Art Themen was involved in the traditional jazz scene in Manchester in the late 1950s. A member of the award winning Cambridge University jazz band from 1958 to 1961, he became involved in the early London blues scene, playing alongside Alexis Korner, Jack Bruce, Mick Jagger and Chuck Berry. He fronted the Stan Tracey quartet for 20 years from 1976. Key influences are Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon.
Themen has toured world wide and played and recorded with many US and British luminaries. A busy and sought after musician who nowadays is most often seen on stage with many of the best of Britain's top jazz players such as Alan Barnes, John Donaldson, John Critchinson, Dave Newton, Georgie Fame, Don Weller, Mornington Lockett, among many others. Themen is a player who is known for his originality and individual style.
The Becki Biggins Quartet, featuring John-Paul Gard (organ), Toby Perrett (drums) and Ben Waghorn (tenor saxophone)
‘Becki Biggins; great lass, great talent’ - Sir Michael Parkinson
‘Biggins is blessed with a seductive, golden-timbres set of pipes’ - Jazzwise
‘A gifted and likeable vocalist of immense charm and sensitivity’ - Jazz FM
It’s a Man’s World is a new project by Grammy-Nominated Jazz Singer and Songwriter Becki Biggins. Inspired by blues and gospel music (arriving at gospel-tinged jazz pop) Becki decided to pair up with Hammond maestro John-Paul Gard to bring old songs to new audiences; material is inspired, written and made famous by men, with songs by Billy Joel, Glen Campbell, Elvis and Frank Sinatra, as well as fitting originals by Becki herself.
Becki is a respected songwriter, having co-written three US albums with writer/producer Paul Hardcastle (19, The Wizard), all of which went to No.1 in the US Jazz Charts. Her own compositions for this project showcase her unique take on the relationships of both herself and others; You Should Be Married By Now, with its boogaloo beat, is a prime example of both her witty humour and novel take on the subject of tying the knot, while You Can’t Be Too Happy is a Norah Jones-esque country/gospel word-to-the-wise.
John-Paul Gard is an accomplished hammond organ player, who fronts his own trio as well as performing with The Lee Goodall Trio and The Jon Dalton Organ Trio, based in Venice Beach, CA. Their latest album, Warm Ghosts in a Cold World is currently climbing the US jazz charts. JP has also recorded his own solo album, Come on Rita, and is endorsed by Roland UK and Electro Harmonix USA.
Toby Perrett (drums) has been playing around Bristol and further afield with groups as diverse as Within These Vessels and trad-jazzers The Rhythm Pencils. He currently plays with hammond groups The John-Paul Gard Trio, and monthly at the Old Fishmarket with Manuals of Fire. He is also a member of Hippo, who have just released an EP and completed a UK tour.
Ben Waghorn (tenor saxophone) began playing in local bands in Bristol at the age of 14 and is now one of the most well-respected and in-demand saxophonists the UK has to offer. He has performed and recorded with bands including Kasabian, Goldfrapp and Portishead, and has performed in West End shows including West Side Story and Chicago. He has played alongside John Critchenson, John Etheridge, Damon Brown, Andy Sheppard, Gilad Atzmon and Steve Waterman, and is a member of the John-Paul Gard Trio.
This performance will be the very first time that a Bristol audience has heard the band’s new material; it’s a night not to be missed and promises to showcase some exciting new music from home-grown musicians. BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!
Becki Biggins - Vocals
John-Paul Gard - Hammond organ
Toby Perrett - Drums
Ben Waghorn - Tenor saxophone
Thursday 15th November - Al Swainger Quartet - Biophosmos : the Music of Chick Corea - £10/5 students
The Al Swainger Quartet
Biophosmos : the Music of Chick Corea
Mix Chick Corea with Radiohead in a blender then use the resulting cocktail to write film music and you might get something a little like this...
“..the birth of a new layer of fusion... live sound design and live soundscape composition...beautifully and artfully intermixed with straight ahead jazz and improvisational mastery”
The Al Swainger Quartet is a four piece jazz ensemble featuring extensive use of modern technology to take the artform in a unique and daring new direction. Appropriately enough for a first outing as a group the repertoire is currently based on the compositions of Chick Corea but reimagined for a new 21st century audience.
There’s a lot of variety amongst the material and it’s generally quite ‘up’, strongly melodic stuff. A mix of latin, fusion and ambience that we’re confident will go down well with a younger crowd perhaps less familiar with ‘jazz’, as well as providing an alternative to the predominance of swing based acts, whilst still delivering high-quality improvisation to appeal to the more devoted jazz fan.
