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The Critics Jazz Review

Peterborough Jazz Club, Marriott Hotel, Sunday 13th December 2009

The Christmas Concert…With Best Wishes From 78 RPM

Packed to the air conditioning, PJC presented members and their friends and family with a new kind of Christmas Concert. From the stunning tones of their Neil Hefti signature to their very last note, 78 RPM re-created the epitomy of Big Band Music, right down to their visiting vocalist, cold-laden Mark Rattray. But there was nothing cold in their performance; to the many present, this was the best to-date from the band's many visits to The Club, leaving the sardine-like audience gagging for more. In this stunning concert we were introduced to new arrangements, new soloists and, it seemed, a new and yet more polished presentation from this outstanding 17-piece, local band. While they broke with the club's tradition of small group and female vocalist at Christmas, they may even have established a new one. And all's the better for that!

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Marriott Hotel, Friday 20th November 2009

The New Jazz Couriers… Minus One

Despite the mechanical breakdown of Lewis Wright's vibraphone on the M11 (or was it his Vectra…?), the almost New Jazz Couriers predictably turned in a sterling performance in front of a packed audience. Wright's contribution was, of course, sadly missed; but the usual sprinkling of Tubbs' music and Mornington Locket's interpretation of it, backed by Robin Aspland's input on electric piano, more than compensated for the loss. Co-leader Martin Drew, with the familiar Paul Morgan on bass, drove the band to new heights, with a number of new arrangements for familiar jazz standards and popular favourites. All in all, a great appetizer for the next appearance of this historic band, all five of them!

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Marriott Hotel, Friday 9th October 2009

New Venue Baptized by Real Jazz Quartet!

Whatever Gilad Atzmon meant by naming his new(ish) group the Real Jazz Quartet, it went down a storm as the first concert at the new venue of PJC, the Peterborough Mariott Hotel. In fact, the group attracted what was a record attendance among its previous appearances at The Club. And by way of some reward, the audience was treated to familiar Hard Bop sounds, by contrast with the more animated music with its Middle Eastern flavour, for which Gilad Atzmon's bands are best known. But while the music was new, the Real Jazz Quartet presented all the usual faces, with mainstay Frank Harrison turning in his usual immaculate and thoughtful performance on piano. Jeremy Brown, bass, and Steve Keough on drums, underlined the brilliance of the rhythm section backing the inventive and note perfect performance of its leader, Gilad Atzmon. Truly Real Jazz at its unmissable best.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 6th March 2009

A Peaceful Place in Peterborough

Its no exaggeration to say that PJC became a peaceful place on this night. As host to Georgia Mancio (which, in Italian, means Peaceful Place apparently), we were treated to a series of melodies in duo, trio and quintet formats designed to elicit the best from the voice of this outstanding young jazz vocalist, already a contest winner at International level. No surprise there, then. Nor any surprise in the mesmerising flute of Gareth Lockrane, at his creative best; nor in the outstanding talent of Julie Walkington, whose stunning bass solos we’ve heard here before; nor from the always outstanding John Pearce, with his Bill Evans intonation. And as for drummer David Ohm… There was no resistance to his driving pulse, with his intricate time changes in ‘Just In Time’ and Latin interpretation placing him in a league of his own among visiting drummers. For certain, a vocalist and backing group we’ll be hearing more of.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 13th February 2009

Which Way Did He Go? (or Find The Drummer)

PJC members, to say nothing of visiting fans, may have been a little put out to discover that this night’s advertised Clark Tracey Sextet was… well, not the Clark Tracey Sextet! But they needn’t have been. Owing to an unfortunate set of circumstances, Clark himself was unable to attend though the replacement he provided was Clark Tracey himself in all but name. John Randall led this outstanding sextet just as we would have expected, with a string of post-bop originals and standards that had the audience demanding more. Outstanding solos from pianist Kit Downes, and front-liners Piers Green (tenor sax) and Paul Jordanous (tpt) were exceeded only by the remarkable young Lewis Wright on vibes. Relatively new to the British jazz scene, Wright clearly is set for greater things, and we hope to see more of his creative style on the club circuit.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Sunday 14th December 2008

Scat, Rap and Boptail

Anita Wardell certainly made her debut performance at PJC one to remember, with a series of popular and original melodies translated in the inimitable Wardell way. The influence of Christmas, with the exception of one groaner original, was completely absent, though that of her spiritual mentors from the 40s and 50s bop generations, was clearly not. Anita’s trademark close-harmony scat bop duos, for example, performed with alto sax player Alex Garnett, were so fast, so slick, and yet note perfect. The lyrical piano of Robin Aspland added further to the high currency of this outstanding group, and with the backing of the un-related Browns, Jeremy and Steve on bass and drums, this was a ‘quintet’ suited to any season, and not just for Christmas.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 10th October 2008

A lesson in power jazz

The highly anticipated return visit by US expatriot Bob Martin, was everything his previous trips had promised it would be: power and inventive improvisation in equal measure. Backed by one of Britain's best young piano talents in Leon Greening, and the rhythm of Julian Bury on bass and drummer Steve Brown, Bob's world-class alto provided a memorable lesson in supreme improvisation. And with barely a pause between one number and the next, and a mid-session break taken 'on-the-hoof', this outstanding quartet packed both variety and value into their 2½ hours on-stage.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 19th September 2008

