the excellent Ipswich Jazz Festival).  This very special event has tickets available from today, at wolseytheatre.co.uk/shows/clare-teal/. The earlier you buy, the cheaper the tickets!

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 February 2015 - Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier
Two guys, 9 guitars, world class technique so they can play whatever they can think of. And they have  the imaginations to think of great stuff. What a gig!

Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier are touring their new album. I bought it, but I am loath to listen to it for a day or two. I want to keep last night in my head, even though the album reviews are excellent. Much of the music of a very well designed programme is from the album.

It 's hard to talk about them individually, because they played as one. There were several times, like in Peter's "Lauder Jumped In" and the encore, Corea's "Spain", where the solos wove between them, crossing in very few bars. It reminded me of the Bach Concerto for two violins, the way the top voice moved between them. The  "Lauder" number, an upbeat jazz number written for Steve Lauder, was composed on the chords of Gershwin's  "I got Rhythm".  "Spain" was spectacularly fast in places, with amazing unison playing and popping from 4/4 to  3/4.

Nic's "Riverside" was played on an 11 string fretless guitar, modeled on an Oud, with Pete playing a 12 string. 23 strings took a bit of tuning, but the result was beautiful.

Enough. I could write about each of the 12 songs played, ballads, bossas, Latin, Turkish. If you missed the gig, I am sorry for you, but on Sunday, the next date on their tour is at the Fludyers Hotel in Felixtowe gives you another chance. Don't miss it again.

Next week, we have a top London entertainer in Robin Phillips, who plays piano and sings such that Jon Hendricks loves him. He will bring Jay Darwish on bass and Alex Best on drums. I hope to see you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 7 February 2015 - Tammy Weis and Tom Cawley
Vocalist Tammy Weis, pianist Tom Cawley, bassist Julie Walkington and drummer Dave Ohm have graced our stage before last night. They gave us a great gig then, (and a Youtube video). They gave us a better one last night.

Both gigs gave us lovely compositions and excellent lyrics, great musicianship all round, and a well balanced and interesting programme. Both programmes mixed writing by Tammy, Tom and others with standards. So what was the difference?

The band just seemed tighter and more relaxed. Even Tammy and Tom's "Keep Coming Back", which they worked on in the sound check, and  played in public for the first time, was seamless. The emotion of the song was pitched at just the right level. Tammy's storytelling ability and phrasing was very fine. It certainly doesn't hurt that she has such a strong contact with the audience, and often makes eye contact with us.

Tammy has a bearutiful voice for ballads, but she also has the ability to put some grit in it: the Burk/Webster song "Black Coffee" was as tough a blues as it should be. There was a different kind of provocative grit for the Rasaf/Redman "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good for You".

Peter King has a phrase for a gig that went well:, "they played their asses off". Just right for last night. The solos were excellent, duos (voice/bass, voice/piano, bass/drums) gave us a lot of variety, and the accompaniment was spot on. Dave's brush solo in the encore, "Route 66" caught the ear, as did Tom's solo on the same number. Julie had a couple of beautiful intros as well as excellent solos such as the one on "Cheek to Cheek".

No question about them coming back. If they don't get too famous for us.

Next week, two of the greatest guitarists playing in the UK will be with us in duo mode. Peter Oxley and Nicolas Meier ask us to expect the unexpected. My guess is that there will be South American and Turkish influences in there somewhere, It is guaranteed to be a special evening. Do join us.

Take care,
Dave




Dave's Notes, 31 January 2015 - Simon Spillet: Tubby's Anniversary
On 30 January 1935, Tubby Hayes was born. On 30 January 2015, Simon Spillett came to Fleece Jazz to celebrate his music. What a joyous evening it was!  You cannot get a better band than Simon on tenor, John Critchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums.

The music was all either written by or loved by Tubby. In the latter category were Sonny Rollins' "Oleo", "Blues in Bb" (Miles? Coltrane?), Clark Terry's "Opus Ocean".  Tubby's own "Grits, Beans and Greens", "Serpent", "Royal Ascot".

Simon's playing was exceptional. Speed and accuracy on the fast ones, lyricism on the ballads. After the Landesman/Wolf "Spring can Really Hang You Up the Most", my wife commented that his playing was inventive but never losing the tenderness of the melody line. "Oleo" was taken at what seemed like triple time, but the blowing was always coherent.

John is, of course, a consummate accompanist. His solo on "Serpent" was exceptional, and appropriately, just a bit rude.

Alec is amazing to watch. The solos that stood out for me were on "Blues in Bb" and "Alone Together". The latter solo was a duet with Clark on drums - delicious.

Listening to Clark with eyes shut, one hears hugely complex rhythms and tonalities (but as his father said, "the right number of notes"). Open your eyes and he seems the most efficient of drummers: no motion wasted. You can also see him listen. There was lots of trading 4s, and even 2s and 1s, and ideas  just seem to flow from musician to musician. I particularly liked the solo in "Opus Ocean", which had a 12,12,8,12 pattern which he played with, but the listener never lost.

It was a standout gig with standout players.

Next week, Tammy Weis returns, partnered by Tom Cawley, Julie Walkington and Dave Ohm. Tammy is a stunning singer/composer/lyricist, and Tom is one of our favourite pianists and arranger. It will be a fine gig. The pleasure of your company is requested.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 24 January 2015 - The Georgina Jackson Show
There's something about jazz. Serious problems arise, and unexpected terrific gigs ensue.

Don Weller and Mick Hutton were stuck in Cockfosters with a dead car yesterday afternoon, and no possibility of travelling to the club. Drummer George Double and pianist Chris Ingham had to do some instant booking. BBC Big Band and Ronnie Scott Allstar vocalist and trumpeter Georgina Jackson was having a night off, or so she thought. and Rob Palmer was available on bass. Last night was the Georgina Jackson show, with an excellent band working as if they were together every day.

I had not heard Georgina before. She presents with humour and interest.  I was delighted to discover she is a belter: Her "Sweet Georgia Brown" was delivered at speed and proper volume, and was great fun. George did some lovely work with hands on the drum in this one.Georgina is a ballad singer. "H(sh)e's Funny That Way" showed a tender, lyrical and warm side to her voice. Georgina  can scat, aided by really excellent intonation..

And she can play the trumpet, with a lovely clear tone and a hint of warmth, or with the Harmon mute. There was a fine solo in  "Squeeze me (please don't tease me" using  the Harmon mute. Actually, all the trumpet work was excellent.

Chris Ingham is an excellent and thoughtful pianist., sharing the varied moods called for by the singer. In duo mode, as in "Smile", it was nice to see equal partners in the production of the song.

George Double is fun to watch (and great to listen to). He rocks quietly to the music he is playing. He had a standout solo in "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", which was played as a heavy tango. I do mean heavy: great fun.

Rob Palmer was what a bassist should be. Good solos, solid rhythm and pitch, and clear enjoyment of the music.

We will have Don Weller with us as soon as it can be arranged. But next week, we have a tenorist who is also more than special. Simon Spillett will be celebrating the work of the great Tubby Hayes. And what a band: John Chritchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. Beat that.

Take care,


Dave





Dave's Notes, 17 January 2015 - Oh La La
Oh La La is led by Fifi la Mer, who sings in French and English, which gives me a problem. Je suis un Canadien. Je ne parle pas francais. Quel Dommage. Well, her storytelling is excellent, both in presenting a song and singing it, so no problem there, then. She has lovely phrasing, and the arrangements are interesting, quirky in places, and fun.

Fifi is a busy lady, singing, presenting, and playing the very difficult traditional French button accordion with great skill. In the opening number, the Beatles' "Michelle", she also whistled. The song was a charming start to a good gig.

Not only did the band had fun up there, but the playing was excellent. Kit Massey on violin was new to us. I had never heard a jazz violinist use a mute before, which he did on "La Vie en Rose" to close the first set. It changes the timbre into something soft and lush.

Colin Oxley we know as a fine jazz guitarist, and so it proved last night. He had several great solos: I particularly llked the one in "Tea for Two". Colin is also an excellent accompanist in all the necessary styles that the evening produced.

The bass is the foundation of most music, and Julian Bury (who we also know) did an excellent job. He also had several fine solos, including one on the bow, which was a delight.

It was a most entertaining evening, and the audience had a great time, even when asked to sing along. In French. On "Je ne Regrette". They did.

Next week will be a bit special. Tenor legend Don Weller leads Chris Ingham piano, Mick Hutton bass, George Double drums. It is deservedly a Guardian pick of the week. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 January 2015 - Alex Garnett Quartet
We haven't seen Alex Garnett at the club since 2009. On last night's evidence, a big mistake. Great gig.

One of the joys of a Garnett gig is his presentation. His standup technique is informed to some extent by Ronnie Scott. He gives us a lot of information about the music, particularly his own compositions, which is helpful, and in his case very funny.

But it is about the music. That  beautiful husky sax tone was perfect in his solos for the lovely "Andromena" bossa nova. He has phenomenal speed, shown in the encore "The Core", a bebop cutting contest dizzy ride. And only Alex would write  a song for a malaprop producing colleague with "Delusions of Grandma".  I also loved "Charlie's World", which Alex claims was co-written with his two year old.

As a special gift he sang Ellington's "Lucky So and So". In the sound check, James Maddren said, "I have never heard you sing before". He should do more. The audience loved it.

Watching James work is a delight. You can see his ears grow - a listening drummer. My favourite solo of the evening was his, in "I've Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm", which was played very fast. The brush work on Getz's "Early Autumn" was stunning.

Liam Noble had a terrific solo on that song as well, as well as others. He is one of our favourite pianists, finding progressions that are unusual and just right.

Michael Janisch worked with a (very good) borrowed bass last night. His reputation is well deserved. His solo in "Autumn in New York"  was beautiful.  

We must have this group back soon.

And now for something completely different. We have French chanson and English jazz from this excellent group: Fifi La Mer vocals and accordion, Kit Massey violin, Colin Oxley guitar, Julian Bury bass. I hope to see you there

Take care,
Dave


Dave's (well, Peter's really) Notes, 3 January 2015 - Fletch's Brew

These won't be my notes, but Peter Fairman's, our photog. I was home looking after a knee. Boy, am I sorry I missed it!
Fletch's Brew was Mark Fletcher drums, Carl Orr guitar, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Jim Watson organ, Steve Pearce bass.

Peter says:
You missed a really good gig. They were good last time but this gig had the addition of the organ. It was  amazing. Full on!! Every solo and every number had the audience applauding with gusto.
We had a good size audience too and at the end of the gig there was a standing ovation for the musicians.
Brilliant gig and I think the audience would have stayed for another session. That good!!

We had several tweets echoing Peter's sentiments. One was from Freddie saying how much fun the band had. Gerry and David report the same. I will see them next time. There will be a next time.

Next week, the dark, husky sound of Alex  Garnett, with Alex on sax, Liam Noble piano, Michael Janisch bass, James Maddren drums. See you there.


Dave's Notes, 21 December 2014 - Ian Shaw

Sorry for the delay in writing this. I brought my darling daughter home yesterday, and have just turned on the computer. And the washing machine.

But Friday's gig is indelible in my mind. Some gigs stand in the memory. Ian Shaw always does.

Ian has usually played solo for us, but he is on tour with a truly fine young pianist, Jamie Safirudden. Jamie is one of those pianists who seems to inhabit the piano. He also has amazing listening skills (Ian after all is one of the best improvising singers).

As usual, Ian provided an eclectic programme. Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother" and Don Henley's "Desperado" contrasted with DePaul and Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight", and Rogers and Hart's "I wish I were in love again".  Ian's use of his amazing vocal range is so natural, it only became in your face when he hit a high note and said that the originator of the music couldn't do that.

My favourite song was one Ian wrote for Liane Carroll, I think called "Let's Stay 42".  It had a combination of trouble and fun that matched the two personalities, and was beautifully sung and played. In fact intonation and articulation were perfect, and the technique invisible all evening.

We are taking a break next week, but on January 2nd, Mark Fletcher is back with "Fletchers Brew". Expect an evening of funky, often raucous, brilliant jazz from Mark on drums, Carl Orr guitar, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Jim Watson organ, Steve Pearce bass.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,

Dave

Dave's Notes,13 December 2014 - Sarah Jane Morris
It is difficult to find words that haven't been said about Sarah Jane Morris. Here are a few phrases: brilliant, powerful, force of nature, political, great presence and presentation, fun,  The music was about politics, love, death and joy, mostly written by Sarah Jane in collaboration with others (like Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield). Much of the music was from the superb "Bloody Rain" album now out. A lot of songs had an African feel and rhythm.

We had four acoustic instruments on stage: Sarah's three and a half octave voice, the two guitars and the bass. The musicianship was astonishing. Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy have different styles, but as the lead moved from one to the other it seemed like one instrument. They each had soloing opportunities, and they were terrific. Tony's intro in "Deeper Well" was particularly good.

The mighty Henry Thomas plays acoustic fretless bass guitar. He once told me that he was not a great soloist. Yet again he is proved wrong. He takes over the stage and the zone.

All three instrumentalists sang backup, Tim and Henry more than Tony, and very fine backup it was. Tim had a duo part with Sarah Jane in the hilarious Condom Song. You can see them in a delightful cartoon on youtube and on her website.

