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Sunday at wall2wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, 06/09/2015.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunday at wall2wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, 06/09/2015.

Ian Mann on the final day of a hugely enjoyable festival which included performances from Remi Harris Trio, Jamie Brownfield Quartet, Sarah Gillespie Trio and Zoe Schwarz's Blue Commotion.

Photograph of Sarah Gillespie and Ben Bastin by Conal Dunn


Sunday at wall2wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, 06/09/2015.


I set the scene for the 2015 wall2wall Jazz Festival in my Friday and Saturday coverage, detailing the history and format of the festival so on this final day I’ll crack straight on with the music which began early at the free stage in Abergavenny Market Hall, dubbed “Jazz Alley” for the Sunday of the Festival.

“Jazz Alley” hosted a wide array of music from no less than seven different acts and explored a broad variety of jazz genres and beyond. With the music augmented by a number of trade stalls and food outlets the atmosphere was highly congenial and family friendly with many people taking advantage of the good weather and checking out wall2wall, many of them probably for the first time. “Jazz Alley” was an experiment that worked admirably and is almost certain to be repeated in 2016.

REDRUG, JAZZ ALLEY, 06/09/2015.

One of the surprise successes at the 2014 wall2wall was RedRug, a young South Wales based quintet who first came together as part of the Gwent Music youth development stage. The band played a free gig on the Sunday morning of that festival but later found themselves elevated to the concert stage when Brass Jaw were suddenly forced to return hastily to Scotland as the result of a family crisis. The youngsters took advantage of Brass Jaw’s misfortune and acquitted themselves very well in daunting circumstances.

It has always been the policy of wall2wall to support young musicians and this year RedRug were back and playing on the Jazz Alley stage. The core of the group is keyboard player Tom Marley, bassist Joe Archer and drummer Dylan Sluiter and these three were joined by guitarist Dafydd John and a new alto saxophonist whose name I didn’t catch (last year’s line up included trumpeter Rory Gordon).

It was quickly apparent just how much RedRug have developed since this last time last year. Their playing was sharper and more focussed and they had all visibly grown in confidence. With Marley playing electric keyboards and with John’s electric guitar now an increasingly important component of the band they played in what can loosely be described as a “fusion” style but their repertoire included such contemporary jazz classics as Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and Speak No Evil”, Horace Silver’s “Peace” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay”. From further back in the jazz canon they played Errol Garner’s “Misty” and Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train” while also giving an exciting and imaginative “RedRug” twist to “The Girl From Ipanema”.

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed RedRug’s music and the lads impressed both individually and collectively. They have honed their ensemble sound and each individual member impressed with their respective solo slots. Two of the band members are now studying music full time at Hereford College of Arts and the future looks bright for the RedRug boys. Even in the event that they don’t stick together as a band one can still see the individual members of RedRug continuing to make worthwhile music in the future. Keep up the good work lads!


DONNIE JOE’S AMERICAN SWING, KINGS ARMS, 06/09/2015.

I enjoyed the RedRug performance so much that I delayed my arrival at the Kings Arms to hear Donnie Joe’s American Swing. Donnie Joe Sweeney is an American living in South Wales who I have previously seen performing as an accomplished double bassist in bands led by saxophonist Tamasin Reardon and trombonist Gareth Roberts. But Sweeney is also a skilled guitarist and vocalist and in Donnie Joe’s American Swing he harks back to the sounds of the 30s and 40s to deliver some of the classic songs of the swing era. Many of the pieces he chooses are humorous and he has a penchant for the songs of that wittiest of songwriters, the great Dave Frishberg.

Among those joining Sweeney at Abergavenny were Tamasin Reardon, returning the favour on alto,  and pianist Gareth Hall who had been part of the Made In Wales band that provided such great entertainment at the Festival Supper on Friday night. The line up was completed by South Wales stalwart Greg Evans at the drums and Mike Morgan on an upright electric bass of his own construction - just for a moment I thought Sweeney had signed Eberhard Weber !

I arrived as Sweeney and the band were tackling the jazz standard “I Can’t Get Started” before moving on to the similarly titled “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”. Both songs featured instrumental solos by Sweeney and by saxophonist Tamasin Reardon who had played BMJ’s regular club night in April 2015 with her own Ad Lib quartet, a group that also featured Sweeney, Hall and Evans. Reardon’s bright, pithy solos added much to the music of Sweeney’s band as did the contributions of pianist Gareth Hall.

