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Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz - Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz, Black Mountain Jazz, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/07/2018. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Two sets of excellent music delivered in very challenging conditions, with some excellent group playing and soloing all round.

Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz, Black Mountain Jazz, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/07/2018


Tonight’s performance represented a collaboration between the local jazz club, Black Mountain Jazz and the annual Abergavenny Arts Festival. It had been the intention for BMJ to present an all day series of events on the final day of the Arts Festival.

Unfortunately the first of these, which would have seen BMJ promoter Mike Skilton interviewed by journalist and broadcaster Rhys Phillips on the subject of ‘Jazz Appreciation’ had to be cancelled. Nevertheless the remaining two events proved to be extremely successful, culminating with this
well attended and hugely enjoyable performance by the quintet Goodkatz, led by trumpeter Gethin Liddington.

Liddington is a popular presence on the jazz scene in South Wales and beyond. He’s a highly versatile musician who has played across a variety of jazz genres from the traditional to the avant garde. Liddington has recorded with bands led by trombonist Gareth Roberts, pianist Dave Jones and bassist Paula Gardiner. He has been a featured soloist with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) Big Band, the Cardiff based Capital City Jazz Orchestra and the one off Slice of Jazz Orchestra that performed at the 2017 Brecon Jazz Festival. Liddington’s avant garde credentials include performances and recordings with ensembles led by pianist Keith Tippett and saxophonist Paul Dunmall.

Liddington has formed a particularly productive alliance with fellow trumpeter and South Walian Ceri Williams. Liddington plays in Williams’ New Era Reborn Brass Band and the pair front Chop Idols, a supremely entertaining quintet that pays homage to trumpet greats such as Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie, while also bringing plenty of themselves to the music. Chop Idols proved to be popular visitors when they performed at BMJ in March 2018 with many jazz fans turning out again to hear this new quintet.

Goodkatz specialises in jazz from an earlier epoch than that honoured by Chop Idols. Here Liddington goes back to the music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s as he pays tribute to the Dixieland and swing eras. Joining the trumpeter in the front line of this venture is saxophonist/clarinettist Ceri Rees, leader of the Capital City Jazz Orchestra. Goodkatz also features Chop Idols pianist Richard West, double bassist Donnie Joe Sweeney and drummer Greg Evans, all of them busy and popular presences on the South Wales jazz scene.

Tonight’s performance was billed as presenting “feel good, infectious, toe-tapping jazz” in a “family friendly” atmosphere and this was exactly what it did with Liddington presenting the show with a ready wit and bonhomie. The audience included a number of ‘first timers’ who had seen the event advertised whilst attending the main Arts Festival. Hopefully they enjoyed what they heard and will return to BMJ in the future. The audience reaction certainly suggested that they did.

Liddington and Rees founded Goodkatz with the intention of playing this much loved music with passion and intensity, feeling that many performers in the same style have interpreted the music too tamely. It’s also interesting to note that a whole generation of much younger players have also come to the music with the same approach, notably the highly skilled musicians forming part of the scene surrounding Kansas Smitty’s in London. There’s something of a trad and swing revival going on in the English capital with musicians and audiences approaching the music without any inhibitions or hang ups and rediscovering something of its original spirit.

Brecon Jazz Festival used to advertise itself as being “New Orleans Beneath the Beacons”. On a sweltering July evening it was “New Orleans Beneath the Blorenge” in Abergavenny as band and audience boiled in temperatures more suited to the Crescent City than the Black Mountains.

Fortunately the music was ‘hot’ too as the quintet kicked off with saxophonist Lester Young’s composition for the Count Basie Orchestra, “Lester Leaps In”. This was a marvellously swinging interpretation featuring some dazzling interplay between Liddington on trumpet and Rees on tenor sax as Sweeney and Evans laid down a suitably propulsive groove, further enlivened by West’s inventive keyboard embellishments. Concise but fluent solos came from Rees, Liddington and West as the evening got off to an excellent start.

West is a hugely inventive and imaginative pianist whose solos often threaten to undermine the horn players he works with. His unaccompanied piano introduction to Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” demonstrated his mastery of a plethora of jazz piano styles and also included something of Fats’ trademark humour. Meanwhile Rees had switched to clarinet, adopting a bluesy tone on the instrument as it intertwined with Liddington’s trumpet in a fine example of New Orleans style counterpoint. Rees also took the first solo, which included a virtuoso sustained single note at one juncture. He was followed by the leader on trumpet, West at the piano and Sweeney on melodic double bass.

A splendidly swinging “All Of Me” featured a trumpet and tenor front line above a vigorous groove and included a Louis Armstrong inspired by vocal from Liddington. I’ve seen Gethin play on many occasions in various contexts but I think this was the first time that I’d ever heard him sing! But the real highlights were instrumental, including the spirited horn interplay between Liddington and Rees and the gutsy, r’n’b style tenor solo from the latter. The leader weighed in with some bravura, high register trumpeting as West continued to dazzle at the keyboard. A swinging outro featuring the dovetailing of the twin horn attack helped to ensure that this item was particularly well received by the crowd.

Liddington hadn’t brought his distinctive four valved flugel horn along but this didn’t prevent him from demonstrating his skills as a balladeer. For the standard “Out Of Nowhere” Rees vacated the stage and the subsequent quartet performance served as a feature for Liddington on muted trumpet. His playing was soft, fragile and vulnerable on a bossa style arrangement that transported the Abergavenny audience to Rio and the other Sugar Loaf. The leader’s gentle lyricism was matched by similar solos from West at the piano and Sweeney on double bass.

Rees returned, this time on clarinet, for a second well known Fats Waller tune, this time “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”. West introduced the piece at the piano before being joined by the New Orleans horn stylings of Liddington and Rees. The latter took the first solo on clarinet, followed by Liddington whose virtuoso trumpeting was at one point accompanied only by Sweeney’s double bass. Further solos came from West and Sweeney before the two horns coalesced again towards the end of the song.

To close the first set the quintet remained in New Orleans mode for “Slow Boat To China” (retitled “Slow Goat To Blaenau” for the local audience!). Rees and Liddington featured on clarinet and trumpet respectively while ‘Professor’ Richard West again demonstrated his knowledge of the New Orleans piano tradition. Liddington also added a chorus of vocals.

The second set embraced something of an Ellington theme as the quintet commenced with the Duke’s “In A Mellow Tone”, adopting a more mainstream jazz feel with solos coming from Rees on tenor, Liddington on trumpet and West on piano.

The group slimmed down to a quartet again for “Days Of Wine And Roses”, beginning in ballad style with an introductory duo dialogue between trumpet and piano. The addition of bass and drums added momentum and swing to the music with Evans’ brushed grooves fuelling further solos from Liddington and West. Subsequently the drummer traded fours with Liddington, enjoying a series of briskly brushed breaks before the piece resolved itself with the leader’s unaccompanied trumpet cadenza.

Liddington then left the stage as Rees returned to feature his clarinet playing on the standard “The World Is Waiting For A Sunrise” which included solos from Rees and West and a further series of brushed drum breaks from Evans, this time exchanging ideas with Rees.

The Seattle born Sweeney is a versatile musician who also leads his own group, Donnie Joe’s American Swing, in which he plays guitar and sings. This line up has made a previous appearance in Abergavenny at the annual Wall2Wall Jazz Festival. Here Sweeney’s vocals were featured, alongside his bass playing, on another Ellington tune, “Just Squeeze Me”, which also included instrumental solos from Liddington on trumpet, Rees on clarinet and West at the piano.

There was more Ellington as the quintet delivered a barnstorming version of “Caravan”, the piece introduced by a dazzling passage of unaccompanied piano from the excellent West that combined ornate, almost baroque, flourishes with a welcome touch of humour. The pianist established a Latin groove that was taken up by a whistle blowing Evans as Liddington and a tenor toting Rees dovetailed on the familiar theme prior to taking individual solos. West delivered another display of stunning virtuosity with a more conventional jazz solo before entering into an absorbing and exciting dialogue with Evans’ drums, their exchanges underpinned by Sweeney’s anchoring bass.
The two horns then combined on the head, mutating it into “Sweet Georgia Brown” and back again during a rousing, swinging closing section which the crowd loved.

It was back to New Orleans for the closing “Dinah”, delivered in a swinging style that Liddington described as “Louis Prima -esque”. Trumpet and clarinet delivered the theme in Crescent City style with Liddington also singing the lyrics prior to pithy solos from himself and Rees and an unaccompanied piano feature from West. This proved to be the last number of the evening and ended an excellent night of music making on an energetic note. Given the almost tropical temperatures, and with both band and audience flagging an encore was never likely but this didn’t imply any lack of appreciation for the music. Liddington and his colleagues were very well received and ensured that Abergavenny Arts Festival ended on a high note.

Certainly nobody could accuse of Liddington and the Goodkatz of short changing their audience. They had delivered two sets of excellent music in very challenging conditions, with some excellent group playing and soloing all round. My only reservations (as with Chop Idols previously) would be with regard to the vocals, which I felt added little to the experience, although others may disagree. These pieces did start out as songs after all, before jazz soloists turned them into primarily instrumental vehicles.

Earlier in the day, and also part of the Arts Festival, West and saxophonist Martha Skilton had co-ordinated “Jazz for Little ‘Uns”, an interactive musical presentation for two to four year olds designed to introduce the joy of jazz to young children. This proved to be a very successful and enjoyable event with fifteen toddlers and their parents taking part. It’s now hoped that a similar event will be added to the programme for the forthcoming Wall2Wall Jazz Festival which will take place from 30th August to 2nd September 2018.


Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz, Black Mountain Jazz, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/07/2018.

Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz

Monday, July 02, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz, Black Mountain Jazz, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/07/2018.

Two sets of excellent music delivered in very challenging conditions, with some excellent group playing and soloing all round.

Gethin Liddington’s Goodkatz, Black Mountain Jazz, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/07/2018


Tonight’s performance represented a collaboration between the local jazz club, Black Mountain Jazz and the annual Abergavenny Arts Festival. It had been the intention for BMJ to present an all day series of events on the final day of the Arts Festival.

Unfortunately the first of these, which would have seen BMJ promoter Mike Skilton interviewed by journalist and broadcaster Rhys Phillips on the subject of ‘Jazz Appreciation’ had to be cancelled. Nevertheless the remaining two events proved to be extremely successful, culminating with this
well attended and hugely enjoyable performance by the quintet Goodkatz, led by trumpeter Gethin Liddington.

Liddington is a popular presence on the jazz scene in South Wales and beyond. He’s a highly versatile musician who has played across a variety of jazz genres from the traditional to the avant garde. Liddington has recorded with bands led by trombonist Gareth Roberts, pianist Dave Jones and bassist Paula Gardiner. He has been a featured soloist with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) Big Band, the Cardiff based Capital City Jazz Orchestra and the one off Slice of Jazz Orchestra that performed at the 2017 Brecon Jazz Festival. Liddington’s avant garde credentials include performances and recordings with ensembles led by pianist Keith Tippett and saxophonist Paul Dunmall.

Liddington has formed a particularly productive alliance with fellow trumpeter and South Walian Ceri Williams. Liddington plays in Williams’ New Era Reborn Brass Band and the pair front Chop Idols, a supremely entertaining quintet that pays homage to trumpet greats such as Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie, while also bringing plenty of themselves to the music. Chop Idols proved to be popular visitors when they performed at BMJ in March 2018 with many jazz fans turning out again to hear this new quintet.

