Simon Spillet and the Tom Hill Trio
Tubby Hayes 40th Anniversary Event
Saturday 8th June 2013
Great night on Saturday, rhythm section cooking, Mr Spillett firing on all V8 cylinders!
It was a lovely night. great music and the usual friendly atmosphere. Thrilling
Simon’s celebration of Tubby Hayes was lovely. Simon’s banter was extremely funny and he certainly knew how to play his audience! His variety of playing was engaging: some sharp playing but also some breathy delivery and a wide vibrato (this was apparent on ‘Syria’) . The marvelous aspect of the evening was the melodic quality of the playing. Tom, Paul and Miles provided a solid grounding-along with their panache. Once again, The Hive and SJN pulls it off.
ALEX HUTTON TRIO
11TH MAY 2013
‘‘Playing at the Hive was the highlight of our UK tour - a very memorable gig.
The Hive is a great venue, with a unique atmosphere and a great acoustic. A perfect set up for a captivating concert. ''
"It was brilliant to play at the Hive with the Alex Hutton Trio!
A wonderful venue and great crowd.
Thank you so much for putting on this concert!"
What a fantastic night! All the ingredients were perfect and the result was outstanding. The Alex Hutton Trio thoroughly enjoyed playing in Shrewsbury and felt it was the best night on the tour so far.
Here is a review to enjoy.
The band (Alex Hutton on piano, Yuri Goloubey on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums) was thrilling. Another great evening at The Hive. Clearly there was a great deal of influence from various sources including classical, folk and ballads (Fugue No2 in C Minor - Bach; Norsk Tales- inspired by Grieg; Watching the Wheat- a good old Welsh ballad- there were some Asian scales in there too). These materials were blended into a rich jazz style with lovely melodies and exciting chord changes. Compelling listening.
It was an exciting evening because of its variety: Alex said that his music tries to create “fantastic colours.” And so it did. A personal favourite was called “Under the Apple Trees,” based on his childhood memories, which was very evocative and had a narrative with a sense of innocence, joy and passion.
A joy to listen to these musicians.
Ian Mann ( thejazzmann.com ) has written a review
“The trio's rich blend of jazz, folk, rock and classical influences created a varied programme that suggested something bigger than the sum of its parts.”
ALEX HUTTON TRIO, THE HIVE, SHREWSBURY, 11/05/2013
I first heard pianist and composer Alex Hutton’s music on his excellent 2008 album “Songs From The Seven Hills”, described by its creator as a “suite for piano trio”. Backtracking I also unearthed 2005’s “Cross That Bridge”, a similarly impressive piece of work. As The “Seven Hills” title might suggest Hutton is a native of Sheffield although he has now been based in London for a number of years.
I’d considered myself a fan of Hutton’s music long before I got the opportunity to review his work in 2012 with the release of the splendid “ Legentis”, an album that garnered widespread critical acclaim and boosted the pianist’s hitherto mysteriously low profile. Hutton’s previous trio had featured bassist Michael Janisch and first Simon Lea and then Enzo Zirilli in the drum chair.
“Legentis” unveiled a brand new group with the Rolls Royce bass and drum team of Russian bassist Yuri Golubev and Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis, musicians well known to discerning British jazz audiences. Augmented by guest musicians Heidi Vogel (voice), Jim Rattigan (French horn) and Keith Thompson (flute and cor anglais) “Legentis” was Hutton’s most ambitious work to date and an artistic triumph.
The Hutton trio are currently touring the “Legentis” album and after having waited so long to see the pianist appear live I was determined to catch him this time round. Thus it was that I found myself at The Hive Arts Centre in Shrewsbury where I was delighted to find a large and appreciative audience for the trio’s music. Laurie Gray of Shrewsbury Jazz Network felt that the scaling back of the jazz programme at The Edge in nearby Much Wenlock had served to benefit The Hive, apparently the turn out for the Kit Downes Quintet in April had also been excellent.
Unfortunately The Hive doesn’t possess its own grand piano and Hutton performed on an electric model,a Roland FP-7F, still managing to impress throughout. Likewise Golubev and Sirkis, musicians I’ve seen several times before (particularly the ubiquitous but always excellent Sirkis), who also form the rhythm team for fellow pianist John Law. The bassist and drummer bring a real spark to both the Law and Hutton groups and there was a real chemistry between the three musicians tonight. There was plenty of good humour too, these are clearly guys who enjoy being on the road together with a healthy respect not only for each other’s musicianship but also for each individuals’ little tics and foibles. This was readily apparent as Golubev and Sirkis raised their eyebrows at Hutton’s lengthy, frequently surreal verbal ramblings covering everything from the quality of bottled water to Sirkis’ fondness for South Indian rhythms. This man talks more than John Etheridge, it was hard to credit that Hutton is also a broadcaster, when does he find the time to actually play any music on his show?
