Review: Tom White Septet at Swing Unlimited Jazz Club ‘At the Carrington’

While the cat’s away, the mouse gets all the cream!  Two years on the road, Australia, Edinburgh, Paris, Malta, Torquay, Cornwall and Brighton and what did I find right on my doorstep on return?  A fantastic world-class jazz club every Wednesday night.  That was Swing Unlimited Jazz Club at Centre Stage in Westbourne.  I wandered over in trepidation after dinner one cold January night.  A great venue with one wall exposed brick in great jazz-club tradition, with a full stage and New York prohibition-style bar – serving real ale, enough to satisfy this jazz buff.  However, times change – the new venue for Swing Unlimited Jazz Club presenting ‘Jazz at the Carrington’ is the Carrington House Hotel in deepest Springbourne.  A warm welcome still awaits!

American drummer, Ted Carrasco, set the scene for perfect and intricate playing, swapping seemlessly between sticks, tom toms and brushes and some tremendous solos like when featured with bass in ‘Places’.  The ensemble performed tirelessley and energetically through two swingin’ and melodic sets.  The playing was always top-class and tremendously exciting and easy on the ears.  Music included all original numbers by Tom White of superb contemporary jazz.  Highlights for me?  Well give me anything with a New York flavour, like ‘From the Source’ featuring Paul Jordanous on flugelhorn.  On keys Steve Pringle played the sweetest cocktail, full of energy and highlighting riffs in the tunes.  I’ve never heard trombone so superbly played as by Tom White who rightly reigned during some spectacular solos, his playing both sultry and dirty, demanding some extraordinatry yet melodic sounds from his ‘bone.  The generous horn line-up featured a terrific Piers Green on tenor and alto saxaphones. I was reminded by Piers of Curtis Stigers in looks, playing and presence on stage.  Alam Nathoo dances with his tenor saxophone, squeaks and whistles and adds at times an arabic feel, like in the haunting ‘From Zagreb’ – written by Tom during a flight from Croatia.  It was a fabulous end tune as it built to an intense crescendo, before taxi-ing to a close.  Ferg Ireland perfectly cemented the sound, keeping the rhythm on his double-bass. Together the Tom White Septet combined brilliantly cool playing with upfront laid-back jazz presentation. 

At the end, of course, we the audience didn’t want to let them go home, way past many of our bed-times, though it may have seemed to be.  No wonder the crowd are such a loyal bunch of jazz afficianados – they’re onto something incredibly good right on their doorsteps here in Springbourne.  Not a train journey away, let alone a flight across the Atlantic, but right here in a pleasant hotel function room, amazing world-class jazz.  Thanks Swing Unlimited Jazz Club for this inauguaral ‘Jazz at the Carrington’ with The Tom White Septet – I’ll be back!

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