Tuesday 27 April 2010

Jim Mullen - Rhythm Changes Solo

Here is guitarist Jim Mullen in full flight soloing on I Got Rhythm chord changes. Notice that extraordinary right hand technique - yes, he's speed picking with his thumb! He's fond of the odd quote - my favourite here being "If I Was a Rich Man" from Fiddler On The Roof at 1:40.

Kineojazz presents Claire Martin, 2nd June, The Basement

Following on from the success of the Joe Lee Wilson/Remember April event, we have organised a gig with Claire Martin. Claire lives in Brighton but has an international reputation as one of the finest jazz singers of her generation. For this gig she has a great band consisting on Jim Mullen (guitar), Laurence Cottle (bass) and Ian Thomas (drums). Here is the flyer for the gig:

[Click to enlarge)

Claire will be supported by my own Trio featuring Keith Baxter (Fender bass) and Tony Kenyon (drums), with guest singers Jon Gilhooly and Ela Southgate.

Tickets from The Dome Box Office (01273 709709). Full details of the gig here: http://www.kineojazz.com/ - the site includes links to photos of the Joe Lee Wilson/Remember April gig.

Monday 19 April 2010

Bobby Wellins with the Terry Seabrook Trio featuring Spike Wells & Dan Sheppard, The Brunswick, 18 April

Introducing the first set tenor player Bobby Wellins explained that he hadn't played in a while before delivering a blistering set of Thelonius Monk classics, segueing from Straight No Chaser to In Walked Bud to Monk's Mood and on though tunes such as Little Rootie Tootie and Blue Monk. In all, almost an hour of non-stop jazz.

There's something about Monk's tunes that encourages improvisers to take on Monkish qualities - thoughtful, surprising phrases, large intervals, dissonance. They all steered away from the obvious notes - Bobby Wellins never loses his fantastic sense of swing, pianist Terry Seabrook releasing a tumult of ideas, bassist Dan Sheppard developing interesting melodic ideas and drummer Spike Wells throwing in rich, complex rhythmic patterns. Collectively Bobby rightly referred to the band as "great improvisers".

The second set kicked off with My Funny Valentine as a waltz, moving to Green Dolphin Street and Mad About the Boy (according to Bobby, written for Douglas Fairbanks Junior by Noel Coward). One of my favourite tunes of the evening was the ballad It Never Entered My Mind, a song of solitude and regret played from the back of the stage, sans mic, by Bobby, with the acoustic sound of the sax reflecting the fragility of the lyric ("And once you told me I was mistaken/That I'd awaken with the sun/And order orange juice for one/It never entered my mind"). He also did a great, upbeat version of Neil Hefti's theme from Neil Simon's The Odd Couple with Walter Matthau as Oscar & Jack Lemon as Felix (Oscar: I know him. He'll kill himself just to spite me. Then his ghost will come back, following me around the apartment, haunting and cleaning, haunting and cleaning, haunting and cleaning...).

From the photo you'll see that I had no view of the drums. I did however have the delightful sight of Bobby and Terry looking on at Spike as he delivered another knock-out solo, a look that I can only describe as pleasure mixed with pride mixed with the anticipation of more pleasant surprises to come.

It was a great gig ending with Bobby graciously thanking the audience for turning up to watch the boys "fight the good fight". What's more, it was free!

Just one negative - the use of the PA. Why would you want to chuck the bass, piano and sax through PA  speakers in such as small venue? My experience of The Brunswick and similar venues is to get the sound guy to make minimal us if the PA for essentials such as voice, horns and piano if required. Musicians of this calibre can find their own balance and no one turns up to a gig like this expecting to be shouted at.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Reflections on Joe Lee Wilson at The Basement

[Photo by Emily Harris]

Thursday's gig with Joe Lee was a great success. We knew the pressure was on when the tickets sold out almost a week before leaving many people ticketless and, presumably, disappointed. However, from the moment Ela's band Remember April went on we would tell that the evening was going to be special.

Having played with Joe Lee a few weeks' earlier, he had clearly gained in strength and confidence in the couple of weeks spent in Paris, which included gigs with the New York band Spirit of Life.

Terry Seabrook and I had had a chance to run through a set with Joe Lee but the gig was the first time we had played with the fantastic rhythm section of Steve Watts (bass) and Martin France (drums). Like Terry, Steve has toured often with Joe Lee over years, and Joe Lee was very happy to be surrounded by such familiar faces. For my own part, it was the best band I had ever played with!

With fifty years of gigging behind him, Joe Lee knows how to the attention of an audience and he won them over from the moment he stepped on the stage. Though looking a bit frail, he has a big soulful voice and he chose material that was very accessible including standards (Violets For Your Furs), gospel (May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You) and hard bop classics (Song For My Father).

Following the gig I had lots of feedback from people who may not typically go to a jazz gig - "beautiful", "excellent", "enjoyable", "life affirming", "a great gig". This was testament to the hard work promoting and preparing for the gig by Steve Rayson of Kineo, Ela, Terry Seabrook, Jill Wilson (Joe Lee's wife), the staff of The Basement and, of course, Joe Lee Wilson.

The next Kineojazz gig is Claire Martin on 2nd June supported by the JH Trio plus guests. Tickets (£15) available from The Dome - better get in there early!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Phoenix Gallery Brighton - Dream Home "Housewarming Party" 23rd April

A "Housewarming Party" for an exhibition at The Phoenix Gallery on the theme of Dream Home has had artist & vocalist Jonathan Gilhooly, bassist Keith Baxter and myself scurrying around looking for off-beat tunes to perform. We have a growing list including: Roxy Music's In Every Dream Home a Heartache; Robert Johnson's Come on in my Kitchen; Tom Waits' What's He Doing in There; and standards such as A Cottage For Sale, You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To and On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. For the time being we've decided against The England World Cup Squad 1970  hit - Back Home, but then again . . .

The Housewarming Party is on the 23rd April and you can "meet the artists, explore the house and experience a number of impromptu performances throughout the evening."

More info on the Phoenix Gallery Website. The image above is from Gary Barber.

April 24 - June 6. 2010
Late opening: Fri 14, Sat 15 & Sun 16 May until 9 pm  Apr 24 - Jun 6, 2010 
Daily opening: Tue - Sun 1 am - 5pm