Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mark Perry & Duncan Eagles - Album Inspiration

Clockwise from top left -
Duncan Eagles, Max Luthert, Chris Nicholls,
Mark Perry and Sam Leak.
Earlier this month (17/11/2013) Mark Perry and Duncan Eagles launched their long awaited debut album as co-leaders. The pressure was on as this was no run-of-the-mill CD floatation, the venue was the Pizza Express, Soho and it was packed out with London Jazz Festival patrons. The first course had been served in form of the Leo Appleyard Quintet and now they wanted to sate their collective jazz appetites on the succulent main course.

Flip of a Coin
I was lucky enough to be at the conception of Mark Perry and Duncan Eagles baby in Derek Nash's Clowns Pocket Studio and was also entrusted to complete the album's artwork. Alongside the dynamic duo at the Pizza Express we had Sam Leak (piano), Chris Nickolls (drums) and Max Luthert (bass). On the recording day itself the expert flute of Gareth Lockrane was in attendance and the roaming vocal sounds of Ola Onabule were added at a later date.

Barters Band
For this post I'll be writing a little about how we created the final artwork and exhibiting some of the designs that didn't make the cut. At Pizza Express they started with "Flip of a Coin" and that too is what kickstarts the album and my artwork. I try to create a response to each tune and early on this was considered as a possible album title.

The launch gig followed the album listing but after "Chord Game" we leapfrogged to the buoyant "Barter's Band". This tune is named after legendary South-West London band leader Bob Barter who I subsequently tracked down. Read about it by following the link here. The tune is one of my favourites and this image is a stylised interpretation of the Facebook profile images of Duncan Eagles friends. I can't remember who they all are now but I can see bassists Eric Guy and Holley Gray amongst them.

The idea for  "Forever" was inspired by the two main protagonist's running banter in the studio. Both unshaven they hurled quips and abuse at each other throughout the session. Perry in particular was thoroughly over excited, so I gave him the big end of the loud-hailer to minimise the effect on the more subtle Eagles.

Road Ahead - Back Cover
"Remember" also offered a rich vein to tap into, and as an artist you are always looking around you for inspiration. In this case I didn't look far. The folds of the studio curtains when semi-closed offered me a slice of outside and a glimpse into a better future. That was the warning sign to get out of the studio and I hit the road. Drawing inspiration from the album's title "Road Ahead" I sketched the most forward thinking icon that was rising up from the streets of London. Look closely and "The Shard" that appears on the back cover also has line markings running down its centre.

The architectural theme, The Shard and tower block stairwell I later sketched encapsulated both the future and the possible descent that can befall a jazz musician. The motif represented the dark edges to the music and by creating a model of the stairs I was able to twist it for real to gain that sense of vertiginous instability.

Road Ahead - Front Cover
The final piece was the figure that emphasises the urban darkness. I blatantly borrowed it from a drawing by fellow artist Peter S Smith, who has mentored me since I was a fledging student. Peter's sketchbook drawings are unnerving personal renderings of his own shadow as he stands waiting for trains. They are both lonely and powerful.

Luckily the Quintet aren't running the gauntlet alone, they have teamed up with the nurturing F-IRE Collective to release this album. You'll be able to buy it in a week or two on Amazon. The reviews have been more than favourable and there are too many to post here but follow the link for the informed Mr Adrian Pallant's view on the matter - REVIEW.


Friday, 29 November 2013

Leo Appleyard - Stepping out

Leo Appleyard - Guitar
It was a nervous debut for Leo Appleyard at the Pizza Express on the first Sunday (16/11/2013) of the EFG London Jazz Festival. Although well known in the tight Birmingham jazz circuit and in quarters of South-West London he is a fresh face on the block.

Before a sold out Soho crowd the angelic guitarist wound up the spring of his quintet's (+ Special guest Neil Yates) ample talents. In turn they played tighter and tighter until finally they were let loose as the concert struck it's concluding chimes. The opener, "The Homeless Wizard" found the musicians a little errant and they felt their way into the dark ambience of the venue and the grandeur of the festival.

