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Review; 28th May, 2019
Paul Higgs introduced the Resident Trio and welcomed Les Cirkel, standing in for Dave Grant, on drums. Paul announced that Miles had not yet arrived; so meanwhile the Hilary Cameron trio would ‘kick off’ the evening, with Hilary playing “Just Friends”, written in 1931 by John Klenner with lyrics by Sam M. Lewis and introduced by Red McKenzie and His Orchestra in October 1931, Hillary treated this wonderful melody with her usual pleasing musicianship.
Paul announced that Miles still had not put in an appearance, so he would have to deputise and the group, led by Paul, launched into the familiar riff of “Milestones”. Milestones is a studio album by jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, recorded with his "first great quintet", augmented as a sextet. Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane's return to the Davis' group in 1958 coincided with the "modal phase" albums: Milestones and Kind of Blue (1959), both considered essential examples of 1950s modern jazz. "Milestones" is the first example of Miles composing in a modal style and experimentation in this piece led to the writing of "So What" from the 1959 album Kind of Blue. Hilary and Ted took solos before the group repeated the riff to complete the number. Paul then gave a demonstration of ‘vibrato’ used to great success by trumpet players such as Louis Armstrong and Harry James and compared it to the haunting sound achieved by Miles Davis’ using minimal vibrato*. The group then played a different theme also entitled “Milestones”. Paul dubbed this version (Milestones 47) as distinct from the previously very distinctive Miles Davis composition, that Paul referred to as (Milestones 58). “Milestones” (47) is a tune written by John Lewis (MJQ) for Miles Davis while he was playing in Charlie Parker’s band. Musically, it is not related to the more famous theme. Paul led the group with this, (to me), unfamiliar theme, and Hilary took a solo before Paul returned to the theme to end the number.
Paul then began a short and amusing biography of Miles Davis: - Miles Davis was born in Alton, Illinois, the son of a prosperous dental surgeon, and a music teacher mother. Miles had a happy childhood and as a youngster, developed a keen interest in music. *He took his first lessons in music from Elwood Buchanan, who advised him to play without “vibrato.” Miles joined the school band, directed by Buchanan. Later, he joined the orchestra, ‘Blue Devils,’ and eventually became its director. Miles’ father suggested he should enroll at ‘Juilliard School’ in New York, to acquire better knowledge in music theory, but Miles ‘dropped out’ preferring to ‘jam’ with saxophonist Charlie Parker's bebop quintet (from 1944 to 1948). Shortly after, he recorded the Birth of the Cool sessions, instrumental to the development of cool jazz. In the early 1950s, Miles Davis recorded some of the earliest hard bop music, (Blue Haze Album), but did so haphazardly due to his heroin addiction. After an acclaimed comeback performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, he made a deal with Columbia Records and recorded the 1957 album 'Round About Midnight, his first work with saxophonist John Coltrane and bassist Paul Chambers, key members of the sextet that he led into the early 1960s. During this period, he alternated between orchestral jazz collaborations with arranger Gil Evans, such as the Spanish-influenced Sketches of Spain (1960), and band recordings, such as Milestones (1958) and Kind of Blue (1959). The latter recording remains one of the most popular jazz albums of all time.
Next came a composition from the Blue Haze Album, “Four”, credited to Davis, but claimed by Eddie Vinson to be his composition. Vinson was a known blues singer at that time and gave Davis permission to record it. No one expressed opposition to the false crediting until decades later. The Blue Haze Album (vinyl), features a quartet with John Lewis on piano (replaced on the "Smooch" track by its co-composer Charles Mingus), and Max Roach on drums. Percy Heath is the bassist throughout the album. Other tracks have Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums, and first released titled, Miles Davis Quartet.. Paul led the group with the theme and solos were taken by Hilary and Ted. Paul continued his biography of Miles Davis referring to his 1950’s drug addiction problems, but focusing on Miles unique usage of the Harmon (Wah Wah) mute. Originally termed a Wah Wah mute, (Harmon (Chicago, Illinois) is a brand name). The Wah Wah mute has a stem that can be optionally removed, and that is how Miles Davis (and many other trumpeters) preferred to use it. But unlike most of the jazz trumpet players of the era, Miles used the mute, blowing softly, close to the microphone, and thus enhancing the intimate and haunting sound he had developed using minimal vibrato. Suffice to say, this technique could not be developed before electrical amplification was established.
Hilary played an introduction to the next number, “Bye, Bye, Blackbird”, a song published in 1926 by the American composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon, and is considered a popular standard with jazz musicians too. Paul used the melody to aptly demonstrate Miles Davis’ use of the Harmon mute technique. Hilary and Ted took solos and then Paul returned to the melody to complete the number. A masterful demonstration.
Paul continued his biography of Miles Davis referring to his throat surgery, being warned not to raise his voice, Davis had a loud argument with someone and permanently damaged his vocal cords, giving him the hoarse voice that he was known for. This husky voice and mysterious personality earned him the nickname, the “Prince of Darkness.” Davis felt deeply about the racist policies against the African–American people in the U.S. and participated in an anti-apartheid music album to show his support for the cause. Next came “My Funny Valentine”, a Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart show tune from the musical, Babes in Arms, that became a jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists. Hilary played the introduction and Paul played the familiar theme in typical Davis style, but un-muted. To conclude the first set, “Summertime”, a track from the Miles Davis, Porgy and Bess studio album was selected. This album features arrangements by Davis and collaborator Gil Evans, from George Gershwin's 1935 opera of the same name, and was the second collaboration between Davis and Evans and has garnered much critical acclaim since its release, being acknowledged by some music critics as the best of their collaborations. Paul played the familiar melody using the Harmon mute, a la Miles Davis style. Hilary and Ted took solos before Paul returned to the melody to finish what was a wonderful rendition which concluded the first set.
