Tag Archives: Mike Piggott

IN ARCADIA WITH MARTIN WHEATLEY and FRIENDS: TOM “SPATS” LANGHAM, MIKE PIGGOTT, LOUIS THOMAS

The birth of a band?  I sincerely hope so.  They are Wheatley’s Arcadians: Martin Wheatley on all variety of guitars and other stringed instruments; Tom “Spats” Langham, guitar, vocal; Mike Piggott, violin; Louis Thomas, string bass.  The excellent cinematography is by guitarist Dave Kelbie (of the Dime Notes and more).  Here’s what I consider their “demo reel” — a montage, hinting at some of the things the Arcadians do so well:

and, just posted today, a complete performance of RUSSIAN LULLABY:

One I nearly missed — which is great fun — DON’T BE ASHAMED OF YOUR AGE:

Messrs. Wheatley, Langham, Piggott, and Thomas might not be (from my vantage point) the most aggressive promoters, preferring the joy of making music to the thrill of sending emails, but I hope fervently that festival promoters, concert bookers, clubowners, the BBC, PBS, NPR . . . . you name it — that people rush to engage this most engaging band.  Arcadia, as you will remember, was seen as a utopia, a place of pleasure and peace, harmony and serenity.  This quartet might not be the only soundtrack one could imagine, but it does summon up a world before the tyrannies of the smartphone.

And a side-note: slightly more than a year ago, Messrs. Wheatley and Langham went into the studio to record what might be their first duet CD, THE LAND OF MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN.  It is one of the more touching recitals in my collection, and I have one copy shelved under W, another under L.  Beautiful playing and singing, with repertoire that — although sometimes obscure — instantly becomes precious: MUSIC, MAESTRO, PLEASE; EVERY DAY AWAY FROM YOU; TOO LATE; MY IDEAL; THE FIRST WEEKEND IN JUNE; THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS; SAY WHEN; THE THRILL IS GONE; P.S., I LOVE YOU; YOU’RE DANCING ON MY HEART; THE LAND OF MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN; GOLDEN EARRINGS; HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN.  In the ideal world of the previous century, I might have been able to write, “You’ll find it wherever better records are sold,” but I fear that this is no longer the case.  I am sure that Martin could be prevailed upon to offer a copy for sale if asked nicely here.  Perhaps he and Mr. Langham could bring several copies — if there are any left? — to their gigs?

I greet these sweetly expert swing stars and hope for more Arcadian manifestations.  We need beauty like this.  Seriously.

May your happiness increase!

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SIXTEEN WORDS TO GENTLY NUDGE THE HESITANT TOWARDS PLEASURE, THE 2013 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY

SIXTEEN SEATS REMAIN for the 2013 WBCJP.  

Hesitate and miss something special.  

There’s nothing like it. 

(My title is also sixteen words long; I hope the numerologically-minded will admire this.)

Some words in a slightly more expansive vein.  Last year’s party sold out and people were turned away, with “wailing and gnashing of teeth.”  Tickets can be ordered at whitleybay.

Quite simply, the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — the creation of the much-missed Mike Durham — continues to strive for musical authenticity while making sure everyone has a good time.  The players and singers do a wonderful job of hot time-travel, taking us to musical stages and situations we’ve only dreamed of.

The musicians invited for the 2013 party include:

Trumpets: Bent Persson (Sweden), Enrico Tomasso (UK), Andy Schumm (USA), Ben Cummings (UK), Andy Woon (UK)

Trombones: Kristoffer Kompen (Norway), Alistair Allan (UK), Graham Hughes (UK)

Reeds: Aurélie Tropez (France), Stéphane Gillot (France), Claus Jacobi (Germany) , Matthias Seuffert (Germany), Lars Frank (Norway), Mauro Porro (Italy)

Piano: Keith Nichols (UK), Jeff Barnhart (USA), Morten Gunnar Larssen (Norway), Martin Seck (Germany)

Banjo/Guitar: Spats Langham (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Martin Wheatley (UK), Jacob Ullberger (Sweden), Keith Stephen (UK)

String Bass: Richard Pite (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Malcolm Sked (UK)

Brass Bass: Phil Rutherford (UK), Jean-Philippe Palma (France)

Drums: Josh Duffee (USA), Richard Pite (UK), Julien Richard (France), Nick Ward (UK)

Bass Sax: Frans Sjöström (Sweden)

Violin: Mike Piggott (UK)

Vocals: Daryl Sherman (USA), Caroline Irwin (UK), Spats Langham (UK)

Obviously, a trip to Newcastle might be beyond the resources of many of my United States readers.  But if you can get there, you won’t regret it.  Here’s just one sample of what happened last year:

I think you’d have to be deeply ECCENTRIC to not feel those good vibrations!

