The Jazz Mann | Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio - Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Wellington Hotel, Brecon, 13/08/2017 | Review | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

REVIEW

Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio - Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Wellington Hotel, Brecon, 13/08/2017 Rating: 4 out of 5 A hugely enjoyable set, full of energy and jam packed with brilliant solos. A great way to close what had been a very successful Festival. Photograph by Bob Meyrick.

BRECON JAZZ 2017

NIGEL PRICE / ROSS STANLEY TRIO, THE WELLINGTON HOTEL, 13/04/2017.

The final concert of the 2017 Brecon Jazz Festival took place in the upstairs function room at the Wellington Hotel, a much loved venue on the Stroller Programme at the original BJF. Now sympathetically refurbished by Brain’s Brewery of Cardiff the Wellington proved to be a good venue for this headlining performance from a trio co-led by guitarist Nigel Price and organist Ross Stanley, two of Britain’s busiest jazz musicians. The trio’s regular drummer is the experienced Matt Home but for this performance Price and Stanley were joined by young Matt Griffiths, a recent graduate from the Jazz Course at the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff. Several of the young drummer’s RWCMD friends and colleagues were in attendance to see Griffiths give a good account of himself in the company of two of the UK’s leading performers on their respective instruments.

In 2016 Price released the double album “Heads & Tales Vol. 2”, his début recording for the Whirlwind record label run by bassist (and previous Brecon visitor Michael Janisch). The first disc, “Heads”, featured the organ trio of Price, Stanley and Home with the core group sometimes supplemented by guest saxophonists Alex Garnett and Vasilis Xenopoulos performing a series of contrafacts written by Price; i.e. new pieces based on the chord structures of existing compositions.

Meanwhile “Tales” comprised of a series of solo guitar performances (sometimes with Price overdubbing himself to effectively create a ‘guitar duo’) of existing jazz standards. It was a set that slipped through my reviewer’s net (apologies to Nigel and the guys for that) but this was primarily because guest contributor Trevor Bannister had contributed a five star review of a performance by a quartet led by Price and featuring Stanley, Home and guest saxophonist Brandon Allen which took place at the Progress Theatre in Reading at around the time of the album release.

There was to be no guest saxophonist tonight but yet another capacity crowd in a sweltering function room at the Wellington were still in for a treat with both Price and Stanley in dazzling form and with Griffiths matching them every step of the way. And the fact that Stanley had brought along “The Big Beast” ,  a magnificent 1961 Hammond B3 complete with Leslie cabinet,  was definitely the icing on a very tasty cake.

The trio kicked off with Price’s contrafact “All In”, a composition from the first “Heads & Tales” album which was released on Alan Barnes’ Woodville label in 2011. This was based on the chord changes of “Body And Soul” and saw Price fitting the melody of the original into his opening solo. The guitarist’s playing was lithe, agile and fluent and he was well supported by Stanley’s punchy organ chording and the scalding swing generated by Griffiths at the drums.

“Wet & Dry”, sourced from the “Heads & Tales” album was based on the standard “Come Rain Or Come Shine” and represented an apt choice given the vagaries of the British climate, although to be fair the two main Festival days had both benefited from dry, if not exceptional weather. Here Stanley was able to let rip on the double manual keyboard of the Hammond as he put the “Beast” through its paces, followed by the nimble Price on guitar.

Another contrafact, “Stealing Time”, took its title from a line in the lyrics of Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” and was given lively Latin-esque treatment with typically fiery solos from Price and Stanley with Griffiths responding in kind with a series of sparky drum breaks. The energy levels generated by the trio were impressive throughout the set, especially from my front row vantage point, specifically selected so I could watch Stanley’s footwork on the Hammond’s bass pedals. “Who needs a bass player?” as photographer Bob Meyrick commented.

Following this opening salvo of fast paced pieces the trio then demonstrated their gentler side with a performance of “Don’t Look Back”, a contrafact in the ballad style based on the chord sequence of the standard “All The Things You Are”. This was introduced by a passage of warm toned unaccompanied guitar from Price which mutated into a more conventional jazz solo underscored by the gentle swell of the Hammond and Griffiths’ delicate brush work.

“Four On Six” was written by one of Price’s guitar heroes, the late, great Wes Montgomery – but even this was based on George Gershwin’s “Summerime”. Price’s arrangement was actually in 6/4 and included solos from himself and Stanley plus a closing drum feature from the impressive Griffiths.

Price’s contrafact “Blue Genes” has been in his repertoire for some time and is based on the chords of the tune “Jeannine”, written by Duke Pearson. It’s a bright, lively piece which Price tackles in the style of Pat Martino. Beginning with a dazzling series of exchanges between Price and Stanley the subsequent solo by the guitarist incorporated some scintillating single note runs and some highly sophisticated chording. Stanley then launched the by now ailing Hammond on a final flight and Griffiths enjoyed a rumbustious final drum feature.

Roared on by an enthusiastic and highly appreciative audience the trio remained on stage for a deserved encore, a joyous romp through Clifford Brown’s blues “Sandu” which elicited a blistering Hammond solo from Stanley, arguably the best of the night. The organist’s dancing toes were then in evidence as his foot pedal bass lines helped to propel a typically lithe and slippery Price solo. Finally Griffiths was again given his head with a further drum feature.

This was a hugely enjoyable set, full of energy and jam packed with brilliant solos. The qualities of Price and Stanley (the latter is also a highly accomplished and in demand pianist) were already well known but young Griffiths also stepped up to the plate with some superb playing. On the stand Price was fulsome in his praise for the young drummer while Stanley told me later that although Griffiths had been nervous before the start he’d “held it all together nicely”. For what it’s worth I thought Griffiths acquitted himself superbly, giving the co-leaders the rhythmic propulsion they needed to shine while also impressing on his own account, both as accompanist and soloist. His friends from the RWCMD, including several young musicians who had also played at the Festival, were also quick to congratulate him. All in all this was a great way to close what had been a very successful Festival.

FESTIVAL OVERVIEW

As this was the closing gig of Brecon Jazz Festival 2017 now seems like a good time to undertake an overview of the Festival as a whole. In a year in which it was feared that the Festival might cease to exist congratulations are due to Lynne Gornall, Roger Cannon and their team for having the courage, conviction and energy to put a successful programme together and for keeping the name of Brecon Jazz Festival alive. Their enterprise was rewarded with full houses for every event, an indication of the love and affection the British jazz public has for Brecon Jazz Festival, in whatever guise it might be. Well done to you all.

2018 promises to be even better, especially if Brecon Jazz Club are able to team up with Jazz Futures to present an even more varied, comprehensive and extensive programme.

While the ‘serious’ jazz listeners were enjoying the delights of the concert programme the streets of Brecon were still buzzing with the Fringe Festival, now in its eleventh year and a successful entity in its own right taking place in the pubs and clubs around town.  As I see it the Fringe is now so well established as a stand alone event that Brecon Jazz Festival needs to continue working with it. The two Festivals are interlinked, always have been and always will be, and need to continue to take place on the same August weekend that they always have done. It was good to see Brecon Jazz Festival putting on their own series of street events in conjunction with the Fringe and presenting jazz events on the main outdoor stage and around the town, emphasising the links between the two strands and the roots of the Fringe in the original Jazz Festival.

Due to my concentration on the ticketed concert events I didn’t get to catch much of the street programme but I did enjoy seeing the Frazz Parade with its Alice in Wonderland theme processing through the town with plenty of Mad Hatters, plus Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and a rather splendid Cheshire Cat in the style of a Chinese Dragon in evidence!

I also caught something of Donnie Joe’s American Swing on the main outdoor bandstand featuring Donnie Joe Sweeney on bass and vocals, Tamasin Reardon on alto sax, Heulwen Thomas on violin and vocals and Greg Evans at the drums. 