Hilary ‘kicked off’ the second set with a solo, playing, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”, a tune from the 1953 musical, Kismet, credited to Robert Wright and George Forrest. Like all the music in that show, the melody was based on works by Alexander Borodin and jazz musios and singers have enjoyed the musical challenges of this song for decades, particularly the best-selling version of the song recorded by Peggy Lee in 1954. Hilary played the theme with obvious personal enjoyment too. Next came, "On Green Dolphin Street" a 1947 composition by Bronisław Kaper, lyrics by Ned Washington written for the film Green Dolphin Street, based on a 1944 novel of the same name by Elizabeth Goudge, that became a jazz standard after it was recorded by the Miles Davis Sextet in 1958. Paul played the melody utilising the Harmon mute again, with stunning effect. Some wonderful interplay, trumpet and keyboard ensued with Paul and Hilary improvising freely. Les took a drum solo, and Paul returned to the melody, to finish with a clever fade out. Paul continued his biography of Miles Davis, referring to his change of style from ‘Cool Jazz’ to ‘Modal Jazz’, where instead of improvising around the chord sequence, improvising around scales is employed, sometimes with as little as two chords in a theme. To illustrate the Modal style, "So What", the first track on the 1959 album Kind of Blue, was selected as being one of the best known examples of Modal jazz. The piano-and-bass introduction for the piece was written by Gil Evans, for Bill Evans (no relation) and Paul Chambers, on Kind of Blue. An orchestrated version by Gil Evans (of this introduction) is later to be found on a television broadcast given by Miles' first quintet (minus Cannonball Adderley), and the Gil Evans Orchestra. The orchestra gave the introduction, after which the quintet played the rest of "So What". The use of the double bass to play the main theme makes the piece most unusual. This arrangement was later performed and recorded as part of the album Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall. The actor Dennis Hopper, in an interview in 2008, claimed that Davis named the song after intellectual conversations with Hopper, in which Hopper would reply, "So what?" So knowing all that, "So What", naturally featured Ted, with Paul playing the riff without the mute. Hilary and Ted then took solos. Then Hilary played the riff over Ted, until Paul joined in to finish; So what?
To illustrate further what is meant by Modal jazz, the group played “Flamenco Sketches", a composition by Miles Davis and pianist Bill Evans, of the 1959 album, Kind of Blue, which features Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Bill Evans. The piece has no written melody, but is rather defined by a set of chord changes that are improvised over, using various modes and each musician separately chose the number of bars for each of the Modal passages in their solo. Davis gets credit for the song form, but Evans is credited with the opening 4-bar vamp, which is the opening theme to his ballad improvisation "Peace Piece" and because of the presence of this vamp, "Flamenco Sketches" is usually played as a ballad. Ted and Hilary played an intro’ and Paul joined in, playing the slow and moody ‘sketches’ theme with a vaguely reminiscent flavour of flamenco music. Hilary took an equally moody solo, and Paul played out, emulating the Miles Davis Modal mode. Paul then referred to Sketches of Spain, an album by Miles Davis, recorded between November 1959 and March 1960. The album again pairs Davis with arranger and composer Gil Evans, on a program of compositions largely derived from the Spanish folk tradition. An extended version of the second movement of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) is included, as well as a piece called "Will o' the Wisp", from Manuel de Falla's ballet El amor brujo (1914–1915). Sketches of Spain is regarded as an exemplary recording of a musical fusion of jazz, European classical, and styles from world music. Following the faithful introduction of the concerto's guitar melody, on flugelhorn, Evans' arrangement turns into a "quasi-symphonic, quasi-jazz world of sound", according to his biographer, Davis thought the concerto's adagio melody was "so strong", that, "the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets", and Evans concurred. The contemporary critical response to the arrangement was not surprising, given the scarcity of anything resembling a jazz rhythm in most of the piece. Martin Williams wrote that "the recording is something of a curiosity and a failure, as I think a comparison with any good performance of the movement by a classical guitarist would confirm". The composer Rodrigo was also not impressed, however, royalties from the arrangement brought him "a lot of money", according to Evans. Paul played the Rodrigo theme un-muted and Hilary took a solo, following which, Paul continued with the theme, adding some improvisation of his own.
Back to Bebop with Seven Steps to Heaven, the eighth studio album by Miles Davis, released in 1963, that presents the Miles Davis Quintet in transition. The album is named after the track "Seven Steps to Heaven" has become an iconic jazz standard composed in 1963, by the English jazz pianist Victor Feldman, and Miles Davis. Lyrics to it were written much later by singer Cassandra Wilson, and jazz lyricist and singer Jon Hendricks. Although Feldman played and recorded with Davis in Los Angeles on Seven Steps to Heaven, and he appears on half of the tracks of the album, the West Coast-based pianist did not want to follow Davis to New York, where the album version of the composition was finally recorded, with Herbie Hancock on piano. Paul played the melody un-muted with drum breaks from Les. Hilary and Ted took solos and these were followed by chase choruses with drum breaks. A drum solo from Les followed, and chase choruses with drum breaks were repeated.
What happens when the ‘Prince of Darkness’ covers the ‘King of Pop’? Miles Davis’ decision to record a studio version of Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit, “Human Nature,” caused Al Foster, his friend and drummer, to walk out mid-session, thus putting an end to their longtime collaboration. Davis chalked it up to Foster’s unwillingness to “play that funky backbeat,” and sought his nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., to finish the job and depending on who you talk to, Davis' studio track is a either a straightforward homage in which his trumpet recreates “Jackson's breathy intimacy” or “flat, schmaltzy elevator music.” “Human Nature” was written by Toto’s keyboardist Steve Porcaro, the son of a jazz musician who idolised Davis, and the association no doubt contributes to the tune’s ongoing popularity, but as for “Human Nature” as rendered by Miles Davis, most critics prefer the live version, captured, at Montreux. July 7, 1988, described as “an upbeat rouser” through which Davis “prances.” Hilary played an intro’ followed by Paul playing the theme, utilising the Harmon mute.
Paul played tribute to Hilary, Ted and Les, (the ‘Hilary Cameron Trio’), as he had named them, for their musical support, and introduced the final number, "If I Were a Bell", a song composed by Frank Loesser for his 1950 musical Guys and Dolls. It has become a jazz standard since it was featured by trumpeter Miles Davis, on the 1956 Prestige album Relaxin' with The Miles Davis Quintet. The Miles Davis Quintet featured tenor saxophone player John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones.
The song became a Miles Davis specialty, and it appears on several live session recordings and compilations in different versions. The tune was taken up and performed by countless jazz musicians and is still a favourite in jam sessions. So closely is the tune associated with Miles Davis that it is often wrongly credited to him as one of his own original compositions. The Miles Davis version was also famously used in the final scene of the final episode of The Cosby Show. Hilary played an intro’ followed by a lively rendition of the melody from Paul, once again utilising the Harmon mute. Hilary followed with an equally rousing solo. Paul returned to the melody improvising freely, before finishing the number and concluding the evening’s entertainment.
Richard Marson paid tribute to this month’s guest artists, Paul Higgs, and Les Cirkel (standing in for Dave Grant), and thanked the audience for their loyalty to the club, not forgetting many thanks to the trio stalwarts, Hilary Cameron and Ted Simkins for their support in providing yet another wonderful evening of great jazz music.
The next event is on Tuesday 25th June with guest artists, John Withers, (vibraphone) and Martin Nickless, (clarinet). Richard has entitled this session ‘Musical Potpourri’, so come along and be captivated and above all, entertained.
John Constable

