The Jazz Mann | John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio - John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Worcs. 27/06/2017. | Review | The Jazz Mann

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John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio - John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Worcs. 27/06/2017. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A relaxed, enjoyable performance in a beautiful location with Hallam demonstrating a low key, undemonstrative brand of virtuosity on his three chosen reeds.

John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, 27/06/2017.

The Jazzmann has charted the development of rising star guitarist Remi Harris in a career that has seen the young musician progress from playing in the back room of my local pub to performing at the Jazz Prom the Royal Albert Hall alongside Jamie Cullum.

Harris made his name as a Django Reinhardt inspired gypsy jazz guitarist but has recently
re-introduced music from other genres such as blues and rock into his performances as he acknowledges the influence of artists, such as The Beatles and Peter Green, who made him want to pick up the guitar in the first place.

For all his success Harris is an unassuming character who just loves to play music. With this in mind he and his wife and manager Dani have established a performance space, the Yardbird Arts Club, at The Hatch, a stunningly beautiful location in rural Worcestershire.

There has been a history of live musical performances at The Hatch, the home of the Salmon family.  Ben Salmon, once the rhythm guitarist with Harris’ trio, established a recording studio here and the venue hosted regular live events between (approx) 2010 and 2013. The performers came from a wide variety of musical genres including jazz, folk and world music with much of the programming being undertaken by local singer, guitarist and songwriter Deborah Rose. 

When Ben Salmon relocated to Mid Wales performances at The Hatch, still the Salmon family home, ceased but have now been revived by Remi and Dani who live in one of the outbuildings at The Hatch complex. Together they have imaginatively transformed the former studio ‘live room’ into an intimate performance space with a capacity of just 40, creatively decorated with music memorabilia to create a genuine ‘jazz club’ ambience. 

Prior to the opening of the new club Yardbird Arts hosted events at nearby Clows Top Village Hall but having a venue ‘on site’ has been ideal for Dani and Remi. Although I’d attended and covered several performances at The Hatch between 2010 and 2013 this was my first visit to the Yardbird Arts Club and I was very impressed.

The new venue hosts up to fifteen event per year and previous visitors have included multi reeds player Alan Barnes and violinist/vocalist Ben Holder. Tonight’s guest was John Hallam, another multi reed player and a close associate of Barnes. This evening’s performance came hot on the heels of a collaboration between Hallam and the Harris trio at the Upton upon Severn Jazz Festival. Hallam and Harris have also played at other trad/mainstream festivals including Keswick, Bude and Pershore.

Although Lancashire based Hallam has clearly been in the business a long time and recorded a substantial number of albums I have to admit that I was previously unfamiliar with his playing. A glance at his website http://www.johnhallam.co.uk reveals that he plays all the main members of the saxophone family plus clarinet and bass clarinet. A leading figure on the jazz scene in the North of England his collaborators include fellow saxophonists Alan Barnes and Amy Roberts and pianists Tom Kinkaid and the American Jeff Barnhart. Hallam also organises jazz weekends at The Burnside Hotel in Bowness on Windermere in the English Lake District.

Tonight’s performance saw the quartet exploring a number of jazz standards under Hallam’s leadership. After seeing so many performances by Remi Harris as a leader in recent years it was interesting to see him in a sideman role, even though he enjoyed plenty of opportunities as a soloist. For Harris the gig represented a chance to relax as somebody else coped with the pressure of leadership as Hallam handled the announcements and called the tunes.

Softly spoken but possessed with a dry wit Hallam’s personality was reflected in his playing. His was an understated virtuosity, even on tenor and baritone saxes. There was no grandstanding but Hallam’s playing was consistently melodic and inventive. He plays in conventional line ups incorporating bass and drums but the gypsy jazz style accompaniment was well suited to his quiet, understated style.

The performance began with Hallam on clarinet, dovetailing easily with Harris’ guitar on Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” as Caley Groves on rhythm guitar and Mike Green on double bass provided unobtrusive but immaculate accompaniment.

Hallam informed us that the tune “Poor Butterfly” was written by Raymond Hubbell and lyricist John Golden as long ago as 1916. Inspired by the Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly” it was considered to be harmonically advanced for its time and has since been recorded by many jazz and popular music artists. Hallam’s version of the tune was based on that of Benny Goodman with solos coming from Hallam on clarinet and Harris on guitar, the latter’s playing a mix of the gypsy jazz style with blues inflections.

Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 42” was particularly well received by the knowledgeable audience and saw Hallam switching to tenor saxophone and again trading solos with Harris.

The Harris trio introduced the up-tempo blues “Billie’s Bounce”, written by Charlie Parker. It seemed particularly apposite for a Parker tune to be played at the Yardbird Arts Club with solos coming from Hallam on tenor, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass.

Hallam moved to baritone sax for “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”, his arrangement copying that of Gerry Mulligan, evidently a huge influence. Hallam exhibited a remarkable smoothness of tone and an agile fluency on the ‘big horn’ as he shared the solos with Harris on guitar.

The leader remained on baritone for “Bernie’s Tune”, a piece written by pianist Bernie Miller and recorded by the ‘piano-less’ quartet featuring Mulligan and trumpeter Chet Baker. Miller’s tune has become a modern standard and Hallam told that its composer made so much money out of it that he was able to retire from playing shortly afterwards. Solos here came from Hallam on baritone, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass.

There was a relaxed air of informality on the bandstand with tune choices often impromptu and subject to discussion between the band members. Eventually it was decided to end the first half with “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon”, a standard written in 1934 by the unfortunate Brooks Bowman (1913-37) who was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Hallam switched back to tenor for a Latin tinged arrangement featuring solos from himself and Harris.

The second set opened with Hallam again on tenor as he shared the solos and enjoyed a series of exchanges with Harris on the standard “Just Friends”.

Hallam continued on tenor for Duke Ellington’s “Drop Me Off In Harlem” which saw him stating the theme and developing it into a fully fledged solo before handing over to Harris. We were also treated to a highly melodic double bass solo from the consistently excellent Green.

George Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” saw Hallam moving to clarinet for a version inspired by the big band arrangement by Dean Kincaide for the Tommy Dorsey Band. Again Hallam developed his solo from his opening theme statement before handing over to Harris for what was arguably the guitarist’s finest solo of the night.

Hallam described Pee Wee Russell’s self referential “Pee Wee’s Blues” as “quirky”, a description that seemed to apply to Russell himself, whom Hallam met when the American clarinettist toured the UK with the Alex Welsh Band. Solos here from Harris on guitar and Hallam on clarinet, the latter producing some stunning high register notes at the climax of his solo.

Another quirky choice followed with an arrangement of the old Temperance Seven hit “You’re Driving Me Crazy” with Hallam on baritone sax and trading solos plus a further series of exchanges with Harris’ guitar.

Hallam moved back to tenor for “9.20 Special”, a composition more usually associated with big bands. Nevertheless it worked just fine in this intimate small group setting with the solos shared between Hallam, Harris and Green.

Soft, breathy tenor distinguished the ballad “Whispering”, played in a gentle, Brazilian styled arrangement with solos from Hallam and Harris.

The jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You”, written by Harry Warren, ended the proceedings in lively fashion with extended solos from Hallam on tenor, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass. At one point I thought that the tireless Groves, the rhythmic epicentre of the group, might also get a solo but, alas, no. Nevertheless he was excellent throughout, combining well with Green and providing the heartbeat of the music. 

As an encore the quartet played “Bye Bye Blackbird” which elicited an impromptu sing along from a very happy audience as Hallam on tenor and Harris on guitar again shared the solos. With no raked seating and no raised stage I couldn’t really see sit down guitarist Harris. However my ears did detect his occasional use of a finger slide, as here, which periodically added an extra dimension to the group sound.

This was a relaxed, enjoyable performance with Hallam demonstrating a low key, undemonstrative brand of virtuosity on his three chosen reeds. It’s always a delight to and hear Harris, and to witness his playing in a different context to his regular trio performances was never less then interesting.  Meanwhile Green and Groves offered their customary impeccable support.

There were few real surprises here and after a while the format got a little too predictable with every piece featuring Hallam stating the theme and developing a solo then being followed by Harris and occasionally Green with a series of horn/guitar exchanges sometimes offered as an alternative to the latter. Nevertheless Hallam’s regular changes of instrument helped to sustain the interest and the standard of the playing was consistently bright and imaginative.

And of course the beauty of the setting represented a substantial additional bonus.

For details of future events at Yardbird Arts Club please visit https://www.yardbirdarts.com/events

 

John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Worcs. 27/06/2017.