I saw relatively little of the Fringe itself other than on the Saturday when I caught a performance by Uskulele, a community ukulele band from Usk and its environs led by Brecon Jazz Club stalwart Ian Cooper. This event took place on the stage situated outside Theatr Brycheniog by the canal basin .Later in the day I chilled out with a coffee at the same venue and saw something of a performance by Matahari Acoustic, a versatile covers band featuring the voice of Theone Dawes plus, on this occasion, guitar, saxophone and cajon.

Rather different was the rock power trio Sudden Impact who played on Saturday afternoon outside The Bank pub. I watched them looking down from Captain’s Walk and was impressed with their playing of a set of hard rock covers by bands ranging from AC/DC through Bad Company and Free to ZZ Top. Their line up featured two experienced campaigners on guitar and drums plus a younger bassist/vocalist. They were admirably tight and powerful and had a vocalist who could actually sing. I was impressed and hung around for about half an hour, enjoying this change of musical direction and listening to some of the stuff I grew up with.
What had initially grabbed my attention was their version of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”, a Brecon staple of days of yore when it was played every year by those much missed Dutch madcaps from Breda the Krukke Band. I’ll never forget their version with its sousaphone bass lines. Happy Days! Still good to hear it at Brecon again though, albeit in a very different form.
I’ve been able to find anything about Sudden Impact on line although there seem to be several other bands with the same name in other parts of the globe – North America, Australia and even Hull – but these guys sounded like they were from South Wales. Do get in touch if you can give us any information about them.

And finally, as I sign off from Brecon Jazz Festival 2017 for the final time many thanks to Bob Meyrick for giving me the permission to use his excellent photographs of all the concert events.

Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Wellington Hotel, Brecon, 13/08/2017

Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

4 out of 5

Nigel Price / Ross Stanley Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Wellington Hotel, Brecon, 13/08/2017
Photography: Photograph of Nigel Price by Bob Meyrick.

A hugely enjoyable set, full of energy and jam packed with brilliant solos. A great way to close what had been a very successful Festival. Photograph by Bob Meyrick.

BRECON JAZZ 2017

NIGEL PRICE / ROSS STANLEY TRIO, THE WELLINGTON HOTEL, 13/04/2017.

The final concert of the 2017 Brecon Jazz Festival took place in the upstairs function room at the Wellington Hotel, a much loved venue on the Stroller Programme at the original BJF. Now sympathetically refurbished by Brain’s Brewery of Cardiff the Wellington proved to be a good venue for this headlining performance from a trio co-led by guitarist Nigel Price and organist Ross Stanley, two of Britain’s busiest jazz musicians. The trio’s regular drummer is the experienced Matt Home but for this performance Price and Stanley were joined by young Matt Griffiths, a recent graduate from the Jazz Course at the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff. Several of the young drummer’s RWCMD friends and colleagues were in attendance to see Griffiths give a good account of himself in the company of two of the UK’s leading performers on their respective instruments.

In 2016 Price released the double album “Heads & Tales Vol. 2”, his début recording for the Whirlwind record label run by bassist (and previous Brecon visitor Michael Janisch). The first disc, “Heads”, featured the organ trio of Price, Stanley and Home with the core group sometimes supplemented by guest saxophonists Alex Garnett and Vasilis Xenopoulos performing a series of contrafacts written by Price; i.e. new pieces based on the chord structures of existing compositions.

Meanwhile “Tales” comprised of a series of solo guitar performances (sometimes with Price overdubbing himself to effectively create a ‘guitar duo’) of existing jazz standards. It was a set that slipped through my reviewer’s net (apologies to Nigel and the guys for that) but this was primarily because guest contributor Trevor Bannister had contributed a five star review of a performance by a quartet led by Price and featuring Stanley, Home and guest saxophonist Brandon Allen which took place at the Progress Theatre in Reading at around the time of the album release.