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

APRIL

Review: 30th April. 2019
Dave Grant Introduced the resident trio and ‘kicked off’ the evening, with Hilary playing “Baubles, Bangles and Beads from the 1953 musical Kismet, credited to Robert Wright and George Forrest. Like all the music in that show, the melody was based on works by Alexander Borodin, in this case the second theme of the second movement of his String Quartet in D. Jazz musicians are especially drawn to the song's beguiling melody, and advanced harmonic structure, Dave Grant thanked everyone for coming, and introduced the guest for the evening:-
Andy Linham, alto saxophone, who explored the albums of the legend, Paul Desmond.
Andy introduced his first number “Tangerine” saying that he didn’t know the tune until last Tuesday, which is strange because the song is featured in several Brubeck albums and a Chet Baker / Paul Desmond studio compilation? The music written by Victor Schertzinger, and lyrics by Johnny Mercer was published in 1941 and soon became a jazz standard featured in the 1942 movie, “The Fleet’s In” directed by Schertzinger, just before his death. There are over a hundred recordings of "Tangerine", by such notable artists as Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, and many others. The tune was featured as background music in the films “Double Indemnity” (1944), and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). Andy lead the melody and solos taken by Hilary and Ted. The next number, “In Your Own Sweet Way” is a 1955 tune, one of the most famous compositions by Dave Brubeck written around 1952. Brubeck's wife Iola, for whom the song was written, later wrote a lyric for the song, which led to singers such as Carmen McRae recording it. Although an earlier live recording is known it was first released on Brubeck's 1956 album Brubeck Plays Brubeck. Andy introduced the next number, "Like Someone in Love", a song composed in 1944 by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke written for the 1944 film Belle of the Yukon sung by Dinah Shore and has since become a jazz standard and also a hit for Bing Crosby in 1945, Andy led with the melody and then improvised on the chord sequence, inserting melodies such as ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ and ‘Broadway’ with solos taken by Hilary and Ted.
The next number “Alice in Wonderland”, was selected from Andy’s favourite Desmond / Brubeck album, ‘Dave Digs Disney’, being the theme song of the Walt Disney 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland, (not the Tchaikovsky ballet), but composed by Sammy Fain, with lyrics by Bob Hilliard arranged by Harry Simeone. The "dreamy" song plays during the opening and end credits, and became a jazz standard performed by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, and others. Next was “It Could Happen to You”, a 1944 song by Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen. Andy played the melody and then handed over to Hilary for a solo. Andy finished the number, improvising freely, and for some reason included the Christmas songs ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Jingle Bells’. It is jazz so why not?
Next came “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”, a tune, with once again, music by Jimmy Van Heusen lyrics Johnny Burke, published in 1940; and was Frank Sinatra's first hit recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The song is one of the top 100 most-frequently recorded jazz standards with notable recordings by Bill Evans, Blue Mitchell, Wes Montgomery, Sarah Vaughan, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Lou Donaldson, Dexter Gordon and many others. It was selected by Andy from his favourite Desmond album, ‘Feeling Blue’. Andy played the melody and Hilary followed with a solo, before handing back to Andy for an improvised chorus before finishing. To conclude the first set, the next number was “The Way You Look Tonight” a song from the film Swing Time, written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. In the movie, the song was performed by Fred Astaire singing to Ginger Rogers while she was washing her hair, in an adjacent room, and his recording reached top of the charts in 1936. Inspired by the wonderful Paul Desmond / Gerry Mulligan album, ‘Two of a mind’, Andy played the familiar melody and Hilary took a solo. “The Way You Look Tonight, concluded the first set and musicians took a well earned break.

