Thursday, 30 May 2013

Liam Cottrell & Miles Lacey - Hipster Caesars

Miles Lacey - Rumpstepper
Another great night at the Rose Theatre CafĂ©, Kingston once again saw a broad palette of live music and performance genres crammed into one night (23/05/2013) of fresh abandon.
Mosaic is hosted by the charismatic duo, Miles Lacey and Liam Cottrell, who are more than pretenders to the laurels of Kingston's Live Music empire. Working together between the varied sets, they rule the night with warmth and precision, the sound is always superb and singers voice's ring true.

Liam Cottrell -
Our Friends Records
Cottrell wears his heart on his sleeve or at least on his chest,  his community led Our Friends Records logo emblazoned proudly for us all to see. Despite his DJ persona in dark glasses he has the look of a hipster Caesar with soft locks, curling around his temples. He is no Roman despot but more of a Princeps Iuventutis, or "Prince of Youth".

Lacey is very much more hands on, music, juggling and long legged leaping. With baseball cap firmly reversed and singlet loosely hanging he stood tall like a wiry togaed Adonis amongst the suburban libertini.

Charlie Law - Poignant
The night always takes some time to warm up and that should not reflect badly on the first act Charlie Law, whose sharp wit only helped the audience simmer to the boil that bit quicker. His 'A change is gonna come' by Sam Cooke was poignant to say the least, especially in the context of the week's events.

Sean Westwood
Although this was only my second visit to Mosaic, I recognised composer/director/guitarist Sean Westwood from my last adventure in March (New Curiosity Crop) and we chatted about his latest project, a satirical musical about our celebrity culture called Snow White: The Whole Grimm Affair which will premiere at the Camden Fringe in August. Here's a sneak preview! He was very much in thought for the whole night, gently stroking his beard, the pressures ahead obviously weighing heavy in the mind.

Tommy Hare - Smoky
Moonlight Theatre served us another tasty portion of their 10 minute vignettes. Their Pinter sketch was one of the highlights last time, and although this didn't reach the same heights, I very much enjoyed the original writing/dialogue by Andy Currums.

Sheraz Yousaf
With his polka dot shirt, purple scarf thrown around the neck and smoky spectacles Tommy Hare is every bit the louche performer. Languid at first and full of latent power his earthy voice barely scuds across the tables at the Rose Theatre but once cranked up to full speed there isn't a latent bone left in the man's sinewy body. A soundtrack for late nights and bad behaviour.

Comedy was once again brought to us by Sheraz Yousaf who introduced us to three new performers, Adam Green, Dan Hooper and Evelyn Mok. The latter two were excellent and inventive especially Hooper who tickled my ribs, and I'm not known for my receptive GSOH.

Jack Buckett
Once again I never last the distance. These nights are such a successful mix of styles and personalities I over-consume and have to admit defeat with the musical equivalent of a bloated belly. I was able to loosen my belt though for Jack and Katie Buckett whose duets were beautiful, particularly 'Don't call it love' which was adapted from their larger ensemble Third Cortez/Jingo.

Dan Hooper -
Jack Buckett kept disappearing under waves of his  hair whilst Katie Buckett epitomises everything that is great about the ethos at Mosaic. Here was a multi talented performer flying by the seat of her pants tonight, desperately holding onto her top hat whilst her musical bucking steed entertained us all, but during the day she was busy preparing for a fascinating solo show of her surrealist paintings in Shoreditch.
When Mosaic next comes around for another special night at The Rose Theatre I will indeed be lending them my ears.



Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Maciek Pysz - Insight into Intuition

Maciek Pysz - Guitar
I was at an advantage last Wednesday (22/05/2013, The Forge, Camden) at the album launch of Maciek Pysz's new album 'Insight'. This was music prepared for those of us who could open the gates of our conscious minds and let the music flood in. If that sounds pretentious then I don't mean it to. There are times in anyone's life when they are receptive to this kind of music, whether in moments of acute loneliness, tender euphoria or when simple exterior influences collide like alcohol (just enough) and the company of others that are intent on the same purpose.