The Quartet :
Al Swainger – Bass / FX / Ableton
Tom Berge – Keyboards
Joe Northwood – Tenor Sax
Jon Clark – Drums
“An outstanding gig, with worldclass musicians... a fresh and live-experimental take on otherwise well-covered work from Chick.”
“Fantastic. Until last night, I was more familiar with the name Chick Corea than his music and so did not know what to expect. If I'd had any expectations they would have been surpassed by the surefooted and exciting performance of this quartet.”
“A really enjoyable performance from four incredible musicians. The quartet faithfully recreated Chick's music, yet kept the feel fresh and original through their interpretation. As a musician in the audience I was educated, humbled and delighted - all simultaneously.”
“Go and buy their album Biophosmos immediately!!! Such a joy to listen to!! More please!!!”
Winner of the BBC Scottish Young Jazz Musician of the Year at only 17, and Berklee College of Music’s prestigious Billboard Award, pianist/composer Alan Benzie is one of the UK’s most exciting talents. He is joined by friends and long time collaborators Andrew Robb on bass (BBC Scottish Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2009; Bass Europe Competition Winner 2018) and Marton Juhasz on drums (Foundation for Hungarian Percussion Culture Award 2010; “Drummer of the Year” 2014 and 2015, JazzMa reader’s poll).
Their debut album “Traveller’s Tales” and more recent release “Little Mysteries” both garnered glowing reviews, with “Little Mysteries” also winning Best Album in the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards. They have been delighting audiences throughout the UK and Europe over the last few years, including at London International Jazz Festival and United Europe Jazz Festival, as well as being the featured artists on BBC Radio 3’s “Jazz Line-Up”, Austrian National Radio and BBC Scotland’s “The Jazz House” and “Jazz Nights”. The music is rooted in European and American jazz, but is influenced by impressionist piano music and film music, and Benzie’s love of Japanese animation gives a visual, storytelling quality. From sensitive, magical textures to virtuosic explosions of energy, the trio are both sophisticated and accessible, with the warmth, empathy and interplay that can only be achieved through great friendship and years of making music together.
“Tasteful and well-judged, this trio makes a terrific team... (Benzie) has created a set of memorable tunes and his playing, plus that of his colleagues, is exemplary throughout. There is a radiance and beauty about this music.” The Jazz Mann
“Andrew Robb and Marton Juhasz on bass and drums are all about close ensemble interaction, and sometimes it’s as if their sounds were coming out from the inside of Benzie’s piano... Bennie’s playing has a hushed yet yearning quality to it; an exquisite touch and elegant virtuosity make for a thoroughly engaging listen.” Jazzwise
"Benzie doesn't sound like a young artist struggling for a voice... There's an affecting sense of place in the quiet ostinatos and modulations of Hazy Dawns...but with drummer Marton Juhasz and bassist Andrew Robb, the trio fire up plenty of dynamism too..." The Guardian
"Benzie's imagistic style recalls John Taylor's a little, perhaps Bobo Stenson... I particularly liked the pensive, brooding quality of "A Wandering Mist" that is then developed extensively and shows layers of intricacy in trio interplay... the Benzie compositions are strong and his mastery of the piano impressive..." Marlbank
"This album is the work of an already strong voice and road-hardened group that presents Benzie's music with empathy and understanding... No background knowledge is required to enjoy Benzie's clear articulation and thoroughly engaging musicality." The Herald
"A fine piece of work... Luminously toned, atmospheric and often impressionistic music that suggests it has been the result of careful consideration... Highly engaging." The Scotsman
"Not your usual piano trio album - far from it... He comes across as in inventive pianist and creative composer devoid of cliches… This is the perfectly integrated trio" Bebop Spoken Here
"This has to be one of the best debut albums for some time..." Sandy Brown Jazz
The Nick Dewhurst Band is a Quintet that plays Jazz, Funk and Blues. Featuring a group of musical friends who all met through the Birmingham Conservatoire and West Midlands jazz scene, you can expect to hear a mixture Nick’s original tunes, some jazz standards, and some covers of pop tunes too...
Nick leads the band from Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Guitar, and is joined by Callum Roxburgh on Tenor Saxophone, Tom Lindsay on Piano, Electric Piano & Organ, Tom Moore on Electric and Double Bass, and Carl Hemmingsley on Drums.
The band aims to play a type of jazz that is exciting and original, whilst remaining accessible and enjoyable to a wide range of audiences.
