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Jazz Steps Nottingham Reviews of Previous Jazz Concerts Jazz Steps Nottingham

Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside Arts Centre, University Park

REVIEW – by Trudie Squires

AS part of an on-going project by EmJazz (East Midlands' Jazz Consortium) providing young local jazz groups with the opportunity to work with established professional musicians, this concert featured two Nottingham groups playing challenging material and gaining inspiration from two internationally established tenor saxophonists; Julian Siegel from Nottingham, who played alongside pianist John Bailey's trio and Dave O'Higgins, from Derby who joined Sidewinder, a stimulating six-piece outfit which emerged from Nottingham's jazz scene just three years ago. The trio with Julian Siegel played the first set and proved to be a highly industrious outfit, playing in a straight-ahead style, with an intriguing mix of jazz standards and originals, penned by Bailey. These showcased Siegel's robust, full-toned tenor-sax and rich soprano-sax as well as his own fluent and constructive piano style. Paul Tripett provided subtle bass lines and was also an outstanding soloist and drummer Simon Spreyer an impeccable timekeeper. A Bailey original Falling Off Clouds highlighted his lyrical, melodic piano and featured Julian's softly contoured tenor sax. An intricate bass intro and a swiftly flowing solo from Bailey were notable contributions to a swinging version of Wayne Shorter's Footprints.

Dave O'Higgins was somewhat less involved with Sidewinder, playing the second set. Indeed, it was the group's own tenor-saxist, Toby Kennedy, who stole the limelight in the early numbers playing innovative solos with an earthy, vigorous sound. Sidewinder fused jazz, contemporary sounds and made explorations into electronica via Chris Johnson's keyboards and Matt Southall, who was in charge of the electronic wizardry and samplers. The band's set was devoted to ambitious originals, written by band members and with great soloists in Benny Lee (trumpet) and Gareth Bailey (trombone) and the band's superb rocking drummer. Dave O'Higgins was featured on Irregular Enough, where his tenor was given a "squeezy" sound when played through an electronic device. Miles Away . . . But Still Running, calmed things down and featured Lee's tight muted trumpet and Kennedy's tenor-sax. The group's version of Sidewinder was something completely different to the well-loved version by Lee Morgan, but featured the full line-up with Dave O'Higgins' soprano-sax in a thoughtful mood.

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