Simon Spillett – A wonderful tribute to Tubby Hayes

Jazznights featured the smartest tenor saxophonist and one of the best exponents at The Bell Inn, Clare Suffolk on Sunday evening 24th January 2010. The supporting trio was the Roger Odell (drums), Bernie Hodgkins (double bass) and Simon Brown (keys).

Roger is well-known as a founder member of Shakatak and still  the resident power drummer. He is the proprietor and organiser of Jazznights as well as composer arranger and a drum teacher. Musically, his first love was always straight-ahead contemporary jazz, and in the past he has played with many of the great names on the UK scene including Don Rendell, Barbara Thompson, Dick Morrissey, Terry Smith, Joe Harriott and countless others.

Simon Brown has worked as a performer, teacher of piano, and music arranger and regularly appears at the most popular jazz clubs in the East Anglia region. His involvement in Blues, Jazz and Jazz-Funk combos have led to appearances at the Soho, Parsons Green and Cheltenham jazz festivals, and over the years has shared the billing with the likes of Jools Holland, The James Taylor Quartet, Stacey Kent and Bobby Wellins.

Bernie Hogkins is particularly acknowledged as being one of the few players to bring an authentic, driving jazz feel to both the double bass and the bass-guitar, and for his fluent and creative soloing.

The evening commenced with a great set from Jazznights resident songbird Larraine Odell. Larraine  possesses a unique smouldering tonal quality and a subtle jazz phrasing style that has elicited great praise from two of her own vocal mentors, Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan. She has appeared at Ronnie Scott’s Club as a member of the group Jimpster, at the Boxford Fleece with pianist Steve Lodder, most of the other jazz clubs in the region, and at the Aldeburgh, Layer Marney and Southwold Jazz Festivals.

Simon Spillett who is currently writing a biography of Tubby Hayes entitle the The Long Shadow Of The Little Giant is eagerly awaited – A signed copy please! A wonderful evening varied from the rapid Ring A Ding to the moving J J Johnson’s Lament. Shepherd written for Tubb Hayes was superb and brought back those memories of  Tubby playing in the cellar at The Old Place. A wonderful version of I Never Know When to say When by Leroy Anderson from the musical Goldilocks showed all the colour and magic from Simon.  At e end of the second set he did not change the tradition of a fast number and finished with a blistering version of Cherokee.

One of the features of Jazznights in the sitting in spot and we had the pleasure of the harmonica player Geoff Harriman and Steve Laws (usually known for playing bass and Alto) on a vintage unlaquered sax playing Blue Samba.

A night to remember. As Alan Crumpton used to say – what ever your taste in music, keep it live

In Memory of Alan Crumpton (Crumpy)

Suffolk lost a great character over Christmas. Alan Crumpton’s sudden death at the age of 74 has robbed  us of a much respected journalist and a man who did so much for the East Anglian jazz scene.

Photograph from the BBC Suffolk tribute

Words are difficult at these times but we give below a tribute by Donald Muir Chairman and Musical Directorof the Bures Music Festival, Music Director for Spencers Jazz and co presenter at the Jazznights gigs at Clare

Donald Muir at Jazznights in Clare, Suffolk

"It was a sad Sunday over Christmas when Roger Odell, drummer with Shakatak and instigator of the fortnightly Jazznights gigs at the Bell in Clare, rang to tell me of Alan’s death – and I still find it hard to credit that my old friend is gone. Put the word “Crumpton” in your spell-check and it invites you to “ignore” – impossible!

 I first met Alan Crumpton at one of the Friday night sessions of the Boxford Fleece Jazz Club and recall some amusing after hours conversations with a man with a comprehensive knowledge of the music and its players and singers. I was not to know that the banter and the chat masked the deep hurt of a husband who had recently lost his beloved wife Rosemary.

 Shortly afterwards I left for a holiday in Scotland, telling my colleagues at the Fleece that we forty and fifty somethings needed the appointment of a younger committee member to foster an interest in jazz amongst the teens and twenties.  Upon my return I found one Alan Crumpton, on the cusp of sixty, installed as our new publicity officer and partner in crime. I quickly concluded that my colleagues knew their man better than I did, as Alan made his mark with his boyish passion for jazz and its practitioners and a youthful enthusiasm for his new role.  Here was that younger committee member I was after – but now with an older profile!

