Sophie Smith at Jazznights Clare, Suffolk on Sunday 31st October 2010

Sophie Smith visited Jazznights and following the quotes below we were looking forward to a great evening:

Jazznights Sophie Smith 311010 (39)“Sophie Smith has all the attributes associated with being that rarity, a great singer. They are: superb intonation, beautiful quality of voice and an ability to pitch the most difficult of intervals with apparent ease. However, it is her peerless sense of swing, her phrasing and her harmonic awareness that move her into the category of a great jazz singer- an even rarer breed.” (Alan Barnes, 2009)

“Her fluent and lyrical singing displays a musical maturity beyond her years.” (Anita Wardell

This turned out to be the understatement of the year it was really superb evening – more about that later.

The Roger Odell Jazznights trio opened the evening with 5 excellent vocals from the resident songbird Larraine Odell. The trio were:

Roger Odell – drums Roger Odell Jazznights 311010 (9)
Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk group Shakatak. Roger has toured internationally and recorded numerous CDs, which he continues to do on a regular basis to this day.
Simon Brown Jazznights 311010 (5)Simon Brown – piano
A very respected and popular jazz pianist who is equally known for his arranging skills. He is always in demand to play many gigs with other bands when he is not teaching jazz piano or playing with the  Jazznights Trio
Bernie Hodgkins – double bass
Inspired by an uncle, who played and recorded with Django Reinhart and StephaneBernie Hodgkins Jazznights 311010 (6) Grappelli in the legendary Quintet de Hot Club of France, Bernie grew up in a Jazz-oriented family. Their influence led him to become a respected bass player behind such people as Matt Munroe, Dickie Valentine and Dennis Lotus, in the early stages of his career. Bernie 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.
Larraine Odell – vocals
Beginning her professional singing career with the group CMU with whom she recorded two albums, Larraine performed at numerous venues throughout the UK and Europe, including the Purcell Room, RFH, Boxford Fleece & Ronnie Scotts. 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.

Larraine Odell   Jazznights Trio 311010 (3)Larraine opened her set with Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1939 I Didn’t Know What Time It Was – for historians this Rodgers and Hart song was introduced by Benny Goodman, with vocalist Louise Tobin, on the Columbia label on September 13, 1939. It entered the charts on October 28, lasting for 13 weeks and peaking at sixth position. On December 23, Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra’s version hit the charts for 2 weeks and rose to thirteenth position. This was sung at a medium tempo with a solo from Simon Brown.

Larraine Odell   Jazznights Trio 311010 (13) Larraine Odell   Jazznights Trio 311010 (15)

A personal favourite came next On Green Dolphin Street with lyrics by Ned Washington. This was played and sung by Larraine at an unusually slow tempo which illustrates her flexibility and great styling. One may think of Davis, of Bill Evans with Davis performing On Green Dolphin Street but Simon on piano gave a superb solo to which Bernie followed on bass. Day by Day came next (not the Shakatak version I must say)  A very nice version featuring 8 bar trades between Roger and Bernie.

The fourth number was Wild Is The Wind by Ned Washington. This was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis but he did not sing it like Larraine who gave a very tender but haunting feel to it. This was in keeping as it was 31st October – Halloween. Just to finish the set retaining the Halloween theme we had Old Devil Moon. A fitting climax with a driving beat from Roger on drums. All these numbers were arranged by Roger Odell which should give a fitting reminder to how great an arranger Roger is.

Sophie Smith opened her first set with a driving Love Me Or Leave Me which was sJazznights Sophie Smith 311010 (18)uch a contrast from Doris Day’s original version. This received great cheers following everyone’s recognition of what a great voice, diction individuality and power Sophie had. Sophie followed this with It Could Happen To You by Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke. This is the title track from Sophie’s new CD on Alan Barnes record label – Woodville records. A wonderful number which included some of Sophie’s scat singing and featured solos from Simon, Bernie and Roger on drums.

The 1949 My Foolish Heart by Victor young and lyrics by Ned Washington followed was played with a Latin beat which had a lovely musical but strong rendition. The evergreen (sic) 1947 Autumn leaves by by Joseph Kosma with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Jacques Prevert ended Sophia’s first set which was an unusually (for that song) swinging version. Sophie apologised for her voice as she had a cold but no one would ever know – what a professional she is.

After the evening interval and the Jazznights raffle (two jazz cd’s and a bottle of wine) Geoff Harriman Jazznights 311010 (38)we had the traditional sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an  opportunity to play with the Jazznights Trio. Tonight, one of the club’s favourites Geoff Harriman on Harmonica played Jimmy Van Heusen’s Nancy (with the Laughing Face)

Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer’s I’m Old Fashioned opened Sophie’s second set with an Introduction by Simon Brown on Piano leading straight into Sophie’s first number which also featured solos by Simon and Bernie on his five stringed double bass. Jimmy Rowle’s famous tune ‘The Peacocks’ for which Norma Winstone wrote the lyrics, and re-titled ‘A Timeless Place’ followed. Although this piece has since been recorded by other artists including jazz singer Mark Murphy, and The Swingle Singers it is not often heard due to the vocal complexities – quite a tribute to Sophie Smith.Jazznights Sophie Smith 311010 (48) A

The 1946 Come Rain Or Come Shine with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer followed with a scat singing intro of this up-tempo number and solos by Simon & Bernie with a fine scat chorus to finish. Ray Noble’s 1936 The Touch Of Your Lips was next. played and sung as a Samba with Roger opening the rhythm playing with his hands instead of the sticks or brushes. Roger also gave us a superb solo using the brushes as drum sticks.