Hilary opened the second set with “Days of Wine and Roses”, written by Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, is from a 1962 drama film directed by Blake Edwards, with screenplay by JP Miller. The film depicts the sad downward spiral of two average Americans (played by Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick), who succumb to alcoholism and attempt to deal with their problems. Deftly played by Hilary, and Ted took a thoughtful solo. The Ellington / Strayhorn composition, “Take the ‘A’ Train” followed and several versions of this tune were recorded by the Dave Brubeck quartet, with some recorded live performances. Andy and Hilary played the familiar theme. Ted took a solo, before Andy and Hilary played the theme to finish. Next came a Gerry Mulligan composition, “Walkin’ Shoes”, originally recorded in 1952, and issued on a 10” vinyl record as ‘Gerry Mulligan Quartet Volume 1’. It was reissued on a CD with the same album title, but with the tune title amended to Walking Shoes. The CD had five extra tracks added. Andy led off with this catchy theme. Next, “I Hear a Rhapsody”, a 1941 composition by George Fragos, Jack Baker and Dick Gasparre, that became a jazz standard and featured in the 1952 film Clash by Night, sung by Tony Martin. The sound track featured jazz notables such as, alto saxophonist Benny Carter, and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins with the film starred Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, and Paul Douglas. Andy played the theme and his improvisation somehow slotted in ‘Anything Goes’.

Sharon Scott , a frequent visitor to the club, was in the audience and invited to sing. Sharon chose “That’s All”, a 1952 song by Alan Brandt composed by Bob Haymes and has been covered by many jazz and blues artists. It was not an initial hit but became an immediate standard and became part of the Great American Songbook. Sharon sang the song with feeling, as always, and solos were taken by Andy and Hilary.

Andy returned to the mic’ to announce the next number, “I Should Care”, played in the Bossa Nova style, originally a 1944 tune by Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston and Sammy Cahn, first appearing in the MGM film Thrill of a Romance, eventually becoming a jazz standard, with recordings by many artists including Paul Desmond. Andy played the melody and Hilary and Ted followed with solos, before handing back to Andy to close.
Hilary’s solo followed, with a song from the 1935 Gershwin brothers’ opera, ‘Porgy and Bess’. “I Loves You Porgy”, written as a duet, but has been covered successfully as a solo; notably by Nina Simone. Hilary gave a very moving rendition of this song as she did at the last gig.
Next Desmond's tribute number “Take Five”, that the audience had long anticipated, composed by Paul Desmond, originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for their 1959 album, Time Out. The first playing of "Take Five" was to a live audience at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959 by the DB Quartet and just two years later became the biggest-selling jazz single ever Over the next 50 years the group re-recorded it many times, and often used it to close concerts. Upon his death in 1977, Paul Desmond left the royalties for his compositions, including "Take Five", to the American Red Cross, which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 a year. Hilary and Andy played the familiar theme to much applause and Hilary took a solo.
Follow that, as they say, and Andy did with “Cotton Tail” a 1940 composition by Duke Ellington. Nothing to do with the indigenous U.S. rabbit population, it is a contrafact based on the rhythm changes from George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". The first Ellington recording (4 May 1940) is notable for the driving tenor saxophone solo by Ben Webster. Originally an instrumental, "Cotton Tail" later had lyrics by Ellington. Later, more lyrics were written, based on the 1940 recording, by Jon Hendricks, and recorded by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Andy led off with the theme which morphed strangely into ‘Singing in the Rain’, followed by solos from Hilary and Ted, with Andy returning with a solo that included the theme of ‘Tenor Madness’.

Dave Grant paid tribute to the guest artist, Andy Linham, and of course to Hilary Cameron and that stalwart Ted Simkins, not forgetting Sharon Scott’s unscheduled contribution, and he thanked the audience for their loyalty to the club.
The next gig is Tuesday 28th May: “Shades of Miles” featuring Paul Higgs (trumpet) and with the resident trio.

Another really enjoyable evening of great jazz music, delivered by Andy Linham, a very proficient saxophonist and all round musician and composer, performing a thoughtful and varied programme, based on the music of Paul Desmond. Andy was ably supported by the resident musicians, Dave Grant, Hilary Cameron and “The man in the hat”, Ted Simkins. Addition vocal treats from Hilary Cameron and Sharon Scott were a welcome bonus.

