March & April 2018

March already and whilst I have see much good jazz, I have not found the time to scribe before now. So apologies to my fan.

Reading is a buzzing place when it comes to Jazz. Pubs and halls vibrate to the sound of local musicians blowing a storm and they continue to keep the music to the fore and hopefully introduce young folk (I term these as being less than 30 years old-sorry you 31 year olds) to the joys of jazz.

The snow disrupted a couple of gigs that I would have recommended. Of course, JIR’s at Progress, The Orphy Robinson Quintet. I am trying hard to get another date for that tremendous band pretty soon. So keep an eye on the website. Bracknell Jazz had to cancel Nickie Iles’ gig, but she has been rebooked for September.

So, to upcoming gigs in March that attract the attention.
Goring Jazz welcomes Alex Dankworth on Friday 9th with his World Spirit Band. Apart from himself, he has three other wonderful artists in Julian Siegal- reeds, Paul Clarvis-percussion and Emily Dankworth, continuing the family female tradition with vocals.

Jagz in Ascot packs a punch with the fiery sax of Gilad Atzmon on Sunday 18th lunchtime. I love Gilad, he is such a great player, composer, raconteur and feels passionately about life and justice. His long standing band members are terrific musicians and I will be surprised if this gig is not a sell out.

A sax player who I also like a lot is Dave O’Higgins who always swings and digs deep to produce wonderful solos from the material. The sax for Darius Brubeck’s quartet, he appears in his own right with his wife Judith O’Higgins, also on sax. Graham Harvey, his regular pianist and Marianne Windham-bass plus Alex Eberhard-drums complete a sterling line up ready to showcase originals and Two Tenor type standards at Fleet Jazz Tuesday 20th March.

Jazz In Reading at Progress Theatre on Thursday 29th has The Chris Laurence Quartet and another quality gig is assured here with guys who have been mainstays on the jazz scene  for a number of decades. Chris on bass is assisted by Frank Ricotti-vibes, John Parricelli-guitar and Martin France-drums. If you have not yet been to a JIR gig at Progress, please stop denying yourself the pleasure.

Moving onto April for a few of the gigs available.
Marlow Jazz Club has local lad Nat Steele’s new band Portrait of The Modern Jazz Quartet booked for Tuesday 3rd April. Nat inherited the band’s name from fellow vibes player Jim Hart who in turn had taken over from the late Michael Garrick. Michael formed the band to honour the ground breaking original MJQ who, I suppose, brought calmness and let’s say thoughtfulness, to what some may term the raucous behaviour of the be boppers. Their original compositions and style were unique and worth reprising live for today’s fans. Nat’s recent album with the new line up has had very good reviews and this is a great opportunity to catch the band. If you cannot, well see them 4th May at Bracknell Jazz, South Hill Park, Bracknell.
Speaking of Bracknell Jazz, on the 6th they have two rising stars in the form of Alex Hitchcock and Tom Smith. Both reeds players who have appeared at Progress last year. The nice thing about this Bracknell gig is that their sax teacher of pre college days, Katie Brown, is appearing with them. Simon Cook leads the Rhythm section.

We have two lovely vocalists on the scene this month. Jacqui Dankworth on the 13th at Norden Farm, Maidenhead and Sara Dowling 17th at Fleet. They have different styles and backing line ups with Jacqui having the more unconventional with violin, bass and piano and likely to perform more contemporary stuff. Sara has Nat Steele, plus piano, bass and drums for a standards driven set. Nancy Wilson with George Shearing arrangements feature and they were iconic performers.

Again, Jazz In Reading pull off a coup by booking UK’s reeds man Martin Speake who brings along the former founding pianist of USA ground breaking trio, The Bad Plus, Ethan Iverson. Ethan recently left the band after 17 years to explore new avenues and here he is in the right place-Reading! Fred Thomas on bass and the terrific James Maddren (been to Progress a number of times), complete an exciting quartet. Friday 27th is the date, be there or, well, you know.

Ok, that is my choice of highlights. There may be more turn up for April, but wherever you may be to listen to live jazz, I am sure you will have a ball.

Best wishes for Spring,