|Kelvin Christiane (with Alex Hutton)|
The Kelvin Christiane Big Band
(Twickenham Jazz at the Bloomsbury TW2. Tuesday 7th January 2014. Review by Brian Blain)
The Kelvin Christiane Big Band is swinging hard on the first Tuesday of the month at Twickenham Jazz at The Bloomsbury, at the western end of Staines Road. The first session of 2014, at a normally bleak, time of year attendance-wise was really buzzing, with a packed crowd in what must be one of the most comfortable pub venues in London, the band also benefiting from good sound.
The programme featured a fair sprinkling of Kelvin’s well thought-out originals, with Grand Design, taking Trane’s solo on the classic All Blues as a starting point, scoring best with me for its relative simplicity and melodic content.
But the leader is no ego tripper and for the more informed buffs in the audience material like Benny Golson’s Whisper Not, Jerome Richardson’s Thad Jones/Mel Lewis classic Groove Merchant and the gorgeous, sumptuous sound of the saxophone section on Mingus’s Ellington’s Sound of Love were balm to the soul.
Christiane, a fine contemporary sounding tenor player himself, is not afraid of the great Cannonball Adderley philosophy of ‘four for them and two for us’, and so Basie’s Kid from Red Bank really allowed the rhythm section - Jim Trewick(piano), Mike Higgins (bass), and Noel Joyce (drums) - to strut.
Take The A-Train was another for older ‘fringe’listeners, while Goodman’s Let’s Dance ,surely the most evocative signature tune in the history of the music, featuring the brilliant clarinet of Martin Nickless, was a masterstroke. While the essence of this band is cohesive team playing, which seemed to get more relaxed as the evening wore on, ther were strong solo contributions from trumpeter Paul Jordanous , trombonist Nick Mills and the ubiquitous tenor of Pete Hurt, a stalwart of so many band and educational parts of the London scene - an unsung hero if ever there was one.
And lastly let’s hear it for’ ‘the missus’. Leslie Christiane, who welcomes every visitor with a smile is a cheery MC. Her self-deprecatory ‘that’s the end of the karaoke section’ after she had sung a couple of standards made me laugh out loud.
Yes, for good music and a warm unpretentious atmosphere, Twickenham Jazz is well worth a trip.