Tag Archives: Mark Elton

JAMMIN’ AT WHITLEY BAY (July 9, 2010)

Jazz musicians know that great truth: if you stay up late, you can always sleep tomorrow. 

Although the players at a jazz party might seem to have an exhausting schedule, many of them are fueled by the encounters with their peers and heroes — thus, an after-hours jam session often happens.  I was lucky enough to be awake for this one and have a fully-charged video camera.  The session took place at the “Victory Pub” in the Village Hotel Newcastle, the comfortable home base for the Whitley Bay International Jazz Party.  

Of course the seating arrangement scattered musicians here and there, and several flat-screen televisions remained on through the session, but the music was the focus here. 

The musicians who began the session were an organized band — a great one: Michael McQuaid’s Late Hour Boys: Michael and Jason Downes on reeds, John Scurry on guitar, Mark Elton on drums, Ian Smith on drums and washboard.  Then they were joined by Graham Hughes (from London) on trombone, and other gifted jammers.    

FORTY AND TIGHT comes from the Johnny Dodds book, and its title is a slang expression for something (or someone) who is splendidly gratifying.  How naughty the coinage is I don’t know; talk among yourselves:

MAMA INEZ certainly has a rocking, irresistible  beat:

Then, they were joined by a friend from the land of Oz — the fine trumpet player and singer Geoff Bull, who nudged them into SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Thinking of Louis, Jeff Barnhart unsheathed the keyboard and sang ROCKIN’ CHAIR:

But that might have been too mournful for a jubilant occasion, so they swung into another Louis-Hoagy connection, JUBILEE, which certainly did make the rafters ring / up to Heaven:

Bassist Henri Lamaire and drummer Josh Duffee joined the festivities and Geoff suggested the pretty THANKS A MILLION, again reaching back to the Thirties Louis book (or perhaps as homage to Dick Powell, who introduced the song in “the film of the same name”):

And the session concluded with a romping JUNE NIGHT, with pianist Martin Seck and a host of other musicians joining in (again, I’ll happily credit them by name if informed).  My hat’s off to Geoff Bull, who certainly knows how to get everyone going in the right direction with inspiring riffs.  And the wonderful solos are surely sparked by Josh’s exuberant drumming:

And here’s a very musical solo from Josh to wrap things up in a swinging way:

If you weren’t already convinced, I think this session is further proof that good things happen in the dark.

MICHAEL McQUAID’S LATE HOUR BOYS at WHITLEY BAY (July 9, 2010)

At my first Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival last year, I met and instantly liked the young Australian jazz virtuoso Michael McQuaid — he plays alto saxophone, clarinet, and cornet — but didn’t get to hear him in his natural settings.  This year the fates were kinder: I saw Michael and the little hot band he leads, the Late Hour Boys, in two sets. 

After the first one, someone asked me what I thought.  Without thinking for a second, I replied, “Scalding!”  I think you will see that I wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The Late Hour Boys take their name, some of their repertoire, and their joyous attitude from the late Ade Monsborough, who named his group this way not because they favored midnight performances, but because he assembled his personnels at the last minute.  Michael McQuaid’s LHB summon up the kind of hot improvisation I associate with Spanier and Bechet, with a bare-knickle version of Soprano Summit in its closing choruses. 

You’ll hear evocations of Johnny Dodds and Pete Brown, of Teddy Bunn and Milt Hinton and Zutty Singleton.  It’s a two-man all reed front line, with Michael and the peerless wit Jason Downes switching off on clarinet and alto; the rhythm is taken care of by the splendid John Scurry on banjo and guitar and Mark (the Eel) Elton on bass.  Ian Smith, who also played cornet with Ade some years back, is a driving homespun drummer and washboardist who sings with great effectiveness — tenderly on a ballad, raucously on a jump tune.  And this band jumps for sure.

Here’s a rollicking CANDY LIPS (I’m STUCK ON YOU) from the Clarence Williams book:

Here’s a wartime composition by Monsborough, SORRY TO BE LEAVING:

PUT ‘EM DOWN BLUES is not the usual homage to Louis and the Hot Five.  It has its own romping momentum.  Although I don’t quite understand the emotional / romantic nuances of the lyric, I believe anything that Ian sings:

RAIN is a pretty tune that no one else seems to remember; Ian is in the moment on his sweet vocal:

EUROA, a Monsborough composition, honors a place that Michael suggests is improved by the song:

MELANCHOLY, which harks back to the glory days of 1927 Chicago with Johnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong:

BLAME IT ON THE BLUES, which I associate with Sidney Bechet and Albert Nicholas, intertwining:

Michael and the Late Hour Boys also have a new CD out which entirely captures the exuberance of these video performances.  Listening to it is also a much more focused experience, since you don’t have a running-shoes-for-sale poster in the background.  It is a limited edition, so I don’t know if this posting is too late, but I hope not! 

Check it out at http://www.jasondownes.com/lhbcd.