The Jazz Mann | Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet - Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 13 /02 /2018. | Review | The Jazz Mann

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Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet - Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 13 /02 /2018. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A well attended event that included some excellent original compositions from the pen of the leader plus a smattering of judiciously selected jazz standards.

Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon,
13/02/2018.

Brecon Jazz Club’s February event saw pianist and composer Simon Deeley bringing his Blue Haze Quartet to The Muse for a well attended event that included some excellent original compositions from the pen of the leader plus a smattering of judiciously selected jazz standards.

Originally from Worcestershire Deeley was classically trained but always maintained an interest in other musical forms including jazz, blues and rock. Increasingly drawn towards jazz he performed regularly on the Midlands jazz scene and co-ordinated the jazz programme at the Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge for sixteen years. He is also an acclaimed teacher and educator, specialising in the tuition of jazz and improvisation.

Deeley moved to the Welsh Border town of Presteigne in 2014 and found that the beauty of the countryside in that location helped to inspire him as a composer. Since moving to his new home he has released two albums of original music, the first “Crossing Borders” appearing in 2016 credited to the Simon Deeley Quartet and featuring locally based musicians Mark Brown (tenor & soprano saxes), Dayne Cranenburgh (bass) and Ian ‘Charlie’ Russell (drums).

The follow up, “From The Blue Hills”, arrived a year later and featured a new line up dubbed the Blue Haze Quartet. Russell remained from the first album with Ian Cooper joining on bass and Martha Skilton on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. It was this line up that visited The Muse.

I recall seeing Deeley leading a trio at Leominster Festival several years ago and playing a standards set that I found rather predictable and frankly a little dull, although the rest of the audience, lured by the inclusion of a lunch within the ticket price, seemed to enjoy it.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this evening’s event and particularly Deeley’s original pieces which were consistently swinging and melodic and often had titles inspired by local landmarks.

Things got off to a rousing start with the gospel flavourings of the Deeley original “Free Spirit”, a tune from the most recent album that featured the big, soulful sound of Skilton’s tenor plus a further solo from the composer, deploying an acoustic piano sound at his electric keyboard.

Deeley has a fondness for Latin American and Brazilian song forms and the following “Samba de Llanandras”, sourced from the “Crossing Borders” album paid homage to the Welsh name for Presteigne with solos coming from Skilton on tenor and the composer at the piano.

Also from the first album the tender “Ballad For St. Andrew” was written for the parish church of Presteigne. Having moved to a small cottage unable to accommodate a full sized piano Deeley has donated his grand piano to the church but still plays it regularly and composed much of tonight’s material on the instrument. Skilton stated the folk like melody on keening soprano sax, sharing the solos with Deeley’s thoughtful, lyrical piano as Cooper and Russell provided sensitive accompaniment, the latter deploying mallets almost throughout.

The quartet dipped into the standards repertoire with “Someday My Prince Will Come” which was delivered as a jazz waltz with an arrangement in 3 / 4 which saw Skilton switching to subtly probing alto as she shared the solos with Deeley on piano.

Another excursion into standards territory came with an arrangement of A.C. Jobim’s bossa nova classic “Triste” with Skilton reverting to tenor saxophone. She is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and the daughter of jazz promoter Mike Skilton, the driving force behind the Black Mountain Jazz Club and the Wall2Wall Jazz Festival in Abergavenny. Martha is a highly popular figure on the jazz scene in South Wales and the Borders and it’s always a pleasure to see her play.

From the new album “Montgomery’s Mooch” was written for the Welsh border town rather than for Wes and his brothers, but nevertheless it proved out to be a grooving slice of gospel fuelled soul jazz propelled by Cooper’s grooves on five string fretless electric bass. Skilton weighed in with some expansive, muscular tenor sax with the composer also featuring on piano.

