|Wally Fawkes. Photo credit: Peter Vacher|
Stan Greig Celebration
(100 Club, London- 30th January 2013. Report by Peter Vacher)
The Edinburgh-born pianist (and sometime drummer) Stan Greig who died in November had friends throughout the jazz world. After all, he had played with a broad swathe of its most prominent personalities such as Sandy Brown, Ken Colyer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Acker Bilk and George Melly as well as founding the brilliant all-star London Jazz Big Band. Along the way, he had also performed with a myriad small bands, some short-lived, some less so, and turned up trumps in all of them. Side-lined in recent years by the awful debilitating illness of Parkinson’s, it was only fitting that he should be remembered by his erstwhile musical companions in typically free-wheeling fashion, the financial proceeds passed to Parkinson’s UK at his family’s request.
First up was a small group headed by trumpeter Chez Chesterman and featuring guest singer Rachel Pennell with the former Lytelltonian Wally Fawkes, the doyen of English traditional clarinettists, still inventive and spirited at the great age of 87, and as ever good on the blues. They were followed by an augmented Laurie Chescoe band, the ebullient drummer flanked by Stan’s Scottish friend Ralph Laing on piano and the tireless Pete Skivington on bass guitar with a front-line sparked by Ben Cumming’s feisty trumpet, with John Lee’s broad-toned on tenor, youngster Adrian Cox impassioned on clarinet plus Chescoe regulars Dave Hewitt, trombone and the former Welshman Jim Douglas on guitar. As might be expected theirs was a set that balanced hard-driving swing with carefree zest.
|Jon Picard and Mike Cotton. Photo credit: PeterVacher|
Stan’s London Jazz Big Band was recalled with a small group replicating something of its panache and enterprise, trombonists Mike Hogh and very welcome returnee Jon Picard at its core, Pete Hurt, John Wurr and Sebastian Freudenberg added on saxophones as trumpeter Mike Cotton led the way. Their version of the blues ‘After Supper’ was a delight as was the surprise appearance of the veteran jazz violinist Bob Clarke down from Scotland for the day, his grace and engaging creativity pleasing everyone in the club. Great credit goes to front-man Chesterman and organiser-trombonist Mike Pointon for an affectionate if poignant recall of a valued friend and performer.