We had  a lovely big audience who were contributing and taking part when asked. Next week we have another superstar, and your presence is requested. Ian Shaw is one of the finest jazz singers in the world today, and at the top of the tree for improvisational jazz. His piano playing is excellent. He is also very funny.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 6 December 2014 - Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats
What do you get when Gilad Azmon comes to town? You get power. You get a huge range of tonality (how does he do that?). You get gentle lyricism and pounding upbeat. The man is a marvel.

You also get a few good quotes, and hints of middle eastern minor riffs.

Our photographer, Peter, was a little dubious about the Organ/Drum/Gilad format, but was totally won over by the gig. Enzo Zirilli was a dep, He was deep into the music, and contributed arrangements as well as superb drumming on his somewhat minimal kit.

Does the Hammond B3 fit with Gilad's alto? Oh yes. Particularly if it is Ross Stanley in charge of the beast. At least last night he didn't have to rush away to be at a 1a.m. Ronnie Scott gig. Again, the expressive power of the B3 was shown to us by Ross. Closing my eyes during  a solo, the changes in tonality and register were surprising and natural at the same time. With eyes open, the man is a marvel with only two hands and two feet.  Oh, and yes, I know that a sound guy should NEVER close his eyes: you never know what a musician may demand of you.

The set list was very well constructed. A lyrical "Body and Soul" was followed by a heavily interpreted "Giant Steps". The first set ended with "A Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square", which itself had a range of tempi, and went from lyrical to stacatto.

They gave the impression that neither of the the three knew what to expect from each other (particularly Gilad). Yet somehow, accompaniment underscored solo perfectly all evening.

We follow that with another force of nature. Sarah Jane Morris leads our next gig on Friday 12 December. Two great and very different guitarists, in Tim Cansfield and Tony Remy, and the mighty Henry Thomas on bass. Sarah's new CD is quite wonderful. Tickets are going very well, so do book for this one.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 29 November 2014 - Jim Mullen's Organ Trio
My big problem in writing these things is that my dictionary of superlatives is running out. I lovely crowd just ate up what Jim Mullen, Ross Stanley (depping for Mike Gorman on his real B3) and Matt Skelton provided for us.

Jim's thumb does the work of the whole hand of most guitarists, faster and more accurately: except  that in the Jobim number Samba de Aviao he used pure classical technique in the intro.  The man is a rock up there, in ballads, up-beat, Latin: doesn't matter. And he can find a way to get a quote in just about anywhere, so much that he made Matt jump at one point in the theme song from University Challenge. I counted 23 quotes in that one alone.

Something else about Jim other that the superb musicianship and enjoyment in his colleagues work. He tells us clearly and simply what they will play, with lots of extra info. He played Bernstein's "A Lonely Town" from the stage version of "On the Town". It missed the film, because the moguls don't like minor chords. And who knew that Jimmy van Heusen wrote a swing musical on "Midsummer Night's Dream". They played "Deep in the Dream" from that.

On that one, Matt had a beautiful balladic solo. The brush solo on "University Challenge" was a delight. His skill at accompaniment is very high: really big ears. In the beautiful "Estate" (summer), the variety of tone and rhythm, while still keeping the basic rhythm visible, was really exciting.

Ross was a dep. No one could tell. That big beautiful Hammond B3 in its van showed up, and Ross played above his usual storm. On Toots Thielemans' "For my Lady", he showed us the range of tone and expression  of that incredible instrument. I wonder what he will do next week when he is back with Gilad? I loved Jim's reaction at the beginning of "You've Changed". Ross came in with a wash of sound under Jim's intro that made Jim grin wide.

They all played their asses off, and they loved each other's playing. I think the quality of the performance has a bit to do with the quality of the audience, who listen carefully and applaud and hoot appropriately. The musicians sense the audience, and love ours. Thank you, audience.

Next week: Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats. Yes, another organ trio, with Ross, and Asaf Sirkis. They will be playing mostly standards, I understand, but this is Gilad we are talking about. He will have his own personality deeply in the music. It will be great, folks, come along.

Take care,
Dave

ps. My wife says that this note is too long. She is right. It is hard to stop writing about great gigs.

--> Dave's Notes, 22 November 2014 - The Moscow Drug Club
For a totally addictive evening of music and joy, try The Moscow Drug Club, the band who were with us last night. This is Cabaret at its best, great musicianship, great singing, great presentation: great fun. The joint was rocking.

Katya Gorrie is a Canadian singer with perfect intonation and articulation (now there is a mouthful). Denny Ilett plays stunning guitar. Andy Crowdy we know as a consummate bassist. Mirek Salmon is as good an accordionist as you will hear. Jonny Bruce blows a mean trumpet.

Oh, I forgot the backing singers. That would be Denny, Andy and Mirek, (Jonny sang when he didn't have a trumpet to his lips). Lovely harmonies, not just unison singing.

And then the trombone player. That was Andy, with Denny on bass.

And finally, on percussive things, Katya.

The music ranged from Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love", a really scary "Temptation", and the theme from the animated film "Triplets of Belleville (don't miss it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwb81iynyAg, and thank you, Katya). We ended with the best audience participation.

It was a lovely evening, enjoyed by a big crowd who we hope will return for treats to the end of the year. Next up, Jim Mullen Organ trio, with Jim on guitar, Mike Gorman is the organists, and Matt Skelton drums. There follows Gilad, Sarah Jane and Ian Shaw. Pretty good, huh?

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 15 November 2014 - Paul Baxter's EYESHUTIGHT
We were struck by fog at Fleece Jazz last night, so we had a happy but very small audience for a great young band. This is the kind of jazz I really love: it requires me to listen.

And listening is the key. Eyeshutight are Paul Baxter on bass, Johnnie Tomlinson on piano and Kristoffer Wright on drums but they play as one instrument. You can see the listening happening, and the pleasure that they take from each other's work. The material was all original (which puts some people off), and all intriguing. They played effectively two     two-part suites in each set, so lots of time for the music to develop.

I will start with Kris. We recorded the gig at the request of the band. I think for the first time ever I could actually raise the recording levels on the drums during the gig from what they were after the sound check. Almost always, I have to reduce them. His mallet solo in the last number, "Forthought" was special.

Paul is the band leader, but he shares announcing duties with Johnny, whose turn it was last night. Johnnie is a delightful pianist, with an educated left hand, with which he can improvise as well as (or in combination with) his right. He loves the dynamic range of the pianoforte and uses it superbly. He also likes quotes, but doesn't hint at them. We got the most beautiful "Finlandia" in "The Thaw" in the second set, for example.

When a standup bass player brings stomp boxes, one worries a bit. Paul loves to vary the tonality of his instrument, which he does to great effect without the stomps. With them, as in "The Precipice", he adds a little bit of grit, or some chorusing. All quite subtle.

I loved the band's intelligent control of tempo, dynamics and interplay of rhythms. I hope we have them back for the audience size they deserve.

Next week will be a wow. We have the wonderful Katya Gorrie singing, Denny Ilett guitar, Andy Crowdy bass, Mirek Salmon accordion, Jonny Bruce trumpet. The band? The fabulous Moscow Drug Club. Great music, great cabaret. See you there.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 8 November 2014 - Tim Richard's Hextet
I am glad to be back from a holiday, which was wonderful, but almost music free.  To come back to the spirit of Tim Richards and his Hextet was just grand.

There was music written by five of the musicians. We had very varied styles, but the music always carried heart and power, and often fun. The arrangements were a delight, with unison harmonic and fugal patterns, particularly between the horns.

Our photographer, Peter, says " Just love listening to Dick Pearce (under recorded). He is becoming a living legend in British jazz. And such a very modest man." In the second set he played a duo with Tim that was just beautiful. We need to see Dick back soon.

Ed Jones is an old friend of the club. Every good musician (Ed is a lot better than good) has the music bubbling inside. Ed shows it to us with his body language as well as his superb musicianship. Lots of good solos, but again, the duo with Tim in the first set was lovely. His on composition, "Clandestine", has some weird and wonderful harmonies, and an amazing drum solo with a continuo of vibes, piano and bass.

Tim is such a thoughtful pianist.  It seems that, even for his own compositions, he is searching for new ways to drive across the theme of the song. In the Suite "Lucid Dreaming" this showed in both his soloing and his accompanying. The suite had a segment which was just horns and high hat which I particularly enjoyed.

I have to admit to undermicing the vibraphones a little. Nevertheless, Ralph Wyld's debut at the club aws excellent. His own composition, "Storebaeltsbroen" (water bridge?) had seamless 3/4 to 4/4 and back changes, and was very evocative.

Peter Ibbetson is an accomplished drummer. I mentioned his solo in"Clandestine". We are promised an Ibbetson composition next time. The solo in Dominic's "Ease up was my favourite.

When Tim announced that there would be  a Dominick Howles bass solo, Someone in the audience hollered "It's about time!". Indeed it was and is in two senses. Bassists tend to keep the time and chords in jazz groups, and , of course, Dominic does this superbly. I loved the excellent solo in (I think) "Discovery", as well ha his work in "Ease Up"

It was a great night to come home to. For once, the band next door was real quality (there was a ball in the hotel last night). They came in for our second set and had a grand time. So did we.

Next week, we have a unique blend of accessible, melodic, fiery compositions, expansive improvisation, and an engaging, enjoyable stage show, with Paul Baxter bass, Johnny Tomlinson piano and Kristoffer Wright drums. Join us if you can. You won't regret it.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 25 October 2014 - Jazz at the Movies
Jazz at the Movies  is an excellent stage show. It is also a fine jazz gig. A big audience agreed.

Chris Ingham was the  compere and the pianist. We know his excellent pianism. As a compere, he is dry, very funny, very knowledgeable. He told us about each tune, the movie, the people involved if that was relevant. We enjoyed the fun he poked at his colleagues. All in all, a beautifully thought out and arranged programme.

The singer was Joanna Eden, who deserves much more prominence in the country. She is blessed with a lovely and flexible voice, but you have to be able to tell a story with it, and she does, voice, body and clearly, soul. From gronchy "My Heart belongs to Daddy" (not the filthiest song in the repertoire, "Honeysuckle Rose" is), to the Weill/Nash "Speak Low". she handles them with ease and great presentation. She also has terrific articulation. Every word is clear, but it is not overdone. This is an art many great singers do not have.

It is always a pleasure to have Alan Barnes about. Last night he was an accompanist, with some terrific solos and very funny accompanying riffs. He and George on drums even through in some "Sing Sing Sing" into the encore. He played tenor and clarinet.

George Double thought up the idea of "Jazz at the Movies". He sways like a willow when he drums. Chris intimated that his work on "...Daddy" amounted to a hand job. It did show George's skill with hands, sticks and brushes.

The Reverend Andy Brown was a dep on bass. He did what bassists are supposed to do: hold the beat, keep the intonation perfect, and perform good solos. Full marks.

Next week: Partisans are well known to us. The musicianship of Phil Robson guitar. Julian Seigal reeds, Thadeous Kelly bass, Gene Calderazzo drums is stellar.  Do note that we are in the Constable Bar for this one.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 October 2014 - Damon Brown's International Quintet
Some musicians arrive late, no sound check, we start late.

And then they begin to play and the  music hits the heart. Entrances perfect, glorious head, wonderful solos, the musician's joy in playing flows off of the stage.

It was really like that, for Damon Brown's International Quartet. The opening number, "I'll Close My Eyes", featured a solo by Fredrick Carlquist on tenor. This was Fred's debut with us. He has a tone very reminiscent of Bobby Wellins, warm and full. His "Rogue Planet" had a lovely and unusual structure. It started with a horn duo, and built in stages to include bass, then drums, then piano.

The other debut at Fleece Jazz was Adam King on bass.  Adam seems to sing as he plays. He graced us with several fine solos. In Fred's "Frolicking on the Roof", he phrased like a singer, lead and lag. At the end of the solo he was back to controlling the beat. Lovely.

Leon Greening was our pianist, and I have praised him before, No change here: powerful left hand, totally absorbed in the music. His invention in Damon's "Song for Sarna" was exceptional.

We had a dep for a drummer. Well, not really, Matt Skelton played on the CD, so knows the music. Quality solos of course, but I was delighted with his accompaniment. The guy has about the biggest ears in the business. His work under Damon's solo in "Janine" was wonderful.

And Damon? He played his ass off. He travelled the stage to play with each colleague individually. The "Janine" solo was huge. I don't understand how he can have such cue control and still give the players such freedom. Maybe it is because he knows that they listen.

Next week, you should book early. "Jazz at the Movies" is coming, with Joanna Eden vocals, Alan Barnes saxophone, Chris Ingham piano, George Double drums, Arni Somogyi bass. "When Harry Met Sally" to "The Ipcress File": great music in store.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 11 October 2014 - Sarah Moule
There are lots of good singers about. Very few can dig into the marrow of the lyrics and music the way Sarah Moule can. It is no surprise that praise comes from other singers, as well as from the critics. Barb Jungr loves her, and I am sure my star, Marlene VerPlanck would too.

Of course, the lyrics and the music have to be worth it. But we are talking about the collaboration between lyricist Fran Landesman, among others, and composer/arranger Simon Wallace, so we are in for a winner.

So she has a lovely voice. But she also has amazing phrasing that drive the story, before and after the beat, or on it. Her body tells the story as well. Bessie Smith's hit "I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl" was hardly open to interpretation. Simon and Fran's "Men Who Loved Mermaids" was the sad tale of guys seeking unobtainable women. The accompaniment  had underwater echos from the band, leaving Sarah to move her phrasing freely to tell the story.