As I drew, the concentration was so focussed on the minutiae, the furrowed brow of Yuri Goloubev (Bass) or the distinctive bottom lip of Asaf Sirkis (percussion), that you block out all other reasoning. It leaves the mind unguarded and without the usual gatekeepers of reality. It is similar to the key of Abstract Art, and it no surprise that Maciek Pysz cited Mark Rothko as an influence for one of his tunes, 'Maroon'. Of course there are many ways to experience Abstract work, and instrumental music has much in common with this genre. We can understand where Abstract work is placed in history, its sense of time, the story behind it or we can open ourselves up and just experience.
So because my concentration was so taken with the physical form of the 3 personalities on stage, this left the music unabated and it poked and prodded my exposed memories and feelings.

Yuri Goloubev - Bass
In the margins of my sketchbook I write notes that are streams of personal connections. For a change I'm going to reproduce them here in their entirety (virtually unedited) because it is only fitting for an album launch titled 'Insight'.

Those Days....Cascading rubble and dancing water droplets on the finest of Autumn branches. Galloping Sirkis, smacking brushes like the whip against a gypsy horse's rump.

Blue Water.....Rapid fire, a bullet volley, a kamikaze fighter flowing overhead over rolling waves, crash, it is finished, it stops.

Amici....Slow and warm conversation, snatches of phrases. This is one hell of a complicated friendship.

Lost in London...Dropping keys in a hollow hallway, accidentally kicking a chinking beer bottle as you walk alone in an underpass.

Insight....Running thoughts, a fartlek of ideas, starting, stopping, starting again. Pysz dancing then. They were the best of times, they were the worst of times. Positive, then very intense. Impossible to keep up.

Asaf Sirkis - Drums
Huge sound of applause. Goloubev piercing eyes. A lightness from Pysz, a trick really, the web looks brittle but its still flexible and sticks. The mind plays games.

Moody Leaf....Beautiful and dark, cinematic. Almost a shame to have Sirkis join this party.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra....Photographers duelling in audience. Beauty fuelled by itself.

Tangella.....Sirkis rolls back cuffs and plays like enormous pair of chattering false teeth. He's slapping my bum.

Under the sky....Yuri Goloubev has a habit of slacking his jaw to one side. Playful now. Many of the tones are dictated by YG. Playing French cricket not a Bass, croquet perhaps. Joy of something, somewhere or someone. Yet there are thunderclouds over there and the feeling you have of being lost.

Dedication....Tone dictated by Pysz.
Yuri Goloubev is the breath you take and Maciek Pysz is the words, just like they sound..UPBEAT....the mechanics, a thousand different ways to speak a vowel or the permutation of letters. Asaf Sirkis, the memory, the scratching in your head that tells you which tap to turn on to feel the power flow through your body.

Now you know the stuff that's rolling around my head and I hope the notes aren't too disparate to be incoherent. But it seems an apt way to describe the way in which the the audience were asked to drop their guards and let the music roll in. If you want to find out if it works for you, or if you want to let Maciek Pysz tread his delicate feet through your mind then follow this link -
Maciek Pysz - Insight on iTunes.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Kelvin Christiane - Back for more Straw

Simon Bates - Saxophone
Call me foolhardy but I went back for more!

Of course there were faces I recognised but a healthy sprinkling of new wizened ones that told their stories with the bags under the eyes, the hairy chops and thinning pates.

Kelvin Christiane's Big Band were on really good form and very much in a naughty mood. Get 16 men in one place and doing what they love and you're sure to get some banter. Even a congregation of sombre Funeral Directors, once together, would relish a good bit of teasing, and like them the KC Big Band runs on a rich blend of Gallows humour.

