Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Recent Jazz Festival and CD Reviews
The Alan Barnes Band at Swanage

Jeff Gilpin, Parade Marshal,
at Swanage this year with Dave Brenon's Jubilee Jazz Band

For around 2 years now, I have been sending out to a number of jazz fans in the Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire area a weekly "Nag" about local jazz events together with short "revues" of Jazz CD's that I have recently listened to, and could recommend. I think it is now about time that I collated some of these weekly emailings, and placed them for access by a potentially bigger audience.

So, over the next few weeks, I shall be placing here old reviews (but of still current music), and event listings that I have an interest in.

First Some Local Jazz Events

Jazz Angels Jazz Gigs

August 2005

Thursday 18th Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Mike Wills Sax

Sunday 21st Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus Mike Wills Sax

Thursday 25th Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Simon Spillet Sax

Sunday 28th Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus Al Nichols Sax

September 2005

Thursday 1st Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Peter O'Brian guitar

Sunday 4th Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz Celebrate 10 years at Fifield. They will be joined by special guest Duncan Lamont

Thursday 8th Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Mike Wills Sax

Sunday 11th Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus Mike Wills Sax

Thursday 15th Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Mike Wills Sax

Sunday 18th Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus guest TBA

Thursday 22nd Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm Clive Burton Quintet plus Mike Wills Sax

Sunday 25th Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus Mike Wills Sax

Thursday 29th Hedsor Social Club 8.30pm TBA, Clive is on Holiday!

October 2005

Sunday 2nd Fifield Inn 8pm Century Jazz plus Pete Towndrow tpt
Next some CD Reviews

CD Review 24.5.05

Its been guitars to the fore. Whilst staying with my daughter I managed to watch 1 and 1/2 hours of a concert by Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings (who include Georgie Fame), which was a treat in itself, but it also reminded me that they have recently released a new album called "Just for a Thrill". A great jazz influenced album if you like a bit of rock mixed in with it. Please don't confuse this sort of music with pop! These chaps are superb musicians! RandomPlay RAMCD007 will guide it to your cd player.

Another new release is by Dave Cliff and pianist Phil DeGreg recorded before an invited audience in Mr DeGreg's lounge. Wonderful interplay between guitar and piano, with nothing else to cloud the sound. Its called "Tranzatlantic Interplay" Its on "Strugglebaby 2402". No, I didn't make it up!!

Finally there is a Kenny Burrell compilation out on the Concord label (Concord Jazz CCD-2278-2), called Ballad Essentials, which is a very wide 12 track view over the years 1958 to 2003. Truly excellent. You will find alongside Mr Burrell, names like John Coltrane, Tommy Flanagan, Coleman Hawkins and Jimmy Smith. You should be able to get that one fairly easily!!

CD Review 7.6.05

On an obscure label (Beebass Records), is an album called "Cake and Consequences" by Julian Costello. This sax led jazz funk band play some wonderful original music all titled around the idea that they all love cake! The album is far better than the cover would have you imagine, even including the fact that one of the tunes is called "Sticky Toffee Pudding". It really is a mix of musicians baked in a hot studio!

The other album is another of Lake Records wonderful re-issues of British Tradition jazz material. Its called "The Wally Fawkes Collection", and is a double album of some of the things Wally was doing after he left Humphrey Lyttelton, mostly recorded in the 1980's. Different small groups, but with first class multi national support. Well worth ordering from your local friendly record store and LACD207 should help the order on its way.