There was to be no guest saxophonist tonight but yet another capacity crowd in a sweltering function room at the Wellington were still in for a treat with both Price and Stanley in dazzling form and with Griffiths matching them every step of the way. And the fact that Stanley had brought along “The Big Beast” ,  a magnificent 1961 Hammond B3 complete with Leslie cabinet,  was definitely the icing on a very tasty cake.

The trio kicked off with Price’s contrafact “All In”, a composition from the first “Heads & Tales” album which was released on Alan Barnes’ Woodville label in 2011. This was based on the chord changes of “Body And Soul” and saw Price fitting the melody of the original into his opening solo. The guitarist’s playing was lithe, agile and fluent and he was well supported by Stanley’s punchy organ chording and the scalding swing generated by Griffiths at the drums.

“Wet & Dry”, sourced from the “Heads & Tales” album was based on the standard “Come Rain Or Come Shine” and represented an apt choice given the vagaries of the British climate, although to be fair the two main Festival days had both benefited from dry, if not exceptional weather. Here Stanley was able to let rip on the double manual keyboard of the Hammond as he put the “Beast” through its paces, followed by the nimble Price on guitar.

Another contrafact, “Stealing Time”, took its title from a line in the lyrics of Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” and was given lively Latin-esque treatment with typically fiery solos from Price and Stanley with Griffiths responding in kind with a series of sparky drum breaks. The energy levels generated by the trio were impressive throughout the set, especially from my front row vantage point, specifically selected so I could watch Stanley’s footwork on the Hammond’s bass pedals. “Who needs a bass player?” as photographer Bob Meyrick commented.

Following this opening salvo of fast paced pieces the trio then demonstrated their gentler side with a performance of “Don’t Look Back”, a contrafact in the ballad style based on the chord sequence of the standard “All The Things You Are”. This was introduced by a passage of warm toned unaccompanied guitar from Price which mutated into a more conventional jazz solo underscored by the gentle swell of the Hammond and Griffiths’ delicate brush work.

“Four On Six” was written by one of Price’s guitar heroes, the late, great Wes Montgomery – but even this was based on George Gershwin’s “Summerime”. Price’s arrangement was actually in 6/4 and included solos from himself and Stanley plus a closing drum feature from the impressive Griffiths.

Price’s contrafact “Blue Genes” has been in his repertoire for some time and is based on the chords of the tune “Jeannine”, written by Duke Pearson. It’s a bright, lively piece which Price tackles in the style of Pat Martino. Beginning with a dazzling series of exchanges between Price and Stanley the subsequent solo by the guitarist incorporated some scintillating single note runs and some highly sophisticated chording. Stanley then launched the by now ailing Hammond on a final flight and Griffiths enjoyed a rumbustious final drum feature.

Roared on by an enthusiastic and highly appreciative audience the trio remained on stage for a deserved encore, a joyous romp through Clifford Brown’s blues “Sandu” which elicited a blistering Hammond solo from Stanley, arguably the best of the night. The organist’s dancing toes were then in evidence as his foot pedal bass lines helped to propel a typically lithe and slippery Price solo. Finally Griffiths was again given his head with a further drum feature.

This was a hugely enjoyable set, full of energy and jam packed with brilliant solos. The qualities of Price and Stanley (the latter is also a highly accomplished and in demand pianist) were already well known but young Griffiths also stepped up to the plate with some superb playing. On the stand Price was fulsome in his praise for the young drummer while Stanley told me later that although Griffiths had been nervous before the start he’d “held it all together nicely”. For what it’s worth I thought Griffiths acquitted himself superbly, giving the co-leaders the rhythmic propulsion they needed to shine while also impressing on his own account, both as accompanist and soloist. His friends from the RWCMD, including several young musicians who had also played at the Festival, were also quick to congratulate him. All in all this was a great way to close what had been a very successful Festival.

FESTIVAL OVERVIEW

As this was the closing gig of Brecon Jazz Festival 2017 now seems like a good time to undertake an overview of the Festival as a whole. In a year in which it was feared that the Festival might cease to exist congratulations are due to Lynne Gornall, Roger Cannon and their team for having the courage, conviction and energy to put a successful programme together and for keeping the name of Brecon Jazz Festival alive. Their enterprise was rewarded with full houses for every event, an indication of the love and affection the British jazz public has for Brecon Jazz Festival, in whatever guise it might be. Well done to you all.

