The Carrasco Ensemble, at SUJC

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 do I find on my doorstep on return?  A fantastic world-class jazz club right here in Westbourne.  After finding a flyer tucked away in the library, wandered over in trepidation after dinner yesterday.  A great venue with one wall unplastered 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.

And what an evening of music to not disappoint!  Two sets from 8.30 to gone 11, and boy! such surprisingly good jazz this was.  A six-piece line-up – no less! called The Carrasco Ensemble. Led by American drummer, Ted Carrasco, who set the scene for perfect and intricate playing, 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 both covers of numbers by contemporary jazz composers and original tunes by members of the band.  In particular, pianist  Andy Daniels lent several of his original compositions which were full of energy and showcased each player’s talents perfectly.  Skilled and subtle trumpet player Paul Jordanous had a superb new song in which each player was given his head.  As yet un-named, the tune was a soulful ballad which seemed to have a true night jazz mood.  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.  No less competent, third part of the horn line-up was a terrific Piers Green on tenor and alto saxaphones, combining brilliantly cool playing with upfront laid-back jazz presentation.  I was reminded of Curtis Stigers in looks, playing and presence on stage.  Bastien Terraz perfectly cemented the sound, keeping the rhythm on his double-bass.  And 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 seemed such a loyal bunch of jazz afficianados – they’re onto something incredibly good right on their doorsteps here in Westbourne - not a train journey away, let alone a flight across the Atlantic, but right here, world-class jazz in a great world-class jazz club.  Thanks Swing Unlimitied Jazz Club and The Carrasco Ensemble – I’ll be back!


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