Monday, 19 November 2018

Review: Jazz trio brought a flavour of Ronnie Scott’s

ALAN BARNES has played with the greats — and he is one himself. Anyone at the Bull on Bell Street last Sunday night for the closing gig of Henley’s first jazz and blues week will vouch for that.

ALAN BARNES has played with the greats — and he is one himself. Anyone at the Bull on Bell Street last Sunday night for the closing gig of Henley’s first jazz and blues week will vouch for that.

This engaging saxophone and clarinet player gave us a masterclass in jazz improvisation with a wide range of tunes, dating back nearly 100 years right up to the modern day.

And we were treated to a piece, How’s That, by Henley’s own bass genius, Andy Crowdy who, together with the alarmingly inventive guitarist, Dave Archer, made up the trio.

Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Django and so many others were given the trio treatment. We never lost sight of the originals but somehow they still became moulded to Alan Barnes.And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better they changed the game, brought in trumpeter Ian Smith and we shifted into overdrive for the final 30 minutes.

The new quartet took us into modern jazz and stayed there with scintillating unison and harmony work between reed and valve, augmented by sympathetic and complementary fill-ins and solos from the guitar and bass.

This is the sort of gig fans would pay a lot to see at Ronnie Scott’s or in a large theatre. But here it was being delivered in the intimate, if not cramped, Bull and all the better for it.

This is how great jazz should be heard, and what a treat.In fact, what a treat the whole Henley jazz and blues week has been!

Top line acts like Alan Barnes, Papa George and Micky Moody have been supplemented by exciting local talent in a different venue every night.

John Cee Stannard gave us a lively set of original blues-based tunes on Sunday at the Saracen’s Head and the positioning of the band right next to the Gents, right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, added an air of authenticity — if you’ve ever played you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The Revue, sporting three young but committed blues players, gave an accomplished set at the Anchor as did the Joe Henwood Trio at the Golden Ball — three young Henley jazzers who have a real future in the game. Papa George and Micky Moody were reviewed on these pages last week. Those are the musicians that this reviewer saw but great reports came back from other venues, too, like the Row Barge, the Angel on the Bridge and the Bull and Butcher.

The organisers have committed to an even bigger and better festival next year and we hear more venues want to come on board.

So, it looks as if there’s a bandwagon rolling here. If you missed it this year, be sure to climb on!

Alan Barnes Trio

The Bull

Sunday, November 17

See letters, pages 10 to 12

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