Andy Boeckstaens writes:
Since leaving London for Los Angeles in 1980, saxophonist Benn Clatworthy has played with the greatest West Coast musicians including Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, Lionel Hampton and Bill Holman. He has amassed an impressive discography and recorded in excess of a dozen fine albums under his own leadership. And he is the grandson of legendary actress Gertrude Lawrence.
I first met Clatworthy in 1997, when I interviewed him for an article that was intended for a long-running jazz publication. The piece was rejected on the grounds that – despite his already distinguished career – they had never heard of him, but it was the beginning of a friendship during which we have shared the ups and downs of our personal lives, many rewarding and hilarious situations, and dozens of memorable gigs from Brighton to Van Nuys.
Clatworthy studied, worked hard and practised for many hours every day to reach a high level of accomplishment on tenor sax, soprano sax and flute, and now, at 58, has a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic for playing exciting jazz in the Coltrane/Rollins vein. A set typically consists of a couple of standards such as Moment’s Notice, a ballad, a composition of his own, and an arrangement of something a bit different, like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, or Danny Boy.
Clatworthy’s often outrageous humour amuses, bemuses and disconcerts audiences in equal measure, but his work always leaves you in no doubt that he is serious about the music. He has built an enthusiastic and loyal following in the UK, where he returns in March for dates in England and Scotland:
Saturday 8 March, 10pm The Archduke, Concert Hall Approach, London SE1 8XU. Tel: 020 7928 9370
Sunday 9 March, 12.15pm with John Donaldson, Peter Hughes and Matt Fishwick Merlin’s Cave, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, HP8 4QF. Tel: 07836 653650.
Wednesday 12 March, 9pm with Steve Hamilton, Brian Shiels and Tom Gordon The Jazz Bar, 1a Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. Tel: 0131 220 4298
Thursday 13 March, 8.15pm with Steve Hamilton, Brian Shiels and Tom Gordon Glasgow Arts Club, 185 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HU. Tel: 0141 248 5210
Sunday 16 March, 1pm The Oval Tavern, 131 Oval Road, Croydon CR0 6BR. Tel: 020 8686 6023
Tuesday 18 March, 8.30pm with Art Themen Marlow Jazz Club, Royal British Legion Hall, Marlow SL7 1NT. Tel: 01628 486571
Saturday 22 March, 9.30pm with John Donaldson, Simon Thorpe and Josh Morrison 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD. Tel: 020 7352 5953
Sunday 23 March, 7pm (free) with John Donaldson, Simon Thorpe and Matt Home The Sheaf (aka The Wheatsheaf), 24 Southwark St, London SE1 1TY. Tel: 0207 407 9934