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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On a distinctly unpleasant evening weather-wise ( and thanks all you 50 people for making the effort to come), Djangologie came, saw and conquered. From the first few bars of 'Lulo Swing' it was obvious that this was a very class act, and they did nothing in the following two and a half hours to dispel that impression, producing a programme that was full of interest and surprise.Unlike many British groups playing in the manouche style, they steered clear of American standard songs, 'China Boy' being the sole exception, although some of the popular Hot Club tunes were present; 'Swing 39, ' Minor Swing', and 'Dark Eyes' among them. And of course 'Nuages' was played, but in a different version from the famous clarinet-led recording - taken at a slower tempo, which allowed violinist Emma Fisk to play a beautiful and sensitive lead, and guitarist Giles Strong to improvise a touching middle chorus.Otherwise, the group's material was drawn from a great variety of sources, not least from the pen of bassist Mick Shoulder, who contributed four totally different but totally appropriate tunes as well as driving the band along from the back. Mick also shone on his solo in a tune called (I think) 'Thomas Dutronc' and thanks, Mick for alerting me to that gentleman - how come the French get jazz-tinged pop of that quality and we get what we get? - and he featured again in the second half with a long solo culminating in slapped bass. Speaking of soloists, I've somehow got this far without mentioning James Birkett, the lead guitar and main soloist, who was on tremendous form all night, building Django-esque climaxes on the quicker numbers, to the delight of the crowd.But this group is remarkable not just for its solo strengths, but even more so for its overall sound, which incorporates many tight arranged passages while also achieving relaxed ensembles. And they swing very hard in 4/4 mode, although delightful excursions into bolero and waltz country gave variety and a very French feel to the proceedings.
A triumph, and they will certainly be back, as requested by many members. Thanks to Jazz North for supporting this gig financially.
January 13th (Tuesday!) sees the first ever visit by MBQ, a quartet led by Mervyn Bean, a Barrow trumpet player who we can't quite explain never having invited before. He is a very accomplished performer in Miles Davis/ Freddie Hubbard territory, playing both trumpet and flugelhorn, and brings his regular quartet which includes award-winning guitarist Pete Kassell, so the band has two strong solo voices. So this will be a complete change from Djangologie, but jazz is a broad church, and these guys are certainly not just standing in the porch - they're a good way up the aisle. So please come and support our first session of 2015 and our first Tuesday presentation: you won't be disappointed by the fine musicianship and melodic jazz on offer.
I have been requested to curb the size of my blogs to prevent our website assuming Amazonian proportions, so this attempt to be more succinct is no reflection whatsoever on the band under review – in this case MBQ from the Furness area.
For some reason Barrow and Ulverston have always nurtured a disproportionate number of fine musicians in various fields, and jazz is no exception, as evinced by this fine quartet. Anchored by the steady and swinging drumming of Mike Kidson, the other three men produced some good ensembles, notably a harmonised version of 'Blue Bossa', and excellent solos. Steve Wildgoose's sensitively amplified bass guitar held its own with the front-line men, no easy task with trumpet/flugelhorn and guitar playing of such high quality. Mervyn Bean played lots of tightly muted trumpet a la Miles, but unmuted was more reminiscent of Conte Candoli , particularly on 'Night and Day' where (please note) I actually liked the Latin treatment, while Peter Kassel, restrained and melodic most of the time, really opened up on rock-tinged guitar on the finisher 'Canteloupe Island'.
Congratulations are due on the variety of the rest of the programme, and on the sheer number of tunes played, 17 in all (bands playing in this style can have a tendency to emulate their idols, men who had just been handed the freedom of the LP record and took full advantage by allowing one number to occupy the whole of one side).Mervyn Bean was probably the man of the match, but the rest of the team were all goal-scorers. Fine music, much appreciated by all present.
February 10th sees the welcome return of the Lez Bull Band, Lez having recently emerged (again!) from retirement. He fronts very much the same band as he did three years ago, the only change being the trombone chair, where Eddie Taylor replaces the (retired) Matthew Woodhouse.
We can confidently look forward to meaty Dixieland and Swing, enhanced by Lez's laid-back vocals and compering style.
See you there! (Incidentally, Lez also hails originally from Barrow, bearing out what I said about the area at the top of this blog)
Les Bull (yes, I know he spells it with a 'z' these days, but I never did mind my 'p's and 'q's, let alone my 's's and'z's), made his comeback to the Club after a 3-year absence - for most of which time he did no blowing at all - in fine style.His band was unchanged from previous visits, except that the trombone chair is now occupied by Eddie Taylor in place of Matthew Woodhouse.
And you would think that Les had never been away. He has slipped back into the role of leader/trumpeter/vocalist/compere with his customary nonchalance, and the programme he chose for the night went down very well with the many supporters who turned out to hear the band.
There were a couple of heartfelt tributes to Alex Welsh (Barefoot Days and Sleepy Time Gal), an obscure tune called 'Hustlin and Bustlin' which Les has made his own, and (top favourite for me) the rarely-heard 'The Gypsy' on which Les got very close to Louis both muted and open.
I won't name-check the whole band - suffice it to say that new boy Eddie played fine ensemble and some rousing solos, including his feature on 'It Might as Well Be Spring', while Dave Lee on reeds was, as usual, exemplary.The rhythm section laid down a solid foundation throughout, and all told the evening was a nostalgia-tinged delight.
Delight is also the feeling which suffused me when, a few months ago, we finally managed to book the very busy and elusive Tim Kliphuis. It's 3 years (again) since he last appeared as a solo act, backed by local-ish musicians, but this time he is coming with his regular group of Nigel Clark (guitar) and Roy Percy (double bass), and those who heard this line-up at Staveley Roundhouse in summer 2013 will know just how special this trio is. Both of those men are superb soloists, but the cohesion and empathy between the three instrumentalists simply has to be heard to be believed: Tuesday March 10th
Swing will be the thing, but watch out for plenty of classical allusions, too. Speaking of matters classical, you will be able to help yourself to a double ration of the Trio by attending the Midday Concert Club at Kendal Town Hall at 1pm on Wednesday 4 March -it'll be interesting to see how their programme may differ, although it will be shorter. See you at both gigs!
As you may be aware, we have had to increase our admission charge to £12.50 on 10th March. Still a bargain.
Please note that our AGM is on Tuesday 17 March, downstairs in Burgundy's Wine Bar, Kendal.
All members are welcome - come and air your views!
The many people attending the club in March who had previously heard the Tim Kliphuis Trio at the previous week's Midday Concert knew what to expect from these three musicians, but their impact in the intimate acoustic of the River Bar exceeded even those high expectations. They opened with the same tune, Tea for Two, in three tempi, but after that the repertoire was a mix of repeats from the previous week with an interesting selection of other melodies from their extensive back catalogue. Really, every number had something to offer, so my highlights may not be yours, but for me the best bits of the first set were a heart-stoppingly quick 'Piccadilly Stomp' (only musicians as talented as this could produce meaningful solos at this speed), and the closing 'Hoedown for the Common Man', an amazing construct based on an Aaron Copland piece. This was just jaw-dropping, and will remain in listeners' memories for a very long time.The second set opened with two delightful Stephane Grappelli melodies, the second of which, 'Valse Passe' (sorry, don't know how to add an acute accent) I found particularly touching. Also very enjoyable was the Paganini Caprice, which I had only previously come across as a jazz number in the (superb) Benny Goodman big band version. Tim's reading was just as good.But the abiding memory of the evening was of the sheer rapport between these three virtuosi, especially when you consider that the guitarist Nigel Clarke and bassist Roy Percy don't play with Tim year-round, but usually only on his visits to the U.K. An absolutely stunning concert, enjoyed by our second-largest audience ever in a full-to-bursting River Bar - at least we now know what the maximum seated capacity is!
Tuesday 14 April sees the first ever visit by George Elliot's West Coast Jazz, paying tribute to the Californian jazz, centred (or should that be centered) mainly in Los Angeles, and played by the cream of the Hollywood studio musicians. Shorty Rogers and Marty Paich were the principal arrangers, and headed up medium-sized bands not unlike this visiting outfit, playing the smooth and melodic style characterised as 'cool' at the time - and since. However, Rogers in particular produced quite hot and swinging jazz, and there were inventive and agile soloists in both outfits.George Elliot has assembled the cream of North-West players, including previous visitors Frank Flynn (keyboard) and Dave Minchull (drums) plus several others who most definitely should have played here previously. I have a feeling that this will be a blast.
As some of you may know, Jim Hadfield is shortly moving to North Yorkshire and therefore, has not sought re-election as our Secretary. During the last few years, he has proved a hard working and enthusiastic member of the Committee and I know that you will join us in thanking him for his outstanding contribution and wishing Jim and Eve all the best for the future.
