29th September 2022

Jaimie Anderson – Tenor Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Guest Drummer – Lewis

This was a fun gig from the entrance of one of our superb regulars, jazz dancing on her way to the bar, to the appearance of a very small furry jazz fan, Chester the Chinese Crested Powder Puff!

Jamie Anderson, tenor sax, was on fine form and his strong tone enhanced an excellent choice of material which included “Sunny Side of the Street”, a nice bossa “The Girl from Ipanema”, a rocking version of “Sunny”, a bluesy rendition of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and a wild latin blowout on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”. Pete Lowit was on sparkling form and he displayed impressive technical virtuosity on Jaco Pastorius’ “The Chicken”, as well as playing many excellent bass solos during the evening. Mike Sharkey continues to impress and develop; he took some very tasty solos and responses and is clearly equally at home in swing, ballad, funk, gospel and latin style numbers.

In the second set we discovered we had a teenage drummer in the audience, Lewis, who with great aplomb came out and played “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, even trading “fours” with the piano as if to the manner born. He held his tempo admirably and kept his cool under the warm applause and rousing cheers from the audience.

The evening finished with two lively numbers, the catchy latin piece “Agua de Beber”, which Jaimie gamely read from the tiny notation on his phone, followed by the soul-style breaks of Eddie Harris “Cold Duck Time”. Tonight’s audience grew from humble beginnings to a good sized crowd and, judging by their reactions, a good time was had by all!

Jon Hall

22 September 2022

Lizzi Pearce – Vocals

Colin Henderson – Alto and Baritone Saxes, Flute

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

It was good to hear a new jazz voice this evening, Lizzi Pearce, who shared the front line with Colin Henderson on saxes and flute. After the band had played “Ladybird” and “All Blues” with solos all round, Lizzi impressed the audience with an up-tempo “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, which showed her jazz credentials straight away in her breadth of tone and range and her ability to swing. She followed up with the Beatles’ “And I Love Him” done in bossa nova style featuring Colin on flute, and came back for an outstanding version of the ballad “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”

The second set opened with the band playing “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” and “Mean to Me” with some lyrical bass playing from Neil Sharkey and some exciting interaction between Colin and Jon and Mike Sharkey on drums. Lizzi came back to sing a mellow bossa nova “So Many Stars” and a heartfelt “My Funny Valentine” dedicated to her young son. The band took over with an up-tempo “Bernie’s Tune” and then Colin gave a very fine rendition of “My Romance” played as a moving ballad which received a glowing response from the audience.

Lizzi finished the set with Gershwin’s haunting “Someone to Watch Over Me” complete with the rarely heard verse and as a finale she led the band in a swinging version of George Shearing’s “Lullaby of Birdland” complete with a scat vocal solo. A great evening and an outstanding debut from Lizzi Pearce.

Jon Hall

15th September 2022

Andy Brown – Guitar

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

Nigel MacKenzie – Drums

This was an outstanding gig, with four confident and experienced players who were listening and responding to each other and having a great time into the bargain! We played a well balanced set of tunes beginning with the Latin groove of Wes Montgomery’s “Cariba”. This set the stage for what was to come with solos from guitar, piano and bass, followed by driving exchanges between guitar and drums. Andy Brown was on excellent form and you could hear the influence of both Wes and Pat Martino in his use of rapid scales and revolving patterns. Andy has always been a prolific composer and it was a pleasure to hear a new piece of his, also with an infectious Latin groove, Sal Salamander”, which an enthusiastic audience agreed should henceforth be known as a “classic”! Two tunes by Thelonius Monk, “Straight No Chaser” and “ByeYa” paid homage to another original composer which, as always with Monk’s music, allowed the band to stretch out. “Syeeda’s Song Flute” from Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” featured Nigel MacKenzie on a superb drum solo that combined invention with musical taste. We also played “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”, another tune associated with John Coltrane.

“Wait Till You See Her” was suggested by Andy after hearing it played in a George Shearing trio version, it’s waltz-time block chord arrangement being well suited to guitar and piano.

Other tunes included the bossa nova “Moon and Sand”, Miles Davis’ “Tune Up”, Michel Petrucciani’s “Lullaby” and “September Second”, and Keith Jarret’s “So Tender”. This was a very varied and extremely satisfying evening which was clearly enjoyed by all. I hope we can feature this combination again before too long.

