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Originally influenced by the great Tubby Hayes, Simon has since forged an original style which adds a contemporary touch to the grand tradition of modern jazz saxophone. A winner of the British Jazz Award for Tenor Saxophone in 2011 he had already won Rising Star in the BBC Jazz Awards for 2007 and his CD “Sienna Red” won the Jazz CD award in 2009 – Simon’s star has well and truly risen. “Those of us who have heard him…have been left blinking in disbelief…mastery of the tenor saxophone…absolute conviction of his playing is so impressive” DAVE GELLY, THE OBSERVER
“His sound is his own, as is his approach to phrasing…..he operates in the same high energy hard bop territory that Hayes did”
PETER VACHER – JAZZWISE May 2008 (Review of “Sienna Red”)
“I have heard no-one in years who compares to tenorist Simon Spillett, a miraculous player who sounds like a reincarnation of Tubby Hayes but with his own personality. Catch him wherever he is. Astounding!”
JOHN MARTIN – THE JAZZ RAG
“He’s stood old head and young shoulders above many of his contemporaries as a live performer for several years. Five stars for knowing how to play jazz when so many of his generation think they can but can’t.”
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
“Such a terrific tenor player. I was astonished by what I heard. At times, it was like Tubby coming back!”.
TONY HALL, (Veteran club compere and DJ, Hall produced Tubby’s Hayes recordings for the legendary Tempo label from 1955 to 1959)
“Spellbound! That’s all I can say! I went to see one of the UK’s leading saxophonists tonight and it was a sheer delight. Simon Spillett hit town with all the force of a force gale. His dapper look was a throwback to the days of Tubby Hayes and Zoot Sims and his two sets went by in the blink of an eye, it was that captivating.”
Stunning and captivating – the evening certainly was from this master of the tenor saxophone as he played with the Jazznights Trio. 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. Musically, his first love was always straight-ahead contemporary jazz, and in the past he has played with many of the great names on the UK scene including Don Rendell, Barbara Thompson, Dick Morrissey, Terry Smith, Joe Harriott and countless others. Roger is the author of three technical articles which appeared in the international magazine Modern Drummer.
Simon Brown – Piano
Simon’s piano playing has long been the sound accompaniment of first choice for nationally and internationally known jazz stars appearing at Jazznights as well as Norfolk’s two leading jazz venues, He is also an accomplished soloist in his own right, blending vivacity and creative attack with often gentle lyricism. His influences are Oscar Peterson, Nat “King” Cole and Bill Evans. Since graduating from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 1990, Simon has worked as a performer, teacher of piano and music arranger and regularly appears at the most popular jazz clubs in East Anglia. His involvement in Blues, Jazz and Jazz-Funk combos have led to appearances at many jazz festivals and has shared the billing with the likes of Jools Holland, The James Taylor Quartet, Stacey Kent and Bobby Wellins apart from his regular performances as a primary member of the Jazznights Roger Odell Trio.
Ivars Galenieks – Double Bass
Ivars was born in Riga, Latvia. He studied piano, oboe and double bass, graduating from the Latvian State Conservatoire on double bass. His musical career began at the age of 15, playing double bass in restaurants, and later moving on to electric bass. After graduating from music college he worked in the Latvian Theatre of Operetta, then with composer Raimonds Pauls. He also worked for several years as a pianist at sports school, using his position to develop his improvisation skills. He worked in Riga’s music instrument factory as a stringer, laying strings to more than 700 pianos and ultimately gaining his piano tuner’s qualification. Ivars continued his work in the piano field part-time, and as a freelance piano tuner, holding a position in a workshop which specialised in restoring antique furniture and pianos. After three years spent in the factory, he joined the Latvian State Symphony Orchestra where he worked for ten years and worked with the National Symphony Orchestra, He is now part of the house band of the Norwich Jazz Club and is a regular bassist at many gigs throughout East Anglia.
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.” She has since appeared at Ronnie Scott’s Club as a member of the group Jimpster, at the Boxford Fleece with pianist Steve Lodder, most of the other jazz clubs in the region, and at the Aldeburgh, Layer Marney and Southwold Jazz Festivals.
Our Masters of Ceremonies were Donald Muir and Gareth Williams-James.
Larraine opened the first set with some great standards which included:
1. All or Nothing At All (1940) – Words and Music by Arthur Altman and Jack Lawrence was a medium tempo opening Larraine’s set.
2. Close Your Eyes (1933) Words and Music by Bernice Petkere (It took twenty years for Bernice Petkere’s composition to find its way into the jazz repertoire with a 1956 session featuring saxophonist Lee Konitz) this was another medium tempo yet contrasting number from Larraine showing her versatility of styles.
3. Another early 1927 composition by Irving Berlin Blue Skies came next which was yet another innovative number from Larraine featuring a superb interlude with just the voice and the double bass of Ivars Galenieks.
4. My Foolish Heart (1949) Music from Victor Young who wrote this as the title piece for the film My Foolish Heart for which he also wrote the score. Lyrics were by Ned Washington and it was was performed to a new arrangement by Roger Odell – this version ought to be one of Larraine’s regular numbers!
5. I Only Have Eyes for You (1934) Music by Harry Warren and Lyrics from Al Dubin. This was a lovely up tempo number to give a great finale to Larraine’s set.
Simon Spillett then joined the trio and mercifully was able to play more than one number – on Simon’s last visit a power failure lasted all evening in the whole area! Simon’s first set included:
6. Speak Low (1943) is a popular song composed by Kurt Weill, The tune is a jazz standard that has been widely recorded, both by vocal artists from Billie Holiday and such instrumentalists as Bill Evans, Roy Hargrove and Brian Bromberg. Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass. This was a barn storming up tempo introduction as to what is to come including solos from Simon Brown, Ivars Galenieks and 8 bar trades between Simon and Roger Odell.
7. Esta Tarde Vi Llover (English version “Yesterday I Heard the Rain” composed by Armando Manzanero and features on his new CD Square One (with John Critchinson, Alec Dankworth and Clark Tracey). Allegedly only available at gigs – although we do not worry as we bought a copy! This was played as a medium tempo ballad played with a softer much contrasting style – sublime.
8. Saxophonist Sonny Rollins’ composition Oleo was introduced in a June 1954 recording session for the Prestige label by Miles Davis’ Modern Jazz Giants and has since of course become a great classic. (Apparently he got the title from oleomargarine, which was a big thing then, a cheap butter substitute.). This was another superb up-tempo number which left us wanting him to carry on and not stop for the interval.
9. Following the interval and the Jazznights raffle of 3 jazz cd’s and a bottle of wine we had the traditional Jazznights sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an opportunity to play with the band. Tonight we had the pleasure of the sultry tones of Karen Davies singing Ned Washington’s 1937 The Nearness of you.
Simon Spillett then returned with the trio for the second set which included:
10. Tin Tin Deo (1947) co written by Walter Gilbert Fuller and Chano Pozo made famous by Dizzy Gillespie but certainly remembered by the Tubby Hayes recording. Played at a medium
tempo which featured a great sequence with Ivars Galenieks playing his bass with the bow and 8 bar trades again between Roger and Simon.
11. Another Tubby Hayes number Bass House composed by Jimmy Deuchar and featured on his Pub Crawling album. He had the idea for the album’s title from the fact that each of its six tracks is named after one of the best known British brands of beer. A superb medium swing version with the rhythm accentuated with Roger Odell’s swinging brush style.
12. From Simon’s Sienna Red album we had the ballad The Right To Love by Lalo Schrifin, the Argentinian pianist and composer. Also fondly remembered by the Stan Getz and Tubby Hayes recordings. This again illustrated Simon’s mastering of the tenor in many varied modes from bebop to to very tender interpretations such as this.
13. Another number from his new CD Square One was sadly the last number but never the less a very exciting finale – Cole Porter’s In The Still Of The Night . A very up-tempo version epitomising that exciting Simon Spillett unique high octane hard bop innovative style. A true master musician.
On Sunday 23rd June Jazznights present NICOLAS MEIER (gtr). This superb guitarist won the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Jazz Guitar Prize at the Jazz a Juan Revelations 2006 and after a few years in Boston, USA Nicolas now lives in the UK where he leads his own band. “Meier opts for an attractive acoustic tone somewhere between a lute, an oud and Django Reinhardt’s guitar”. John Fordham – the Guardian.
Jazznights presents the best in modern jazz at:
The Function Suite, The Cherry Tree, 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.
For further information and future gigs go to www.jazz-nights.com