All the Jazz Club Gigs
WHAT'S ON JAZZ GUIDE
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Festival 2016 Review
"After 12 months of anticipation, enhanced during the final 2 months prior to the Festival following receipt (and distribution) of 5 boxes of programmes to well over 100 businesses in Blackburn and an afternoon in Accrington...it was here, the Opening Night of the 2016 Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival.
I arrived at The Grand full of anticipation to hear firstly Nag Champa...a young band (all students at Leeds College of Music)...proving our Club's commitment to the development of and giving opportunity to young musicians to perform in front of an audience. Wow, these guys were a breath of fresh air, seemingly bringing their fan club with them ! They were full of infectious enthusiasm and whilst not wanting to pick anyone out the two who stood out for me were vocalist Maya Kally and pianist Jasper Green....such talent in the hands of such a young man. And to think he will get better, gosh ! The main act, Bill Laurence and his Trio were special, four extra-talented musicians who obviously enjoyed together but who also were made to play together. Much of the performance was mesmerising...I hope we can bring this Band back on a future occasion. The only downside for me was that the subsequently purchased c d proved not to be as good as the live version of the tracks on it...still good but sadly not as good as the live performance. It's still being played frequently in the car though!
Friday started with Lunchtime Live at the Grand, featuring local legend Eric Ainsworth backed as always by his talented and trusty musicians with the added bonus of vocalist Lyn Fairbanks who after an enforced sabbatical is back and singing better than ever, a most enjoyable set largely of 'Standards'. It's so good to see them so regularly. After the interval the 2nd set was performed by Trish Ferrarin's Breakin' Jazz. The very modest, but undoubtedly multi-talented, music teacher/performer (just loved that bass-keyboard!)/arranger Trish has assembled a group of past and present pupils whose performance for me was one of the Festival highlights...and Ella Shaw, what a voice....improving and finding a new level each year.
So to the Evening gig...Ben Crossland's "Ray Davies Songbook"...wow, the tunes seemed like I'd just heard them yesterday (where the heck has the last 50 years gone !!). Such brilliant playing by 5 brilliant musicians, born to play together. This was exceptional stuff, a privilege to listen to the band, each musician a master of his instrument, collectively superb. The c d is excellent too !!
Saturday brought me to my first gig at the Atrium, the Blind Monk Trio...tenor sax, bass and drums. I usually enjoy trio music as every note can be heard .Sadly it was not to my liking and whilst I hate to be critical I feel the gig would have been far better as a bass and drum duo (they played really well together) with the saxophonist playing elsewhere. I was disappointed as I had looked forward to this gig.
Undaunted, on to the NORVOL Jazz Jam at the URC...most enjoyable, the church having great accoustics as most seem to do. It was the first time I'd seen one of our "Musicians in Residence" (Arun Ghosh) during this Festival...though have seen him in concert previously. The band played very well together and encouraged all those with instruments to join them, there were some really good performances by all in making this a most enjoyable session. Highlights for me were the way in which Arun mentored and encouraged less experienced musicians especially Jenni Schumann and her young daughter, who seemed very self concious, but who both played really well and can be proud of their performance. I feel I must mention the welcome received at the church, the lady helpers worked wonders with the tea, coffee and cakes...I hope RVJ&B have use of the venue again. Saturday's gigs finished for me with the Junkhousedog Blues Band in the Rose and Crown...a great festival band playing the right music in the right venue.
Sunday saw me back at the Atrium to hear Robin Sunflower with some very talented musicians play his "Tribute to Toots Thielmans". I saw Toots live at Montreux in July 1975, playing with my favourite drummer of all time Louie Bellson and Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Joe Pass and Niels Pedersen. He would have been very pleased to listen to this band's tribute to him, it really was very good with a good amount of numbers bringing back memeories. it would be great to bring this band back again. This was followed by a further trip to the Grand to hear both Musicians in residence Arun Ghosh and Paul J Rigby, the latter with one of his Big Bands. They both played some amazing music, Paul yet again proving his worth as as a musician and educator..as if he needed to. The band memebers obviously love playing for him, their enjoyment and involvement being there for all to see. The second set with Arun and his musicians was, for me, the highlight of the Festival...I'd been one of those present when he played The Grand in 2015...unbelievable music from start to finish combining Jazz with Asian music seamlessly. He played much of the music off his c d "A South Asian Suite", I play this regularly in the car. Utterly brilliant music, one of the best gigs I've been to, the way in which his sextet play has to be seen to be believed. I really hope Arun is back in the North West, and hopefully Clitheroe, soon. It is easy to see why he was named as Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz UK Awards.
The final day started back at the Atrium with Manjula, a 4-piece band fronted by Vanessa Rani. I'd previously seen this band briefly in Manchester last summer and couldn't wait to see them again. Very talented musicians they bring together rhythms and melodies from many cultures and incorporate Portugese, African and Latin jazz influences. I thoroughly enjoyed this gig, it was over far too soon. Again I really hope we can bring this talented band to Clitheroe again soon.
So to my final gig, the N J O and the Sparkle Sisters...a Salute to Glen Miller and the Dance Bands.....wow, for me a fitting finale. Once again Paul Rigby showed what an excellent musician/arranger/band leader he is. All his musicians gave an excellent performance. Many of the numbers they played are timeless...and deservedly so. As a non-instrument player I thank all the musicians I have heard over the weekend for the pleasure they gave to me and so many others. It is wonderful to know "our" music is in such good hands.
I must also thank Festival Committee who have worked tirelessly to make the Festival such a success, There were many sell-outs and it was so good to see so many happy jazz fans in Clitheroe. More please !!"
(All Photos by Matt Ainsworth)
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We've teamed up with UCLAN for this Festival of Jam!
25th March to 1st April
Click here to see some great Festival 2016 photos.