I particularly liked the clever, quick-fire lyrics of Frishberg’s “I Can’t Take You Nowhere” which also featured short instrumental solos from Sweeney, Reardon and Hall.

Sweeney then delivered “A Hundred Years From Now” as a solo voice and guitar piece before summoning back the band for a little known Duke Ellington tune called “Tulip or Turnip” which featured a humorous and inventive lyric by Don George. As Sweeney pointed out they had featured a Count Basie tune earlier in the set, obviously before my arrival, and they felt honour bound to also feature the Duke.

There was more witty humour in “The Best Man”, a song associated with Duke’s namesake, the English born musician and entertainer Ray Ellington of Goon Show fame.

More Basie came with “Sent For You Yesterday” which Sweeney learned from an arrangement by Marty Paich, the father of Toto keyboard player David as Sweeney cheerfully informed us. Swinging and bluesy the piece included some scat vocalising from Sweeney plus solos from Hall and the consistently impressive Reardon.

Rhythm Is Our Business” was the vehicle for a series of band features including brief cameos from Morgan and Evans before the show ended with a short encore of “Cheek To Cheek”.

Sweeney and his colleagues were well received by the festival crowd and although this kind of music isn’t quite my type of jazz I still found much to enjoy in a performance that was presented by Sweeney with great good humour and an infectious enthusiasm.


MANKALA, JAZZ ALLEY, 06/092015.

I made a quick return to the Jazz Alley stage to catch something of the performance by Mankala, a band that the Festival brochure described as being “a unique high energy Pan-African collection of sounds”. Mankala proved to be a mixed race nine piece band based in Bristol but with members originating from all corners of the globe.

Their line up included two vocalists, two guitarists, electric bass, keyboards, saxophone, kit drums and percussion and they were vibrant, rhythmic and colourful. The few numbers that I managed to hear incorporated rhythms from South Africa, Zambia and beyond and included some socially aware lyrics. South African vocalist vocalist Sisanda Myataza impressed both with her singing and her dancing and the audience responded in kind with many getting to their feet to dance to this infectious, highly rhythmic music. Children, in particular, seemed to love this joyous, exotic, brightly rhythmic band.

This was early afternoon but I bet they’d be great at a late night festival party slot. I certainly enjoyed my fleeting glimpse of Mankala and would love to take the opportunity of seeing a full show sometime. They were one of the big hits of the Jazz Alley stage and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them coming back to wall2wall next year, maybe in a different time slot. 


REMI HARRIS TRIO, KIMGS ARMS, 06/092015.

Guitarist Remi Harris and his trio played a BMJ club night in February 2015 and were so well received that they were nailed on certainties to be invited back for the wall2wall festival.

I first encountered Harris’ playing some five years ago and have charted his progress ever since. Still only in his mid twenties this Herefordshire native is a true rising star in the jazz firmament and following several years of exclusively playing music inspired by Django Reinhardt he has now
re-introduced some of his earlier blues and rock influences and has developed an exciting and varied live show that some commentators have described as “a history of the guitar”.

I’ve seen Harris many times in the last few years in a variety of musical contexts and with a variety of accompanists but he has never disappointed and has always delivered in spades. No two shows have been exactly alike for this is a musician who is consistently honing his talent and always looking to do something a little bit different. Harris may be consistent but he is never complacent.

I have never been disappointed by a Remi Harris performance and today’s show was well up to his usual high standards. The trio this time round featured regular bassist Mike Green and rhythm guitarist Caley Groves, a replacement for Andy ‘AC’ Wood who had appeared with the group in February. Today’s set list was also substantially different although a few favourite items stayed in.

Today the trio started out acoustically playing jazz in the Manouche style typified by Django Reinhardt. First up was “Putting On The Ritz” followed by a gypsy jazz version of the Beatles tune “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

A Reinhardt composed waltz then introduced elements of European folk music before Harris jumped across the pond to play a bluesy version of “Cissy Strut”, a tune by the New Orleans funk outfit The Meters . This included some virtuoso string bending from Harris on his gypsy jazz acoustic plus an excellent solo from the always impressive Mike Green.

The Ray Noble composed bebop standard “Cherokee” represented another opportunity for Harris to exhibit his stunning dexterity but he subsequently demonstrated that his playing isn’t just about showing off his skills as he delivered an emotive ballad version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.

