Tuesday 21 May 2013

Kelvin Christiane - Back for more Straw

Simon Bates - Saxophone
Call me foolhardy but I went back for more!

Of course there were faces I recognised but a healthy sprinkling of new wizened ones that told their stories with the bags under the eyes, the hairy chops and thinning pates.

Kelvin Christiane's Big Band were on really good form and very much in a naughty mood. Get 16 men in one place and doing what they love and you're sure to get some banter. Even a congregation of sombre Funeral Directors, once together, would relish a good bit of teasing, and like them the KC Big Band runs on a rich blend of Gallows humour.

Giles Straw - Captain Caveman
The Hangman of the night was the well-built Simon Bates, a  powerful player who took centre stage on the scaffold of jazz. He featured on many of the night's tunes, impressing on all but one (what went wrong at the start of Stevie Wonder's "You've got it bad girl" I don't know), his successes included solos on "I Remember Bird" (Oliver Nelson) and a superb thick and earthy performance on "Chelsea Bridge" (Billy Strayhorn) that stole the night for me.

Jon Lewis - Trumpet

As you might have read before it is the trumpet section where all the best jokes originate. Maybe they have to voice theirs first because they are the butt of so many themselves. Without sounding like a Monty Python sketch both James Lowe and Giles Straw were very naughty boys. Neither of them was the Messiah unfortunately, those laurels rested on the streamlined head of Jon Lewis, who led his disciples with aplomb.

James Lowe -
Straw seems to have adopted a Captain Caveman look since his recent trip to India on Big Band action and standing beside the towering and wholesome Lowe (James) made the final trumpet, Graham Russell look like one of the ant-hill mob and I drifted into nostalgic Wacky Races revelry.

Dave Bitelli - Tenor Saxophone
After a half time pitstop, our charming Penelope was Lesley Christiane, who sang 'Summertime', a favourite in the Christiane household. It was arranged by Kelvin for their wedding and on this occasion featured Dave Bitelli on saxophone and a dancing Graham Russell.

Bill Mudge - organ
Despite being cut off from the audience and Bandleader Kelvin Christiane, the backline of Bill Mudge (organ), Richard Sadler (Bass) and Noel Joyce (Drums) drifted their expertise over the mountain range of trumpets and into our valley below.

The past fortnight had been a true Mudgathon, with a recent excursion to see his unassuming but rich talent at The Archduke with The Phil Stevenson Trio, a cuddle with his daughter (5 months old) and a meeting about our film/Jazz project, Murder Minutes. Latest news is we're hoping to perform a live set with projected films and music in November to coincide with the arrival to this shores of saxophonist Mike DiRubbo from New York.

Bob Martin - Saxophone
DiRubbo might be coming from the East Coast but our very own West Coast cat, Bob Martin was once again on good form in the Big Band format. As was the other Bob, Mr McKay, who I am slowly collecting a portfolio of images about. No I'm not stalking the poor man, but we seem to be meeting on a regular basis.

Bob McKay
Once again we were treated to "Superbone meets the Bad Man" on which McKay was excellent on baritone. His versatility and modest nature meant he wasn't the first to catch my eye in a stellar line-up of Sax Appeal when I drew him a few months ago. Since then I have seen him master a plethora of instruments and even play the straightman to a George Michael impersonator on "Careless Whisper" no less.

Chris Lowe - Trombone
The final tune of the evening, "A Night in Tunisia" was stoked by the trombones of Nick Mills and the sharp dressed Chris Lowe, who wore the only white suit of the evening alongside all the other black clad musicians. Like the final throws of the game Othello it looked like he was left all alone on the board but luckily reinforcements came to his aid in the capable form of Adrian Fry and Dave Eaglestone.

Lesley Christiane
This will be my final post before the Jazz Art Exhibition at Twickenham Jazz Club on Saturday, 25th May 2013. I'll be there from 1pm onwards and Lesley, Kelvin, Alex Hutton, Richard Sadler and Noel Joyce will be performing from 2-5pm.

Come and join us.


Adrian Fry - Trombone

Dave Eaglestone - Trombone

Graham Russell - trumpet

Kelvin Christiane - Sax

Nick Mills - Trombone

Noel Joyce - drums

Richard Sadler - Bass

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