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Over the years Alan has won many British Jazz awards in alto, baritone, clarinet and arranging categories. In 2001 and 2006 Alan received the prestigious BBC Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award and in November 2003 was made a fellow of the Leeds College of Music. Probably the most recorded jazz artist in the UK with twenty CDs under his own name. No-one would question Alan Barnes’ enormous impact on the British jazz scene – as reeds player, composer and arranger, band leader and as a knowledgeable and humorous compere.
On his welcome return to a full house at Jazznights he gave a superb performance which had the audience shouting with praise. Alan played with the A Team of the Roger Odell Jazznights trio and supported by our resident songbird Larraine Odell.
The trio were:
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
Bernie Hodgkins – electric 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. Tonight Bernie was playing his his 5 string double bass
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 Scott’s. 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 her set with Cole Porter’s 1942 You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To. (Historical note: The song was recorded by Frank Sinatra and made 16 appearances on the popular radio show Your Hit Parade. However, it was Dinah Shore with the Paul Weston Orchestra who took it to the charts where it remained for 18 weeks, topping at No3.) Larraine’s version also featured solos by Bernie on the bass and Simon on the piano. The Thrill is Gone by Ray Henderson and Lyrics by Lew Brown followed with another unique arrangement which had a a spooky slow drum feel to it in a superb new arrangement by Roger Odell.
The 1942 That Old Black Magic (Music by Harold Arlen and Lyrics by Johnny Mercer) came next with a medium tempo drum introduction which was followed by Bernie Hodgkins leading into Larraine’s lovely vocal. Roger used the mallets and the rims to provide a Latin feel to the song. Larraine finished her set with a lovely slow ballad by Johnny Mandel. A superb set showing Larraine’s versatility as a jazz songstress.
Alan on Alto opened his first set with Gigi Grice’s popular Minority with a rip roaring version which allowed all the band to excel in breaks including 8 bar trades with Roger on drums. Alan immediately demonstrated why is a great master of the saxophone. In contrast a medium tempo samba by Sergio Mendez came next not only showcasing Alan’s ability but also an extended drum solo by Roger Odell. Alan then played the baritone on a medium tempo version of Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge which again highlighted Alan’s versatility across the jazz spectrum. According to Ellington biographer James Lincoln Collier, during a trip to Europe, Strayhorn actually saw a J. M. W. Turner or James McNeill Whistler painting of Battersea Bridge and mistakenly named the song after Chelsea Bridge.
Alan ended his first set with Hi-Ya ( as Alan said the nearest UK equivalent is the Yorkshire Ay-Up!). This number is featured on his 2009 album Hi-Ya recorded with Scott Hamilton. Great up tempo number with 4 bar trades between Alan and Bernie as well as a solo spot from for Bernie and 4 bar trades between Alan and Roger.
Following the raffle (3 jazz CD’s and a bottle of Merlot) we had the traditional sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an opportunity to play with the Jazznights Trio. Tonight no less than 5 musicians! The three spots all featured Steve Laws on the Bernie’s double bass and Will Jarmin on drums, First up was a new face to Jazznights – Jonty Wilks on Alto playing the Hoagy Carmichael ballad The Nearness Of You. Second we had Karen Davies with a sultry version of Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington’s 1957 Wild Is The Wind . Young Harry Green then played tenor with Alan Barnes on baritone.
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Alan opened his second set on clarinet playing an Antonio Carlos Jobim tune so suited to Roger’s Latin style. Alan then played J Fred Coots’s You Go To My Head – as Alan said: it is a song about intoxication and not the alcoholic sort. Alan then moved to the baritone playing a self penned number with a “middle four instead of a middle eight” “a jolly Latin tune”. It also included many quotes including Walking In A Winter Wonderland.. Solos by Simon, Bernie and Roger. Alan has this great attitude to the band that he is always involving the players.
For the last number Alan played Johnny Hodge’s First Klass (C’mon Home) on baritone (Alan’s quote: “It is the name of a German beer which we drank all one night when we discovered that actually Third Klass was the stronger one”. Again all members of the band had a solo spot. It really was top of the class
A wonderful evening from a multi instrumental master musician
For further details and future gigs go to www.jazz-nights.com