Henry Lowther at Jazznights at Clare on Sunday 23rd March 2011

(Click on images for larger pictures)

Henry Lowther  was accompanied by the Roger Odell Jazznights Trio at this superb gig. Henry is a trumpet player of formidable talent with no superiors amongst European jazzmen, and precious few anywhere. One of only two or three Jjazznights Henry Lowther 200311 (12)trumpeters who has played lead trumpet with both Gil Evans and George Russell, he is, unusually for a jazz musician, also engaged frequently as a classical trumpeter by major symphony orchestras and has recorded with Simon Rattle and the London Sinfonietta.

Over the years Henry has toured widely in Europe, USA, Canada, India, Japan and the former Soviet Union with various artists and bands. Tours in recent years have included those with Hermeto Pascoal, the New York Composers Orchestra, John Harle and the London Jazz Jjazznights Henry Lowther 200311 (44)Composers Orchestra. He is one of only two or three players in the world to have had the honour of playing lead trumpet with both Gil Evans and George Russell.

Over the last thirty years Henry’s work on the British jazz scene reads like a "Who’s Who". He has played regularly with, amongst many others, Mike Gibbs, Michael Garrick, Graham Collier, Kenny Wheeler, Stan Tracey, John Taylor, John Surman, Gordon Beck and Pete King.

And on Sunday he was at the Bell Hotel in Clare, Suffolk with the Roger Odell Jazznights Trio for an evening that excelled everyone’s expectations. His tonal quality is unmatched.

The Jazznights trio were:
Roger Odell – drums
Jazznights Roger Odell 200311 (45)Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk groups Tracks and 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 Simon Brown 200311 (3)
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, Jjazznights Bernie Hodgkins 200311 (28)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  with the extra C string.
Larraine Odell – vocals
Our resident songbird began 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 the first set with Love is Here To Stay  (‘Love Is Here to Stay’ was the last song George Gershwin composed in 1938. “Love Is Here to Stay” is often referred to as “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” The original working title was “It’s Here to Stay” which soon became “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and then “Love Is Here to Jazznights Larraine Odell 200311 (8)Stay.” Lyrics were by Ira Gershwin and they allegedly wrote this to each other! This was a lovely version played at a medium tempo and giving both Simon and Bernie a chance to shine – which is never a problem for them!

The second number was a medium fast version of  That’s All (This” was written in 1952 by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes. Nat “King” Cole introduced the song in 1953, and although his was a popular version it did not make the top 20 songs that year. It was Bobby Darin’s 1959 album That’s All that put the song on the musical map.) The 1966. Larraine’s third song was Alfie with music by Burt F Bacharach and Lyrics by Hal David  from the film of the same name. A slow and very different interpretation of this well known song which gave us an excellent solo from Simon.

This gem of a song, “That Old Black Magic,” followed which was written by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Johnny Mercer for the 1942 film Star-Spangled Rhythm. It was played in an up tempo way with a very mystical feel indicating that it was another of Roger Odell’s unique arrangements which included tempos Jjazznights Henry Lowther 200311 (2)alternating between the up tempo and  half time modes. The drum beat was accentuated by Roger using the right hand with brushes and the fingers of the left hand.

I Only Have Eyes for You (1934)  was Larraine’s final number (Music by Harry Warren and Lyrics by Al Dubin). Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Hank Mobley, Grant Green, the Four Freshmen and many others have all recorded this song but Roger still provided another very different and exciting arrangement with at a medium tempo – the only criticism is that it was too short!

Henry Lowther on trumpet opened his first set with the well known 1947 On Green Dolphin Street. (Music by Bronislau Kaper. This was introduced as the main theme of the 1947 MGM film Green Dolphin Street. The movie was based on British novelist Elizabeth Goudge’s 1944 book Green Dolphin Country, published that Jjazznights Henry Lowther 200311 (14)same year in the United States as Green Dolphin Street.) A great introduction for the pure clear sound that only Henry can produce and he brought in both Simon and Bernie as well as Roger on the drums with 8 bar trades. Next was Alone Together with music by Arthur Schwartz is a very versatile tune being played over years (since it was written in 1932) and is often performed as a hard swinging tune with a medium tempo as demonstrated by many musicians generally on the tenor sax (with the exception of course of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis in the 50’s). This was played at a medium swing tempo with that lovely Henry Lowther sound.

Jimmy McHugh’s Too Young to Go Steady was the final number of the first set and was played again at a medium tempo allowing both Simon and Bernie to solo and was backed by Roger using the feruled brushes with the left hand and the sticks and rims with the right hand. Henry closed this to great applause.

Following the raffle ( jazz CD’s and a bottle of wine)  we had the traditional sitting in Jazznights Steve Laws  _ Will Jarmin 200311 (16)spot which is open to all musicians who have an  opportunity to play with the Jazznights Trio. Tonight we had three musicians. Steve Laws on soprano sax and Will Jarmin on drums played a fine version of Autumn Leaves at a medium tempo. Geoff Harriman on Harmonica and Will Jarmin then played Nancy With A Jazznights Geoff Harriman 200311 (30)Laughing Face. Will has a great future ahead of him and Geoff although he may be more well known as a photographer, he ought to have more recognition as a jazz musician.

Henry Lowther on flugelhorn opened the second set with Thelonius Monk’s Well You Needn’t . Although this sparsely constructed Monk composition consists of only two chords it rendered a lively progression with Henry. Simon and Bernie both soloed and Will Jarmin with Henry traded both 4 and 8 bars. Great to see Will showing his undoubted talents. Henry followed with Alice In Wonderland a 3/d waltz from the 1951 Walt Disney film "Alice In Wonderland". This is rapidly becoming a jazz standard and with the dulcet swinging sound of the flugelhorn it became an up tempo tender interpretation. Henry’s trumpet playing is superb but to me the sound of his flugelhorn is out of this world – second to none.

Who in the jazz field has not played Johnny Green’s 1930 Body And Soul. (Interestingly, although instantly popular, “Body and Soul” was banned from radio for nearly a year because of its suggestive lyrics, which leave little doubt as to their sexual nature. In spite of, or possibly because of, its racy lyrics, an astounding number of renditions made the charts in the 1930s and 1940s  although there were of course no lyrics tonight!) – that is totally irrelevant as this was a masterful slow and Jjazznights Henry Lowther 200311 (34)sympathetic version beautifully played. The intro up until the bridge was just played by Simon on the piano and Henry. The clarity of tone just demonstrated the art of this master musician.

Next we had the1961 Antonio Carlos Jobim number One Note Samba played in B flat although as Henry pointed out – this is the advanced version with more than just one note! Roger Odell excelled with the feruled brushes with this samba rhythm. After a slow to medium number trumpeter Clifford Brown’s 1955 Sandu – a classic jazz standard blues ended this evenings great gig with Henry on flugelhorn. His smooth sound is unparelled in my humble opinion and the sound of his flugelhorn shows what a true master of his instrument he is. It was a fabulous gig and credit must be given to the Roger Odell Jazznights trio – some reckon that they are amongst the best in East Anglia – not true that should be in the UK.

A wonderful evening finishing off a great weekend  which included a gig on Saturday evening with the re-uniting of Tracks the Jazz-Rock-Funk group which was formed 30 years ago!

For further details and future gigs go to http://www.jazz-nights .com

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