Alec Harper Quartet feat. Gene Calderazzo, Louche Bar, London ***

HANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: The busy Soho jazz scene is getting even busier especially mid-week. So in addition to the beacons of the scene Ronnie Scott's and Pizza Express Jazz Club - and when it puts on jazz, Crazy Coqs - the Boulevard (the former …

Published: 6 Apr 2023. Updated: 13 months.

HANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: The busy Soho jazz scene is getting even busier especially mid-week. So in addition to the beacons of the scene Ronnie Scott's and Pizza Express Jazz Club - and when it puts on jazz, Crazy Coqs - the Boulevard (the former Raymond Revuebar) over in Walker's Court and the weekly Louche Bar session on Greek Street over by Soho Square are providing invaluable additional choice to the wider offering that also includes the admirable Spice Jazz down in the bowels of the Spice of Life pub over by the Hogwarts loving Palace Theatre.

Greek Street was the home at number 18 of the origins of the crucial satire boom in the 1960s because Peter Cook's The Establishment club was sited there along the street. Over the other side of Soho Square near the Pizza on Carlisle Street and still home to Private Eye the Piano Bar has become a jazz friendly spot as well in recent years.

But back to Greek Street and a rainy night in Soho - it's impossible not to think of Shane MacGowan's classic 1980s love song when it is tipping it down as punters dash across the jazz village - fans of Downton Abbey may recall that there was a fictional scene located in a dancing club the Blue Dragon located on the street (the on screen house jazz band included trumpeter Byron Wallen) where Lady Edith Crawley, Matthew Crawley, and Lady Rosamund Painswick go to find the jazz loving Lady Rose played by Lily James. Wild dancing and kissing ensued as the toffs descended determined to pluck Rose away from the decadent Soho night.

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The jazz blue bloods in attendance - truth is stranger than class friction, eh - last night more like it and long led by fine tenorist Alec Harper here the great extra value was the presence of an icon of the UK jazz scene for many years with the Phil Robson and Julian ''Wiggy'' Siegel-led Partisans - Gene Calderazzo.

Hank Mobley's loping 1960 Blue Note classic 'Soul Station' is at the heart of the Louche bar sound.

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Nick Costley-White, above left, Alec Harper and Ferg Ireland at the Louche last night.

An American in London for oh many years Gene is the brother of the classic Branford Marsalis Quartet and former Michael Brecker band stalwart, pianist Joey Calderazzo. Gene is a formidable player in his own right. Think less Gene Krupa - more the Sco flow know how of Adam Nussbaum. Gene is also since Partisans disbanded the drummer in The W, one of the very best UK bands to have proved themselves on recent recordings at the moment and whose Portrait has just been released. Their Kings Place EP last year set us on fire, understandably given its visceral impact.

The Harper band's signature tune for the Louche could be said to be Hank Mobley's 'Soul Station' that rang out again long and beautifully best of all last night. Guitarist Nick Costley-White quickly got into the zone modulating at ease, a big smile beaming out all over his face when the beat morphed into another tempo altogether organically at one point. The set started after a little delay awaiting double bassist Ferg Ireland and took a while to settle as amplification issues needed addressing given the very busy bar environment - the guitar amp dial needing to be nudged gingerly up. Calderazzo clearly inspired the band and passing jazz anoraks and flâneurs, this being Soho, alike. Gene Calderazzo, top, setting up, at the Louche

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Irish festival Bray to host Blue Note pianist Gerald Clayton and his trio among the very strong 2023 line-up

The Gerald Clayton trio, Honor Heffernan, the Julia Hülsmann Quartet, the Phil Robson trio, Lars Danielsson's Libretto Quartet, Ian Shaw with Iain Ballamy and Jamie Safir, Ruth Goller's Skylla, Izumi Kimura and Cora-Venus Lunny, Elemental Quartet …

Published: 5 Apr 2023. Updated: 13 months.

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The Gerald Clayton trio, Honor Heffernan, the Julia Hülsmann Quartet, the Phil Robson trio, Lars Danielsson's Libretto Quartet, Ian Shaw with Iain Ballamy and Jamie Safir, Ruth Goller's Skylla, Izumi Kimura and Cora-Venus Lunny, Elemental Quartet featuring Tineka Postma, Cormac O'Brien's Art Blakey tribute band the Hibernian Improvisers Pool, Aoife Doyle, Bog Bodies and Matthew Jacobson and Sam Comerford's Insufficent Funs are among the line-up of this month's Bray Jazz Festival in the County Wicklow seaside town.

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Dates are 28-30 April. Details

Gerald Clayon, top. Photo: Blue Note publicity shot