Goodkatz specialises in jazz from an earlier epoch than that honoured by Chop Idols. Here Liddington goes back to the music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s as he pays tribute to the Dixieland and swing eras. Joining the trumpeter in the front line of this venture is saxophonist/clarinettist Ceri Rees, leader of the Capital City Jazz Orchestra. Goodkatz also features Chop Idols pianist Richard West, double bassist Donnie Joe Sweeney and drummer Greg Evans, all of them busy and popular presences on the South Wales jazz scene.

Tonight’s performance was billed as presenting “feel good, infectious, toe-tapping jazz” in a “family friendly” atmosphere and this was exactly what it did with Liddington presenting the show with a ready wit and bonhomie. The audience included a number of ‘first timers’ who had seen the event advertised whilst attending the main Arts Festival. Hopefully they enjoyed what they heard and will return to BMJ in the future. The audience reaction certainly suggested that they did.

Liddington and Rees founded Goodkatz with the intention of playing this much loved music with passion and intensity, feeling that many performers in the same style have interpreted the music too tamely. It’s also interesting to note that a whole generation of much younger players have also come to the music with the same approach, notably the highly skilled musicians forming part of the scene surrounding Kansas Smitty’s in London. There’s something of a trad and swing revival going on in the English capital with musicians and audiences approaching the music without any inhibitions or hang ups and rediscovering something of its original spirit.

Brecon Jazz Festival used to advertise itself as being “New Orleans Beneath the Beacons”. On a sweltering July evening it was “New Orleans Beneath the Blorenge” in Abergavenny as band and audience boiled in temperatures more suited to the Crescent City than the Black Mountains.

Fortunately the music was ‘hot’ too as the quintet kicked off with saxophonist Lester Young’s composition for the Count Basie Orchestra, “Lester Leaps In”. This was a marvellously swinging interpretation featuring some dazzling interplay between Liddington on trumpet and Rees on tenor sax as Sweeney and Evans laid down a suitably propulsive groove, further enlivened by West’s inventive keyboard embellishments. Concise but fluent solos came from Rees, Liddington and West as the evening got off to an excellent start.

West is a hugely inventive and imaginative pianist whose solos often threaten to undermine the horn players he works with. His unaccompanied piano introduction to Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” demonstrated his mastery of a plethora of jazz piano styles and also included something of Fats’ trademark humour. Meanwhile Rees had switched to clarinet, adopting a bluesy tone on the instrument as it intertwined with Liddington’s trumpet in a fine example of New Orleans style counterpoint. Rees also took the first solo, which included a virtuoso sustained single note at one juncture. He was followed by the leader on trumpet, West at the piano and Sweeney on melodic double bass.

A splendidly swinging “All Of Me” featured a trumpet and tenor front line above a vigorous groove and included a Louis Armstrong inspired by vocal from Liddington. I’ve seen Gethin play on many occasions in various contexts but I think this was the first time that I’d ever heard him sing! But the real highlights were instrumental, including the spirited horn interplay between Liddington and Rees and the gutsy, r’n’b style tenor solo from the latter. The leader weighed in with some bravura, high register trumpeting as West continued to dazzle at the keyboard. A swinging outro featuring the dovetailing of the twin horn attack helped to ensure that this item was particularly well received by the crowd.

Liddington hadn’t brought his distinctive four valved flugel horn along but this didn’t prevent him from demonstrating his skills as a balladeer. For the standard “Out Of Nowhere” Rees vacated the stage and the subsequent quartet performance served as a feature for Liddington on muted trumpet. His playing was soft, fragile and vulnerable on a bossa style arrangement that transported the Abergavenny audience to Rio and the other Sugar Loaf. The leader’s gentle lyricism was matched by similar solos from West at the piano and Sweeney on double bass.

Rees returned, this time on clarinet, for a second well known Fats Waller tune, this time “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”. West introduced the piece at the piano before being joined by the New Orleans horn stylings of Liddington and Rees. The latter took the first solo on clarinet, followed by Liddington whose virtuoso trumpeting was at one point accompanied only by Sweeney’s double bass. Further solos came from West and Sweeney before the two horns coalesced again towards the end of the song.

