Southampton Jazz Club has moved venue, again, to the CoCo Bar & Lounge and saxophonist Christian Brewer + The Marco Marzola Trio were the first act to play there for the club audience. I have to say that I was not familiar with the sax player or the trio, all of whom are Italian, that supported him but as they were playing a tribute programme to the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn I knew I would at least know some of the numbers to be played.
They opened the first set with Satin Doll, a jazz standard written in 1953, with Christian Brewer on alto sax. The rhythm section were very good, tight, swinging, and clearly a section that have played a lot of hours together. This was evidenced further on the second tune, Johnny Come Lately, where the trio were so together it was like hearing one musician play three instruments.
The second tune was also when we got to hear the first drum solo of the evening before moving on to a sparing match between drummer and saxophonist, both which were a joy to hear. The first set moved on through Daydream, soulful; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing with its beautiful opening sax solo, before coming to an end with Take the A Train, one of Strayhorn’s most well known tunes that did not suffer from over familiarity.
The second set opened with U.M.M.G where drummer Lele Barbieri played everything on his kit as well as the body of Marco Marzola’s double bass and looked as if he were thoroughly enjoying doing so as well. After Isfahan the group moved on to Raincheck. Pianist Nico Menci opened the proceedings gently before the tempo increased and we were treated to another drum solo. I am not sure why but the band really came to life on this number, not that they were slumbering before, and the audience reacted very positively to this.
Little African Flower followed with a beautiful drum solo opening. The bass of Marco Marzola and Christian Brewer’s soprano sax then joined in with Nico Menci filling out the sound on piano. This was the stand out number of the evening for me: the playing was simply stunning with each musician playing their own part in bringing this tune to life.
The second set concluded with In a Sentimental Mood followed by Things Ain’t What They Used to Be. Both well known tunes that seemed fitting for this band’s tribute to the music of Duke Ellington and Bill Strayhorn. I then got the opportunity to ask Christian Brewer if this band had recorded: “not yet” was the answer.
On the evidence of this evening’s showing the band, in my opinion, ought to record their tribute project. I must also mention that Lele Barbieri gave a masterclass in drum solo. I am not usually a big fan of the drum solo but this guy was captivating and a joy to hear and see play.
Like many who blog I am on Twitter and because I write about jazz music I follow those who produce the music I write about, listen to or go to see play live. Recently, the jazz guitarist Nigel Price posted the following on his Twitter feed:
I sold a CD online today. That brought in more revenue than a year’s worth of Spotify streams. @Spotify is killing revenue for musicians. The industry has never been in more trouble than it is now. If you love music, buy direct from the musicians you love.
As you might imagine this helped generate an interesting thread resulting in Crispin Hunt, Chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors, asking Nigel to get in touch.
Most of those who replied to Nigel’s original post support his view, as do I, but also recognize that streaming services do give the artist the opportunity to reach a wider audience than otherwise might be possible.
I do use Spotify but only to check out music before I purchase. I have discovered artists, bands and record labels that I otherwise would not have done and so in that respect Spotify has done me, and the artist whose music I buy, a favour. Unfortunately, not everyone appears to understand what the longer term effects of relying on streaming services might be:
I don’t think many people would sympathise with that point of view. People want to listen to the music they like; they’re not interested in financially supporting those musicians. I can listen to all the music I like for free on the internet; I’m not going to donate to musicians.
When musicians are unable to make a living from their music they will stop playing. Streaming only works for a small percentage of those artists who are currently in the public eye but for the rest, the percentage payed out in royalties is so low that to call it “income” is stretching the definition of the word to its absolute limit.
No doubt this topic will continue to run for some time and will, occasionally, resurface in another Twitter thread for people to air their views. The thread that sparked the writing of this post has reached its end but there were signs that a compromise could be reached. Inevitably the end user will have to pay, and rightly so, in order that those outside the current music mainstream can continue to live and produce music.
My bigger concern in all of this is how, in the future, music will be distributed:
The industry needs to change and it shouldn’t be up to the consumer to pay more for an archaic product. CDs are redundant …