The final item in a lengthy but hugely enjoyable first half came from the “Crossing Borders” album.  “Hay Wye Not!” may have a terrible pun for a title but its languid, Latin inflected grooves provided the impetus for a sinuous soprano sax solo from Skilton and a closing drum feature for the Hereford based Russell. The Hereford based sticks man is an in demand sideman on the Borders jazz scene and also the leader of his own groups. He’s a regular presence at the Saturday Café sessions at Hereford’s Courtyard Arts Centre. Tonight his crisp, propulsive drumming, together with Cooper’s fluid bass grooves provided excellent support to front line soloists Deeley and Skilton.

Set two eased the audience in gently with the familiar sounds of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with Skilton soloing incisively on soprano sax with Deeley following on piano. Cooper’s bass feature was particularly well received , a resident of Brecon he seemed to have brought along his own fan club!

More laboured punning with the title of “Hey! It’s Samba de Hay”, but a pleasingly upbeat and invigorating original tune introduced by Russell, with the drummer remaining prominent in an arrangement that also featured Skilton’s punchy alto sax and Deeley’s percussive piano.

Deeley’s love of Latin and Brazilian sounds is matched by his fondness for soul and funk, with both elements combining on the languid grooves of “Soul of the West” (from the second album) with Skilton on alto and Deeley at the piano featuring as soloists.

Also from the new record “Indigo Tango” introduced a new musical style, an authentically seductive tango featuring Skilton’s sultry tenor sax, Deeley’s sparse piano and Russell’s subtle, mallet led drum accompaniment.

Staying with the “Blue Hills” album and another samba, the lively, grooving “On a Wing and a Dance” with Cooper and Russell providing the rhythmic impetus for outstanding solos from Skilton on sinuous soprano and Deeley on piano, his exuberant solo arguably his best of the night. And the Ian Cooper fan club were kept happy with a second electric bass feature.

There was a brief return to the standards repertoire with a version of Jobim’s “How Insensitive”, essentially a tenor sax feature for the excellent Skilton.

“Crystal Blue” was the last of several “blue” themed titles from the new album, the inspiration coming from the blue tint of the distant hills – well if it’s good enough for Dennis Potter…
Musically this was one of Deeley’s most beautiful pieces, a spacious ballad featuring Skilton’s feathery soprano sax and the melodic interplay of Deeley’s piano and Cooper’s bass with Russell deploying brushes almost throughout. Despite being relatively simple musically the results were utterly compelling.

A long, value for money, performance concluded with another piece from the latest recording, the appropriately named “Celebration March”, which ended the evening on a suitably upbeat note. Introduced by Russell’s military style drums the piece featured a soaring alto sax melody from Skilton as she shared the solos with Deeley one last time.

Prior to this event I had been expecting a primarily standards based programme so to hear so much good quality original music was a real bonus. Deeley’s move to the comparative musical hotbed of Presteigne (folk musicians John Jones of Oysterband and Benji Kirkpatrick of Bellowhead are also local residents) has certainly unleashed his creativity, with the beauty of the surrounding countryside acting as the main inspiration.

After the gig I treated myself to copies of both the “Crossing Borders” and “From The Blue Hills” albums and I am pleased to report that both stand up extremely well in the home listening environment. OK, it’s not as ‘cutting edge’ as some of the music I cover but there are some great tunes here and the fact that many are inspired by local places that I know well only adds to their appeal.

Plus it’s good to hear the playing of good quality locally based musicians, all of whom I’ve seen many times before, documented on disc.

Tonight’s performance by a band of local heroes (and heroine) was very well received by a large and attentive audience with Skilton, Cooper and Russell adding greatly to the success of the event.
Deeley confessed to me that he has grown rather tired of playing standards all the time so he must have been both encouraged and delighted with the positive audience reaction to his own tunes.

The Blue Haze Quartet will appear live again on Sunday 25th February at Ludlow Assembly Rooms, an afternoon performance commencing at 3.00 pm. For details please visit http://www.ludlowaasemblyrooms.co.uk

The next Brecon Jazz Club event will feature a trio of guitarists Maciek Pysz and Jean Guyomarc’h with bassist Matheus Prado. Tuesday 13th March 8.00 pm at The Muse. For details please visit http://www.breconjazzclub.org

Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 13 /02 /2018.

Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet

Friday, February 16, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 13 /02 /2018.
Photography: Photograph by Pam Mann.

A well attended event that included some excellent original compositions from the pen of the leader plus a smattering of judiciously selected jazz standards.

Simon Deeley’s Blue Haze Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon,
13/02/2018.

Brecon Jazz Club’s February event saw pianist and composer Simon Deeley bringing his Blue Haze Quartet to The Muse for a well attended event that included some excellent original compositions from the pen of the leader plus a smattering of judiciously selected jazz standards.

Originally from Worcestershire Deeley was classically trained but always maintained an interest in other musical forms including jazz, blues and rock. Increasingly drawn towards jazz he performed regularly on the Midlands jazz scene and co-ordinated the jazz programme at the Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge for sixteen years. He is also an acclaimed teacher and educator, specialising in the tuition of jazz and improvisation.

Deeley moved to the Welsh Border town of Presteigne in 2014 and found that the beauty of the countryside in that location helped to inspire him as a composer. Since moving to his new home he has released two albums of original music, the first “Crossing Borders” appearing in 2016 credited to the Simon Deeley Quartet and featuring locally based musicians Mark Brown (tenor & soprano saxes), Dayne Cranenburgh (bass) and Ian ‘Charlie’ Russell (drums).

The follow up, “From The Blue Hills”, arrived a year later and featured a new line up dubbed the Blue Haze Quartet. Russell remained from the first album with Ian Cooper joining on bass and Martha Skilton on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. It was this line up that visited The Muse.

I recall seeing Deeley leading a trio at Leominster Festival several years ago and playing a standards set that I found rather predictable and frankly a little dull, although the rest of the audience, lured by the inclusion of a lunch within the ticket price, seemed to enjoy it.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this evening’s event and particularly Deeley’s original pieces which were consistently swinging and melodic and often had titles inspired by local landmarks.

Things got off to a rousing start with the gospel flavourings of the Deeley original “Free Spirit”, a tune from the most recent album that featured the big, soulful sound of Skilton’s tenor plus a further solo from the composer, deploying an acoustic piano sound at his electric keyboard.

Deeley has a fondness for Latin American and Brazilian song forms and the following “Samba de Llanandras”, sourced from the “Crossing Borders” album paid homage to the Welsh name for Presteigne with solos coming from Skilton on tenor and the composer at the piano.

Also from the first album the tender “Ballad For St. Andrew” was written for the parish church of Presteigne. Having moved to a small cottage unable to accommodate a full sized piano Deeley has donated his grand piano to the church but still plays it regularly and composed much of tonight’s material on the instrument. Skilton stated the folk like melody on keening soprano sax, sharing the solos with Deeley’s thoughtful, lyrical piano as Cooper and Russell provided sensitive accompaniment, the latter deploying mallets almost throughout.

The quartet dipped into the standards repertoire with “Someday My Prince Will Come” which was delivered as a jazz waltz with an arrangement in 3 / 4 which saw Skilton switching to subtly probing alto as she shared the solos with Deeley on piano.

Another excursion into standards territory came with an arrangement of A.C. Jobim’s bossa nova classic “Triste” with Skilton reverting to tenor saxophone. She is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and the daughter of jazz promoter Mike Skilton, the driving force behind the Black Mountain Jazz Club and the Wall2Wall Jazz Festival in Abergavenny. Martha is a highly popular figure on the jazz scene in South Wales and the Borders and it’s always a pleasure to see her play.

From the new album “Montgomery’s Mooch” was written for the Welsh border town rather than for Wes and his brothers, but nevertheless it proved out to be a grooving slice of gospel fuelled soul jazz propelled by Cooper’s grooves on five string fretless electric bass. Skilton weighed in with some expansive, muscular tenor sax with the composer also featuring on piano.

The final item in a lengthy but hugely enjoyable first half came from the “Crossing Borders” album.  “Hay Wye Not!” may have a terrible pun for a title but its languid, Latin inflected grooves provided the impetus for a sinuous soprano sax solo from Skilton and a closing drum feature for the Hereford based Russell. The Hereford based sticks man is an in demand sideman on the Borders jazz scene and also the leader of his own groups. He’s a regular presence at the Saturday Café sessions at Hereford’s Courtyard Arts Centre. Tonight his crisp, propulsive drumming, together with Cooper’s fluid bass grooves provided excellent support to front line soloists Deeley and Skilton.

Set two eased the audience in gently with the familiar sounds of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with Skilton soloing incisively on soprano sax with Deeley following on piano. Cooper’s bass feature was particularly well received , a resident of Brecon he seemed to have brought along his own fan club!

More laboured punning with the title of “Hey! It’s Samba de Hay”, but a pleasingly upbeat and invigorating original tune introduced by Russell, with the drummer remaining prominent in an arrangement that also featured Skilton’s punchy alto sax and Deeley’s percussive piano.

Deeley’s love of Latin and Brazilian sounds is matched by his fondness for soul and funk, with both elements combining on the languid grooves of “Soul of the West” (from the second album) with Skilton on alto and Deeley at the piano featuring as soloists.

Also from the new record “Indigo Tango” introduced a new musical style, an authentically seductive tango featuring Skilton’s sultry tenor sax, Deeley’s sparse piano and Russell’s subtle, mallet led drum accompaniment.

Staying with the “Blue Hills” album and another samba, the lively, grooving “On a Wing and a Dance” with Cooper and Russell providing the rhythmic impetus for outstanding solos from Skilton on sinuous soprano and Deeley on piano, his exuberant solo arguably his best of the night. And the Ian Cooper fan club were kept happy with a second electric bass feature.

There was a brief return to the standards repertoire with a version of Jobim’s “How Insensitive”, essentially a tenor sax feature for the excellent Skilton.

“Crystal Blue” was the last of several “blue” themed titles from the new album, the inspiration coming from the blue tint of the distant hills – well if it’s good enough for Dennis Potter…
Musically this was one of Deeley’s most beautiful pieces, a spacious ballad featuring Skilton’s feathery soprano sax and the melodic interplay of Deeley’s piano and Cooper’s bass with Russell deploying brushes almost throughout. Despite being relatively simple musically the results were utterly compelling.

A long, value for money, performance concluded with another piece from the latest recording, the appropriately named “Celebration March”, which ended the evening on a suitably upbeat note. Introduced by Russell’s military style drums the piece featured a soaring alto sax melody from Skilton as she shared the solos with Deeley one last time.

Prior to this event I had been expecting a primarily standards based programme so to hear so much good quality original music was a real bonus. Deeley’s move to the comparative musical hotbed of Presteigne (folk musicians John Jones of Oysterband and Benji Kirkpatrick of Bellowhead are also local residents) has certainly unleashed his creativity, with the beauty of the surrounding countryside acting as the main inspiration.

After the gig I treated myself to copies of both the “Crossing Borders” and “From The Blue Hills” albums and I am pleased to report that both stand up extremely well in the home listening environment. OK, it’s not as ‘cutting edge’ as some of the music I cover but there are some great tunes here and the fact that many are inspired by local places that I know well only adds to their appeal.

Plus it’s good to hear the playing of good quality locally based musicians, all of whom I’ve seen many times before, documented on disc.

Tonight’s performance by a band of local heroes (and heroine) was very well received by a large and attentive audience with Skilton, Cooper and Russell adding greatly to the success of the event.
Deeley confessed to me that he has grown rather tired of playing standards all the time so he must have been both encouraged and delighted with the positive audience reaction to his own tunes.

The Blue Haze Quartet will appear live again on Sunday 25th February at Ludlow Assembly Rooms, an afternoon performance commencing at 3.00 pm. For details please visit http://www.ludlowaasemblyrooms.co.uk

The next Brecon Jazz Club event will feature a trio of guitarists Maciek Pysz and Jean Guyomarc’h with bassist Matheus Prado. Tuesday 13th March 8.00 pm at The Muse. For details please visit http://www.breconjazzclub.org


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