Accordingly, we are now seeking a new Secretary. Please contact me should you be interested : 01539 720172. firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Elliot's nine-piece West Coast Jazz, the largest band ever to appear for the Club at Staveley, attracted a substantial and enthusiastic audience for a type of music we've never featured before, but which is nevertheless an important part of jazz history. This sort of civilised, highly-arranged jazz played by mid-sized bands of superb musicians based in California was essential listening for those of us whose formative years were the 50s and 60s, so when George and his men opened up with Shorty Rogers' 'Short Stop' - well, nostalgia ruled OK. And by the time they got to the unusual Marty Paich arrangement of 'Mountain Greenery' the audience were thoroughly under their sway; the following 'Autumn in New York' featuring Vic Bagwell on alto did nothing to dispel the mood. Terry Reaney played some fine trumpet and flugel in a couple of Tom Kubis tunes (Tom is a present-day arranger working in this style), and the first half was wrapped up by a Bob Brookmeyernumber called 'Carson's Choice'.
Speaking of trombonists, the band's own exponent, Kendal's Glenn Clifford-Perkins, was heavily featured throughout, and had a stunning solo outing on 'Stars Fell on Alabama'. His assertive playing perhaps owes more to Gary Valente from the Carla Bley band of the 80s and 90s than to the smoother stylists of the 50s, but gave extra sonority to the band as a whole. (Incidentally, Glenn leads a big band which plays every Monday and Wednesday at the Jubilee Club in Torrisholme, Lancaster, where listeners are welcome.) The other stand-out soloist, and also dispenser of sonority, was baritone saxist Alan Riley, whose feature on 'Skylark' was a thing of beauty.
Having said that, there were no passengers at all in the band, and the rhythm section, led by the talented and quirky Frank Flynn, swung very hard at all tempos. George Elliot - by the way, no mean trumpet soloist himself - is to be congratulated for all the work he does in organising this fine group.
May 12 sees the first visit to Staveley by guitarist Steve Oakes and his regular saxist Ed Kainyek, along with previous visitors Tim Franks on drums and Kendal-reared bassist Gavin Barrass.
Steve and Ed are heavily influenced by the likes of Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Courtney Pine - not my area of expertise (what is? I can hear some of you saying), so I won't say any more than this: I've heard them and they make a nice noise. Look forward to seeing you there.
Steve Oakes and his quartet provided us with one of our occasional ventures into more modern forms of jazz in May, and proved that melody and variety aren't restricted to just the mainstream and traditional genres of our music. In fact, they opened up with 'My Favourite Things', a memorable tune if ever I heard one, although (until a certain Mr. Coltrane got his mitts on it) not an obvious jazz vehicle. And this is where I reveal just how reactionary my tastes are, when I tell you that John Coltrane's version, along with most of his output, is a giant step too far for me - give me Lester Young or Stan Getz every time. But getting back to what was on offer for the rest of the evening, there were fine tunes from Jobim and Monk, a nice original from Steve, a couple of enduring ballads (My Romance and Beautiful Love), and a 12-bar blues by Ornette Coleman which proved to be much less frightening than I expected. Also of note was 'Spain' - the Chick Corea tune, not the Irving Fazola classic - on which the band showed its ability to swing in Latin mode, as they also did on 'Song for My Father'. So the material was varied and interesting, but what of the playing? Well, that was just fine. Steve Oakes' guitar was nimble and melodic, while Ed Kainyek's alto was full-toned, attacking and, by the time he got into his stride in the second half, quite impassioned.
Steve also provided some excellent harmonised arrangements for their two instruments, while John Sandham produced some laudably adventurous bass solos as well as very good walking bass in the ensembles, contrasting nicely with Tim Franks' complex drum patterns. A good first visit, much enjoyed by an unfortunately smallish audience.
June 9th brings another two first-time visitors to Staveley in the shape of Ben Holder (violin and vocals) and Paul Jefferies (bass). They will be cemented together by the keyboard playing of Tom Kincaid, a club favourite who has not graced our premises for far too long. Their programme is 'Ben plays Benny', and it includes a reworking of several of the Goodman small-group numbers - my favourite chamber jazz, and maybe yours too? I've never heard Ben in person, but his YouTube samples, supplemented by strong recommendations from trusted scouts, suggest that we're in for a real treat. I have a feeling that this is one session you shouldn't miss at any cost - and the cost is only the regular £10!
