Stewart Curtis at Jazznights: The Bell, Clare on Sunday 2nd May 2010

Stewart will be performing with Roger Odell & The Jazz-nights trio and the resident songbird Larraine Odell this week. Sitters-in welcome. Music 8-10.30pm. £7/£4 students. If required, food can be ordered at the bar and served at your table.

stewart curtis 4 "Stewart Curtis graduated in jazz from City of Leeds College of music in 1982 and spent the early 80s touring and recording with Mari Wilson & the Wilsations. His many performing and recording credits through the 1980s to the noughties also include Percy Sledge, Nik Kershaw, Tracey Ullman, Selina Jones, Germaine Stewart, Glen Matlock (ex-Sex Pistols), Matt Bianco, Gregory Schechter’s Festival Klezmer Band, and Orchestra Folia.

The 90s saw Curtis performing in several West End shows, on numerous TV themes and in the house bands of Channel 4’s Viva Cabaret and BBC1’s Ben Elton Show. In 1992, following a spell with Gregory Schechter’s Festival Klezmer Band, Curtis formed Stewart Curtis’ Klezmer Groove, later known as Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove, initially influenced by New York’s Klezmatics, and combining his jazz background with his Jewish heritage. His numerous credits with K-Groove include an appearance in 1998 on Channel 4’s arts programme The Warehouse, and supporting Nina Simone at the Royal Albert Hall the same year, as well as two CD albums, Too Loud For Dinner and Smoked Salmon Salsa. Stewart Curtis’ other major recording credit is Saracubana – The Stewart Curtis Trio Plays B.B. Cooper.

stewart curtis 2 Stewart Curtis’ Klezmer Groove, or Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove, was an outstanding band that essentially firmly fused klezmer with jazz and featured an extraordinary frontline line-up in Stewart Curtis on saxes, clarinet and flutes, and Paul Jayasinha on trumpet and flugelhorn. The chemistry between the two players was volcanic, and it is a partnership that one would hope to see revived. K-Groove also revealed Curtis as a highly original, witty and spirited composer and arranger. More recently, K-Groove has performed as Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove Quartet, drawing much acclaim from public and peers alike, including from fellow saxophonist Courteney Pine: "Great original modern day jazz big band music – makes me want to listen to it more than twice." Praise worth having, indeed!

Stewart Curtis is indisputably the finest multi-woodwind player of his generation, playing alto and tenor sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo, and recorder. Curtis’ voice stewart curtis 3 particularly on saxes is sometimes reminiscent of that cool smoothness of "LTD" Dexter Gordon and "The G-Man" Grover Washington Jr., both of whom he acknowledges as influences, but still remains distinctly his own. It is one of the two most distinctive and attractive in Britain today. Despite the differences in the instruments, this voice also carries across to his clarinet, flute, piccolo, and even recorder. On flutes in particular, I have yet to hear his equal stewart curtis 4in this country today. His piccolo – not one of my favourite instruments normally, admittedly – is positively sexy, almost outrageously so, and what Stewart Curtis draws out of the humble recorder absolutely beggars belief."

Combine Curtis’ remarkable instrumental prowess with his prodigious jazz chops and you have the makings of a veritable multi-woodwind phenomenon. And Stewart Curtis hasn’t even begun to stretch himself to the limit.


Unfortunately we will be away in warmer climes so will miss this great performance. If anyone who does go to the gig can email  with a review or details – it would be appreciated.

Further details at

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Rebop at Jazznights at The Bell 18th April 2010

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A welcome return by this popular repertory band featuring a new program of compositions by Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Oliver Nelson and others as well as their bebop classics. They feature a hard-hitting front line of Paul Higgs (trp), Kevin Flanagan (alto) and Colin Watling (ten).

Rebop is a jazz repertory aggregation specialising in the arcane art of bebop and related music. Formed originally as a quintet to examine the repertoire of the modern jazz explosion circa 1944-1949, Rebop is now a six-piece and also features a faithful homage to the Miles Davis Sextet of 1958-59.

Band Members
Kevin Flanagan – alto saxophone; Paul Higgs – trumpet; Colin Watling – tenor saxophone; Chris Ingham – piano; Andrew J. Brown – bass; Roger Odell – drums

A personal favourite opened the first set, the 1947 Green Dolphin street with intro from Chris Ingham on piano and joined Andrew Brown on bass and Roger on drums. Paul Higgs on trumpet opened for the front line followed by Colin Watling on Tenor and Kevin Flanagan – a great start to the first set. Crazeology written by Benny Harris for Charlie Parker (a tune based on Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm) followed.

