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Some great guitarists, who usually ensure a healthy turnout, are in our patch this month, so I thought I’d feature a few. Suffolk gets two chances to appreciate 1970s jazz-fusion favourite John Etheridge in contrasting modes. Etheridge has quite a pedigree in interesting musical collaborations and supporting roles having played with the Hot Club swing of violinist Stephane Grappelli as well as Soft Machine co-member and subsequent free-jazz saxophonist Elton Dean. At Fleece Jazz on Friday ,June 17 Etheridge brings us his project with a mercurial singer by the name of Vimala Rowe who has found fame in the Far East and is now gaining recognition back home.
Two days later, and following a brisk walk eastwards from Leavenheath along the banks of the River Stour to the old port of Felixstowe, you will find Etheridge appearing with The Alex’s house bass-drums trio company, most likely for some healthy jazz-standards work out. And on the Sunday evening before that Jazz East, who host at The Alex, have Phil Brooke’s impressionistic Art of the Trio where you’ll hear Brooke present an accomplished guided tour of the works of Pass, Farlow and Montgomery among others through his own personal interpretations of standards.
Two more jazz guitar styles to feature are both on the first Sunday evening of June so you’ll need to get quite a sprint on, by any mode, to catch a set each of Danish maestro Kristian Borring at Lowestoft’s Milestones club and Ronnie Scott’s regular Nigel Price at The Bell in Clare near Sudbury. If you can, you’ll hear just how versatile a contribution the guitar and guitarists make in jazz. Borring displays the controlled elegance of John Abercrombie fused with the rapidity of Metheny (and Chick Corea influences).
Price meanwhile will serve up the home-cooked soul-jazz grooves of Grant Green and, to my ears, those great early George Benson organ-trio sets (try and find his ‘Summertime’ LP CBS 32191).
Last month I fell foul of a mischievous sub-editor and the quote “It’s like jazz, but good”. Such self-deprecation will always amuse. The ironic quote however also reveals an honest reality that while the genre appeals musically its posturing can repel. Guitars and guitarists win by being a familiar stage presence that can then draw attention to visible flare and technique on the instrument.