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Andy Hague quintet with Andy Sheppard. Fringe, 12 June

June 13, 2014

Musical connections: Andy Hague, always on the lookout for new things to play, heard John Scofield perform Carla Bley’s Lawns at the first Bristol Jazz Festival last year. Cue a new arrangement for Andy’s fine quintet, plus a tenor player. Last night the tenor player was Andy Sheppard, who had been playing the same piece recently on tour…    with Carla Bley.

A nice example of the way jazz works in Bristol these days, and the two Andys have a lot to do with it. Andy Hague is such an indefatigable arranger and organiser it is easy to forget what a superb trumpet and flugelhorn player he is. Andy Sheppard, making the back room of the Fringe in Clifton his second home, offers world class contributions to band after band, time after time.

Last night he played the tenor parts in the augmented arrangements for sextet that enlivened Andy H’s last quintet CD, Cross My Palm, with help then from Jake McMurchie. (Cue jazz musician’s joke: “we couldn’t afford Jake tonight”.) The Bley tune, a typical, slyly insinuating item, was an undoubted highlight, but it was also a treat to hear him dig into the boppish arrangements that are the quintet’s more regular fare.

Hague often writes pieces influenced by favourite trumpet players – Dave Douglas on the energetic Green Leaf; Marcus Printup; Wynton Marsalis on the New Orleans flavoured The Boss, a nod to the leader of the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra who visit Bristol on June 26th. His own playing invariably rises to the challenge of these daunting models. And so do the rest of the quintet – Ben Waghorn on blistering form on alto, Mark Whitlam restlessly inventive on the drums, Will Harris contributing mightily to the group swing on bass and Jim Blomfield, normally a man of many notes, contributing a particularly affecting, thoughtfully paced solo to the Bley tune that leant cleverly toward the composer’s Monkish mien.

It’s really a superb band to have as local fixture, and it was great to see them enjoy playing to a full house, World Cup opening notwithstanding. Sheppard’s presence helped, no doubt, but Hague’s people more than deserve it in their own right.

Just to underline his general indispensibility, Hague can be heard again tonight (Friday) at the Be-Bop club, with another all-different sextet (they can afford Jake, apparently), playing Blakey and Silver arrangements. And you can catch the quintet again in the bar after Marsalis’ gig at Colston Hall in a fortnight. Will Wynton come and jam? He really should.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 13, 2014 2:23 pm

    Hi I’d be grateful if you could plug BEJE Bristol European Jazz Ensemble’s Future Inn gig on June 19th. Details on their website, the Big Green Week brochure or my wordpress site below

    Many thanks David Mowat

      BEJE CD FOR SALE hear sample: bigbromo.wordpress.com/the-bristol-european-jazz-ensemble email to order £8 1 copy, £20 for 3+

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