And the band? Simon on piano, brilliant and often understated. You need to listen to his solos: he is good at digging out the  marrow too. Mick Hutton as always holding the  rhythm, with terrific intonation and thoughtful solos.  Paul Robinson's range of techniques with sticks, brushes, mallets,  softsticks, hands and combinations was wonderful to watch. Paul will hit anything. He brought his own music stand, and I think it was tuned.

It was a lovely gig. We have something special for you next week too. Damon Brown is bringing a superb international crew. Damon on trumpet and flugel, Fredrik Carlquist on tenor, our favourite Leon Greening on piano, Adam King on bass and Marc Miralta on drums. Come along, and bring friends.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 October 2014 - Ben Crosland's Threeway
The time just flew past too quickly for this superb gig.

Someone said to me, "no drums, I'm not coming". Well, he and too many others missed a delight. Ben Crosland's Threeway has been a favourite of mine for years for its writing, its unbelievable musicianship, and for the gentle joy of their approach to live music.

Each in turn: Ben Crosland plays a fretless bass guitar, arranged to have a lovely deep tone. No, it doesn't sound like a standup bass. Most of the writing is his. He has the knack of writing themed music without it being programmatic. A great example was the first piece, "Corridor of Uncertainty". It was clearly aimed at current war related news items, but it didn't describe. One small thought that affected me: the tune ended very abruptly. It just stopped. Just to be clear, the rest of the music was pretty joyful. Take "CQD", the original form of SOS. Or a wonderful up-tempo "Secret Love". In both of these, Ben's solos were terrific. His music is filled with great ideas: take "My Funny Valentine", written in two keys! Fascinating.

On the piano and keyboard, who better than Steve Lodder? All that early classical organ must have provided some of his technique, but the ideas just come at you endlessly. On his own composition, "Across the Land", his playing on the keyboard was lovely, and very complex. He used the variety of tone available to him with subtlety. On the piano, few people have the left hand facility that Steve displays. On "Across the Land" he used both, one had on each, with the left on the piano taking the lead.

Steve Waterman also writes. The second set started with his "Firefly", in which he played with a Harmon mute in his trumpet. This is a great tune.  On the flugel, he produces the most beautiful dark tone. I love this instrument, but particularly when Steve is playing it. There is of course the spectacular. His "Destination Unknown" ends with 2 minutes or more of a beautiful continuous  obbligato. It is achieved with circular breathing, but you don't notice the technique, only the music and the virtuosity. But his solo work on "Blue Butterfly", for example, is breathtaking in its own way.

I loved this gig.  I am going to love next week as well. When you get  the amazing, sometimes acerbic and funny, sometimes quite devastating, lyrics of Fran Landesman, along with the composer, Simon Wallace on piano, it has got to be good. The gig is fronted by the wonderful singer, Sarah Moule. The gig is part of a tour promoting her five star rated album, "Songs from a Floating World". To have Mick Hutton on bass, and Paul Robinson on drums is a real treat.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 27 September 2014 - Dennis Rollins's Velocity Trio
Put three superb musicians on a stage, and give them freedom to both interact and personally express. A glorious evening ensues.

Dennis Rollins' Velocity Trio  is: Dennis on trombone, Ross Stanley on Hammond B3 organ, and Pedro Segundo on drums. Let's just note that the ensemble work was tight, the arrangements were interesting and innovative,  they listened to each other like crazy, and they had such fun up there. I want to talk about the opportunities for individuality the freedom gave them.

This is the first time I can remember Ross having the chance to give his beast a chance to show its range. The B3 is a complex instrument, with a huge range of tonality. There are two manuals, a pedal board, tons of draw bars, an expression pedal and that switch that controls the speed of the Leslie speaker spin. Ross had everything at his feet and fingertips, pulsing the Leslie, changing the tone, all with the appearance of effortlessness. He is a master. Just as one example. In Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance", he had an extended solo that walked the range of the instrument. It was all integral and appropriate, nothing for its own sake, but it was spectacular. Trading 8s with Dennis was great fun.

Pedro Segundo uses hands, fingernails, sticks, brushes, tambourine, and  toys that whine, squeak, cry.  They are fun and sometimes funny, but somehow always in place. People left commenting "Great evening... and that drummer: wow!). And he can play simply: in a number remembering the pain of Portuguese dictatorship, he played the northern Portugal rhythms with much feeling. The song is special for him.

Dennis comes with  a pile of stomp boxes, looper, cup and Harmon mutes, He does not overuse them. The first number, "Samba Galactica", used a harmonizer, but mostly the sounds he chose were natural and appropriate.  His straight trombone solos were stunning. I am thinking of two: the full funk "Boneyard" had us down and dirty, and a lyrical and gentle solo in the gospel encore, "The Rose", sent us home. That also gives you an idea of the range of music Dennis had programmed for us. His presentation is lovely, giving us the information we need with his natural humour.

What? Another trio next week? It is one we know well and love. Ben Crosland's Threeway is not a standard trio, being bass, piano and trumpet/flugel, but in the hands of Ben, Steve Lodder and Steve Waterman this is music that I listen to often. Come and hear  these superb musicians next Friday.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 20 September 2014 - Sarah Gillespie
Piano, bass, drums and Sarah Gillespie: what a fascinating gig!

Sarah's vocals have a way with tonal change and phrasing that drives and enhances the stories she tells. And boy, does she have stories. She sang her own material as well as Bessie Smith songs. I particularly enjoyed "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've seen", and her own "Soldier's Song".  

Her finger style guitar accompaniment and soloing was excellent. She started the second set with solo work. Her own "Oh Mary" was a real treat, both vocally and with the guitar solos. She announces the songs with just the right amount of information - a rarity.

Any time Tom Cawley wants to play on my piano he can. Most of his work was accompaniment, of course, but they were complex, interesting and perfectly supported the singer.

Ben Bastin is a consummate bassist, plucking or bow. His bow work on the ballads was really beautiful. He was also a backing singer.

It is fun to anticipate what kind of kit Enzo Zirilli will bring to a gig. No bass drum. He used a Cajon, a box you usually sit on and hit, but he had a kick pedal, and used it as a kick drum. It sounded great. He had quite a few opportunities to solo. I loved the entry choruses to "Pigfoot", which ended the first set.

Well, follow that. Ok, another big personality and fine musician, Dennis Rollins, will be with us. He is thought by many to be the premier trombonist in the country.  The other two members of the Velocity Trio are not too shabby either. We have the brilliant Ross Stanley on Hammond B3, and Pedro Segundo on drums. Do come along.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 September 2014 - Alec Dankworth's World Spirit
How do you make a class trio even better? Make it a quartet.

Alec Dankworth's World Trio became World Spirit with the addition of Emily Dankworth on vocals, to complement Alec on bass, Ben Castle on tenor and soprano saxes and flute, and percussionist Paul Clarvis.

Emily does something both dangerous and difficult. She sings simply. She does it very well. When you sing without vibrato and a lot of decoration, for instance, your intonation, phrasing and tone change are exposed, and have to be just right: and they were. She sang on about a third of the tunes in each set. She has a range, too, with Latin numbers like "Live to Dream", Scottish folk ("Black is the Colour"). She scats well. Mostly she was an up front singer, but often she would drop back to being a band member: for example, harmonizing with Ben's flute on "Vera Cruz".

It was such a pleasure to see Ben back after far, far too long. This guy is a really fine player on any of the three instruments, with flowing ideas, and close listening. His intro and solos on "Africa -> Ishmael" were particularly beautiful. He was also great fun on stage.

Paul Clarvis is a serious, international percussionist in the jazz, classical and rock fields. He has such a visible joy in the music. Of course, the instruments (lots and lots of them) are showy, but he is charming with them. He listens like crazy too.

To the boss. I don't think there is a better bassist about than Alec. He played electric bass on this gig, but it was still fascinating to watch the left hand spider over the fingerboard on beautiful solos and solid, varied accompaniments. He presented the music with humour and style.

Just about everyone thought it was a top gig. There were a couple for whom "trio's don't do it for me". I have talked about this before, I know. There is a cure for this disease. It isn't always easy to do. You need to LISTEN to the music, not just let if flow through you. When it is live, you can get cues from the musicians smiling at something special from a colleague. There was a lot of smiling last Friday.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 6 September 2014 - Dylan Howe's Subterranean, with Andy Sheppard
For Gerry and I, this wonderful gig was made even better for working the sound check and exended rehearsal for this, the first of the Subterranean tour dates. You cannot buy a better musical education than that. Oh, and Gerry's sound was perfect.

The evening was music from Dylan Howe's "Subterranean" CD (plus download, vinyl to come). Dylan's interpretations were wonderful jazz, but true to the Bowie/Eno spirit. A video loop to one side of the stage was appropriate, and interesting, but not distracting.

As Peter King would say, they played their asses off. Dylan led from the drums, no visual cues that I could see, but he was leading. How you make drumming like that both extremely well thought out and spontaneous at the same time, I will never understand. His solo on "Weeping Wall" will stay with me.

Having Andy Sheppard back with us was such a joy.  He played soprano, and a tenor made specially for him by Trevor James, and sold as the AS Signature. There will only be 100 of these, and the reviews in the sax geek press have been ecstatic. Of course, he played like an angel. He is one of the very few who can do a 2 minute circular breathing phrase, varied and complex,  in "All Saints" without the audience noticing the breathing technique.

Ross Stanley says he loves our piano. We love him on piano, keyboards, B3, anything he wants to play. The solo on "Neukoln - Night" was particularly good, spiky and full of dynamics, followed by a Dylan solo in the same mode.

"Some Are" gave  Steve Lodder a chance to have an extended solo. The man is a master. His synth playing was central to the feel of the entire evening. It must take great timng and sensitivity to do that.

Without a great low register supporting the music, it can sound weak. No fear here, with Dave Whitford on stage. It was fascinating to watch that left hand move like a spider on the fingerboard. He almost occupies the instrument. On "Art Decade", the dark solo was memorable.

We had a big crowd who loved the evening, and clearly the musicians were having fun on the first of their tour dates. Lucky lucky people who get to see a show from the rest of the tour.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 30 August 2014 - Loz Speyer's Time Zone
I have always wanted to go to Cuba for the music. Loz Speyer's Time Zone brought the music to Fleece Jazz (and a lovely big crowd).

But this was great contemporary jazz. Loz incorporates many of the Cuban rhythms into his writing, If we had room for people to dance, they would have.

That the musicianship was of a very high order usually goes without saying, but a special word is needed for this band. From left to right across the stage:

Stuart Hall plays a pure electric guitar, and pulls amazing sounds from it without the use of any stomp boxes. At one point, he made it sound like an Udu, He can play in any style, and playfulness was part of the pleasure of hearing and seing him.

Dave Mannington does what bassists do (or should). He holds the beat and the chords. His solos included double stopping, which he does with ease. The tone and intonation were superb.

Loz Speyer plays both trumpet and flugel, choosing the two tonalities carefully. He is also that rare thing, a musician who presents his music in an interesting and engaging way.

The drums seem to me (except for the solos) an accompaniment  to Loz's music, Andy Ball performed both of these functions with real joy: lovely drumming.

I have never before heard such a use of the huge range of the bass clarinet. Martin Hathaway must have got 5 octaves out of the thing, with not a note wasted. He is an accomplished saxophonist. We had the pleasure of both.

Maurizio Ravalico. is a terrific conga player. Without him this special music would have been diminished.

In case this sounds a bit academic, they were having a grand time up there: and so were we.

Next week,  Dylan Howe brings the music of David Bowie's Berlin period to Fleece Jazz. The Guardian guide thinks this will be something very special, and so do I. His starry band has Andy Sheppard tenor sax, Ross Stanley piano, Steve Lodder synthesisers and Dave Whitford bass.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 23 August 2014 - The Horn Factory
Great to be back after our summer break, and to be greeted with the sound of The Horn Factory, an 18 piece band (I lied on the website, sorry, thought it was 19) was just wonderful. 5 saxes, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, piano, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, lovely clean sound, perfect entrances, lots of joy.

Gilly Burgoyne on alto and Jonathan Farnhill on tenor had a great time trading 4s in "Zogs Jog", and Jonathan played similar lovely games with Richard Steward on trumpet. Richard had a serious back problem, and didn't stand up with the rest of the trumpeters, so was more or less invisible for all but one of his solos, on "What's New". Beautiful, it was.

We had a feature with the bass trombonist, Chris Neary, on "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night ", reworking the Sinatra version. We should get more of this instrument soloing.

The rhythm section was accurate and fun, It was clear that they were a group that knew each other, and worked together well. Bob Airzee led from the congas.

Lots of people came, and we all had a lovely time.

Here is the lineup:
Saxes
Gilly Burgoyne lead alto, Tristan Clifton alto, Jonathan Farnhill lead tenor, Mark Usher tenor, Charlotte Beattie bariitone;
Trumpets
Richard Steward lead, Ian Buzer, Steve Stone, John "Shep" Burch;
Trombones
Paul Little lead, Andy Shipp, Steve Ball, Chris Neary bass trombone;
Rhythm Section
Keith Monk piano, Tamas Farkas guitar, Emma Barnes bass, Gerry Gillings drums, Bob Airzee percussion.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 2 August 2014 - Will Butterworth Quartet
What a glorious gig before our summer break!

