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GO! JAZZ: STILL BLOWING STRONG AFTER 50 YEARS.

Byline: Bob Caldwell

WHEN I was still a teenager, wasting many of my heaven-sent opportunities, as most of us have done, a family friend, saxophonist Jack Claydon, urged me to go and hear Tommy Whittle.

Thankfully, I took his advice and have been an admirer ever since.

This week presents a chance to repeat that early experience, with Tommy sounding as good as ever and with none of his technique or enthusiasm dimmed by the passing years.

The concert planned for Thursday at the Little Barrow Hotel in Lichfield opens the new season of top-class jazz at this popular venue and the hand-picked quartet which will accompany Tommy reflects the high quality of the music we have come to expect from the West Midlands Jazz Club International.

On piano is John Pearce, whom many will recall as one of the vital ingredients of the band which backed Ken Peplowski earlier this year.

Guitarist Jim Mullen would be a draw by himself while Len Skeat on bass and Ralph Salmins on drums ought to convince you that the trip to Lichfield would be well worth while.

Tommy Whittle, of course, fronts the band on tenor saxophone, just as he has done for half a century.

His career has taken him through the ranks of the Ted Heath Orchestra and Kenny Baker's Dozen, where his jazz solo abilities were much in demand.

Thursday's session will allow him to show how much at home he still is in the small band format. The music starts at 8.30pm but from my experience an early arrival is a good idea.

TIM GARLAND plays all the saxophones including the soprano, which is how I first heard him.

His perfect intonation is only one reason for admiring his music and I was sorry not to have heard him with his Dean Street Underground Orchestra during the Coventry Jazz Festival.

The band will be at the Stables in Wavendon on Sunday and the line-up includes ex-Chick Corea drummer Jeff Ballad, and an all-star British contingent which includes Henry Lowther on trumpet, Barnsby Dickson on trombone and Andy Panayi on flute and baritone saxophone. The pianist, who has played many times at Warwick Arts Centre, is Gareth Williams and Orlando le Fleming will be on bass.

An interesting feature of the concert will be Tim Garland's new "freedom songs" collection, recalling his tremendous show of a couple of years back, Songs of Love and Liberty.

Like every evening performance at the Stables, the starting time has been standardised at 8pm. How very sensible.

IF you go to Birmingham this weekend you will find yourself in the middle of the annual event known as Arts Fest.

Art in all its manifestations will provide something for everybody over the entire weekend and jazz will not be left out of the mix.

On Saturday afternoon you can hear Latin jazz from Mambo Taxi at 5pm and in the evening at 10.30pm Como No will continue at the same location.

On Sunday the Walsall Jazz Orchestra plays contemporary big-band jazz at 2pm and Tom Hill and the Straight Jackets take over at 3pm.

All this happens in Centenary Square which is, of course, free of charge.

The Arts Festival Jazz Session will present many surprise appearances at the Fiddle and Bone at 7.30pm.

AT one time I could have referred to Coventry trombonist Paul Munnery.

These days he is to be found deep in the Forest of Dean, playing better than ever and with all of his customary swinging approach.

His six-piece band with singer Marilyn Middleton presents an evening of music on Friday, October 5, devoted to the jazz which was played nightly on 52nd Street in New York.

In that famous street's heyday, nightly meant just that - dawn was closing time!

With the music of great jazz stars such as Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton, the show, at The Roses in Tewkesbury will be entertaining at several levels, with fascinating anecdotes to lend colour to the musical offerings.

I would not usually advocate a journey in search of jazz as far as Tewkesbury, but this show is rather special and might not be coming any closer to the Midlands.

The box office telephone number is 01684 295074.

CAPTION(S):

SMALL BAND DATE: Tenor saxophonist Tommy Whittle (right) will be joined by Len Skeat (far right) on bass at the Little Barrow Hotel in Lichfield on Thursday PERFECT INTONATION: Tim Garland and his band are at the Stables in Wavendon on Sunday
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 14, 2001
Words:755
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