Giles Straw - Captain Caveman
The Hangman of the night was the well-built Simon Bates, a  powerful player who took centre stage on the scaffold of jazz. He featured on many of the night's tunes, impressing on all but one (what went wrong at the start of Stevie Wonder's "You've got it bad girl" I don't know), his successes included solos on "I Remember Bird" (Oliver Nelson) and a superb thick and earthy performance on "Chelsea Bridge" (Billy Strayhorn) that stole the night for me.

Jon Lewis - Trumpet

As you might have read before it is the trumpet section where all the best jokes originate. Maybe they have to voice theirs first because they are the butt of so many themselves. Without sounding like a Monty Python sketch both James Lowe and Giles Straw were very naughty boys. Neither of them was the Messiah unfortunately, those laurels rested on the streamlined head of Jon Lewis, who led his disciples with aplomb.

James Lowe -
Straw seems to have adopted a Captain Caveman look since his recent trip to India on Big Band action and standing beside the towering and wholesome Lowe (James) made the final trumpet, Graham Russell look like one of the ant-hill mob and I drifted into nostalgic Wacky Races revelry.

Dave Bitelli - Tenor Saxophone
After a half time pitstop, our charming Penelope was Lesley Christiane, who sang 'Summertime', a favourite in the Christiane household. It was arranged by Kelvin for their wedding and on this occasion featured Dave Bitelli on saxophone and a dancing Graham Russell.

Bill Mudge - organ
Despite being cut off from the audience and Bandleader Kelvin Christiane, the backline of Bill Mudge (organ), Richard Sadler (Bass) and Noel Joyce (Drums) drifted their expertise over the mountain range of trumpets and into our valley below.

The past fortnight had been a true Mudgathon, with a recent excursion to see his unassuming but rich talent at The Archduke with The Phil Stevenson Trio, a cuddle with his daughter (5 months old) and a meeting about our film/Jazz project, Murder Minutes. Latest news is we're hoping to perform a live set with projected films and music in November to coincide with the arrival to this shores of saxophonist Mike DiRubbo from New York.

Bob Martin - Saxophone
DiRubbo might be coming from the East Coast but our very own West Coast cat, Bob Martin was once again on good form in the Big Band format. As was the other Bob, Mr McKay, who I am slowly collecting a portfolio of images about. No I'm not stalking the poor man, but we seem to be meeting on a regular basis.

Bob McKay
Once again we were treated to "Superbone meets the Bad Man" on which McKay was excellent on baritone. His versatility and modest nature meant he wasn't the first to catch my eye in a stellar line-up of Sax Appeal when I drew him a few months ago. Since then I have seen him master a plethora of instruments and even play the straightman to a George Michael impersonator on "Careless Whisper" no less.

Chris Lowe - Trombone
The final tune of the evening, "A Night in Tunisia" was stoked by the trombones of Nick Mills and the sharp dressed Chris Lowe, who wore the only white suit of the evening alongside all the other black clad musicians. Like the final throws of the game Othello it looked like he was left all alone on the board but luckily reinforcements came to his aid in the capable form of Adrian Fry and Dave Eaglestone.

Lesley Christiane
This will be my final post before the Jazz Art Exhibition at Twickenham Jazz Club on Saturday, 25th May 2013. I'll be there from 1pm onwards and Lesley, Kelvin, Alex Hutton, Richard Sadler and Noel Joyce will be performing from 2-5pm.

Come and join us.


Adrian Fry - Trombone

Dave Eaglestone - Trombone

Graham Russell - trumpet

Kelvin Christiane - Sax

Nick Mills - Trombone

Noel Joyce - drums

Richard Sadler - Bass

Friday, 17 May 2013

Sally Silver Soprano & Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert

Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert
Sylvie Valayre
This was one of the most unusual, exciting and enjoyable nights on duty with Rich Rainlore.

Sally Silver
I love the venue and I'm acquiring a taste for sketching to classical music. Although it was hard work (I didn't have time to draw all the pianists) I responded to the drama of Operatic singing, the facial expressions and sheer power. Obviously it was a Memorial and there were moving dedications to Elizabeth Connell but it was an amusing celebration at times.