Will Butterworth, Seb Pipe, Nick Pini and Pete Ibbetson are a very tight group with amazing ideas. They gave us a gig in two halves. The first was an hour-long suite based on the Oscar Wilde short story for children, "The Nightingale and the Rose".  So we have the love of the young man, the lady's request for a red rose, the suicide of the nightgale to produce the rose, and then a Wilde kicker, the lady has met a prince.

Those few of us who had read the story found the musical path through the story superb, We all enjoyed an hour of beautiful composition, beautifully played, with written themes and improvisation finely melded.  I wonder whether an outline of the story would have helped the bulk of the audience.

The second half was more traditionally constructed, with some originals and some standards, all delights to hear. To me the stand-out song was Will's "In Your Place", with Seb's long sax intro to this slow 3/4 ballad, and lovely solo's from all the band.

This was followed by a very up-tempo  "All the Things You Are", in which Pete particularly shone.

We ended with an extended encore: "Blue Monk". Will had the sexiest delicate intro to this. Very subtle blues playing all round. Nick had a stunning solo in this one.

We are having a two week break, before the 22nd of August, when East Anglia's Premier Big Band shows up. Do not miss this group who love and play the big band music superbly.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 July 2014 - Gabriel Garrick Quartet
Even broken air conditioning could not put a damper on this gig. Gabriel Garrick brought a band full of fun and musicianship to the club.

The music was standards, works of his father, Michael, and one original. They were all played with gusto and bravura. The old rule applied in spades: if the band are having fun, the audience will as well. They had a LOT of fun up there.

Gabriel plays trumpet and flugel, and his trumpet tone is  warm (the flugel very mellow).  I loved his work with the Harmon mute, close to the mic as it should be. He used it on "Body and Soul". I loved the solos here.

Terence Collie is quiet in demeanor on the piano. He has a beautiful way with chord extensions, and the ideas flow and flow. This was an excellent debut to the club.

There was no chance for Paul Cavaciuti to add his anecdotal skills to his excellent drumming, more's the pity. Trading 4's and 8's with a drummer can be formulaic and a bit boring. Not in this case: Gabriel and Paul were having a ball on the stage.

Bass players can be prone to repetitive strain injury. Andy Hamell told me that early in his career, he decided to use all of the fingers on his right (plucking) hand. He must have extended his use of the left as well, because so often he was playing the bass like a guitar, with complex running chord sequences, slurred harmonics (how do you do that?), plucking above the left hand, and covering the fingerboard with what looked like gentle ease. Beautiful solos, thoughtful accompaniment.

It was very hot evening, filled hot jazz and fun.

Take care,
Dave

Daves Notes, 12 July 2014 - Frank Williams African Jazz Quintet
What a joyous gig! Our audience was sitting rapt by the township rhythms,  the superb playing and the fun. Everybody left grinning and happy.

And that includes the musicians. Its that old rule: if the musicians are having a good time, then we are. The five of them took such visible pleasure in each other, adding little driving bits to other peoples solos, and just enjoying each other.

Frank Williams' love of the music stems from his childhood in South Africa. His big voiced tenor sax was a pleasure to hear. As the first notes from the first song rang out, the rhythms just grabbed us. I particularly loved his work on "Accordian Song", written for his father who was a considerable musician. Frank is that rarity, a great story teller in composition, playing and talking to the audience.

Alistair Gavin is a master at this music (not to mention all the other genres that he plays). He played our piano, and a Wurlitzer keyboard circa 1969, or thereabouts. The keyboard was fitted with a row of stomp boxes, which Alistair used quite delicately. There was a sequence of chords in his solo in a lovely ballad to end the first set that will stand in the memory: two choruses of slowly modulated chords, almost Cage-like, had us breathless.

Pete Oxley did a build towards the end of that ballad which was immensely powerful and controlled. His passion on the final piece, "Country Cooking" was stunning to hear and watch. Pete is a superb guitarist who will be with us again soon.

Bassist Ben Havinden was difficult to research before the gig. Why? He is just out of his teens! He plays a classical double bass (his training is classical)  with the low string extra third. His technique and intonation are perfect, and he swings like crazy! There was an extended bass intro to "Cape Trip", which can be very exposing. His was a delight.

A drummer for this kind of music has some interesting problems. He has to hold and often introduce the complex rhythms, follow the improvised dynamics, provide some interesting solos, and still keep the top volume to a level which suits the room.  Daniel John is such a drummer.

We want this band back, and we want to record them. They deserve huge exposure.
Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 5 July 2014 - Clark Tracey Quartet
Clark Tracey has been, and remains, a world class top drummer. The man has the biggest ears in the business: he hears the room (for which sound techs love him) and  he hears the band, and almost anticipates a change in direction. He brought to Fleece Jazz four young and extremely talented musicians. They played without music, and were tight, coherent and accurate, with freedom and verve in the solos. A lovely gig, with some music from the latest CD, and some standards. Clark knows how to arrange a programme..

Dan Casimir is a considerable bassist. His range of technique is impressive (except no bow!). He seems totally at ease in any register, and when double stopping. To my ear, his intonation was perfect. His extended intro to Feldman's "Joshua" was just beautiful.

Harry Bolt loves our piano. It certainly sounded as if the piano loved him.  I loved the use of dynamics in his solos on Clark's "Elvin's Hug". In Cedar Walton's "Red Eyes" (sorry, forgot the Spanish), Harry provided movement from gentle warmth to a storm.

Chris Maddock played tenor and alto sax with power and lyricism. He was big and brassy on Terry's "A Pint of Bitter" (Clark told us it was written for Tubby Hayes), soft and warm on Mingus' "Sound of Love". The guy is very fast at need.

There must have been an A12 problem, because Henry Armburg Jennings arrived late. to complete a truncated first set (the second set was extended). He played trumpet and flugel, and was superb. He arrived in time to play in Jimmy Giuffre's "Suddenly Last Tuesday". The man is FAST.  He had fun trading 4's with Clark. The chorus work with Chris was lovely. An excellent player.

And an excellent gig, which delighted a (too small) audience.

Next week, the best of township music, with Frank Williams saxophone, Pete Oxley guitar, Alistair Gavin piano, Ben Havinden bass, and Westley Joseph drums.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 28 June 2014 - Basil Hodge Quartet
Basil Hodge's music tells stories, important stories told thoughtfully. There's a huge  range from  the joy of "Jobim the Boss" to the seriousness of "The 13th Amendment" (US antislavery constitution change). I think the latter is up there with Mingus's "Fables of Faubus", and should be a classic.

This is music that demands listening. With the assembled crew, that is not a problem. They know each other very well, and are top players.  Start with Larry Bartley on bass. I have heard him play the long intro to "The 13th Amendment" before. Each time sets the story on its way. Each time is different, but retains the seriousness of the story, and sets up the head for the others perfectly. Larry's intonation and double stopping are superb.

Tony Kofi played soprano and alto. The band swung into "Body and Soul" for the encore, and the sax solo was particularly good. He gave us great work throughout the gig.

There is only one Winston Clifford. Whether accompanying, soloing or making fugues with Larry, his invention was amazing.  The work between them in "Habenera" was delightful.

Basil is an excellent pianist. His solo in "Habenera" had us stomping. It was written with Horace Silver in mind. We lost Horace last week, which was mentioned by Basil, and by Derek last gig. His major contribution, though, is the music. It was fascinating during the sound check to hear them work out fine detail to push the storylines along.

What a pity more people could not have enjoyed the gig.

Well they can make it up next week, when we get the Clark Tracey Quintet, with a stunning young band. We will have Clark on drums, Henry Armburg Jennings trumpet, Chris Maddock alto sax, Harry Bolt piano and Dan Casimir bass. Not to be missed.

Take care
Dave


Dave's Notes, 21 June 2014 - Derek Nash's Acoustic Quartet
This time, I will have our photographer, Peter Fairman have the first words about last nights gig: "Brilliant gig. But that s a sort of guarantee whenever Derek Nash comes in whatever format.
He just lights up the place with his genuine enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy.An absolute first class credit to the British Jazz Scene."

Yup.

But the same can be said for the rest of the quartet, who so obviously loved being in this band. David Newton has an imagination like no other, and a left hand as powerful or thoughtful as his right. His interplay with Derek was particularly a joy.

One of the best bassists anywhere was with us. I like Geoff Gascoyne for lots of reasons, not least perfect intonation and timing, but his soloing is varied and strong.

On drums, master Sebastiaan de Krom. He gave us spectacular solos, rolling the brushes, using hands, and a lot of "less is more", which I love.  The dynamic range is huge. He uses it appropriately, but there was one perfect drum roll over many bars which started as a whisper, and smoothly grew to a roar.

We are building a video of part of the gig, and if it is considered good enough, even those not present last night will get to enjoy part of this gig.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 14 June 2014 - Phil Robson New Organ Trio
There is nothing, absolutely nothing like the sound of a real Hammond B3 organ, pedalboard and Leslie. No modern elecronic keyboard sounds as good in  a live situation, or probably on record. Ross Stanley is a wonderful driver of the beast.

The Phil Robson New Organ Trio entertained us royally last night. Phil is a stunning guitarist, Ross on the only instrument that I know that needs a van as an accessory, and the effervescent  Gene Calderazzo on drums. The music was mostly contemporary compositions by Phil, and standards by such luminaries as the trombonist J.J. Johnson. I didn't know he wrote for organ.

They just had so much fun up there. They obviously love playing in the band. The improvisations keyed off each other, and the accompaniment was often extemporaneous as well. The (far too small) audience loved it. The  great drummer Shakatak Roger O'Dell was there, headbanging in his chair. The amazing young guitarist Chris  Allard was there, loving every minute.

It was a joyous gig, and if anyone can follow it, it will be Derek Nash, with his Acoustic Quartet. Our president, David Newton on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass, Sebastiaan DeKrom on drums, and, of course, Derek on all the saxes.  Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 7 June 2014 - Gabrielle Ducomble Quintet
With a singer, the very first note that the audience hears has a big effect on how they receive her/him. In the case of Gabrielle Ducomble it was perfection. Gabrielle's intonation is exact, her pitch and dynamic ranges are large, and the voice is beautiful. To add to all that, she did all of the arrangements, and they were excellent.

This was primarily music from her CD, "Notes from Paris", and most of the songs were sung in French. So there was a strong Parisian feel to the evening, with delightful detours into Jobim, Tango and Samba. The emotional range was from "Padam Padam" (Glanzberg and Content) to the lovely ballad "The Shadow of Your Smile" (Mandel and Webster).

And the band? The ensemble work was seamless. Nicolas Meier is a world class guitarist. He also is a sensitive and thoughtful accompanist. Dan Teper on accordion had some fine solos. Dan and Nicolas had a wonderful fugal moment in one of the songs. Nic Kacal is a powerful bassist, on bow as well, which I love.  On drums, Saleem Raman was a sensitive and inventive accompanist, until time for his big solo, which had some of the audience standing in admiration.

So another great Fleece Jazz gig, and who to follow? Well, not just another guitarist. Phil Robson is as classy as they get. I love the organ trio music, and Ross Stanley is one of our favourite keyboarders. As is drummer, the indefatigable Gene Calderazzo. It will be great to see you at the gig.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 31 May 2014 - Jon Lloyd Quintet
Last night's gig was a joy. Well, this group always are.

Just a word about the soundcheck. John Law arrived early with Jon Lloyd. Jon went to warm up, which is worth listening to. John sat at the piano and went through book 1 of the Bach preludes and fugues, with a bit of jazz. That was worth the price of admission, and only Gerry and I got to hear it.

So no worries about the musicianship then: world class all round. Some people might think that as the music stems mostly from Jon's writing, it will be free jazz, difficult and inaccessible. Far from it.  The music, whether ballad or up-tempo, was logical without being predictable, exciting, and truly beautiful where beauty was intended.

Rob Palmer has a feel for the ambient. His solos were strong. A thing about this group and solos. The structure of Jon's songs is such (or maybe it is the way the musicians think) eases, almost crossfades from one musician to the other. They are always listening very hard, and enjoying it. This mode of playing doesn't really give the audience a chance to applaud solos: we don't want to miss transitional phrases.

We did applaud a spectacular solo from the drums. Jon Scott (too many Jo[h]ns)  playing tabla like on "Yarga". Tom Farmer appears to play the bass with his whole body. Excellent accompaniment.

The two pieces that particularly took my ear were the evening raga like "Yarga", and "5 6 7 8". The numbers refer to time signatures. They used 5/4, 6/4, 7/4 and 8/4, in a sequence through the piece, except for those bits where each guy was playing a different rhythm. It all worked out, but it was an amazing thing to hear.

Why not come along next week to hear the beautiful voice and presentation of Gabrielle Ducomble, with the amazing, Nicolas Meier guitar, Dan Teper accordion, Nic Kacal bass and Saleem Raman drums. We are in the  Garden Room for this gig.

Take care
Dave

Dave's Notes, 24 May 2014 - Gilad Atzmon: The spirit of Coltrane
Gilad Atzmon is always impressive, but what would he be like with the music of Coltrane?

Bloody marvelous, that's what. Audience comments like "Gilad always gives his all (and more last night).", and
"All the passion and technical ability of Coltrane.  Not a sheet of music to be seen".

All four excelled. The two opening numbers, "Naima" and  "Impressions" were great showcases for the talents and listening intensity of the band. They were not slavish copies of the Coltrane recordings, but beautifully re-imagined improvisation.