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John Lewis’s 1947 Milestones with its convoluted chord changes and so many harmonic bottlenecks was played with great panache and duly received a great reception from the full house audience. Miles Davis’s Donna Lee with its legendary difficult chord changes was interestingly introduced by a short traditional version of Indiana on which Donna Lee was based featured high speed four bar breaks between the front line and Roger on drums. In total contrast, the technical mastery of Chris Ingham was featured on Vernon Duke’s Autumn In New York as well as Kevin Flanagan playing the Charlie Parker part of his version.

The last number of the first set was Miles Davis’s version Seven Steps To Heaven written by Victor Feldman although he never played with Miles. Apparently he was offered a post with the Miles band but declined as he was making too much money at the time as a session musician!!!

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The second set opened from the Kind Of Blue album followed by Duke Pearson’s melodic classic from the Cannonball Adderley album: Them Dirty Blues. The Rodgers and Hart ballad My Funny Valentine featured a wonderful solo by Paul Higgs on trumpet playing the Miles Davis part. A Charlie Parker swing blues was followed by Flamenco Sketches which is a series of five scales, each to be played for as long as the soloist wishes until he has completed the series. Chris Ingham referred to it as a “meditatively mature” number. A superb showcase for the Rebop front line.

Details and future gigs at

Jo Fooks at Jazznights in Clare 4th April 2010

A wonderful evening at Jazznights again. Jo Fooks, the special guest this evening  on tenor saxophone.  Jo first met Humphrey Lyttelton in her birthplace, Edinburgh, when she was a fifteen-year-old playing tenor saxophone in the West Lothian Big Band. She had just won the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Award of 1992, and impressed both Humph and Acker Bilk when she played at a ‘seminar’ held by them during the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. In 20Jazznights 040410 (1A)05, she sent Humph her debut CD, ‘Here and Now’, revealing that since that meeting in Edinburgh, she had studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London and at Berkley in America, played in the orchestra for West Side Story at an opera Festival in South Africa, toured with the contemporary dance company, Flying Gorillas and, after moving South, established herself on the London gig scene. As a result of her CD the circle of events was completed when she appeared alongside Acker Bilk as a guest with Humph’s band at the Edinburgh Jazz festival 2006, thereafter joining his now eight-piece band as a permanent member.

The Jazznights trio tonight featured Roger Odell on drums, Simon Brown on keys and Steve Cook on Double Bass who has been a stalwart for years with Soft Machine.

The first set opened with Jazznights resident songbird Larraine Odell. In our opinion a stunning original interpretation of East Of The Sun arranged by Roger Odell. A very sensitive version of I’ll  Close My Eyes from the film The Bridges of Madison County followed which led into Come Rain OR Come Shine featuring 8 bar breaks between Roger on drums and Steve on Bass. A wonderful ‘painting in music’ finished Larraine’s set with The Midnight Sun which highlighted Steve’s lyrical double bass soloing behind Larraine.

Jo Fooks started her first set with a very eloquent introduction featuring alll the trio. Jo’s The Brolley Song followed which she wrote after a rather inclement outdoor concert in Sittingbourne, Kent with shades of Cornwall from the Helston Floral Dance. A great version of Hank Mobley’s Soul Station lead into Teaching Blues which she composed after a ‘bad’ teaching period. An up tempo version of Ella’s It’s Wonderful closed the first set. Jo Fooks Jazznights 040410 (21)

The second set opened with the traditional Sitting In Spot with no less than four local performers. Young (11 years old) played Willie Brown’s Mississippi Blues on an amplified acoustic guitar with a real blues feeling, this is a classic. graduation piece for blues fingerpickers. Terry Reed then played Making Whoopee on the piano. Steve Laws then played a sensitive rendering of John Coltrane’s Naima. Geoff Harriman finished this spot with Cheek to Cheek. What a showcase of local talent.

A roaring Back For More started Jo Fook’s second set which she wrote for a couple of regulars at her gigs. Snow Shine was written by Jo in the first week of January 2010 and was named by the audience at an early January gig when the snow was on the ground. Jamming at Sue’s Place was written for Susan May-Robinson who runs Spikes Place Jazz Club in Hadleigh. Sue was of course Spike Robinson’s wife.Jo Fooks Jazznights 040410 (19)

Following Black Orpheus was followed by two numbers which Jo invited Larraine Odell back to the stage for Lullaby Of Birdland and a much faster version than is  usually played of Richard Rodgers I Could Write A Book.

Again a wonderful night at Jazznights and as Alan Crumpton used to say “What ever your taste in music – keep it live”

For details of future gigs go to