May your happiness increase!

“I’D LOVE IT”: WHITLEY BAY JOYS — 2011, 2012, 2013 . . . !

I’ve attended the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party for the last few years . . . and always had an extraordinary experience . . . meeting and hearing players who don’t often make it to the United States, including Jean-Francois Bonnel, Bent Persson, Frans Sjostrom, Michel Bastide, Nick Ward, Norman Field, Spats Langham, Michael McQuaid, John Scurry, Jason Downes, Matthias Seuffert, Enrico Tomasso, Jacob Ullberger, and two dozen other luminaries — even musicians from the US I don’t encounter often enough, such as Andy Schumm, Josh Duffee, and Jeff Barnhart.

The 2012 Jazz Party is sold out, but if you want a portable audio sampling of the 2011 Party, I urge you to snap up a copy of this limited edition CD . . . only 100 copies were produced.

The CD was recorded live at the 2011 Party by Torstein Kubban, and features this stellar assortment of players: Michel Bastide, Mike Durham, Bent Persson, Andy Schumm, Enrico Tomasso, Andy Woon, Alistair Allan, Kristoffer Kompen, Paul Munnery, David Sager, Steve Andrews, Bernard Anetherieu, Michel Bescont, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Norman Field, Mauro Porro, Matthias Seuffert, Paul Asaro, Jon Penn, Keith Nichols, Martin Seck, Jean-Pierre Dubois, Phillippe Guignier, Keith Stephen, Martin Wheatley, Roly Veitch, Christian LeFevre,Henry Lemaire, Bruce Rollo, Phil Rutherford, Debbie Arthurs, Josh Duffee, Richard Pite, Nick Ward, Raymond Grasier, Mike Piggott, Frans Sjostrom, Caroline Irwin, Cecile McLorin Salvant.

And the songs?  Nothing “psychological,” as Ruby Braff once said.  I’D LOVE IT / I GOT RHYTHM / SWEET SUE / I DON’T KNOW IF I’M COMIN’ OR GOIN’ / COTTON CLUB STOMP / WOLVERINE BLUES / VIPER’S DRAG / SINGIN’ THE BLUES / THANKS A MILLION / STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER / WHEN YOU LEAVE ME ALONE TO PINE / SOUTH / SNOWY MORNING BLUES / BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL / ALLIGATOR CRAWL / FRONT AND CENTER / OH, BABY! / WILDFLOWER RAG / CORNFED / BUGLE CALL RAG — a nice mix of small bands, big bands, three-tenor extravaganzas, vocals, novelty showcases . . . not a dull minute in the seventy-eight contained on the CD.

You can purchase a copy of the souvenir CD by visiting here.  Your purchase helps fund future Classic Jazz Parties, but the price of the disc isn’t prohibitive.

On to the future.  The 2013 CJP will run from November 1-3, and the following musicians are being considered . . . which will give us all something to dream about:

Trumpets: Bent Persson (Sweden), Enrico Tomasso (UK), Andy Schumm (USA), Ben Cummings (UK), Andy Woon (UK)

Trombones: Kristoffer Kompen (Norway), Alistair Allan (UK)

Reeds: Aurélie Tropez (France), Stéphane Gillot (France), Claus Jacobi (Germany) , Norman Field (UK), Matthias Seuffert (Germany), Lars Frank (Norway), Mauro Porro (Italy)

Piano: Keith Nichols (UK), Jeff Barnhart (USA), Morten Gunnar Larssen (Norway), Martin Seck (Germany)

Banjo/Guitar: Spats Langham (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Martin Wheatley (UK), Jacob Ullberger (Sweden), Keith Stephen (UK)

String Bass: Richard Pite (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Malcolm Sked (UK)

Brass Bass: Phil Rutherford (UK), Jean-Philippe Palma (France)

Drums: Josh Duffee (USA), Richard Pite (UK), Julien Richard (France), Nick Ward (UK)

Bass Sax: Frans Sjöström (Sweden)

Violin: Mike Piggott (UK)

Vocals: Daryl Sherman (USA), Caroline Irwin (UK), Spats Langham (UK)

and you can visit here to see the “themes” being mulled over for 2013 — because, as you may already know, the CJP is remarkable in its intense focus.  Some jazz parties get wonderful results by merely putting a group of musicians onstage and saying, in effect, “You have 45 minutes to do whatever you’d like.”  The CJP arranges its musicians thematically — so there might be a Jelly Roll Morton trio, a Lionel Hampton small-group session, a recreated McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, the Rhythmakers come again, and so on.  It’s not a dry historical lesson — more like a pageant of jazz history, alive and exuberant.