Hard to beat bop quintet

Advance publicity for the quintet fronted by Steve Fishwick and Osian Roberts, loosely places them '…in the tradition of the great hard bop bands of the 1950s and '60s.' On the evidence of tonight's performance, though, they stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest quintets of that period. As predicted, they opened our Autumn season with a bang, and with just one standard in their repertoire, they treated a spellbound audience to a whole succession of originals that would have drawn nodding approval from Horace Silver himself. Backed by the outstanding French pianist Olivier Slama, with Dave Chamberlain on bass and Matt Home on drums, Steve (tpt) and Osian (tenor sax) re-acquainted us with the very roots of modern jazz, with a sound that continues to excite audiences throughout the land. No question about it: their rating as one of the best hard bop quintets around, is fully justified.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 4th April 2008

Ever-reliable New Jazz Couriers

The predictable can sometimes be boring, they say. But it is never so in the case of The New Jazz Couriers, as predictably superb as ever. Though on this occasion, there was perhaps less in their performance that harped back to the Scott/Hayes halcyon days. The piratic Mornington Locket swashbuckled his way through the programme of post-bop classics like a cutlass through lard, alongside the youthful Jim Hart always capable of astounding his audience with a maturity on vibes well beyond his years. Contributing to the repertoire as well as the rhythm, surely Steve Melling is among the Best Of British on piano, and the same can be said of Paul Morgan - and his elongated bass as well. And the leader, as usual, outstanding on chat and drums, unparalleled in any setting; the unique Martin Drew. As the group's announcer, he looked forward to their next time at PJC. Well, so do we, as we have done on so many predictably entertaining occasions in the past.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 7th March 2008

The Myth Destroyed

It is often said that there is no humour in Modern Jazz, an art form performed by serious musicians unable to rally a good smile between them. From the moment he stepped onto the stage, Alan Barnes and his seven serious musicians happily dismantled this myth piece by piece, in performance of sheer lighthearted artistry. And to a capacity audience, as well.
The entire concert was devoted to the acclaimed Sherlock Holmes Suite, written, arranged by Alan Barnes himself, and performed by his octet. This provided a musical review of the great detective, his friends, enemies and nemeses, and recently completed a highly successful season at Ronnie Scott's. Alan brought with him Andy Panayi and Robert Fowler on saxes (and, for one number, even piccolo!); Maynard Ferguson sound-alike Bruce Adams on trumpet; Mark Nightingale, excellent on trombone; the superb Dave Newton on piano; Mark Hodgson on double bass and Clark Tracey drums, who seemed to work together to provide the underlying heartbeat to this outstanding suite and its memorable delivery. Alan, as usual, justified his annual acclaim as British Jazz's Top Baritone Sax, plus, a few excursions on alto to remind everyone, as if it were needed, precisely what a superb musician he is. To say nothing of his skills as an on-stage humourist.

Robin Paterson

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 15th February 2008

Mixing Middle-Eastern melody lines with Bird-like phrasing, the sounds of the kasbah with those of Greenwich Village, would be a pretty impressive task for any musician. Though not for Gilad Atzmon, who gave a spellbound audience all of those sounds, and so much more, in three hours of off-the-wall jazz. So this was not, precisely, the hard bop that most PJC members have come to expect. But it was delivered with such passion and awesome capability that the genre itself was transparent to this audience. There was, of course, some convention in his music just to prove, perhaps, that this was the same Gilad Atzmon we'd seen on the previous five occasions. But the fact that this exciting group rounded-off the evening with a rare encore, underlined the enthusiasm and excitement he'd generated. Him, that is, together the outstanding backing of his regular Orient House Ensemble members in the form of Frank Harrison on keyboards, bassist Yaron Stavi, and Asaf Sirkis on Drums. With occasional keyboard and vocal chicanery from the Gilad himself. Unmissable.

Robin Paterson

Talk about audience participation…

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 12th October 2007

Though on this occasion, the audience didn’t merely talk about it; they participated! This was merely one aspect of a performance from Richie Barshay’s Round Table group which, in itself, was a first for PJC. No questioning the excellence of the individual musicians, but this was not the usual feet-tapping jazz that is the norm for our concerts. The outstanding Richie Barshay on drums, an appointed ‘Musical Envoy’ for the US and Herbie Hancock regular, delved into a variety of national rhythms in his solid, sometimes subtle backing of the equally outstanding reed men Daniel Blake and Peter Cancura. Not to be left out, the already familiar Tim Hart proved once more what an incredible English talent he is on vibes, while London-based American bassist Michael Jamisch gave a demonstration of just how jazz bass should be played. All in all, and exciting if unconventional concert; and fitting, perhaps, that they should elect Peterborough Jazz Club as the 21st and final venue in their whistle-stop tour of Europe.

Robin Paterson

Simon says...