john Constable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

MARCH

Review: Tuesday 26th March 2019.
“An Evening with Ella & Louis”
Dave Grant apologised for the slightly late start due to traffic problems as he introduced the resident trio and ‘kicked off’ the evening, with Hilary Cameron playing “Satin Doll”, by Duke Ellington and Biirlly Strayhorn, lyrics by Johnny Mercer came after the song was a hit in its instrumental version. Ellington’s "Satin Doll" was the closing number in most of his concerts. Dave then introduced
Paul Higgs, this month’s guest who along with Hilary Cameron who were basing their ‘show’ on the Jazz Giants, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and started first with, ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’, a 1937 tune written by George Gershwin, lyrics by brother Ira. The song introduced Paul on trumpet, providing strong backing to Hilary’s vocal.
But was this really Hilary? Her voice was so strong and more confident, more sultry, more endearing perhaps, than we had previously heard her sing at the Club? More of that please Hilary! Nothing like Ella really, but certainly stylish and entertaining.
Next came a tribute to Ella, ‘Cheek to Cheek’, written by Irving Berlin in 1935, for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie Top Hat. Hilary sang the lyrics of this popular song with gusto, with Paul adding trumpet accompaniment. ‘Comes Love’, followed, an unusual 1939 composition by Sam H. Stept, lyrics by Lew Brown and Charles Tobias and featured in the Broadway musical Yokel Boy, starring Phil Silvers and Buddy Ebsen. Hilary’s tongue–in-cheek lyrics in Salsa rhythm with shaker accompaniment from Dave whilst Paul improvised by striking his trumpet cup mute with his mouthpiece, brought this number to another level.
Paul asked by a member of the audience, about the pronunciation of Louis, explained that he was Lou-is, to his fellow musicians, and the black community, and Lou-e, to everyone else. Paul then launched into a lively rendition of ‘Struttin’ With Some Barbecue’, written by Lil’ Hardin, pianist in ‘King’ Oliver’s band, where Louis learnt his trade playing second cornet. Lil’ became Louis second wife, and reference to Barbecue is a euphemism for ‘tasty hot date’. Paul played the tricky melody, reminiscent of Louis in the early days. Hilary, Paul and Ted took solos and then chase choruses followed, with drum breaks from Dave. Hilary announced her next song,’April In Paris’, composed in 1932 by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Yip Harburg’, for the Broadway musical Walk a Little Faster. An outstanding tune in both melody and lyrics that Hilary put her heart and soul into as Paul contributed to the mood with muted trumpet solo. The result was a moving experience highlight for the evening at this point.
By way of contrast the next song, an up tempo version of ‘Love is Here To Stay’, composed by George Gershwin for 1938 movie The Goldwyn Follies, was the last musical composition George Gershwin completed before his death. Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics after George's death, as a tribute to his brother. Hilary sang the lyrics with gusto and Paul provided an equally lively solo.
Time for a solo spot from Paul, as he chose ‘Willow Weep for Me’ composed in 1932 by Ann Ronell, who also wrote the lyrics. The song, mostly known as a jazz standard, was rejected by publishers for several reasons. One reason was; it was written by a woman, and its unusually complex construction for a composition that was targeted at a commercial audience! Paul played the melody with just keyboard chords accompaniment from Hilary; no bass or drums. He used a sink plunger mute to great effect throughout. An unusual and wonderful rendition.
Hilary introduced the next number, ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, a tune by Cole Porter, which was first sung by Ethel Merman in the 1934 Broadway musical Anything Goes, and also in the 1936 film version. Hilary wanted to emulate the very fast Jamie Cullum version, so they did. Paul took a very fast solo too that concluded the first set.
Hilary ‘kicked off’ the second set with a keyboard solo, playing, ‘C Jam Blues’, composed in 1942 by Duke Ellington, although it is thought that it originated with clarinetist, Barney Bigard. As the title suggests, the piece follows a twelve-bar blues form, in the key of C major. The song is well known for being extremely easy to play, with the entire melody featuring only two notes; G and C. Hilary played the blues with gusto and Dave took a drum solo.
The next number featured Hillary singing and playing, ‘A Foggy Day (In London Town)’ a tune composed by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress. Originally titled in reference to the pollution-induced, pea soup fogs, common in London during that period, found Hillary’s vocal interpretation intimate, delightful, and well received.
Next came another song covered by Ella and Louis, ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’, a 1934 tune written and arranged by Edgar Sampson, but often attributed to Benny Goodman, and is named after the famed Harlem nightspot, Savoy Ballroom in New York City. Paul played just the first two notes of the riff on his trumpet, (Sa-voy) throughout the piece, except a rip, roaring solo. Successive bars were played by Hilary on keyboard before she broke into the vocal, scat singing cleverly. Number concluded with more scat from Hilary, and the two notes from Paul.
This was followed, in a Bossa nova rhythm: - ‘East of the Sun, (and West of the Moon)’, a song written by Brooks Bowman, an undergraduate of Princeton University, for the 1934 Princeton Triangle Club's production of “Stags at Bay”. Hilary sang this lovely melody with much feeling as Paul complemented her singing with a moody, muted solo. Incidentally, no connection to the song, but East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is a popular Norwegian fairy story. Now Not a Lot of People Know That !
The next number featured Paul, but first gave a brief reference to hit songs that Louis enjoyed in his later career, with one of these being ‘Hello Dolly’, from a 1964 musical, lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder's 1938 farce, The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and re-titled The Matchmaker in 1955. Louis Armstrong subsequently made a very successful album entitled ‘Hello Dolly’. Paul played the very familiar melody as solos were taken by Paul, Hilary and Ted.

Hilary’s solo spot followed, a song from the 1935 Gershwin brothers’ opera, ‘Porgy and Bess’. ‘I Loves You Porgy’ written as a duet, has been covered successfully as a solo; notably by Nina Simone. Hilary also gave an exceptional moving rendition of the song and followed it by a jazz waltz version of probably the best known song from the opera, ‘Summertime’, where her intonation of the familiar lyrics were delicately operatic, highlight of the evening for many, as Paul joined and took a masterful solo before Hilary followed with some very effective scat singing, before returning to the lyrics to finish. Summertime is reported to be the most recorded tune in the musical library. Now did you know that!

‘Caravan’ composed by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, first performed in 1936, lyrics by Irving Mills which are rarely sung but were recorded by Johnny Mathis 1956. Hilary sang the lyrics and Paul took a solo, before Hilary repeated the lyrics to finish. The final song of the session was ‘How High The Moon’ lyrics by Nancy Hamilton and music by Morgan Lewis, first featured in the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show. Hilary sang the lyrics with accompaniment from Paul, before he took a solo whilst Hilary continued with a chorus of scat and followed with a keyboard solo, before another chorus of the lyrics.
This concluded the evening’s entertainment.
Dave Grant paid tribute to this month’s guest artist, Paul Higgs, and thanked the audience for their loyalty to the club, not forgetting the stalwarts, Hilary Cameron and Ted Simkins for their support in providing yet another wonderful evening of great jazz music.
Next event is Tuesday 30th April with guest artist, Andy Linham, exploring the music of the composer of ‘Take Five’, the legendary, Paul Desmond, on alto saxophone.
John Constable

Footnote:
All jazz evenings at OB’s are enlightening, some more than others, but tonights' show was unexpected. I believe most of the audience were similarly surprised, as myself, with Hilary’s supreme confidence and quality of performance, that became my highlight of the evening.
Well done Hilary.
Editor

