Tireless Gill sums up jazz festival

Jazzangles Festival @ Apollo Club, Harleston.

Jazzangles Festival @ Apollo Club, Harleston

By David Wakefield

Last week I was listening to jazz at the Blue Note, in New York. This weekend it was the Apollo, regrettably not the famous theatre of the same name in Harlem, but the Harleston club which staged this excellent two-day extravaganza of the best of British and European jazz.

Sunday mornings are not, perhaps, ideally viewed by jazzmen as a prime time for producing their best work; not that anyone would have realised this as Digby Fairweather, compere for the weekend, appeared to announce, in his customary cheery manner, the first segment.

It was appropriate that this band should bear the name of the festival's organiser and kingpin, Gill Alexander; bassist Gill was joined by Willie Garnett (alto and tenor saxophones), Harry Beckett (trumpet), Andrea Vicari (piano) and Neil Kane (drums) for a swinging mainstream session which got the day off to a great start.

Then it was a spell on the door, taking ticket money, for this tireless woman – and her musical duties were far from finished. An hour's rest, and she joined Digby's Half Dozen on stage, a lively, happy set which introduced me, at any rate, to the dazzling keyboard skills of Craig Milverton, a young man for whom none other than Humphrey Lyttelton had warm praise on his radio show recently.

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Sandwiched in between was another superb set from guitarist John Etheridge and bassist Malcolm Creese, and Sunday's bill of fare also featured Andrea Vicari with her quartet, and, rounding off the festival, vocalist Ian Shaw with accompanist James Pearson.

The previous day had been equally star-studded, with Jean Toussaint, Jacqui Dankworth and Alan Barnes among others.

But it would never happen without Gill Alexander. She deserves all our thanks.

David Wakefield

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