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Friday 5 November 2010

Killer Shrimp £14/£12

Damon Brown Cornet, flugelhorn, vocals Ed Jones Tenor & soprano saxes, bass clarinet, flute Mark Hodgson Bass Alyn Cosker Drums Joe Leach Sound mayhem

Killer Shrimp

Killer Shrimp

Any band featuring either Ed Jones or Damon Brown is bound to be dynamic, skilful and exciting. As co-leaders and frontline partners, they've made Killer Shrimp one of the most unmissable quartets of recent years; in current parlance, this quartet gives an unfeasible 125% with its latest addition.

Damon and Ed deliver powerful postbop solos rooted in straight ahead tradition, with the breadth of their experience in funk, reggae, dance and pop brought in alongside their skills in electronics and future beats. Between them they've worked with Us3, Incognito, the Specials, Desmond Dekker and Rico Rodriguez; Damon is also working with Bitches Brew saxophonist Steve Grossman.

The fifth member of the quartet, billed as 'sound mayhemist' is likely to be much more than this; Joe is one of the most respected producers in popular music, who runs the most up-to-date studio in the UK. He is a major part of the band's new album, which they are now touring across the UK and into the London Jazz Festival. Whatever Sincerely – Tales From The Baltic Wharf follows their award-winning Sincerely Whatever 2006 recording with brand new compositions from both, featuring exploratory contributions and development from Joe, using both vintage studio techniques and computer wizardry.

Alyn and Mark are both present on the new CD, with their playing treated and woven into the mix by Joe. Mark is another massively talented player across the genres, playing with Tim Garland, Julian Joseph, Randy Brecker and many others; he is the bassist in the Steve Grossman / Damon Brown Quintet. Some measure of the breadth of his influences can be seen from his MySpace favourites (including Glenn Gould) and his top MySpace friend, Derek Smalls.

Alyn is one of Scotland's best kept secrets, now gaining deserved praise further afield. He is the drummer in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and performs widely in jazz and pop fields. He's gigged in residence at Ronnie Scott's with Tommy Smith and Joe Locke, and elsewhere with Annie Ross, Lee Konitz, Bheki Mseleku and Courtney Pine. He recently recorded with Scotland's vocal marvel Carol Kidd; he has written and produced a solo CD himself, featuring Tommy Smith and Jason Rebello.

For more information see Killer Shrimp's MySpace page.

Friday 12 November 2010

Neon Quartet featuring Kit Downes £14/£12

Stan Sulzmann Reeds Jim Hart Vibes Kit Downes Piano Tim Giles Drums

Neon Quartet

Neon Quartet

One of the genuinely most promising and exciting new bands to have emerged recently, Neon certainly qualifies as a 'supergroup'. Beginning as an already striking trio line-up, the quartet takes things to another level.

Stan is of course a key member of possibly the most significant generation of British jazz musicians; those who emerged from an already thriving postbop scene, and laid foundations for a new sound and a notable presence in an emerging European platform – composers and players such as John Taylor, Graham Collier, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Gordon Beck and Mike Westbrook.

Since those formative days and classic bands, Stan has also worked across the years with major figures such as Gil Evans, Chet Baker, Michael Brecker, Gavin Bryars and Kenny Clark. He recently toured with Kenny Wheeler's legendary big band; as a notable composer himself, Stan also leads a big band, producing the CD Birthdays, Birthdays (Village Life Records). Recent insightful collaborations have been with Liam Noble, Nikki Iles, Gwilym Simcock and Marc Copland; the new Neon brings in three remarkable young talents.

Jim played in the first trio manifestation of Neon; this truly gifted player is also a major performer on drums and piano. He is a founder of the LOOP collective, and leads the band Gemini; he has performed here with the New Jazz Couriers (led, of course by the much-missed Martin Drew) and the Barnes/Clarvis/Hart 'Liquorice Allsorts' trio. Further afield, he's gigged with Phil Woods, Airto Moreira and the Heritage Orchestra.

Despite being the youngest of this already youthful group, Kit is deservedly high profile, post Mercury Music Prize (who did win in the end...?). His trio's CD Golden was just the latest in a series of highlights, featuring his membership of award-winners Empirical, Fraud, Troyka and the Golden Age of Steam.