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 20th April 2007

…Make Someone Happy. And as the opening, way-up-tempo number thrown into the laps of a stunned audience, that's precisely what this return visit by the Simon Spillett Quartet achieved. With consummate ease. From that moment, right through to the final encore number - itself a rare demand at PJC - the enthusiastic audience was treated once again to the unique brashness and brilliance of this outstanding, proudly British tenorman..

As before, Simon was backed by seasoned veterans John Critchinson on piano, with the drummer the BBC's Peter Clayton used to say followed him around, Martin Drew. And an equally seasoned, mesmerising performance was heard on the double base of the fabulous Andy Cleyndert. With the sense of fun and banter that comes from musicians totally in-tune, this outstanding group treated the audience to a repertoire of jazz and standards, including the usual batch of Tubbs originals, interpreted in the Spillett way - breathlessly. Leaving everyone wondering where all his unstoppable ideas were coming from! We await his third advent with unahsamed enthusiasm!

Robin Paterson

At last, the Wate's Over!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 30th March 2007

It's a little over four years since we last had the pleasure of welcoming Matt Wates to PJC. Since that time, his reputation and that of his superb sextet has grown in stature to become one of the most widely acclaimed of British jazz groups, collecting awards as if they were postage stamps.. With Matt on Alto Sax, Steve Kaldestad on tenor, and Martin Shaw's trumpet and occasional flugelhorn, backed by the piano, bass and drums of Leon Greening, Malcolm Creese and Steve Brown, this outstanding combo delivered Matt Wates' arrangements in total perfection - though their opening number 'Without A Song' might be seen as misleading, to say the least! This was clearly a band of individuals with a complete understanding of each other, delivering group and individual performances ranked alongside the best that have ever been heard at PJC, with a capacity audience to prove it. Let it not be another four years before they visit us again. Nor even another season.

Robin Paterson

Crowd-swellin' Wellins!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 23rd February 2007

Our opening concert for what promises to be an unforgettable Spring season, did more than merely set the pace! It is Autumn 2004 since Bobby Wellins last appeared at PJC, and the capacity audience that greeted his most welcome return, spoke volumes for his undimmed popularity. Bobby brought with him brilliant veteran John Critchinson on piano, veteran in age only, that is; with the inventive bass of Arnie Somogyi, and Buster Birch behind the drum kit. And on tonight's showing, we're guaranteed to hear more from both of them. Because from the moment this dynamic line-up stepped on the stage, the full house became completely enveloped in the swinging atmosphere they created. Placed among the world great tenor sax improvisers, the name Bobby Wellins features at virtually every jazz festival on the calendar. Lets hope we don't have another long wait for his return - if he can spare himself from his busy schedule.

Robin Paterson

Ronnie Scott Memorial Concert

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 24th November 2006

With credentials published in the likes of The Times, Guardian and Independent, it should have been no surprise that Stan Sulzmann and John Parricelli could have delivered anything but a performance of the highest quality. In fact, they were stunning in a programme that included a smattering of John Parricelli originals, as well as a few refreshingly re-interpreted jazz standards. Laurence Cottle, too, excelled on electric base, with some truly stirring solo work; while Ian Thomas seemed perfectly to match the mellow, if slightly muted tone of the whole ensemble. They managed to infuse every number with that 'First Time' feeling, and if the lack of a keyboard caused some initial consternation, the feeling didn't persist for long. In all, a most appropriate testament which would have carried the full blessing of the sadly missed virtuoso himself.

Robin Paterson

Protection Racket Hits Peterborough

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 27th October 2006

…though the scintillating, inspirational jazz funk lauded by Protect The Beat and their leader Derek Nash, was certainly no racket by any stretch of the imagination. Living up to their reputation as '…the strongest live act within the genre', PTB delivered to a packed audience precisely what they'd come to hear - lively, swinging jazz to set the ears on fire. Perhaps not for jazz purists, PTB rendered their unique interpretations of pop and jazz standards, own compositions, and even a smattering of the sadly missed Morrissey-Mullen combo. More often seen leading the Jools Holland Big Band, Derek Nash gave a typical, gymnastic display that was visually and aurally stimulating in equal measure, backed by top session musicians Winston Blissett on bass guitar; Arden Hart, keys & trumpet; and, arguably the most accomplished UK session guitarist of recent years, Tim Cansfield. Completing this powerful line-up was the guy Derek Nash described as 'The Power Behind The Throne', Darby Todd on drums.

We offer sincere thanks to Brett Todd, PTB's Manager, for his invaluable help in promoting this fabulous event.

Robin Paterson

Ronnie Scott stalwart opens Autumn season at PJC

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 29th September 2006

As one of the finest trumpet and flugelhorn player this country has ever produced, Dick Pearce is in great demand at jazz venues throughout the land. So the fact that he has chosen to open the Autumn season at Peterborough Jazz Club is not merely a noteworthy event, but a huge endorsement of The Club's stature in jazz circles. He brings with him PD3, in the form of Pete Downes (guitar), Andy Coe (bass) and Tim Bruce (drums), who have spent many years together honing their unique, quartet sound, with appearances at venues that include the Glastonbury Festival of 2005.