It felt a little inappropriate but I found the performance particularly powerful because it stirred my base desires. A little like the attractive cousin you find yourself lusting after at your granny's funeral.
None more so than the seductive Soprano Sally Silver and Sylvie Valayre.

Richard Wiegold
The men were equally captivating and I just wish I had longer to draw Richard Wiegold and Stuart Skelton.

Stuart Skelton
Read Rich Rainlore's extensive review Here!

Jan Ponsford Quartet - Friends Reunited

Jan Ponsford - Vocals
Another new venue and performers to get my teeth into!

Read Rich Rainlore's latest review of the Jan Ponsford Quartet at Jan's Bar
18 Northwold Road, Stoke Newington, London N16 7HR
Sunday 21st April 2013.

Follow this link.

Jan Ponsford's vocalising was a real eye opener and I really enjoyed Terry Pack on bass who was lurking in the shadows.

Terry Pack - Bass

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Renato D'Aiello & Ed Richardson - Jazz tortoise and hare

Renato D'Aiello - Saxophone
We were held expertly in the hands of both old and young lovers last Thursday (9/5/2013) at Twickenham Jazz Club, on a night when Spring had deserted us once again, and Winter's icy tendrils caught at our exposed necks and thinning heads.
The main draw of the night, Renato D'Aiello wasn't taking any such chances. He arrived on stage in scarf, jacket and flat cap. Although his scarf was quickly removed his neck stayed firmly hidden because of his hunched playing style. He was the tortoise who came out of hibernation a week too early so his head receded constantly into his shoulders and we only caught glimpses of his twinkling blue eyes underneath his cloth cap. His playing though was as warm as ever and he knew how to caress us like an experienced lover. He still has many suitors and his regular nights at Ronnie Scott's upstairs bar have resulted in a well deserved night downstairs on the 24th July, the same day coincidentally as his next recording.

Nicola Muresu - Bass

The crowd tonight at TJC were the die-hards, the discerners and jazz lovers from the local suburban sprawl. Sometimes an audience who are lighter in numbers can be pulled together in an intimate embrace by the performers, but this wasn't enough for the flirtatious Nicola Muresu who held his Bass like it was a naked Monica Bellucci. During the fourth tune of the evening 'I Wish', Muresu held his muse so close he planted a lingering kiss on her long neck.

Artie Zaitz - Guitar
The musicians were a split between the established and rising stars. The two young strutting bucks were Artie Zaitz (guitar) and Ed Richardson (drums). Zaitz is an introverted performer, often with head held against chest while he played with speed and agility. The Twickenham Jazz Club is getting a reputation for its guitar loving audience and Zaitz was a crowd pleaser on more than one occasion.

The performer who pleased me most was tonight's drummer Ed Richardson. A talent I had first experienced during my Bull's Head Residency in 2011 when he played with a young Callum Au ensemble. Then, as now, he was a dream to draw, with distinctive character and talent, he became a bestseller (with Tom White) at my subsequent exhibition.

Ed Richardson - Drums
Tonight he excelled and it is no surprise he has received a Rising Star nomination at this year's British Jazz Awards. It is his overall style that excites an artist like myself, for as you know I do not write/view this blog from a purely musical bent but a creative perspective. Dismiss me as trivial but let us not forget that a live performance is both what we hear and see, and quite possibly feel.
Richardson taps into the most 1950's of trends with his crisp white shirt, dark tie, heavy black-rimmed glasses and in moments of leisure, his tailored Italian quilted coat.

Kelvin Christiane - Sax & Flute
Although technically still at the Royal Academy he has cut all his milk teeth and his incisors are firmly lodged in London's Jazz underbelly. A member of Ronnie Scott's Big Band and appearing on Callum Au's Big Band debut CD 'Something's Coming' he sees this genre as part of his future. He told me,
"I'd like to front my own Big Band project, do it how it should be done."
It seems big is the word, rumour has it he is being chased by some of pop's most popular names. I imagine though he will still have his feet planted in Jazz's earthiest soil as his influences include Jeff Hamilton, Mel Lewis, Alvin Stoller and more importantly his father.

Antony Roberts - Sketching
Kelvin Christiane joined the quartet for two numbers, bookending the second set, and hostess Lesley Christiane was beautiful in turquoise whilst in a Jobim mood on 'Once I Loved'. I sketched side by side with artist Antony Roberts who I'd recently worked with on FreedBook and TJC Dude Lister initiated him into the fellowship by teaching him to drink beer with peanuts in.

 My tastes though were more Jazz related and like Dracula I sated myself on young blood. Lets hope it can rejuvenate me in time for this week's Big Band (16/5/2013) because I'll need all my energy to draw that rowdy rabble.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Gabriel Garrick - The Roundabout of Life

Gabriel Garrick - Flugelhorn
I'd drawn him a few times before of course and heard a few tales but this was my first time with Gabriel Garrick's own tunes and to experience him as a frontman in his fleshy best. Last Sunday (5/5/2013) was my first visit to The Green Dragon in Croydon too, and it seemed long-overdue. It proved to be an excellent location, with a ample and laid-back crowd, who balanced and swapped weekend newspaper sections amongst each other with familiarity.
With its heavy air-conditioning conduit overheard it looked every inch the urban jazz den. An image that was shattered of course when the heavy drapes were opened and the sparkling May sunshine spilled in.

Sam Walker - Saxophone
It is always a strange experience when absorbing yourself  in the perceived darkness of Jazz whilst wallowing in full blown daylight. More than once Garrick mistook day for night and mixed the two up in his announcements. Despite some late night activity, none of the musicians looked too bleary eyed but poor Sam Walker arrived on the brink of the first tune, '(Birks Works) Insurance Blues' after negotiating the wonders of Croydon's road network.

Matt Ridley - Bass
It was great to hear/see Garrick playing the lead role, the only previous occasions I had drawn him was in Big Band action where he was very badly behaved along with most of the trumpets. He has perfected the naughty schoolboy look, a slight looseness to the lips that seem permanently wet, about to utter a cheeky quip or possessing that sparkling gloss after a quick freshen from his beverage. By no means a schoolboy in 'Just William' terms, there is courage and steel in his speech, never shy to cast his opinion or to take a stand.

Alan Jackson - Drums
My long suffering wife had given me special dispensation to be here, the Bank Holiday DIY jobs weren't going to do themselves after all. So Garrick generously gave me some time and spoke lucidly about his father's death and his new direction.

"I didn't live in my Dad's shadow but I'm so like him it wasn't necessary to take his space or place, I never wanted to push him out of the nest. It's nearly 18 months since dad's death and I've done more in that time than in the whole rest of my career. Now I'm thriving on a concoction of responsibility and freedom. I wasn't ready at the time, who is, but I haven't looked back since being thrown off the roundabout of life."

Will Bartlett - piano
To emphasise the mixture of the past and future in his life, old-hand Alan Jackson dominated on 'In a Mellotone' and then new-blood Matt Ridley excelled on bass during the third tune 'Someday my prince will come'. Jackson had reached such a high by the fourth, 'Skylark', that he had dispensed with his spectacles and was flying free.

I listened to the title track from one of his new albums 'Song For My Father' before leaving but it had been his 'Insurance Blues' that had piqued my interest and I'll be getting my hands on his other release 'Sunlight' before too long.

As I walked out the door I had a brief chat with the canny Ken Carter, we discussed the imminent refurbishment (and maybe loss of Jazz) at The Bull's Head. It struck me that venues like The Green Dragon need to be supported and encouraged more than ever, so we/they can nurture fresh original work.