Neil Yates - Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Although Neil Yates came to the stage for the second tune it took a few minutes to dispel some of the creases from his dishevelled suit and playing. "The Cleaver" announced the real arrival of the band. Neil Yates screwed up his face like the twirled end of a toffee and this summed up the performance. He stuck in there, despite not being at his most fluent, we chewed on him until we got our sweet stuff.

Duncan Eagles -
Although "The Cleaver" is a swinger, as the name suggests it is not a happy sway that rocks this tune, but it was the chance for both Eric Ford on drums to add his North African lilt and Max Luthert on bass to cut in with his superb throbbing presence.

Max Luthert - Bass
In demeanour and as a band leader Leo Appleyard doesn't dominate, preferring to extract unexpected performances from the men around him. "Mantra" slowly unravelled Duncan Eagles on saxophone, jettisoning his usual porcupine delivery, he wafted up to us like a soothing cloud of lyrical steam that cleared our sinuses and we breathed deep in this young tenor's talent.

Eric Ford - Drums
The slow drip of Max Luthert developed into a gentle cascade but never reached a roaring torrent on "Pembroke Road". Luthert, like Eagles before him, showed his advancing maturity in his field by playing with restraint, it was noticeable too that Neil Yates' chin was elevating that bit more, less scrunched and more proud. We got the full effect of his talents and the group fulfilled their prowess on the final tune "Anywhere South" which gave us an upbeat and accomplished send off.

This was a gig that took some time to reach its full stride but I think we can safely assume that today's small steps will lead to a giant leap for Leo Appleyard in the future.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Chew on Benet Mclean

Benet Mclean - Piano
It was bigger and better, with more venues, more musicians and a packed house at every gig I attended this year at the EFG London Jazz Festival. Over the next week or so I'll be writing and exhibiting my work from the 8 gigs I found myself involved in, starting with Benet McLean's Quartet at the Clore Ballroom, Southbank on the 16th November 2013.

I don't often get the opportunity to bring the family along with me on these field trips, this being a blessing and a regret depending on my state of mind. The Festival had taken over the Southbank with a series of free concerts and a thousand people with the same idea as I were crammed onto every available space at the heart of London. Although there was an impressive spread of talent on display throughout the 4 hours session I was only here to see one man.

Duncan Eagles - Saxophone
I first drew Benet Mclean when I was artist-in-residence at The Bull's Head, Barnes in 2011/2012. His performance that night was exhilarating edge-of-your-seat stuff. He had forgotten his charts and there was a air of unpredictability and precipitous energy. Here and now though we had a calmer Mclean, confident and assured but still with that edge of burning charisma, the kind that metamorphoses me into the moth who cannot resist the flame.

Max Luther - Bass
This whole afternoon session was being recorded live for Kevin LeGendre's Jazz on 3 radio programme and Mclean's Quartet showed no signs of nerves even on their opening tune "Giant Steps" from his 2010 album "In the Land of Oo-bla-dee". Duncan Eagles was the star of the early exchanges, his initial slow burn on the opener just grew and grew which he carried forward to the set's second tune. With Mclean's beating piano and Mark Mondesir's heavy drums it was left to Eagles to add the subtlety, and he again proved more than capable with a light tip-toed spring with his soprano saxophone.

Mark Mondesir - Drums
Despite being hidden by the piano, Max Luthert was still integral to proceeding and I was able to get a quick sketch from the wings before being moved-on by security. It was understandably Benet Mclean who took the eye and the ear on this day. The third tune, Dizzy Gillespie's "I waited for you" was the perfect example of Mclean's sense of performance. With his expansive open-mouthed delivery he sucked you closer and like a circus lion we dared to place our heads within his mouth before the inevitable SNAP! We were saved. A sharp shot from drummer Mark Mondesir felled the roaming animal. Mclean's head drooped and his arm swayed gently in breeze from the Southbank's espresso machines.

In both voice and 10 fingered dexterity Benet Mclean was captivating. I turned to another scribbler to my left as our smooth headed pianist reached his finale with a solo piano homage to Art Tatum, the reviewer looked at me and mouthed "Range and Variety".

It was Mclean's voice which particularly resonated with me. It was meaty like a Sunday roast, each mouthful took me a minute to digest its timbre, leaving me to pile layer upon layer of its gravy tones into my greedy gullet.

I'm still chewing on it now.


Monday, 25 November 2013

88 ways to love Paul Jordanous

It's been over a year since South London bon viveur Paul Jordanous created his Jazz Jam at No.88 in Kingston. Strictly speaking this isn't your usual jam, more a spread of Funk, Soul with chunks of real Jazz to satisfy sweet toothed aficionados.

Bill Mudge -
This night (14/11/2013) saw my first return since the epic 'Festival of Awfulness' of April earlier in the year. Well who could blame me, watching 12+ musicians singing instead of expertly playing their instruments takes some time to wash from the most stubborn of cerebral cortices. Here we had many of the offenders but tonight they were doing what they do best. There was the notable addition of special guest Mike DiRubbo, who had arrived from Paris a few hours earlier and was destined to return to New York, USA the following day.

Mike DiRubbo -
Alto Saxophone
Paul Jordanous is a fluid and talented improviser and composer with a bacchanalian streak that tightropes across the abyss of Creativity. On the first tune "Skip's Blues" he resembled a professional dart player, sending an early marker to regulate the classy standards and expectations. "Skip's Blues" had been a regular on Mike DiRubbo's short European tour and once again he jumped in with both feet. Despite just being assaulted by the 88's legendary Pie of Year, the chicken and leek variety, DiRubbo didn't let it dull his senses too much.

Johan Hansen Larson -
Once again the quiet man, Bill Mudge, was DiRubbo's second when a duel was in the offing. I would say he avoided the spotlight but the 88's atmosphere which is ideal for carousing is also excellent for the shy species which is the Mudge. Our seated bassist was equally concealed, Johan Hansen Larson, apart from his headstock which he waved like a naked flagpole in the breeze.

Leo Appleyard - Guitar
We were joined by Leo Appleyard on guitar, just days away from his London Jazz Festival debut at the Pizza Express, Soho. Here in more insalubrious surroundings his flush cheeked prettiness clashed against the sirens and night buses which veered along the A308 behind him, and he stood clear with both succinct support playing and placid visage.

Ted Carrasco - drums
The second set started with the tune of the evening, "Summation" with an early exchange between Larson's bass and south-coast fixer Ted Carrasco. There was a rambling deepness from the two with a brief quip from Appleyard before altos and the trumpet of Jordanous signalled the arrival of reinforcements with a Charge of Light Brigade attitude. Carrasco is the gaffer at the Southampton Modern Jazz Club, and with a rich line-up for 2013 and 2014 I'll be making the trip south in the next few months.

Piers Green - alto
There was time enough after the serious Jazz repertoire to slink into something a little more sexy and Piers Green put on his glad rags with relish. Earth Wind and Fire's "September" put quick smiles on the 88 crowd's faces and sequins in our hearts. Even though I have all but forgotten the aforementioned 'Festival Of Awfulness' it is Green's "Careless Whisper" which still lives with me in my weakest moments.

Annie-Grace Smith -
We just had time enough to share a bottle of wine and "Summertime" with Annie-Grace Smith from the Belletones. The wine was courtesy of well-greased Adam, a total stranger who asked me to sketch his portrait. Despite my years sketching live I have never been propositioned in this way but you never say never and Adam walked away with an original pen & ink in his pocket. I on the hand spent the rest of the night in the company of a very palatable Sauvignon Blanc and the 'bon viveurs' who are Paul Jordanous' good time boys.


Friday, 22 November 2013

Mike DiRubbo - London touchdown

Mike DiRubbo - Alto saxophone
Earlier this month Mike DiRubbo touched down upon these shores with a short exploratory tour. It was his first experience of London and a great opportunity to hear more from this Rising Star (Downbeat alto saxophone poll 2013) of New York City's jazz scene. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike when I had my first New York art exhibition along 14th street in 2011. As I was alone in the Manhattan he took me under his wing, and introduced me to many of New York's hot spots.

