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Newspaper reviewers present their messages journalistically. I, as a hobbyist, do it my way, imparting information of scenes through experience over many sides of the picture - as I view them.
The Steve Tyrell first set introduced by a Ramage Jazz team announcer – “ So good evening everybody. Welcome to the Newton Hotel. This is probably one of the most important concerts that Ken Ramage has ever produced. We’ve got a first-rate line-up behind me, so please welcome Lew Soloff on trumpet”
Mr Saturday Dance; I’ve Got The World On A String; All Of Me; a Quincy Jones, arranged, Fly Me To The Moon; Just The Way You Look Tonight; You Are So Nice To Come Home To; a Cole Porter; I Can’t Give You Anything But Love Baby; a Burt Bacharach song about a Guy In Love, no NOT Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, but a tune possibly by bassist Trigger Alpert, who recorded with both Louis Armstrong and Ray McKinley, who also, worked in the late 50s with Frank Sinatra; and lastly towards 9pm of the opening set, two Traditional jazz numbers made famous by Louis Armstrong, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and, Give Me A Kiss To Build A Dream On.
Steve Tyrell and his band (two musicians in it, shied from talking to me about their group) have a one-day rest before appearing at Ronnie Scott’s in Dean Street, London, for a six-day period, where the Tyrell band will surely gain acclaim.
Based on this Nairn, Tyrell concert opening set, I, in no ways agree with The New York Times quote, reference the voice of Louis Armstrong, which instead, you’ll likely hear coming from top Traditional Jazz band vocalists, and instrumentalists, much more pronounced than in debatable mere filters.
Following their six days stay at Ronnie Scott’s they have a heavy schedule back in their own country, the USA, visiting places like San Diego, Malibu and Fairfield.
I recall as a teenager listening endlessly to the LP Songs For Swinging Lovers by Frank Sinatra with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, which I passed down to my youngest daughter. So what?
Well, at the Nairn Jazz Festival, as I saw it, Steve Tyrell performed with enjoyable professionalism, showing artistic talents at the highest levels his way, but, whether these Great American Song-Book songs sung by him become his own are for others to determine.
During the interval the rain was pelting down with lightening strikes brightening up the dark cloudy sky, and I thought to myself, a cue for a song, no, no such thing but that I must catch the late train home to Inverness, so off I went only to find that the complete railway signalling system from Aberdeen to Inverness was put out of action by the storm – not so interesting as the Tyrell ones, but that’s a different captivating account of events not to be told.
The undoubted pleasure that jazz promoter Ken Ramage has brought to the full-house Steve Tyrell concert folk living along the shores of the Moray Firth, Scotland is much more than commendable.
“The cream of America’s Jazz talent” was inter alia what the promotions booklet described them as, and, “The Statesmen of Jazz” certainly lived up to that honour tonight at the Nairn International Jazz Festival.
The charming lady string bass player was not in the least put out by their nom de plume as the subtle manner in which the leader handled the introduction of his sidemen by addressing each musician as a Minister of State appointing himself to the ministry of complaints, and a commendable one going to the attractive one - she certainly is so.
Opening with an amazing rendition of Duke Ellington’s early period 1930 recording of “Mood Indigo”
that set the scene of the musical expression of his sextet, which went on to last on a very high standard throughout the complete two sets.
Warren Vache dedicated his concert to Jim Love, a long-standing editor of The Inverness Courier, who died a few days prior.
I liked the versatile style that the leader had of being able to engage to the full-house audience, and, the freedom he bestowed on his sidemen allowing them space enough to show us the very best of their talents in their chosen solos – Old Fashioned Love; Someone To Watch Over Me; Love Me And Leave Me; I’ve A Man Whose Always Late; When I Thought About You, by the trombonist; Reminds Me Of You, by the tenor player; and, the class musical theatre act with sexy voiced Nicki Parrot in song, playing the string bass with her leader cornetist Warren Vache Is You Is or Is You Not My Baby was sensational.
She most certainly is a cracking great player of her string instrument.
