They Think It’s All Over – not quite…. Geoff Simkins (and Dave Cliff) at Oliver’s tonight – plus sitting in

Last night of “Not the Olympics” at Oliver’s featuring Geoff Simkins

Geoff Simkins

Don’t let appearances deceive you. This one time drummer may have made early appearances with Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Temperance Seven and his principal stylistic influences have been the American alto player Lee Konitz and tenor player Warne Marsh. However, according to the great British free improvisor Alex Maguire, Geoff Simkins is the “most free improvisor” that he has heard (and Alex played with Tony Oxley!).

Geoff has played in all parts of the UK, in Europe and beyond, often with American musicians such as  Art FarmerBobby Shew, Al Cohn, Tal FarlowSlide Hampton, Warren Vache, Al GreyKenny Davern, Bill Berry, Al CaseyHoward AldenRuby Braff, Bill Coleman and Conte Candoli. He has recorded with UK tenor player Danny Moss and with US trumpeters Billy Butterfield and Yank Lawson. Since the 1980s he has worked regularly with UK guitarist Dave Cliff and his current quartet features Nikki Iles, Martin France and Simon Wolf.

Geoff is also a highly respected teacher at various conservatoires and summer schools but apart from the delight of hearing his insights into all forms of improvisation, it is his attention to the in the moment narrative of line that make musicians of all genres pay attention. Having played with and listened to Geoff for nearly 30 years I can say that his apporach transcends genre and challenges all co-improviors to raise their game and critically, their aesthetic.

I think that Geoff’s understated but powerful wit would have it that in fact he would prefer that appearances might indeed deceive and for once the integrity of the improvising be the principal point of connection for artist and listener. So no glitter or latex tonight, instead, regardless of genre and the the listeners’ projections, tonight’s music will be very much improvised!

There might also be a special guest appearance by Dave Cliff!

Oliver’s is here… click here for directions

Enjoy.

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Finally a big thank you to all who have braved public transport and public shame by bucking the trend and electing to opt for jazz in place of medals during the Olymics. Well done!

Not the Olympics – Week 2 update

Due to the effects of the Olympics upon local businesses, the “Not the Olympics” season at Oliver’s has been partially suspended.

REMAINING GIGS at OLIVER’S

Aug 6th Martin Speake and Simon Purcell “Amsterdam After Dark” - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS

Aug 7th “Fine Chaps” – Geoff Simkins, Malcolm Earle-Smith, Simon Purcell et al - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS

Aug 8th Tom Farmer Band GOES AHEAD

Aug 9th Anita Wardell with Julian Siegel and the Simon Purcell Trio - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS

Aug 10th Martin Speake Band with Liam Noble, Chris Hyson and Corrie Dick GOES AHEAD

Aug 11th Special “Jazz at the Philharmonic” Party with Geoff Simkins and special guests… GOES AHEAD

Lennie Tristano’s legacy is at Oliver’s tonight

Tonight’s featured artists are Martin Speake and Pete Hurt.

In some folks’ minds, Lennie Tristano is arguably the most under-rated and unappreciated artists and innovators in the history of jazz. Tonight, the unsung genius is celebrated by two similarly undervalued British musicians – Pete Hurt and Martin Speake.Although Martin Speake is (unusually) visible in this mini-season at Olivers, like so many British artists, he and Pete Hurt have been refining their art and craft for decades, enjoying exposure and public recognition far too infrequently. Even allowing for Martin’s recordings for ECM records (with Bob Stenson and Paul Motian) and the respect in which Pete’s writing and improvisatory authority is held, they are both absurdly neglected by the jazz community, media and press.Lennie Tristano (1919 – 1978) developed an approach to improvisation that while informed by bebop and earlier styles, is much more than a style in itself and continues to shape and inform approaches of musicians today – check out Mark Turner et al. Tonight’s music will certainly feature Lennie’s lines but also feature the improvisational voices of the musicians themselves. A rare opportunity to hear rare music, played by rare (as in special) musicians!

Tomorrow night : “Amsterdam after Dark” – music associated with George Coleman, with Martin Speake, Simon Purcell, Gene Calderazzo and Amy Baldwin

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Join the bankers, start fiddling – with Joe Townsend @ Oliver’s tonight

Tonight’s featured artist is Joe Townsend.

My very good friend and and colleague at Trinity-Laban, Joe Townsend is probably the most versatile musician I know. A jazz violinist, composer, collaborator and “world Musician” in the proper sense (i.e. a genuine expert as opposed to the dabbler), Joe in at as home in Bluegrass as Bebop,  Hot Club or Balkan. Tonight’s ensemble will be typically collaborative and features the revered percussionist Dawson Miller. Not to be missed.

