THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN BRUCE

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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.


JANUARY

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