Behind the excitement lay amazing musicianship. Watching Asaf Sirkis grinning, then somehow adding elbowed toms and dinged cymbals in the tonic note of the chords - jaw hitting floor time. Yaron Stavi inhabits the bass, whether plucked or bowed. Frank Harrison and Gilad had a couple of choruses of duet in Giant Steps". Gilad was on alto for this one (Coltrane played alto in Dizzy's band, Gilad says); the mutual energy was huge. Frank's solos were inspired.

A stunning evening for too small a crowd.

Next week, new but accessible music from the Jon Lloyd Quintet, with Jon Lloyd reeds, John Law piano, Rob Palmer guitar, Tom Farmer bass and Jon Scott drums.  You will love it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 17 May 2014 - Spike Heatley Trio and Art Themen
Spike Heatley has been in the music business for over 70 decades. His bass is even older. Both get better over time.

We were treated to an evening of jazz classics and Spike's own compositions, with a few from the great British Pianist, John Horler. The band is  a long-standing one, and they knew each other well, so brand new material was no problem.

As an aside, they were very well organised. Gerry and I actually got a set list! This was very useful for me, as I was recording, and videoing a few of the songs to appear on Youtube.

Art Themen has a tone that ranges from the contemporary to between-the-wars lush. He is always a pleasure to hear and see. I particularly liked his soprano work on Spike's "Ranjana", and tenor on Waiting for David.

Andy Williams used his stomps with considerable delicacy: it was nice not to be overwhelmed by effects. In the classic "St. Vincent", I enjoyed  the island sound from the guitar a lot., in accompaniment and soloing, but his work all the way through was excellent

Malcom Mortimore is a considerable and considerate drummer. In one number, Spike asked for  Freddie Green entry. Malcolm raised his eyebrows, but produced that sound.

And Spike? He was the leader, not just in name. The solos were thoughtful, and the accompaniment spot on. It seemed to me that the ideas flowed from the bass outward. The solo in his "Tears for Miss Kenny" was exceptional.

Next Friday 23 May: Coltrane as interpreted by Gilad Atzmon. The reviews have been great, and the band is special. We have Gilad on the same model tenor that Coltrane played, Frank Harrison returns on piano, Ernesto Simpson on drums and Tim Thornton on bass. Don't miss this one.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 10 May 2014 - Frank Harrison Trio
So this "jazz buff" tells me "piano trios are boring" by which I think he meant "no saxophone".  I doubt he would make an exception for Oscar Peterson or Bill Evans (the former of which I have heard live a few times in bars). Probably because the piano trio requires you to listen.

Frank Harrison's trio played music that was intense, delicate, powerful at need. We got the familiar and the new, and both were revelations. Take "Tea for Two". It was played as a very slow ballad. Each note had a purpose, and the interweaving of melodies Frank's left and right hand was delicious. Or "I'm Oldfashioned". Not normally played in Latin mode, and if you are talking quotes, how did he get "Dam Busters" into it? Franks 'Io", about the moon's calm name, not its volcanic nature,  was improvised right out of the Radiophonic workshshop.

In "Io", Enzo Zirilli's pops and squeaks underpinned the calm, cold, slow stream of ideas. The three hear each other so well. They delight in trading 16s, 8s, 4s and even 1s! What is next, trading notes? The concentration level and grins were very high. Enzo is a great listening drummer.

Dave Whitford took part in one of the trading 1s game, and all three were having such a good time. His solos and trades in "Bye Bye Blackbird" were perfect.

So another great evening of music to too few people. Next week, we have a special treat. Spike Heatley is celebrating 7 decades in the business. This great bassist brings with him Art Themen saxophone, Andy Williams guitar and Malcolm Mortimore drums. Spike has asked us to record it, so do come along and be part of it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 May 2014 - Karen Sharp Quartet
Fleece Jazz is blessed with the musicians that play for us, known or new. On Friday, four well known British artists played a storm for us. The bebop and blues were beautifully played, but the prize was the ballads. The quartet seems to have a special way with ballads.

Two examples: Comden/Green/Bernstein's "Some Other Time" evoked the "On the Town" images strongly. Karen Sharp's shaping of tone and volume in each phrase and extended note were surprising, gentle, just right. This was in the second set, and by now we had expected the ballads to be special. In Feldman's "Falling in Love" in the first set, we had beautiful accompaniment to the saxophone solos, following the shapes of the phrases. Watching musicians of one mind is my greatest pleasure in live jazz.

Nikki Iles is always a treasure. In Evans' "Interplay", her interpretation of the broken and cross rhythms was a joy. It drove the work of the other three for this difficult tune. She seemed to have a special interplay with the drummer, and they bounced ideas off of each other all through the evening.

The drummer was Steve Brown, he of the big grin. He has the biggest ears in the business, for me. He hears so well that the musicianship (which is first class) is hidden. Phrases are not what you expect, but turn out just right.

Dave Green is just so fast up and down the fingerboard, and it looks effortless. All his playing looks easy, but he uses huge pitch leaps, perfect harmonic accents (sparingly, thank you), and the ideas flow and flow. When accompanying, he joins the three under the solo as part of a single person.

Are you getting the impression I liked this gig? So did the audience, although we could certainly use a few more people. I feel sorry for the jazz lovers that missed that gig.

So don't miss the next one. If you have a love of piano jazz, the amazing Frank Harrison is with us next week, with Dave Whitford bass and Enzo Zirilli drums. See you there.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's (sort of) Notes, 26 April 2014 - Emilia Mårtensson & Trio
I was not able to work last night's gig, a pity, as Emilia Mårtensson is a class act, with Fordham giving her new album "Ana" four stars in yesterday's Guardian. But Peter (photographer) and Gerry (sound engineer) reported an excellent gig.

For Gerry, the highlight was the opening of the second set. Emilia sang a request, Jacques Brel's "If You Go Away". It was quiet, beautiful and intense. He thought the gig was excellent. It was quiet throughout (a bit of a change from Fletch's Brew). He thought the musicianship was first class, with Adriano Adewali 's percussion on a kit with lots of African extras, catching the ear.

Peter said  "Emilia is so good, She has the audience entranced with her soft velvet yet powerful voice."  He loved the trio: Barry Green Piano, Sam Lasserson bass, and Adriano. They were great accompanists, and their solos were special. Peter also was entranced by Adriano's unusual sounds and excellent playing.

Pity I missed it. I won't miss next week. We have the  Karen Sharp Quartet. It is too long since we have heard her fine saxophone playing. Top class band, with  Nikki Iles piano. Dave Green bass and Steve Brown drums. I hope to see you there.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 19 April 2014 - Fletch's Brew
It is sometimes easy to be analytical and pretentious about music. Then along come Fletch's Brew.

The easy bit: top class musicianship from Steve Pearce on bass guitar, Carl Orr on guitar, Freddy Gavita on trumpet and flugel and leader Mark Fletcher on a drum kit kindly brought by Phil (don't remember last name, sorry). Carl had a big array of stomp boxes. Freddy had a bigger one: chorused, wahwah trumpet found the perfect context.

Well, to hammer a cliche into the ground, they blew us away, standing ovation at the end as they rushed to pack and get to Ronnies for a 1am gig.

The evening began with bebop, fast, full on, fun. These guys know each other well, but the listening was still active, and you got the sense, rightly, that they could fly off in all directions and still be tight.  We ended with Billy Cobham's "Stratus" - jazz meets heavy metal. Breathtaking.

In the middle, we had music by Carl and Freddy, and some lovely ballad work. Bronisaw Kaper's "Invitation" was lovely, and Steve shone with a great bass solo. Everybody soloed with great intesity. Freddy keeps his inside, but it was patently there.

A better review from Peter Fairman, our resident photographer: "Loud. Rocking.Swingin.Full on.In your face ...  One of our best gigs and they gotta come back.' BOOK EM, DANNO'".

Next week will be quieter, but no less good. Emilia Mårtensson has a truly beautiful voice, and uses it brilliantly to tell stories as she sings. The trio is pretty tasty too: Barry Green piano, Sam Lasserson bass and Adriano Adewale percussion. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 12 April 2014 - Barb Jungr and Simon Wallace
Barb Jungr declared at the beginning that this was not to be a jolly evening. After all, the lyricists were Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Well, Barb's stage presence is so compelling that it had its jolly moments, but the music was sublime.

Barb and Simon Wallace deconstructed, constructed and arranged all of the songs of the evening. She has thought deeply about the words, which she feels they  say something important about our current condition. Her control of dynamics and perfect articulation gives her a great range to use, and she used it. Up-tempo, very slow, didn't matter. Simon's pianism is amazing.

The addition of Dudley Phillips on bass gave the music a proper bottom. Dudley was clearly in the mind of his colleagues. He was so obviously enjoying the music, with a smile on his face through most of the evening.

I can't pick favourites from the set list. I was enthralled by them all. I feel truly sorry for you if you missed this gig, but there are two chances to hear it again. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk (thank you Steven Foster), and you can buy Barb's brilliant album "Hard Rain". In fact you can do that even if you were lucky enough to be there last night.

Next week: Direct (sort of) from their residency at Ronnie's, come Fletch's Brew, with Mark Fletcher drums, Freddie Gavita trumpet, Carl Orr guitar and Steve Pearce bass. Jazz power on its way to you.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 5 April 2014 - Tony Kofi and the Organisation
Tony Kofi plays a 1937 Conn Crossbar Baritone sax. It is even older than me! But oh! does he play that thing. He has amazing speed on upbeat numbers, and the sound on ballads is a delight. McCoy Tyner's "Search for Peace" was a fine example of beautiful ballad tone. Tony loves exciting runs of slowly modified repeating notes. So do I.

The sound of the baritone fits beautifully beside the sound of a Hammond organ, particularly when Pete Whittaker is driving it. He brought along a real vintage Leslie, and there is no sound like it.  You need a van as an accessory for it. Pete is a consummate  player, in solo and in close accompaniment.

We haven't heard Peter Cater in far too long. I guess he is known mostly as a big band drummer (he has his own, and plays in others). In a small group, the ideas flow and flow.

Pete, Peter and Simon Fernsby are a long established trio, with Simon as leader. Simon provided us with excellent work behind other solos, and some beautiful solos of his own.

I love watching Tony listen to other solos. He shows such pleasure in the music. Well, so did we, and a good size crowd, thank you. Luckily, Tony will be back towards the end of June with Basil Hodge.

Next week is pretty special. BBC Radio Suffolk is recording Barb Jungr's "Hard Rain" gig, the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Now that is a gig not to be missed.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 29 March 2014 - Renato D'Aiello International Quintet
Last nights gig was a marvel. There is a sour note, which I will leave to the end.

Our photographer wrote as he sent me the pictures:"What a gig last night. I thought I was at Ronnie Scotts. Wonderful stuff !! Renato we know .The rest unknown, but what musicians. Superb. Singer ? Well what can you say about him.He was absolutely on the button.
He was a class act indeed.For my money he was the best singer we have ever had.He really knows how to phrase a song. And the scat !! Well simply lost for words.More please "

Yup, that good. Renato D'Aiello's powerful weighty playing was often peppered with lines of quotes, which made everybody grin. Dario De Lecce played perfect bass accompaniment and interesting solos. Lionel Boccara played the room (the best compliment a sound guy can give), and I loved his solos which were played with a faulty tom on the kit, which is quite restricting.  On piano, Hiroshi Murayama has a light touch, amazing phrasing and huge invention.

For most of us, the evening was about the singer: Marc Thomas is truly superb. You hear something of Sinatra in the voice, then its Nat King Cole. In "Funny Valentine" it was clearly Marc Thomas, with perfect intonation, phrasing, dynamics. An upbeat "Another You" had the most amazing scat. Marc is a saxophonist, and it showed.

And they had so much fun together.

As did the audience, who listened attentively, and whooped and hollered their applause.. The pity was that there were so few of them.  The club provides world class music, but not everyone is a front page name. It is scary. Next week we have Tony Kofi, which Fleece Jazz audiences have acknowledged as being a master, very popular in past gigs. I hope we get a reasonable audience for him.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes 24 March 2014 - Ian Shaw
I was visiting my daughter over the weekend, and could not access my machines, and normally I would be a bit worried about remembering the gig well enough to write sensibly. This was an Ian Shaw gig. Absolutely no problem.

We start by asserting the obvious: the guy has fabulous control over the range, tone and dynamics of a terriffic voice. He is an excellent pianist. He also can tell a story, and some of them would be inadmissible in print out of the context of the gig. He would break into a lyric with a wisecrack that would collapse the house. The story about Mel Tormé in a piano bar....

The songs were chosen and arranged beautifully. We had "Ain't Necessarily So" as a rumba, the upbeat rudity of "Feet do your Stuff", Joni Mitchell at 17 and 50. He sang "Here's to Life", thinking about Shirley Horne., and his own "This Song is for You". His send-up of James Taylor was amazing.

There was the additional pleasure of a song by Trish Heenan. Nice surprise.

Then he was off to catch a plane: he is playing in a Zappa musical (how many singers can both handle Zappa's complexity and sing rock?). We will see him again soon.

Next week, a great quintet led by Renato D'Aiello, with an international band including Marc Thomas, a stunning French singer (singing in English).
See you there.