Tomorrow night : The Music of Lennie Tristano – Pete Hurt, Martin Speake, Callum Gourlay and Jon Scott

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Women took the Bastille – now get into Greenwich and to Oliver’s

Tonight’s featured artist is Mark Lockheart.

The shopkeepers, restauranteurs and jazz lovers of Greenwich defy LOCOG and assert their right to “group improvised music played on sequential harmony in time” (GIMPOSHIT).

 

Mark Lockheart is not only a very old friend and co-consiprator in a number of musical settings dating back to 1979, but clearly one of the most distinctive and creative musicians on the current British music scene. As a saxophonist and composer, his work often defies categorisation and crosses the boundaries of the jazz, new music and folk worlds. “Lockheart is a consummate saxophonist and a original and versatile composer” The Rough Guide to Jazz. Do please check Mark’s website, click here…

I would like to write more about Mark, (hence the reference to his website)but tonight’s gig has been somewhat overshadowed by the plight of businesses in Greenwich. As you are aware from the news, business is bad all over London. On our scene there were just 6 punters at the 606 last Sunday and Ronnie’s sent out an email last night entitled “The West End is a ghost town”. More specifically, Greenwich has been on the national news due to the plight of shop keepers, restauranteurs and the market traders who are really suffering, see below:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19067764
www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012/9445421/London-2012-Traders-near-Olympic-venue-bemoan-lack-of-business.html
www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Ghost-town-London-businesses-bemoan-Olympic-slump-3753960.php

So much for the Olympics creating an economic boom for Britain. I really enjoyed what I saw of the opening ceremony but while I am a sports fan and massively behind any active participatory initiatives, we always knew that regular folk were never going to benefit financially from the Olympics. Catering workers and hotel staff across London continue to work for the minimum wage, there is no realistic improvement in job prospects for the inhabitants of East London and now the leisure industry is crippled by the restrictions imposed by corporate interests or incompetent short-sightedness of the planners. I have a friend who works for the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority). In May he informed me that a “host borough” had yet to complete its traffic plans. Can you believe it? Judging by the lack of forethought regarding the impact upon local businesses, nothing should surprise us.

But… on a positive note… Tonight Oliver’s will present more great music. Be different, please be different, defy the norm, turn off the telly, make a choice on behalf of lasting value, face the challenge and get your butt to Oliver’s!

Tomorrow night : Joe Townsend

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Chick Corea and Gary Burton turn to Greenwich for Fashion, Jazz… and Nadatar

Tonight’s featured band is Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar”.

Tonight’s band “Nadatar” is a reformation of a group from some time ago (a quartet with the alto saxophonist Mike Williams, bassist Ricardo Dos Santos and drummers Dave Wickins or Tom Gordon as well as the reclusive but brilliant trumpeter Paul Edmond). Now regrouped with Julian Siegel (saxophones), plus Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes from “Empirical”, the music is swinging modern jazz, very much inspired by Branford Marsalis et al.

People expend a lot of energy asserting opinions as to validity of various styles/genres of jazz. The reference points in tonight’s music will be obvious and clear to any jazz lover (bebop, the modal thing, the blues, complex and simple forms), but while fads come and go, it is ok to revisit and re-form good ideas. Nobody ever told Cannonball Adderley or B.B. King not to play the blues!

Tomorrow night: Mark Lockheart with the Simon Purcell trio

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Miles is hangin’ at Oliver’s with Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes

Tonight’s featured artists are Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes.

MOBO Jazz Awards winners Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes form part of the new wave of outstanding improvisational voices emerging in London at present. Already established in Britain and abroad, the really great thing about these guys is not only their artistry and the power and voice of their band “Empirical” (with vibraphonist Lewis Wright) but the fact that they also appreciate and celebrate the origins of jazz. Whatever music they play, it is always informed by the tradition and vocal and rhythmic qualities of the music. We’re not sure just how much tonight’s music will be derived from the Empirical pad, but it will offer an important glimpse of where the music is going to be going in the hands of these three masterful improvisors.

Tomorrow night Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar” with Julian Siegel, Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Oliver’s is Ab Fab – Patsy says get down there, it’s Anita Wardell!

Tonight’s featured artist is Anita Wardell.

Anita Wardell is one of the world’s leading, improvising jazz vocalists. Although journalists will rightly promote her authority as a scat singer, the sheer virtuosity of her bebop informed lines is only part of her artistry. As Norma Winstone pointed out, Neet’s singing communicates not only bravura but tenderness and vulnerability, and an exceptional ability to engage the listener in ballads. So tonight, expect not only fizz, fun and pazzazz but also beauty, and to be touched.

Tomorrow night Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes.

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Monk says – “Go To Oliver’s – it’s Malcolm Earle-Smith!”

Listen to Monk, do the right thing  and check out the scene at Oliver’s in Greenwich.

Tonight’s featured artist is Malcolm Earle-Smith.
A multi-faceted artist, Malcolm is at home in pretty much any improvising environment. Although highly respected as a fine trombonist and expert in classic jazz and swing, he is an incredibly broad musician, a great bopper and brilliant (or reluctant, or so he says) modernist, his open musical approach casting him is projects with musicians as diverse as Jack Parnell, Kenny Baker, Henry Lowther, Martin Speake, Martha Reeves and Bryan Ferry.

At a time when so much jazz is preoccupied with the darker emotions and introspection, it is as well to note that it is often more challenging to evoke joy than melancholy. Tonight’s music will be full of joy! I also have a feeling that he may well sing tonight…

Enjoy.

For full listing of the entire season, click here…
Tomorrow night Anita Wardell with the Simon Purcell Trio

Sun Ra says – “Go To Oliver’s – it’s Martin Speake!”

“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s Day 3 Martin Speake Trio with Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo.

Sun Ra says “go to Oliver’s”

Do as Sun Ra advises and drag yourself away from the television and check out the scene at Oliver’s in Greenwich.

Tonight’s featured artist is Martin Speake.
Martin is the first person to acknowledge and celebrate his wide range of influences from Bird and Paul Motian to Indian Music (note his collaborations with Indian musicians Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri) but tonight as always, Martin’s music will be both lyrical and highly improvised. It will also be a wonderful opportunity to hear the great bass player Dave Green who has literally played with everybody from including all the great British artists – Michael Garrick, Don Rendell, Stan Tracey, Ian Carr, Phil Seaman, through to Harry Edison, Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk.

Enjoy.

For full listing of the entire season, click here… Tomorrow night Malcolm Earle-Smith Sings…

“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s – Second Night of Sixteen!

“Not the Olympics” Special Season at Oliver’s… now up and running

Not the Olympics Season at Oliver’s

Saturday July 28th is Day 2 of the 2 weeks of gigs at “Not the Olympics” at Oliver’s. A second gig tonight with my own band with Julian Siegel, Chris Batchelor, Gene Calderazzo and Amy Baldwin. The mini-season, coinciding with the London Olympics (am I allowed to say that?) features some great artists in a range of interesting settings including Martin Speake, Mark Lockheart, the guys from Empirical (Tom Farmer, Nat Facey and Shaney Forbes), Pete Hurt, improvising vocalist Anita Wardell, the incredible lines of Geoff Simkins, the “fine chap” that is Malcolm Earle-Smith and an evening of world-jazz with Joe Townsend and Dawson Miller – not to be missed. For full listings please click here…

Hope to see you at one/some of the gigs – Don’t miss tomorrow (Sunday) with Martin Speake, Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo

Special Olympic Season at Oliver’s in Greenwich

Special “Olympic Season” of gigs at Oliver’s in Greenwich, more details to follow shortly…

Olypmic Jazz @ Oliver’s in Greenwich

July 27th Simon Purcell Quintet featuring Julian Siegel, Chris Batchelor, Gene Calderazzo and Steve Watts
July 28th Simon Purcell Quintet featuring Julian Siegel, Chris Batchelor, Gene Calderazzo and Steve Watts
July 29th Martin Speake Trio featuring Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo
July 30th Malcolm Earle-Smith Quintet – Monday Night is Jazz Party Night
July 31st Anita Wardell with Simon Purcell trio
Aug 1st Tom Farmer trio with Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes
Aug 2nd Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar” with Julian Siegel, Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes
Aug 3rd Mark Lockheart with Simon Purcell Trio
Aug 4th Joe Townsend Band with Dawson Miller
Aug 5th The Music of Lennie Tristano – Pete Hurt, Martin Speake, Callum Gourlay, Jon Scott
Aug 6th Martin Speake and Simon Purcell “Amsterdam After Dark” - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS
Aug 7th “Fine Chaps” – Geoff Simkins, Malcolm Earle-Smith, Simon Purcell et al - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS
Aug 8th Tom Farmer Band - GOES AHEAD
Aug 9th Anita Wardell with Julian Siegel and the Simon Purcell Trio - CANCELLED DUE TO OLYMPICS EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS
Aug 10th Martin Speake Band with Liam Noble, Chris Hyson and Corrie Dick GOES AHEAD
Aug 11th Special Jazz Party with special guests… GOES AHEAD