There was a time when I thought that the violin was at best an also-ran in the jazz instrument race. Deeply into Ellington in those early days, as I have been ever since, even the occasional and quite creditable Ray Nance outing failed to convince me otherwise. Then I started to listen to the Hot Club of France, and started to realise that this Grappelli chap was pretty darn good, but I still mentally pigeon-holed gypsy jazz as an interesting European phenomenon, completely divorced from the American mainstream. But then, on holiday in Copenhagen, I heard Stuff Smith for the first time at the Montmartre Jazzhus, and discovered that the fiddle could sound distinctly non-European, bluesy and attacking.
Ben Holder, at the tender age of 25, has managed to assimilate the twin strands of Grappelli and Smith, add a dash of Joe Venuti, and then inject a huge amount of his own youthful enthusiasm to produce a sound which owes a lot to Smith, but also, by his own admission, to clarinettists like Goodman and Shaw. The result is a fascinating mix, and the tone was set right from the start with a very quick version of 'Liza', obviously modelled on the already speedy Goodman Trio version. The evening proceeded from there with more of the same but also a good degree of variety. There were ballads like 'Skylark', and even a tango, but the emphasis was on swing, and boy, could these guys swing! Tom Kincaid was the perfect partner for the violin, doing a lot to create that ineffable swing while still rivalling the leader in invention and technique, and Ben's father-in-law Paul Rutherford provided great propulsion on bass. Oh, and Ben sang, too, in a style somewhere between Fats Waller and Louis Prima. A superb and memorable evening, and one we definitely intend to repeat.
On July 14 we welcome back one of the UK's very best trumpet players, Enrico Tomasso. Enrico has visited twice before, in both cases partnered by talented reed players plus a rhythm section, but this time the format is different, because he is fronting the six-piece High Society Band. He's played with this band elsewhere before, and because their repertoire includes lots of classic jazz numbers, Enrico is able to let rip and let his Louis Armstrong roots show - a really exciting experience for all concerned. So you can expect to have your ears pinned back in a most pleasurable way. Look forward to seeing you there.
The initials are 'ET' and although Enrico Tomasso is Leeds-born (and I'm sure, proud of it), he plays trumpet as if from another planet.It helps, of course, if you're among friends:aka the High Society Jazz Band and the fifty or so of us lucky enough to be around the other Tuesday evening to relish 'High Society'-what else?- and the climactic 'Running Wild' which surely had the nascent beers bubbling along in the vats next door. 'Such harmony is in immortal souls.' And such memorable musical badinage between Enrico, Bruce et al.!
Repertoire-wise-Royal Garden Blues, The Joint is Jumping, Fidgety Feet- there were few surprises. Unless you count Enrico's take on the rarely-heard 'My Walking Stick'. 'The thing that makes me click on LoversLane/Would go for naught if I were caught without my cane' is another man's stick of Blackpool Rock. And Irving Berlin was probably delighted to have gotten away with it. Neil Anderton reprised a more familiar Berlin song, 'I'm Putting All My Eggs....' but if there are darker meanings here, you'll need to Bletchley Park them. Enrico reminded us of Louis Armstrong's way with a ballad, greatly admired by those who know and care about such things: as much about exquisite timing as scat throwaway. 'I'm Confessin' and 'Rockin' Chair' were here presented simply with stunning, signature trumpet obbligati.
Of course, this being HSJB, there were plenty of what Tommy Beecham called 'lollipops'. Bruce graciously shared the honours with Enrico and Neil respectively on 'Flat Foot Floogie'-which included a trombone spot from Peter Boswell who understandably had, for the night, ceded the trumpet chair to Enrico- and 'When Erastus Plays his Old Kazoo.' Neil is surely a shoe-in for the Kazoo Class at the next British Jazz Awards. David Bateman -Archbishop of Insouciance - segued in with 'Milenberg Joys' and 'Coney Island Washboard'. This featured the eponymous laundry gizmo- still available from EBay, Amazon and all good hardware stores- plus an Evelyn Glennie's worth of exotic percussion expertly marshaled by Robin Andrews: his KJC debut, I believe.Bruce helmed proceedings with his usual sure hand - with some assists from Enrico - and I know that they and the rest of the Band would be keen to acknowledge the understated- but vital- support from Brian Gordon on bass.
Tuesday, August 11th sees the welcome return of the Nicola Farnon Trio who wowed us last July. Fronted by the charismatic Nicola-bass & vocals, this versatile threesome offers very palatable summer fare: familiar standards, a few classy originals, swing, Latin…. What's not to like?
