May & June

Where is the year going? Soon be into the summer festival season and the unwarranted General Election beforehand. Still, plenty of good jazz around to keep us sane.

May, Friday 5th sees Jazz In Reading at Progress Theatre feature a group of musicians rarely found in these here parts, Partikel. More used to playing London and city venues, the guys are showcasing their latest album which is what one may term contemporary, groove driven with some electronic enhancement.

Ever popular Alan Barnes, guests at Pangbourne Jazz Club Sunday 7th and he never fails to deliver the goods.

Bracknell Jazz on Friday 12th finds the wonderful reeds player Ian Bellamy as the main guest. Expect original interpretations of familiar and not so, plus original compositions. On the same night, but many miles away, Goring Jazz has Art Themen-sax, John Etheridge-guitar, Lianne Carroll-vocals making Friday night swing. Great line up.

Digby Fairweather wields his faithful trumpet at Fleet Jazz Club on the 16th. with fellow main streamers for an evening of foot tapping music .

I think there is a special treat lined up by Bracknell jazz Young Musicians on Saturday 27th at South Hill Park. The guests are Simon Allen-sax, Quentin Collins-trumpet with BBC Young Jazz Musician Winner 2016, Alexandra Ridout-trumpet with The Purcell Jazz Octet. This is a terrific line up and reflects the fact that young musicians want to play jazz. Not that it is easy to earn a living doing so and us jazz fans need to support these youngsters in order to keep the music alive and evolving. Purcell head of music and former Pendulum star Simon Allen and Ronnie Scott’s regular Quentin Collins lend their experienced chops to the occasion. Highly recommended.


As we know, female USA jazz vocalists have always been the setters of standards in the genre of jazz. Naturally, they would because that is where it began. The likes of Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters who were exponents of Blues and Jazz vocals in the 20s/30s/40s, were followed by Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and all the great divas that we fans can surely list. For decades our sole UK true jazz vocalist represented on the international scene was surely Annie Ross. She was so acclaimed in the states that she became part of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, forerunners and influencers of Manhattan Transfer, as well as innovators and lyricists. However, over the last twenty years I would contend that Europe has developed vocalists to match the past greats.

Jazz In Reading has persuaded our own UK international star in the galaxy of female vocalists, Claire Martin to perform an exclusive gig at Progress Theatre on Friday 23rd June. Claire had a long standing partnership with the sorely missed pianist and composer Richard Rodney Bennett and they performed many times together as a duo. For this gig, Claire pairs with another sumptuous exponent of vocalist accompaniment, in the shape of David Newton. David was for many years the pianist in Stacey Kent’s rhythm section and features strongly on her early albums. Jazz In Reading have actually hired a baby grand piano for the occasion….whoooo!!

This gig must not be missed by any lover of jazz vocalists. Except me, I am foolishly away on holiday!

Jazz In Reading has two gigs lined up this month and preceding Claire’s is Art Themen’s New Directions Quintet on the 2nd June. Steve Fishwick rejoins the line up that starred at the Kamuli Jazz Festival last July when Laura Jurd deputised in Steve’s absence. Another superb gig is assured.

Local jazzman Nat Steele on vibes is joining sax player Alison Neale as guests of Bracknell Jazz on June 9th and I am sure that this will be an evening of relaxing swinging jazz on a summers evening at South Hill Park. Why not have an alfresco meal overlooking the beautiful grounds beforehand?

My final choice for is an interesting performance of Benny Goodman’s small group jazz. This is by Julian Bliss-clarinet who became a fan of Goodman’s from a very early age and has created a septet that includes Martin Shaw on trumpet, Empirical’s Lewis Wright-vibes and Colin Oxley-guitar. All superb. A free pre gig talk precedes the performance at Reading Town Hall -The Concert Hall on June 15th.

You can find all these events listed on the gigs calendar with links to the venues for tickets.

Enjoy live Jazz,


Jazz n Stuff