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jazz move, first nano-fest and Peter King

I ought to write something down about the little nano-fest and the move of  Torfaen Jazz Club to the Hearth for anyone who  reads the jazz bit of this blog.

It was a necessary move from the club and reviewing the attendances since, it appears it was the right thing to do.

From the purring sound of Mike Britton‘s opening notes, I instantly relaxed and thought the thing was going to be OK. It’s always nervy putting on a festival, even a nano-fest!

Mike was just as always, superb, the new venue’s long room has a chatter allowance, people can watch and listen at the front, or sift it through at the bar whilst having a natter. He rattled off wash after wash of new treatments of classic standards that every one wants to play well e.g. Have You Met Miss Jones, All The Things You Are,  Killer Joe, and slid over the frets with reworkings of the harmony as fresh as a spring breeze in amongst the autumnal chill outside. He left the axe-men in the room dazzled, a shake of the head as if to say ‘how does he do that’ the most frequent body language. Following him Organmaster John Paul Gard, Ben Waghorn and Eddie John banged out blues-drenched swing and funk all night. Ben must be one of the most under-rated sax players in the UK, dazzling techniques and first-rate musicianship. There were lots of smiles on lots of faces as they charged through stuff like Beef Dumplin Stew, Perdido, My One and Only Love. John’s pedal control just does it on tender ballads, and everyone whooped along with the party atmosphere, a terrific night.

I was down there quite early on Saturday to see the BBC Workshop Band get set up. …It was quite a good idea as marginally away from an anticipated start time, I noticed that the front tables looked like it does on a workshop night, cases everywhere, music stands propped against tables etc. and as it was filling up steadily, I politely asked if they could move their cases. I was quite amused to see the reaction ‘oh, there are people coming are there?’ from a couple of the members. The BBC band played solid rock’n’blues  for over an hour and I had nothing but compliments on their enthusiastic set, it sounded great. Debbie Lear‘s band were as slick and sharp as ever, I didn’t catch it all but what I did hear was well tidy, Mucky McDonagh cranking out his angular, edgy, yet sweet solos effortlessly, The Port Pros on bass and drums are an immense duo, those who saw Mick Pini’s gig at The Drum and Monkey will know how terrific this pair is.

And then came Derek Nash…… it was just outrageous, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Tune 88, Winelight, The Chicken, all taken to the limit with the whole band firing on all cylinders, three notes in and I was hooked. Paul Carr, is not so easy to hear these days (unless your a student at Glam Uni listening to one of his lectures) but absolutely clearly enjoyed himself to the nines. He played searing lines of funk-dripped niceness it was a great privilege to witness he has lost none of the class he had back when he was a member of the James Taylor Quartet- he’ll be back as soon as we can secure his services (update 25th March!)! Jon Goode, Jim Barber and Damian Pugh were just fantastic and as watertight as a duck’s and provided the powerhouse backline for a memorable Funkathon that The Open Hearth will not forget in a hurry.

It was amazing.

On Friday 21st January, the legendary Peter King played at the club. The man is imho, a living legend. The best this country has ever produced and a player who commands respect around the world. Suffice to say his vast harmonic command and extraordinary technique left the audience in awe. I’ve never seen our two local whipper snappers, Bryn and Lawrence smile so much. I was utterly privileged when he invited me to the stage to have the opportunity to play alongside him. It was truly a magical moment and all I hope is that I did myself justice.

Torfaen Jazz Swing and Funk nano-fest 2010






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