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Welcome to my blog.

Welcome to the new home for my posts on jazz and other cultural things which interest me. I have been blogging on another platform, as well as doing occasional reviews for the LondonJazz blog for a while, and decided to gather things together on WordPress.

I have compiled an index of all musicians, artists and venues, though I can’t guarantee this will always be completely up to date.

The Rolling Stones. London, June 2022.

Last week, I saw the Rolling Stones play. I didn’t want to see the Rolling Stones play. I vehemently objected to seeing the Stones play. It was a big gig – 65,000. I loathe big stadium gigs; I loathe big crowds. I haven’t been to a stadium show since U2’s underwhelming Zooropa tour at Wembley in 1993. I don’t like standing around in the midst of a bunch of drink and stoned people.

As far as I’m concerned, the Stones haven’t produced any decent records for fifty years or so. And let’s face it, without Charlie Watts they’re not really the Stones.

But I was visiting my brother, and it was his birthday, and through a sad set of circumstances he was offered a couple of very good tickets, and he really, REALLY wanted to go.

The tickets for this show cost more than the tickets for all 23 shows in going to in the Edinburgh Jazz and International Festivals. Silly money.

So I didn’t want to see the Rolling Stones. Needless to say, I had an amazing time.

My scepticism about the event evaporated as the crowd roared as the band came on stage to projections of Charlie Watts (to whom Mick Jagger subsequently dedicated the show). I’ve no idea what charisma is, but whatever it is, Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards have it in spades. Whatever he was doing, Jagger kept one’s attention. His performance was amazing – energetic, exciting. He ran a vast distance around the stage in a performance lasting over two hours – impressive for anyone, let alone a 78 year old. Let alone a 78 year old who had covid a couple of weeks before. Richards and Woods were amazing too. They were just having so much fun.

And I hate to say it, but Watts’ stand in, Steve Jordan, was excellent – superb. In fact the whole band – a couple of singers, a couple of keyboard players, a couple of saxophonists, and the superlative Darryl Jones on bass – were superb (though not half as active as Jagger, Richards and Woods).

Nearly everything they played was from their heyday – I knew nearly all the tracks; they played everything I’d have wanted to hear. It was brilliant.

We had a great view, especially when they came down the catwalk. I didn’t take a camera, which I regret; still like everyone else, I had my phone. (Not really up to the job, but still/)

The stage was backed and flanked by giant screens (one reason I object to big gigs is that you end up watching the band on a giant tv) – and the visuals were superb, a very impressive production. One screen showed people signing the show for deaf people – two signers who swapped between songs. They were also having a great time – they signed the words, they played air guitar for the guiter solos, they mimed playing the sax for saxophone solos!

So yeah, I didn’t want to see the Rolling Stones. I saw the Rolling Stones. And it was amazing. One of the best performances – one of the best gigs – I’ve been to, ever.

The Fergus McCreadie Trio. Glasgow, May 2022.

This was the third time I had seen the Fergus McCreadie Trio play in four months; it was their most impressive show yet. They just seem to get better and better – and they were excpetional to start with. Maybe this down to the imtimate feel of the Merchants House in Glasgow – the other shows were larger venues – or perhaps my front row seat. Most likely though it is done to the skill and devotion of McCreadie, David Bowden and Stephen Henderson. The concentration and communication between them is remarkable; their sensitivity allowing them to utilise a full range of dynamics, from barely audible to full on rip roaring. McCreadie’s tunes seem to blend jazz, Scottish folk, classical minimalism and a tangible sense of place in ever more intense, exciting ways.


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Miguel Gorodi Quintet. London, April 2022.

By chance I was in London, and I noticed that Miguel Gorodi was playing at Jazz at the Oxford in Kentish Town. The last time I was in this pub was about forty years ago when a mate lived around the corner. I took a seat right in front of Miguel Gorodi, which was a mistake – I’d clearly forgotten how loud brass can be during the pandemic – and had to move after the first number, from the front right to the back. Surprisingly the sound was better at the back – Alycona Mick’s piano was much clearer. Acoustics are strange things.

The music was great – a bunch of lesser known tunes from the likes of Thelonious Monk and Sam Rivers. The Quintet – Gorodi and Mick plus Alec Harper on tenor, Calum Gourlay on bass and Will Glaser on drums – were excellent. Apart from Gourlay, I’d only seen Mick play before, and this was a different kind of gig – she’d had the piano stool for the Whirlwind Bit Band, an all-star band of Whirlwind Recordings artists put together to play the music by Ingrid and Christine Jensen, in which she really impressed. (It too had been a great gig!) I’ve got records by Glaser and Gorodi, and was interested to hear them live. They didn’t disappoint – there was much to appreciate. And the band really swung, too.


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It Was Fifty Years Ago Today… My First Gig.

This week marks an anniversary: the first jazz gig – indeed, the first any gig – I went to was fifty years ago: 21st October 1971.

I mean, maybe, just maybe, my father had taken me to a gig before, but if he did, I don’t remember.

But fifty years ago, he took and my brother to see Duke Ellington and, of course, his orchestra. I must admit I don’t remember much about it, and what I do remember could be wrong – it was a while ago, after all.

The gig was at the Hammersmith Odeon (and it will always be the Hammersmith Odeon), where I went a very many times after that. We sat in the balcony, looking down on the stage.

In the interval, my father took us to the pub across the road – the Six Bells, it was called (according to the internet), long since demolished to make way for the Hammersmith flyover – and introduced us to members of the band. I’ve no idea who he introduced us to – those I thought he had turn out either to have not been playing or, unfortunately, dead. I can’t imagine what they thought of having two young kids pushed at them to say hello, whoever it was.

(Edit: it has been pointed out the the Six Bells pub was demolished several years before this gig. Still, there was definitely a pub over the road, to which we were taken. Pubs were different back then – they didn’t mind kids getting in without ID…)

Of the music, I have only one clear memory: Paul Gonsalves standing alone in a pool of light playing a a heartfelt solo.

Still, maybe that’s enough.

And the internet can fill in lots of gaps. The show was recorded by the BBC, so the online Ellington discography has a full list of what was played. (I’d assumed the number featuring Paul Gonsalves must have been Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue. Except that they didn’t play that!) The discography also lists everyone who played that night.

The National Jazz Archive has a viewable copy of programme too.

And an image search shows this picture by the inestimable David Redfern.