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John Etheridge rightly enjoys a glowing reputation throughout the jazz world and beyond and has been described by Pat Metheny as, "One of the best guitarists in the world". He is a prodigiously gifted and creative player whose approach to music can only be described as ‘eclectic’ as he refuses to accommodate or even acknowledge artificial musical boundaries. His range is well illustrated by his years of touring and recording with the iconic Stephane Grappelli while simultaneously doing likewise with the legendary jazz-fusion group, The Soft Machine. John is equally at home on acoustic and electric guitar and his willingness to engage with so many styles is matched by his ability to excel in any of them. He has played with John Williams, Yehudi Menuhin, Dizzie Gillespie, Herb Ellis, Mundell Lowe, Nigel Kennedy, Pat Metheny, Birelli Lagrene, Barney Kessel, Vic Juris and countless others. John’s ability as an outstanding composer is sometimes overlooked but he is often under pressure from audiences to feature more of his own material.
Tonight he was playing with the Roger Odell Jazznights trio and what a gig that was, the whole band thoroughly enjoyed playing with each other and this really came over through out the gig. The full house also gave rapturous applause in recognition of a unique and superb evening.
The band were:
Roger Odell – Drums
Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk group Shakatak and the forerunner band Tracks. Roger has toured internationally and recorded numerous CDs, which he continues to do on a regular basis to this day. Apart from a great power drummer he is also a prestigious arranger.
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 electric bass. guitar.
Simon Brown – Piano
A highly 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 playing with jazznights or his own trio, quartet and quintet at ‘Jazz at the Green Man’ in Rackheath, Norwich.
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. “A sensitive singer who exudes a fine-honed jazz sensibility with every phrase”
Larraine Odell opened her first set with:
1. The Lamp Is Low (1939) is a song based on Ravel’s Pavanne (Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) written for solo piano by the French composer Maurice Ravel in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris). Consequently the credits include music by Peter De Rose, Maurice Joseph Ravel and Bert A Shefter with lyrics from Mitchell Parish. Larraine sang this notable version at a medium tempo with solos from Simon Brown and Bernie Hodgkins.
2. The Thrill is gone (1931) with music by Ray Henderson and lyrics from Lew Brown. It has been recorded by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Kenton, Chet Baker, Julie London, and Stan Getz to name but a few. Larraine version was beautifully sung at a slow tempo and the arrangement was by Roger Odell.
3. Love For Sale – Cole Porter’s 1930 song has had many different interpretations through the years and tonight was no exception with another Roger Odell arrangement played as a very swinging medium tempo, Roger using symbol
play rather than the sticks and brushes. Larraine gave an exemplary performance.
4. Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer’s 1939 I Thought About You (was among the first tunes that lyricist Johnny Mercer collaborated on with composer Jimmy Van Heusen) ended Larraine’s shorter than usual set for the evening. Bernie Hodgkins gave an inspired solo intro to the number followed by Simon Brown which ended with 8 bar trades between Roger and Bernie. This was another number illustrating Larraine’s great versatility as a jazz singer.
John Etheridge then joined the trio to open his first set with:
5. Jimmy Smith’s Sugar opened at a medium tempo with John’s backing by Simon Brown on a Roland keyboard (Hammond Organ mode) rather than the piano which fitted superbly with Bernie’s electric bass and of course John’s Martyn Booth Signature electric guitar. A wonderful opening to the first set.
6. A very swinging We followed at a an up tempo rhythm in which John showed his great dexterity on the guitar bringing in all members of the band including very fast trades with Simon Brown. An astounding number
7. Ann Ronell’s well known 1932 Willow Weep For Me (Ann Ronell dedicated “Willow Weep for Me” to George Gershwin, the composer who helped her get her start in the music industry) followed in a complete contrast to the last number. This was played at a very bluesy slow tempo ably supported by all the Jazznights Trio.
8. Duke Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood was introduced by the Duke on April 30th, 1935 and has remained as a very popular standard jazz ballad ever since. Played tenderly and uniquely by John this was a superb ending to his first set.
Following the interval and the Jazznights raffle ( 3 jazz CD’s and a bottle of wine) we had the traditional sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an opportunity to play with the Jazznights Trio. Tonight we had two of our local artistes at separate sitting in spots:
9. Our local 14 year old Harry Greene played his electric guitar with the trio to great appreciation by John Etheridge. Harry also plays acoustic guitaer as well as alto and tenor saxophones.
10. John Etheridge then returned to play two solo numbers:
One of Charles Mingus best known compositions the 1959 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat AKA Theme For Lester Young. Mingus wrote it as an elegy for saxophonist Lester Young, who had died two months prior to the recording session. Very interesting to hear John’s variations on such a well known standard.
11. M’Sanduza is a South African composition which is featured on his 2009 album John Etheridge Alone! Live which of course is a solo album by John. Full of intricate but yet melodic African melodies featuring both his plectrum and finger picking styles.
12. The second sitting in spot featured Hannah Horton on the tenor saxophone. She leads her own quartet playing both tenor and baritone and can be seen at many clubs in the local; area. Tonight she played Pat Metheny’s James with John Etheridge. A lovely medium tempo arrangement blending the two of them seamlessly – although it is not the first time that Hannah has played with John.
13. John then continued his set with the trio playing a very bluesy version of Rodgers & Hart’s 1934 Blue Moon.
14. Next we had a superbly melodic rendition of a well known standard – what was that name again? which was splendidly played and supported by Simon on the Roland, Bernie on the bass and Roger on the brushes.
15. An amazing finale featured a very fast presto version of Caravan (which was composed by both Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol.
An evening to greatly appreciate a true master of his instrument. John Etheridge rightly enjoys a glowing reputation throughout the jazz world and beyond and has been described by Pat Metheny as, "One of the best guitarists in the world" – that sums it up. "A virtuoso on acoustic and electric guitars." Time Out "World class fretwork" Guitarist Magazine. One can now appreciate how true those statements were.
For further details of Jazznights and future gigs (which include Alan Barnes, Simon Spillett, Lewis Wright, Art Theman, Trudy Kerr, Tina May and in two weeks time Julian Siegel (sax) Already a past winner of the BBC Jazz award for Best Instrumentalist, Julian is again nominated for 2011. Go to www.jazz-nights.com
Our new venue at The Cherry Tree Function Suite, Knowl Green, Belchamp St Paul, Suffolk, CO10 7BY. Tel: 01787 237263 Admission £8. Doors 7.30pm. Music 8.00-10.30pm. Reserve your table seating on 01787 237653 or email. Pay on the night.
Food available and can be served before or during the performance