Thursday, 7 October 2010

Hastings Jazz

For a few years now a jazz club has been running on the first Monday of the month at the Hastings and St Leonards Angling Association on the seafront. Although I own a few jazz records and cds I've never been a huge fan and hadn't gone to many jazz concerts. What's good about the UK jazz scene is that it's still a minority interest - most musicians, even quite well known names, have to play in small clubs.

The Hastings club is a good size, most times you can get a seat with a table and the drinks are cheap - entrance was £5.00 but recently went up to £7.00. I've seen quite a few shows here: John Etheridge, Don Weller, Greg Abate, Jamie Cullum's band (without their leader), Steve Grossman (one of the many Miles Davis sidemen), Gwilym Simcock, Liam Noble, Byron Wallen, the late Bheki Mseleku and many more.

The best for me have been: a riproaring gig with Alan Barnes and Guy Barker, the adventurous Robert Mitchell trio, Gilad Atzmon and Polar Bear who were one of the few bands to use electronics and live sampling. A lot of the crowd is pretty elderly and traditional in their tastes, so the most packed houses are for bebop and post-bop musicians playing standards.

The gig on Monday by the Asaf Sirkis Trio was excellent, but not as well-attended as most of the shows there, probably because the music was much more rock influenced. Guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos was very impressive, coming up with some imaginative solos that would switch effortlessly from jazz runs to out and out rock playing. His plangent arpeggios hanging in the air, with much use of a chorus pedal and volume control, were not that far removed from Robin Guthrie's guitar sound in the Cocteau Twins. Asaf Sirkis is an amazing drummer - Bill Bruford has sung his praises - he can provide a subtle backing with brushes or pound away on the kit like Keith Moon - he also writes all the songs. Standout songs for me were 'Life itself' with a mesmerising circular bass line and 'Letting go' the title song of the new cd.

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