To close the first set the quintet remained in New Orleans mode for “Slow Boat To China” (retitled “Slow Goat To Blaenau” for the local audience!). Rees and Liddington featured on clarinet and trumpet respectively while ‘Professor’ Richard West again demonstrated his knowledge of the New Orleans piano tradition. Liddington also added a chorus of vocals.

The second set embraced something of an Ellington theme as the quintet commenced with the Duke’s “In A Mellow Tone”, adopting a more mainstream jazz feel with solos coming from Rees on tenor, Liddington on trumpet and West on piano.

The group slimmed down to a quartet again for “Days Of Wine And Roses”, beginning in ballad style with an introductory duo dialogue between trumpet and piano. The addition of bass and drums added momentum and swing to the music with Evans’ brushed grooves fuelling further solos from Liddington and West. Subsequently the drummer traded fours with Liddington, enjoying a series of briskly brushed breaks before the piece resolved itself with the leader’s unaccompanied trumpet cadenza.

Liddington then left the stage as Rees returned to feature his clarinet playing on the standard “The World Is Waiting For A Sunrise” which included solos from Rees and West and a further series of brushed drum breaks from Evans, this time exchanging ideas with Rees.

The Seattle born Sweeney is a versatile musician who also leads his own group, Donnie Joe’s American Swing, in which he plays guitar and sings. This line up has made a previous appearance in Abergavenny at the annual Wall2Wall Jazz Festival. Here Sweeney’s vocals were featured, alongside his bass playing, on another Ellington tune, “Just Squeeze Me”, which also included instrumental solos from Liddington on trumpet, Rees on clarinet and West at the piano.

There was more Ellington as the quintet delivered a barnstorming version of “Caravan”, the piece introduced by a dazzling passage of unaccompanied piano from the excellent West that combined ornate, almost baroque, flourishes with a welcome touch of humour. The pianist established a Latin groove that was taken up by a whistle blowing Evans as Liddington and a tenor toting Rees dovetailed on the familiar theme prior to taking individual solos. West delivered another display of stunning virtuosity with a more conventional jazz solo before entering into an absorbing and exciting dialogue with Evans’ drums, their exchanges underpinned by Sweeney’s anchoring bass.
The two horns then combined on the head, mutating it into “Sweet Georgia Brown” and back again during a rousing, swinging closing section which the crowd loved.

It was back to New Orleans for the closing “Dinah”, delivered in a swinging style that Liddington described as “Louis Prima -esque”. Trumpet and clarinet delivered the theme in Crescent City style with Liddington also singing the lyrics prior to pithy solos from himself and Rees and an unaccompanied piano feature from West. This proved to be the last number of the evening and ended an excellent night of music making on an energetic note. Given the almost tropical temperatures, and with both band and audience flagging an encore was never likely but this didn’t imply any lack of appreciation for the music. Liddington and his colleagues were very well received and ensured that Abergavenny Arts Festival ended on a high note.

Certainly nobody could accuse of Liddington and the Goodkatz of short changing their audience. They had delivered two sets of excellent music in very challenging conditions, with some excellent group playing and soloing all round. My only reservations (as with Chop Idols previously) would be with regard to the vocals, which I felt added little to the experience, although others may disagree. These pieces did start out as songs after all, before jazz soloists turned them into primarily instrumental vehicles.

Earlier in the day, and also part of the Arts Festival, West and saxophonist Martha Skilton had co-ordinated “Jazz for Little ‘Uns”, an interactive musical presentation for two to four year olds designed to introduce the joy of jazz to young children. This proved to be a very successful and enjoyable event with fifteen toddlers and their parents taking part. It’s now hoped that a similar event will be added to the programme for the forthcoming Wall2Wall Jazz Festival which will take place from 30th August to 2nd September 2018.



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