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Saturday At The TJS gig

On the hottest day in decades, when lots of folk would possibly head for the park or the beach at Barry Island and get an instant sun tan, the music fest went off and we covered it . In blistering temperatures the TJS mini-fest kicked off with a set by Jim Barber, Jon Goode and Damian Pugh, nice. Jon’s bass funkingly clear and Damian’s propulsive drums allowed Dr Barber to flex his fingers over classics like I Hear A Rhapsody and There Is No Greater Love as deftly as  a butterfly hovering over a flower. His execution is full of rhythmic impetus, flying right-hand runs and chunks of chords in a style echoing characteristics of  Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson.  I then ran over to see The Bryn Davies Quartet, a  bunch of schoolkids playing some fantastic music; Bryn, Scott, Andy, Frank and Ben play some classics like Yardbird Suite, Chameleon, Canteloupe Island, Georgia etc., given these kids are 16, they make a terrific sound and the future of improvised music in the local area is clearly safe. Following Jim’s trio, terrific guitarist Richard Jones strummed  and sang his way through some classic blues and bluegrass tunes like Sleepy John Estes’ Diving Duck Blues, Curtis Mayfields People Get Ready,  Shady Grove, as well as an incredible version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, looking around at the audience as he played it I spotted nearly everyone had a smile on their face, I hope he records it.

After Bryn Davies, trombonist Gareth Roberts’ quartet came on and to a small but perfectly formed audience and belted out great readings of Lapwish Blues, In a Mellow tone, There is no greater Love, Angel Eyes, Recorda Me and introduced us to the the flugelbone or marching trombone, basically a curled up valve trombone. Gareth has a super sound and bags of technique and it was treat to witness some all-too-rare ace modern trombone-playing.

The Good Ol’ Spit & Dribble Jass Band cranked up the trad angle with some rumbustious and rowdy ensemble playing. To have Keith Little on piano was a delight and newcomer Clive Johnson on clarinet, soprano and alto played as if he’d been with the band years. Heavy-Duty treatment was applied to Salutation March, Louisi-an-i-a, Algiers Strut, Lily of The Valley, How Great Thou Art and other early jazz standards whilst a raucous but softer touch was applied to a delicate rendition of Winin’ Boy Blues and a gentle reminder of the late great Bob Gribble came when the band played Breeze in his memory.

Over at the Hearth, the sublime Mike Britton and Erika Lyons floated through classics Here’s That Rainy Day, I Fall In Love To Easily , I Love You,  500 Miles High etc, each tune showcasing Mike’s phenomenal technique and classy sound. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else do that swooping thing he does, flying up and down the fretboard over diminished arpeggios and other sumptuous chord voicings, bliss. Back at Sebastopol, Paul Keddle’s Calling Card cranked their way through a set of punchy rock and country blues with Steve Shipmans harmonica punctuating Paul’s vocals.

Following Mike and Erika were newcomers Grumpy Old Guitarists, I didn’t manage to catch their set as I was running around like a proverbial azure-derriered fly. I did however get collared by Jim Hodges who told me to book them at the club soon!

Finishing the night at the Hearth ere John Paul Gard’s Pedalmania with Ben Waghorn on saxes and Eddie John at the drums. This organ trio is the epitomy of cool and JPG’s Hammond swirls and whoops through the funkiest laid-back grooves and charges through hard-hitting blues-laced swing. Ben Waghorn is simply one of the finest reed players in the UK, dazzlingly flawless technique, huge-toned and brassy, ideas come pouring out of his horn in a endless flow of invention. Eddie John’s drumming simply blew my other half away as she stayed to watch the whole set, I had to nip back to get Jay Phelps on the stage. I did however catch a couple of the numbers when Richard Jones guested with the band for the second set, breathtaking playing from all four musicians and apparently it got even hotter as they played into the night, serves me right for putting two top-notch artists on at the same time.

To head-up the festival, Canadian Jay Phelps, formerly of Empirical, took to the stage with Jim Barber, Erika Lyons and Mark O’Connor. Little did the audience know what they were in for. A quite spectacular display of pyrotechnic trumpet-playing the like of which the club has never seen before. Blues Walk,  I’ll Remember April, What’s New, Hot House, Caravan, I Remember You, Body and Soul, Well You Needn’t, and one other frighteningly fast tune I can’t remember the name of and it’s doing my head in. Phelps’ range of timbres is approaching Lester Bowie’s in him being able to elicit the most breathy, hushed tones through sweet and elegant to declamatory burning power. He possesses technique capable of fizzling speed and a rhythmic accuracy that leaves you in awe. Young Jamie Brownfield and myself had the opportunity to play with the master and we had enormous fun flying through Oleo to finish the night. Allin all, some fantastic music, lovely weather and enough people to cover our outlay. Roll on September…
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