Take care
Dave




Dave's Notes, 8 March 2014 - RipRap Quartet
I just got the photo's from last nights gig from Peter Fairman. Peter said "Very good gig last night ... Superb musicians.
Herewith 8 photos in memory of an excellent gig.
Long live live jazz !!".
And so say all of us. The RipRap Quartet just had such a good time up there! Kevin Flanagan, David Gordon, Andrew Brown and Russ Morgan know each other very well, but the music came through as new. Watching them watch and listen to each other was a joy, and the audience was grinning with them.

The music was hugely varied. We had ballads, Like "Guadaloupe", with Andrew playing the standup bass as if it was a guitar. We had a wonderful bit of Bach, Some free jazz appeared, but this group is so together that the ideas fused. Russ has huge ears: his level was always perfect. His skill with sticks, bells, hands, brushes is a delight to watch.

I will go a long way to hear a David Gordon gig. He uses every bit of the piano, and the ideas tumble from his hands. Kevin loves McCoy Tyner, and he was superb on tunes referencing the great pianist, whether on tenor or soprano.

The soloing was great, but the ensemble work was what made it for me. Just one example: David and Andrew simultaneously  fugueing  at each other, with Kevin and Russ  supporting.

When people ask about favourite gigs, it is very hard not to say "the last one". No problem now: this one will stand in the memory.

Dave's Notes, 1 March 2014 - John Law's Boink!"
Last night, John Law, Rob Palmer  and the excellent young Lloyd Haines presented us with music out of the ordinary. Great musicianship is a given, of course, so I will talk a bit about the music and the presentation. Just to note that John played Korg and Yamaha keyboards, iPad and iPod, Rob played guitar and lots of stomp box effects, and Lloyd played totally acoustic drums.

John's wishes were that the only light on stage would be small music stand clip-on lights and the visual video presentation by Patrick Dunn. These were not canned videos. Patrick "played" the videos from a keyboard (and computer), each key triggering a different visual effect from the score of effects for that song. Most were of an abstract nature, sometimes augmented by the pulse and frequency of the music itself. Some were more programmatic: in "So Fast, So Good", it looked like driving against the traffic at speed on a rainy night.

Some of the music reminded me a bit of Phillip Glass, but being John, the odd fugue and other classical mechanisms appeared. Coltrane's "Naima" (all the rest were by John and  Rob) had an ambient feel, appropriate to that song.  "So Fast, So Good" used a baroque ground bass in 7/4 time.  "Jazz" in particular made excellent use of the electronics. It started out with crowd and traffic noises, overlaid with big band swing horns. The acoustic drums then slowly took over, and we were into the song.

I am proud that Fleece Jazz presents new music from time to time, and last night a, new presentation.. The music was not inaccessible, and the use of the visuals gave us a new way of experiencing it.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 22 February 2014 - Laura Zakian and her Trio
Laura Zakian's excellent gig last night was interesting from two points of view. Laura is a consummate musician and an excellent storyteller, who presents the songs simply to the audience - just enough information, and the odd anecdote. She brought with her a superb band.

The second interest for me were the arrangements, which varied from swing to very modern. One of her arrangers was her pianist, Steve Lodder. He is one of my top favourites as a player. He somehow pulls organ-like phrases from the piano, and throws in the odd fugue along the way. I particularly liked his arrangement of John Martin's "Sweet Little Mystery". Other arrangements were by Laura's husband ("for free", she said), and were enjoyed.

The most difficult and interesting arrangements were by the late Pete Saberton. "We'll Be Together Again" had the trio each playing in different time signatures. I loved it.

Only musicians like these can cope with that. Simon Thorpe and Nic France did more than cope, they lived it. They also had a great time trading 8s and 4s "follow that, mate" written on their faces. Good fun.

You will be able to judge for yourself in a week or three. We took a video on my mobile, and the sound is not bad at all, even though it is mono. I will set up a Fleece Jazz youtube channel and put it up, and tell you when it is ready.

Do come along to gigs. Laura and the trio deserved a much larger audience.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 15 February 2014 - The Ed Jones Quartet
Outside, the storm raged. Inside, the band played up a storm. You would expect no less from Ed Jones, Tom Cawley, Riaan Vosloo and Tim Giles. They gave us full measure.

They also made it so clear as to why we cry "keep it live". Ed seems to play with his entire body. It is as if he is controlling pitch of his tenor sax with knees and eyebrows. Sometimes, you can see a new idea coming when  he opens his eyes before a phrase, as if to say "ooh, that should be good". The ideas come in variations in  tune and rhythm. When not playing, he listens carefully to the band, smiling and nodding at particularly good bits.

Tim's listening is almost palpable. Even during drum solos, he can hear the other three come in with a bit of an idea, or a comp.

Riaan seems totally in the zone whether soloing or accompanying. He rarely uses the top register of the bass, but has such intonation control of the instrument and the possibilities of the chords that it doesn't matter.

Tom is on a bit of a season with us. He is coming later with Tammy Weis. Tom sings his solos, and seems to be playing even when he is not. His solo in the encore was spectacular. I thought we would need to buy a new piano stool, he bounced so much.

The CD's are excellent, but there is nothing like being there.

Next week: Laura Zakian and her trio. Her "Songs for Modern Lovers" album was highly praised. The trio is the amazing Steve Lodder on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Nic France on drums. I love Laura's singing, and I would come to a trio gig with those three any day. Too good to miss. No storms, no Valentines day to keep you away.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 8 February 2014 - The Green Quartet
Bryan Corbett and Chris Dodd build a duo album called "Green",  which got excellent reviews. The music last night was primarily from that album, but in quartet form. The musicianship of all four was exceptional. Bryan's technique on both trumpet and flugel was as good as you can get. Chris's bass work on both standup and bass guitar was delightful. We had Sean Hargreaves on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Simon Pearson on drums.

Two amazing things, at least to me. First Simon. He was a dep, and this was the first time he had seen or heard the music. After a shortish rehearsal, he was solidly part of the band. The music included rapid changes of time signature, and very specific endings, all of which he nailed. He carried extended offbeats through some of those changes. Every time I make comments like this, my wife says "it's practice". True, but perhaps talent is also a requirement. Still, it amazes me.

The second thing was a thing - a 40 year old Fender Rhodes in great condition, driving a valve Marshal amp, and overdriving sometimes. The feel of the keyboard (I was allowed to try it) is quite different from the piano, and Sean was expert on both, of course.. I had not realised what a versatile instrument the Rhodes was.

The music varied from lovely ballads, like their "Crystal Waters" to headbanging Black Sabbath work (Bryan is from Birmingham), with lots of solid bop in between.  It delighted a much too small audience.  

Next week, Ed Jones, with Tom Cawley piano, Tim Giles drums and Riaan Vosloo bass. It will be a joy.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes, 31 January 2014 - The Sue Richardson Quintet
Chet Baker led a difficult life, from childhood to his death. in 1988. Our leader last night, Sue Richardson, is fascinated by Chet, and produced an evening of excellent exposition and great music around his music. He didn't write much, but loved standards. We got his jail-cell music and the standards last night.

Sue is a fine trumpeter and flugelist, and an excellent singer. Add to this a good way with words and the talent to present them.  I noted particularly the phrasing and story-telling  when she sang  "Funny Valentine", and her playing on her own tune "On a moonbeam",  derived from three notes of one of the few songs Chet wrote. Many of the arrangements were taken from Chet, some were by her.

Chet often played with Gerry Mulligan, so it was appropriate that we had Richard Shepherd on baritone sax with us.  
The rhythm section was spot on, with husband Neal Richardson on piano, George Trebor on bass and Sam Glasson on drums.  Richard was dismissed for two numbers so that we could here the piano-less format Chet often used. It was great to hear that sound again.

Sue made sure to credit Sylvia Syms and Georgia Mancio for lyrics to some of the jail numbers, and help in other ways.

We thoroughly enjoyed this group, and I am sure they will be back.

Next week, more trumpetry, with the Green Quartet, which is driven by trumpeter Bryan Corbett and bassist Chris Dodd, with Sean Hargreaves on piano and keyboards and Mark Fletcher on drums.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 25 January 2014 - Katie Brown Quintet featuring Leon Greening
Last night, we had straightforward, exciting, accessible modern jazz of very high quality. The sax/trombone chorus has a lovely edgy quality. The programme was very well balanced.  The playing was great, the arrangements were good, and the musicians had a ball. A small audience loved the evening,

Why small? Perhaps because Katie Brown is not well known. She absolutely deserves to be. That she has complete command of the alto goes without saying. Her arrangements are excellent. She speaks to the audience simply and clearly. And she is such fun to watch when others are soloing: big grins, bounces, giggles, applause. The music was all standards with one exception. While waiting for a sax student who didn't show, she wrote "Playing Truant", an up-tempo delight. She has a great ballad touch as well.

Leon Greening had a stunning solo on that number. The man does not so much play the piano as inhabit it. Everybody starred on Horace Silver's "Metamorphosis", but Leon's solo will stand in the memory. He hears so well when accompanying, always adding and pushing the soloist.

Robbie Harvey can make his trombone sound like silk, smooth and enticing, and like a racing car, tough and spiky. From Julian Bury, we got the expected solid bass, and fine solos, but what a treat to get such accomplished bowed solos! On drums, we had Matt Home, depping for Steve Brown (who Katie drove to the airport yesterday morning). Matt was his usual exceptional engine room.

Next week we have the Sue Richardson Quintet featuring Karen Sharpe on sax, with Neal Richardson piano, George Trebar bass and Rod Youngs drums. Sue plays trumpet and flugel, and sings. Here reviews have been superb. You might not know about her, but you should really come and find out. You will not be disappointed.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 18 January 2014 - Simon Spillet Quintet - "Standard Miles"
You get four senior British jazzers steeped in the music, Henry Lowther, John Critchinson, Dave Green, and Trevor Tomkins, led by the excellent Simon Spillett, and what did they do?

They have fun! They showed us clearly they were having a great time, So did we.

They had a lot going for them. Firstly, great musicianship. Then the music: the band is called "Standard Miles", and the music was all jazz standards that Miles Davis made famous (or actually made, that became standards). The arrangements were the bands own take on the songs, not copies of Davis/Evans arrangements.

There was an exception to that. The encore was Davis's "All Blues". It was lovely to see the audience smile, lean forward after the first few notes of the song. When Henry's muted trumpet played its first bars, you could feel the pleasure from the audience.

I could go on for hours about John's amazing pianism and left hand, Henry's control and flow of ideas, Simon's power and gentleness, Dave's brilliance made to look easy, and Trevor playing the room, the music and the drive. I won't, but it is also nice to have a leader communicate so well with the audience.

My turn for sound. Poor Trevor had immense traffic problems and a bad tooth, go there late, so there was no sound check. With guys like these up there, you want to give them your best, so some tweaking was necessary at the beginning of the gig.  

They will be back again at the club.

Take care
Dave



Dave's Notes, 11 January 2014 - Cubana Bop Octet
I wish that we had had room for a dance floor last night. Cubana Bop was so infectious, that even a Fleece Jazz audience would have been bopping. But it was lovely to see such a big crowd for such a delicious gig.

Cubana Bop is led by Terry Seabrook from the piano, and all of the arrangements for the octet were his. He is an excellent player, but the arrangements just shine. He is in complete control of build, key changes, time signature changes, dynamics and use of the different tonal forces at his disposal.

And what forces! Lets start with the vocalists. Jo Marshal, who has worked with Swingle Singers, was outstanding. She sang "Besame Mucho", getting the passionate character just right. She sang "Night in Tunisia", getting the bebop just right. In both, she could also use her voice as an instrument with the rest of the band.

Paul Roberts divides his time between the UK and the American west coast, and gets rave reviews wherever he goes. He was lead singer for "The Stranglers", and has some amazing credits. His light baritone (that is range, not power: he has tons of power) has some Sinatra about it, but his phrasing is his own. His presentation is terrific. Both singers have fine articulation, and their duet work was special, and fun.

They did a few songs from "West Side Story". The singing was great, but the band accompaniment and soloing was exceptional as well. I loved Satin Singh's conga work, and his use of triangle and percussive bits on "A Boy like That" was special. Adam Riley on drums and timbales, and Davide Mantovani on bass were a great engine room.

The horn section was a delight in its own right. Shanti Jayasinha played trumpet and flugel, as well as slide trumpet (slumpet?). He is always value for money. Ian Price played tenor, clarinet and flute. On "I Feel Pretty", his flute work with Jo was very funny: we had a giggly audience. That tune went from 3/4 to 4/4 to something I couldn't count.  It was an example of Terry's good arranging.

Next week, Simon Spillett returns with his Standard Miles band, with Henry Lowther on trumpet, John Critchinson piano, Dave Green bass,  and Trevor Tomkins drums. Do come along.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 4 January 2014 - Jacqui Dankworth and her Trio
We needed a big gig to open our 2014 January to April season. We got one.

We had Jacqui Dankworth, with her pianist/fellow vocalist/arranger/husband Charlie Wood. We had Ollie Hayhurst on bass and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums. A big crowd left the gig floating.

Jacqui has a voice that can sound like silk velvet, a big dynamic range. She has terrific mic technique. But more importantly, two things: you can hear every word, and she is superb at story telling. In "Imagination", from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", you could see in your mind's eye the magic world.

In the second set, she sang her own lyrics to John Dankworth's theme to the "Tomorrow's World" programme. The words were taken from a nuclear physics dictionary, and you could hear each unfamiliar one. She knows how to have fun, too. One complaint. String Theory is not clear, even to people working in the field.