2018 promises to be even better, especially if Brecon Jazz Club are able to team up with Jazz Futures to present an even more varied, comprehensive and extensive programme.

While the ‘serious’ jazz listeners were enjoying the delights of the concert programme the streets of Brecon were still buzzing with the Fringe Festival, now in its eleventh year and a successful entity in its own right taking place in the pubs and clubs around town.  As I see it the Fringe is now so well established as a stand alone event that Brecon Jazz Festival needs to continue working with it. The two Festivals are interlinked, always have been and always will be, and need to continue to take place on the same August weekend that they always have done. It was good to see Brecon Jazz Festival putting on their own series of street events in conjunction with the Fringe and presenting jazz events on the main outdoor stage and around the town, emphasising the links between the two strands and the roots of the Fringe in the original Jazz Festival.

Due to my concentration on the ticketed concert events I didn’t get to catch much of the street programme but I did enjoy seeing the Frazz Parade with its Alice in Wonderland theme processing through the town with plenty of Mad Hatters, plus Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and a rather splendid Cheshire Cat in the style of a Chinese Dragon in evidence!

I also caught something of Donnie Joe’s American Swing on the main outdoor bandstand featuring Donnie Joe Sweeney on bass and vocals, Tamasin Reardon on alto sax, Heulwen Thomas on violin and vocals and Greg Evans at the drums. 

I saw relatively little of the Fringe itself other than on the Saturday when I caught a performance by Uskulele, a community ukulele band from Usk and its environs led by Brecon Jazz Club stalwart Ian Cooper. This event took place on the stage situated outside Theatr Brycheniog by the canal basin .Later in the day I chilled out with a coffee at the same venue and saw something of a performance by Matahari Acoustic, a versatile covers band featuring the voice of Theone Dawes plus, on this occasion, guitar, saxophone and cajon.

Rather different was the rock power trio Sudden Impact who played on Saturday afternoon outside The Bank pub. I watched them looking down from Captain’s Walk and was impressed with their playing of a set of hard rock covers by bands ranging from AC/DC through Bad Company and Free to ZZ Top. Their line up featured two experienced campaigners on guitar and drums plus a younger bassist/vocalist. They were admirably tight and powerful and had a vocalist who could actually sing. I was impressed and hung around for about half an hour, enjoying this change of musical direction and listening to some of the stuff I grew up with.
What had initially grabbed my attention was their version of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”, a Brecon staple of days of yore when it was played every year by those much missed Dutch madcaps from Breda the Krukke Band. I’ll never forget their version with its sousaphone bass lines. Happy Days! Still good to hear it at Brecon again though, albeit in a very different form.
I’ve been able to find anything about Sudden Impact on line although there seem to be several other bands with the same name in other parts of the globe – North America, Australia and even Hull – but these guys sounded like they were from South Wales. Do get in touch if you can give us any information about them.

And finally, as I sign off from Brecon Jazz Festival 2017 for the final time many thanks to Bob Meyrick for giving me the permission to use his excellent photographs of all the concert events.


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN FEATURES

‘Jazz Alley + Boogie Party’,Sunday @ Wall2Wall Jazz Festival,Market Hall,Abergavenny, 03/09/2017

‘Jazz Alley + Boogie Party’,Sunday @ Wall2Wall Jazz Festival,Market Hall,Abergavenny, 03/09/2017

Ian Mann on the final, family friendly day of the Festival with performances by Samba Galez, Budapest Ragtime Band, Chris Moreton, Kitty & The Purramours and the Red Stripe Band.


Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, 02/09/2017.

Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, 02/09/2017.

Ian Mann enjoys a day of wall to music including performances by three of the great entertainers of British jazz, vocalist Ian Shaw, saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and electric bass specialist Shez Raja.


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS