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Christian Brewer is the kind of mainstream-to-postbop alto saxophonist who’s easy to take for granted on the UK jazz scene. He’s almost as agile and fluently expressive as the Charlie Parker disciple Phil Woods on fast pieces, and his ballad playing echoes the raw-nerve soulfulness of the late Art Pepper, but these are neither fashionable nor revolutionary qualities and Brewer deserves wider acclaim for his mastery of them than he’s generally received in Britain. He was active on the Spanish jazz scene in the 1990s, worked with Julian Joseph and the Mondesir brothers early in his career, and has performed more recently with trumpeter Damon Brown and bassist Geoff Gascoyne. With his 2006 album, Seesaw, he reaffirmed old allegiances to classic jazz traditions, but he has many more strings to his bow, including work with Rico Rodriguez, Push and Paul Weller.
Christian is one of the most lyrical and soulful alto players to have emerged from the UK in recent years. Loved for his melodic playing and pure tone, he has risen to prominence on the British jazz scene. He is now a regular at London’s prestigious Ronnie Scots and both he and his band are in great demand.
His musical roots besides jazz also include funk and groove orientated music. This has lead to commercial work with reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez, Push, Paul Weller, Ottis Grand and the Ragga Twins amongst many others. This diversity has enriched his musical outlook and is evident in his style of playing and composing, whilst never compromising the authenticity of the jazz.
Christian studied at Leeds and The Guildhall School of Music. However, the defining musical inspiration came from playing alongside Julian Joseph and the Mondesir brothers at Ian Carr’s jazz London fusion orchestra.
He has performed in Europe’s top clubs and festivals. With pianist Chano Dominguez and bass player Francisco Bosē he played in most of Spain’s international festivals (1989 – 91) including Seville, Malaga, Granada, Huelva, Jaen and Ceuta (North Africa). The group they formed, ‘Decoy’, also performed in Café Central in Madrid and recorded for television (Jazz Entre Amigos) and radio. In Spain he also collaborated with tenor saxophonists Dave Schnitter (ex Art Blakey), Jorge Pardo and Antonio Mesa; and played extensively with guitarist Tito Alcodo.
In the UK Christian has worked predominantly with trumpet player Damon Brown, touring England, Scotland and Italy. He has featured on two of Damon’s CDs (see below) and performed at Barcelona’s ‘Jamboree’. With top bass player Geoff Gascoine’s sextet he played extensively and has worked alongside the cream of the jazz scene such as Winston Clifford, Sebastian de Krom, Carl Orr, Jim Mullen and John Donaldson.
Christian Brewer played with the Jazznights Trio who 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.
Simon Brown – Piano
Leading UK Jazz innovator and musical entrepreneur Simon Brown is a highly respected and popular jazz pianist who is equally known for his arranging skills. His bands include the quintet Beyond Cantaloupe featuring the music of Herbie Hancock, as well a the very popular Simon Brown Trio and Quartet. He is also a stalwart of the Jazznights Trio with Roger Odell and Bernie Hodgkins.
Steve Cook – Double Bass
Steve has a wonderful rounded tone with great clarity. In the 1960s and 70s Steve Cookplayed with many leading jazz artists including Don Rendell, Art Themen, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Alan Skidmore, Pete Jacobsen, Michael Garrick and numerous others. He was in several of Barbara Thompson’s bands including the Quintet, Jubiaba and Paraphernalia. He may occasionally be seen with the Harmony in Harlem band and the Cambridge Sinfonietta. He has also had a 35-year career as a professional software engineer.
Larraine Odell – Vocals
Larraine 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, Royal Festival Hall. Boxford Fleece & Ronnie Scott’s
Larraine Odell opened the first set of the evening singing some great classics which included:
Alone Together is a timeless tune written by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Howard Dietz. It was written for the 1932 Broadway musical “Flying Colors”. The first jazz recording of this tune was done by Artie Shaw in 1939.
Once I Loved (O Amor em Paz) is a bossa nova jazz standard composed in 1960 by Antônio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes. Words in English were later added by Ray GilbertIn 1954 the Erroll Garner Trio introduced the instrumental Misty. A year later Johnny Burke penned the lyrics, creating the song we know today. “Misty” remained relatively unknown until Johnny Mathis popularized the vocal version with his million-selling recording in 1959.
Christian Brewer then joined the band to play extended versions of:
Like Someone In Love is a tune written by Jimmy Van Heusen in 1944 for the film “Belle of Yukon”. It has since become a popular jazz standard. The melody to this tune is absolutely beautiful and Jimmy Van Heusen yet again proves to be a remarkable composer.
An up-tempo version of Old Devil Moon is a popular song composed by Burton Lane, with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg for the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow. It was introduced by Ella Logan and Donald Richards.
Triste” (meaning “Sad” in English) is a bossa nova song composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim, who also wrote lyrics for it in both English and Portuguese. Jobim wrote the song in late 1966 while staying at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles, as he waited for Frank Sinatra to return from a holiday in Barbados so they could begin recording their album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim (1967
Following the Jazznights raffle of 3 jazz cd’s 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 Carol Bleiker singing Cry Me A River and Colin Holden on flugelhorn playing Autumn In New York
Christian Brewer then returned to play:
Ev’rything I Love (1941) with words and music by Cole Porter.
Desafinado, a Portuguese word (usually rendered into English as “Out of Tune“, or as “Off Key“), is the title of a bossa nova song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Groovin’ High is an influential 1945 song by jazz composer and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. The song was a bebop mainstay that became a jazz standard, one of Gillespie’s best known hits. This was played in E flat.
You’ve Changed is a popular tune written by Bill Carey and Carl Fischer in 1941. It has been covered by many bands and players including Dexter Gordon, Harry James, Billie Holiday etc.
And a great finale with the Cedar Walton classic Bolivia from the Eastern Rebellion album by pianist Cedar Walton which was recorded in late 1975
“One of the most exciting alto players I’ve heard in a long time” A quote from Tony Hall and “Phenomenal” from Dave Gelly. The whole audience at Jazz Nights would echo these quotes and we would all ask Christian to return a lot sooner than the six years since his last visit to Jazz Nights.
ESTELLE KOKOT (vocals) will return to Jazz Nights on Sunday 4th December 2016
Estelle returned to London after touring South Africa between February 2014 and January 2015 introducing the music of Chico Freeman and Jan Pulsford to a new audience. She recorded The Sound of You album in November 2014 with Chico Freeman on saxophones, Herbie Tsoaeli on bass and Kevin Gibson on drums in Cape Town.
THE BEST IN BRITISH MODERN JAZZ is at Jazznights, The Bell Hotel. Clare, Suffolk. CO10 8NN
Admission £10. Doors open 7.00 pm. Music 7.30 – 10.00 pm.
Reserve seating on 01787 237653 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pay on the night.
Pictures from past gigs can also be seen HERE
For further information on future gigs go to www.jazz-nights.com