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.

28th July 2022

Matthew Kilner – Tenor Sax

Colin Black – Guitar

Bryan Chalmers – Bass Guitar

Richard Glassby – Drums

It’s always good to see these players and this combination was clearly well rehearsed and studded with original compositions by various band members. The guitar basis worked really well and the interplay between a very funky rhythm section and that soaring tenor was a delight for the ears and other senses. The compositions were excellent and included Richard Glassby’s swinging tribute to the great, much missed Aberdonian drummer, Bill Kemp, Blues for Bill and Colin Black’s evocative take on a West Coast Island Memoir. Matthew also contributed some effective originals and the whole thing made for a very satisfying two sets and hopefully this is going to lead to some recording sessions. The intricate textures and unusual rhythmic and harmonic combinations would reward repeated listening. Put me down for a copy!

Jon Hall

21st July 2022

Roger Niven – Guitar

James Steele – Alto, Baritone Saxes

Jon Hall – Piano

Andy Brown – Bass Guitar

John Mason – Drums

This was a very enjoyable gig, pairing for the first time together, James Steele – alto and baritone saxes and Roger Niven – guitar. It also saw the first appearance of Andy Brown playing bass guitar. (Andy’s accomplished jazz guitar playing will be featured on 15th September.) John Mason and myself completed the line-up and, judging by the all-round hand shakes at the end, it was deemed a success by the musicians. There were certainly some outstanding solos and back and forths throughout the evening on Midnight Blue, Four on Six, Song for Bilbao, Chariots, It Don’t Mean a Thing, Milestones and many more.

I hope we can get this line-up together again before too long.

Jon Hall

7th July 2022

Barry Overstreet – Tenor Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Bass

Nigel MacKenzie – Drums

We had a great time last night and it was very satisfying to hear Barry with different musicians from the last gig, playing equally well and for me, personally, broadening my approach to both soloing and accompanying. Barry’s expansive style and warm sound borrows from both Funk and Soul music, but also the post-Coltrane school, where familiar songs are thoroughly re-examined and their rhythmic and harmonic potential is explored in a free and unconstrained manner. Of course that is the ideal, but it is wonderful to even begin to go in that direction. Playing tunes like Every Time We Say Goodbye and My Favourite Things made me want to do more homework on just how John Coltrane re-harmonised them and, in the latter tune, stepped well away from the conventional take on a pretty tune. So thank you, Barry, it was educational and I’m sure it will continue to be so.

Other memorable moments were Pete Lowit’s bass solo on Everytime, Nigel MacKenzie’s thoughtful and always spot-on solos and fills whether with brushes or sticks. Barry led a committed group through the modal washes of Freddie Hubbard’s Little Sunflower, the gospel/funk and steady tempo of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy by Joe Zawinul, a driving version of Miles Davis’ All Blues and finally a very swinging rendition of Pennies From Heaven.

Looking forward to the next time!

Jon Hall

30th June 2022

Colin Henderson – Alto and Baritone Saxes, Flute

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Bass

John Mason – Drums

This week we welcomed a new face to Elgin, John Mason on drums. He was standing in for Mike Sharkey who has sustained a football injury. John fitted in right away and from the opening number the balance was just right and the music was swinging.

Colin Henderson was on good form on all three instruments and he changed them around skilfully, giving us some nice contrasts of tone colour and improvising styles. He was on excellent form whether swinging on “Mean to Me” and “Beautiful Love”, combining sparkling flute and voice on Roland Kirk’s “Bright Moments” and Paquito D’Rivera’s “Chucho”, or slowing the tempo down for some soulful playing on the ballads “Lover Man” and “Angel Eyes”.

While Colin took the odd breather, the trio explored John Coltrane’s “Spiral”, Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”, Chick Corea’s “Windows”, and Michael Petrucciani’s poignant “September Sound”.

The evening ended on another Coltrane number, “Mr. P C”, dedicated to his bassist, Paul Chambers. Our own bassist, Neil Sharkey, was, as usual, right on the mark and he took some tasty solos, as did John Mason, who established himself throughout the evening as yet another unsung hero, now sung!