Also a member of the latter band, Tim premiered for Brighton Jazz Club back in the days of the Lift, playing (at the age of sixteen or so) alongside Iain Ballamy in the quartet Hungry Ants. Having gigged since his earliest days with major soloists such as Art Farmer, Peter King and Charles McPherson, he has since recorded widely, with Richard Fairhurst, Fraud and Tom Arthurs' Centripede.

The Neon quartet now have a brand new CD, launched last month; Catch Me (Edition Records) captures these world class players in a true collaboration, a genuine synthesis of all their talents.

For more information see www.stansulzmann.co.uk.

Friday 19 November 2010

Frank Giasullo/Art Themen Quartet £12/£10

Frank Giasullo Piano Art Themen Tenor/soprano saxes
Nick Krolak Bass Pat Tamminen Drums

Frank Giasullo/Art Themen Quartet

Frank Giasullo/Art Themen Quartet

Best known for over two decades of peerless playing with many Stan Tracey-led ensembles, Art had already been present in several now-legendary blues bands in the early 1960s. Now known mainly to aficionados, the Cyril Davies All Stars included Alexis Korner and a bass and drums partnership that left to form 'Cream' (Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker!); Art recalls a chap called Mick Jagger hanging around the stage of the Marquee Club looking for a sit-in.

A lot has happened since then, of course; Art became an exquisite presence as a soloist with those Tracey groups, his unique and measured phrasing complementing Stan's perfectly. Art's retirement from his “other job” – orthopaedic surgery – has led to increased and welcome appearances from his own bands, including his quartet and ad hoc gigs with the likes of Tony Coe and the other Three Tenors, alongside Don Weller and Mornington Lockett.

Co-leader Frank has now become a regular UK visitor from his Pennsylvanian base, particularly to partner Art; he's a virtuosic, classically-trained straight ahead player who peppers his compositions with touches of gospel, blues, soul and modal jazz, alongside crisp arrangements of standards. Pat has worked and recorded around the New York and New Jersey area for several years, including working with Frank in the trio Interweave, who recorded for legendary producer Rudy Van Gelder.

Frank's earlier visits to the UK produced the band's CD Until The Next Time, which features UK bass legend Dave; he has graciously stepped aside on this occasion, when a protégé of Frank's takes the bass chair. Also a Pennsylvanian, Nick has performed with David Sanchez, Conrad Herwig, Ravi Coltrane and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

For more information see www.fgjazz.com.

Friday 26 November 2010

Don Weller Quartet £14/£12

Don Weller Saxes John Donaldson Piano
Andrew Cleyndert Bass Dave Barry Drums

Don Weller

Don Weller by Bob Meyrick

Don epitomises a special generation of UK jazz soloists; inspired as are many by the great tenor players from Coleman Hawkins to Coltrane, with Dexter Gordon and the indefatigable Sonny Rollins all being major influences. Our favourite performers subsume this into their own sound and style; Don is one of these instantly recognisable blowers, building their skill over decades and hopefully adding recordings to the years of live memories.

His own bands run from the early Major Surgery through classic days with Bryan Spring, Stan Tracey, Harry Beckett, Dick Morrissey, Bobby Wellins and memorable appearances with the Gil Evans Orchestra. There will be many with fond memories of the great Appleby Jazz Festivals which nurtured Don's own Big Band and his Electric Jazz Octet.

He has always played with the best, and has one of the finest trios with him tonight. John is another Appleby legend whose early career includes a decade spent playing in the USA with Eddie Henderson, Red Holloway, John Handy, Richie Cole, Steve Turre and Laurindo Almeida and studying with Joe Henderson. He was instrumental in bringing Bheki Mseleku back on the scene for several appearances; he now continues this with a tribute band featuring Bheki's music. He also works in several line-ups with Asaf Sirkis and Mark Edwards. Another memorable group was SeptPiece, which he co-led with tonight's bassist; Andy manages to be one of the best players the UK has ever heard, while also becoming a valuable producer and jazz photographer. Dave's masterful playing has propelled major bands for decades, from epic Westbrook ensembles, Tim Whitehead's quartet and many years with Don's quartet and Big Band. He's recorded with these, with the Critchinson-Themen Quartet and with his own band, which appears here early next year.

For more information see Don's Wikipedia page.