CD Review14.6.05

First, from the wonderful Lake Record Company again, Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen "Tradition in Colour", a re issue of a 1959 album. This one is notable for a couple of reasons. On 4 tracks, local man Billy Loch plays the drums. Also on the same tracks is Kenny Ball, and in those days he could really play the trumpet, not just sing over it! Also on the same reissue is a drummer who later became far more famous than the bandleader, and I would think vastly richer, one Ginger Baker!! Recorded in 1957, he had yet to find his way to "Cream" and fame! LAKE RECORDS LACD212

The other CD re issue is from Proper Records. One of my favourite and now little represented in the record catalogues, tenor player, Lucky Thompson. This one is entitle "A Proper Introduction to..." and contains little know material from 1945 up to 1953. A real founder member of Bop, he gave up playing in the early 1980's. What a pity, as his playing is truly wonderful, and he should be rated up there with Parker and Gillespie. Last heard of 5 years ago, he was living in Seattle. Just to make your mouth water, there are 4 tracks by Lucky Thompson and his Lucky Seven. Who were Neal Hefti, Benny Carter, Bob Lawson, Dodo Marmarosa, Barney Kessel, Red Callender and Lee Young. WOW
Its INTRO CD 2072, budget priced, and has a very in depth booklet.

CD Review 21.6.05

This week, not only have I listened, but watched too. Out on DVD is The Bob Wilber Big Band, recorded in the Royal Festival Hall in 1989 performing Duke Ellington's "The Queen's Suite", and other pieces by Ellington. The Suite is little know, mainly because Ellington Recorded it, and gave the recording to the Queen as his tribute to her. At the time of this performance, you couldn't hear the original, and for many years, only this version was available. Now, you can watch it too. There is a wonderful collection of musicians, including one of my all time favourites, Tony Coe. Its all beautifully played, the tunes are wonderful, and with other Ellington material from the concert, including a guest appearance by Adelaide Hall! If you have a DVD player, go and buy this! Warner Sound Vision 5050467-5542-2-1. Ellington's original (recorded in 1959) is now available on CD, Pablo OJCCD 446-2. Mine came from Germany!

My review of theMarlboroughh Jazz Festival 18.7.05

Marlborough was a surprise. The Music that I heard was excellent, but the organisation could have been slicker. They appeared tobelievev that everyone who came knew where all the venues were, and signposts weredistinctlyy missing. The first band I listened to were the Pete Allen Jazz Band (the program called it a parade, but itwasn'tt!). They were slick, show biz, and VERY GOOD! Traditional jazz, but no bum notes, and good riffs and harmonies. OK, so playing yourclarinett whilstdisassemblingg it down to the reed is a bit circus, but I've seen really cool modern jazz saxophonists pull similar stunts ( 2 saxes at once!!).

Next up, and in one of those big tents that they all thought everyone would find without asignpostt, was a band called Mbawula. AMAZING. A South African Townshipstylee band, with a number of real African Players and singers, led by saxophonist Paul Bartholomew from Jools Holands Rhythm and Blues Band. The leadAfricann lady singer was Sonti Mdebele, plus The Township Sisters. The first set introduced us to therhythmss of Africa (the guitar player was from Ghana), and was wonderful, involving stuff. Cast away inhibition if you ever get to see themyourselvess. I thought it a really joyful experience. But the second half had further surprises. PaulBartholomeww had been busy in theprecedingg weeks, and had trained 40 local singers to sing African songs. OK, so its not jazz as we currently define it, but it is root music, and by heck its fun.

After a refreshing pint, and burger, it was time for Clare Teal. I have heard her a number of times before, and thought her a variable performer, but this time she really rocked. She had the sax player who leads The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra with her (Pete Long??). They rocked, riffed and belted out there 2 hours in a totally involving way, Obviously a changed pattern has emerged for her, and its much more fun. No lethargy, and properly rehearsed!

And so to bed (20 miles away as the town was fully booked. That place is a novel in its own right. Lets say it was a country house experience, it was in the country, it was an experience, but I shall ensure I don't repeat it!).

Sunday was the 3rd anniversary of my sons death, and I wanted to find a church to be in. Back in Marlborough St Mary's had imported Paul Bartholomew and some of his team, and the 2 hour service was amazing, involving, and over in 1/2 hour. It was just what I needed to help me through a difficult day, great.