The each and beautiful tone coming from the four front-liners was out of this world, particularly so from Kenny Davern who is the only one of them whom I’ve previously heard - that tone, together with the wonderful instrumental musical voices of the other three are of memory planting quality.
The moving passionate, sensual control of the tune Too Late Now from “Royal Wedding” by Warren was complete – it was heart-warming,
a sensual showstopper – it really was.
A show-case full of CDs has been produced by the Vache family, House of Plenty; Talk to Me Baby; and, last year 2005 he with his Statesmen of Jazz then line-up was presented at the Lionel Hampton Club in Paris with the Hot Club of France award “Grand Prix du Disc Award” for the Arbors CD Dream Dancing.
I’ve read quite a bit of the Warren Vache material in jazz magazines, and, I always longed to hear him play on stage, indeed so too of the octogenarian
before this year is out, George Masso, who was with The Worlds Greatest Jazz Band, which was the main reason for me to get hold of a ticket to see
them both play in concert.
I’ve been writing about Traditional jazz for over eighteen years now, and out-with that in speech, I invariably find myself putting a foot in it. On such an aberration whilst speaking to Warren - on hindsight I now say to myself he looks young, and also, I though to myself that I must be getting old – reasons,
"the writings were by my father who in February 2005 died at the age of ninety years old" - Warren said.
The Jazz Concert held at the Nairn International Jazz Festival on Monday the 7th of August 2006 led by cornetist Warren Vache jnr., will be, I’m sure, also judging from the large audience applause – an unforgettable one. It was a glowing testament on how the World’s under twenties aged group today would, indeed with dedicated effort, should be able to master it, by taking hold of the reins of this The Statesmen of Jazz - kind of jazz music tomorrow - and,
make it become their kind of jazz glory whenever - a probability ! Why not.
Hilary Kole is an attractive young lady.
It was her first visit to Scotland and to the Nairn International Jazz Festival.
This time I go along with the New York Times quote “Swinging, sultry--sexy with a sharp edged hint of brass in her voice.
Proves that there are still young singers good enough to keep the tradition alive.”
I'll add to that, that the intricate inflections in her voice are all her own.
The Kole concert opened with tenor man Houston Person solo, who was in The Statesmen of Jazz line-up the previous day.
Hilary, with a most inspiring John Sheridan on piano accompanied with Andrew Cleyndart on string bass, John Hart on guitar and Matt Skelton drums, started her career as a classical pianist and, towards the closing of her first set took the piano chair to play and sing the love song It’s Not the Pale Moon that Excites Me but Oh no “it's the nearness of you” watch out ! – her wonderfully, controlled long notes in perfect pitch, her full voice modulations, enthralled her audience with songs the likes of It’s Just The Way You Look Tonight gave me a thrill.
Perhaps somebody else; Ruth Etting 1926 If I Could Be With You, One Hour Tonight; Dinah Shore It Had To Be You, somebody else, no - only
the electrifying, tasteful Hilary Kole.
The cymbals monotonous clanging clang was off putting at first, but thoughtfully they refrained, on what I believe was Hilary's greatest number, which must have lasted over a quarter of an hour “I’m Wild Again --- Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered – Am I” with tenor saxophonist Houston Person playing with deep understanding of the song, and of her beautifully, captivating voice – now that was out of this world.
I shan't tell tell her as asked what the difference is between Torch and Saloon songs, but, I'll say that I had to miss-out on her second set with a longing to have heard more, because I had to run off to catch a late train home to Inverness.
The Wilber concert opened with a Sheridan composition on piano followed by “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” ensemble. I’ve always found it amazing how the jazz musician can hit it off immediately not having had the opportunity of playing together for months, perhaps in some cases years, yet, they always come up with producing a very good performance, some even masterful like this Bob Wilber one turned out to be like.
Bob Wilber had created a new CD, which was to be “coming out shortly” and, he was delighted that the two members of his trio had heard about it. In taking special attention to detail transposing the music for his sidemen’s instruments to interpret, this clarinettist composer was said by one of them to be of the finest that one can find about in this art form, which in turn, lends itself to the realisation of producing a great performance.