Kelvin Christiane -
Tenor Saxophone
Although he started at London's Jazz HQ, Ronnie Scotts, it wasn't until jetlag was dispelled and he had negotiated the intricacies of our public transport system that he really hit his straps. Two nights later (07/11/2013) we experienced the best of Mike DiRubbo along with Bill Mudge's Trio at the Twickenham Jazz Club. Rich in Italian heritage and dark looks his honeyed American drawl created a stir amongst the packed suburban crowd.

DiRubbo is a fluid player that needs to be teased into his most powerful performances and here at Twickenham Jazz Club he found an atmosphere that obviously suited him. It is a warm venue and the audience was bolstered by the Wembley wing of the DiRubbo azzurri. As we launched into "Skips Blues" I worked hard to capture the smokey eyes of our headliner, he is not a dominating frontman, but does take centre stage for long periods, taking us on extended expeditions into his compositions.

Rob Gray & Lister Park -
TJC Dudes
Bill Mudge as usual lurked in the gloom, he shirks the spotlight but I think he might have taken it too far as he peered intensely at the charts in the dark. I had not sketched him since May 2013 and he now sported a fuzzy winter beard like an arctic ferret, his beady eyes darting furiously. Third tune "Stellar by Starlight" just about summed up his predicament but it didn't set him back. By the fourth tune "Lilt" he was less Weasel more Sable, and his pelt shone with a soft shine of perspiration.

Matt Fishwick - Drums
Matt Fishwick had started the DiRubbo tour at Ronnie Scotts but it is hard to ascertain if he was up to speed or not. He is the steadiest of individuals, barely changing pace, his rosey cheeks might go from Amaranth to Crimson and his lips become a little wetter when really in the groove. He was the perfect foil for his American leader with his dead pan demeanour.

Peter S Smith & Dom Starkie
Kelvin Christiane enlivened the front of stage dynamics with a frisson between tenor and alto. The Twickenham crowd know and love him which provided a shot in the arm for regulars Rob Gray and Lister Park. In contrast none of us were familiar with Joe Downard on bass, and we did not know what to expect. Well, he was thrilling, skilful and immediately made an impression upon the regulars. In demeanour he hides behind a flick George Michael (circa 1980s) would be proud off and has a lean cheeked physique that is de rigueur amongst early career Londoners. As you know I am a jazz twitcher and try to identify a player's 'trigger', the movement or idiosyncrasy when they are totally in the zone. Downard's is his mouth, with an expressive tongue which pops out like the Whac-a-mole game in its rapidity and frequency.

Joe Downard - Bass
The tune of the night was seconder setter "Throwback" where Mike DiRubbo stretched clear, sweeping up the audience, tapping away with fingers, toes and heartbeats. Both Bill Mudge and Joe Downard excelled, the latter with hair flopping, drew his hirsute curtains and undressed an emotive solo which exposed the best in DiRubbo's composition.

We will be hearing more of Mike DiRubbo's writing in the coming months with a crowd-funding campaign in full swing, he'll be recording a new album in the New Year.
Check it out here. Until then we still had him at the heart of the UK's jazz scene for another week and it seemed the Twickenham crowd had given him the sort of welcome he deserved, generous and enthusiastic.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Juan Maria Solare - London's tango fire

Juan Maria Solare - Piano
All Saints Day this year (01/11/2013) found a very healthy crowd at St Martins-in-the-Field's church to witness a mere mortal playing the piano, but to give him his due Juan Maria Solare is a very talented mortal indeed.

What a location to find oneself in, for Solare and the audience, no hymns or chants in this holy place but the sound of traditional and modern tango music from this Argentinian born but Bremen residing pianist and composer. The 250 strong crowd were mostly made up of Freedom-pass holders with a splattering of half-term families and a few couples escaping from their daily grind in the heart of London.

First, Piazzolla's "Calambre" had an uneasy hollow ring in the high ceilinged church but there was a perfect hush. Soon with little yips we felt more joyful, ultimately skipping on Juan Maria Solare's rolling barrel.

Juan Maria Solare
The next two were in traditional vein, Juan Carlos Cobian's "Niebla del Riachuelo" and Carlos Di Sarli's "Bahia Blanca" had more meat on their bones. The former swarmed in thick pathos and drama, and we felt a touch of a woman's involvement in this narrative. The latter was rounded like a plump flower, heavily laden with scent and each petal was a dancing melody as it cascaded at our feet.

