A tale of two Americans

Frank Griffith


Bob Martin







How lucky we are as Londoners: this city is a magnet for fine musicians from just about anywhere in the world.

I'm writing this on the eve of the Obama inauguration. So I'm thinking in particular about two remarkable Americans, both adoptive Londoners for the past 10 years.

And suggesting you go and hear them in the Frank Griffith Nonet, appearing at the Vortex on Thursday Feb 5th, and again on Sunday lunchtime at the Gripton family hostelry deep in the forests of Berkshire: Jagz, at Ascot station.

From close to the Pacific coast, from the University of Oregon's home town of Eugene, Oregon, via a spell in New York, hails the exceptionally versatile Frank Griffith. And from the opposite coast, from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Bob Martin.

Bob Martin has a burning sound, a presence on alto which sails over a band, and engraves itself deep into one's musical memory. Bob had a long stint in the powerhouse Buddy Rich band in the 1970's- not an environment for the delicate of heart.

Sound clips of Bob make the "MUSIC" section of his website definitely worth a visit.

That sound. It's his. It's unique. No more to say.

Frank is always busy. Take a deep breath. Frank arranges - composes -teaches-writes-researches - runs the jazz programme at Brunel University - plays clarinet - plays tenor- bandleads - hustles - promotes - wisecracks....He's a whirlwind but he has an absorbed, ingrained knowledge of the music which makes him very special.

Sir John Dankworth once told me "I've come to the conclusion Frank Griffith knows my life story better than I do."

The seven Brits occupying the other seven chairs of the nonet which will appear at the Vortex are our top notch. They are from the gratin, the creme of British players Trumpets Henry Lowther and Robbie Robson; baritone sax Mick Foster who looks like, and has the integrity of, John the Baptist; Adrian Fry on trombone - a modest genius as player and arranger; young gun John Turville on piano, utterly solid Cornishman Dave Whitford on bass, and ever-inspirational and creative Paul Clarvis at the drums.(There's a different but equally good rhythm section for Ascot).

Hear the nonet , tight and fluent, here
(You have to find the tracks to download and go through a short registration process)

And Go Obama. You can!

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