|Drummer Bobby Orr playing flugelhor at Merlin’s Cace|
In January, there will be a typically mixed bag of music at Merlin’s Cave, with generation-spanning bands led by a variety of top-drawer soloists.
As always, the groups are convened by bass player Peter Hughes. Every Sunday at 12.15, “The Mingus of Merlin’s” can be seen ritually dragging the musicians from the cosiness of the bar to the chill of the Barn. Moments later – with a little help from the enthusiastic audience huddling together – the jazz warms the place up.
5 January: Duncan Lamont (tenor saxophone), Simon Wallace (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass), Bobby Orr (drums). Duncan Lamont is an internationally-respected composer, arranger, teacher and saxophone player who has worked with an astonishing list of musicians including Frank Sinatra, Gil Evans and Bill Holman. His intelligent improvisations can be dark and obtuse, and it will be fascinating to hear him with fellow Scot and drum legend Bobby Orr. The Celtic connection is completed by the fine Welsh pianist, Simon Wallace, who collaborated for many years with American lyricist Fran Landesman.
12 January: Nat Steele (vibraphone), Leon Greening (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass), Matt Home (drums). My pick of the month, this gig will reassure those who have any doubt about the future of jazz. Nat Steele’s enterprising vibraphone, with the relentlessly swinging piano of Leon Greening and Matt Home’s razor-sharp drumming, offers a truly exciting prospect. We’ll all need a lie down afterwards.
19 January: Jimmy Hastings (saxophones), Richard Busiakiewicz (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass) and Trevor Tomkins (drums). Jimmy Hastings landed a job with Humphrey Lyttelton 30 years after his first audition, and still enjoyed a lengthy spell with the great band leader. He has played with Nelson Riddle, Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin, and his appearance here with the resourceful Richard Busiakiewicz and Trevor Tomkins will bring stylish and tuneful music.
26 January: Colin Oxley (guitar), Peter Hughes (bass), others to be confirmed. A subtle and imaginative player, Colin Oxley is sometimes reminiscent of the late Jim Hall. His lengthy association with Stacey Kent, and recent recordings with Martin Speake and David Newton, have brought him the exposure he has long deserved.
The Barn can be cold in the winter….dress for warmth and don’t be embarrassed to bring a blanket.
Admission is £5. Doors open at 12 noon.