So, I encourage you to do “all of the above” if possible.  You’ll love it.  Or them.

May your happiness increase.

MAURO PORRO’S PICCADILLY PLAYERS HONOR THE RHYTHMIC EIGHT at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Elin Smith and Flemming Thorbye)

I suspect that the Rhythmic Eight is far better known to listeners in the United Kingdom than in the United States — but I hope to rectify that a bit with this post.

They were a small hot unit of players drawn from the best English dance / hot dance bands of the time, and although the musicians were working with pop tunes of the day, their recordings had a good deal of heat and a solid proportion of solo work — with some rewarding influence from the best American hot players of the day — people we know as Bix, Tram, and Red . . .

This tribute, created and performed on Sunday, November 6, at the 2011 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, features Mauro Porro, saxophone and vocal on GIRLFRIEND and ANNABELLE; Andy Schumm, Andy Woon, trumpets; Keith Nichols, piano; Jean-Francois Bonnel, reeds; Martin Wheatley, banjo and guitar; Richard Pite, sousaphone and string bass; Debbie Arthurs, drums, with an appearance by Mike Piggott, violin, on CAROLINE, and a vocal on I”M CRAZY OVER YOU (first recorded in 1928 by the youthful Bing Crosby) by Caroline Irwin.  And some dancers — Bridget and Jonathan — who should be easily recognizable to you by now.

IS SHE MY GIRLFRIEND? (Elin):

MISS ANNABELLE LEE (Thorbye):

WAY BACK WHEN (Elin):

THERE’S A CRADLE IN CAROLINE (Elin):

I’M CRAZY OVER YOU (Elin):

My tribute to this group is that when I visited Amoeba Music in San Francisco not long ago, I saw a two-CD set on the Retrieval label of the best 48 recordings by the Rhythmic Eight — a set that Mauro had recommended . . . I own it now.  Thanks also to our benefactors, Elin Smith and Flemming Thorbye!

VIBRAPHONIA: RAYMOND GRASIER and CO. at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Elin Smith and Flemnming Thorbye)

Leaving aside Red Norvo, the obvious subject for this tribute would be Lionel Hampton, and a few of these performances are aimed that way, but the real honors go to the neglected Thirties recordings Adrian Rollini made for Victor and Vocalion, on vibraphone.

This set was the idea of Frans Sjostrom, the noble bass saxophonist who brought his horn onstage late in the program.  The band at the start was Andy Schumm, trumpet; Steve Andrews, reeds; Alistair Allan, trombone; Paul Asaro, piano; Mike Piggott, violin; Philippe Guignier, guitar; Bruce Rollo, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.

The first two selections are loose-limbed jam sessions on familiar changes — performances that recall the imperishable 1937-41 records that Hampton made for Victor:

I GOT RHYTHM (Elin):

ROSETTA (Elin):

Frans brought his bass saxophone onstage and gave the other horns a rest for the Rollini SWING LOW (Elin) — which doesn’t go where one would expect it to:

For me, the highlight of the set was their version of SMALL FRY, which harks back to a lovely 1938 recording Rollini made for Vocalion featuring Bobby Hackett, whose place Andy Schumm takes for an interval.  (Thorbye):

I’d like to see some bands in the States take on this tune — it has its own life!  Thanks again to Elin Smith, “elinshouse” on YouTube, and Flemming Thorbye, “thorbye” in the same place, for their willingness to offer their videos to JAZZ LIVES.

THAT RHYTHM MAN: BENT PERSSON PLAYS LOUIS at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Flemming Thorbye and Elin Smith)

Even though I think he finds it mildly embarrassing, I hold the cornetist / trumpeter / bandleader / jazz scholar / occasional singer Bent Persson in awe.  He isn’t the only brassman who has studied and emulated Louis Armstrong — but when he plays, young and middle-period Louis comes alive, gloriously.

