The Jazz Mann | Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long - Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long, Brecon Jazz Festival, 09/08/2015. | Review | The Jazz Mann

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Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long - Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long, Brecon Jazz Festival, 09/08/2015. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A vivacious performance that was rapturously received by a capacity crowd.

Brecon Jazz Festival 2015

Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long
The Guildhall 09/08/2015


Since taking over the running of Brecon Jazz Festival in 2012 the Cardiff based Orchard Media Group has forged links with the local jazz clubs and societies of Wales and helped to bring something of the unique Welsh flavour back to the Festival.

It has now become customary for local promoters to get together to co-ordinate the programme of events at the Guildhall on the Sunday of the Festival.
2015 saw three very different performances celebrating the role of the guitar in jazz as Brecon Jazz Club teamed up with a number of other promoters to celebrate “The Jazz Guitar”.  Jazz fans could either buy tickets for each of the separate shows or buy a Guildhall Stroller ticket offering admittance to all three concerts.

This ‘festival within a festival’ began with a performance by Major Swing, a gypsy trio from Brittany currently touring in the UK and joined for the occasion by British guest musicians Remi Harris (guitar) and Ashley John Long (double bass). The programme also included a solo guitar performance by the great Martin Taylor and a celebration of the music of both Wes Montgomery and Emily Remler by a group co-led by guitarist Deirdre Cartwright and bassist Alison Rayner.

This lunchtime performance by Major Swing was co-ordinated by Brecon Jazz Club, Café Jazz in Cardiff and Aberjazz in Fishguard in association with the French organisations Jazz Kreiz Breizh from Brittany and the International Festival of Chateauneuf-du-Faou from Finistere.

Major Swing are a trio consisting of leader, rhythm guitarist and occasional vocalist Phillippe Cann, lead guitarist Jean Guyomarc’h and violinist and occasional vocalist Yurie Hu. These three were joined by rising star British guitarist Remi Harris, a regular presence on the Jazzmann web pages and Cardiff based bassist Ashley John Long, one of the most in demand bass players in Wales. The freshly assembled quintet had never played together before and the idea to bring them together first came from Lynne Gornall and Roger Cannon of Brecon Jazz Club. “We just knew it would work” announced Lynne later and a vivacious performance that was rapturously received by a capacity crowd was a more than ample vindication of her judgement.

This first performance was intended as a celebration of the role of the guitar in European jazz with a particular emphasis on the music of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France. Major Swing play “Django with a twist”, something that fitted in perfectly with Remi Harris’ aesthetic and with the supremely versatile Ashley John Long quickly making himself at home with the music. With a classic ‘Hot Club’ line up of three guitars, violin and double bass this exciting new ensemble was the ideal vehicle to pay tribute to the music of Reinhardt and co.

Ironically I’d seen Harris and his regular trio perform just two days earlier at a packed lunchtime outdoor concert at Hereford Cathedral, part of the current ‘Jazz in the Chapter House Garden’ series. Together with his trio he played an entertaining mix of gypsy jazz together with a number of blues and rock tunes. Still only in his mid twenties Harris began his career as lead guitarist with the rock group Mars Bonfire before changing direction and moving into the world of jazz. Recently he has begun to revisit the music he grew up with as he continues to develop his live act and broaden his appeal. His is a star that is still very much on the rise.

I’ve seen Harris perform on many occasions in recent years but no two shows have ever been exactly the same. Today was no exception with the focus very much on remembering Reinhardt and the material was drawn exclusively from the jazz and swing repertoire. 

The concert got off to a stuttering start when Hu mislaid her bow, it had fallen down the back of the venue’s temporarily redundant piano but eventually turned up after an increasingly frantic search. Once the band were up and running the incident was quickly forgotten as the musicians tackled their chosen material with relish.  Much of the music was written by Reinhardt himself although many of the tunes went unannounced. I remember “Topsy” being played fairly early on in the set with Hu quickly recovering her composure and sharing the solos with Harris and Guyomarc’h.

