by Norman Warwick

We have no doubt that Jazz in Reading will continue to deliver many adventurous listings in 2023 and they are certainly seeing out this year with some good stuff and we are sure you will agree that the pieces below illustrate that fact.  

Fri 16 December | Progress Theatre, Reading (details below) | 7:30pm | £18.00 (£16.00 concessions, £9 under 16) plus maximum 5% booking fee
Alan Barnes sax, clarinets
Bruce Adams trumpet
Mark Nightingale trombone
Robert Fowler sax, clarinet
Karen Sharp sax, clarinet
David Newton piano
Simon Thorpe bass
Clark Tracey drums

Jazz In Reading and The Progress Theatre in Reading  have sent us some information about what sounds to be an intriguing piece of muisic.

 “Copperfield” – a new jazz suite from Alan Barnes, touring for the first time this year, takes the audience through the characters and scenes of ‘David Copperfield’.  Readings from the original Dickens tell the story, and after each scene eight virtuoso Like the Dickens classic itself, Alan Barnes’s “Copperfield” has something for everyone. A great night out that is also a treat for the jazz connoisseur; it will delight anyone who loves music or literature – or just being entertained!

A cheery clarinet plays Copperfield, the lost orphan Little Em’ly is a musicians bring the characters and scenes to life, switching audiences from hilarity to pathos with a skill that would have done credit to Dickens himself!

lyrical tenor, Mr Dick flies his kite in the personage of a soaring flugelhorn and trombone, Mr Micawber expresses “Something will turn up!” on the piano and Uriah Heep writhes around on the bass clarinet.

Just as we see David progress through the trials of his life, so the movements of this suite seem to develop along with him. The music and readings inspire the full range of Dickens’s imagination and emotion: from loneliness and remorse through to love and then irresistible joy.

“Barnes is a true Dickensian. He is a serious reader of the novels. It is a clear blunder of providence that he was born too late to appear in their pages!” Hot News

If you need a reminder of the David Copperfield story and of the characters in the novel, Alan Barnes website has a brilliant summary of both.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens was first published in serial form from May 1849 to November 1850.

The cast of vivid and memorable characters seemed perfect for depiction in a new musical suite. Knowing the musicians intimately meant I could once again write to their strengths and personalities.

​Copperfield Theme

We start with a depiction of David’s happy childhood spent with his attractive, kind yet impractical widowed mother and their loyal and loving housekeeper Clara Peggotty. The clarinet states the main theme but we are introduced to other soloists as the music becomes more playful.

​Mr Peggotty’s Boat House

Mr Peggotty is a fisherman who lives in an inverted boat house in Yarmouth with Little Em’ly and Ham. The brass speak out in the moaning voice of another resident, Mrs Gummage: I’m a lone lorn creetur and everythink goes contrary with me.

Barkis is Willin’

David is sent away to school, being transported there by the phlegmatic carrier Barkis who wishes Peggotty to know that Barkis is willin’. Simon Thorpe on double bass willingly takes the part of Barkis.

Creakle and Tungay

At School, David meets the fiery-faced and furious headmaster, here played by Bruce Adams. Karen Sharp takes the part of his one legged assistant Tungay.

Tommy Traddles’ Skeletons

A fellow student Tommy Traddles, when sensing a wrong or miscarriage of justice, doodles skeletons with great fervour. A clarinet dance macabre for the skeletons in the margin with Robert Fowler soloing.

​Murdstone and Grinby’s

David is set to work in a wine bottling factory in London. We can feel the anguish of Dickens himself, consigned as he was at 12 years old to work in Warren’s Blacking Factory, pasting labels on the pots.

Mr Dick Flies his Kite

Mr Dick is disturbed by the troubles in King Charles the First’s severed head. The only release from this mental torment is to write the troubles on an enormous kite and fly it high in the sky. Bruce Adams and Mark Nightingale both soar with the kite but eventually return to earth.

Mr Micawber

Mr Wilkins Micawber is relentlessly optimistic but always impecunious. Based on Dickens’s father John, his guiding principle is that something will turn up. What actually turns up is Alan Barnes on the clarinet.

​Little Em’ly

We return to Em’ly’s exotic and yearning theme on clarinet which was briefly heard at Mr Peggotty’s house. Bruce Adams speaks Steerforth’s words of seduction with his plunger mute and Robert Fowler helps the lovers take flight


Steerforth’s theme starts in a stately manner with the face he presents to the world, but the music soon changes to reveal something darker. At the end David continues to remember him, despite the evidence, as a noble character.

Uriah Heep

A character notable for his sycophancy, obsequiousness and insincerity. I am well aware that I am the umblest person going, said Uriah Heep modestly, but have much to be thankful for. The oily chalumeau bass clarinet takes the  unctuous theme and the brass plungers voice ever so umble at the end.

​Dora and Jip

David falls in love with the pretty and girlish Dora Spenlow who is inseparable from Jip, her irritable, spoilt, little dog. A depiction of David’s comic and obsessive courtship. Bruce Adams gives us the benefit of his Canine cadenzas at the end.


David finally comes to his senses, realises the path he should always have taken, and marries his soul-mate Agnes Wickfield. A tender ballad shared around the orchestra.

​A New Life

Many of the characters sail off to a new life in Australia, Heep is in prison and David is happily married, successful, and respectable.

It promises to be a wonderful event, so book now and for the events below to avoid disappointment.

There is reason to believe that 2023 at the Progress Theatre will provide events of similar excellence to those that fans have enjoyed in this past calendar year.

With slots filled from January to June we can already see from the artists booked that high standards are being maintained.

2023 at Jazz at Progress

Friday 3 February
Gary Willcox

Friday 17 March
Zoë Gilby

Friday 28 April
Leon Greening

Friday 2 June
Alex Clarke

Friday 30 June
Horace Silver Tribute

Jazz In Reading also gave us a heads up to another event as detailed below.

Andy Dickens) & Al Nicholls

trumpet  & saxophone

Backed by  the Pangbourne Jazz Club rhythm section:
Terry Hutchins (guitar) | Andy Crowdy (double bass)
Jim Pollard (piano) | Brian Greene (drums)

Sunday 4 December | 7:30pm start

Only £10 entry | Cheap bar | Raffle | Public Car Park
Pay on the door or book online here

Andy Dickens

Pangbourne Jazz Club fans are really looking forward to the return of the very lovely Andy Dickens to PJC . Andy is a freelance jazz trumpeter who plays swing, mainstream, Dixieland and New Orleans Jazz.

Andy’s lively trumpet and flugelhorn playing evokes the warmth and exuberance of Mardi Gras New Orleans; the heat of Chicago clubland and the excitement of small-band New York swing.

A frequent guest at European jazz festivals, he has played with many English and American notables including Slim Gaillard; Ken Peplowski; Joe Darensbourg; Franz Jackson;  Jason Marsalis; Humphrey Littleton; Terry Lightfoot; Judith Durham; Clark Tracey; Bruce Turner; Jools Holland;  Duncan Lamont; David Newton; Pete King and Peter Ind.

His current list of musical associates includes Julian Marc Stringle; Adrian Cox; Pete Allen; Tim Husskisson; Trevor Whiting; Duncan Hempstock; Emily Dickens; Al Nichols; Simon Picton; Graham Hughes; Bobby Worth; Martin Litton and Craig Milverton.

Often featured as a guest musician with other bands his own concerts are punctuated with song and off-beat observations, and his typically wry presentation results in a programme that is entertaining and draws from the finest traditions in jazz.

Al Nicholls

Al plays tenor sax with a ravishing, full, rounded sound in the tradition of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Illinois Jacquet, and now championed in the States by players like Scott Hamilton.​

From “smoochy” ballads, through to swinging up-tempo numbers, Al’s great sound is perfect to create that after-hours, jazz club atmosphere.​

Al’s repertoire encompasses literally hundreds of the classic “standards” of the 30s, 40s and 50s, written by masters such as George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Rogers and Hart, and Duke Ellington.​

Al Nicholls is one of London’s top players and also has a reputation as one of the best swing band arrangers too.​

From Jazz In Reading we also learn that there is an opportunity to be part of one of the exclusive Mockbeggars Hall events curated by guitarist Hugh Turner and partner Izabela Borzymowska.

The flier shown here gives further details.

Make your reservations by emailing or texting the hotline 07973 615405.