A slightly under-par audience - only under-par in numbers and certainly not in enthusiasm - welcomed the return of the sensational Nicola Farnon Trio on August 9th. Those wise and lucky enough to be there enjoyed an exceptional night of quality songs from the GAS plus a couple of nice originals from female bassists, namely Nicola herself and Esperanza Spalding, with Nicola setting the tone right from the start with a bouncy 'Deed I Do' complete with scat chorus. That presaged a hard-hitting first set, in which the highlights for me were a very quick 'The Song is You', with great instrumental input from all three musicians, a very slow and absolutely heart-rending 'I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry', and a really hard-swinging version of 'On The Street Where You Live' - a tune which deserves greater jazz exposure than it gets. Nicola's second set had even more impact, thanks to judicious adjustments to amplification giving her voice greater prominence. Highlights? Well, the whole thing, really, but I was particularly taken by 'Lullaby of Birdland', which was an object lesson in how to take a familiar tune and make it your own. It started with just voice and bass, followed by a scat chorus with drums joining in, then a tenor sax solo and finally a rousing finish with saxophone and voice intertwining. My notes just say 'A Triumph', but then they could have said that about virtually every number, although dare I offer one small criticism? There wasn't a single blues in the programme, and I would really like to hear this band tackle the time-honoured 12-bar format. So this was a very good night, with the focus being (unsurprisingly) on the leader's very appealing singing. However, Nicola always gives the rest of the trio ample space: Phil Johnson provided technically excellent and very propulsive drumming, but pianist/saxist Piero Tucci deserves a special mention. He's very much his own man on both instruments, but on piano there were echoes of Ahmad Jamal, Oscar Peterson and Horace Silver, although his work on the gorgeous 'Moonlight in Vermont' was more in Bill Evans mode. On tenor, he retains the R&B edge I've mentioned before, while otherwise reminding me of players as diverse as Arne Domnerus (yes, I know he played alto) and Roland Kirk. Like the latter, he wowed us by on one occasion playing two instruments at once, in this case left hand on saxophone and right hand on keyboard, and what's more - like everything else on the night - it sounded great! Our September offering, on Tuesday 8th, features two of Britain's very best exponents in the traditional-to-swing area - Keith Nichols and Trevor Whiting. Pianist Keith has been (and is) a very important figure in British jazz, with many recordings to his name, including a whole series of play-along sides, but he is also famous as an arranger and conductor - some of you may have been present at his re-creation of the Benny Goodman 1937 Carnegie Hall concert in the Sage at Gateshead. He has also toured extensively with various small groups, but none of them, as far as I know, has ever played in the Kendal area. After much pestering on my behalf, he has finally agreed to rectify this terrible omission, and has kindly agreed to involve a man with whom he's currently doing a lot of work - Trevor Whiting. Reedman Trevor visited us about 3 years ago and made a very positive impression and, believe me, he hasn't got any worse since then - in fact, I rate him as the best in the UK. This will be a great evening, enhanced by hearing Keith on Pete Major's excellent stage piano, as previously used by David Newton.
The Dynamic Duo of Keith Nichols and Trevor Whiting, capes swishing, finally touched down in Staveley, and boy! was it worth the wait. Their two hours of music seemed to me to pass in two minutes, and I suspect the same was true for most people in the audience, judging from the appreciative comments I heard and overheard. With Keith's strong left hand in fine form, bass and drums were hardly missed, and his right hand work was in equally good nick, resulting in a very impressive display of pianism, particularly in the many stride and ragtime numbers. Trevor Whiting, meanwhile, showed just why many people, including myself, rate him as Britain's top reedman in all the pre-bop styles. He played clarinet throughout the first set, warming up very effectively on the first four numbers before stunning everyone with a great reading of the fiendishly difficult 'Shreveport Stomp'. And then he administered the coup de grace with the best version I have ever heard, or am ever likely to hear, of 'Memories of You'. Even BG himself would have had to acknowledge his artistry and soul. Keith supported Trevor with fine accompaniment and solos on both of those numbers, following them up with some comedy period vocals before they closed the first half with a Cotton Club medley.