With Cann nailing down the rhythm guitar parts in the style of Dave Kelbie Harris and Guyomarc’h were freed up to spar playfully with each other, frequently exchanging solos. Some of the playing was quite dazzling as the pair traded ideas above the frequently breakneck rhythms laid down by Cann and the always excellent Long. The bassist was also given a fair amount of solo space and impressed both with and without a bow. Long is one of the most imaginative and interesting bass soloists around and his arco solo on a gypsy jazz interpretation of Wes Montgomery’s “S.O.S.” was particularly stunning.

Occasionally we heard from Cann as a vocalist, singing in English but with a heavy French accent on songs such as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “All Of Me” and “There Will Never Be Another You”. Personally I was less keen on this aspect of the performance but others clearly enjoyed it and it did add a welcome degree of variety to the set. Occasionally he was complemented by the vocal harmonies of violinist Hu. 

Even allowing for the vocal episodes it will be the superb instrumental interplay and the high standard of musicianship that most members of the audience will remember. Hu impressed in the Stephane Grappelli role and delivered a series of excellent solos and Cann anchored the group superbly, aided and abetted by the supremely adaptable Long, which gave the soloists a good platform to work from. Harris and Guyomarc’h used this firm footing to deliver some terrific solos and some excellent interplay, the pair even looked somewhat alike. A set highlight was a guitar duet that saw them trading lead and rhythm roles to great effect as they combined to create a thoroughly satisfying performance. In a programme celebrating the jazz guitar it was perhaps appropriate that it was these two brilliant soloists who made the most lasting impression. 

Major Swing Extended, as the newly assembled quintet has taken to calling itself, got ‘The Jazz Guitar’ programme off to a great start and the ensemble has also played successful concerts in Cardiff, Fishguard and Rhayader, some of these also involving appearances from other musicians based in Wales and the Borders. Both today’s concert and the tour as a whole have been a great success. Expect to see further ‘Breize a Galles’ (Brittany and Wales) link ups in the future.

Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long, Brecon Jazz Festival, 09/08/2015.

Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long, Brecon Jazz Festival, 09/08/2015.
Photography: Photograph of Remi Harris by Bob Meyrick

A vivacious performance that was rapturously received by a capacity crowd.

Brecon Jazz Festival 2015

Major Swing with guests Remi Harris and Ashley John Long
The Guildhall 09/08/2015


Since taking over the running of Brecon Jazz Festival in 2012 the Cardiff based Orchard Media Group has forged links with the local jazz clubs and societies of Wales and helped to bring something of the unique Welsh flavour back to the Festival.

It has now become customary for local promoters to get together to co-ordinate the programme of events at the Guildhall on the Sunday of the Festival.
2015 saw three very different performances celebrating the role of the guitar in jazz as Brecon Jazz Club teamed up with a number of other promoters to celebrate “The Jazz Guitar”.  Jazz fans could either buy tickets for each of the separate shows or buy a Guildhall Stroller ticket offering admittance to all three concerts.

This ‘festival within a festival’ began with a performance by Major Swing, a gypsy trio from Brittany currently touring in the UK and joined for the occasion by British guest musicians Remi Harris (guitar) and Ashley John Long (double bass). The programme also included a solo guitar performance by the great Martin Taylor and a celebration of the music of both Wes Montgomery and Emily Remler by a group co-led by guitarist Deirdre Cartwright and bassist Alison Rayner.

This lunchtime performance by Major Swing was co-ordinated by Brecon Jazz Club, Café Jazz in Cardiff and Aberjazz in Fishguard in association with the French organisations Jazz Kreiz Breizh from Brittany and the International Festival of Chateauneuf-du-Faou from Finistere.

