Local treasures – Five Little Gems

Busyness, life and writing for other blogs and publications  have restricted posting here of late, but here are a few little gems, re-visited or discovered, that it would be wrong not to log.

In no particular order

1. Bath Festival’s Party in the City:  We loved hearing Craig Crofton’s sax echoing of the Abbey as we approached Blow-out Sax’s gaffe below North Parade by the River – they’d set up a little stage outside for the night and were competing with the legendary Gas Giants (Tony Orrell with Will Gregory) in Parade Gardens. That was before we hung out at Green Park Brasserie watching Guy Harrap’s band groove away with a youthful George Rebello on drums and his dad (Jason) roady-ing for him… and sitting in on the odd number.

2.  Don Weller @ Jazz at the Vaults:  He may be in his mid-70s, but he’s still got his mojo and Don Weller was well and truly cooking after a couple of sets with the house trio. Seeing him sparking off Vyv Hope Scott on piano was a thrill to watch.   What a treasure this gig is. How many years and counting?  7 or 8 I’m sure.  Dave Newton is the next guest (28th May) followed by Jim Mullen and Zoe Francis

3.  Frome Jazz Club:This Pheonix has had a few risings, but we caught the first of the latest re-ignitions at the the end of April with John Law dazzling a healthy crowd at the Grain Barge in Frome.  Inevitable sitters in (Sam Crockett, Iain Ballamy, Nick Sorensen) and May’s gig was Iain Ballamy.  It may be a bit below the radar, but its reliably classy – Keith Harrison Broniski is animateur in chief and has form. He was behind the long running Nunney Jazz Cafe back in the day.  Frome’s dynamism is quite a badly kept secret now with John Harris writing fairly regularly in the Guardian about it and their ‘flat pack democracy’.  But the jazz is cooking!

4. Scratch and Sniff Orchestra: More DIY.  Bristol Composers Collective have morphed into a different shape. There have been two performances this year at the Fringe in Bristol’s Clifton Village.   I caught the last one after the collective spent an afternoon rehearsing charts from Jake McMurchie (Get The Blessing, Michelson Morley), Jim Blomfield (himself, Kevin Figes’ bands and….) Will Harris (Moonlight Saving, Michelson Morley and … ) Kevin Figes (himself.. 4tet, 8et, 4sided triangle) augmented by half of Dakhla for blowing power.  This was a major treat. Jake’s ‘The one before the first‘ is still with me in the impact of layers of horns and shifts in harmony. Kevin’s writing is unfailingly imaginative and Jim’s brimming with energy. Will seems to have groove and momentum sewn into his musical presence.  Great stuff -the fruits of this collaboration, direct or indirect, will pop up somewhere around Bristol or further afield for sure.

5. Play Jazz Weekend :  This annual happening has just finished. A pop up  Jazz School I’ve written about before but another great weekend was had this year with an instant musical community, learning thrills (and spills) and the tenth time Rachel Kerry has organised it. A milestone worth celebrating.


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