The album Tales From The Jacquard was reviewed for SimplyJazzTalk back in June 2021, and I, like many other reviewers, was taken not only by the playing of the music but also its composition. More than two years later I was given the opportunity to hear the album live at Turner Sims in Southampton, an opportunity I was never going to pass up.
Tales From The Jacquard started as a commissioned piece for Derby Jazz to represent the East Midlands. With a family background in the lace trade Julian Siegal chose the lace factories of the region as his inspiration. The evening, however, began with ‘Wild Child’ – a tribute to Wayne Shorter – that featured some excellent solo work from Percy Pursglove on flugelhorn, Mike Chillingworth on alto sax and Mike Outram on guitar. There was a real energy about this number that suggested that this eighteen piece band was going to give everything to this performance.
‘Blues’ preceded the main event with saxophonist Paul Booth wringing the emotional content from this slow, plaintive blues number that also featured Trevor Mires on trombone and the wonderful Richard Henry on tuba. ‘Tales From The Jacquard Part 1’ took us into the break and, as with the album, starts with the sound of the factory looms. My response to the music is not too far removed from my album review except to say that everything I enjoyed about the album was intensified by the live performance and in particular the playing by the rhythm section led superbly by Gene Calderazzo on drums.
The second set opened with ‘Tales From The Jacquard Part 1’ and the excellent bass playing of Oli Hayhurst against the sound of the looms. Mark Nightingale played a sublime trombone solo and the sax section, featuring Julian Siegal and Paul Booth, was a delight – as was the flute solo from Tori Freestone. The National Youth Jazz Orchestra tune ‘Mama Badgers’ came next and, for me, was one the highlights of the evening – another high energy number where the strength in numbers of a big band comes to the fore.
‘Twisted Hands’ is a lace making related tune but not part of the ‘Tales From …’ album (I think I heard Julian correctly here). Two wonderful solos from Tori Freestone on tenor sax and Claus Stoetter on flugelhorn. I very much enjoyed the way the melody was passed along the four part trumpet line and how the tune was propelled forward by the the rhythm section. When the full eighteen piece band kicked in it was a joyous wall of sound that grew before easing off slightly and then finishing.
The tune ‘Song’, also from the album, was a wonderfully paced ballad with solos from Mark Nightingale and Percy Pursglove but it was the tonal colouring from the six piece sax section that caught my attention anchored as it was by Gemma Moore on baritone. The evening finished with the encore number ‘Goose’ (also from the album). The wonderful Stan Sulzmann on tenor and Julian Siegal, also on tenor, led the way on this number with support from the rhythm section – Oli Hayhurst on bass standing out. The melody moved from saxes to trombones and then trumpets with a pulsing sound around which the soloists played.
This was a great evening of wonderful music played by a big band full of very talented players led by conductor Nick Smart. The energy generated by the musicians was palpable and each played their part to the full – though I have to say I was very musch taken by the rhythm section as a whole and Gene Calderazzo’s drumming in particular. I enjoyed the album on its release two years ago but this live performance will always be reflected on when the vinyl plays out though the speakers at home.