A bit of bloggers block and a life/ work takeover have kept me quiet for the last few weeks. Happily the music has played on, and we have even caught some of it so here’s a few fleeting thoughts about a few of gigs. Clare Teal at Komedia was great fun. Somehow the arranging and performance of her band sound like a big band even when there are only four of them. MD Grant Windsor seems to have cajoled her into singing more overt pop covers: Van Morrison, Annie Lennox and even Snow patrol songs find there way in. There’s not loads of improvisation, just cracking arrangements a blistering rythmn section, Clare’s ‘Victoria Wood does jazz’ banter between songs and some hair tingling moments courtesy of those famous larynx. Unfailingly entertaining. Martin Pyne at St. James Wine Vaults with the Jazz house trio was a different but no less absorbing gig. Guy Harrup on guitar replaced Vyv and an intriguing medley of tunes emerged. Pyne is a percussionist as well as vibes player and has a penchant for abstraction and adventurous improv groups. This was a standards set with a few less well know anthemic pop tunes in there, so some of his more off-centre inclinations were held in check. A good smattering of monk revealed a delight in quirky rhythms and oblique motifs and I found his soloing really compelling because of that. Our most recent excursion was to see Tim Richards’ trio at Chapel arts. This is still a nice space. The sound was good and the team at Chapel Arts proud of the new Yamaha grand on the stage (I wouldn’t have gone for brown though!). Tim Richards has been established on the British jazz scene for over 20 years, a journey that started in the South West and a young Andy Sheppard played in one of the bands. Shockingly I’ve never seen him play. The selections were from his own recent repertoire and whether drawing on classic tunes or his own compositions there’s a very direct assertive feel to his playing, frequently drawing on a bluesy language. This was swinging, rolling music with a heart – tempting to slap the ‘hard bop’ label on it. There were some nice arrangements of tunes using riffs and bass pedal notes to propel melodies and generate a bit of suspense. An enjoyable gig bring energy to a thoroughly jazzy vibe.