2nd June

James Steele – Baritone Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Double Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

This was a very enjoyable evening with a mix of old and new, tunes we’d played before and tunes we were trying out. James was on sparkling form and the rhythm section was right behind him. New pieces included Pat Metheny’s “Question and Answer”, Jaco Pastorius’ “The Chicken”, Lonnie Smith’s “Our Miss Brooks”. We also played Chick Corea’s “La Fiesta” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Povo”.

A good sized and good humoured audience stayed with us to the end of a cool session, although a hot night.

Jon Hall

26th May 2022

Spider MacKenzie – Harmonica and Vocals

John Sharkey – Tenor Sax

Jon Hall – Piano and Vocals

Neil Sharkey – Double Bass

Nigel MacKenzie – Drums

Last night Moray Jazz Club hosted a blues and jazz party, effortlessly mixing two musical genres and having a great time in the process.

The rhythm section got things off to a swinging start with What is This Thing Called Love including a tasty bass solo and some inventive trading of phrases between piano, bass and drums. From then on the evening was shared between John Sharkey’s warm tenor sax playing and Spider MacKenzie’s blues vocals and harmonica. On one hand we enjoyed an excellent Autumn Leaves, Fly Me to the Moon, Blue Bossa and more, and on the other we were introduced to a range of blues with intriguing titles such as River Hip Blues, Socks No Shoes, Hug the Bug, and Lollipop Man. Spider took us on a journey through Charlie Musselwhite, Sonny Terry and Little Walter’s My Babe with characteristic humour and panache.

We also combined tenor and harp in Mercy Mercy and Summertime. The party mood prevailed and the rhythm section adapted to both styles effortlessly and with enthusiasm. We even forged some West Scotland connections in Bernera Blues, finding that Spider’s Isle of Lewis birthplace was also Neil and John’s home for some years. After the combined finale of Watermelon Man, an enthusiastic audience, present despite torrential rain, enjoyed a moving encore, the slow blues She May be a Woman. Amen to that!

Jon Hall

19th MAY 2022

Steve Garrett – Acoustic Guitar

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

This was an absorbing and intimate evening of two perfectly contrasted instruments and players. The tonal blending of guitar and bass was aided by the fact that the two were mainly equal partners, creating an improvised counterpoint, rather than merely melody and accompaniment. There was a lot to listen to here and the improvising was mature and always organically related to the composition and mood.

The choice of material ranged from jazz to folk to film music with a generous helping of Steve Garrett’s own compositions. These ranged from two tributes to Nick Drake, For Nick and You Called Me, to pieces by guitarists John Scofield, Heck of a Job, John Maclaughlin, Follow Your Heart, and Ralph Towner, Creeper. On the bass side we had Goodbye Pork Pie Hat by Charlie Mingus, Our Spanish Lovesong by Charlie Hayden, and Jade Visions by the short-lived but highly influential Scott LaFaro, which segued into The Mist Covered Mountains used in Local Hero. More film music included Love Scene from Spartacus by Alex North, gathered and redistributed from Bill Evans’s multi-tracked three piano version, and The Green Leaves of Summer by Dimitri Tiomkin, theme to The Alamo.

Steve’s compositions are very varied and included a Scottish style Deeside Waltz and a piece in the Phrygian Mode called Frigid World, reminiscent of Soft Machine.

Personally I found the evening an excellent musical meditation with much to delight the ear and mind. For those who missed it but would like to get a taste I can heartily recommend Steve’s website, http://www.stevegarrettguitar.com This has some fascinating information about his interest in Antarctica and corresponding musical essay, as well as recordings and videos of much of the material mentioned. I look forward to their next visit, this was was positively inspiring.

Jon Hall

12th May 2022

Roger Niven – Guitar and Vocals

Jon Hall – Piano and Vocals

Neil Sharkey – Double Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Last night saw the return of guitarist/singer Roger Niven. A good audience turned out to see him and I can tell you he did not disappoint them! It was an absolute pleasure to play with him from start to finish. Roger led us through two excellent sets ranging from the jazz classics Beautiful Love and I’ll Remember April to Blue Bossa, samba style, and Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas a la calypso. In between he included the TV theme I Wish I Knew How it Felt to be Free. He also sang two of his own stylish songs, Man Down and Time with your Dream, as well as a soulful rendition of Bill Withers’ Ain’t no Sunshine.

