Another absolutely packed evening at the George and Dragon, Thames Ditton, with the extremely dexterous Simon Spillett on tenor saxophone. Musicians and audience alike still bewildered by the Brewery's desire to axe or reduce the number of jazz nights when the audiences keep growing, but hopefully we can convince them otherwise. We invite you to voice your support for the jazz nights by emailing David Hutchings, the area manager of the Brewery, using his email address: DHutchings@shepherd-neame.co.uk
Played a fantastic tribute to the late great Mark Murphy - groundbreaking US vocalist - with Peter Jones, who also happens to be his biographer, so the gig was interspersed with fascinating recollections, stories and information about this most enigmatic of jazz singers. The setting was the jazz club at Toulouse Lautrec Brasserie in Elephant & Castle, London. Peter's biography of Mark can be purchased here: https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/this-is-hip-the-life-of-mark-murphy-peter-jones/
The atmosphere at The George & Dragon Pub in Thames Ditton crackled up a notch last night with award-winning guest saxophonist, Tim Whitehead. Tim, known for his work with Ian Carr's Nucleus and Loose Tubes, as Artist In Residence at Tate Britain, and many other projects, brought a palpable energy to the room, which was packed out. However, the evening was somewhat marred by the news that business people at Shepherd Neame, the Brewery that owns the pub, want to stop the jazz nights and push the dining experience instead. Neither the regulars, the audience, nor the Publican want this, and negotiations are underway to put up a resistance. We would be grateful if you could spare a minute and write your support for our jazz night, which has been faithfully attended by jazz enthusiasts for almost 22 years by tweeting to @ShepherdNeame #dontkillthejazz
New York drum master, Ari Hoenig is coming to the UK for a tour in February with a trio featuring our very own guitarist, Tom Ollendorff. He will be playing at the Vortex Jazz Club in London on February 13th. As well as running his own acclaimed ensembles, Ari has played for such virtuosi as Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Lovano and many more besides. He has a regular residency at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich, NY: check it out here: https://youtu.be/vRN7w-ApfiU. In addition, check out Tom's Beautiful Bach Bedroom Broadcast here: www.facebook.com/tom.ollendorff/videos/1984273848299027/
The regular first Wednesday of the month gigs with Mark Aston and friends has changed its venue to the Strawberry Hill Golf Club. A much bigger capacity room, with double-sided bar, warmer, more comfy surroundings and vastly improved acoustics was a fantastic choice, but also a bit of a punt for Mark. As it happened, this gig SOLD OUT with a waiting list of over 20 people hoping for last minute cancellations! This was an absolute STORMING gig, with Mark on tenor sax, Ben Cummings on trumpet/flugelhorn and vocals, and John Pearce on piano... What a night!
Tuesday night sessions at the George and Dragon resumed in style, with Jazz Royalty kicking off the proceedings: Alan Barnes on Alto Saxophone, accompanied by Dave Jones on bass, Alan Berry on Keys, and myself Matt Skeaping on drums. An exciting start to the year!
A week before Christmas saw us playing at The Ned - a former bank, now Hotel, restaurant and club all in one, perched on the corner of Bank Junction in the City of London. With Alex Hutton on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Kate Winter, vocals. This was a first for The Cocktail Hour - stunned at the cavernous size and luxury of the venue. Several live bands on rotation throughout the day and evening. Just like I imagined it was in most London Hotels in days gone by....
My first Masonic Lodge booking... To be added to the ever-growing list of interesting gig settings. The venue: a modern hotel in Winchester. The event, a Freemasons 'Celebration of Women' day - at least I think that's what they said. There were some peculiar songs, some memorable speeches, a colourful toastmaster, and an evening of cocktails and jazz, with vocals by Monika Ramstein.
A wonderful evening of jazz at Spike's Place Jazz Club, with Jo Fooks and Al Nicholls on Tenor Saxophones. Newly refurbished music room in the Saffron Hotel, in Saffron Walden. A bit of a treck round the M25 and almost 3 hours of traffic to get there, but worth the effort. I must say, the highlight of this gig, apart from playing with magnificent musicians, was that cup of tea at Birchanger Green Motorway Services on the way home. Phew!
The monthly jazz sessions at The Clocktower Pub in Teddington continue. Last week saw the appearance of a contra alto clarinet, the latest piece to enter Mark Aston's instrument collection. A deep, powerful beast of a sound! The first Wednesdays of every month - evening starts at 8pm, and tickets for the next event can be bought here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/marksmusic
The ongoing adventures of London Jazz Cocktailers