The Chichester Jazz Club All-Stars

Friday, 24th June, saw a sextet of women jazz musicians come together as the 2022 CJC All-Stars performed in celebration of thirty years of live jazz in the heart of Chichester. The group came together at 2pm that afternoon and put on an evening performance that suggested they had played as a group many times before.

Judith O’Higgins – tenor sax; Allison Neale – alto sax & flute; Hannah Horton – baritone sax
Eriko Ishihara – piano and vocals; Migdalia van der Hoven – drums; Marianne Windham – double bass;

The gig kicked off with Dexter Gordon’s ‘Hanky Panky’ with each of the front line getting to solo, as did pianist Eriko Ishihara. As good as the solos were, it was the unison playing that stood out to me as well as the balance of the sound from the stage. Wes Montgomery’s ‘Full House’ came next with Allison Neale on flute, her playing varying from warm tones in the lower register to bright and airy in the upper and, as before, wonderful unison playing.

‘Don’t Ever go Away’ had the front line drop out and gave the audience the first opportunity to hear the vocals of Eriko Ishihara. The beauty of this tune is its simplicity and the wonderful, understated bass playing of Marianne Windham. Then came one of the biggest tunes of the evening in ‘Freddie Freeloader’ and the band did the number proud. The tune unmistakable, the playing first-class with an all-sax front line giving the number a different dynamic which was as effective as it was enjoyable. This was followed by an Allison Neale led ballad ‘I’m Glad There Is You’.  Both piano and bass soloed on this tune, but it was the whisper like brushwork of drummer Migdalia van der Hoven that caught my attention.

‘Forget Me Not’ is a funky flavoured tune with a punchy rhythm written and played by Hannah Horton as a dedication to her grandmother.  There was good use of tempo variations and energy – this tune was a firm favourite with the audience. The first set ended with ‘Gregory Is Here’ with Allison Neale leading on alto and flute and enthusiastic applause from an appreciative audience.

Migdalia van der Hoven photo from chichesterjazzclub.co.uk

The second set opened with a new tune written by Hannah Horton for the gig. The tune has a 5/4-time signature with a folk/township feel to it and I really liked this tune! ‘Everything I Love’ had a noodling baritone playing under the tenor and alto leads. The effect worked for me, giving added depth to the melodic lines before Hannah took her solo later in the number. Eriko Ishihara gave us another vocal performance with ‘Don’t Be On The Outside’, which I thought had a Mose Allison feel about it.

‘Frozen Light’ is a track from Inside Out by Hannah Horton. The album version has Ian Shaw singing the vocal line but for this live version Allison Neale played the top line on the flute, which worked very well. Judith O’Higgins soloed on ‘Lover Man’, which she dedicated to her husband Dave. The tune was played with such feeling I can only say that Dave O’Higgins is a very lucky man indeed! The rhythm section took us through an upbeat, enjoyable Latin number (I missed the title) before the band rounded off the gig with their cover of the jazz classic ‘Moanin’’ (see video below). The bass and drum section on this was terrific and it was good to finish the evening on a high.

This was an excellent gig from six talented musicians. Hannah Horton proved, yet again, what a genial host she is. The Chichester Jazz Club chairman suggested that the playlist would be a good one to record in a studio and he will get no argument for me on that one. What stood out for me was the way this band played off each other and with each other with such aplomb. Musical trades between any of the front line and drummer Migdalia van der Hoven were great to hear with Marianne Windham’s bass lines cutting through nicely. Eriko Ishihara was good vocally and at the piano and I will be checking out her album releases later. I will also be keeping an eye out for Migdalia van der Hoven who I thought deserves special mention for her compact playing style and brief but effective soloes.

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