On the way home my life stretched before me like the long list of Bank Holiday DIY jobs that awaited me. I wasn't too downhearted, after all, tomorrow is a new day and the Roundabout of Life already had a few surprises ready for me.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

ArHai - Lets Get Lost

Adrian Lever - Tambura
It is not often I feel lost, or get lost.
With a good sense of direction and hopefully being an observant fellow I am not accustomed to that dead swell in the stomach or the gravity defying sweats that swell the blood in thundering temples.
Is it a good thing to lose oneself?
Well yes is the answer, and I lost everything with ArHai at Rich Mix last Saturday (04/05/2013).

A master of London's transport network, working the buses, tube and trains to my advantage I arrived in good spirits and of stable mind. Alert and darting, my gaze absorbed the clues I would need for the rest of the evening and to help write this of course. I searched for traces of the two protagonists, Adrian Lever & Jovana Backovic and the stage revealed plenty of leads amongst which sat a tambura, dulcimer, keyboard, electronic boxes and a bodhran secreted in the shadows.

Sebastian Merrick
I was welcomed in the pit of the venue by Sebastian Merrick, tonight's promoter. His easy smile settled me but I was eager for more information and was disarmed when he said, "I'm not totally sure what to expect myself tonight, I've been burning the candle at both ends with other projects and rather left this performance to evolve itself."
I suspect this wasn't quite true because as the atmosphere gently bubbled he leapt onto the stage to introduce the support.

Gokce Kiliner
Gokce Kiliner is one cool cat. Playing the guitar and languidly introducing her tunes, she never once broke sweat. Her playing was of the plodding unnerving kind, the slow strums felt like footsteps on an empty road. More than once I felt a chill of Lynchian delight as Rich Mix's red and green lights reminded me of my lonely late night retreats from music venues, crossing intersections, accompanied only by the winking of silent traffic signals.

Jovana Backovic
Kiliner's set revealed nothing of what was to come so I asked the DJ, Vince Millett from 'The Secret Archive of the Vatican'. Now this man should know some secrets, no one has kiss-and-told on this most covert of organisations. Unfortunately as he pressed his mouth to my ear the main act ArHai immerged.

Adrian Lever is unusual for a public performer, a tall slim introverted figure he most resembles a heron, planted in his spot with occasion movement from one leg to another. He exudes calmness and is devoid of aggression or machismo. His right hand on the Tambura is quite the opposite, frantically grating an imaginary coleslaw, the tone of the instrument is light and steely. Accomplished like a master acupuncturist, you flinch as his needling notes assail your ears only to find you're achieving a new state of ethereal being.

Tad Sargent - Bodhran
In contrast Jovana Backovic's voice has the best qualities of a darkened room on a summer's day, soothing and disorientating. In a long red robe with sleeves that stretched to her knees I was transported to Mongo, where Ming The Merciless' daughter Princess Aura weaved a heady mix of beauty and magic over me.

Despite a long association with Jazz and my recent 6 month residency at folk venue Twickfolk I was totally out of my depth. As the tunes washed over us all in the dark depths of Rich Mix, I found myself more and more lost. Whether this was a totally positive experience I am not sure, all I know it was a powerful one!

Tom Arthurs - Trumpet
We were given a lifeline of percussion when Lever and Backovic introduced their first guest, Tad Sargent, who rescued us from the effective but dripping projected visuals. It resulted in some clarity for this album launch, their interpretation of 'Beneath the Tree' became a focal point on what was a beautiful yet intangible landscape.

It only got better with the addition and swell of Tom Arthurs on trumpet and we were treated to a strong determined finale to tonight's proceedings. Despite a little indecision amongst the quartet, Arthurs helped steer us homeward and for me personally into a more familiar and beautiful territory.

Only after getting lost can you appreciate both the length of your unshackling and the path you have taken.
If in Ralph Waldo Emerson's words “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Then Life had blindfolded me, spun me around several times and hand in hand we have walked deep into the Balkan sunset.