Jon Hall

23rd June 2022

Brian Keddie – Trombone

Matthew Kilner – Tenor Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Pete Lowit – Double Bass

Nigel Mackenzie – Drums

This was a great night led by two fine musicians in front of an appreciative audience. The improvising was of a fine calibre and the combination of tenor sax and trombone was very pleasing to the ear. Starting out with Sam River’s “Beatrice” the mood was set for spaciousness and expansiveness. The band worked well together, listening and responding to changing moods and exchanging phrases around the players. Nigel Mackenzie showed once again what a subtle drummer he is, in tandem with Pete Lowit’s sensitive bass playing.

From the piano stool this was an ideal set up, two very accomplished front line players supported by a trio that always works well together. Favourite jazz vehicles such as “Out of Nowhere”, “Softly as a Morning Sunrise” and “If I Should Lose You” were contrasted with a sprinkling of Latin numbers, especially Tom Harrell’s “Moon Alley” which closed the first set, its self contained arrangement skilfully blending the instruments with interesting rhythmic ideas.

The second half opened with a duo, a trombone and piano ballad “Nobody Else but Me”, giving Brian full scope to musically search out the possibilities of both tune and trombone. That was followed by a quartet featuring Matthew Kilner on “If I Should Lose You”, taken at a fair lick and producing some inventive lines with, at times, some thrilling upper register, Trane-like phrases.

Other numbers included “Tune Up”, “Star Eyes”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, all given a fresh coat of musical gloss by a well matched and satisfying quintet. Personally I was left wanting more, which is always a good way to end a gig.

Jon Hall

16th June 2022

Barry Overstreet – Tenor Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Double Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Last night Moray Jazz Club had the very real pleasure of hearing Barry Overstreet, tenor saxophonist. It was his first time at the Club, although he has been on the Scottish music scene for some years. Born in Nashville and musically educated in Memphis, Barry has a great enthusiasm for jazz which shows itself in his strong, warm sound and his soulful and fluid improvising. His experience and talent showed in his choice of tempo, generally laid back, and in his ability to combine a very expressive tone with expansive phrasing that made you want to holler, and in fact holler, “yeaaaaaah”!

Barry quickly established a rapport with the rhythm section, who were on excellent form as usual, Neil taking some tasty bass solos and Mike exchanging phrases with the front line with some excellent brush work and solid grooves. Always a pleasure to work with, they came up trumps with Barry’s particular blend of almost gospel-inspired jazz.

His take on “Days of Wine and Roses” as a medium tempo ballad was a masterpiece of emotional sub-text and it justifiably won warm applause from an appreciative audience. Later we played a cool but meaningful version of “Pennies from Heaven” and a righteous “Worksong”. That soulful tone pervaded Horace Silver’s “Song for my Father” and “Canteloupe Island” and transformed tunes we thought we knew.

The highlight of the evening for me was Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower”, a modal tune with minimal chord changes but in Barry’s hands a very effective vehicle for story telling. I hope we will see and hear much more of
Barry Overstreet in the weeks to come.

Jon Hall

9th June 2022

Pat Strachan – Trombone and Vocals

James Steele – Baritone Sax

Jon Hall – Piano

Neil Sharkey – Double Bass

Mike Sharkey – Drums

Apart from pesto and pasta, brass and woodwind are one of my favourite combinations, so it was a real pleasure to have Pat Strachan’s trombone alongside James Steele’s baritone sax. Both players were in top form. From the opening notes of “Walkin” I knew it was going to be a good night, and it was! Among the many highlights I would cite the Cannonball Adderley introduction to a very mellow “Autumn Leaves”, a swinging rendition of “Killer Joe” with its dramatic crescendo in the middle section, Bob Berg’s driving “Friday Night at the Cadillac Club” and Pat’s own poignant composition “Song of Findhorn”. Pat and James exchanged fiery phrases and made an excellent partnership. All of this plus one of the strongest and most empathetic rhythm sections around. To be repeated!

Jon Hall