 An Evening with Ella & Louis

Hilary Cameron, keys and Paul Higgs, trumpet 

Photograph courtesy of Brian Leith

FEBRUARY

Review: Tuesday 26 th February 2019.
This month’s gig,
Great Guitars Revisited is dedicated to guitar maestros of yester-year; Namely: Charlie Christian, Charlie Byrd and Barney Kessel, brought back to life (rhetorically) by this month’s guests, Dominic Ashworth, Andy Watson, and Simon Hurley accompanied by Dave Grant, drums/leader, and Ted Simkins, bass.
The group ‘kicked off’ with “Seven Come Eleven”, a joint composition by Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman. Charlie Christian an important early performer on the electric guitar, and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz, gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument. The title “Seven Come Eleven” references a gambling game craps played with two dice, in which a first throw of 7 or 11, wins.
All three guitarists took solos and some exiting chase choruses ensued.
The next number was “A Smooth One” a Benny Goodman composition that Charlie Christian featured in as a member of his sextet. All three guitarists took solos, before returning to the main theme to finish.
A Rodgers and Hammerstein composition followed; “It Might As Well Be Spring”, was very apt,
following very warm weather of late, written for the 1945 film State Fair, music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song
that year. The musicians played the melody in waltz time. Simon played an intro’ and Andy took over with the melody before handing over to Dominic for a solo. Ted took a solo and was followed by Andy and Simon, with a return to the melody, to close
A ‘Latin’ rhythm version of “Stella by Starlight” followed, a melody by Victor Young, composed for the soundtrack of the 1944 Paramount Pictures film, The Uninvited . Originally composed
as an instrumental theme, Ned Washington wrote the lyrics in 1946. The title had to be
incorporated into the lyrics, and unusually it appears about three quarters of the way through the song, rather than at the beginning, or the end. The musicians started with an ‘intro’ riff and then Andy led into the melody. Solos were taken by Simon and Ted with chasing choruses, before handing back to Andy for the melody.
Back to Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian for “Benny’s Bugle”, another notable collaboration, with a highly acclaimed recorded solo from Charlie Christian in the sextet collection. Dominic lead off with the familiar riff, and Andy and Simon played ‘Rock and Roll’ like riffs as a counterpoint. Ted took a solo and then the three guitarists played unaccompanied, until they returned to the bugle like riff, to finish.
“Benny’s Bugle”, concluded the first set and the musicians took a well earned break.

The second set began with a contradiction, as the musicians decided to play “Undecided”, a tune written by Sid Robin and Charlie Shavers in 1938 and was the first track on the vinyl album, ‘The Great Guitars 1975’, paying tribute to Charlie Byrd , Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis. Incidentally “Benny’s Bugle” is the last track on the album, but Charlie Christian is not acknowledged on the sleeve, as one of the greats? Simon led with the familiar riff. Andy, Dominic and Ted took solos with the ensemble returned to the riff to finish the number.
A ballad followed; “Body and Soul”, now a jazz standard written in 1930, lyrics by Edward Heyman , Robert Sour and Frank Eyton and music by Johnny Green. Body and Soul was written in New York City for the British actress and singer Gertrude Lawrence, who introduced it to
London audiences but was first performed in the U.S. in the 1930 Broadway revue Three's a Crowd.
Louis Armstrong, in October 1930, was the first jazz musician to record Body and Soul.
This particular rendition of the melody was inspired by the 1980 vinyl album, ’The Great Guitars at the Winery’. Andy led the melody and Simon and Dominic took solos. Simon and Dominic paired up, followed by Andy and Simon. Andy then played the melody through to finish.
A complete departure from guitar maestros followed, with a 1947 bebop composition by Charlie Parker 'Scrapple From The Apple' is commonly recognized as a jazz standard where the theme borrows its chord progression from well known tunes; a practice known as a contrafact. This was a common practice for Parker; who based many of his successful tunes over already well-known chord changes. The ‘A’ section of “Scrapple From The Apple” is based on "Honeysuckle Rose" "I Got Rhythm". Simon led, then Dominic, Andy and Ted took solos. The three guitarists resumed unaccompanied, until le tout ensemble returned to the melody, and then finished.
Simon stepped out, while Andy and Dominic played “How Insensitive”, a Bossa nova song composed by Brazilian musician, Antônio Carlos Jobim . The lyrics written in Portuguese by Vinícius de Moraes and in English by Norman Gimbel. In Brazil the song goes by the title "Insensatez", translates more accurately to How Foolish. The tune resembles Chopin's prelude in E minor .
Dominic led with an ‘intro’, then Andy joined in to play the melody. Andy and Dominic alternated with solos, until they rejoined to play the melody together to finish.
Simon returned for what was to be, the last tune of the evening, “Topsy”; written by Edgar Battle and Eddie Durham and had been recorded by Count Basie in 1937, but Benny Goodman’s 1938 version became a pop hit. In 1958, drummer Cozy Cole recorded the theme, and issued it in two parts, two sides of an E.P. Both sides (Topsy Part 1, and Topsy Part 2) were simultaneous hits* and gave budding guitarists great fun with this very catchy tune, and Dominic and Ted took wonderful solos.
Andy paid tribute to Ted Simkins and Dave Grant and his colleague Simon Hurley, and, how much he had enjoyed playing jazz guitar with Dominic Ashworth for the very first time, adding their appreciation of the audience reaction to their music programme
As an encore and to complete the evening, Dominic, Andy, Simon, Ted and Dave, played a Blues encore. Andy led off with Simon and Dominic eager to add their contribution. This concluded yet another outstanding evening of great jazz music.
Dave Grant thanked this month’s guests, Dominic Ashworth, Andy Watson and Simon Hurley, and also stalwart Ted Simkins, for an exceptional and unusual evening of great guitar jazz music. He thanked the audience for their patronage, probably the best turn-out ever to see these superlative musicians, and wished us all a safe journey home.
Next month, Tuesday 26th March is: “An Evening with Ella & Louis”, featuring Hilary Cameron (keyboard) and Paul Higgs (trumpet).