Since forming in 2015, the band has enjoyed playing for various jazz clubs and festivals across the Midlands, and has recently hosted two concerts in Lichfield which featured big name artists from the UK jazz scene (Mike Walker on Guitar in October 2017, and Dennis Rollins on Trombone in March 2018).
The band has also recorded it’s debut CD ‘Suspect in You’, which was very well received, and featured on John Helling’s BBC local radio Jazz show. He described the band as “one that plays like they’ve been around for years. Their sound has a maturity but still with a sound very much of today”. Peter Bacon of London Jazz News described the album as “an accomplished debut”.
Fabled - ‘Short Stories’
“They’re armed with an engaging storyteller attitude that accentuates the beauty found in how one note transitions to the next, how one passage builds up from another, and the way in which many streams of lyricism unite in a single-flowing confluence of imagery.” - Bird Is The Worm
“Rapley's tunes are well served by a highly competent young band, many of them rising stars in their own right.” - The Jazz Mann
Formed in 2014, Fabled is the brainchild of saxophonist/clarinettist, Sam Rapley. Following on from the success of their recent EP, the band have been performing extensively across the UK building a loyal fanbase and writing material for their debut album ‘Short Stories’. As the title implies, the album interprets collection of short stories tackling subjects such as life, love, and death told through richly atmospheric and expressive music, which draws from Rapley and his fellow musicians shared love of jazz ensembles, literature, classical musicians, world music, modern composition and indie-folk.
Originally from Manchester and now living in London, Rapley has been quickly solidifying himself as one of the most exciting up and coming musicians and composers in the scene. As well as playing in Fabled, Rapley plays regularly as a sideman with BBC Radio 3 Next Generation artist Misha Mullov-Abbado Group, Troykestra, Maria Chiara Argiro Quintet, Waaju and Ralph Wyld’s Mosaic. With these groups, he has performed extensively across the UK including performances at London Jazz Festival, King’s Place, Wigmore Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, Manchester Jazz Festival, Birmingham Town Hall and Cheltenham Jazz Festival, as well as touring Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Poland, Brazil and Mexico. Additionally, his own soundtracking work has recently appeared at Cannes Film Festival with short film ‘Duets’.
Looking at his recent work it’s easy to see how such a multifarious source of styles and genres have collided on ‘Short Stories’. At times the album calls to mind the likes of Mammal Hands, Gogo Penguin, Polar Bear and Tigran Hamasyan whilst undertones of Debussy, Ravel, Peter Broderick and Lau can also be heard throughout. Tracks such as ‘Old Owls’ capture the raw intensity that can be heard throughout the current London scene. Whilst elsewhere, tracks such as ‘Dove Stone’ and ‘H.G’ are heavily cinematic with mellifluous sax and clarinet lines layered over idiosyncratic guitar and piano parts, which provide percussive and rhythmic qualities whilst also intertwining melodies throughout Rapley’s playing.
There is a sentimental poetry to Fabled’s approach to finding new ways to tell age-old stories through their intimate and heavily textured music. Their redolent instrumentation and vast voicings speak volumes in the absence of words, giving contemplative life to the stories laid out by the band. Albums that manage to merge such a wide variety of styles and exhibit such a multitude of musical landscapes are rare. Fabled have produced a debut which is both accomplished and distinctive, and this is only the very start of their journey.
Sam Rapley - saxophone / clarinet / compositions
Alex Munk - guitar
Matt Robinson - piano
Conor Chaplin - double bass
Will Glaser - drums
Sophie Stockham is an alto saxophonist based in Bristol UK. She has studied with Dennis Rollins, Denys Baptiste, Soweto Kinch, Abram Wilson, and Tomorrow's Warriors. Sophie has performed at many major venues and festivals across the UK and Europe, and has had regular radio play (BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 6) with her own original projects; Dakhla and Lady Nade. Most recently her band Dakhla was chosen to represent BBC Introducing's ‘Best of New Jazz’ at the Manchester Jazz Festival, by Gilles Peterson and Jez Nelson (BBC Radio 3 and 4). Her strong signature sound makes impressive use of space and melody.
Drawing influences from Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, David Newman, Stan Getz and John Zorn, Sophie Stockham has put together a brand new band: Sefrial. This inventive new project performs music with an eclectic range of music from The Tin Hat trio, avant-rockist composer John Zorn and post-boogaloo experimentalists Medeski, Martin & Wood.