It is 14 years since Dick Pearce first came to the PJC as part of the Ronnie Scott Quintet. His lyrical interpretations and haunting tone are keenly anticipated, with his return on 26th September.

Robin Paterson

Eden in Peterborough

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 26th May 2006

We knew we should expect something bright and fresh from Joanna Eden - neither Michael Parkinson nor her previous audience of 10,000 surely couldn't be wrong. And with a smattering of standard compositions and some of her own, plus the backing of the incomparable Jim Mullen on guitar, she truly lived up to her reputation as one of the best among Britain's new generation of composers, arrangers and improvisers. To say nothing of her vocal talents which, after all, is what we all came to enjoy. Her interpretations were sensitive and flawless, and whatever adventure her own piano solos lacked was fully compensated for by Jim Mullen, in predictable, inventive form. She was accompanied by one of the better bassists to have visited Peterborough Jazz Club, in the form of Julie Walkington, and she was ably assisted by Charlie Price on drums. Once again, our vocal spot was filled by an outstanding jazz musician with superlative accompaniment, which kept a near-capacity audience totally

Robin Paterson

Women's ad-lib

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 28th April 2006

Putting aside her obvious talent as a modern-day Lennie Tristano, Kate Williams gave more than adequate justification for her description as '…a superbly lucid and inventive pianist and composer.' Accompanied by the equally-talented Canadian tenorman Steve Kaldestad, and backed by bassist Dave Whitford with Tristan Mailliot on drums, Kate delivered a sample of her own compositions mixed with jazz standards; and while her opening bars were characteristic of Tristano, she soon lapsed into a lyrical, sensitive translation of each number that was uniquely her own. But by no means did she overshadow the proceedings. London-based Steve Kaldestad was equally outstanding in his interpretation of the intricate programme, yet the intuitive understanding between him and this highly talented pianist, was clear to everyone. Kate wasn't the first lady jazz pianist to grace PJC, and she won't be the last, not even in the current season. No question about it, though, she'll be recalled as one of the best.

Robin Paterson

Spillett over Peterborough

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 31st March 2006

Until very recently, few jazz fans had even heard of Simon Spillett.. But if the performance we were privileged to witness on the final Friday in March is anything to go by, this will be a short-lived situation! Guaranteed. From a storming interpretation of his own composition Howdy-doody, through subtle-smooth ballads to swinging standards, Spillett excelled. This was no mere Tubby Hayes reincarnation; this was individual improvisation at its best, and to say that he's already one of Britain's finest musicians, writers and composers is almost an understatement. Surrounded by three other Bests Of British, in the form of veteran pianist John Critchinson, the lyrical Paul Morgan on bass, with Martin 'take-no-prisoners' Drew on drums, this 'newcomer' and his trio gave a performance of consummate maturity. And, no question about it, unashamedly re-introduced an enthralled audience to the magic of Tubbs himself. There aren't many performers from whom a PJC audience demand, and get, an encore. But we did. One of his numbers was the unlikely Make Someone Happy - something that Simon Spillett managed many times over.

Robin Paterson

How Deep Is The Osian…

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 24th February 2006

As if proof were needed, the quintet led by Osian Roberts (tenor sax) and Steve Fishwick (trumpet and flugelhorn) tonight confirmed their high ranking among the very best of British jazz musicians, articulating a range of original compositions that took an enthusiastic audience right back to the heyday of the BlueNote record label. More than ably backed by the outstanding young French pianist Olivier Slama, with newcomer Dave Chamberlain on bass and the always popular drummer Steve Brown, they presented a repertoire that might have come straight from the pen of Horace Silver or Herbie Hancock. Yet with a verve and vitality that was uniquely their own. They came to the PCJ fresh from a performance at the Royal Festival Hall described by jazz critics as '…staggeringly good,' with an enthusiastically received first album, titled Too Much, under their belts. But for this enthusiastic audience, it was by no means too much, and went a long way towards explaining why Peterborough Jazz Club continues to grow as The Place To Be for East Anglia's jazz aficionados.

Robin Paterson

We could have danced all night!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 27th January 2006

Not the original Professor Higgins, perhaps, but if ever it needed spelling out that outstanding jazz talent does exist outside the USA, then this was the combo to do it. Tenorman Dave O'Higgins tonight gave us a performance which, no question about it, was world class. And as if to underline the point, he came backed by an outstanding rhythm section in Rob Mullarkey on double bass, drummer Simon Lee, and Tom Cawley on piano, one of the best, most innovative and lyrical pianists we have ever entertained at the PJC. Whichever direction they turned, whether jazz classic or standard, their interpretation was fresh and inventive, and total absent of cliché. With his soprano sax reserved mainly for ballads, Dave delivered ample evidence for his reputation as one of the finest young improvisers to emerge from the British jazz scene in recent years. Now in great demand as an international performer, we are all the more fortunate that he was available to open our Winter season at PJC.