Footnote: - An unusual line-up, but it worked so well, being one of the most enjoyable evenings of jazz music at O.B’s, so far and particularly ‘blown away’ by the group’s rendition of “Body and Soul”, a great favourite of mine. The musical expertise and spontaneity was impressive, especially when you realise that Dominic and Andy had never even met before, let alone played so magnificently together.
NB. I bought the exiting Extended Play single of “Topsy” in 1958, never expecting it to become as popular as it did. My brother and I must have played it hundreds of times, ignoring the nuisance of having to turn the record over to hear part two.

John Constable

 

Dominic Ashworth

Great Guitars Revisited

Andy Watson

 

Simon Hurley

JANUARY

Review: Tuesday, 29th January, 2019
Dave Grant wished everyone a belated Happy New Year and introduced the guest of the evening:-
Catherine Lima vocalist to present her show 'The Allure of Miss Lee'
Unfortunately, Hilary Cameron, keys, was stuck in traffic on the M25 and was struggling to arrive on time. So what could be done without a keyboard player? What would Peggy Lee do with just a bass player, Ted Simkins and a drummer, Dave Grant?
She broke into a FEVER of course! Catherine protested, because she had planned for ‘Fever’ to be her final song of the evening. Protesting was no use of course ‘Fever’ it had to be…

The song, "Fever" written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell, was originally recorded by American R&B singer Little Willie John for his debut album, Fever (1956), and released as a single in April of the same year. In May 1958, Peggy Lee recorded a cover version of the song in Hollywood, which featured rewritten lyrics composed by Peggy Lee herself (without credit). "Fever" was not included on the 1959 album Things Are Swingin' , but as an added bonus track on its 2004 reissue. The non copyrighted lyrics by Peggy Lee, featured historical invocations with verses beginning "Romeo loved Juliet," and "Captain Smith and Pocahontas" now considered standard parts of the song, which were most likely arranged by the singer herself, despite the official credit to conductor Jack Marshall. A slower-tempo version than the original, was described as being in "torchy lounge" mode, being accompanied only by bass player by Joe Mondragon and a very limited drum set, played in part with fingers by Shelly Manne, while finger snaps were provided by the singer herself. Peggy Lee’s rendition was further described as "smooth, sultry", and became the most widely known version of "Fever", being singer's signature tune and nominated in three categories at the 1st Annual Grammy Awards in 1959, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Peggy Lee’s version of “Fever” is a hard act to follow, but Catherine and the trio, minus one, gave a masterful rendition of “Fever” and if someone had volunteered finger snaps, it would have been near perfect. I bet even Dave didn’t know he was emulating Shelly Manne !
Catherine then sang “When I Fall in Love”, not from the Peggy Lee ‘store’, but music written by Victor Young, lyrics by Edward Heyman and introduced in the film One Minute to Zero. The tune has since become a standard, with first hit version sung by Doris Day in July 1952 and with minimum accompaniment, this was a true test of Catherine’ s abilities as a performer and she was not found wanting. Back to Miss Peggy Lee, for, “Bye Bye Blackbird”, published in 1926 by composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon and featured in an album by Peggy Lee entitled Songs from Pete Kelly's Blues, containing songs from the 1955 film, Pete Kelly's Blues. Peggy Lee starred in the film and re-recorded some of the songs for the album and nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a troubled alcoholic singer. The film set in the 1920s, with the album a combination of Dixieland and 1950s swing; had help from jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. With the limited trio (duo) backing, Catherine invited audience participation, but this was sparse and unenthusiastic. Nevertheless, Catherine, what a trooper, sang the familiar lyrics with obvious inspiration from the original Peggy Lee recording, adding ‘Scat’ singing of her own, interspersed with drum breaks from Dave. Catherine confessed, she was not good at telling jokes, but leant more on her real life experiences. The story she told, was when a very boring monologue being given about the special qualities of a certain key, after listening for some time, a frustrated Catherine burst out loudly, “Will it fit my chastity belt”? A real show stopper question; but I guess you had to be there! Moving swiftly on, Catherine showed the audience (not what you were thinking), some of the percussion instruments she had bought for the evenings’ entertainment as if reference to her chastity belt had not been entertainment enough…….With cabasa in hand she launched into her next number in Spanish, “Quizás, quizás, quizás”, a song, with music and original Spanish lyrics written by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés, becoming a hit for Bobby Capó in 1947. The English lyrics "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" were written by Joe Davis, and are not a Spanish translation of the lyrics, and first recorded by Desi Arnaz in 1948. Catherine sang the song with much verve in Spanish and in English.
“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”, concluded the first set and as the musicians took a break, a flustered Hilary arrived amid cheers from the audience. Meanwhile, Hilary arrived and set up her keyboard ready for the second set.