Fortunately he found time to play plenty of music tonight, beginning with “ The Legentis Script”, effectively the title track of the most recent album. Hutton explained that the “Legentis” concept was a construct embracing lifelong learning (the literal meaning of the word) and a kind of utopia. A lofty concept perhaps, but one justified by the quality of Hutton’s writing and the playing of the trio. The recorded version features appearances by the three guests but the core trio more than did the tune justice here. Golubev took the first solo (replacing Rattigan on the record) followed by Hutton and finally Sirkis with the first of several excellent drum features. Hutton has been influenced by a range of musics from classical to punk and has a keen eye for a catchy hook and groove. Despite its ambitions “The Legentis Script” was readily accessible and represented a good, often lively start.
Introduced by Hutton at the keyboard “Clouds” offered a more reflective feel with Golubev’s deeply resonant but highly melodic bass again taking the first solo, this time accompanied by the soft patter of Sirkis’ brushes. Described by Hutton as “a simple, melancholic folk theme” the piece featured some of the composer’s most lyrical playing and the coda was distinguished by Golubev’s eerie high register bowing, the man is a master of arco bass.
From “Songs Of The Seven Hills” the tune “Robin Hood’s Cave” (a location in the Peak District apparently) expanded from an opening folk motif to embrace exceptional solos from Hutton and Golubev plus some dazzling piano and drum exchanges towards the conclusion of the piece. Hutton’s own contribution was particularly stunning, he has huge octave spanning hands that allow him to play seemingly impossible configurations of notes, maybe playing in stockinged feet also helps, lots of pianists seem to do it.
Back to “Legentis” for a segue of “Hymn II-We The People” and “Wonder Why”, the first part featuring Hutton’s solo piano intro then Golubev’s richly bowed bass, here replacing Thompson’s cor anglais.
“Wonder Why” has been described by its composer as “ solid retro rock groove in 7/8” and pairs an airy melody with a complex but solid groove which evokes comparisons with E.S.T. Sirkis, moving between brushes and sticks seemed to be grinning throughout the performance as he supported solos from Hutton and Golubev, the latter a stunning piece of pizzicato bass.
The first set concluded with “JJ”, Hutton’s dedication to Stranglers bassist Jean Jacques Burnel. Golubev’s grainy arco opened the piece accompanied by Sirkis’ cymbal shimmers but as soon as Hutton’s hypnotic piano leitmotif crashed in it was full steam ahead with the trio generating a real punk energy amidst the clever musical ideas. This was an exercise in dynamics with the trio moving up and down the gears, Golubev’s plucked solo was an oasis of calm amid the powerful grooves with Sirkis positively slamming out the rhythms as Hutton matched Neil Cowley for pure manic energy. This was a terrific end to the first half that left the audience dazed and delighted and CD sales seemed to be brisk at the break.
Much of the “Legentis” album was inspired by the film music of Vince Mendoza, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein with “Cry Wolf”, which opened the second set, a prime example of that. A typically strong and melodic Hutton theme was the vehicle for excellent improvisations with outstanding features from both Golubev and Sirkis.
From “Songs From The Seven Hills” the tune “Under The Apple Trees” was an evocation of Hutton’s 1970’s childhood on the edge of Sheffield. From an echo drenched solo piano intro Hutton sketched out a naive’ ,folkish melody subsequently developing this into an expansive solo. This was followed by a feature from Golubev plus another interlude for solo piano. Hutton eventually mutated this into a riff which combined with Sirkis’ snare tattoos to evolve into a passage of intense group interaction containing further solos from Hutton and Golubev. Hutton later revealed that the piece had integrated parts of Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor”.
The classical influence extended into the lovely “A Norsk Tale”, the final piece on the”Legentis” album. Like Late Junction presenter Fiona Talkington Hutton has been a frequent visitor to Norway and this piece was inspired by Edvard Grieg’s “Lyric Pieces” with the trio playing in appropriately lyrical style, Hutton keeping his playing simple, melodic and unadorned above Golubev’s deep bass undertow and Sirkis’ gently brushed accompaniment. The recorded version is a solo piano piece, as were Grieg’s own “Lyric Pieces”.
After this delicate interlude the trio closed their second set in rousing fashion with “Then There Were Four” which Hutton likened to the earlier “JJ” as having a “punky element”. This was a powerful piece that saw Sirkis incorporating rock rhythms and with Golubev’s bowed bass work evoking comparisons with E.S.T.‘s Dan Berglund (albeit without the aid of electricity). Hutton’s own solo was accompanied by Sirkis’ chattering snare and fizzing cymbals with Golubev’s arco also providing a backdrop to Hutton’s hammered block chords as the piece reached a climax.
