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.
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…
Don Byas and Slam Stewart – “I Got Rhythm” in 1945, one of my all time favourites.
The great British saxophonist Stan Robinson played a cassette recording of Don Byas and Slam Stewart playing ‘I Got Rhythm” and “Indiana” (in Ab and G) on the way to a gig at the Bull’s Head 20 years ago and I couldn’t believe it. Besides being so spirited and joyful (the guys are clearly having fun), it is incredibly hip, sophisticated, bloody clever, funny and way ahead of its time.
The next day I rushed to Dobell’s where, despite some quizzical comments about me being a moderninst and Don Byas probably not being my thing, one of the staff scuttled excitedly round the shop to find this treasured recording. I remember lending a recording to a very young Tim Garland who transcribed it in a day (clever bugger) and then played it with a modern set up. It sounded very “contemporary”.
Either Stan Robinson (go and hear Stan – he’s a jazz encyclopaedia) or Peter King told me a story that Bird once disappeared suddenly, while playing in Paris. The band were worried, thinking that he may have fallen foul of dodgy gear and even began to look for him in back alleys. Three days later he appeared, beaming and full of the joys of life. Still concerned they asked him where he’d been. Bird happily explained that he had taken a walk and by chance arrived at a railway station where he saw that there were trains from Paris to Copenhagen. On the spur of the moment he took the train! “Why?” they asked. “To have a saxophone lesson with Don Byas” was Bird’s reply! Beautiful.
Stan’s gig at the Bull will have been great but this recording has stayed with me ever since. I have used it in classes as an exemplar not only of a joyful expression of absolute linear authority but also the innovation and daring that was occurring during the cusp between swing and bop. The response from students and colleagues and friends is always one of astonishment (as with Lennie’s “Line Up”). I continue to think that it is beautiful and I have 2 copies of the LP!
“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s Day 3 Martin Speake Trio with Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo.
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.
For full listing of the entire season, click here…Tomorrow night Malcolm Earle-Smith Sings…
“Not the Olympics” Special Season at Oliver’s… now up and running
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