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“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
“This is saxophone playing of the highest order. Consistency of tone throughout the range of the tenor, the infallible note production irrespective of tempo and the ability to think a long way ahead so there are no loose ends to Simon’s improvising. “
ALUN MORGAN – JAZZ JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL
And so it was this evening. Simon played with the superb Jazznights Trio who were:
Graeme Culham – Drums
At the age of 14 Graeme won the title of ‘Junior Genius’ on Thames Television’s ‘Nationwide’, performing with a Youth Jazz Orchestra. During this time he studied piano with John Baker from the BBC Radiophonic workshop. His first professional engagement was at 17 with country stars Miki & Griff, he then went on to work on the ‘Wheatley’ circuit backing TV artists such as Mike Reid and Freddie Star.
Jazz is Graeme’s real love in music and for some years he played with the Ray Ward Trio in his home county of Essex. During which time he recorded and produced two albums with the Trio and performed at various jazz clubs, Edinburgh Festival and the Royal Festival Hall. In the 1980’s he formed the ‘Graeme Culham Big Band’, playing the music of Buddy Rich and Count Basie as well as featuring original compositions. The band recorded its first album in 1986. During this time Graeme was invited to talk about his drumming and big band on BBC and Local Radio.
Diversity is the name of the game and the various Jazz styles have not been an exception to the rule. This included a residency at the ‘Caza Bar’, Switzerland run by British trumpeter Bob Wallis, alongside traditional jazz musicians Mac White, Alan Bradley and Chez Chesterman. At the end of this stint he was asked to guest with the ‘Original Hallelujah Stompers’ at the ‘Jazzhaus’ in Freiburg, West Germany.
Graeme has performed with jazz artists such as Eddie Thompson, Pete Jacobsen, Slim Gaillard, Buddy Tate, Kenny Ball, Art Farmer, Don Rendell to name a few and the late Ronnie Scott who was quoted as saying that “Graeme was one of the best jazz drummers he has worked with”.
Simon Brown – Piano
Simon is a highly respected and popular jazz pianist who is equally known for his arranging skills. He is always in demand to play many gigs throughout East Anglia when he is not playing at Jazznights or with his own trio, quartet and quintet.
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, the Lakeside Jazz Club at Lyng and The Green Man at Rackheath. 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.
Simon runs his own trio, quartet and Quintet Beyond Cantaloupe.
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.
Touring in Europe and further afield with a wide variety of artists honed his skills and added to his prodigious repertoire. Supports to players like John Scofield, and singers such as Annie Ross always proved inspirational and served to reinforce his enduring love affair with jazz.
Spending much of his time in the recording studios, he is equally at home and in demand as an enthusiastic “live” rhythm section player, as is testified by his work with Don Rendell, Jack Parnell, George Chisholm, Pete Jacobson, John Etheridge, Kenny Baker, Allan Skidmore, Dave O’Higgins and many others.
Our M.C. for the evening was the erudite Gareth Williams-James.
Simon Spillett then joined the band for the first set of the evening to play:
1. A great opener from Simon – Nobody Else But Me, sometimes called “Nobody Else But You”, is a 1946 jazz standard composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1946 Broadway revival of the musical Showboat.
2. The Serpent composed by Tubby Hayes which he dedicated to the former Flamingo Club compare Bix Curtis.
3. I Thought About You (1939) composed by Jimmjy Van Heusen was played as a dedication to the wonderful clarinettist Vic Ash who very sadly passed away recently. Vic played in Frank Sinatra’s band all over Europe & the U.K.
4. Opus Ocean 1951 was one of several compositions given to Tubby Hayes by Clark Terry. It was on a CD recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London 1964-1965.
5. Simon the played his bFlat soprano sax on “The Kodak Song” Someday My Prince Will Come written by Frank E Churchill for the Walt Disney film Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. (Although Miles Davis is usually given credit for introducing this Disney movie piece into the jazz repertoire, another trumpeter, Donald Byrd, was one of the first to record it in 1957.
6. Back to the tenor sax for Sonny Rollins’s 12 bar blues Sonnymoon For Two which he unusually played with Ornette Coleman who happened to be standing in the wings. Originally recorded by Rollins on his 1957 album A Night At Thre Village Vanguard in New York.
Following the interval and the Jazznights raffle of 2 jazz cd’s and bottle of wine Simon Spillett
then resumed to play another stunning set:
7. Arthur Schwartz’s 1932 Alone Together from the Broadway musical, Flying Colors. The first jazz artist to record the song was Artie Shaw in 1939
8. This Is All I Ask (Beautiful Girls Walk a Little Slower) (1958)composed by Gordon Jenkins. Whilst there are many jazz renditions of this tune, Simon played and improvised the Tubby Hayes version from Tubby’s 1967 album For Members Only.
9. Sonny Rollins’s Oleo. After Miles Davis’ initial recording with tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins in 1954, he continued to keep Rollins’ composition in his repertoire. (A live recording of Davis’ group in 1958 from the Plaza Hotel in New York features stellar work from John Coltrane (tenor sax), Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (alto sax), and Bill Evans (piano) in addition to Davis’ opening statement.)
10. Jimmy Van Heusen’s 1944 Like Someone In Love. Too many great recordings of this tune to mention but Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Art Farmer are certainly amongst them. If only we could have a CD of this session! But there is still no substitute for a superb live performance from a master of the jazz tenor saxophone like Simon Spillett.
11. J J Johnson’s (one of the first trombonists to embrace bebop music) Lament now a firm jazz standard.
12. And to finish – Ray Noble’s Cherokee (Indian Love Song) somehow that title disappears into the distance as a result of the breakneck speed that is usually used. Tonight was no exception which highlighted the the outstanding individual talents of Simon Spillett.
The writer cannot write all those phrases and words that proper reviewers use but this performance by Simon was phenomenal and outstanding. Simon first visited Jazznights in 2005 and we are certain that 2014 will not be his last. Coupled with the superb Jazznights Trio fully complimented each other and the enjoyment of all the musicians was very clear to see.
It must be mentioned that Simon Spillett’s new book providing an overview of Tubby Hayes short but influential career and his impact on on fellow British jazzmen is planned to be published in March 2015. This has taken 11 years in the research and writing and must be on any British jazz fans future buy list.
NICOLAS MEIER (gtr) will be at Jazznights, The Cock Inn, Clare on Sunday 9th November 2014.
Currently a member of the Jeff Beck Band and touring world-wide, Nicolas grabs a night off to play at Jazznights. In just a few short years this Swiss guitarist has carved a reputation out as one of the most original guitarists drawing on a love of Turkish, Eastern music, Flamenco, Tango all mixed with jazz,
THE BEST IN BRITISH MODERN JAZZ is at Jazznights, The Cock Inn, 3, Callis Street, Clare, Suffolk, CO10 8PX
Admission £10. Doors open 7.30pm. Music 8.00-10.30pm.
Reserve seating on 01787 237653 or email email@example.com
Pay on the night.
You can join us at facebook, read reviews of previous performances on more opinions blog or tweet at twitter.com/jazznightsuk
For further information on future gigs which will feature Juliet Kelly (vocals) – live BBC recording and Karen Sharp (saxes) go to www.jazz-nights.com