Finchley Arts Festival – with Anita Wardell and Julian Siegel

October 15th – Finchley Arts FestivalSimon Purcell Trio (Gene Calderazzo and Steve Watts) plus special guests Anita Wardell and Julian Siegel. A special event, featuring re-workings of standards and multiple combinations of music and voice. Simon used to work regularly with Anita Wardell in the 1990s… click here for the Finchley Arts Festival.

Paul Desmond, a master mind and wit: some thoughts for a New Year

A poet of the music, Paul Desmond was both self-deprecating and deeply insightful. This medley of quotes might tickle and provoke us…
“I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast… I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness”.
Regarding his tone:“I honestly don’t know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.”
On why he changed his name: “Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.”

More seriously, Paul Desmond challenges students and teachers of the music: “Complexity can be a trap. You can have a ball developing a phrase, inverting it, playing it in different keys and times and all. But it’s really more introspective than communicative. Like a crossword puzzle compared to a poem.”
And most telling… “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”
Sadly his perception about the jazz audience appears to remain pretty much spot on…”Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.”

For more Paul Desmond, click here:
www.jazzquotations.com/2010/05/paul-desmond-quotes_24.html
thinkexist.com/quotes/paul_desmond/
www.gandalfe.net/paul_desmond.htm

For a transcription of Paul Desmond’s solo on “Samba with some Bar-B-Q” click here

Simon Purcell 5tet @ London Jazz Festival – November 19th

SIMON PURCELL QUINTET – London Jazz Festival on Friday 19th November 2010

The quintet (with Chris Batchelor, Julian Siegel, Gene Calderazzo and Steve Watts) will be performing at the free stage in the Royal Festival Hall from 1 – 2pm on Friday November 19th.

Simon Purcell Gigs this week

Gigs this week…

October 12th – Simon Purcell Quintet at Oliver’s Jazz Bar in Greenwich.
October 14th – Simon Purcell Quintet at Leeds – Seven Arts.
October 15th – Simon Purcell Quintet at Sheffield Jazz – Millenium Hall (plus pre-gig workshop at Sheffield University – click here if you’d like to attend)

Simon Purcell Trio with special guests Liane Carroll and Julian Siegel.

Gig coming up… Monday October 4th – Finchley Arts FestivalSimon Purcell Trio (Gene Calderazzo and Steve Watts) plus special guests Liane Carroll and Julian Siegel. special event, featuring the music of Bill Evans, re-workings of standards and multiple combinations of music and voice.

Liane Carroll

Simon Purcell Quintet at Ronnie Scott’s – June 4th and 5th

Simon Purcell at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (photo by Damian Duncan)

Simon Purcell’s Quintet will be appearing at Ronnie Scott’s Club on June 4th and 5th, opposite the great guitarist Alan Holdsworth (click here for Ronnie’s website). The band with Chris Batchelor (trpt), Julian Siegel (saxes), Gene Calderazzo (dms) and Mike Janisch (bass) will be playing some new material, so do come down.

Jeff Clyne RIP

The great British bass player Jeff Clyne passed away on November 18th at the age of 72. A key figure in British jazz for over 40 years (appearing on recordings such as Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood, Tubby Hayes’100% Proof and albums by Ian Carr’s Nucleus) Jeff was much loved for his kindness and gentle humour.

Jeff Clyne 1937-2009

Forever open to all things, Jeff could be heard in the broadest range of musical settings, from Blossom Dearie, through Ronnie Scott to the free-form and experimental music of Trevor Watts, as well as his own band, Turning Point. Jeff Clyne was also active in jazz education in the UK pretty much from the beginning, co-directing the Wavendon Summer School as well as being professor of jazz double-bass at the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

On a personal note, I am very saddened to hear of Jeff’s passing. Besides being one of the great British bass players, he was an immensely kind man without a bad word to say about anyone. He was also present at the worst (best) case of giggles in a teaching situation I have ever experienced, lasting several hours and into the next day! I owe him masses and consider myself very fortunate indeed to have known him.

You can read or contribute tributes at Jeff Clyne Remembered on FACEBOOK – click here.