The second set started with Trevor on soprano saxophone, not an instrument which inspires universal reverence among musicians (and listeners), but we need not have feared. He proved to be the best exponent we have ever heard at the jazz club, producing a big even tone from top to bottom allied to astonishing facility - 'Polka dot Rag' and ' Indian Summer' were an object lesson. Not to be outdone, Keith displayed his stride piano credentials in no uncertain way on 'Handful of Keys' and 'Carolina Shout' - both numbers being a severe test, polished off in A* fashion. A special mention, too, for the theme from 'Creole Rhapsody'; a marvellous duet. The whole evening was an absolute delight, and definitely ranked amongst the 'best ever', along with Tim Kliphuis and Scott Hamilton.
October 13th brings the long-awaited return of guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Spats Langham, paired with another fine reedman, John Hallam, both being supported by bassist Malc Hurrell. Spats, like Keith Nichols, is another man who loves to delve into jazz and popular music history, emerging with quite a few plums. He is also a great raconteur, and anyone who has heard him before will know that we are in for a fascinating evening. Great jazz and great entertainment - who could ask for more?
it was great to see Spats Langham back in action at Staveley in October, and equally great to see the River Bar packed to capacity. Spats is one of those performers who has the happy knack of combining impeccable jazz credentials with wide popular appeal, and when you combine that with his staggering in-depth knowledge of the music he chooses it's no surprise that there were no spare seats. But this proved to be an extra-special night because of the presence of John Hallam: following last month's star Trevor Whiting into the clarinet chair was quite a challenge, but it proved to be one that John took in his stride, and Kendal Jazz Club feels justly proud to have snaffled the two of the very best performers on the instrument in successive (and successful!) months. John and Spats have played together here previously, but this pared-down trio, completed by the excellent Malcolm Sked on double bass and sousaphone, was a magical combination, bringing out the best in all three musicians. The programme, as expected when Spats is involved, was a satisfying mix of familiar tunes (If I Had You, Three Little Words) and interesting obscurities (I Lost My Girl in Memphis, Shake It Down), but whatever the vehicle the trio provided some wonderful improvisation, holding the audience in their spell absolutely effortlessly. And what's more, they swung like a gate from start to finish. Full marks all round, and they're most definitely down for a repeat just whenever they're available.
November 10th will see the return of the Quincy Street Quintet with their latest front-line of Paul Palmer on saxes and the talented Eddie Taylor on trombone. All reports indicate that this is a more than compatible partnership producing some very musical interplay, and they won't lack support from the muscular rhythm section of Pete Major, Lawrence Canty and Peter Boocock, so we can look forward to an evening of melodic swing, with the odd bop or Latin number also popping up. Do come and support this fine local-ish band.
The Quincy Street Quintet, self-confessed remnants of the Les Bull Band, maintained their own and their late leader's record for appearing on poor-weather nights, resulting in a somewhat smaller audience than expected. Despite that, and an enforced replacement of Eddie Taylor through illness (though happily the replacement turned out to be previous front man Dave Lee), the band made a confident start with 'Take the A Train', the two-reed front line blending well. 'Making Whoopee' followed, with some nice low-register clarinet from Dave, but we had to wait for the fifth number to hear one of the band's rare ballads, 'My Funny Valentine', a feature for Paul Palmer on tenor, which also contained an intriguing contrapuntal piano solo from Pete Major. Then it was back to medium/up tempi for the rest of the set, including the bossa 'Wave' and 'All the Things You Are' (pity, that: it's a wonderful ballad, but for some reason everyone plays it quickly these days, and to be fair the QSQ are far from the worst offenders - I once heard Dave O'Higgins savage the tune at warp-speed.) Much more relaxed was the nice laid-back slowish Latin starter for the second set 'Song for My Father', which featured attractive harmonies from the front line on the out chorus. It was also good to hear a couple of less often played tunes in the shape of 'But Not For Me' and 'Sleeping Bee'. Overall, the band swung hard, propelled by Laurence Canty's ever-accurate bass guitar and Peter Boocock's lively drums, and the two saxophonists produced some fine solo work and a good degree of cohesion - especially when you consider that, strangely, they had never met before.
And now for something completely different. December 8th sees a first visit to the club from Café Society. A few of you will have heard them earlier this year at the Roundhouse, when unfortunately illness dictated that 50% of the band were deps (but extremely able deps, as they soon proved). However, with any luck we'll hear the normal line-up, although the adjective 'normal' is not appropriate for this quirky quartet, whose intricate arrangements of 1920s jazz and dance-band music delight the ears, while the stage persona of singer/frontman/banjoist Anthony Mason tickles the audience's collective funny-bone. They are guaranteed to kick off your Christmas festivities in the jolliest possible way. I'm looking forward to it already!
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