In this set at the 2011 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party (on Friday, November 4) he and an all-star band evoked some music from 1929, when Louis was often accompanied by the Carroll Dickerson and Luis Russell — a period of his career that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

The band had Bent, Andy Schumm, and Michel Bastide on trumpets; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Michel Bescont, Matthias Seuffert, and Mauro Porro, reeds; Martin Seck, piano; Mike Piggott, violin; Jean-Pierre Dubois, guitar; Richard Pite, sousaphone and string bass; Debbie Arthurs, drums; vocals by Rico, Cecile McLaurin Salvant, and Michel Bastide.

SYMPHONIC RAPS is more good-natured than symphonic, although it occasionally gives the impression of a Hot Seven line scored for large orchestra. I admire the way the sections play off each other at the start, then the exchanges between Seck’s properly skittering Hines-styled piano and the band.  Because this band isn’t constrained by the recording studio, Bent opened up the arrangement for a few more solos — the first being the nimble Matthias on alto, then an off-camera Kristoffer on trombone (catch Debbie Arthurs rocking the proceedings all through this), before he comes on with some organic, locally sourced Louis. Bent knows Louis so well that he seems to move around freely in the great man’s imagination, leaving the impression of a newly-discovered alternate take, say, on Argentinian Odeon — before Debbie wraps this package up neatly with comments on the temple blocks:

The Waller-Razaf lament about what they now call “colorism,” BLACK AND BLUE, remains deeply moving.  Everything here is in place, with the comfortable feeling of musicians who know the original so well that they can bring to it their own individualities — Bent, Kristoffer, that reed section, and an understated but impassioned vocal from Rico that summons up the Master, leading to an early-Thirties Hawkins interlude from Bascont, and Bent rising above the band and Debbie’s most empathic drumming:

Another Waller-Razaf song, THAT RHYTHM MAN, its basic conceit going back to Renaissance poetry, that the whole world is an orchestra, is clearly a dance number.  The band swings out from the start, with Kristoffer doing his special J.C. Higginbotham magic on the bridge. Michel Bastide shows that rhythm can triumph over every obstacle, even a recalcitrant microphone; he’s followed by rocking solos from Kristoffer, Bascont, Bent, and Matthias, before the whole rollicking performance winds down.  I wonder how many jazz players and singers across the country had this black-label OKeh in their collection, a record worn to a low gravy:

The most famous of the Waller-Razaf trilogy is of course AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Elin) and this version follows the less well-known Seger Ellis small band recording, which featured Joe Venuti, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Arthur Schutt, and Stan King — here the compelling Cecile McLorin Salvant stands in for Ellis, to great effect:

DALLAS BLUES (Thorbye) shows the band ready to swing — propelled by Debbie and her colleagues — even before Kristoffer and Richard play the blues and Bent sings them.  An inspired Kristoffer returns for a substantial outing and wows both the crowd and the band, before the trick ending that catches almost everyone by surprise:

I AIN’T GOT NOBODY (Thorbye) is given a performance at odds with the melancholy lyrics. Rocking interludes for the band, Rico, Mauro Porro and his metal clarinet, and Bent, suggest that everyone here indeed has somebody:

THANKS A MILLION (Elin), with both Rico and Bent invoking and evoking Louis, makes me feel so grateful for this set of music.

Thanks, once again, to Flemming Thorbye — check out his treasures   here

and Elin Smith, whom you can visit here

NORMAN FIELD AND FRIENDS at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Flemming Thorbye)

Norman Field is a treasure, no matter what instrument he’s playing (he also sings and annotates with equal ease).  Here are three too-short proofs of his hot mastery.

SOME OF THESE DAYS, from a tribute to Venuti, Lang, and Rollini, features Mike Piggott (violin), Keith Nichols (piano), Martin Wheatley (guitar), Frans Sjostrom (bass saxophone), Raymond Grasier (vibraphone), Josh Duffee (drums), Bridget Calzaretta and Jonathan David Holmes (terpsichorean urges):

THAT’S A PLENTY is Norman’s tribute to the youthful Benny Goodman.  Here he’s expertly accompanied by Keith, and the astonishing drummer Nick Ward — every move a picture! — doing his own version of Twenties Chicago drumming, with four on the floor for certain:

and THE MAN FROM THE SOUTH is the official tribute to Rube Bloom and his Bayou Boys (it’s the law — every jazz party has to have one) by “The Three Pods of Pepper,” here Norman on alto as well as clarinet; Martin Wheatley (banjo); Frans Sjostrom (bass sax); the ebullient Debbie Arthurs (percussion):

Thanks once more to the generous Flemming Thorbye for these videos: you can see more here.