This project features some of Bristols top players including the brilliant Jake McMurchie on tenor sax, Joe Wilkins on guitar, Greg Cordez on bass and Matt Brown on drums.
Simon Spillett - Tenor Sax
Andy Nowak - Piano
Al Swainger - Bass
Tony Orrell - Drums
Simon Richard Spillett is a multi-award winning English jazz tenor saxophonist...
Described by the late Humphrey Lyttelton as "formidable", Simon Spillett is a British jazz saxophonist who has won several awards for his music, including the tenor saxophone category of the British Jazz Awards (2011), Jazz Journal magazine's Critic's Choice CD of the Year (2009) and Rising Star in the BBC Jazz Awards (2007). Other celebrated jazz leaders and bands with whom he has worked have included Sir John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Peter King and The Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra. He has recorded three albums, Introducing Simon Spillett (Woodville Records, 2007), Sienna Red (Woodville Records, 2008) and Square One (Gearbox Records, 2013), all of which have received highly favourable reviews in both the specialist and national press. His festival, concert and club appearances across the UK have included sold-out gigs at Ronnie Scott's and the Brecon Jazz Festival and he has broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Jazz-Line Up with his own band.
He has also worked as a writer, contributing articles to magazines including Jazz Journal and Record Collector and has acted as a consultant for a number of jazz record labels, in which capacity he has written booklet essays for over seventy albums.
Jade Gall - Saxophone
Andy Nowak - Piano
Kevin O'Rourke - Drums
Pasquale Votino - Double bass
Jade Gall is a highly celebrated UK-based saxophonist and flautist, hailed as having a “big, strong tenor sound with a beautiful sense of melody and swing…a musician to look out for in the future” by top UK trumpeter Steve Waterman.
Experienced in jazz, classical and pop fields, she has performed alongside top-class musicians from around the world, including: Allison Adams Tucker, Claire Martin, Clare Teal, Jason Rebello and Duncan Lamont; and has featured on BBC Radio broadcasts.
A regular feature of horn sections across the UK & Europe, Jade has performed to sell-out crowds at The Welsh Millennium Centre, Glastonbury Festival and Boomtown Fair. She features as regular saxophonist of the smash-hit touring show ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and has also played for ‘The Magic of Motown’ and ‘Soul Legends’ shows as far afield as Barcelona and Belgium.
As a classical saxophonist, Jade is a Fellow of Trinity College London (FTCL) in saxophone performance. She graduated with an MA in Music Performance from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2013 and has studied with top classical saxophonists Hannah Marcinowicz, Nigel Wood and Gerard McChrystal. A regular feature of classical music festivals around the country, she premiered Marianna Filippi’s ‘Meandering Impressions: A Love Poem’ (written for her) for tenor saxophone and piano during part of the Welsh Proms on the Lefel 1 stage.
Alongside her solo recital programme she is involved in plans for a saxophone duo with Ffion Dafis-Clode, a saxophone quartet and a solo classical album.
As a jazz artist, Jade released her debut quintet album ‘Out With The Blues’ to critical acclaim in 2016, and has since performed as both bandleader and sideman at top jazz venues across the country. Jazz projects in the pipeline for 2018 include performances with her Bristol-based quartet; a quintet featuring Julien Alenda at Teignmouth Jazz Festival; performing Ellington’s ‘Sacred Concert’ with the Swing Machine Jazz Orchestra and working with Tom Green (Dankworth Composition Prizewinner 2013) and the Sam Massey Ensemble.
Jade has a passion for sharing her musical skills and education projects are a key part of her musical life. She is an experienced woodwind tutor, teaching saxophone, flute and clarinet at a number of educational institutions and worked with South West Music School whilst studying for a BA (Hons) in Performance Practice at Dartington College of Arts.
As a jazz educator, she has worked with Issie Barratt and the National Youth Jazz Collective, and is a founder member of South Devon Youth Jazz.
Three stalwarts of the Bristol jazz scene come together for a one off evening of favourites from the great American songbook with a few surprises. Best known for his work with Parliamentary Jazz Award-winning prog jazzers Get The Blessing, Jake McMurchie has a deep passion for the tenor sound of Sonny Rollins, while Rebecca Nash’s work with Sara Colman, Entropi and Paradox Ensemble as well has her own quartet Atlas, has proven her to be one of the country’s most indispensable pianists. Bassist Will Harris has worked with the UK’s finest including Andy Sheppard, Nikki Iles and David Newton, and recently appeared in Inner City Ensemble alongside US tenor sax legend Chris Potter.