Richard Shepherd Nonet @ The Manor – 4th November 2012

Richard Shepherd Nonet @ The Manor – 4th November 2012In The Band: Richard Shepherd (tenor/baritone sax) leading Luke Steele (bass); Nat Steele (drums); Rob Barron (keyboard); Jay Phelps (trumpet); Allison Neale (alto sax, left); trombones: Callum Au (valve), Kieran McLeod (tenor), Ross Anderson (bass).

Set 1: Sun On The Stairs (Gerry Mulligan) [intro/theme: Richard (bari); solos: Rob, Luke, Nat] : Blue Lou (Marty Paich) [intro: Rob; solos: Richard (tnr), Kieran, Callum, Rob, Luke] : Move (Denzil de Costa Best) [solos: Jay, Allison, Kieran] : Moon Dreams (Gerry Mulligan) [no solos] : Israel (Johnny Carisi) [solos: Rob, Richard (bari), Allison] : Venus De Milo (Gerry Mulligan) [solos: Rob, Richard (bari), Allison, Callum (slide tmb)] : Godchild (Gerry Mulligan) [intro: Nat (brushes) with Jay; solos: Allison, Jay, Richard (bari), Luke] : Ontet (Gerry Mulligan) [solo: Kieran]

Set 2: Dahoud (Clifford Brown) [solos: Jay, Richard (tnr), Rob, Nat] : Enigma (JJ Johnson) [feature for Jay; solo: Rob] : Rouge (John Lewis) [solos: Rob, Richard (bari), Allison, Jay] : Jeru (Gerry Mulligan) [solos: Jay, Allison, Callum (slide tmb), Rob, Richard (bari), Kieran] : Bud-O (aka Hallucinations) (Bud Powell) [solos: Jay, Richard (bari) & Kieran then trading 4s, Allison & Callum then trading 4s, Luke, Allison].

Jottings: This debut session for Richard’s exciting new nine-piece band was entitled Beyond the Cool because it took inspiration from the seminal sound of Miles Davis’s early ‘50s Nonet, which featured innovative, fully-written band arrangements and whose famous album – Birth Of The Cool – heralded a major development in post-bebop jazz.

However, recreating Birth Of The Cool in its entirety does not a two-hour concert make, so Richard had fleshed out the session with other tunes having a similar ‘West Coast’ vibe, in the process providing us with a very satisfying afternoon of relaxed, melodious music-making.

Highlights included: Jay’s trumpet contributions throughout the session, but particularly on his feature – Enigma – the marvellous Move, Clifford Brown’s classic Dahoud and Gerry Mulligan’s Venus…; Callum’s solo mastery of his ‘£10’ valve trombone on Blue Lou, and his normal version on Venus… and Jeru; Allison’s Desmond-esque stylings on Israel, Godchild and Rouge; and Rob’s purposeful piano solos on Sun…, Enigma and Blue Lou.

Late dep Kieran earned his keep on Bud-O and Ontet; Richard proved exemplary all afternoon and the brothers Steele provided an appropriately eponymous backing throughout. Wonderful stuff!

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding