Saturday, July 28, 2007

Modal Fridays

A full day of MCR jazz yesterday began with the Matt Halsall Sextet at 11.45am. We almost didn't go to see them but I'm really pleased we did as they were possibly the highlight of the festival so far for me. Pretty much spot on the sort of jazz I like the most this - simple two or three chord modal sequences with great melodies and horn arrangements for the heads. Most of the tunes were Matt's originals and I was really impressed with the writing. It made me feel really inspiring to go off and do some writing myself. The flute and tenor sax player, Roger Wickham was someone I've jammed with a number of times at the Po Na Na bar jams last year but I didn't actually know his name. The band also had MCR stalwarts John Ellis and Ed Kainyek providing some great keys and sax.

Next up was Andy Schofield and Les Chisnall with an intimate gig in the Cross Street Chapel. The venue was very small and packed with people having to sit on the floor in the aisles and in front of the seating. It was great to hear Les playing in such a small setting. Les is a regular tutor on the Music Place jazz summer schools and I've heard him doing some stunning solo piano improvisations during the workshop but it's rare to hear him doing this sort of thing publicly. Although the tune heads weren't improvised on the spot we did get to hear some of Les' gorgeous quiet contemplative improvisations during the pieces. Andy also has a great touch that came across really well in this setting.

In the evening we went to The Green Room for the 'Norma Winstone and Friends' concert. Again it was sold out and absolutely rammed. Consequently it was really hot in there and I was feeling a little light headed at times. It was my first chance to see Nikki Iles on piano, another well established UK jazz player. I'm not that familiar with Norma's material so I wasn't sure what to expect. The quality of playing was of a high standard and the delivery relaxed and assured. However I'm not sure this overall style of jazz is quite my thing. It was nice to see it in a live setting and it was worth going. Mike Walker on guitar can always be relied upon for some tasteful solos. I don't really know why, but I can't seem to quite hack improvised jazz singing. Maybe it's a hangover from the 'Crazy Days and Lazy Nights' Fast Show sketch.

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