Robin Paterson

A funny thing happened on the way to…

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 25th November 2005

Peterborough Jazz Club was tonight treated to the remarkable comic talents of Alan Barnes. Oh, and some pretty remarkable jazz, too, from this thoroughly entertaining, versatile and innovative professional, and his supporting rhythm group. Because whether on baritone sax, alto sax, or clarinet - in no particular order or preference - he gave ample justification for his almost permanent spot as top UK reedman, and for an international reputation that simply grows and grows. Accompanying him in an inspired repertoire of familiar jazz classics, was Matt Miles' impressive and inventive bass, with the thoroughly seasoned Spike Wells giving his well known impression of the virtually impossible - a left handed drummer. And providing the pulse to every number, underlining the depth of keyboard talent we have here in the UK, was the remarkable Dave Newton on piano. He and Alan Barnes have worked together for many years since their student days together - and it showed. As the last wholly-instrumental evening in this season's PJC, the Alan Barnes Quartet was a fitting finale, bringing his warm brand of humour and incisive jazz into an otherwise chill winter evening.

Robin Paterson

New Couriers deliver the message

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 11th November 2005

If there's one thing for which the New Jazz Couriers can be relied upon, its delivering a message of solid, sensational, pared-down-to-the-bone jazz. But as the audience learns at every sitting, there is so much more to this compact, dovetailed group. Literally driven along by the dynamic Martin Drew, a member of the original Couriers, they didn't merely breathe new life into every number in their extensive repertiore of jazz standards, they positively re-invented them. And their light-hearted approach to the whole concert, peppered with the '…what are we going to play next, guys?' banter, did little to disguise the earnest seriousness with which each group member approached the job at hand. Mornington Locket, exercising the full pitch of his overworked tenor; a young Jim Hart with the maturest vibes sound around; Steve Melling, quietly demonstrating some of the best of British jazz piano; Paul Morgan's inspirational bass; and, as always, the solid, pulsating beat of Martin Drew's drums, the backbone of this outstanding quintet. Many of their arrangements came straight from the originals of 30 and 40 years ago. And perhaps the most familiar of these, they used to close their first set - Johnny One Note. One note? They just had to be joking!

Robin Paterson

The Perfect Accompanist, Accompanied

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 28th October 2005

Among all its other advantages, Peterborough Jazz Club can be guaranteed to provide all shades of the musical spectrum; contrasts that neatly compliment each other. And so it was with the Kirk Lightsey Trio - the brilliance of three musicians in total harmony with each other; yet a complete contrast with any of this year's musical offerings. Kirk Lightsey is perhaps best known as an accompanist, and one who has served many of the top names in jazz, on both sides of the pond. From tonight's performance, he made it clear to an audience of devotees that here is a jazz musician who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the great solo performers of today. And as if to prove the fact, we were treated to a testing series of standards and jazz classics delivered in the unique, breathtaking style of Kirk Lightsey. Yet that takes nothing from his superb rhythm section, consisting of the brilliant Steve Watts on bass, and the driving percussion of Dave Wickens who brought with him more drumming gizmos than most drummers have drums - and used them to fantastic effect, too! This was true virtuoso performance, three inventive musicians whose experience of each other has gifted them with a rapport most others can only aspire to. And as if to underline the musical appreciation of the audience, they demanded, and got, their encore. We last saw Kirk Lightsey as part of the rhythm section in support of Bobby Wellins. But to everyone who saw him on this outstanding evening, he will always be remembered as the main attraction.

Robin Paterson

Local Heroes Do Us Proud

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 14th October 2005

It is very easy to assume that when you've witnessed the best, as we all did at the Peterborough Jazz Club on 23rd September, whatever follows is anticlimax. Not a bit of it! Like the best of fizzy drinks, the PJC All Star 7-Up Band was simply bubbling with inventiveness, treating an audience of faithfuls to a demonstration of both group and individual skills. The first half of this buzzing concert was devoted to the septet, with a range of jazz standards providing the vehicle for every soloist - and it soon became obvious that these were no Amateur Night performers. But this was a mere prelude to the group's underlying artistry, as during the later session we were treated to outstanding individual talents, first, of Tim Lapthorn on piano. His stunning performance was followed by an example of how jazz guitar should really sound, by John Pini; then, the outstanding tenor of Colin Watkin; Laurie Jacobs at his lyrical best on alto; and the incredible Nick Hill on flugelhorn and trumpet. Each backed by the rhythm of Arnie Somogyi on bass, and stand-in drummer, Alfred Kramer. Together and as individuals, they gave us a PJC performance that stands alongside any other, ending a superb concert with A Night In Tunisia. And as a certain Elvis Aron Presley once sang, '…oh, what a night it was!'

Robin Paterson

The long wait is over

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 23rd September 2005

Whatever superlatives we've used in the past to describe the artistry brought to the PJC, we need to think afresh to do justice to our guests of 23rd September, for whom we've waited so long - the Scott Hamilton Quartet. In a word, their performance was perfection. And non-stop, too, with barely time to take breath between each set. Backing Scott were the inventive John Pearce on piano, with the driving Steve Brown on drums, and Dave Green, as usual, outstanding on Bass. This dovetailed group treated a near capacity audience to a whole spectrum of jazz and timeless popular standards, tightly packed into an all-too-short 2½ hours with a treatment so fresh they might all have been penned yesterday. The interplay between these accomplished musicians was a joy to experience, but at every turn the star quality of Scott Hamilton burst through. His style totally individual, his delivery note-perfect in one seemingly never-ending solo after another, the true master of invention. This was jazz at its best. Jazz to remember. Which made the wait so worth while, for this rare slot in the busy schedule of Scott Hamilton.