My favourite section of the concert followed, with two compositions from Juan Maria Solare himself, "Puma" sprang upon us, spikey as it tip-toed over shattered themes, with the beat of cinematic drama. Perfect for the hushed audience, here was suspense, a dropped key beside me, disarmed  pews in row 5-9 and we were blindsided. "Acuarelas junto al rio inmovil" was an empty bowl that slowly filled with tiny seeds, building imperceptibly until ground by Solare's pestle and ultimately seeping and oozing under his pressure. His compositions at the mid way point were the highlight of this short concert.

In appearance Juan Maria Solare is relatively unassuming and studious with a lush salt and pepper beard and hair tied back, he balances an air of business with a manly charm. Some pianists have an intensity which is frightening when you look into their eyes, they are a particular breed unlike any other instrumentalists. Solare's steely drive is buried a little further behind a dark brow, it is there but veiled by joy and flair.

The melting glass of Luis Mihovilcevic's "Tango de los segundos y de los cortes" lead us into the running faucets of John Cage's "A room" and "Quest" as apartments fell and fragmented they reformed themselves in our eager imaginations. Squares built upon squares.

As Solare started his ninth piece he repeatedly reached into the piano's belly and plucked at its innards, setting the scene for Stockhausen's "From Tierkreis". An hugely engaging piece with its rapid painful cascade like sitting on a cactus. As the spikiness continued we found ourselves opening an abandoned music-box and a growing suspense made me watch the flickering candles of  St Martins-in-the-field and wonder if there was a lazy ghost who still lurked after last night's Halloween.

Wide in the mouth and rich on the palate, the juices ran free but just as the sweet dreams began Luciano Berio's "Wasserklavier" finished.

"6 kleine Klavierstucke op 19" was a snatching bump through the snickets of London just yards away, our scuffing feet brushed the delicate weeds of this schizophrenic city as we watched a youngster free his paper aeroplane into the autumnal winds, we too climbed. Finally the throaty "Raga" of Mauricio Kagel, waved an upbeat goodbye.

It is a real shame we do not hear more of Juan Maria Solare here in London but I believe the tide is turning and his contemporary tango is a fitting soundtrack to our 21 century existence. Inner conflict and clawing survival balanced against the bursts of fiery expression in the pockets of our lives.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Big Up Tom Robinson & Melissa James

Tom Robinson
My last gig before the summer break was a modest but brilliant gig by two singers who I have since developed a healthy respect for. Hosted by Melissa James and supported by Kaz Simmons, this was the launch of the 'Gig in a Gallery' series of events to raise awareness and funds for the Small Steps Project. Now 3 months on, (30/10/2013) we found that the ball which Melissa James had got rolling in July was now a boulder of Indiana Jones chasing proportions. Here and now at the Queen of Hoxton James had organised a charity night that featured the likes of Orlando Seale and the Swell, Danni Nicholls, Sarah Bleach, Vincent Burke, Ardie Collins, Dean Atta, Lux Lisbon, Swami Baracus and the headliner Tom Robinson.

Orlando Seale
All the creative people performing tonight were part of a song writing group called 'Strictly Vanilla' who had spent a weekend together at Bore Place, Kent this time last year. The brainchild of Tom Robinson who wrapped his fatherly arms around them and fostered an environment in which they flourished artistically and collaboratively.

Danni Nicholls
I'm setting my stall out early to say that although I sketched nearly everyone who performed I couldn't include them all here. We had a brief 20 minutes to grow accustomed to each act with its new music, style and a whole range of shapes, ages and genres. While we were at our freshest, Orlando Seale and his Swell, swashbuckled themselves straight into our gunnels, with Seale's dark piercing eyes it is near impossible to you look anywhere else. Sarah Bennington saved us from shipwrecking ourselves on his shores with her flute which charmed us away from his hypnotic gaze.