If the ballad represented evidence of Harris’ growing maturity then so does the manner in which he now presents his shows. When I first saw him perform a few years ago he barely spoke to the audience and instead murmured rather indistinctly into the mic. Now he speaks with much more assurance and confidence, telling listeners interesting and informative facts about the music and the guitars he plays. It’s both entertaining and highly educational and although I’ve heard the gist of much of it before I always come away learning something new.

Also indicative of this new maturity and professionalism is the way in which Harris structures a show. We had now come to the section where he puts down his gypsy jazz acoustic guitar and picks up a Gibson Les Paul. Harris started out playing rock and blues and still harbours a great love of both genres. A key influence on Harris was former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green whose “Rollin Man”, effectively a re-write of BB King’s “Woke Up This Morning”, was segued with “Hideaway” by Freddie King, another major inspiration for several generations of British guitarists,  among them Eric Clapton.

But Harris isn’t just a jazz and blues purist, he loves all types of music. Neil Young’s “Old Man” now introduced an element of country as Harris deployed a finger slide on the strings of his Les Paul.

“Need Your Love So Bad” was recorded by both BB King and Peter Green but it was the Green version that Harris grew up with and which formed the basis for his performance here.

Another change of instrument saw Harris switching to a classic arch top jazz guitar, the type used by musicians such as Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery. With the latter in mind Harris played Montgomery’s tune “Bock Da Bock”, a piece actually written by Wes’ brother Buddy Montgomery. Mike Green was also in great form here, his bass riff anchoring the piece and also providing the launch pad for an exemplary double bass solo.

Bill Evans’ “Waltz For Debby” was the other piece to be played on the arch top and featured a brilliant virtuoso solo introduction from Harris.

It was back to the acoustic gypsy jazz guitar as Harris regaled us with tales of the annual Samois Festival of gypsy jazz, a still vibrant celebration of the genius of Django Reinhardt. Groves’ rhythm guitar was the driving force behind furiously swinging renditions of “All Of Me”, “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Reinhardt’s own “Bossa Dorada”. Harris’ solos on all of these were characteristically dazzling and on the closing piece he seemed to bring all of his influences together with quotes from “The Windmills Of Your Mind” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”.

Once again the trio were accorded an absolutely terrific reception and only time constraints prevented a well deserved encore. For many people this was the “gig of the festival” and it was certainly one of the best attended. It seems as if Remi Harris can do no wrong.


FB POCKET ORCHESTRA, JAZZ ALLEY, 06/09/2015.

Once again I returned briefly to the Market Hall while the changeover at the Kings Arms was completed. By now I was hungry and having vowed to offer my support to the food outlets at Jazz Alley I was concentrating on eating rather than listening to the music of FB Pocket Orchestra, a three piece band from Southampton who specialised in jazz from the 20s and 30s with a kind of vintage/ jug band / tea dance feel. Paul Stevenson, Jenny Russell and Ollie Corbin played a variety of instruments including guitar, banjo, clarinet, cornet, accordion and percussion with Stevenson and Russell handing the vocals.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t really listening too closely but it quickly became apparent that they were hugely popular with the crowd and their set went down a storm. I note that they will be playing a short series of gigs in Herefordshire in December 2015 as part of the Arts Alive programme so I may take the opportunity of checking them out more fully at that time. As far as wall2wall was concerned they were definitely a hit.


JAMIE BROWNFIELD QUARTET, KINGS ARMS, 06/09/2015.

There was more classic jazz, albeit of a slightly later vintage at the Kings Arms as North Wales based trumpeter Jamie Brownfield brought his quartet of Manchester based musicians to the festival. The quartet play together regularly at the Matt & Phred’s club in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

I’ve previously seen Byrne co-leading groups with tenor saxophonist Liam Byrne but today he was joined by pianist Tom Kincaid, bassist Ken Marley and drummer Jack Cotterill. Despite his youth Brownfield is in thrall to jazz of an earlier age and today’s set was largely standards based.

My previous sightings of Brownfield have confirmed that he is a fluent trumpet soloist with an excellent technique and he has also become a confident stage performer and band leader. His performances and recordings with Byrne sometimes include jazz standards dating back to the 20s and 30s but today the focus was on a slightly later era as the quartet kicked off with “Taking A Chance On Love” which gave each member the chance to introduce himself as the solos were passed around the group.