The audience were clearly delighted and called the trio back for a deserved encore, no prompting was required by the event organisers. After the sound and fury Hutton decided to send his audience home on a gentler note by playing the Welsh folk song cum hymn “Watching The Wheat”, a song that some members of the audience, my wife among them, could remember singing at school. Again Hutton kept things simple, focussing on the melody as Sirkis provided brushed accompaniment and Golubev took the solo honours, pizzicato at first but with the bow on the coda. The choice of this tune was a nice touch and ended the evening’s proceedings on an elegiac note. Hilary of Shrewsbury Jazz Network, a massive Hutton fan who had persuaded him to come to the venue was particularly emotional, she too had sung “Watching The Wheat” at school.
During the course of the concert Hutton had stated that his aim was to create music which would generate “colours bigger than a trio” and on “Legentis” he succeeded brilliantly. As indeed he did tonight when the trio’s rich blend of jazz, folk, rock and classical influences created a varied programme that suggested something bigger than the sum of its parts. Normally I’d dock half a star for the use of an electric piano plus another half for Hutton’s sometimes wearisome verbal ramblings (although these weren’t entirely without interest or charm) but the sheer variety, enthusiasm and quality of the performance warrants a four star rating. Hutton was helped enormously by Golubev and Sirkis who were both pure class throughout and the interplay between the three musicians was exceptional. Hutton really seemed to enjoy his visit to Shrewsbury pronouncing it one of the best nights of the tour thus far.
KIT DOWNES QUINTET
13TH APRIL 2013
It was a very special evening where we were privileged to hear the Quintet play wonderful pieces from
their new cd 'light from old stars' ( basho label)
“Kit Downes Quintet’s performance at The Hive was haunting, evocative
(of Scandinavia in particular) and high on emotion.
The quality of the performers was outstanding and it was a thrill to watch the group playing such sweet music. It was a lovely evening of music. SJN has got to get him back”
TOMMASO STARACE QUARTET
CELEBRATING THE MUSIC OF MICHEL PETRUCCIANI
9TH MARCH 2013
The response from the audience was overwhelming!
Again, another fantastic evening of world class jazz.
( literally, as the band flew off to perform in Italy the next day!)
Tremendous Brilliant Lovely
Keep it up fantastic energy and rhythm keep it going ab fab more than good
very very good
who needs London when you've got this?
More pictures to follow soon!
Quentin Collins/Brandon Allen quartet
9th February 2013
Another wonderful night of world class jazz at the Hive.
Here are some pictures of the event but there are many, many more on our Facebook page.
we are very pleased to have this in depth report from jazz member, Dave Margaroni. Enjoy!
Brandon Allen (tenor sax), Enzo Zirilli (drums),
Ross Stanley (Hammond organ), Quentin Collins (trumpet),
Background details of this group have already appeared on the SJN website; some of which is repeated here for reference.
The group has been described as one of the most exciting on the European jazz scene, their music springs from the creativity and synergy of their 5 years as a unit, inspired by the output of such masters of classic hard bop as Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Larry Young , Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley and others from the 1950/60’s.
Trumpeter Quentin Collins’ work throughout Europe has included collaborations with Roy Hargrove, Jean Toussaint, Dennis Rollins and Mornington Lockett and he tours regularly with Kyle Eastwood’s band. “Mr QC”‘s critically acclaimed album “If not Now, Then When?” was voted one of Mojo’s top ten jazz albums of 2007. This is his third appearance at the Hive, having previously appeared as a duo with vibraphonist Jim Hart, and, more recently, with the TransAtlantic Collective.
Tenor sax player Brandon Allen’s playing makes for powerful front line cohesion with his co-leader. He has toured Europe and Asia with renowned musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton, Stan Tracey, Peter King and Nigel Hitchcock.
Hammond Organist Ross Stanley is a favourite first call player on organ and piano who has worked with Maceo Parker, Stan Sultzman, Jim Mullen, Seamus Blake, Dennis Rollins and other jazz stars. His innovative playing shows just how contemporary the organ can be.
Drummer Enzo Zirilli is a graduate of Turin’s G. Verdi Conservatoire who began playing at age 8. His skilful inventive playing is both exciting and subtle and has contributed to music with such major jazz figures as Steve Grossman, Charlie Mariano, Randy Brecker, Peter Washington and Gary Bartz.
This was undoubtedly one of the major attractions in the SJN annual programme, and there was a good-sized audience at the Hive.
Expectations were high when the band launched into their first number
‘ I Don’t Behave Like This at Home’. This was a high-energy mid to fast tempo piece, propelled along by a busy, broken beat, implying huge swing, and occasionally venturing into a straight 4/4 rhythm. Stanley drove the band forward with rhythmic right hand work, punctuated with heavy bass lines by the left hand. Zirilli provided an authoritative and busy support, using the whole of the kit, whilst the two leaders delighted the audience with their fluent, fiery improvisational skills. All the musicians were featured individually at some time during this number.