 Years later, he offered me the chance to succeed him as musical manager of what became the Bures Music Festival and I have never been so flattered in my life. However his great gift to me was in encouraging me to speak and write – by which I mean not the two everyday activities but finding the courage to address a large festival crowd and contribute a concert review to an influential provincial newspaper.  Not so easy as it might first sound and never easy to write as well and with such perception as Alan.

Alan fom

This was his forte – to encourage with a gentle word and to give some direction.  That encouragement was always extended to the musicians and singers he liked both as players and personalities – saxophonists Karen Sharp and Alan Barnes, pianist Geoff Eales, guitarist John Etheridge and vocalists Jacqui Dankworth and Jamie Cullum are some that spring to mind – whilst Alan had a warm rapport with  the entertainers of a previous era of show business in such household names as Max Bygraves and Kathy Kirby.

 A sign of Alan’s approval would be his comment that an individual had “no side” – an old fashioned phrase these days very possibly but an expression to say that the person was without affectation and self importance.  There was never any side to Alan.

Guile, artfulness and malice were also entirely absent from a personality who attracted no enemies – if ever you laughed at Alan you quickly learned to laugh with him.

 Here was a man with a wicked sense of  humour who when telling a joke would often deviate wildly from the narrative and entirely miss the punch line – and yet leave an audience in fits.  At the Clare Bell one night we floated the idea of the publication of an Alan Crumpton Jokebook, perfect as a raffle prize.  The raffle winner might select another prize entirely, the runner up take one copy of the joke book whilst the third past the post would be saddled with two, ran our logic.

 Failings and flaws? Not many, although he would never have won a “Britain’s Best Dressed Man” competition and an appointment with his barber was often overdue. His largely tuneless whistling, perhaps – but now that his flat whistle is stilled, I find that I shall miss it  – and Alan – more than words can say."

As Alan used to say – What ever your taste in music – keep it live

On Sunday 1st August 2010 there will be a special Alan Crumpton Memorial Night. In a special joint venture between Jazznights and Ipswich Jazz Club we celebrate the life of the much-loved Alan Crumpton who sadly died at the end of 2009. As Alan was the MC at both clubs we present a "Jazznights at The Bell" evening at Ipswich featuring Allison Neale with the Jazznights Trio & Larraine Odell. Profits to the charity Diabetes UK

Shakatak’s 30th Anniversary Concert

Shakatak celebrate their 30th Anniversary! "This music still glows as brightly as that first hearing…Shakatak aren’t just a band, they were the soundtrack to our lives" RONNIE SCOTT’S HOUSE MAGAZINE (UK) " A wild diversity seldom found anymore…tons of rhythmic and stylistic variety…slamming" JAZZIZ MAGAZINE (USA

The first 30th anniversary sell ut at High Barn, Gret Bardfield was a huge suucess in a superb  venue with incredible accolustics (even Midge Ure said about High Barn "I want one" . The band consists of the four original members Bill Sharpe (keys), Jill Saward (lead voc, perc & flt), Roger Odell (drs) & George Anderson (bs gtr), augmented with Alan Wormald (gtr) and Jacqui Hicks (tenor sax, flute and backuing vocals) producing a musically dynamic and entertaining show from the 6 piece line-up.

All the old (and new) fovourites were there: Nightbirds, Dark is the night, Emotionally Blue and of course Down On The Street. Apart from the superb musicianship, Roger Odell and Jill Saward worked there socks off. Wonderful evening.

In  2009 festival performances have included headlining at the Kutchan Jazz Festival in Japan in July, the Hua Hin Jazz Festival in Thailand in June and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in April. In recent years the band played two headlining nights at Jakjazz, the Jakarta International Jazz Festival plus an appearance at the Bangkok International Jazz Festival.  Shakatak have alsoplayed at the UK’s Wigan International Jazz Festival and the Midsummer Music @ Spencers Jazz Festival.  In the past18 months the band have performed concert dates in Russia, Latvia, South Africa, Lithuania and Slovakia plus club dates in the UK and at the prestigious Blue Note, Billboard & Cotton in Japan. In June ’09 Shakatak played a 3 night performance in Sofia, Bulgaria and in July and August ’09the group appeared in Japan at the Tokyo, Osaka & Fukuoka Billboard Live clubs.  Throughout their 29 year career Shakatak have released over 50 CDs, 3 DVDs, plus the music book