Zelda’s Jazz Room, May 2018 Jazz at the Lamb, May 2016

May Jazz Notes

Good afternoon to all those of you afflicted with the terrible compulsion to read my Jazz Notes! Summer had a brief look in to cheer us up, but it’s now cold and grey again, so here’s some hot news for you: for the first time in about five years ZJR had a surplus for a Big Bear visit – £43 – wow!

It’s difficult to be objective about one’s own pet project. I get great pleasure from Big Bear gigs even though they entail a lot of work, and it seemed to me that the band was on excellent form and gave you a good programme of Lu Watters and Turk Murphy inspired numbers which you don’t get to hear often. (We don’t get to play them often either.) So I hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

In May you will be treated to another evening by probably my favourite pianist, on tour from the USA, Jeff Barnhart. Did you know he is left handed? Does that help in becoming just about the best “Stride” piano player in the business? I know not, but he is. On top of that of course his exuberant nature, hot jazzy vocals and knowledgeable announcements make for an entertaining show. His accompanying band for ZJR are again the Harlem Knights, and again include that great drummer, Nick Ward. We like to have a theme for Jeff’s visits, and it gets more and more difficult to come up with an original one. This time it will be “Jeff Barnhart and the Harlem Knights meet the Jazz Giants” – tunes associated with the Giants of our music such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Sidney Bechet and Benny Carter – to name but a few. Do join us.

What a lovely guest Graham Hughes is. Having brought his own band to ZJR in March he came to play at the Lamb with the Rascals of Rhythm. He is a very easy young man to work with – keen to play the toughest of arrangements but also just to enjoy great tunes – even producing a harmonica for a rendering of Tishomingo Blues, and also varying his sound by unscrewing the trombone slide and replacing it for certain numbers with a set of valves.

In May we have a visit from the West Country reedman Jeremy Huggett, another of those extraordinary young men who play every reed instrument under the sun. This means an amazing number of permutations amongst our three front line players, one of whom will be Sue Greenway, helping out while Tony is undergoing medical treatment She is a great dep – was with us last month and will be again in May. Tony is back home now and recovering well though feeling a trifle battered I think. He of course gets all our good wishes for a speedy recovery and return to the jazz scene.

You may wish to note also that at Theale Village Hall (every Tuesday at 8.30) you can expect trumpeters Andy Dickens (1st), Peter Rudeforth (22nd) and Ben Cummings ( 29th). Reeds and flute player Amy Roberts (15th) and Mark Aston will be deputising for Graeme on the 29th (he’s away on a well deserved holiday).

Pete Allen is at the Newbury Chequers (3pm to 5.30pm) on Sunday May 6th and Sunday June 3rd.

That’s it for this month. Keep Jazzing!