Sophie’s favourite ballad is apparently Johnny Green’s  Body and Soul – words almost failed us after listening this – it was breath-taking and even out shone all the other previous numbers. After a very slow intro it moved into a very sensitive and soulful piece. Every one should hear Sophie singing Body and Soul. You felt nothing could better this. After saying that Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To in E minor was a very up-tempo number with a happy feel to Sophie’s voice which expressed fully the sentiment of the tune. She is a truly great jazz singer. This number is also featured on her new Album and in fact is the title of the album.

Jazznights Sophie Smith 311010 (20) Jazznights Sophie Smith 311010 (50)

Tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray’s Twisted with lyrics by Annie Ross (I think) played up-tempo ended this wonderful evening. It also featured Simon and Bernie playing with that understanding that they have between them and an extended solo by Roger on the drums.

The evening was summed up perfectly by our master of ceremonies Donald Muir who  said “One of the best performances at the club for a long time” Follow that

For further Jazznights information and future gigs go to www.jazz-nights.com

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Roger Beaujolais (Vibes) at Jazznights, Clare, Sunday 17th Oct 2010 with the Roger Odell Trio

Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (11)One of Jazznights most popular guest artists, Roger made a welcome return to The Bell at Clare. As the most experienced of the few UK vibes players he has enjoyed a long career both as a leader of his own various bands and as a sideman, most famously with the band Fairground Attraction.

Roger has played at at numerous jazz festivals including Montreux, North Sea & others in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium & France. Now he was at Jazznights again.

The evening opened with the Jazznights Roger Odell Trio and our resident songbird Larraine Odell:
 

Roger Odell – drums
Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk group Shakatak. Roger has toured internationally and recorded numerous CDs, which he continues to do on a regular basis to this day.
Simon Brown – piano
A very respected and popular jazz pianist who is equally known for his arranging skills. He is always in demand to play many gigs with other bands when he is not teaching jazz piano or playing with the  Jazznights Trio

Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (6) Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (5) Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (4)

Bernie Hodgkins – double bass
Inspired by an uncle, who played and recorded with Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli in the legendary Quintet de Hot Club of France, Bernie grew up in a Jazz-oriented family. Their influence led him to become a respected bass player behind such people as Matt Munroe, Dickie Valentine and Dennis Lotus, in the early stages of his career. Bernie 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.
Larraine Odell – vocals larraine_odell_cropped
Beginning her professional singing career with the group CMU with whom she recorded two albums, Larraine performed at numerous venues throughout the UK and Europe, including the Purcell Room, RFH, Boxford Fleece & Ronnie Scotts. 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.

Larraine opened the evening with the 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein song – It Might As Well Be Spring, Richard Rodgers says that he wrote the number at a bright tempo and this is how Larraine performed it. I’ll Close My Eyes, another 1945 song but by William Gordon Reid and Buddy Kaye followed with solos by Simon Brown, Bernie Hodgkins and Roger Odell using the brushes and trading with Bernie. The third number Just In Time by by Jule Styne with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green opened with Just Larraine and a backing by Bernie before being joined by Simon and Roger.

Next came a haunting arrangement and version of The Thrill is Gone by Ray Henderson and Lyrics by Lew Brown with a superb arrangement by Roger Odell. A very swinging version Cole Porter’s 1955 number from his last Broadway show Silk Stockings – All Of You ended Larraine’s set: with a great solo from Simon.

Roger Beaujolais opened his first set with an up-tempo version of Alone Together by by Arthur Schwarz. This showed Roger Beaujolais’s dexterity with the mallets. Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (35)This included an extended solo by Simon  on the piano. Chick Corea’s  Sea Journey was Roger B’s next number which had a driving beat from Roger Odell who also offered the first solo.

The trumpeter Thad Jones best known composition A Child is Born (not the Johnny Mathis cover version of course) was very tenderly  played by  Roger B which showed off to a great effect his versatility of styles over his first set. The quality of the trio also showed through – Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (13)this must be one of the finest jazz trios in East Anglia.

After the Jazznights raffle which included 4 jazz cd’s as well as a bottle of red wine we had the traditional sitting-in-spot which tonight featured the popular Geoff Harriman on harmonica playing two numbers – all warmly appreciated by the audience: a sensitive version of Jazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (48)Tenderly and an up-tempo Fly Me To The Moon

Roger B opened his second set with Wes Montgomery’s well known West Coast Blues  followed by solos from Simon, Bernie and 8 bar trades between Roger B, Roger O and Simon. A contrast followed by the Italian bossa nova Estate – which is Italian for Summer by the composer Bruno Martino – a lovely number truly  reflecting the theme name. Miles Davis’s Half Nelson was next featuring solos from Simon and Bernie with 4 bar trades between the two Rogers. All the band excelled on this number. If only some of these secessions were available on down load or CD.

I Remember You was ‘slightly’ differently played than the 60’s yodelling song byJazznights Roger Beaujolais 171010 (15) Frank Ifield! All the band featured on the solos including Bernie who used all five strings on  his double bass to good effect. Bass player and arranger Bob Haggart’s composition What’s New? from 1939 featured an unaccompanied solo from Roger B which contrasted with the up-tempo finale from Roger B – Hank Mobley’s This I Dig Of You which was a great climax to the evening with the applause continuing for some time. All the band were featured with breaks from Roger Odell on drums. Roger Beaujolais is truly a master musician.

The next gig at Jazznights – Clare on the 31st October 2010 features Sophie Smith:

"Sophie Smith has all the attributes associated with being that rarity, a great singer. They are: superb intonation, beautiful quality of voice and an ability to pitch the most difficult of intervals with apparent ease. However, it is her peerless sense of swing, her phrasing and her harmonic awareness that move her into the category of a great jazz singer- an even rarer breed." (Alan Barnes, 2009)

Come and see heat at this great venue

Go to www.jazz-nights.com for further details and gigs