Throughout the evening he displayed an exciting mastery of electric guitar and the various different genres associated with it. We played Wes Montgomery’s Four on Six, Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue, Pat Metheny’s Song for Bilbao, and two John Scofield funky numbers Chariots and Green Tea. He also displayed great wah wah technique on the Crusaders’ Soul Shadows.

This was all made possible through the superb playing and accompanying of Neil Sharkey, on double bass this time, and Mike Sharkey on drums. Roger is very familiar with their playing so this only added to the tight ensemble and effortless all round empathy of the band.

The audience absolutely loved and and we’ll all be looking forward to Roger’s next appearance at the Club.

Jon Hall

Footnote: A large selection of jazz cds and vinyl records was donated to Moray Jazz Club by Lynn Vecqueray from a collection belonging to her late father. Some of these were made available for members of the audience to take away and enjoy and this provided lots of interest and conversation among the folk who were present.

5th May 2022

Colin Henderson – Baritone, Alto Saxes and Flute

Jon Hall – Piano and Vocals

Neil Sharkey – Bass Guitar

Mike Sharkey – Drums

It’s maybe unusual for a band member to be writing reviews of his own gigs, but that’s how it is and all I can do is be honest and tell it like it was. As far as I’m concerned this band gets better week by week. Having the Sharkey brothers in the rhythm section has transformed the music and opened up many new avenues. These guys respond creatively to whatever is going on and the rest of us are in turn inspired to give it our all and to explore new exciting possibilities. The sense of time is very strong now and space appears when it is needed. The music sounds good with the sparest of details and the dynamics build from soft and understated to loud (but not excessively) and full, in direct response to what each soloist is doing.

Of course this is just how it is meant to be, but it still seems special when it’s actually happening right in front of you. Tonight we had a lot of fun with the Latin style numbers, bossa novas, etc. They seemed to bring out some delicious drum timbres, impeccable bass lines, and washes of electric piano underpinning the tonal subtleties of alto sax or flute.

We also swung in a variety of different styles and moods from Basie’s Jive by Five to Hancock’s Dolphin Dance and Monk’s Ba Lu Bolivar Blues to Flanagan’s Eclypso. Vocals included Nature Boy, I Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues and Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me. Tonight’s finale was a hearty and fulsome rendition of Blue Monk, with everyone sitting back and confidently building to a fitting climax. A really good time was had by all and that includes the beaming audience who have not only got bigger but seem to be staying up later. Long may it last.

Jon Hall

28th April 2022

Colin Henderson – Alto and Baritone Saxes, Flute

Jon Hall – Piano, Vocals

Neil Sharkey – Bass Guitar

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Glenn Munro – Trumpet and Flugelhorn

This was a tight and swinging affair, underpinned by what is fast becoming the house band rhythm section, Neil and Mike Sharkey. They have an excellent rapport with each other and respond to events in the front line with constant musical sensitivity.

The audience were treated to a variety of sound combinations and styles ranging from gutsy baritone sax on Dexter Gordon’s “Cheesecake”, Latin flute and electric piano on the bossa nova “Day by Day”, trumpet and sax on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Birk’s Works” and flute and flugelhorn on Luis Bonfa’s lively “Samba de Orfeu”. Vocals included Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade”, Mel Torme’s timeless “Comin’ Home Baby”, and JJ Cale’s re-imagined “Same Old Blues”.

Other musical gems included two rhythm section numbers, Chick Corea’s lilting waltz “Windows”, and one of Thelonius Monk’s favourites “Sweet and Lovely”. Also by Monk, the full band played “Hackensack” with style and precision. Swinging standards included “Afternoon in Paris”, Duke Ellington’s “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” and a band favourite “If I Should Lose You”. The evening finished with a rousing rendition of Charlie Parker’s bop classic “Scrapple from the Apple”. It was a pleasure to be there.

Jon Hall

21st April 2022

James Steele – Baritone Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass Guitar

Mike Sharkey – Drums

This was a most enjoyable gig! The band loved every minute and the audience assured us they were with us all the way. A good balance of material and an instant rapport between the players made each number an absolute pleasure and a voyage of discovery.

From the piano, I felt the tight rhythm section created the perfect platform for the sax and piano to interact, confidently exchanging ideas, throwing phrases back and forth and building a constant series of climaxes. The bass and drums played with sensitivity, fire and driving rhythm. In a word, or four, it swung like the clappers!

