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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski and The Milne-Glendinning Band @ The Jazz Café - July 27

(Review/photos courtesy of Ken Drew)
The third visit by Jazz North East to the Jazz Café in a week!  Following on from Jesse Bannister/GemArts (co-promo with JNE) last Thursday and a wonderful treat it was, and Greg Abate with the local power trio last Friday (high octane playing all-round) this Friday saw a more relaxed session as part of Jazz North East's 'Women Make Music' series. The programme comprised two sets of distinctive music focusing on vocalist-guitarist collaborations, one well established in recent years and the other recently formed, with many tunes self-penned and performed by our locally based musicians.
Set 1:   Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski 
Alice Grace (vocals); Pawel Jedrzejewski (guitar)

Guitar and voice duo Grace and 'Pav' were formed as part of the recent Strictly Smokin' Sessions where Jazz North East invited elements of the larger Band to create and perform their own material. Some non-original covers, some with words set to existing music (Eric Satie's Gymnopedie inspired tune with words by Pav) and some totally original by Grace, providing a very pleasant and varied mix for their chosen programme.

Grace's voice was in good form and went through quite a range of styles demonstrating her wide vocal range. It was nice to hear her outside of the Strictly Smokin' Big Band in a more restrained and sedate setting. The material chosen included a Portuguese song, chosen by Pav and requested to be sung in the original Portuguese.  This ‘challenge’ was accepted by Grace, and succeeded too!  Pawel is an adventurous guitarist and played as the occasion required, supporting Grace as an equal and presenting his familiar playing style to produce a nice clean sound. Playing a Washburn J3 Electric guitar, no plectrum was used here, just gentle finger-picking, constantly shaping familiar and not-so familiar material in a very listenable way.  Playing some extended solos, these were neatly intertwined and nicely embellished the tune. The set ended with Long Road, written by Grace, and well received by the audience.

Set 2:  The Milne-Glendinning Band
Debra Milne (vocals); Steve Glendinning (guitar); Katy Trigger (bass); Nik Alevroyiannis (drums)

A program of originals, with words by D. Milne and music by S. Glendinning, B. Johnston, and A. Glen.  With a good range of tempi and styles - the words and music gelled nicely.  Starting off at a slightly higher tempo than Set 1, with a definite groove,  they covered quite a range of styles, some with a catchy hook capable of producing a few 'earworms' to accompany you on the way home.
Tunes included love songs, not-love songs (quite a bouncy tune), a ‘protest’ song - a reaction to Trump's election victory reflecting on 'Most people .....' with the last two providing a good ending to the set. Soul Mates had a good groove and included solos from Trigger and later Alevroyiannis who broke out from his supportive role into a freer approach for Trigger's and Glendinning's solos.  And Blame Game with extended solos from Glendinning and Alevroyiannis, a bouncy tune which seemed to include a free earworm due to its catchy phrasing.  Glendinning was, as ever, wonderful to hear on guitar - almost on fire in parts, and often taking an extended (but very welcome) solo.
The band played well together - quite tight yet with an overall loose feel to the tunes, but nonetheless tightly played (and seemingly enjoyed) by the band.
Some may have expected to hear Stormy Weather at some point in the evening, which would have been topical, but the absence of GAS and the reliance on self-penned words and music was very welcome and distinctly more refreshing. In fact, Debra said in her introduction, 'You can't leave now - it's bucketing outside’!  And then with a touch of thunder, we DID hear (and see) some Stormy Weather.

The evening had been one focussing on vocalist-guitarists, and each set had provided a wonderful contrast to a very appreciative audience.


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