Jon Hall

8th September 2022

Kenny MacDonald – Vocals

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Despite the sad announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II only a few minutes before opening, a good number of people turned up for what turned out to be a very warm and friendly evening, featuring mainly the vocal talents of Kenny MacDonald. Kenny quickly established a rapport with the audience and they stayed with him throughout the evening as he covered a whole range of moods and tempos. These included swinging versions of “Foggy Day”, “You Make Me Feel So Young”, “The Lady is a Tramp”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and the ballads “Georgia”, “Who Can I Turn To?”, “Just The Way You Are” and “When I Fall In Love”. He was backed by a driving and sensitive trio who obviously relished this dip into Sinatra territory. They also played some instrumentals, featuring several of Michel Petrucciani’s strikingly original compositions, plus Herbie Hancock’s evocative “Dolphin Dance” and Chick Corea’s haunting jazz waltz “Windows.

This month Moray Jazz Club will present two more nights of vocal jazz and, judging by tonight’s response, this could become a regular feature.

Jon Hall

1st September 2022

Pat Strachan – Trombone

Colin Henderson – Alto, Baritone Saxes and Flute

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

It was good to see Pat Strachan in all his sartorial elegance back at Moray Jazz Club, together with Colin Henderson, Jon Hall and the amazing Sharkey brothers, Neil and Mike. The band played a spicy mixture of up-tempo Latin, swing and ballads. They opened with Dizzy Gillespie’s samba style “And Then She Stopped”, featuring lively solos from the two front line players over a driving rhythm section. It’s a great feeling knowing that whatever style or tempo is asked for, Mike and Neil will provide the goods. Individually they are excellent players and together they make a formidable unit. The music continued with a medium blues “Five Spot After Dark”, a faster and merrier I Want to be Happy”, a medium slow “Autumn Leaves” with Cannonball Adderley’s intro, and a classic ballad “Body and Soul”.

Pat not only played trombone but also sang and introduced “Sweet Substitute” with a brief history of its colourful composer, Jelly Roll Morton. Another early period number featured Colin on Eubie Blake’s “Memories of You”. The first half ended with “Copacabana” (not the Barry Manilow song) and the second set with a swinging version of “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.

Colin was on great form especially on the flute feature, Mel Torme’s “Comin’ Home Baby”, and was obviously enjoying himself. The rhythm section gelled together nicely as always and featured in a trio number, Michel Petrucciani’s “September Second”, a striking composition that always gets positive comments, this time from Pat, a fellow devotee.

Jon Hall

25th August 2022

Barry Overstreet – Tenor Sax

James Steele – Alto and Baritone Saxes

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

This was a barnstormer of a gig! These two sax players spurred each on to produce some outstanding improvisation in two quite different styles of playing, over the firm foundation of our excellent rhythm section. Starting out with Miles Davis’ “All Blues” the band got into a great groove from the start and never let go from then on. “Blue Bossa”, “There Will Never be Another You”, Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar”, Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Povo” all became swinging and funky vehicles, showcasing some amazing and heartfelt saxophone solos accompanied by appreciative responses by the other players and the audience. The latter were with us all the way and it was good to see how many people stayed on until the end.

Both the leaders took a feature, Barry warming our hearts on “Days of Wine and Roses” and James gracefully soaring on Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”, done as a duet with piano. As always, Mike’s drumming was a delight for players and audience alike and Neil’s sensitive and accurate bass playing was the perfect partner to that. In fact, if they weren’t brothers you’d still say that musically they are.

Sadly, this will be the last time we hear James for a while as he is off to Glasgow for a jazz course with Tommy Smith. I’m looking forward to hearing the results when he comes back on his hols. Meanwhile we will make sure we get more of Barry in future gigs.

Jon Hall

18 August 2022

Russell Henderson – Alto Sax

Colin Henderson – Alto, Baritone Saxes and Flute

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Russell Henderson, on a rare visit from New Zealand, joined his uncle, Colin, and the Club’s main rhythm section for a programme of jazz standards and improvised blues. The Club was very well attended and the audience responded with enthusiasm.