Charlie's piano and arrangements were excellent complements to the singer. There was only one duet (a pity, he has a great voice),

Ollie is always a welcome friend at our gigs. His playing is not visually spectacular. It is just accurate, perfect timing and intonation, interesting solos. Seb as well is an old friend of the club. He has a lot of fun on the kit, using his mouth as a resonator with the sticks, and great use of silence. Both of them were deps, but you could never tell from their playing.

So we opened the year with a stunningly good gig, and there will be many more such to follow. Consider next week, when we have Cubana Bop, an octet playing Latin music, with Terry Seabrook piano, Satin Singh congas, Adam Riley drums, Shanti Jayasihna trumpet, Ian Price flute/sax/clarinet, Davide Mantovani bass, Jo Marshall vocals and Paul Roberts vocals. Don't miss it.

Take care, and a happy, healthy and musical New Year to you all.

Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 December 2013 - Derek Nash's Sax Appeal
Even the sound check was worth the entrance fee to this gig to end our 2013 season.
Derek Nash's Sax Appeal appealed to a big crowd of very happy people. Eight great musicians had the best time, so so did we.  I will just name them, and pick out a couple of highlights. We had Derek on alto and soprano, Brandon Allen on tenor, Simon Allen on tenor, Scott Garland on alto, Bob McKay on baritone, flute and piccolo, Pete Adams on Piano, Phil Scragg on electric and semi-acoustic bass, and Nic France on drums. And I should mention Gerry doing an excellent job on the sound desk: not an easy gig get good sound from.

I am going to miss lots of great stuff, but what caught the eye and ear and stays in the memory were...
Bob's range on the baritone, high and low, soft and tough.
Phil's solo using all the stomp boxes. My daughter said it was Hendrix on bass.
The two disparate personalities of Derek and Scott trading 4's.
Pete killing the piano with boogie woogie.
The Allen's soloing.
Nic's appropriate power.

And the fun. Derek said "Give me an A to tune my soprano". Pete gave him an a A. Simon piped in with an A flat. Bob contributed a B. The rest joined in with cacophony. The magic was that the soprano got tuned.

The music ranged around the world, and through many years of Sax Appeal recording. Some is from a CD to be released in February, so watch out for that.

Next week: who better to start the new year than with Jacqui Dankworth, and Charlie Wood, with Geoff Gascoyne and Mike Smith to back them up. Don't miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 December 2013 - Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione
Just the names, Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione should tell you that it was a great gig.

The material was mostly written by Sarah Jane and Antonio on their second get together after deciding that they could pair for some gigs. Antonio thought that this was such a good idea that he had already booked a gig. They did a couple of Sarah Jane's more familiar songs, and Antonio did some solo guitar work.

If you don't know Sarah Jane, then I cannot describe her baritone voice, presentation and style to you. She is truly a force of nature. So I will speak about Antonio, who we haven't seen for many years.

Technique. All of them. He plucks, strums, hammers, drums, plectrum. All in place and all note and groove perfect. He has an array of stomp boxes and other kit, but he uses this very subtly. An example: he will lower the bottom string into the bass range. Sometimes he will augment with a bass doubler (adding a bit of an octave lower), and sometimes he won't. Very subtle but important differences in the bass are heard. It was amusing to me that the first use of plectrum was in the solo, "Al Hambra", but beautiful, hugely polyphonic and very Spanish.

We had a big crowd who loved the gig (as did I), and had a chance to thank Stephen Foster of BBC Radio Suffolk for his help in promoting the club.

And next week: come to the kind of party that only Derek Nash can bring. 5 saxes, piano, bass, drums, and you, I hope.

Take care and have an excellent holiday,

Dave

Dave's notes, 7 December 2013 - Heads South
Our chair, Michael, began the proceedings with the announcement that Stan Tracey had passed away after a long illness. He asked for a round of applause from the audience for this great British and world musician. The band was on-stage, and the applause from all was long and heart-felt.

It was then up to the band, "Heads South", to make us happy again, and they truly did. The music was primarily Cuban in style, but drew from Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and the USA as well.

The percussionist, Chino Martell Morgan, and the drummer Buster Birch, were in each other's heads throughout the evening. Although they did a lot of trading, it wasn't competitive, but supportive. Chino's hands moved like lighting across bongos, congas and cajon, and Buster traversed his large drum kit with alacrity. They were as enjoyable to watch as they were to hear.

Any gig containing Steve Waterman will be a joy. His playing is just so inventive and passionate - perfect for this music. He must be very fond of it as well, because he has written a suite, the "Conga Suite", part of which we heard in the second set. I will be buying the whole suite. It was quite amazing.

Adolphredo Polido is a superb electric bass guitarist,. The music is part of his soul as well, and that came across clearly. During "Besame Mucho", he gave us a lyrical solo intro. His solo in that number showed his speed across the 5 strings and whole fingerboard. Lovely stuff.

The arrangements were primarily by the leader, John Harriman, who used his Nord Stage 2 rather than our piano. He needed good visual contact with all the band, and the upright would have made that impossible.  He used the keyboard's very good piano and organ to great effect, both in support and soloing. It was nice to have clear notions of composers and other information about the songs.

This was a gig thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

There is no gig next week, but the formidable Sarah Jane Morris with Antonio Fortione on guitar, will be with us on Friday 20 December, followed by Sax Appeal (with 5 saxes, lead by Derek Nash) on the 27th. See you there.

Take care,

Dave

John's notes, 30 November 2013 - Nick Page Quartet
Last night we saw the Fleece Jazz debut of guitarist Nick Page. However it felt much more like a reunion with an old friend. This may have been helped by the very familiar supporting band of David Newton, Arnie Somogyi and Clark Tracey, all great friend of the Fleece, and craftsmen of the highest order. However there is no denying the undemonstrative charm of Nick himself and his extremely attractive, very listenable playing.

His reputation came before him, so thanks to Gilad Atmon and Alan Skidmore, especially, for their recommendations. Nick, who is self taught, is indeed an undiscovered gem, who delivers familiar songs with an uplifting freshness, and beautiful, melodic, lyricism with every note confidently and perfectly delivered. There were fleeting references to other tunes, but no roller-coaster of emotions, instead he created a warm, comfortable build up of delight in the music. No need for pyrotechnics, this was gentle but profound appreciation of great melodies. He played off the Gershwins against Cole Porter, and we all won. Nick also told three cracking jokes!

This band was so perfectly in tune with each other, one might have believed they always play together. True professionalism radiated from the stand: Arnie switched off his sometimes anarchic and subversive impulses (essential to his Charles Mingus project) and delivered an assured and often gently lyrical contribution. He looked so very much at home in his blue cardigan; he could have been wearing carpet slippers! Dave Newton swings like a kitten in a hammock. His relaxed style belies the wealth of work which goes into creating inventive, polished phrase after phrase, and all whilst having FUN! He concluded the final number with just enough of Jingle Bells to make the whole band and audience grin broadly. Clark played with subtlety, and his usual intelligence, to underpin the whole delightful experience. With him behind the kit there was no chance that the night would not swing!

Two observations help to capture the evening. Firstly, there was another "function" band playing in the venue that night. Two band members came and watched as much as they were able, one confiding he could listen to Nick all night. He had to be dragged away to play his own set. Secondly, as I looked around the room, everyone's heads were gently nodding in time, and everyone was smiling. Hooray for swinging jazz!

The evening was full of reunions with old friends, but nothing stale about it. S’Wonderful was wonderful, I Loves You Porgy delightful, and Weaver of Dreams particularly struck me as simply sublime. All in all, we had a blissfully pleasant evening, relaxing, swinging and thoroughly enjoyable. If you have not seen Nick Page yet, you really out to seek him out.


Dave's Notes, 23 November 2013 - Saxophone Giants
It is no exaggeration to say that the Saxophone Giants gig last night will stand in the memory for a very long time. Put it another way. My wife and I had been in NYC a month ago, at the great clubs. I felt we were back there.

This was jazz at the highest level, technically and musically. The band gave us a history of some shining lights, They started with Jean Toussant, playing the Coleman Hawkins arrangement of "Body and Soul" from 1930  They moved through time,  Jean and Keith Loftis playing individually and together, up through John Coltrane, till we reached Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. Peter King would have said they played their asses off. Each evoked the player they were honouring. Each was their own musician, in tone and riff.

Mark Lewandowski on bass was new to us. He seems a quiet man, but plays with a passion and huge technique. Dave Hamblett on drums sat straight on his throne, watching the others like a hawk, and playing and soloing beautifully.

Also new to us was 20 year old pianist, Reuben James. He was a revelation.  Long series of ideas flowed and flowed. He has huge dynamics, plays very rich and very sparse, Looking at his body language, he is thinking musically even when he is not playing. He uses  the piano: the sustain, of course, but the sustenuto, which hold individual notes in sustain, and unusually, the soft pedal, to change the tone of the piano. The latter got a real workout.

There was dancing. Keith was dancing quietly while Jean or Reuben were playing, Jean was dancing quietly while others played. Reuben danced all the time, sitting on his bench.

Yes, it is true. If the musicians are having a good time, we will have a good time. We had a wonderful time, and the audience left glowing.

Next week, a star guitarist, Nick Page, brings with him president David Newton piano, Arnie Somogyi bass and Clark Tracy drums. Don't miss this one.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 18 November 2013 - London Klezmer Quartet
It has been a very busy two weeks, with four gigs instead of the usual weekly gig. It culminated in a sell-out doozy from the London Klezmer Quartet. This world class band entertained us royally.

They were Ilana Cravitz violin, Susi Evans clarinet, Carol Isaacs accordion and Rupert Gillett bass. All of them have reputations in the top end of other music spheres as well, classical, popular, and contemporary. The musicianship was superb. One small example: I happened to see Susi circular breathing. She did it almost invisibly, not as an effect. She just needed to hold a note for 10 bars.

Klezmer is the music of Eastern European jews, but it has a healthy second home in New York. Some of the work was written or arranged by the band members, some of it was original. It looks like Colchester and Stoke by Nayland could become homes as well.

The gig was in aid of Colchester and District Jewish Community. It was good to see so many people not of the community.

CDJC would like to thank all who worked towards making this gig a success. There was Ruth and Roy, Dave and Gerry, the Fleece committee, a great audience and 4 top drawer musicians.

This Friday, a saxophone feast with Sax Giants, who are Keith Loftis saxophone, Jean Toussaint saxophone, Reuben James piano, Alex Davis bass and Dave Hamblett drums. Unmissable.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 16 November 2013 - Matt Ridley Trio with Jason Yarde
When Roberta and I were in NYC at Dizzy's (Jazz at Lincoln Center), I was asked by a band member who played at our club. She ran her eye down the list and said, "Oooh, you get Jason Yarde".

We do indeed, and a great evening with him, and the Matt Ridley Trio. This was an evening of new music by Matt, who led from the bass. It varied from the lyrical to the aesthetic, from Bach inspired to Azerbaijan,  from raucous to melancholy (but not bathos). He has great fun with cross-rhythms and polyrhythms. There is plenty of space for solos. They played late, and the small crowd clamoured for an encore, and rightly so. This was contemporary jazz at a very  high level, both in playing and composition.

The four make a very tight band. The drummer, Nick Smalley, was excellent. He uses all the tools an lots of toys, and is superb with mallets. In the lyrical "Strange Meeting", he showed his hand skill.

Matt is an excellent bassist, and amazing time-keeper. Why mention this? Well, in the "Sid Harper" suite that ended the first set, he was working in 3/4 against 5/4 in the piano, sax and drums.

Jason Yarde's solos in that suite were huge. He has great speed, and range of dynamics on both the soprano and alto saxes. In "Bride in a Yellow Dress", an Azerbaijani number, he moved from lyrical to almost violent in his solo.

I love John Turville's playing. He is so strong in the left hand. In "Strange Meeting", the right hand reminded me of Evans.

This was an evening of non-trivial music, and may not have been to everyone's taste. To me and to the audience, it was a joy.

On Sunday, we have something else different. The London Klezmer Quartet plays Fleece Jazz at 3pm. Only a few tickets left for that.

And next week, Saxophone Giants, with Keith Loftis saxophone, Jean Toussaint saxophone, Reuben James piano, Alex Davis bass and Dave Hamblett drums. This is really an unmissable gig, folks.

Take care,
Dave




Dave's Notes, 11 November 2013 - DIVAS' DAY
How can one condense such an amazing day into a few words? The names of the performers themselves illuminate the message: Fleece Jazz's Divas' Day was a great success, musically, attendance wise, and even gastronomically (the buffet was excellent).

So lets turn on the illuminations. Barb Jungr opened proceedings with some of her lovely Dylan work. She was accompanied by Jenny Carr on piano and vocals. Barb then sang with Mari Wilson, using material from their "Woman to woman" show. Mari then did a lovely set with Jenny on piano.

Jenny also accompanied Sarah Moule, an amazing jazz singer.

Next on stage was the delightful Tina May, accompanied by David Newton. David remained on stage to receive the honourary presidency of our club, and a caricature (5, actually) by our resident artist, Doug Page.

Time to eat, breath, and do the raffle.

Sarah Gillespie accompanied herself on guitar, but for the last part of the set, she invited Kate Shortt to join her on cello. This was a song Kate had never heard, and there was no chart, but half a chorus in, and she had it, and was amazingly, soloing soon after that.  Sarah must have been channelling Janet Joplin.

Kate did the next set, a solo cello performance, quite lovely.

