Monthly Archives: September 2010

CD Recommendations

Scott Hamilton & Alan Barnes: Hi-Ya (Woodville Records)

What a superb album this is. The second horn-to-horn encounter between saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Alan Barnes on the Woodville label, it finds both musicians on top form on a selection of mostly Johnny Hodges tunes. Every track’s a winner but among the highlights are Hamilton’s rich, laidback tenor solo on First Klass, which contrasts beautifully with Barnes’s alto; their thrilling musical tug-of-war on The Jeep is Jumping; David Newton’s funky, understated piano solo on the lovely Broadway Babe, and Barnes’s powerhouse performance on June’s Jumpin’.

The Warren Vache-John Allred Quintet: Top Shelf (Arbors Records)

I must confess to being familiar with the music on this CD before it was released: I wrote the liner notes earlier this year. And was thrilled to do so, as this is a first-rate album which showcases American cornet star and his co-leader, trombonist John Allred – musical partners who couldn’t be better matched. Both players distill influences from the classic, swing and bop eras and, in each other’s company, revel in a rare chance to flex their bop muscles on tunes by the likes of Blue Mitchell (a particular favourite of both) and Cannonball Adderley.

Nat “King” Cole: The Forgotten 1949 Carnegie Hall Concert (Hep  Records)

A Carnegie Hall concert headlined by Nat “King” Cole and his Trio and Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd took place in November 1949, but until very recently, it was assumed that there was no recording of it. Then the Cole set was discovered – and it’s presented here (on the Edinburgh-based label, Hep) for the first time. Cole’s trios were among the greatest in jazz – and the most influential – and in 1949 he was at the peak of his powers. His playing is terrific, the band is really cooking, and his singing is a joy..

Evan Christopher’s Django a la Creole: Finesse (lejazzetal/Fremeaux & Associes)

This sublime CD is one of my favourites of the year so far – and I love it even more now than when I initially reviewed it in July. What makes this Django outfit stand out from the many others on the scene is its Creole twist: Evan Christopher’s sweet and swinging Sidney Bechet-inspired playing blends stylishly with the familiar Reinhardt sound (of two guitars plus bass). Among the numerous highlights of this uplifting album are Bechet’s Passaporto ao Paraiso, Hoagy Carmichael’s Jubilee and two numbers associated with the trumpeter Rex Stewart, who, of course, recorded with Monsieur Reinhardt in the 1930s.

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Check it out …

Inspired by the footage of the Hot Antic Jazz Band with guest trumpeter Bent Persson which Michael Steinman has posted on his excellent Jazz Lives blog, I scoured YouTube to see if I could find anything by the other classic jazz band which made my early jazz festival experiences so memorable – the Dry Throat Fellows.  And look what I found!

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The Forecast for October

October is set to be a very good month, jazz-wise, with outbreaks of world-class music and mirth up and down the country thanks to a short British tour by US clarinettist and saxophonist Ken Peplowski.

The main opportunity to hear him will be at the fifth Lockerbie Jazz Festival (www.lockerbiejazz.com) where he co-leads a septet with fellow clarinettist, saxophonist and raconteur extraordinaire Alan Barnes on Saturday 2nd. This all-star line-up (which also features the wonderful trombonist Roy Williams) will be playing an all-Ellington programme. If their Thelonious Monk-themed concert of two years ago is anything to go by, this will be a real treat.

Peplowski and Barnes lock horns again on Sunday 3rd, for a more informal afternoon concert. Other likely highlights of the Lockerbie weekend include Carol Kidd’s show, Alan Barnes’s gig with Jim Mullen’s Organ Trio and a gig by the Scottish trad band The Batchelors of Jazz.

And to celebrate the festival’s fifth birthday, there will be a special event on Saturday 2nd – an all-day extravaganza entitled Take Five, featuring a continuous stream of jazz (23 concerts; 100 performers) on five different stages in the centre of town – for £5. More details on the website listed above.

Other dates in the Peplowski itinerary include:

OCTOBER 1st: The Classroom, Nairn, in the morning & The Newton Hotel, Nairn, in the evening, both duo gigs with pianist Tom Finlay. For more info or tickets, contact Ken Ramage on 07968 495350.

OCTOBER 5th: Pizza Express, Dean Street, London (0845 027017), 8.30pm. Peplowski joins forces with the excellent baritone and tenor saxophonist Karen Sharpe, plus stellar rhythm section of John Pearce (piano), Dave Green (bass) & Steve Brown (drums) for one night only!

OCTOBER 7th: Smalls, Caxton Arms, 36 North Gardens, Brighton (01273 725866), 8pm. With Mark Edwards (piano), Steve Thompson (bass) & Piers Clark (drums).

OCTOBER 8th: Hanley Castle High School, Church End, Hanley Castle, Upton-Upon-Severn (01684 593794). With John Pearce, Dave Green & Steve Brown.

OCTOBER 10th: Jazz Matters at The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes (01908 280800), 11.30am. Ken talks about his Desert Island Discs.

OCTOBER 10th: Jazz Caravan, St Andrews Hall, St Andrews Road, Chesterton, Cambridge (01223 293068), 8.30pm. With John Pearce, Dave Green & Bobby Worth.

OCTOBER 11th: New Woking Jazz Circle, All Saints, Woodham Lane, Horsell, Woking (01932 406242). With Alan Barnes, John Pearce, Dave Green & Steve Brown.

OCTOBER 13th: Concorde Club, Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh (0238 061 3989), 9pm. With Alan Barnes, John Pearce, Dave Green & Steve Brown.

OCTOBER 14th: Harri’s Jazz, Bagster House, Walton Lane, Shepperton (01784 435396), 8.30pm. With John Pearce, Dave Green & Steve Brown.

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