Jazz news from Shakespeare land

A lively jazz scene has developed in Stratford-upon-Avon, including recently a first-rate performance from the Nigel Price Trio and Tony Kofi

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The Nigel Price Trio with Tony Kofi at the Arts House in Stratford-upon-Avon, 13 October 2021

For some time now jazz in Stratford-upon-Avon has been in the capable hands of organisers, educators and facilitators Jay Riley and Dionne Sambrook and based at the Arts House in the centre. Although suspended over the last year or so, it has recently resumed with appearances by Ma Bessie and The Pigfoot Band, Lukas Oravec & Alex Garnett, and last week, the Nigel Price Trio – Price (guitar), Ross Stanley (organ) and Joel Barford (drums) – with saxophonist Tony Kofi, doing a tribute to Wes Montgomery entitled Wes Reimagined (see Barry Witherden’s review of the associated record).

Not simply copying Montgomery’s tunes, they reworked some of his compositions, covered numbers associated with the guitarist and included originals very much in that style, resulting in some outstanding playing. Right from the off, the standard was set with Price’s uptempo Blue Genes, followed by material from the Montgomery canon, including Far Wes, So Do It, Leila, Movin’ Wes and Body & Soul.

One highlight was Jingles, a showcase for drummer Joel Barford – a scorching performance, relentlessly inventive and retaining a great sense of swing. Appreciative of his driving momentum and energy, the whole group was inspired by his enthusiasm – a tight and exciting unit.

I’d encourage anyone interested in the music of Montgomery or simply wanting to hear a first-rate band at the top of their game, to get to see them. Forthcoming gigs are at Scarborough (20 October), Seven Jazz, Leeds (21), Peggy’s Skylight, Nottingham (23), Jazz Experience, Marlow (4 November), Herts Jazz (7), Norwich (7 December), The Maltings, Wells-next-the Sea (8) and The Hive, Shrewsbury (11).

Meanwhile, Stratford Jazz’s future dates include the welcome return of US saxophonist Greg Abate with the Elliott Sansom Trio on 10 November. He’s been a regular visitor to these shores over the last few years and it’s great to see him back. I reviewed his recent release Magic Dance – The Music Of Kenny Barron for Jazz Journal earlier this year.