Lunch, then another walk of discovery (how the hell was I to know where The Marlborough College Memorial Hall was?). But in the end, I found the beautifull grounds of the college, and the hall, and listened to one ofBritain's better known names.Georgie Fame, with Alan Skidmore, plus a couple of kids from Ireland on Bass and drums. Georgie only played piano for 1 tune (Hey Hey), Alan Horler (unprogrammed, so I think I,m right) was on the piano most of the time. Georgie was very much a jazz singer. He has a distinctive voice, and sang mostly new repertoir not associated with his pop career. Totally acceptable to me, as he was a great performance.

All the guys I've mentioned seemed to fit this festival gig in as just part of their day. Pete Allen's band finished at 2pm, and then traveled on to Plymouth for the Saturday evening. Clare Teal went on to Bath, Paul Bartholomew left before the end of Sundays service to get back to Lewisham!! Georgie Fame also returned for a London gig that night.

All in all, a very enjoyable event, only slightly soured by un numbered tickets, the curse of queuing in the sun and the lack of clear directions! I think the organisers had missed a point too. They had closed off the town center on Saturday but not for jazz, there was the usual market going on! You could literally stand in the centre of town ond not here a note!

My Review of the Swanage Jazz Festival 20.7.05

I spent last weekend at the Swanage Jazz Festival, something I have done through every thick and thin for the last 14 years. I thought I would write it up for you, just to encourage those who haven't been to come next time!

One cannot of course rely on the weather, but this year it was better than Mediterranean, and it more than added to the overall enjoyment. Wonderful sun in Swanage gives wonderful views, so at any time you are slightly bored with the music, you can always look at the bay, and pinch yourself that, yes, it is real, and you ARE their.

Music for me started on Friday afternoon. I booked one of the boat trips round the bay, in company with the Gentlemen of Jazz, which happens to include one Clive Burton! Complete with captains hat!

Back on dry land after 2 hours fun and sun, time for a meal (In Beavers cafe) and a bit more of the G of J, then on to a wonderful evening in Marquee 2 for Alan Barnes tribute to Horace Silver. Steve Waterman trumpet, John Donaldson piano, Dave Green Bass and Steve Brown drums along with Alan on reeds make up the band, which was awesome. Such musicianship left us punters breathless, let alone the players.

For those who don't know, the festival is run in a number of venues round the town, but right on the front are 2 marquees, one for modern jazz and one for more traditional stuff. All this is supported by indoor venues round the town. Each venue has of course got a bar!!

Saturday I listened to The Christian Brewer Quintet, a young band with CB on alto, Jim Hart on Vibes, Leon Greening piano, Phil Donkin bass and Tristan Maillot on drums. An excellent band, smooth and interesting, and as marquees have thin walls, it was great sitting in the sun outside, pushing your full English through with a pint of bitter! We had Tristan at The Old Bell last year with Dave O'Higgins, and although he is very clever, I still think he is too busy a drummer. At least in this environment he wasn't too loud as well!

Throughout the weekend we were able to hear Alan Barnes in a variety of settings. This year he did 13 gigs during the weekend. He was joined on a number of occasions by Bruce Adams ,and American alto player Greg Abate. Also by singer Liz Fletcher, who is well worth a look and listen!!

Strolling between venues, for a change of music or food! one came across Dave Brennans Jubilee Jazz band, a fine New Orleans style band from Sheffield, which always brings ones ears down to earth so to speak. Jeff Gilpin, the march marshal, is associated with them.

Sunday, as well as seeing all the above again in some form or other, I also saw The Swanage Festival All Stars. Led by Campbell Burnap they were a great mainstream cum swing band.

Another band which included a musician sometime seen at some of "our" gigs (bass player Tomas Pederson) was Tad Newton's Jazz Friends. A fine band which I saw with Greg Abate playing with them. Swing, yes, refreshing, yes, interesting names in the band (try Zoltan Sagi on reeds!), yes. And did I feel moved to buy their CD, well, yes!!

The last gig of the weekend was indoors, and had the fine Bristol based Andy Hague Sextet. Awesome technique and fine harmonies. They too are doing Horace Silver numbers, and you should really try to go and see them.