Catherine opened the second set with “I Love Being Here With You” written by Peggy Lee and Bob Schluger in 1960 becoming popular in Miss Lee's repertoire being first released as the B-side to “Bucket Of Tears”, and often used as a warm up introduction, always well received. Catherine’s rendition was no exception. Next came “Hey There” with a rumba rhythm from the 1954 Broadway musical play ‘The Pajama Game’, by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. In 1957 the play was made into a film that was unusually faithful to the show, retaining not only the original score in its entirety, most of the original cast, including male lead John Raitt with Doris Day replacing Janis Paige in the female lead role. Catherine sang the song evocatively before breaking into a ‘scat’ chorus to finish. Catherine continued with “This Can’t Be Love (because I feel so well)", a show tune from the 1938 Rodgers and Hart musical, ‘The Boys from Syracuse’. The lyrics poke fun at the common perception of love in songs, by depicting them as a host of malignant symptoms. Catherine sang the familiar lyrics with gusto, before breaking into a chorus of ‘scat’, interspersed with drum breaks from Dave; and finishing with thelyrics.
Back to the Peggy Lee songbook for “Why Don’t You Do Right?”. Originally recorded as "Weed Smoker's Dream", an American blues and jazz-influenced song, written by Joseph "Kansas Joe" McCoy in 1936. Later, McCoy, rewrote the song, and named it "Why Don't You Do Right?". The song originally dealt with a marijuana smoker reminiscing his lost financial opportunities. Rewritten, it takes on the perspective of the female partner, who chastises her man for his irresponsible ways: “Why don't you do right, like some other men do? Get out of here and get me some money too”. One of the best-known versions of the song was recorded by Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman on July 27, 1942, in New York featured in the 1943 film, ‘Stage Door Canteen’, selling over 1 million copies brought Peggy Lee to nationwide attention. Peggy Lee married band member guitarist Dave Barbour, and left Goodman in 1943, intending to retire from the music industry and focus on homemaking, but continuing to receiving offers to return to the music world, largely due to the success of "Why Don't You Do Right?" Ultimately, she returned to singing, and collaborated off and on with Goodman, throughout her career and recorded an alternate version of the song in 1947. Catherine sang the song in the smouldering style associated with Peggy Lee, to great effect. Hilary complemented this with a very nice solo too.
Another Peggy Lee recorded song “Get Out Of Town”, a 1938 song written by Cole Porter, for his musical Leave It to Me! Catherine sang this, as before, very effectively in the distinctive Peggy Lee style.
Catherine then told one of her real life humorous stories about her mother’s funeral! This was followed by a story about an incident where a backing track would not play……..
The backing track was, incidentally, for the same song as the one Catherine was about to sing, “A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square”, a romantic British tune written in 1939 with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, music by Manning Sherwin and written in the then, small French fishing village of Le Lavandou, now a favourite resort for British holidaymakers and second-home owners. Catherine sang the song beautifully, and then told another story involving her mother and her sister and morphine!……….
Next came “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” written by Cole Porter in 1936 and used in the film ‘Born to Dance’ and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song that year becoming a signature song for Frank Sinatra. Catherine delivered the romantic lyrics with a freshness that deserved, and received much applause.
This was followed by a composition from George Gershwin “S'Wonderful”, a song,lyrics by brother Ira, introduced in the Broadway musical Funny Face (1927) and included in the 1951 movie An American in Paris, as well as in the 1957 American musical film ‘Funny Face’. Catherine sang the familiar lyrics with gusto, before breaking into another chorus of ‘scat’, interspersed with drum breaks from Dave; and then finishing with a chorus of the lyrics.
A departure then, with a Kurt Weill composition, “Speak Low” that was introduced in the Broadway musical One Touch of Venus, 1943, and used in the 1948 film version too.The opening line of the song, "Speak low when you speak, love" is from a line in Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing, in which Don Pedro says "Speak low if you speak love." The tune now a jazz standard that has been widely recorded,including by Kurt Weill. Catherine’s soft and sultry voice suited this song so well, with Hilary playing a pleasing solo too.
Back to Peggy Lee and her song compositions for the 1955 Walt Disney CinemaScope widescreen animated musical romance film, Lady and the Tramp, for the song, “He’s A Tramp”.Based on "Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog," by Ward Greene, Lady and the Tramp tells the story of a female Cocker Spaniel named Lady, owned by a young couple, Darling and Jim Dear, and a male stray of mixed-breed, a dog called Tramp. When the two dogs meet, they embark on many romantic adventures and fall in love. Peggy Lee is the voice of Darling, Jim Dear's wife, and the voices of Si and Am, twin Siamese cats with a knack for mischief; and Peg, a stray female Pekingese, whom Lady meets at the dog pound along with other dog inmates. It implies, through the lyrics of the song Peg sings “He's a Tramp”, that Peg has had a relationship with Tramp in the past. Peg has a Brooklyn accent. Catherine eschewed the Brooklyn accent, and sang the song delightfully, causing much nostalgia for those that had enjoyed the film in years gone by.
The penultimate song of the evening was, “A Taste of Honey”, being the first play written by the British dramatist Shelagh Delaney, when she was 18. The play produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in May1958 and in 1961, was adapted into an award-winning film of the same title. Originally an instrumental track, written for the 1960 Broadway version of the play, the song “A Taste of Honey”, and used in the film version, written by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow. Both original and later recording by Herb Alpert in 1965 earned the song four Grammy Awards. Catherine gave an excellent delivery of the song lyrics.

Dave Grant paid tribute to the guest artist, Catherine Lima, and of course Hilary Cameron and that stalwart Ted Simkins, and he thanked the audience for their loyalty to the club.
By way of an encore or finale, Catherine sang “All, or Nothing at All”, composed in 1939 by Arthur Altman, lyrics by Jack Lawrence, gave another excellent choice for Catherine’s voice, and a very pleasing solo from Hilary and with enthusiastic applause, this song completed the evenings’ entertainment.

The next gig is on Tuesday 26th February: - “Great Guitars Revisited” with guitar maestros Dominic Ashworth, Andy Watson & Simon Hurley”.

Footnote: A thoroughly enjoyable evening of great jazz music, delivered by Catherine Lima, an amusing and musically proficient songstress, performing a thoughtful and varied programme, not forgetting a cheeky reference to her chastity belt. Catherine was ably supported by the resident musicians, Dave Grant, Hilary Cameron and “The man in the hat”, Ted Simkins.

John Constable

 

The Allure of Miss Lee

Catherine Lima, an hilarious 'off the hoof' performance 

Photograph courtesy of Brian Leith

 

 

 

by Leimar Productions

 

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This site was last updated

05-Apr-2019