Gil Manly has a beautiful voice, and sang her set with huge dynamic range and passion. She was accompanied by David.

Kate popped up again to do her sit down comedy act. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to diddle my knobs (sound tech joke). What does a cello sound like. A penguin? A guitar?

David Newton accompanied the last two singers, as inventive with them as he was in the afternoon. First up was Georgia Mancio, singing in English and Italian (a subset of the languages she is fluent in), and whistling several choruses along the way.

We finished with Claire Martin, who performed with her usual power and subtlety when needed. What a send-off to a day I will never forget. Has there been before in this country a day of such exceptional vocal luminaries?

"Luminary" is a better term than "Diva", because all reported that old friends met and new friends were made. So Sarah Gillespie's definition of Divas together as "nine women, one mirror" was not correct.

Short biogs of the musicians are on our website, and an album of photographs will be available soon.

Thanks to everybody, Stu on lights, the committee, Dougy, JJ, everybody how helped. Eternal thanks to the light shone by our singers and players.

And thank you to 250 people who turned out to share this great day. I hope they note that every Friday (and the odd Sunday) we host similarly high quality music. For example...

On Friday, Matt Ridley brings his Quartet, featuring Jason Yarde, not to be missed, and
on Sunday at 3pm, the London Klezmer Quartet performs for us.

Take care,

Dave



Dave's Notes, 9 November 2013 - Josh Kemp Quartet
This will be a quick note as we are gearing up for tomorrow. It deserves a better writeup, because it was a most enjoyable gig.

Josh Kemp had his debut at the club last night, with Tim Lapthorn on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and most of Matt Skelton on drums (about which more later). The music was standards and a few originals from his albums, and one from a future album. The arrangements for the standards and the originals were interesting and fresh, and the playing was excellent.

Matt suffered the worst journey to us. He arrived towards the end of the first set, having braved accidents on M25 and A12, and the complete closure of the north circular. He was hugely apologetic, but had no need to be, hardly his fault. The band played in trio form till he arrived, and Matt did the quickest drum setup I have ever seen, and played at his usual very high level (skill and feeling, that is. Matt is never too loud).

So we had a trio for the first bit, which was good fun. The first of Josh's originals, "Toothless" was melodic and had fascinating cross-rhythms. They ended the set with (what is the antonym of homage?) a disrespect of Blair, very funny.

Tim was his usual wonder, whole body piano playing. Mick is in the top drawer of fine bassists. Lots of vocal enjoyment of his colleagues.

Josh writes well, lyrically and accessibly. His tenor tone is big, but can be balledic, and the passion that he plays with is evident.  This was an excellent gig (and a reasonable crowd.

Speaking of crowds, tomorrow's Divas' Day gig only has a few tickets left, so rush to get those.

And Friday next has the return of Matt Ridley, with Jason Yarde sax, John Turville piano and Nick Smalley drums, Matt leading from the bass. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 2 November 2013 - Alex Hutton Trio
One of our audience said after the gig that it was a pity that there was such a small group to hear such a great gig. And it was an excellent evening.

There were a few standards, but some of the music was from his newest and excellent CD "Legentis". The music varied from deeply introspective through joyous swing to hugely cinematic (yes , Virginia, a piano trio can do these things). Alex Hutton plays delicately, or with great power, but always with passion. The most cinematic number was "JJ" from the second set, which opens the "Legentis" CD. I felt I could see the fight and the car chase and the love scene...

Stu Ritchie has not played for us for far too long. He uses tons of toys and gadgets, but appropriately and sparsely. He also can follow the "less is more" principle, or provide great power, somehow without overwhelming volume.

Watching the technique of Yuri Goloubev was fascinating. He uses a bow like he actually enjoys using it, with cello-like sequences. (Stu sometimes competed with a bow on his cymbals). He uses all of the fingers on his left hand to pluck the strings, and is as comfortable in the world of harmonics as in the bottom of the range. The very high notes were clear and clean. Without the passion, it is just technique. Yuri has both.

So how do you follow a gig like that? Well, on Friday next, we have the Josh Kemp Quartet, with Josh on saxophone, Tim Lapthorn on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Matt Skelton on drums. We are probably recording this first gig on an extensive tour, so come and be part of it.

And just two days later, on Sunday at 2pm, a spectacular afternoon and evening of vocal music from the best of singers. It will be a spectacular day. As an added incentive, the hotel will be selling their excellent buffet, and we will be inaugurating the presidency of the honourable (small 'h') David Newton. This is a benefit gig for the club, so see you there.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 26 October 2013 - Ollie Howell Quintet
If there is a thing musicians who play for us hate, it is the A12. Due to an accident, they didn't arrive until just after 8pm. They set up quickly and gave us a stunning gig.

They are the Ollie Howell Quartet. Ollie led from the drums, and we had some standards and his own compositions. He has a great sense of melody and (of course) rhythm, and his tunes are pretty well hummable. That doesn't mean they were weak on  content. The last number of the second set, "High Victory" had haunting melodies. They were written in hospital where he was enduring neurosurgery. Gosh.

This is a young band, the oldest being 28, but the playing was mature and solid. Ollie is a superb drummer, pulling fascinating tonalities out of the kit. Matt Robinson on piano is of the "right number of notes" school, as Stan Tracey would say. I loved the duet between him and Duncan Eagles on tenor. Duncan solos with his whole body, good to watch.

Mark Perry's trumpet playing is clean and clear. Max Luthert was on bass. In the introduction to the beautiful "For Anya", he soloed. He used gentle slurs to perfection.

So we had a great evening. We were short on staff, as our helpers (my mate Gerry being unavailable) were JJ and Dougy, and Dougy went home ill. I understand he is ok now. After the gig, many people from the audience pitched in to help put the stuff away from the Devora Suite, piano, sound monster, speakers, lighting, on and on. We are very grateful for their help.

The lighting in Devora is pretty crap. I hope Peter Fairman will be able to get some decent photos.

We have some great gigs coming up. Next week, the delightful Alex Hutton brings his piano trio with Yuri Goloubev and Stu Ritchie. And don't forget the amazing Divas' Day on Sunday 10th November.

Take care,
Dave



Dave's Notes, 20 October 2013 - Roger Beaujolais Quartet
I am back to do these notes, from a wonderful holiday in NYC. We saw some great jazz, but after last night, I am just so happy to be associated with this club.

Roger Beaujolais never disappoints. Part of that is the range  of people he has worked with. While we were rigging, we were playing a Slim Gaillard disc, and Roger said "I played with him", and had a story or three. On the instrument, he is a master. I particularly loved the ballad work. Thad Jones's "A Child is Born" was delicate, moving, hold your breath stuff to listen to.

Robin Aspland uses his left hand to vary cross-rhythms and other inventions, surprising but always just right. I love trading: he and Roger had a great time trading 4's.

Musicians get into each others minds, but it was particularly evident between Simon Thorpe on bass and Winston Clifford on drums. Simon was soloing and Winston was accompanying, and both were grinning like mad men. Winston's own soloing is  stunning, whether stick, bundle, hand or brush, is amazing.

Roberta and I loved New York, We are home, now, and happy to be back at this club where great music lives. Pretentious? Maybe, but that is how it felt on Friday night.

Next week, in the Devora Suite, we have The Ollie Howell Quintet, with Ollie on drums, Matt Robinson on piano, Duncan Eagles on saxophone, Mark Perry on trumpet and Max Luthert on bass. More great music for you.

Take care,

Dave

Dave's Notes, 28 September 2013 - Liam Noble Quintet
I was expecting the Liam Noble Quintet to play stuff from his Brubeck album, but we actually got a group of his own extended compositions. They were stunning. We had intensity and lightness, changes in tempi, time signature and groove, and that was in each tune. It is a pity the CD was not available.

The instrumentation was Liam Noble on piano, Chris Batchelor on trumpet and cornet, Shabaka Hutchings on tenor sax and the only metal clarinet I have ever seen, Dave Whitford on bass and Dave Wickens on drums and lots of hitty things.

My favourite tune was "essays in idleness", very Zen, funny in places, with terrific opportunities for slow, gentle solos: a difficult art beautifully done by each. Liam has an interesting take on tune names. The last tune of the set was called "Ask your Mother". I love his playing - real one buttock stuff, you can see the energy.

Dave Wickens is always interesting, and last night he was especially so. The kit is small, but the extras; bits of metal, whizzy things, bamboo, hand cymbals, all were used seamlessly in the music. The texture range is immense. For those pieces that needed it, his straight forward kit drumming was excellent.

The two horn players were on top form, and Dave Whitford was spot on as well. This was a fine evening of contemporary music.

Next week, we are joined by Julian Argüelles and his Quartet:: Julian is on saxophone, Kit Downes on piano, Sam Lasserson on  bass and James Maddren on  drums. This will be a good one, folks.

Take care,
Dave

Dave's Notes, 21 September 2013 - Esther Bennett
One of the joys of Fleece Jazz is that it is a place where musicians can take risks. They can try something new, do it in a different way, and know that if it doesn't come off, it doesn't matter, we love the attempt. Only really good musicians can do this.

Esther Bennett is a risk taker and a superb communicator with the audience and with her musicians. The risks she took last night worked very well. Latin rhythms were done bebob, ballads were done samba (uptempo "Lover Man"). Her cues to the musicians are not subtle, which is great because it lets the audience in to the process.

Many of the songs were by Duncan Lamont, who has written hundreds, sung and played by the greats of the business. My favourite was "I Told You So", in which Ollie Hayhurst had a stunning solo, followed by he and Esther trading 8s. Duncan  has a lovely tone on his tenor horn, and great speed when he wants it. He also tells good stories about the songs and the fascinating people who have used them.

John Crawford is a stunningly good pianist with a huge dynamic range. Steve Taylor is an excellent drummer: lots  of great riffs in the solos and sensitive accompaniment.

Next week is a treat: Liam Noble's "Brother Face" Quintet has been gathering excellent reviews. We have With Liam on piano, Chris Batchelor trumpet, Shabaka Hutchings reeds, Dave Whitford bass, Dave Wickens drums and percussion. Don't miss it.

Take care,
Dave

We are placing Dave's gig notes on this page, and on facebook
along with other news

Dave's Notes, 14 September 2013 - Chris Biscoe Quartet
We are just so lucky as a jazz club to attract musicians who week after week supply us with such pleasure. Last night was special, particularly if you love the work of Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus.

Chris Biscoe  brings with him a settled band, all of whom know each other and the music well: but the music sounded fresh and new. . We had Chris on alto sax, alto flute and alto clarinet, Tony Kofi on alto and tenor sax, Larry Bartley on bass and Stu Butterfield on a lovely woody drum kit. You will notice that there is not a chordal instrument in sight.

In fact, the first number (the first set was dedicated to Dolphy), we started out with unaccompanied solos from each of the band. They played during the evening in all 15 combinations: in the second set, Tony and Stu went into a very fast and pretty spectacular duet on a Mingus number.

The horn choruses between Chris and Tony were beautiful. Each has a pretty recognizable tone, but lots of variation on it.  Stu did some excellent soloing work, and he is one of those drummers with  huge ears - his volume is always spot on, and his emphasis always matches the rest of the musicians.

There is a joke about "it's the bass solo, lets talk". Not when Larry is playing, ever. His last solo had Tony with a huge grin on his face, and the rest of us with our mouths open. I guess we had a chordal instrument after all. I can't describe what he did, but it was a bit like the bass and cello section of an orchestra.

So thanks, guys for a stunning evening. Next week should be pretty tasty too, with the excellent singer, Esther Bennett, with John Crawford piano, Duncan Lamont sax, Steve Taylor drums and Ollie Hayhurst bass. They will be playing work from Duncan's very large opus.

Take care,
Dave


Dave's Notes Delayed, 7 and 9 September 2013 - Liane Carroll
I am off to see my darling daughter in a bout 5 minutes, so I will write stuff about last night's gig with Peter's photos on Tuesday.

Except to say: it was Liane Carroll. Solo. Wonderful pianism, great and passionate singing, and some terrific stories. One to remember.

Just back from visiting daughter, and pretty tired, but not to tired to recall Liane Carroll's stunning solo gig on Friday.

John said "It was a great night. full of interesting, silly, delightful off the cuff asides, delightful playing and singing with occasional improvised scat coughing and delightfully unexpected segues (some surprising and delighting Liane Carroll herself!). Above all it was great music, sincerely delivered and it was FUN. Liane we love you."

Oh, we do. I do not understand why she says she is not a 'real' pianist. I love her playing, soloing, and of course the accompaniment. She is just about the best singer about. Good combination, and her arranging skills get the best of both talents and of the song.

Add to that surprising stories. I am still bemused about singing "Don't Blame Me" to John Prescott at an awards ceremony. Or falling out of bed and hurting her leg while sober and alone.

Peter Fairman has come up trumps with some photos. I hope you enjoy them.

Take care,
Dave


Earlier notes are available


Peter King has written an excellent autobiography, chronicling the music, the drugs, the opera and more. It is filled with stories about the musicians you love.
It can be bought at Amazon, Waterstones and others.
Autobiographies are sprouting like roses in the spring. The much missed Michael Garrick had written "Dusk Fire" which is available at www.amazon.co.uk or waterstones.co.uk.
I had a grand time reading the stories, the facts, the opinions, the poetry, the music education and politics. I admit to being delighted to find myself (Dave) on page 178, nicely spoken of, but transmuted south of the Canadian border.