“Bye Bye Blackbird” featured Brownfield on muted trumpet plus further solos from Kincaid on piano and Marley at the bass.

Next up was a modern day standard, Wynton Marsalis’ “Happy Feet Blues”, a composition that was once the theme tune for Jazz Record Requests. Solos here came from Brownfield and Kincaid plus Cotterill at the drums. Staying in the same geographical area “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” featured Brownfield deploying the mute once more as he shared the solos with Kincaid and Marley.

The set continued with “Brotherhood Of Man”, a tune by Clark Terry that the composer used to perform in the company of the Oscar Peterson Trio. After Brownfield had negotiated the tricky opening theme on trumpet we were treated to a rollicking piano solo by Kincaid backed by the propulsive grooves generated by Marley and Cotterill. Further solos came from Brownfield and Marley while Cotterill enjoyed a series of effervescent drum breaks.

The familiar strains of Ellington’s “Caravan” concluded the first half with solos coming from Brownfield, Kincaid and Marley.

Set two kicked off with a lively take on “What Is This thing Called Love?” with solos from Brownfield, Kincaid and Marley.

With his predilection for jazz from several eras before his own it’s tempting to think of Brownfield as the archetypal “young fogey”. It therefore came as something of a surprise when he chose to tackle the Coldplay song “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face”, performing it in the style of a jazz or bebop standard and making it sound like a perfectly natural transition with solos coming from trumpet and piano. How about a bit of Radiohead next time Jamie?

The more familiar sounds of “Bernie’s Tune” came next with Brownfield taking his inspiration from the version recorded by Chet Baker. The leader’s quote laden trumpet solo was accompanied by bass and the distinctive patter of Cotterill’s hand drums. Further solos came from Kincaid and Cotterill.

“Moonglow” began as a lyrical ballad with the gentle sound of brushed drums but gradually built up a head of steam during the solos of Brownfield, Kincaid and Marley.

The quartet visited the Ellington repertoire again for a lively take on “Cottontail” with Marley leading off the solos followed by Brownfield and Cotterill.

Brownfield handed over to Ken Marley and the bassist led the trio through his beautiful ballad “Tender” with the composer sketching the melody on his bass prior to further lyrical solos from Kincaid and Marley with understated brushed support coming from Cotterill. It’s probably a bit harsh on Brownfield but this lovely performance was probably the set highlight for me.

The trumpeter returned for the closing “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” leading his quartet out in style with solos coming from Brownfield and Kincaid. 

This was an enjoyable set but was not particularly well supported which must have been something of a disappointment for both the band and the festival organisers. There’s no doubting Brownfield’s skills as a trumpet soloist and I was also impressed by my first sightings of both Marley and Kincaid. However rather like Ben Treacher yesterday I feel that Brownfield needs to start moving away from the standards repertoire and to begin developing his own writing skills if he wishes to move on to the next level. However he’s a consistent performer who can be relied upon to deliver the goods and it’s more than likely that he’s happy with things just the way they are.


SARAH GILLESPIE TRIO,  KINGS ARMS, 06/09/2015.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Sarah Gillespie is an Abergavenny regular with two BMJ club appearances behind her plus a memorable gig at the first wall2wall Festival back in 2013. Gillespie has released three widely acclaimed albums “Stalking Juliet”(2009), “In The Current Climate” (2011) and “Glory Days” (2013) plus the conceptual EP “The War On Trevor” (2012).

All of her recordings feature her poetic but streetwise lyrics, laced with exotic imagery and sharp social observation. Her composing is influenced by the giants of literary songwriting, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen plus the works of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Poets.  The instrumental arrangements on her albums are as rich and colourful as the words with Gilad Atzmon playing a leading role in his capacity as instrumentalist, musical director and producer.

Atzmon had been part of the band at Gillespie’s previous performances at Abergavenny but in recent years he’s taken more and more of a back seat as Gillespie has continued to put a greater part of herself into her own music. The gradual withdrawal of Atzmon has coincided with Gillespie’s growing confidence as an instrumentalist and her guitar is now an increasingly integral part of the group sound, particularly in this pared down trio situation that saw her accompanied by pianist Frank Harrison and long standing bassist Ben Bastin. 

Gillespie has recently played a series of shows entitled “The Life Of Bessie Smith” which has paid tribute to the “Empress of the Blues”. Tonight’s set included a number of Bessie Smith songs from that show interspersed with a series of Gillespie original sourced from across all her recordings.

The performance actually began with a new song, as yet unrecorded and untitled but intended for a forthcoming mini-album project. Lyrically rich and packed with allusions to Bob Dylan it was as good as anything she’s ever written and included a sparkling piano solo from Harrison, the first of many.

From the Bessie Smith project came the traditional song “St. James Infirmary Blues”. Gillespie has taken time out following the birth of her first child, a daughter named Susannah Carmen, and it was good to see her back and making music once again. As this song demonstrated the power of her voice is undiminished and she remains a charismatic performer. Gillespie’s virtuoso vocal performance was supplemented by instrumental solos from trusty henchmen Harrison and Bastin.

Nest up was “How The Mighty Fall” from Gillespie’s first album, a song with an irresistible chorus fuelled by Bastin’s phenomenal rhythmic drive on the bass.

It was back to the Bessie Smith repertoire for the lascivious “Do Your Duty” with Gillespie’s salty vocals augmented by solos from both Harrison and Bastin and a dazzling series of instrumental exchanges between the pair.

Bastin then added lusty backing vocals to to the rousing title track of the “Glory Days” album. From the same record came the self mocking humour of “Babies And All That Shit”, a fun way to end an excellent first set. A highly appropriate choice too following Gillespie’s recent change in circumstances.  Many congratulations Sarah, but it’s good to see you back!

The second half began with Gillespie proclaiming a couple of her ‘jazz poems’, the second, “Lonely Hearts Sads” also featuring Harrison on piano as Gillespie entertained us with some laugh out loud funny Tom Waits style wordplay.

Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” has been in the Gillespie repertoire for a long time and helped to sow the seed for the recent Bessie Smith project. Tonight’s version was enlivened by solos from both Harrison and Bastin.

The sensual “Sugar, Sugar” from “Glory Days” was followed by the title track of “In The Current Climate” with its evocative, poetic lyrical imagery plus the bonus of a solo from the estimable Harrison.

The pianist shone again on Gillespie’s rendition of Bessie Smith’s “Big Foot” before the second set was completed by two of the most popular items in Gillespie’s back catalogue, “Lucifer’s High Chair” and the title track from “Stalking Juliet”. Both of these tunes feature rousing choruses and saw Bastin adding his voice to the proceedings.

A well deserved encore of “Million Moons”, another favourite track from the first album saw Bastin demonstrating his arco skills on the intro before the song exploded into vigorous life.

This was a triumphant return to Abergavenny for Sarah Gillespie who played to one of the largest audiences of the day.  Her talent has not been diminished by her time away from the scene and her voice is as distinctive and powerful as ever. I was also impressed with her guitar playing which was at the heart of the arrangements although it has to be said that she received terrific support from Bastin and Harrison, it’s always a pleasure to hear Frank’s playing whatever the context.  It was also good to hear some of the songs from Gillespie’s Bessie Smith venture, especially as I wasn’t able to get to a gig when she toured the project.

A close run thing with the very different performance of Remi Harris for the award of “gig of the day”.


ZOE SCHWARZ BLUE COMMOTION

One of the hits of the 2013 festival was Blue Commotion, the band led by jazz/blues vocalist and songwriter Zoe Schwarz. Schwarz is a versatile former with an extensive knowledge of both the jazz and blues repertoires and she names Billie Holiday as her biggest musical influence.

At wall2wall 2015 Schwarz proved her versatility by performing a well received jazz standards set on the Jazz Alley stage accompanied by her guitarist and life partner Rob Koral, also a highly adaptable and versatile musician. I wasn’t able to attend that gig as I was covering Jamie Brownfield but the feedback I have received was full of praise for the duo’s performance.

For this closing concert of wall2wall 2015 Schwarz was joined for a night of high octane original blues based music by a stellar line up of Koral on guitar, Paul Robinson at the drums and Craig Milverton on organ plus Swansea based Alun Vaughan on electric bass. “I’ve been singing Gershwin tunes all afternoon, now I feel like a bit of a wail” declared Schwarz in a rousing statement of intent.