‘Beauty in Quiet Places’ was taken at a slower tempo, but still using the same basic rhythmic patterns as previously. For this piece, Collins moved onto flugelhorn, this instrument being particularly suited to the more sombre mood, particularly in the lower and middle registers which Collins favoured.
’Paw Discontent’, written by Allen in deference to his household cat, commenced with an extended organ/drums duo, followed by a restrained trumpet/sax duo in unison. It then broke into a heavy, 4/4 swing, sax being accompanied by organ and drums, before moving onto a trumpet passage played in double time, this rhythm continuing through a restatement of the melody before moving onto a heavy swinging final organ solo with riff accompaniment from trumpet and sax.
‘Oscars Lullaby’, written by Collins for his baby son, again featured a gentle introduction by the flugelhorn playing in ¾ time, Collins again contributing a thoughtful solo following Allen’s more exuberant contribution.
‘Why’ started with an up tempo duet improvisation before leading into the tune, with 4 bars straight swing preceding reversion to the normal rhythmic pattern. This was followed by an unaccompanied organ solo, with drums subsequently joining in. Trumpet accompanied by drums only followed, before being joined by organ, a sax solo then played against a predominantly swing 4/4, with the final feature being a fluent and dynamic drum solo.
After the interval, the band played ‘Handshake’, the band initially inviting the audience to clap to a regular rhythmic beat, before they then joined in, playing against the audience hand-clap (which of course was timed to be on the off-beat) in an admirable demonstration of how one can make any regular rhythmic beat ‘swing’. The strong 4/4 swing was maintained through a succession of solos, all of which were propelled along by the strong drumming of Zirilli.
The next number ‘Fuerteventura’ (which I always understood to mean ‘strong winds’, until corrected by Quentin!) was inspired by a visit to a Canary Island Jazz Festival. Zirilli used brushes throughout this number, and Collins again reverted to flugelhorn, his solo including a fleeting and unexpected quote from ’Stranger in Paradise’, no doubt a reflection upon finding himself overcome by the idyllic ambience of the islands! Then followed some excellent brush work by Zirilli during a drum solo, before moving onto a sax solo, and finally a unison finish.
At a Brecon jazz festival, an amusing incident prompted Zirilli to write ‘Teeth for Two’, starting with a drum solo which led into an interpretation of the familiar Tea for Two’ melody, played by the two leaders initially in unison, then harmonising before reverting back to unison playing. Sax and trumpet then played alternate choruses, before the organ took over, playing a strong 4/4 swing. This was followed by a re-statement of the theme, then came a drum solo, theme, drum solo – double tempo, before finally finishing on the theme still being played at double tempo.
‘Dark Shadows’ was inspired by a 1960’s gothic horror TV series of the same name, featuring a character named (unbelievably!) ‘Quentin Collins’. A trumpet/organ introduction at slow tempo was then joined by the sax, the latter then soloing before again being joined by the trumpet, these two then soloing unaccompanied for a ‘free’ finish.
‘Modal Tranesition’ is a dedication to two great sax players, John Coltrane and Joe Henderson. An up-tempo number based on a modal progression, commencing with the two horns playing the theme in unison, followed by sax then trumpet solos. A drum solo then followed, before the two horns again played the theme in tight unison.
Although this was to be the final number, such was the enthusiasm of the audience that the band returned to play what was to be the only non-original number of the evening, ‘Like Someone in Love’. However, the treatment was rather different as, after starting in the written key of ‘C’, the band moved through a whole succession of key changes during the succeeding extended organ, trumpet and sax solos.
To summarise, the overwhelming impression of this band was one of high energy and superb musicianship.
All of the numbers featured, apart from two, were written by one or other of the two co-leaders, the exceptions being ‘Teeth for Two (Zirilli), and ‘Like Someone in Love’ (Jimmy van Heusen).
I am often a little apprehensive when confronted by a programme of ‘originals’, since all too often these seem to be penned by newly-graduated students, determined to explore the boundaries of complex chordal progressions, and somehow losing sight of the need that the music should also entertain (and even swing!).
This work of these two co-leaders, however, produced music of a high order that could be described as being a logical development along the lines of bop, without resorting to being just another tribute band. The numbers featured were all interesting, uniquely structured, and the solos had individuality.
The acoustics, overall balance and volume levels of the band were exactly right, as were the lighting arrangements and background music. The general administrative arrangements were friendly and informal, but quietly efficient, a credit to the SJN organisational team.
These SJN events at the Hive continue to attract substantial audiences and the venture as a whole very much deserves to succeed, but additional support is still required to ensure financial viability in the longer term.