Robin Paterson

The Turn Of The Season - 78RPM

Peterborough Jazz Club, Friday 9th September 2005

In these days of CDs the term 78 RPM, or perhaps even 331/3, might leave your average music fans scratching their heads. But not these fans, on this night, at Peterborough Jazz Club. Returning once again to open the Autumn season, the award-winning 78RPM Big Band did so with the powerful, rich sound that is uniquely their own. Led by the alto sax of Julian Landymore, they transported their audience through a succession of standards, punctuated with occasional originals written, and all impeccably arranged, by Landymore himself. And although his introductions were always light hearted and humorous, full of banter, not even the occasional showmanship disguised the utterly serious approach taken by his 17 musicians to flawlessly re-creating the long gone big, big band sounds. Sounds made famous by the likes of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich. Their own publicity places 78 RPM equally at home in the concert, ballroom or club. But for tonight's audience, there was just one venue that mattered - the PJC; and this enthusiastic band of seasoned professionals that opened our new season with a bang. That was 78 RPM. Truly the sum of its parts… and then some. 'Ansome,' as we say in East Anglia.

Robin Paterson

Seven 'til Eleven, and Jazz All The Way!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 6th May 2005

Before they took the stage at the Peterborough Jazz Club tonight, the audience might have been forgiven for wondering whether or not these seven young men were old enough to last until the usual closing time, let alone give them the solid jazz they'd all come to hear. They needn't have worried. The Gareth Lockrane Septet gave a performance that had the audience on its feet at 11pm, demanding more. Yet still they looked as fresh as when they began.

In fact, 'fresh' is the apt description for this vibrant seven. Led by Flautist Gareth, they presented a range of both standard, sometimes little-known jazz pieces, mixed with original compositions by the leader himself. And whatever they turned to, it was delivered with a total maturity. The excellent set piece arrangements were reminiscent of famous sevens from earlier years, and any concerns that their individual solos might lack the depth and range of more mature artists, were quickly dispelled. Gareth's last appearance at PJC was just three years ago, since when he has established the reputation we witnessed.

Robin Paterson

Welcome Back Esther Miller - please!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 15th April 2005
Making her debut appearance at the PJC, the delectable Esther Miller achieved the rare distinction of being applauded back on stage at the end of her performance, to give more of the same. And there was no surprise in that! Accompanied by her regular backing group, this was a performance beyond superlatives. From ballads to bop, sultry to swinging, this stunning South African delivered shades of Sarah Vaughn, a hint of Cleo Laine; but, essentially, it was the unique Esther Miller who placed her own stamp on the music, and kept a near capacity audience demanding more. Also making her debut, delivering a big, mature sound from her tenor sax, was the fantastic, diminutive Karen Sharp. With Bryan Corbett on trumpet and flugel horn, backed by arranger Gerry Spencer on piano, bassist Zoltan Dekaney and the driving Neil Bullock on drums, Esther was well served by musicians who could demand solo status in any musical setting. But at PJC, the setting was as close as its possible to get to perfection. OK, so you can't follow one debut performance with another. But jazz purists are advised to keep an eye peeled for the next appearance of Esther Miller at the PJC - guaranteed to be another performance not to be missed.

Robin Paterson

From Big Band to Trio, A Masterclass In Jazz

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, 25th February 2005

Rarely has a PJC audience warmed to a performance as they did on this Friday. And what regret that there wasn't an overflowing house to greet three world-class musicians, in Jiggs Whigham on Trombone, Phil Robson on guitar and on bass, the ever-present Dave Green. An unusual combo, perhaps, but one that positively scintillated, with a sound as natural as any conventional trio. Their programme treated the audience to a range of instantly recognizable titles - from the likes of Jimmy van Heusen, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern - jazz classics to standards; ballads to up-tempo. Yet every one was a classic in itself. One minute, the entire audience was captured and animated by the natural skills of communication and interplay demonstrated by this outstanding group; the next, silent and attentive at the sheer artistry of three supremely talented individuals. Given his leadership of some of the world's great Big Bands, and his status as one of the most innovative of jazz educators, fronting a string duo might have seemed an odd spare-time activity for someone of Jiggs Whigham's stature. But the swinging sound they produced was as natural as jazz itself. And one we look forward to hearing again.

Robin Paterson

Italian Tenor Hits Peterborough!

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, 4th February 2005

Not quite the headline you'd associate with a modern jazz club, though in four little words it sums up a concert that uniquely combined impact with nostalgia.

Perfect accompaniment to rocking tenorman Renato D'Aiello was provided by the excellent and unassuming Phil Lee on guitar, bassist Nicola Muresu, and rising young star Fabrizio Rat Ferrero on piano. Completing the rhythm section, John Blease did more with his minimalist kit of snare, tom-tom and bass drum, high-hat and swish, than the average jazz audience should decently expect. And the over-all effect? Utterly mesmerizing!

