Photography Special – The Nick Dewhurst Band with Special Guest Tomasso Starace – Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival 2022

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Concert Review – The Nick Dewhurst Band with Special Guest Tomasso Starace

Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival 2022

With a set list that took in their own original tunes and strong selections from the be-bop tradition trumpet player Nick Dewhurst and Italian Saxophonist, Tommaso Starace played a gig that mixed heartfelt playing with moments of stunning technical facility, backed by a strong three-piece band of pianist and composer Tim Amann, bassist and composer Paul Robinson and drummer Spencer Hedges.

Both lead musicians are well known, so it was not surprising that a fair few people had turned out to support them. Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train opened proceedings, its famed theme allowing for some fine ensemble playing. Tim Amann’s original piece K2 Blues took a slow-paced blues theme, unison saxophone and trumpet, and some interesting bass and drum playing into a mix that stayed on the right side of blues cliché, with modulations and ideas that made it an interesting listen.

Nepule showed the Italian side of the night, with the busy theme, and sequential soloing another good listen. Paul Robinson’s original piece Forgotten Times slowed the pace, and allowed for a flugelhorn solo from Nick Dewhurst, and the first set closer Love for Sale by Cole Porter again showed what a good pairing Dewhurst and Starace were.

The second set was opened with Impressions, by John Coltrane, the modal theme played on the piano, whilst the bass and drums changed pace throughout the piece, the inventive playing doing much to inspire the two soloists.

Tim Amann’s piece Solstice owed as much to Celtic rock bands such as Moving Hearts as it did to jazz, and Starace’s Jan Garbarek-like tone and playing and the minimalist piano coda, taking inspiration from musicians such as Philip Glass, and Steve Reich showed the full reach of the ensemble’s range.

The tempo was lifted for the Nick Dewhurst original Heatwave, its catchy main theme, and fast pace owing a debt to the jazz-rock movement of the 1970s.

The inevitable encore, this time a fine reading of the be-bop favourite, Anthropology by Charlie Parker showed that although Jazz is a form that is always developing and changing, many of its touchstones and traditions have evolved through musicians and listeners returning to well-known themes and ideas, and putting their own individual stamp on them.

Ben Macnair

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Lichfield Jazz Concert Review – Staffordshire Jazz East Big Band – Cathedral Hotel – Saturday 11th June 2022

With a set list that encompassed some well-known pop and folk tunes, the talented musicians of The Staffordshire Jazz East Big Band filled the early Saturday afternoon slot of 2022’s Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival with some toe-tapping rhythms,  and some inventive soloing.

They started their concert with a reading of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, which started with a stately brass introduction before some lively drums, bass and brass were added to the sonic maelstrom. Funky Town by Lipps Incorporated was a strong choice, featuring plenty of welly from the band, and the big band arrangement of Booker T and the MG’s Green Onions added a new layer of interest to a familiar piece.

Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island and Love is Here to Stay were the closest to jazz that the band played, but they were both very well received, each piece adding some strong soloing from Saxophones and keyboards to pieces that attach as much importance to swing and toe-tapping rhythms as they do to complicated musicianship.

Big Spender was given a new lease of life, as was a crowd-pleasing Tequila, and a spiritual rendering of Wade in the Water, like Feeling Good started slowly and stately before picking up both the pace and the number of instruments played.

The highlight of the afternoon, which had already provided more interest than many concerts I have attended, was a very brave, almost genre-free arrangement of Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence, that skipped from a passage for solo saxophone to a full brass interjection, taking the already familiar minor-key tune, adding a new rhythm, and finding something completely new in something so well known.

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Photography Special – The Walsall Jazz Orchestra Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival June 12th 2022

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Photography Special The Nick Dewhurst Band with Special Guest Tomasso Starace

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Photography Special – The Staffordshire Jazz East Big Band

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Photography Special – The Thomas Atlas Band – Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival 2022 – Cathedral Hotel June 10th 2022

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Concert Review – The Tom Morgan Trio with Special Guest Juilian Smith – Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival 2022 – Cathedral Hotel – Thursday June 9th

When you mix a capacity audience, talented local musicians, and a nationally renowned star, there is bound to be a memorable evening.

Lichfield Jazz opened the 31st Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival in great style with a performance from local guitarist Tom Morgan and his trio, with a special guest, Britain’s Got Talent finalist saxophone player Julian Smith.

With strong support throughout the evening from Martin Rowberry on Keyboards, who also provided the bass lines, and drummer Brad White, Tom Morgan’s electric jazz guitar playing found itself in luminous company. Their set ranged from the feelgood themes of George Benson’s Breezin’ and the island light reggae of St Thomas, whilst the ballad Out Of Nowhere was a study in thematic musical development.

They added in a funk flavour to George Duke’s It’s On, whilst the pop songs of Lady by Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson’s Lady in My Life showed how far-ranging their musical tastes could be.

Julian Smith, who was a runner-up to Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent showed his musical pedigree during the first set closer, Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers, a study in musical telepathy between all of the players, finding new musical corners in a stalwart song at jazz and blues gigs and open mic nights.

The second half featured some interesting musical choices. Sting has written some songs that fit into the jazz idiom, at first listen Fragile isn’t one of them. However, the duet between Soprano Saxophone and acoustic guitar proved to be a musical highlight of the evening, with Tom’s filigree opening giving a steady introduction to the piece. Likewise, some of the songs by The Beatles lend themselves to jazz, but George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps worked in this novel setting, with saxophone and guitar providing the musical interest.

The latter part of the concert added more of a pop sensibility, with another of Bill Wither’s songs, Lovely Day providing Julian Smith with the chance to show his circular breathing techniques with the famously long note at the end.

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Photography Special – The Tom Morgan Trio with special guest Saxophonist Julian Smith – Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival opening night – 9th June 2022

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Book Review – All Days are Night by Peter Stamm

Translated by Michael Hoffmann

3.5 out of 5 stars

It all starts in a hospital bed. Gillian seemingly had it all. She was beautiful, a successful television journalist, and in a long term marriage, but then an accident changes Gillian’s life overnight. Her career in television journalism is up in flames, her face ruined, her husband, dead, and from this, she has to rebuild her life, slowly, day by day and piece by piece.

Peter Stamm’s writing is clear throughout, there are no superfluous details, no long, waffly back stories, we are straight into the action. Told through a series of flashbacks we see Gillian’s life pre and post-accident. We see her life modelling for local celebrity artist Hubert, and the argument it causes with her husband Matthias. We see her leaving television, even giving up the possibility of working in editorial to work as the entertainment manager in a small hotel, where no one knows her as the glamourous television star, where there will be no looks of pity, where no one knows the full story of what happened to her on a fateful night.

All Days are Night is a love story, but it is also a novel of many other things. It is about life and death, change and resilience, how to recover from catastrophic life-changing events and the good that can come of them.

We see Gillian and Hubert building a life of sorts together as artist and model, as friends and lovers, and Hubert accepting that maybe his once-promising Art career is over and that there is much to be said for teaching other artists. The relationship that Gillian has with her parents changes as well, as she becomes reliant on them for a while after the accident, but then the bonds between them loosen once more. We see a growth in all of the characters, Hubert’s improving relationship with his young son Lukas, Gillian’s reliance on the close team she has built around herself at the Hotel, and the importance she has to it, and it has to her.

We see Gillian at a music festival with people half her age, knowing that things are once again changing, and accepting that she has to go with those changes if she is to have a life that she can be happy with.

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