And so to bed and breakfast.

There is always 3 times more music going on at any one time in Swanage, and I'm sure that you could go the whole weekend through and not see any of the above named groups. Equally, I did see 10 minutes here and there of other bands and sounds, too numerous to mention. It is a great festival, and it IS worth trying to get to it. Best in Britain, well I think so!

CD Review 26.7.05

Listening at Home, well, the above mentioned Lynn Garner CD is very well worth the purchase price, and contains songs like "I Don't Know Where I Stand" and "Lazy Afternoon" (one of my favourites), has a fine cast of supporting musicians, including Ken McCarthy and Zane Cronje on keyboards, Brad Lang on Bass and Geoff Haves on guitar.

Another listen this week came out of a meeting with some old friends at Swanage who have been Sandy Brown fans all their adult lives. I got out some of my newly released Lake Record CD's of Sandy Browns 1956 band. They were really very good, Sandy had a unique sound on the clarinet, and with Al Fairweather on Trumpet and John R T Davies on trombone, they playedmarvelouss contrapuntal music, full of crisp foot taping rhythms. Sandy was very fond of African music, and was one of the earliest people to introduce it to British ears. "Go Ghana", "Africa Queen", "Everybody Loves Saturday Night" all have a Township Rhythm associated with them. Do look out for them. Lake have now released 3 of the Sandy Brown Jazzmen now, including the famous "McJazz" (Lake LACD58), and another of my favourites "Sandy's Sidemen" which has some of the 1956 Festival Hall Concert on it (LACD133).Try "Blues Stampede" out of that and see how breathless you get. Then remember they were doing it live on stage at the Festival Hall!

CD Review 2.8.05

So, what is the repetitive stuff I have listened to on my CD player this week? Did I mention before The Alan Barnes recording of Horace Silver tunes? I probably did, but it is well worth mentioning again. It's titled "Yeah". It is an all star group, all playing like stars with nanosecond accuracy. Wonderful stuff. On the "specific jazz" label (SPEC 002) it has Steve Waterman on trumpet, John Donaldson piano, Dave Green bass and Steve Brown on drums. Now you know they all need the money, so go out and buy it!

CD Review 9.8.05

What have I listened too?
Well, for 2 reasons, rather a lot recently. I have had a birthday recently, and my family bought for me a total surprise, an MP3 Player (Creative Zen 20GB!), so I have been busy pouring in much music!! Also, I decided that my 20 year old Mission Cyrus II amp needed a rest, and have bought a new amp (Rotel RA-02). I can tell you that The Stan Tracey Trio with Peter King is amarvelouss test album, very well recorded, and has some lovely tracks on it to boot."Come Sunday" always one of my favourite Ellington Tunes, comes across very well, and "Chega De Saudade by Jobim makes a startling starter track. With Stacy and King are Clark Tracey on Drums and Andrew Cleyndert on Bass. Trio Records TR566 "The Last Time I Saw You" is its title.
Also revisited this week has been the Sony Jazz Judy Neimack album "About Time". A very innovative album with all the songs being a reflection of some aspect of time itself.The New York Post said of Ms Neimack "A Jazz Singer with a perfectly glorious voice!", which is true, but the accompaniment is stunning too, with guitar, vibes bass, and "percussion" and, on a couple of tracks, Lee Konitz on sax. Again a recording to test your system! Sony Jazz 509824 2

Brecon Jazz Festival Review 15.8.05

Brecon was very enjoyable this year, despite the weather doing its best to dampen spirits on Saturday (it didn't manage it though!).

Friday had Scott Hamilton (on my stroller ticket) with John Pearce on piano, Dave Green on bass, and Steve Brown on drums. Lovely melodic and swinging like mad. They made it all look so easy. A great start to the Weekend. Saturday was very wet, as only Brecon knows how to be! However the organisers have as one of the venues, a very large marquee and it's enclosure had within its boundary all the necessities for survival. Food, beer and toilets! So from 10.30am we were able to watch Pendulum (which used to be called "The Berkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra) first of all rehearse, along with anyone who wanted to sit in, and then perform, with Don Weller as guest artist. They had beentravelingg since 5am to be there, and they blew you away. Forget their youth, they are a first rate modern jazz orchestra. Pat Kelly has led andorganizedd them for dozens of years, and they really cannot be faulted. The soloists would brighten any jazz club in the world.

