THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN BRUCE

Most months , Bruce’s commentary on gigs past, gigs to come and other KJC matters is circulated-via e-mail- to members and other interested parties. This mailing also includes the poster for the next attraction and a flier with details of subsequent events.

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JULY

When a saxophonist opens up proceedings with two underplayed (in Jazz) songs of great quality (I Only Have Eyes for You and You'd be So Nice To Come Home To), what could possible go wrong?  The answer, of course, is nothing, especially when the Liam Byrne Classic Jazz Quartet gave them both such subtle and swinging treatment.   Then, just as we were settling back in our comfy oak chairs, we were hit by Liam's version of Charlie Parker's 'Crazeology'.   Composed by trumpeter Benny Harris over the chords of 'I Got Rhythm', this was quintessential fast-moving bebop, which sent me back as I write to the original - Bird in searing form and a young Miles Davis demonstrating how good he was before he disappeared into the morass of jazz-funk.   Liam's version was almost as fiery, and was given a different flavor by Tony Ormesher, who chose to play straightforward rhythm guitar in the ensembles in this drumless quartet, although his solo was more than adequately boppish.   Mention of guitar prompts me to praise Tony's contribution to the night's delights: those of us who heard him with Sue Parish had some idea of what to expect, but in this pure jazz unit he was able to really let rip.   He played with a more attacking and plangent sound than when backing Sue's voice, and some of his improvising was almost beyond belief in its audacity and technique.   Just terrific.   But so was pianist Andrzej Baranek.   A regular visitor to the Club in the past, he excelled himself in this setting, particularly on his feature number 'Body and Soul', and again on the tune which for me was the highlight of the evening - Billy Strayhorn's 'Chelsea Bridge', where he started his solo in an intriguing and mysterious broken tempo, then built to a Dukish flourish at the end.   Bassist Hugo Harrison, depping for Frank Grime, did a great job of coping with that solo, and indeed all of the night's music, locking together well with Tony's rhythm guitar on the many occasions he employed that style.   So we finally get to the leader and star of the proceedings, Liam Byrne.   His choice of material was just about perfect (for me, anyway), because as well as the great tunes already mentioned he chose 'No Moon At All', a very interesting Cohn/Sims tune called 'Awful Lonely', where the guitar provided the notes originally played by Al Cohn, and -praise be - a superb work-out on a 12-bar minor blues 'Poutin', written by Ben Webster.  ( Minor blues are a major attraction to me).   Liam's playing was just as impressive as his choice of tunes: he has a big sound (no microphone necessary), a lovely even tone through all registers, some fine ideas, and he swings.   There aren't many British tenor-saxists in the same league, and he gave us a great night of music.

The 11th of July brings the return of Keith Nichols and Trevor Whiting.   They wowed us on their last visit with their rapport and their in-depth knowledge of earlier styles of jazz, and they not only know their stuff but they can deliver, too.   Keith is a raconteur and amusing singer as well as being a pianist of rare quality, while Trevor is for my money the UK's premier clarinettist.   When they get going you won't miss the bass and drums!   Anyone with a liking for top-class traditional jazz will relish this one.

                                                                                                                                    



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