A concert of compositions by Monk and Mingus can be a rather predictable affair. But not this one. The over-all effect gave the 100-or-so listeners totally new nterpretations to the sometimes familiar melody lines, without resort to slavish cliché. And the very best of each member of this highly talented quintet was exorcised by a series of brilliant duets - tenor and guitar; tenor and bass; piano and drums; back to tenor
and guitar. The sometimes complex Monk compositions being laid bare for new appreciation, by this swinging, lyrical, inventive group.

This is not the first time Peterborough has been treated to the outstanding, animated talent of Italian tenorman Renato D'Aiello. And you can bet your bottom Lira, it won't be the last.

Robin Paterson

Joe Locke Quartet - 4 Walls of Freedom

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, 22nd October 2004

Headed by brilliant American vibes player Joe Locke, 4 Walls Of Freedom made another scintillating appearance at the Peterborough Jazz Club on Friday 22nd. Supported by the hugely experienced rhythm section of bassist Ed Howard and Gary Novak on drums, the quartet was fronted by Scottish tenorman Tommy Smith, making an electric debut. And judging by the mere smattering of empty seats, those four walls held an audience enthralled.

From a frenetic opening set to the lilting, lyrical closing, this was a performance of exciting contrasts; a programme of original compositions, with not a standard to be heard. And each might have been created as a platform for the unique skills of these talented musicians. Joe's flamboyant, swinging style with his athletic flourishes in total contrast with the cool competence of Tommy Smith, and barely in the background, the outstanding rhythm section driving them to new heights of musical exuberance.

Altogether, this was a performance that left the listener craving for more, a totally absorbing jazz experience that was ended too soon. Now, we can only wait for the next. There was, however, just one note of disappointment: Joe failed to give us even a single chorus of his famous and well loved 'I'm Only A Strolling Vagabond…' Wassat? Another Joe Locke? Impossible. No question about it. There is only one, unique Joe Locke.

Robin Paterson

Cubana Bop

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, 19th January 2001

Top Latin group Cubana Bop play "jazz designed for feet as well as ears", according to band leader Terry Seabrook. And when they played at the City's Jazz Club, the audience of more than 100 seemed close to leaping to its feet as the six piece band blew their jazz.

As well as the remarkable talent of each band member during solos, Cubana Bop stand out in the world of jazz for their stylish re-working of classics such as "Moanin and Groovin High" into awesome salsa beats.

The band did its best to get the crowd to dance. But sitting and jiggling a little was as far as it went, and it wasn't until the standing ovation that anyone got to their feet. "I think they're a little reserved about dancing", explained percussionist Satin Singh, who discovered jazz at the age of eighteen and brings some Indian influences to the eclectic ensemble.

Their performance, at the Great Northern Hotel in Station Approach, was supported by the Laurie Jacobs Quartet.

The Critics Jazz Review

Bobby Shew Quartet

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, 17th November 2000

A high octane, freewheeling performance by American trumpeter Bobby Shew stormed the club to set a gold standard for the run-up to the festive music season.

Back in the city after four years, Shew, playing both trumpet and flugelhorn, demonstrated the full range of a phenomenal talent that has teamed him with some of the outstanding figures of the modern jazz scene - Art Pepper, Bud Shank and Horace Silver - before moving into an even more creative solo career.

From the first few bars of the opening number to a crescendo finish with a wildly driving version of 'Caravan' he made the whole programme a vastly enjoyable, fun performance in which he allowed the support group to showcase their own talents. And talent it was - stretching, swinging piano from firm club favourite John Pearce; masterly, evocative bass playing from Paul Morgan and the percussive, explosive drumming of Ralph Salmins. The end result was a team that swung and just kept swinging; an exhilarating experience which many members judged to be the best trumpet set to grace the club stage since Shew's last appearance. Clearly he enjoyed himself, and so did everyone else !

Equally fulsome praise was also due to the support set played by Bedfordshire songbird Sophie Ripley. On her first outing to the club she expressed a maturity and tone that proved extremely popular with what is always a highly discerning audience. Strong on good material for her vocal talents with a range that was not prescriptive, she is clearly a voice to which to keep tuned.

Jerry Dodd


Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 20” October

Take a talented front line, add a sound and supportive back line and you should have
an unbeatable team. The tribute band playing at the best attended gig of the autumn
season at Peterborough Jazz Club went one better by adding enough flair and
professionalism to wreck the dreams of any would-be imitators. Not that anyone would be foolish enough to try. With Alan Barnes (alto and baritone sax ), Dick Pearce ( trumpet ) and Don Weller ( tenor sax) - three of the leading players on the UK jazz scene - the combination was strong enough to carry the concert to memorable heights of individual and joint enthusiasm. When coupled with the artistry of John Donaldson on piano, ever popular Amie Somogyi on bass and the driving rhythm of club favourite drummer Steve Brown, the results were positively cosmic.

