Chris Gumbley's Anything Goes - 13 January 2017

 

By Alan Musson

 

Chris Gumbley's Anything Goes

13th January 2017

The guys and girls down at The Bonded Warehouse like to include a healthy dose of good humour in their events. This has become even more apparent since Stourbridge vocalist Devon Harrison has taken over front of stage responsibilities. There surely cannot be anyone else in the local jazz community so enthusiastic for the music that he loves and this comes across clearly in his pre-concert repartee each month. If you need an injection of high spirits, particularly during these cold mid-Winter evenings, there is no better place to be than in Devon’s company.

The first attraction in the 2017 jazz calendar was saxophonist and clarinettist Chris Gumbley. Chris has been a regular visitor to the club over the years and never fails to entertain. His enthusiasm for the music almost matches that of Mr Harrison. Add to his clear musical prowess and his confident stage manner and you have all of the ingredients for a fun-fuelled night of music-making.

This time, Chris brought his new project to town. He calls the group ‘Anything Goes’. It boasts an unusual line-up featuring Karen Street on accordion and Fred Thelonious Baker on acoustic and electric guitars and bass guitar alongside the leader on alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet. Special guest Tina May providing vocals was the icing on this mellifluous jazz cake.

The repertoire for the night’s entertainment was nothing less than eclectic. It included jazz classics but re-cast in fresh and unusual arrangements.

The first set opened with a trio version of Fred Baker’s composition ‘Life Samba’ and it was interesting to hear how the trio’s version differed from Fred’s own version to be found on his solo album ‘Life Suite’. It even included a quotation from ‘Norwegian Wood’ which seemed totally apposite.

A solo version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s composition ‘How Insensitive’ by Karen on accordion was a highlight of the first set. This song heralded the arrival on stage of Tina May who opened her contribution with another Jobim tune ‘No More Blues.’ This was quickly followed with a song written by Michelle Legrand; ‘Watch What Happens’ with a lovely bass guitar introduction from Fred Baker who underpinned the first chorus, until Chris entered on tenor saxophone.

‘I Will Wait’ was another outstanding contribution from Tina May, written by Edith Piaf and again introduced by Fred Baker on bass guitar.

For good measure, Tina also included some be-bop vocalise with Charlie Parker’s composition ‘Scrapple from the Apple’.

The second set opened with a solo bass feature from Fred Baker starting with his own composition ‘Bonneville Blues’ It remains a mystery to me why this world-class musician is not better known. Perhaps it is due to his own modesty and quiet persona.

Chris’ unusual arrangement of Paul Desmond’s ‘Take Five’ was a fine showcase for his alto saxophone. Karen Street’s lovely ‘Waltz for Zoe’ followed.

Tina May returned to the stage with ‘Tea for Two’. The accordion accompaniment seemed most appropriate. Outstanding in the second set was Tina’s rendition of ‘Them There Eyes’.

All-in-all another great evening of music making and good humour, just proving that there is nothing intimidating about a jazz performance so why not get down to The Bonded Warehouse, more top rate jazz and good humour is guaranteed.

 

Casey Greene - 9 December 2016

 

By Alan Musson

 

Casey Greene’s Farewell Jam

9th December 2016

Under the flamboyant leadership of Stourbridge vocalist Devon Harrison, the long-established jazz sessions at The Bonded Warehouse have recently entered a new and exciting era.

The concert on 9th December was both a fitting finale to the year’s activities and an auspicious way to mark the final appearance in the UK for Australian saxophonist and flautist Casey Greene. It is a mark of the esteem in which his Antipodean musician is held that so many fellow musicians were able to come along to bid him a fond farewell.

Greene has become a popular and well established member of the jazz community in the Midlands and beyond during his twelve year residency.

Tonight, his core Quintet completed by regular collaborators Tim Amann (piano) Simon King (guitar), Ben Markland (bass) and Carl Hemmingsley (drums) were expanded to include local trumpet hero Ray Butcher and the delightful Martina Biguzzi playing flute and alto-flute. This gave ample opportunity for Greene to showcase some of his own compositions and some well-chosen jazz ‘standards’.

As the evening progressed various guests added their talents to the proceedings including the ubiquitous Tom Hill on double-bass and vocals, Liam Byrne on tenor saxophone and vocalists Linda Angelis, Roy Forbes, Devon Harrison and Angel. There was even time for an impromptu dance routine featuring Angel with the omnipotent Mr Harrison which added greatly to the good-time party atmosphere.

All credit to Devon Harrison for so willingly and enthusiastically taking over the reins at Stourbridge’s premier jazz club, but credit must also be given to the loyal band of volunteers working ceaselessly behind the scenes to ensure that the evening was such a great success. However, this is something that they are well used to as they willingly give their time every month to ensure the jazz sessions run seamlessly.

 

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