Major Swing are a trio consisting of leader, rhythm guitarist and occasional vocalist Phillippe Cann, lead guitarist Jean Guyomarc’h and violinist and occasional vocalist Yurie Hu. These three were joined by rising star British guitarist Remi Harris, a regular presence on the Jazzmann web pages and Cardiff based bassist Ashley John Long, one of the most in demand bass players in Wales. The freshly assembled quintet had never played together before and the idea to bring them together first came from Lynne Gornall and Roger Cannon of Brecon Jazz Club. “We just knew it would work” announced Lynne later and a vivacious performance that was rapturously received by a capacity crowd was a more than ample vindication of her judgement.

This first performance was intended as a celebration of the role of the guitar in European jazz with a particular emphasis on the music of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France. Major Swing play “Django with a twist”, something that fitted in perfectly with Remi Harris’ aesthetic and with the supremely versatile Ashley John Long quickly making himself at home with the music. With a classic ‘Hot Club’ line up of three guitars, violin and double bass this exciting new ensemble was the ideal vehicle to pay tribute to the music of Reinhardt and co.

Ironically I’d seen Harris and his regular trio perform just two days earlier at a packed lunchtime outdoor concert at Hereford Cathedral, part of the current ‘Jazz in the Chapter House Garden’ series. Together with his trio he played an entertaining mix of gypsy jazz together with a number of blues and rock tunes. Still only in his mid twenties Harris began his career as lead guitarist with the rock group Mars Bonfire before changing direction and moving into the world of jazz. Recently he has begun to revisit the music he grew up with as he continues to develop his live act and broaden his appeal. His is a star that is still very much on the rise.

I’ve seen Harris perform on many occasions in recent years but no two shows have ever been exactly the same. Today was no exception with the focus very much on remembering Reinhardt and the material was drawn exclusively from the jazz and swing repertoire. 

The concert got off to a stuttering start when Hu mislaid her bow, it had fallen down the back of the venue’s temporarily redundant piano but eventually turned up after an increasingly frantic search. Once the band were up and running the incident was quickly forgotten as the musicians tackled their chosen material with relish.  Much of the music was written by Reinhardt himself although many of the tunes went unannounced. I remember “Topsy” being played fairly early on in the set with Hu quickly recovering her composure and sharing the solos with Harris and Guyomarc’h.

With Cann nailing down the rhythm guitar parts in the style of Dave Kelbie Harris and Guyomarc’h were freed up to spar playfully with each other, frequently exchanging solos. Some of the playing was quite dazzling as the pair traded ideas above the frequently breakneck rhythms laid down by Cann and the always excellent Long. The bassist was also given a fair amount of solo space and impressed both with and without a bow. Long is one of the most imaginative and interesting bass soloists around and his arco solo on a gypsy jazz interpretation of Wes Montgomery’s “S.O.S.” was particularly stunning.

Occasionally we heard from Cann as a vocalist, singing in English but with a heavy French accent on songs such as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “All Of Me” and “There Will Never Be Another You”. Personally I was less keen on this aspect of the performance but others clearly enjoyed it and it did add a welcome degree of variety to the set. Occasionally he was complemented by the vocal harmonies of violinist Hu. 

Even allowing for the vocal episodes it will be the superb instrumental interplay and the high standard of musicianship that most members of the audience will remember. Hu impressed in the Stephane Grappelli role and delivered a series of excellent solos and Cann anchored the group superbly, aided and abetted by the supremely adaptable Long, which gave the soloists a good platform to work from. Harris and Guyomarc’h used this firm footing to deliver some terrific solos and some excellent interplay, the pair even looked somewhat alike. A set highlight was a guitar duet that saw them trading lead and rhythm roles to great effect as they combined to create a thoroughly satisfying performance. In a programme celebrating the jazz guitar it was perhaps appropriate that it was these two brilliant soloists who made the most lasting impression. 

Major Swing Extended, as the newly assembled quintet has taken to calling itself, got ‘The Jazz Guitar’ programme off to a great start and the ensemble has also played successful concerts in Cardiff, Fishguard and Rhayader, some of these also involving appearances from other musicians based in Wales and the Borders. Both today’s concert and the tour as a whole have been a great success. Expect to see further ‘Breize a Galles’ (Brittany and Wales) link ups in the future.


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