This last month have seen us back twice at the Thames Foyer on a Saturday night, with Alex Hutton on piano and Kate Winter, vocals. I can't get enough of this place. It has a really sophisticated atmosphere (just like our music) and steak sandwiches to die for, but best of all, this is a performance gig. We are not just background music. The clientele are attentive and give us song requests, show their appreciation and we are able to explore and improvise musically in a way that is uncommon in a hotel setting.
Last weekend was spent in the blistering heat at the huge Oxfordshire-based Glamping extravaganza: The Wilderness Festival! A marathon day, playing old-time jazz standards for Lindy Hop dancers in the Be All And End Hall in the afternoon and entertaining revellers and drinkers in the Sipsmith Gin Tent in the evening. With our MD and fine trumpeter Steve Coombe at the helm, we weathered the scorching temperatures in our immaculate suits. I was told Chic and Nile Rodgers were performing, but we were too busy pumping out Louis Armstrong to notice...
This afternoon's gig with the Sax Quartet (featuring the up-and-coming Royal Academy star, and regular headliner at Ronnie Scott's the Late, Late Show: Jim Gold on alto saxophone) was a joint 60th, wedding celebration and 21st birthday party: this family has had a lot going on recently! The setting was the 'back garden' of a beautiful house set in the rolling Surrey Countryside. There were old fashioned Fairground games for the entertainment of the guests and musicians alike.
It was a fantastic setting for tonights 4-hour marathon cocktail set: the Thames Foyer bar and restaurant in the heart of the Savoy Hotel, on the Strand, London. It was also an unusual instrument combination that was requested: piano, drums and vocals, with no bass! It actually worked very well, and we delved into some interesting jazz interpretations of modern pop classics, with a few Norah Jones tunes to keep things fresh and contemporary. On piano we had Alex Hutton, and on vocals, Kate Winter and myself, Matthew Skeaping on drums. Next week we look forward to playing for a few summer balls in the city...
Another school venue for a wedding. This School comes complete with its own chapel, and stunning surroundings. This is Parkside School in Surrey: it even has a river running through the front lawn. Today we were joined by the talented trumpeter Lester Brown - a jazz name if ever there was one - and jazz veteran Alan Berry on keys.
Way out in the western fringes of Greater London, and with a toe in Surrey, is Sunbury on Thames. There, at the Riverside Arts Centre and in collaboration with Terence Collie of Mood Indigo Events I had the honour of playing to a full house with the Award Winning guitarist, Nigel Price, and Ronnie Scotts regular, Max Luthert III on bass... The evening's entertainment was a rendition of the famous "Smokin' At The Half-Note" album by Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio. Nigel is a consummate player - breathtaking in his dexterity, and it was truly an evening to remember.
Teaming up with Alan Berry, piano, and Mark Aston, sax, for an evening of Ellington tunes at the Clockhouse Pub and Music Venue in Teddington, we played to a sold-out house. Will be back in a month to review some of the greatest tunes from the All American Songbook. Tickets available here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/marksmusic/153406
It's not often that I wish I could go back to school, but this one in heart of the Surrey Downs countryside is the stuff of dreams! Tonight's gig was a private 50th birthday party, but the setting was like a film set. Woldingham Girls school, with its mile-long driveway through a picturesque valley and grand stone entrance is also a superb wedding and function venue; the building and grounds are breathtaking. We played a 75 minute cocktail set and then moved to the banquet hall to play throughout dinner. On piano was the acclaimed Gareth Williams, myself, Matt Skeaping on drums, and also Rachael Cohen our featured impresario alto saxophonist, and on bass, long-standing member Oli Hayhurst. The hosts were delighted, the staff were welcoming and we sincerely hope we will be asked back for another gig there sometime. One for the scrapbook, that's for sure! Here’s what the clients had to say:
“We have had so many compliments on your great playing and choice of music. It could not have been any better! You really helped to create a warm and rich vibe and atmosphere and all the various other bits slotted into place very well. We could not be happier with the outcome! Thanks again and please pass a big thank you to all the guys”. Damian Wisniewski
This amazing setting in the RAC - swanky members club in the heart of St James, London - was the latest of our exploits, providing entertainment for the guests of a 70th birthday party. Amazing food, and we explored the labyrinth of rooms at the club, in the process discovering a billiard room with a long row of full sized tables, a cavernous 3 storey high ceiling over the enormous swimming pool, with beautiful tiled decor and huge towering doric columns. Very impressive. I think we went down well!
If you're in London tonight, head over to Ronnie Scotts world famous jazz club on Frith Street, Soho for a night of jazz with our alto sax player, Rachael Cohen. Joining her tonight, from New York, is legendary guitarist, Phil Robson. Check out the link on the Ronnie's website: