Total Pageviews

Bebop Spoken There

Nate Smith: "Record labels, booking agents, management, still can't imagine the drummer as bandleader" - (DownBeat January 2019).

On This Day: December 14

2009: Jim Birkett Trio w. Sue Ferris @ The Cherry Tree.

Today Friday December 14

Afternoon

Rendezvous Jazz - Monkseaton Arms, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. Tel: 0191 251 3928. 1:00pm. Free. Xmas party with Gavin Lee added to line-up.

Swing Manouche - Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place, Bishop Auckland DL14 7NP. Tel: 03000 269 524. 1:00pm. £5.00.

Evening

Boys of Brass - George Washington Hotel, Stone Cellar Road, High Heworth, Washington NE37 1PH. Tel: 0191 402 9988. 7:00pm. Xmas party night.

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band - Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regents Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3HD. Tel: 0191 284 3700. 8:00pm. £12.00. + bf. First night of two.

Danny Reed - Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields NE33 1ES. Tel: 0191 454 1234. 7:00pm. £19.95. Xmas swing with Danny Reed.

Classic Swing - Gateshead Fell Cricket Club, Eastwood Gardens, Low Fell NE9 5UB. Tel: 0191 420 0160. 8:00pm. £5.00.

Mike Sanchez & the Portions + Groove-a-matics - The Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington DL1 1SG. Tel: 01325 363135. 7:30pm. £18.00.

Will Howard Trio - Traveller’s Rest, West Auckland Road, Cockerton, Darlington DL3 9ER. Tel: 01642 468177. 8:30pm. £10.00.

Swamp Hoppers - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Kansas Smitty's House Band @ Ronnie Scott's - May 7

Giacomo Smith (alto); Pete Horsfall (trumpet/vocal); Alec Harper (tenor); Adrian Cox (clarinet/vocal); Joe Webb (piano); Dave Archer (guitar); Ferg Ireland (bass); Will Cleasby (drums).
(Review by Sebastian Scotney of LondonJazzNewsKansas Smitty's House Band at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival Photo credit and © John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk)
The Kansas Smittys are on a roll. Their Ronnie Scott’s date on Monday came after no fewer than four shows at Cheltenham. “We played a lot, we didn’t sleep a lot,” explained leader Giacomo Smith - and before long they’ll be off to play at a festival in Nantes in France.
Into my mind came a distant memory. I once reviewed a date of a small band led by Giacomo Smith at Boisdale Canary Wharf in April 2013, LINK

There I was five years ago in the role of “the-only-audience-member-who-sort-of-knows-when-to-applaud-because-this-music-needs-some-kind-of--response-dammit”, dutifully checking out the end just about every solo and every number. That was then, this is now. That was before the “Kansas Smitty’s” name had even been dreamt up, before their well-deserved success started to take wing. The formula, the bar which is their home and all that has worked just brilliantly. Audiences love this band. Everybody loves this band.
There were things that I didn’t understand then, and probably never will, like the obligatory apostrophe in “Kansas Smitty’s”. And then there are things I didn’t understand then but certainly do after the Ronnie Scott’s gig. It was a mystery why the Smitty’s (that apostrophe...just move on Seb) needed two distinct line-ups the “Big Four” and the “House Band”. The Big Four was always going to work. Its portability, its tight brotherhood feel, the quality of the people in it…. never needed much justification. Last time I checked it had done over 1,000 gigs, in other words it had proved its purpose and become a way of life for its key personnel. But, I had wondered, what was the “House Band” all about? As I say, it all made sense before my eyes on Monday.

There were the Big Four members in the middle of the Ronnie’s stage (Giacomo Smith - on alto sax only), Pete Horsfall (trumpet and vocal), Ferg Ireland (bass) and Dave Archer (guitar) who by dint of all that gigging are by now the tightest, cheeriest band on these isles. Definitely “played-in” in every sense.

And then you start adding. Joe Webb on piano. He spent most of the gig with his neck craned, facing away from the keyboard, his gaze not wanting to miss any the action in the middle, and again and again making a wonderful contribution to it. Lightness of touch, some great energetic solo-ing, a sense of fun. And then there is Will Cleasby at the drum kit. Twenty-one years old, I was told. Twenty...One! And in the band for most of the past year. And a real find. Alert, creative, and able to propel the whole band. And then tenor saxophonist Alec Harper. He justified having been brought back over from the US for his light, airy, Ike Quebec-ish tenor feature on Ellington’s All Too Soon (it was written for Ben Webster) but also is an impeccable ensemble player. And the virtue of clarinetist and vocalist Adrian Cox was plain to see from the moment he was asked to do a victory lap of Ronnie’s before lighting the place up with another Ellington tune, Jump for Joy. And what a very great singer Adrian Cox is. 

The description here, and the fact that two big moments were Ellington-inspired might start to give the impression that the band sticks to one style. They don't. They go further back into Jelly Roll Morton, and their arrangements also step forward into the directions of, say, Mingus or Marty Paich. And they have a way of sounding like much more than an octet, more a “small band that sounds like a big band.” And by the end the audience (to the extent that the Ronnie’s benches permit it) were on their feet to show their approval.

Kansas Smitty’s are now a regular fixture at Ronnie’s. They have a healthy young fan base which is still growing. And that phrase “a band to watch” which I used in 2013 has a different meaning now. They were a joy to watch.  And to hear. 
Seb. 
(Kansas Smitty's House Band are at Sage Gateshead on November 9 - Lance)

No comments :

Blog Archive

About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Subscribe!

Submissions for review

Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to all of them other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance