|Sax Appeal at the new jazz room in the Bulls Head, Barnes|
The new music room at the Bulls Head in Barnes is open.
It is an appealing room and has been well kitted out club-style with tables. Compared to the old room, the proximity of the band and and immediacy of the music make it much more reminiscent of, say, the Ram Jam Club in Kingston. However, as everyone involved acknowledges, it is in reality currently at the try-out, 'work in progress' stage. They are also opening in the middle of the Christmas office-party season:. January will be a time for calmer reflection. The gigs in January will be properly advertised. Bookings in advance are also being taken.
Music room manager Dave Jones, who spent five years working at the Spice of Life in Cambridge Circus wants people to check it out and to feed in thoughts at this stage. He is also involved in the restaurant - it is good to have someone as hands-on involved in the general running of the venue taking such a fully committed and pro-active interest in music.
The programme will also develop: from February the Way Out West collective will be programming its Wednesdays at the Bulls Head. The room is ideal for that kind of group, five to eight players. St Paul's boys school have also had an event there, so the room is getting tried out and put through its paces. It will also be available as a rehearsal space in the daytime.
The stage is currently a foot or two too narrow: they're going to extend it. The lighting isn't yet right- it's going to get sorted. The acoustic 'reflectiveness' of the unpainted surfaces of the air-con units is affecting the sound in the room. They'll be painted. And so on..
For those who know the place well, the music room is where the Thai restaurant used to be. It has been completely re-furbished. It seats sixty, and can fit in another thirty standing. The old music room is now a restaurant, which is knocked through/ opened up to the pub. It was completely full last night, with the residents of Barnes keen to try out not just the familiar staples on the menu like fish and chips and burgers, but also the more exotic fare - octopus and lobster.
I went on the second night, for Derek Nash's eight-piece Sax Appeal. (Matt Wates, Derek Nash, Duncan Eagles, Mornington Lockett and Bob Mackay saxes, plus Pete Adams piano,s Phil Scragg bass and Nick France drums.) It was great to hear Duncan Eagles playing in an unfamiliar guise, mellow, mainstream Zoot Sims-ish tenor. Mornington Lockett built solos of great shape and intensity, and Derek Nash gave the lively enterprise both dynamism and dynamics. The group is looking forward to the launch of a new album on Jazzizit in February.