Proof: the full-house at the “Little” was uproarious, a tumult of the masterpiece with excitement and sustained applause at the finish of a close ten minutes twin-song stretch blow by Wilber on saxello, a curved soprano saxophone in honour of his mentor Sidney Bechet – look out for that album on its arrival here in Inverness.
That was not all – Evan Christopher on clarinet, his instrument to me looked like an early make of one played by George Lewis and, John Sheridan on the Brodmann piano, following the Sheridan Someday solo, Christopher took off, “let his hair down” on Roses of Picardy with unbelievable dexterity to the extend that did the applause for him match that for Bob, who felt and, was shown by the elder Wilber’s prodigious appreciation for this young New Orleansian clarinettist – the scene was set for a witnessed top-class performance.
The Sheridan song sung was Crazy About My Baby by Fats Waller sung whilst on piano and, when he gave Isn’t This A Lovely Day To Go Out In The Rain which does not hold the award for the longest title – someone with an American voice shouted out "In Scotland" hit the nail on the head of the weather
that the Nairn Jazz Festival was enduring.
With the sunshine that we also were having When We Get Together Dancing Cheek to Cheek, also, a Louis Armstrong tune and
a lovely piano/saxello ballad, finishing on Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again in classic jazz style fashion - it was:
A stunning, exceedingly marvellous concert - performed at its very best - terrific.
The solo piano opening number of the Benny Green Trio was of a lengthy lento movement piece, imitative, classical concert style; of a tune that was unknown to me.
Then there came a sudden change in tempo as his fingers ran at velocity rate over the ivories as if he was a road track sprinter out to win a race, rather than as a pianist playing for pleasure, entertainment or otherwise.
With each note sounding clear and concise, Benny Green inspired his audience. The great long wait of anticipation then came from the drums chair, a lovely toned grazioso cymbals beat rinforzando in complement to the piece that the virtuoso pianist was undertaking was a welcomed change to a jazz fan of my rating.
Hey presto! Suddenly to my delight, came a stomp-off break, which sounded like “Once I Had A Secret Love” but, with neither a jazz nor classical feel coming from the way, nor mode, of this skilled, industrious piano playing, out with akin to either, sadly, and not hearing anything from the electric bass, I left early to catch the penultimate late night train home to Inverness.
This programme event was billed as a duo at The Little Theatre, Nairn between pianist John Sheridan and soprano sax player Anat Cohen from New York and clarinettist who “cut her teeth” so to speak, in an all-girl band was making her first visit to Scotland at Nairn on the Moray Firth.
I didn’t get around to asking her if she had ever heard of the Ivy Benson All Girls Band that lasted some forty years from 1939, ending with her Show-band in 1982 at the Savoy Hotel, London, England – yes, I knew Ivy from her Cumberland Hotel days – same city.
Tenor sax player, Harry Allen opened the set on “Four Brothers” expertly handled by only the two of them as Anat was delayed crossing the “Pond” from the USA. The chance to hear a nice stretch of “My Foolish Heart” by Sheridan at the piano was rewarding for me.
I’d heard saxophonist Allen play at the Nairn jazz festival last year, so it was a case of getting two very fine jazz artists for the price of one, I say this, because at a quarter after four in the afternoon Anat popped in, and, immediately the set with her added on soprano sax raised the temperature of The Little to great effect.
Anat Cohen is a bouncy, full-of-life, joyous young lady employing great skills on her reeds instruments and, the rapport with Harry Allen on tenor confirms what I’ve written earlier in this jazz festival review on the point of how jazz musicians hit it off on cue faultlessly.
The Nairn Jazz Festival has attracted fans of the music from all over the world, during mid sets of this concert there was an Australian couple who when in conversation with them covering Malt Whisky to his speciality, Australian Turnderbury Rum, which when mixed with Ginger Beer is called Dark & Stormy delighted them when they got hold of a bottle of it in Elgin,
a neighbouring city-town to Nairn.
Anat was booked to play with the Bill Allred All Stars at the Universal Hall, Findhorn in the evening, at the Marquee on Saturday afternoon and, with the Gully Low Jazz Band that evening again in the Marquee; sadly, I missed out in attending all three gigs.