Vincent Burke
Where Seale foppishly raked us with curly locks our second performer had a direct steely presence that was perfectly projected through her serene chiselled visage. With the paint still wet on her debut album release 'A Little Redemption' Danni Nicholls gave us a short 2 tune set which culminated with a penetrating 'Jolene' and a guest appearance from rapper Swami Baracus who stamped his own modern footprint on the 2013 crowd

Leslie Baldock
While Sarah Bleach played her 3 tunes I grabbed the opportunity to draw a fascinating gentleman in front of me who was holding a copy of Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell closely to his bosom. Dressed in vertical stripes and leather jacket he looked like a cross between an American football umpire and a well maintained Fonz. He turned out to be Orlando Seale uberfan Leslie Baldock, who like many of the crowd who packed out the venue, had come to experience their favourite performer but stayed on to hear the rest because the night's menu was plentiful. That's not to say we didn't tire and lag a little in places. However successful, 10 acts takes some concentrating and devotion, even diehards like 'Gig in a Gallery' regulars Dr & Mrs Fizzy stretched a leg or two, to ward off acoustic cramp.

Ardie Collins
One of my favourites to draw and hear was Vincent Burke, he tumbled out of the 50's in appearance but his deadpan tune 'He paid to have himself murdered' is relevant and humorous in any era, a real delight for anyone afflicted with dryhumouritus, like myself. Some people would also like his 'Stronger than a mountain' and I count myself in that camp too.

Dean Atta - Performance Poet
"The Key to quality is quantity" was anoraked Tom Robinson's quote to the audience. Here before us was the man who released 365 songs in one year, Ardie Collins. Unfortunately this self-effacing songwriter left us 363 tunes short and despite his simmering wit I imagine there's much more to come from under his heavy fringe.

Lux Lisbon's Stuart Rook
Just as I thought I had hit my sketching summit with Burke we were entertained and socially pricked by spikey poet Dean Atta. I often lose track of words while drawing so I cannot vouch so clearly for his content but I can for the sentiment and his pulsating energy which seemed to leap directly onto my page.

Melissa James
The train containing all these performers was rattling along at a runaway pace but took a total right angle turn with Lux Lisbon whose roaring aggressive stance certainly knocked me from my feet and into the lap of the charming singer Kaz Simmons who rested beside me. The juxtaposition with the earlier folk-flavoured bias was refreshing and you cannot doubt the commitment of frontman Stuart Rook who pogoed and ranted until his face turned a healthy puce. Who would get him so hot under the collar? It seems three scallywags from the Bullingdon Club, bullyboys Osborne, Johnson and Cameron.

Swami Baracus
"She sings the blues in the way it's supposed to be sung" was what Tom Robinson said as he announced her arrival. Melissa James gave us what we wanted, a gutsy 4 song set with the absolute standout being 'Don't keep yourself down', which was the best of the whole night and featured the man who would now follow in her steps, the ninth act this evening, Swami Baracus. Who was entertaining for me as an artist with his Halloween inspired black and orange combo, ritualistic rapping hand gestures and rapid fire delivery. Pow!

I never thought I would hear the call to arms 'Big Up Tom Robinson'. It reminded me of a gig in Westminster Reference Library with the jazz group Polar Bear and an unnamed rapper who called to the audience, "Yeah you in the periodicals, wave your hands in the air man!". But Mr Baracus was right, Big Up Tom Robinson, who discarded his dark green anorak, his translucent rimmed specs and got sweaty with the rest of us.

Big Up too to Melissa James.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Femi Temowo - Opitmistic Tendencies

Femi Temowo - Guitar and Vocals
Hot off a sparkling performance at the Whirlwind Festival in October with Nick Vayenas and Alex Garnett we experienced the solo work of Femi Temowo last month (25/10/2013) at the Forge, Camden. He brought his quartet to keep him company before a modest audience and they more than just made up the numbers.

Femi Temowo is a charming and unassuming frontman, with a winning smile and his soft gentle tunes it was a night of the lure rather the hook. Despite Temowo's obvious charisma it was the togetherness of the 4 that left the strongest impression. All bathed in the Forge's warm pink glow, they seemed to blur before our eyes as though knitted from the most lush Merino wool. Even compositions with the hardest of topics, like those inspired by the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960's or the harsh reality of segregation developed optimistic tendencies in the hands of Temowo. He was lyrical and generous with his gift especially on 'Asiko Aye' from his last album, Orin Meta.

