The upstairs room at Dempseys in Cardiff has been a hub of Welsh jazz for decades including during the previous incarnation as the Four Bars Inn. A gallery of all the previous guests would match most long-standing clubs’ “wow, they played here?” impact. It remains a place for Cardiff and Welsh bands as well as roster of the finest touring bands (many drawn by the piano and warm welcome of promoters Alistair McMurchie and Brenda O’Brien).
I popped over in late July to catch Dave Jones’ trio with Ashley John Long on bass and Greg Evans on drums. It turned out to be a double treat as I picked up a copy of the duo album Postcript Jones and Long have recently recorded, soon to be available from Jones’ website. The CD has repaid repeated listens hovering, like the gig, around standards territory but spiced with originals from both partners as well as their distinctive playing. Jones is a fluent, rhythmically driving and inventive player as at home with jazz as more folk and rock inflected pieces. Ashley has reputation for his extraordinary technique in both the contemporary classical and jazz world (he’s even published a web-site documenting some of it as part of doctoral research), but concentrating on that would be to miss his flair as an improviser and writer. His contributions inspire Jones to lyrical and soaring solos especially on Zebedee, a deceptively simple and attractive bossa. Jones’ own Four on Three, a free wheeling waltz and Postcript , more of a rocky groover, both have plenty of piano and bass locked together and Long stretching out and showing the extent of his melodic imagination. There were tasters of the duo in the gig, but the addition of Evans on drums gave them a further boost.
The twice a week series of gigs at Dempseys is a remarkable institution, always quality and like all such ventures, dependent on the regular audience and the commitment of its curators Alistair and Brenda. They have excelled themselves for their Autumn programme.
Take a look at the next couple of weeks:
Tuesday September 6th – Michael Janisch (bass) Paul Booth (sax) Ryan Quigley (trumpet) (piano tbc but maybe Steve Hamilton who’s on the album subject ot his tour with Billy Cobham) and then the one and only Clarence Penn (drums)
Wednesday September 7th – Kristian Borring Quartet – Kristian (Guitar) Arthur Lea (piano) Mick Coady (bass) and Jon Scott (drums). This Quartet is not to be missed. Check it out.
Tuesday September 13th – Henrik Jensen’s ‘FOLLWED BY THIRTEEN’ This thrilling international band comprising of Henrik (bass) Antre Canniere (trumpet) Esben Tjalve (piano) and Antonio Fusco (drums) will be perfoming music from thier 2nd Album, which is launched in September, ‘BLACKWATER’ Yet another honour that these musicians com to Jazz at Dempsey’s
Wednesday Sept 14th – Swiss Jazz Trio VEIN – Michael Arbenz (Piano) Thomas Lahns (Bass) Florian Arbenz (Drums) What a feast of music these guys will give to you.
Is that Clarence Penn on Tuesday on drums? Yes it is! Most of these bands are on tour, but not going every where, so if near Cardiff, jazz lovers may do well to find their way to Cardiff. The London gig for the Ryan Quigly band has Geoff Keezer on piano… will he travelling west? There’s only one way to find out!
Later in the month Corrie Dick’s tour touches down there and Tori Freestones’ trio. And that’s just September. In between, there’s the usual quality from the more local scene.