Other 3.30pm events held at The Little Theatre that I was not able to attend were: Mon 7 Aug, Rossano Sportiello Solo Piano - Tues 8 Aug, John Bunch Trio with George Masso and, Thurs 10 Aug, Duke Heitger and John Sheridan.
The 10.00am Master classes by various jazz artists and, the 10.30am gigs in The Classroom Bistro Bar, a new venue from the previous year were beyond my early catching Inverness – Nairn train times to be able to attend any of them.
The Classroom, Nairn
Mon 7 Aug, Rossano Sportiello solo piano – Tues 8 Aug, Warren Vache & Dave Cliff -
Wed 9 Aug, Evan Christopher, Duke Heitger, John Sheridan Trio –Thurs 10 Aug, Benny Green solo piano –
Fri 11 Aug, John & Bill Allred with John Sheridan – Sat 12 Aug, John Allred and John Sheridan.
Except Saturday see corresponding five photos of jazz artists taken from the Classroom Bistro Bar poster given me.
However, I was able to have a coffee daily at the new Bistro venue as I came into Nairn by train to attend the main embodiment jazz festival programmes throughout the week. Feedback from the young staff signals that the kind of jazz music that they had listened to was imprinted within them enough
for them to seek out more of it - nice - it's now in your hands young ladies.
Other events that I was unable to attend were - Brian Kellock Trio featuring Dave Cliff - Summit Revisited - John Bunch Trio with George Masso -
Evan Christopher Trio - Duke Heitger’s New Orleans All-Stars - Rossano Sportiello Trio - John & Bill Allred Quintet - Bill Allred Quartet -
John Erik Kellso Quartet and, at the marquee, Golf View Hotel, the Harry Allen Quintet and The David Ostwald Gully Low Jazz Band.
A Jazz Programme For The Many
My worst frustrations in becoming a jazz festival reviewer was, and still is
to a certain extent, is in the taking of flash photography to fit
on what I’m about to write.
Flash is upsetting to the majority of people in an audience, so I approached Jim Love editor of The Inverness Courier if a 2005 promotional photo could be obtained of the Duke Heitger’s New Orleans All Stars line-up.
I got his agreement but I had to arrange it myself, and he’d take it. My experience meant that it was certainly a tall order and, eventually I succeeded in so doing but when the time came to snap the jazz artists on stage, Jim had run out of film.
In brief, John Meredith of Camborne, Cornwall, was on hand to take the photograph, as I had not brought my camera with me to the concert.
I was in The Little Theatre this year 2006 and John who did not have my address spotted me and kindly said that he’d leave the Heitger takes at
the Golf View Hotel for me.
Outcome this year’s programme is double in size carrying a lovely picture of Duke Heitger with his All Stars.
Many thanks to Mr J P Meredith for letting me have the photographs – much appreciated.
Sponsors of the 2006 Nairn Jazz Festival
Hawco – Scottish Arts Council – Highland 2007 – HIE Inverness & East Highlands – Event-Scotland
Swallow Hotels – Lottery Fund - HIE Moray – The Highland Council – Gordon – Innova-House
A big thanks to Ken Ramage, organiser of the jazz festival and his team. END
On the top left is the Golf View Hotel gardens, Nairn, ***** A wall plaque of the first railway line in the highlands, which opened on the 5th of November 1855 is at bottom left On the centre is the Inverness Cathedral
St. Andrew's Cathedral Inverness *****
Hold mouse pointer on photographs to see names of places
Photograph Credits - KJR
Nairn and Surounding Areas
Four places of interest to visit including her Railway Station during the Nairn Jazz Festival
and on that right is The Albert Inn, Leerie, Nairn
(The Leerie - is a gaslighter of olden days)
hand side and, on bottom right is the Nairn, Railway station.
Ard -Eaglais An Naoimh Aindreis
On the top left is the Golf View Hotel gardens, Nairn,
A wall plaque of the first railway line in the highlands, which opened on the 5th of November 1855 is at bottom left
On the centre is the
St. Andrew's Cathedral Inverness