Karl Rasheed Abel
Again and again the lanky and thoughtful figure of Karl Rasheed Abel stood proud, not just because of his stature but his playing too. In fact, on the dripping bouncy opener 'Orin Meta' there was huge void when Rasheed  stepped out of the groove. He gave us a jumping motif and a cool strut that more than once propelled us along throughout the evening.

Troy Miller - Drums
Troy Miller dominated the early exchanges between his drums and that of Joseph Oyelade's talking variety. His succinct fast pace on second tune 'Orin Ayo' caught our attention along with his handsome thin face and those sculpted strands of wisped hair that tumbled from a high forehead like a well groomed spider plant. This sex appeal that was only heightened on the fourth tune when forsaking his skins he rapped his drums sticks across his thigh as though slapping a bare arse.

Joseph Oyelade - Talking drum
Femi Temowo was a hard man to draw, always animated and I haven't achieved a good likeness of him yet. In contrast, talking drummer Joseph Oyelade came off the pen in a flash, his talking drums slipping off the shoulder as though he'd spent a day filling it with shopping from Oxford Street. A serial pouter with pursing lips in the early stages he took a stronger role as the night developed. Finishing with a fabulous bass and talking-drum combo on final tune 'Blackbird', a variation on the Beatles classic. A tune that talks of racial tensions and suppression but cast from the open hands of Temowo it was light and carefree.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Peter King - Carefree disintegration

Peter King - alto saxophone
Firstly, apologies for being off the pace for the past 3 weeks or so. I have been busy preparing the 'Art Jazzed Up' exhibition at the Shaw Gallery, Croydon. We launched the exhibition with a concert, amongst the musicians was Mike DiRubbo from NYC, a sparky lyrical alto player. Before I regale you with the story of an American in London here's one about another altoist, one much closer to home. Peter King, is the local lad with an international reputation and a discography of the highest artistic integrity.

Mike Gorman -
Twickenham Jazz Club (17/10/2013) was the stage for the Kingston born elder statesman and by George he was in fine form. However much you believe he is superhuman, it is apparent that he didn't fall into a cauldron of magic potion when he was young and stamina is now his only enemy. Here he was buoyant and colourful as he took to the stage for both the beginning of set 1 and 2. Yes the pallor of delicate translucent skin rides taught over his prominent cheek bones but the playing is engaging and succinct.

Kelvin Christiane -
Tenor Saxophone
Peter King spoke freely, announcing the tunes a little like an underground Tannoy or a mumbling teenager deep within a duvet. He did not need his rest though until the 4th tune of each set, when the strength of Kelvin Christiane's tenor came to support him. It was no surprise that Christiane added the exploding shoots to 'Joy Spring' along with recent collaborator Larry Bartley (The Arrival, KC023, Released Oct 2013) who was superb. Christiane's recent ailment, Mallet Finger did not crush his prowess, the mini splint kept his phalange in pert readiness.

Larry Bartley - Bass
Christiane and Bartley play different roles of course, the former, a nurturer, brings out the best in his fellow musicians while the latter simmers, smouldering in an introspective hot pool of intensity. With eyes often shut you feel he is about to blow like sulphurous geyser, and yet never quite does, containing his power in the that lithe frame of his.

Matt Home - Drums
Mike Gorman was a new face for me, in fact his upper reaches were so laid back his visage resembled Droopy in its lethargic stupor. In contrast Gorman's hands took on the life of an overdosing speed freak.

Matt Home on drums, often had his head bent down, occasionally his angular features rose to the audience with a stare that rattled even those in the darkest recesses of The Bloomsbury pub. The black dots of his eyes were penetrating and intense.

Along with a fresh 'Joy Spring' other tunes which brought the Twickenham Jazz Club to life were the second set's 'Lush Life' with a superb solo effort by Peter King and then as an ensemble the Wayne Shorter composition 'Footprints'. The last took the edges of a hard fought weekday, like a couple of whiskies in the dwindling hours. It was a tumbling feeling, a wonderful cascade as life disintegrated and deep within yourself you couldn't care less.

We cared though. We keep our local players close to our hearts.