Opening with “Sunnymoon for Two”, a blues by Sonny Rollins, the band quickly established a close rapport and a sound balance which stayed with them throughout the evening. Russell chose some interesting less familiar numbers to serve as vehicles for his own sterling alto playing and some driving solos from all concerned. These included “Briar Patch” by George Benson, a boogaloo based organ tune associated with Brother Jack McDuff, “Plain Jane” and “Valse Hot” by Sonny Rollins, “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers” by Steve Kuhn, which allowed the soloists to explore modal territory over a fast 3 in a bar, and the up-tempo post-bop “Voyage” by Kenny Barron. Colin took a beautiful feature on “Early Autumn” and Russell stretched out on Billie Holliday’s “You’ve Changed”.

Neil on bass and Mike on drums shone throughout and the evening was punctuated by some tasty bass and drum solos. Two Ellington numbers appeared, a very laid back “Just Squeeze Me” and a Russell Henderson original, based on “Satin Doll”, transformed into the fusion style with a Glaswegian style title – “Velvet Gonk”.

It was another great evening of jazz music for Elgin and, judging by the applause and staying power of the audience, a happy one!

Jon Hall

11th August 2022

Matthew Kilner – Tenor Sax

Barry Middleton – Piano

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

Fraser Peterkin – Drums

This was a welcome return to a tight band that have played together long enough to be able to rely on each other and yet are still able to surprise each other and the audience. They played a nice mixture of Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter tunes, plus John Carisi’s “Israel” and Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia”.

As always the tunes were seen as taking-off points with the band’s ethos allowing individual players the freedom to follow their own direction. Barry Middleton’s intro to “Nardis” was a case in point, where he explored at length some of the exotic implications of the tune, finally leading inevitably into the tenor’s main tune. The way the other players subtly supported him is typical of this band’s empathy and ability to spontaneously pick up on a creative idea. That’s a lot of words to say that this band needs your full attention.

The evening included Tommy Flanagan’s “Freight Train”, Wayne Shorter’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum”, “Juju” and “Speak no Evil”, Miles Davis’ “Nardis” and “Milestones”, Thelonius Monk’s “I Mean You” and Coltrane’s “Chasing the Trane” which included a fiery tenor solo supported only by driving drums.

Matthew Kilner was on excellent form both as a soloist and as a supporting player behind, for example, Pete Lowit’s creative bass solos, especially on “Israel” and Barry Middleton’s take on “Milestones” and “Juju”.

Fraser Peterkin was here, there and everywhere, driving, accenting, colouring and framing an exciting evening of jazz improvisation. As is so often the case, I went home marvelling at the unique platform for creative music making that is Moray Jazz Club.

Jon Hall

4th August 2022

Colin Henderson – Alto and Baritone Saxes and Flute

Mike Mackenzie – Tenor and Soprano Saxes and Clarinet

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

Duncan Barson – Drums

This gig worked out very well despite some last minute changes of personnel and programme. A good audience turned out from the start and they responded favourably to our various vicissitudes. It was a nice change to hear clarinet and soprano and also to explore music from Sidney Bechet and others including “Dreaming the Hours Away”, “Rent Party Blues” and “Avalon”.

Mike was on good form on all his instruments and he and Colin provided a good contrast to each other as well as playing in counterpoint on the ensemble numbers. Later Colin played a feelingful ballad, I Remember Clifford” and a sparkling flute lead on Roland Kirk’s “Bright Moments”.

The piano trio enjoyed Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” and especially Jimmy Rowles’ evocative tune, “The Peacocks”, full of fluttering and plaintive bird calls, superbly underpinned by Pete Lowit’s double bass and Duncan Barson’s sensitive cymbal work. The band played out with a relaxed but driving rendition of “Blues by Five”, with victorious solos from all.

Jon Hall

Moray Jazz Club at Belladrum Ice House/Jazz Bar Saturday 30th July 2022, 14.00 to 15.00 hrs.

Moray Jazz Club was represented at Belladrum Festival this year with an energetic performance at the Ice House/Jazz Bar stage. The band consisted of John Sharkey – Tenor Sax, Roger Niven – Guitar, Jon Hall – Piano, Neil Sharkey – Bass Guitar and Mike Sharkey – Drums.

An excellent crowd gathered in brilliant sunshine to hear an hour’s set of driving jazz music including compositions by Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, George Gershwin, Billy Taylor and others. A fun atmosphere prevailed and at one point the audience skilfully performed the offbeat clapping from Dave Brubeck’s Unsquare Dance. The largely upbeat tempo slowed down twice for a gospel styled Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and a moody Summertime. The band played out with Watermelon Man after once more plugging Moray Jazz Club to an enthusiastic and vociferous audience.