John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Worcs. 27/06/2017.

A relaxed, enjoyable performance in a beautiful location with Hallam demonstrating a low key, undemonstrative brand of virtuosity on his three chosen reeds.

John Hallam with the Remi Harris Trio, Yardbird Arts Club, The Hatch, Eardiston, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, 27/06/2017.

The Jazzmann has charted the development of rising star guitarist Remi Harris in a career that has seen the young musician progress from playing in the back room of my local pub to performing at the Jazz Prom the Royal Albert Hall alongside Jamie Cullum.

Harris made his name as a Django Reinhardt inspired gypsy jazz guitarist but has recently
re-introduced music from other genres such as blues and rock into his performances as he acknowledges the influence of artists, such as The Beatles and Peter Green, who made him want to pick up the guitar in the first place.

For all his success Harris is an unassuming character who just loves to play music. With this in mind he and his wife and manager Dani have established a performance space, the Yardbird Arts Club, at The Hatch, a stunningly beautiful location in rural Worcestershire.

There has been a history of live musical performances at The Hatch, the home of the Salmon family.  Ben Salmon, once the rhythm guitarist with Harris’ trio, established a recording studio here and the venue hosted regular live events between (approx) 2010 and 2013. The performers came from a wide variety of musical genres including jazz, folk and world music with much of the programming being undertaken by local singer, guitarist and songwriter Deborah Rose. 

When Ben Salmon relocated to Mid Wales performances at The Hatch, still the Salmon family home, ceased but have now been revived by Remi and Dani who live in one of the outbuildings at The Hatch complex. Together they have imaginatively transformed the former studio ‘live room’ into an intimate performance space with a capacity of just 40, creatively decorated with music memorabilia to create a genuine ‘jazz club’ ambience. 

Prior to the opening of the new club Yardbird Arts hosted events at nearby Clows Top Village Hall but having a venue ‘on site’ has been ideal for Dani and Remi. Although I’d attended and covered several performances at The Hatch between 2010 and 2013 this was my first visit to the Yardbird Arts Club and I was very impressed.

The new venue hosts up to fifteen event per year and previous visitors have included multi reeds player Alan Barnes and violinist/vocalist Ben Holder. Tonight’s guest was John Hallam, another multi reed player and a close associate of Barnes. This evening’s performance came hot on the heels of a collaboration between Hallam and the Harris trio at the Upton upon Severn Jazz Festival. Hallam and Harris have also played at other trad/mainstream festivals including Keswick, Bude and Pershore.

Although Lancashire based Hallam has clearly been in the business a long time and recorded a substantial number of albums I have to admit that I was previously unfamiliar with his playing. A glance at his website http://www.johnhallam.co.uk reveals that he plays all the main members of the saxophone family plus clarinet and bass clarinet. A leading figure on the jazz scene in the North of England his collaborators include fellow saxophonists Alan Barnes and Amy Roberts and pianists Tom Kinkaid and the American Jeff Barnhart. Hallam also organises jazz weekends at The Burnside Hotel in Bowness on Windermere in the English Lake District.

Tonight’s performance saw the quartet exploring a number of jazz standards under Hallam’s leadership. After seeing so many performances by Remi Harris as a leader in recent years it was interesting to see him in a sideman role, even though he enjoyed plenty of opportunities as a soloist. For Harris the gig represented a chance to relax as somebody else coped with the pressure of leadership as Hallam handled the announcements and called the tunes.

Softly spoken but possessed with a dry wit Hallam’s personality was reflected in his playing. His was an understated virtuosity, even on tenor and baritone saxes. There was no grandstanding but Hallam’s playing was consistently melodic and inventive. He plays in conventional line ups incorporating bass and drums but the gypsy jazz style accompaniment was well suited to his quiet, understated style.

The performance began with Hallam on clarinet, dovetailing easily with Harris’ guitar on Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” as Caley Groves on rhythm guitar and Mike Green on double bass provided unobtrusive but immaculate accompaniment.

Hallam informed us that the tune “Poor Butterfly” was written by Raymond Hubbell and lyricist John Golden as long ago as 1916. Inspired by the Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly” it was considered to be harmonically advanced for its time and has since been recorded by many jazz and popular music artists. Hallam’s version of the tune was based on that of Benny Goodman with solos coming from Hallam on clarinet and Harris on guitar, the latter’s playing a mix of the gypsy jazz style with blues inflections.

Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 42” was particularly well received by the knowledgeable audience and saw Hallam switching to tenor saxophone and again trading solos with Harris.

The Harris trio introduced the up-tempo blues “Billie’s Bounce”, written by Charlie Parker. It seemed particularly apposite for a Parker tune to be played at the Yardbird Arts Club with solos coming from Hallam on tenor, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass.

Hallam moved to baritone sax for “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”, his arrangement copying that of Gerry Mulligan, evidently a huge influence. Hallam exhibited a remarkable smoothness of tone and an agile fluency on the ‘big horn’ as he shared the solos with Harris on guitar.

The leader remained on baritone for “Bernie’s Tune”, a piece written by pianist Bernie Miller and recorded by the ‘piano-less’ quartet featuring Mulligan and trumpeter Chet Baker. Miller’s tune has become a modern standard and Hallam told that its composer made so much money out of it that he was able to retire from playing shortly afterwards. Solos here came from Hallam on baritone, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass.

There was a relaxed air of informality on the bandstand with tune choices often impromptu and subject to discussion between the band members. Eventually it was decided to end the first half with “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon”, a standard written in 1934 by the unfortunate Brooks Bowman (1913-37) who was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Hallam switched back to tenor for a Latin tinged arrangement featuring solos from himself and Harris.

The second set opened with Hallam again on tenor as he shared the solos and enjoyed a series of exchanges with Harris on the standard “Just Friends”.

Hallam continued on tenor for Duke Ellington’s “Drop Me Off In Harlem” which saw him stating the theme and developing it into a fully fledged solo before handing over to Harris. We were also treated to a highly melodic double bass solo from the consistently excellent Green.

George Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” saw Hallam moving to clarinet for a version inspired by the big band arrangement by Dean Kincaide for the Tommy Dorsey Band. Again Hallam developed his solo from his opening theme statement before handing over to Harris for what was arguably the guitarist’s finest solo of the night.

Hallam described Pee Wee Russell’s self referential “Pee Wee’s Blues” as “quirky”, a description that seemed to apply to Russell himself, whom Hallam met when the American clarinettist toured the UK with the Alex Welsh Band. Solos here from Harris on guitar and Hallam on clarinet, the latter producing some stunning high register notes at the climax of his solo.

Another quirky choice followed with an arrangement of the old Temperance Seven hit “You’re Driving Me Crazy” with Hallam on baritone sax and trading solos plus a further series of exchanges with Harris’ guitar.

Hallam moved back to tenor for “9.20 Special”, a composition more usually associated with big bands. Nevertheless it worked just fine in this intimate small group setting with the solos shared between Hallam, Harris and Green.

Soft, breathy tenor distinguished the ballad “Whispering”, played in a gentle, Brazilian styled arrangement with solos from Hallam and Harris.

The jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You”, written by Harry Warren, ended the proceedings in lively fashion with extended solos from Hallam on tenor, Harris on guitar and Green on double bass. At one point I thought that the tireless Groves, the rhythmic epicentre of the group, might also get a solo but, alas, no. Nevertheless he was excellent throughout, combining well with Green and providing the heartbeat of the music. 

As an encore the quartet played “Bye Bye Blackbird” which elicited an impromptu sing along from a very happy audience as Hallam on tenor and Harris on guitar again shared the solos. With no raked seating and no raised stage I couldn’t really see sit down guitarist Harris. However my ears did detect his occasional use of a finger slide, as here, which periodically added an extra dimension to the group sound.

This was a relaxed, enjoyable performance with Hallam demonstrating a low key, undemonstrative brand of virtuosity on his three chosen reeds. It’s always a delight to and hear Harris, and to witness his playing in a different context to his regular trio performances was never less then interesting.  Meanwhile Green and Groves offered their customary impeccable support.

There were few real surprises here and after a while the format got a little too predictable with every piece featuring Hallam stating the theme and developing a solo then being followed by Harris and occasionally Green with a series of horn/guitar exchanges sometimes offered as an alternative to the latter. Nevertheless Hallam’s regular changes of instrument helped to sustain the interest and the standard of the playing was consistently bright and imaginative.

And of course the beauty of the setting represented a substantial additional bonus.

For details of future events at Yardbird Arts Club please visit https://www.yardbirdarts.com/events

 


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