An in-your-face, straight ahead programme of Adderley showcase numbers was a
tremendous reminder of the outstanding career and music of one of the most talented
alto saxophonists to grace the world jazz stage. Barnes and Weller treated the music
with respect and sensitivity, adding a compelling freshness through the use of own
arrangements, in particular a fine opening rendering of ‘Worksong”. Pearce was
alight with precision and passion with lingering echoes of Chet Baker in his quieter
solo passages. All members of the sextet were provided with positive chances to reveal their respective talents and took them with bravura performances. Donaldson in particular was superbly on-song.

The concert benefited from a togetherness and enjoyment which can only come from
mutual respect, immense talent and the determination to have a lot of fi_m The sextet
loved it and so did club members.

The next concert brings American trumpet ace Bobby Shew to the club stage on
November 17.

Jerry Dodd

Peterborough Jazz Club at The Great Northern Hotel, Peterborough, 22nd September

A crafted blend of youth and experience set a storming start for the autumn season of the club which has established a well deserved reputation for bringing the best of
modem jazz to the city.

Experience came in the form of pianist Brian Dee, one of the living legends of British
jazz, who proved that in truly talented hands the instrument can run the full gamut of
emotions with flair and dexterity. Playing a programme of self composed works from
his first solo album ' It's always like this' he demonstrated a fluent, evocative and
caring feel for his music which culminated artistically in his rendering of 'Hill Song',
an outstandingly expressive piece which captured the essential essence of fine piano
composition and playing.

Ably backed by leading British bass player Alec Dankworth and the percussive skills
of Trevor Tompkins, the trio provided a great fillip to the autumn programme.
Youth came into its own with saxophonist Ben Castle fronting the Bobby Worth
Quartet. Ben, whose previous appearance at the club brought rave reviews from
members, showed that in the intervening period his mastery and musicianship have
geared up to result in one of the most exciting tenor sounds on the current scene.
Searing, emotionally charged solos were countered by fluid, melody driven solos
enhanced with depth and grace.

Whether playing standard or own compositions he was able to derive pace and
melodic continuity from the sterling work of the rest of the quartet. Key to holding the line was Bobby Worth, long recognised as one of the best drummers in the business, and a musical force in his own right.

It was a double-header evening that provided members with the promise of more great things to come in the ensuing months.

Jerry Dodd

Robin Jones Latin Jazz Sextet
Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 25 February

The call for the interval went unheeded. The sextet continued for another number
before stepping down to wind down. The reason ? “1 felt the mood and I had to go
with it “ said Robin with a smile “ When it feels that good you can’t afford to let go.”
Few in the audience would disagree. It was a night when the rhythm flowed and the
music peaked with powerful solo performances. Tight, fast flowing, the two hours of
Latin jazz demonstrated the great value of a group that plays together and stays
together. The rapport was immediate, the musical quality honed and driving with an
intensity that brought out the best of the innovative afro-cuban roots of the programme.

Outstanding in the front line was saxophonist/ flautist Nick Walker whose bold,
brassy baritone sax sound was finely counterbalanced by the sharp, incisive
melancholy of the flute in a wide range of his own compositions. Providing him with
exceptional partner support was trumpeter Steve Waterman whose dexterity and
searing solo playing proved a class act.

Needless to say Robin Jones on congas proved the highly inventive but stable
rhythmic influence for the evening but special praise was due to Adam Riley on
drums; his feeling and creative technical ability marked him out as someone special
and a jazz force for the future. Completing the line-up was Europe’s number one jazz
pianist Chris Kibble and Gerry Hunt on bass guitar.

They all caught ‘ the mood’ and the result was a concert of light, life and enjoyment.
Next month the stage will be taken by American alto sax player Herb Geller making a
welcome return to the club on possibly his last tour of the UK.
Jerry Dodd

John Etheridge’s ‘Sweet Chorus ‘ Tribute to Stephane Grappelli

Peterborough Jazz Club, Great Northern Hotel, Friday 21 January 2000

"Some nights the memories of the music linger on. This was one of them.

For two hours the Great Northern became the Parisian home of Le Hot Club as John Etheridge weaved a magical spell around the memories of former musical partner, the late unique Stephane Grappelli.

His highly praised tribute ‘Sweet Chorus’ enraptured a full house which ended the evening on its feet in appreciation of one of the most evocative and life filled programmes to grace the club’s stage since its formation.

Key to the success of the recital were the virtuoso interpretation and fretwork of Etheridge on acoustic and electric guitar and the uncanny mirroring of the Grappelli sound and style by young violinist Christian Garrick. His solo performances shone with echoes of the French jazz scene and the inimitable freewheeling improvisation, which endeared Grappelli to a worldwide audience for many decades.

Together, the two totally attuned talents explored the warmth and vibrancy of a music bursting with vitality and style and it was a tribute to their skill and the musical subject matter that the proverbial pin could be heard at numerous points during the concert.

Backed by the youthful enthusiasm of the Jezs’ – Cook on rhythm guitar and Brown on bass – the quartet fired themselves and the audience with humour and enjoyment. It was a night and a sound to remember with affection."

Jerry Dodd


Hearing live jazz is a unique experience, so why not come and sample the pleasures of the Peterborough Jazz Club