New pieces like Herbie Hancock’s hard bop Driftin’, Mingus’s bluesy tribute to Lester Young’s Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, and Horace Silver’s funky The Jody Grind slotted in effortlessly with more familiar tunes. These included Gerry Mulligan’s Walking Shoes and Out Back of the Barn, Lonnie Smith’s Jeannine, Thelonius Monk’s Rhythm-ning and Round Midnight, the standards What is This Thing Called Love, All the Things You Are and more. We even established, with the help of audience participation, the origins of Sigmund Romberg’s Softly as in a Morning Sunrise in the 1920s musical The Desert Song. This is described as a song of bitterness and lost love, originally composed as a tango. Regardless we played it as an up tempo swinger.

I look forward to playing with these guys again. Luckily next week sees the return of the Sharkey Brothers, with myself on piano and Colin Henderson on alto, baritone saxes and flute. Don’t miss it.

Jon Hall

14th April 2022

Matthew Kilner – Tenor Sax

Dawid Regniak – Trumpet, Flugel Horn

Neil Birse – Piano

Pete Lowit – Bass

Richard (Ricky) Glassby – Drums

This was a great night of modern jazz and it was truly inspiring to see so many accomplished young musicians onstage. It was like coming home to hear once again the classic combination of trumpet and tenor sax, the two instruments complimenting each other so well. The rhythm section did a magnificent job of listening and responding as each solo built towards a climax, dropping down at first to a soft, spacious background and then gradually increasing in excitement and complexity.

Matthew Kilner was on excellent form and his Coltrane-like tenor sound was thrilling to hear, especially in the high register. Dawid Regniak’s trumpet melded effortlessly with the sax, giving the main tunes a bright and brilliant sound. He also produced a beautiful, mellow tone on his flugel horn in the ballad, My One and Only Love, Ricky Glassby created a suspenseful drum solo, leading into the lilting rhythms of Afro Blue, made famous by Mongo Santamaria and John Coltrane. His drumming throughout the evening was a joy to listen to. In equal partnership, Neil Birse played inventive and sensitive piano with his excellent ear for interesting chords and challenging rhythms, supported at all times by a great musician, Pete Lowit on double bass.

Other numbers included Miles Davis’s So What and Solar and BobbyTimmon’s Dat Dere, which hasn’t surfaced in Elgin for quite a while, if ever! The band gave this an excellent rendition and there were flashes of Art Blakey at times. It was the sort of gig where you constantly wished yours friends had been there too.

JON HALL QUARTET

Great evening with a variety of classic jazz standards from some well known and lesser known jazz composers. Many thanks to Jon Hall [Keyboards], James Steele [Baritone Sax], Colin Henderson [[Baritone and Alto Sax and Flute] and Nigel Mackenzie [Drums]

Paquito de Rivera ‘Chucho’

Michael Brecker ‘Timeline’

Bob Mintzer ‘Papa Lips’

Ellington ‘In a sentimental mood’

Horace Silver  ‘Filthy McNastie’

Horace Silver ‘We’ve  got Silver at six’

Lonnie Smith ‘Jeanine’

Thelonius Monk ‘Rhythm a Ning’

Chick Corea  ‘Windows’

Michael Brecker ‘Timeline’ 

Errol Garner ‘Misty’

Hank Mobley ‘This I dig of you’

Horace Silver ‘Blue Silver’

Steve Allen ‘Gravy Waltz’

Bill Evans ‘Nardil’

Lonnie Smith  ‘Side Man’

Lonnie Smith ‘Minor Chant’

John Coltrane ‘Freight Train’

CHASING THE ‘TRANE’ THURSDAY 24TH FEBRUARY

Kapow!! Brilliant night of John Coltrane’s music delivered with panache and professionalism by consumate jazz musicians Matthew Kilner [Tenor Sax], Barry Middleton [Keyboards], Pete Lowit [Double Bass] and Fraser Peterkin [Drumkit and Percussion]. Video clips on Instagram, stills below. 

The full set played is listed below the photos.

TRANE 2

TRANE 3

TRANE 4

‘Resolution’

‘Impressions’

’26-2′

‘Moment’s notice’

‘You don’t know what love is’

‘I want to talk about you’

‘Naima’

‘Blues to you’ 

‘Afro blue’

‘Africa’

‘Green sleeves’

‘Ole’

‘Nancy (with the laughing face)’