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

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.