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Friday 6 November 2009

Kirk Lightsey Trio £12/£10 (NUS £8)

Kirk Lightsey Piano Steve Watts Bass Dave Wickins Drums

Kirk Lightsey

Kirk Lightsey by Bob Meyrick

One of the finest pianists ever to play at our club, Kirk Lightsey is a major presence in modern jazz. Born in Detroit, he spent time playing for Motown Records and worked with Yusef Lateef and Melba Liston, before jumping into the New York jazz scene. Some listeners may possess classic quintet recordings made by Kirk with Chet Baker and George Coleman; Baker's band produced several highly-prized albums for Prestige, including Boppin' and Burnin'.

Playing variously around New York, California and Europe, he also became a favoured player for Dexter Gordon, Betty Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt and others; as a member of jazz supergroup The Leaders he recorded Mudfoot with Lester Bowie, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Cecil McBee and Don Moye. He eventually settled in Paris, forming another classic partnership with our own Joe Lee Wilson.

Dave and Steve are a formidable team who work with Kirk at every opportunity; Dave is a unique combination of spontaneity and creativity, also currently being heard with Liam Noble's trio (and on their CD Brubeck) and with Bobby Wellins. Steve is another of our favourite performers, a regular player with Nikki Iles, Mike Walker and Martin Speake.

For more information see this article about Kirk on Wikipedia.

Friday 13 November 2009

Greg Abate Quartet £12/£10 (NUS £8)

Greg Abate Alto sax John Donaldson Piano
Simon Thorpe Bass Spike Wells Drums

Greg Abate

Greg Abate

Tonight is a rare chance to hear a highly-rated US hard bop specialist as he embarks on a short UK tour. Greg emerged from the hothouse of Berklee to perform with the Ray Charles and Artie Shaw orchestras (the latter led by Dick Johnson).

He's since performed hundreds of gigs across the US and into Europe and Russia; playing variously on alto, tenor and flute, he's continued on this course, also recording a dozen CDs with James Williams, Rufus Reid and Billy Hart, amongst others.

He's been described as an "absolute powerhouse" and "…a distillation of swing's easygoing vibe and bop's more animated groove."

This polished performer deserves, and certainly has here, an excellent, intuitive trio to rank with the best.

John is in the first order of jazz pianists; he and Simon were here recently with Steve Waterman, and Simon with Benn Clatworthy. Spike returns after last month's trio gig for another sterling performance at the kit.

For more information see Greg's website at www.gregabate.com.

Friday 20 November 2009

Jonathan Gee Trio £12/£10 (NUS £8)

Jonathan Gee Piano Joseph Lepore Bass Nasheet Waits Drums

Jonathan Gee

Jonathan Gee by Richard Kaby

Jonathan is one the most prolific and imaginative composer pianists operating today, with a succession of ever-enticing bands and projects bringing together world-class line-ups from Europe and the USA. Aside from his own bands, prior appearances range from Claire Martin and Ed Jones to David Murray, Mark Murphy and Art Farmer. With Tony Kofi he co-founded the Monk Liberation Front, which has led to several award-winning recordings.

There have been groups involving leading musicians from France, Finland and Italy; this new trio has emerged from the hothouse of the New York jazz scene.

Joseph and Nasheet are indispensably part of this network; NYC native Joseph, raised and educated in Italy, has performed around the US and Europe with Greg Osby, Bob Dorough, George Garzone, Steve Grossman, David Liebman, Mike Maineri, Bob Mover, Romano Mussolini, Rosario Guiliani, Jimmy Owens, Tony Scott and Gary Smulyan. He's also a prolific composer and contributes several pieces for tonight's band.

Nasheet certainly has drumming in his blood; his father Frederick was a percussionist and drummer with Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and McCoy Tyner. Nasheet is one of the most talked-about young musicians in New York; his own band Equality includes Jason Moran, and he has worked with other visionary pianists such as Andrew Hill, Stanley Cowell and Fred Hersch. He's also toured internationally with Dave Douglas (in his Brass Ecstasy band) and Eddie Gomez. Tonight's band will also be touring Italy.

For more information see Jon's website at www.jonathangeetrio.co.uk.

Friday 27 November 2009

Julian Nicholas/Ashley Slater Band
£12/£10 (NUS £8)

Julian Nicholas Reeds Ashley Slater Trombone/vocals
Mark Edwards Piano Thad Kelly Bass Dave Trigwell Drums

Julian Nicholas & Ashley Slater

Julian Nicholas & Ashley Slater

Tonight's band have pointed out (with slight alarm) that they have a collective history covering some twenty years; it is unlikely that they intend to relax or rest on their laurels, however. From the irrepressible frontline to the fizzing rhythm section, all are at the top of their game and brimming with new projects.

Julian has recently been touring the UK with Curious Paradise, Ireland with Carmina and the Czech Republic with Emil Viklicky; he's also performed with big bands the Brotherhood of Breath and Loose Tubes.

The latter, of course, was Ashley's initial arrival in the UK jazz consciousness; he's followed that with the large ensembles of Carla Bley, Hermeto Pascoal, Sam Rivers, Hugh Masakela, George Russell and Gary Crosby's Jazz Jamaica Allstars. Alongside these are his chart-topping funk bands such as Freakpower and his vocal appearances with Fatboy Slim and Krafty Kuts. His own Big Lounge was a big hit for us at another place; he also appeared with Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello in the London Jazz Festival.

Mark is an inspired and inspiring musician who works as pianist and producer across jazz, pop and gospel with performers of the calibre of Carleen Anderson, Bryan Spring, Beth Rowley, Kate Simmonds, Roddy Frame, Ben Castle, Bobby Wellins and Paul Jones.

Thad is another seasoned fixture on the scene, as a member of the great Partisans, and also with most of the players of note, including Ian Shaw, Billy Jenkins, Orquestra Mahatma, Henry Lowther, Jacqui Dankworth, Stan Sulzmann, Terry Callier, Colin Towns, Annie Whitehead, Mark Lockheart, Bobby Wellins, Iain Ballamy and Julian Argüelles. The band promise a multi-genre take on classic songs and original tunes, doubtless leavened with humour; Dave is well-placed to assist on all fronts; a massively experienced performer who has worked with Django Bates, Terry Callier, Tim Whitehead and Liane Carroll.

For more information see Ashley's MySpace page.