They were followed by Danny Moss, accompanied by the same rhythm section as Scott Hamilton had. Only 6 weeks in from hospitalisation with pneumonia, Danny has not lost his ballad ability, or his warm tone. And that rhythm section is the best. He did look older, but then , when I look in the mirror (not often!!), so do I! A great set. I don't understand why he left the UK to live in Australia, but his annual visits are always a joy.

I felt I had to "stroll" with my stroller after that, and took in the various free music that litters the Brecon Streets, but as it was still a very damp experience doing so, I retreated back to The Watton Marquee, stopping only a few minutes to listen to The Vortex All Girl Big Band, who really were not as good as Pendulum!

Back at Watton we had one of those musical experiences that really makes Brecon the place to hear music you don't know, and would probably never go out of your way to hear. Molten Metal, with trombonist Dennis Rollins. A 20 piece steel band!! Young musicians whose average age looked to be about 16. What a sound. And they were playing jazz standards. Danceable beat, great enthusiasm, and a memorable experience that had the audience demanding much more. Dennis was with "The Jazz Warriors" and the combination of trombone and steel drum music was really unique.

Next, was an open air venue (yes, it had just about stopped raining, to listen to Mike Wills, and some friends called "The Kaminsky Connection", doing a sort of Eddie Condon accompaniment to a Lee Wiley style singer. Not bad, but they were a late entry to the show, and didn't quite show the polish as a band that the individual talents deserved from their abilities. The "Connection" was that the leader Tony Davis was actually playing Max Kaminsky's cornet!!

Sunday was a much better one weather wise, and yet again I made my way to hear Pendulum, this time featuring Steve Waterman, Mark Lockhart and Clark Tracey (who also played for them on Saturday). Noapologizee for their youth, they were just wonderful!

In the afternoon, indoors, and with very poor acoustics, Simon Spillet and his Quartet turned in a very good session, reminding us of the Tubby Hayes Quartet of the 60's. Apart from the acoustics, it was the best I have heard Simon, accompanied by John Crichinson on piano, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Martin Drew on drums. Simon will soon become very well known in the jazz world I'm sure. And YOU can say "we heard him at Hedsor first"!!

The day finished off, with my only concert ticket performance. The Georgie Fame Birthday Big Band just showed what a great performer with a great big band can sound like. This has been recorded for BBC TV Wales, and I can only hope we all get the chance to see it again.

CD Review 23.8.05

What free time I've had this last week (not a lot) I grabbed a listen on my new amplifier set-up to another release by Lake Records."Doctor McJazz was recorded in 1960, with the addition of a couple of tracks from 62, and has Al Fairweather and Sandy Brown's All Stars playing in the mainstream way that they carried with them to the end. With them were Tony Milliner on trombone, Colin Purbrook on piano, Brian Prudence on bass and Stan Greig on drums. Yes, I know, Stan spent a long time with Humph on piano, but such was the competition at the time that to work in London, he had to resort to his second instrument. And very good he was too! Most of the music on the CD are original tunes by Sandy Brown, but that is a positive. Some have become standard jazz fair since (Portrait of Willie Best and for example), and Blues March by Benny Golson has never been played better. As I have said many times before, Sandy Brown, especially when teamed with Al Fairweather, was a unique sound in British Jazz, which had an identity of its own (yes unique!). By the time of this recording they had absorbed some of the influences of the freshly visited American Musicians (Webster, Edison etc) that followed the repeal of the Musicians Union ban on visiting Americans. Its a truly wonderful and swinging mainstream jazz CD. Go and buy it!

LACD211 Doctor McJazz on Lake Records

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