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Top tenorman at the Albion

Al Nicholls
Al Nicholls in full flight

Al Nicholls is alway a popular attraction at the Albion and he was in top form on Monday. Recently dubbed the “UK’s top tenorman” by Blues and Rhythm magazine he fully justified this accolade with a fiery performance. Albion regulars Gerry Higgins, on bass, and Mick Hamer, on electric piano, provided the backing.

The session began with the George Gershwin standard Love is here to stay, before continuing with crowd-pleasing favourites like Christopher Columbus—which was written by fellow tenor sax player Chu Berry—and the Hoagy Carmichael evergreen Georgia.

The afternoon ended with a rousing rendition of the Duke Ellington barnstormer Caravan.

Jo Kimber at the Albion

Jo Kimber
Jo Kimber: featured vocalist

Jo Kimber was the featured attraction yesterday at the Albion, Hove’s premier afternoon jazz spot. Always a popular attraction at the pub, she was backed by two veterans of London’s legendary Mandrake Club—Mick Hamer on electric piano and Gerry Higgins on bass. It was a highly experienced rhythm section. Mick and Gerry first played together at a pub called the Vulcan on the Isle of Dogs. And that was 46 years ago—almost to the day—in January 1969.

The tenor player Dave Quincy, also an habitué of the Mandrake Club, stopped by to sit in. The Mandrake was a home from home for London’s professional musicians in the late 1960s. At the time Dave was the tenor player with the pop group Manfred Mann. Dave, who is back playing after a recent illness, joined the band for numbers like How High the Moon and I thought about you, which brought an enthusiastic reaction from the audience and had several couples dancing in the crowded bar.

Storming sextet

Terry Giles on sax and John Arthy on bass
Terry Giles on alto with master bassman John Arthy in the background

It was a stormy evening in Eastbourne as “Storm Rachel” hurled horizontal rain and 75 miles-per-hour winds at the coastal resort. Despite the appalling weather and Met Office weather warnings a goodly crowd gathered to listen to the Terry Giles Sextet in their first gig of the new year at the Cavendish Hotel. The band is now in its tenth year at the Cavendish.

It was well worth braving the weather. For the sextet, driven on by dep drummer Tony MacDonnell, was blowing a storm—one that rivalled the weather outside. From the first bars of the opening number, Gershwin’s Lady be good, the spritely tempos set toes tapping.

Al at the Albion

Al Nicholls
Al Nicholls: the UK’s top tenorman

It was a fitting end to a year of great gigs. Blues and Rhythm magazine recently dubbed Al Nicholls as the UK’s “top tenorman”. He cemented this reputation with a blistering performance at the Albion, Hove’s premier afternoon jazz spot.

An enthusiastic crowd had gathered to listen to the trio.  The other members of the trio were Mick Hamer on electric piano and Nick McGuigan on bass. There were several musicians among the crowd. The UK’s top tenorman is always worth listening to. Among the faces were the bassist Alan Kennington, the drummer John Muxlow, saxist Lawrence Jones and local singer Juliet Devereux, who got up to sing a couple of numbers.

A Grand Christmas

Christmas Day at Brighton’s Grand Hotel has become, as bassist Andy Lawrence puts it, “a residency”. The Nuages quartet has been playing for Christmas lunch at Brighton’s Grand Hotel since Christmas 2008. The membership of the quartet was unchanged. Goff Dubber, on clarinet and tenor and vocals fronts the quartet. Andy Lawrence was on double bass, Mick Hamer on piano and John Muxlow on drums—Mick and John being half the rhythm section of the Terry Giles Sextet.

Goff, our recently married bandleader, was in top form and the audience was extremely appreciative. According to the Melody Maker Goff and Acker Bilk were famous for having two of the most unusual names of any British jazz clarinetist. Acker died a couple of months before quartet played the Grand, so it was perhaps fitting that one of the requests that the band played was Acker’s 1962 chart-topper Stranger on the shore.