Monday 17 March 2014

Derek Nash - The Spark

Derek Nash
Ever since I have been drawing Jazz musicians Derek Nash has been part of my sketchbooks but this is the first time I have been able to contain this exuberant performer within this blog. It is not only words that struggle to restrain his energy but also my sketches which never do justice to a dress sense that features a lurid line in flowery shirts and stage choreography that would be more at home in a Bruce Lee film.

Within 90 seconds of his entrance at the Twickenham Jazz Club (27/02/2014) he had already treated us one of his trademark hitch kicks. Luckily I sat next to Derek Nash's beautiful wife, Beverley, for the evening and she confirmed that Nash youthful dance moves do not cause him any injury, even as he skirts close to his half century.

Alex Hutton- piano
The leg kicking opener soon became Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me" and we saw flashes of what has made Alex Hutton such a popular keys man at TJC. The perkiness of his recent engagement to singer Kate Winter saw his head bobbing between a pair of 'Harry Hill' style collars. Like virtually all piano players Hutton has an intensity in his gaze which is unnerving but his feet give us a clue to his more homely nature, as usual they were devoid of shoes while his socked feet jigged to each tune's melody.

Oli Hayhurst - Bass
 A favourite of the first set was Derek Nash's "Waltz for my father". With (bent) soprano in hand he painted us a colourful picture, this was a tableau of pure pointillist skill, like one of Seurat's Parisienne riversides. The small light dabs of Nash's saxophone taken in their entirety gave us a broad emotional vision of his father as we sat back and viewed it from a distance. Derek Nash is a closet culture vulture and in the break between sets divulged the sweet spots of a recent trip to Venice.

Asaf Sirkis - drums

"The Spark" of the night was rightfully reserved for a new tune of the same name. So new that Derek Nash crouched close to the floor, his chart just inches away from his face in The Bloomsbury's sombre lighting. It has a rolling lyrical quality that Alex Hutton exploited with a calypso breakdown which ultimately resulted in  Oli Hayyhurst's wonderful slow descent amongst the tumult. Hayhurst has an easy static style, often both eyebrow raised in inverted Vs, mirroring two gables on sturdy barn.

Kelvin Christiane - Tenor Saxophone
Even when Derek Nash is deep within a ballad he slipped in a leg kick or two, like an Uncle who can't resist blasting in a cheeky penalty past his nephew in the back garden. Asaf Sirkis on drums was the height of subtly and Mrs Nash was taken with his striking mallet work on Grover Washington's "Winelight". It's irresistible sexual beat inspired her to describe Sirkis as a "handsome Freddie Mercury".

Bobby Timmon's "Moanin" brought the tenor of Nash and TJC Maitre Kelvin Christiane together. The latter was surprisingly introspective but typically robust in his playing. He kept his eyes down, his body trapped between green and purple lights like he had been caught in a flickering Hitchcock film.

Derek Nash will forever be the scene stealer. How can you focus on anyone other than him when he not only plays his instrument with such aplomb but continuously looks like he's warming up in preparation for a football match. As well as his trademark hitch kick we were treated to the can-can leg flick, the bounce from foot to foot, a couple of knee bends and also the sweeping of his sax beside him like he was paddling a canoe against a strong current. Here's a musician who never stands still.



  1. It is pure joy to have Alban Low recreate a musical happening so skillfully with words and portraits that you see, feel, and hear it all around you.

    1. Can't wait to capture you in my sketchbook Diane when you come to the UK for a UK tour.