Schwarz is signed to the 33 record label and Blue Commotion have recorded fairly prolifically and much of tonight’s material was sourced from the band’s latest studio album “Exposed” (2014). From that record came the powerful opener “I Wonder Who My Next Man Will Be” which augmented Schwarz’s soulful vocals with dazzling instrumental solos by Koral and Milverton. The way in which these two traded solos all night reminded me of the guitar/organ duelling of Richie Blackmore and Jon Lord in prime era Deep Purple, praise indeed. It was certainly an eye opener to see Milverton playing organ in this context, I’m more used to seeing him on piano playing straight ahead jazz with the likes of saxophonists Greg Abate and Alan Barnes.

“Smile” with its solo guitar introduction and the heavy blues rock of “The Blues Don’t Scare Me”,  the title track of an earlier album, kept the cauldron bubbling as the band continued to brew up a storm. Paul Robinson is one of the most exciting drummers around, a concentrated ball of energy who was a member of Nina Simone’s band for nineteen years. However I still remember him best for the couple of years he spent with the late Jeff Clyne’s brilliant Turning Point group in the late 1970s. His partner in crime tonight was Alun Vaughan who laid down a terrific groove on electric bass and who had played with the band on their previous wall2wall visit in 2013. His presence freed Milverton of the bass duties normally undertaken with foot pedals by the group’s regular organist Pete Whittaker. The addition of Vaughan allowed Milverton the freedom to swoop and soar around the manuals, a freedom he took full advantage of with some brilliant wailing solos.

In my review of Blue Commotion’s 2013 performance I spoke of Rob Koral’s guitar “heading for the stratosphere” on one particular solo. He was sky-bound again on a slow blues arrangement of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ chilling tale of romantic obsession “I Put A Spell On You” .

Similar territory was explored on “I’ll Be Yours Tonight”, the atmospheric slow blues numbers alternating with rumbustious blues boogie outings such as “I’ll Do Anything” with its scorching organ and guitar solos plus Robinson’s dynamic drumming.

Most of Blue Commotion’s material is written by Schwarz and Koral, a pair of prolific songwriters who commendably manage to find something new and convincing to say in the blues/rock format. Nevertheless one of the stand-out performances proved to be a cover of Lowell Fulsom’s “Sinners Prayer” with Koral and Milverton exchanging solos and complementing Schwarz’s authoritative vocal performance as she delivered Fulsom’s chorus of “Lord Have Mercy On Me” with total conviction.

“Come Home Sweet Baby” was the vehicle for more scintillating guitar and organ solos, “We’ll Find A Way” was a slice of powerful blues balladry and “Feeling Good” was a homage to drummer Robinson’s tenure with Nina Simone.

A high energy set was completed with the autobiographical “Let Me Sing The Blues” with Schwarz’s lyrics alluding to the inspiration provided by her many musical influences including Jimmy Page, James Brown, BB King and Bessie Smith. Among the roll call was Etta James and it was to Etta’s repertoire that the band turned for a deserved encore with “Something’s Really Got A Hold On Me”

Although the attendance for this late night event was a little disappointing it was nevertheless an excellent show with Schwarz’s assured and authentic blues vocalising backed up by some brilliant musicianship from a group of players capable of combining blues/rock power with jazz chops. Blues Commotion is a highly professional outfit which always delivers the goods although I must admit that I did miss the contribution of harmonica player and backing vocalist Si Genaro who was the group’s “wild card” back in 2013, a madcap presence and a real entertainer, but still a brilliant musician.

Blue Commotion have recently released a new live album, “I’ll Be Yours Tonight” which I intend to take a look at in due course.


FESTIVAL OVERVIEW

For me wall2wall 2015 was the best so far. The format of centralising events at the Kings Arms worked well and Jazz Alley was a terrific success. I didn’t get to see much at the Blues Stage but the feedback I have received indicates that this was less than satisfactory overall with some attendances disappointing, possibly because the venue was a little remote from the festival hub.

Nevertheless the success of the Kings Arms and Jazz Alley events represents a terrific platform to build on in subsequent years.

Artistically the Festival was a very definite success with several genres of jazz and related music being explored. I love the variety that this festival offers and some of the performances were quite outstanding with Emily Saunders, Remi Harris and Sarah Gillespie all vying for “gig of the festival”. In fact I enjoyed all the music that I saw, wall2wall can always guarantee to serve up music that is both interesting and enjoyable.

Congratulations to Mike Skilton and his team for another hugely enjoyable festival. I now feel that they’ve found exactly the right formula and I hope to be back again in 2016. Well done everybody and thanks for giving me the opportunity to cover the event. 

     

   

 

 


 

 

 


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