You can also wander sidetracks & detours with

Music That´s Going Places

phto 1 Rob Adams informs us that The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra plays the music of Duke Ellington in Edinburgh on Thursday 1st, St Andrews on Friday 2nd and Glasgow on Saturday 3rd. Ellington’s music spans six decades and maintained his ethos of It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing all the way through. So these concerts, like the SNJO’s In the Spirit of Duke album from which they take their name, will be an exuberant celebration of one of the greatest composers in jazz – two if we include Ellington’s co-writer, Billy Strayhorn, who made a huge contribution to the Ellington band book.

photo 2 Saxophonist Matt Carmichael, who, like the SNJO, is in the running at the Scottish Jazz Awards on Thursday 8th, recently released his second album, Marram. He will be playing music from it with his band of talents at Perth Theatre on Saturday 3rd. The gig is almost a hometown appearance for fiddler Charlie Stewart, who comes from Glenfarg, and following successful album launch gigs in Glasgow and London, Matt’s quintet is likely to be on fire

photo 3 Pianist Gabriel Latchin’s trio brings the current Jazz at the Merchants House series to a seasonal close on Sunday 4th. Gabriel has a liking for re-imagining Christmas songs and melodies through the eyes and ears of his piano heroes, who include Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal. Lyrical and swinging jazz results from a pianist who has recently been likened to piano masters Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan

photo 4 News arrives of a new regular venture in Edinburgh linked to the award-winning Playtime collective and taking place at Harmonium in Broughton Street on Sunday evenings. A collaboration between Harmonium, and a pool of musicians consisting of Playtime’s Martin Kershaw, Graeme Stephen, Mario Caribé, and Tom Bancroft and saxophonist Helena Kay, these sessions will be led by one of the pool who will select the personnel for the evening and let the music flow from the standards repertoire. An invited guest might also be involved in the second set. See the diary section below for more information.

December Diary
Blue Lamp
Thu 1: Mezcla
Sun 4: Macswing/Sus 4 Qrt
Thu 8: Joy Ellis Trio
Thu 15: Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra

Sun 4: Helena Kay Trio
Sun 11: Martin Kershaw Trio
Sun 18: Graeme Stephen Trio

Jazz Bar
Fri 2: Seonaid Aitken Qnt plays Stephane Grappelli
Sun 4: Georgia Cecile
Wed 7: Gabriel Latchin Trio
Fri 9: Freddie King
Sun 11: Marianne McGregor
Wed 14: Brian Molley Qrt
Wed 21: Brian Kellock Trio
Fri 23: Boptimism 

Queen’s Hall
Thu 1: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

Glad Cafe
Tue 6: Nathan Somevi
Fri 16: Rose Room

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Sat 3: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

Merchants House
Sun 4: Gabriel Latchin Trio

606 Club
Fri 2: Quentin Collins
Sat 3: Ed Jones
Sun 4: Zoe Francis feat Jim Mullen/Wayne Hernandez
Mon 12: Tim & Hattie Whitehead
Sat 17: Tony Kofi

Ronnie Scott’s
Thu 8: China Moses
Mon 19, Tue 20, Thu 21: Ray Gelato & the Giants
Mon 26: Liane Carroll
Thu 29: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra
Fri 30: Luke Smith
Sat 31: Brand New Heavies

Arts Centre
Thu 8: Gabriel Latchin Trio

Dunbar Golf Club
Sat 3: Andy Hodge’s Jazz Collusion

Perth Theatre
Sat 3: Matt Carmichael

St Andrews
Byre Theatre
Fri 2: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

Fri 9: Gabriel Latchin Trio

An Tobar
Sat 3: Gabriel Latchin Trio

This list, as always, is not intended to be comprehensive – other gigs are available.

Even though are so many jazz concerts on the December skyline, remember to make time to buy some music for yourself, or for a loved one who will let you listen to it. I´m going to buy my wife, who is a Cliff Richard fan, all the back catalogue of Atlanta artist Karla Harris, so that by the time a quietly rumoured UK tour comes to fruition I will know her music inside out. I have the current album Moon To Gold, which is drawing rave reviews not only from myself but lots of proper critics and jazz buffs too.

Now we hear that there is already new music is in the air — an album featuring original music by composer and bassist Tom Kennedy with lyrics by Karla. Modern jazz with Latin vibes, touches of old-school R&B grooves, lovely ballads. Guest artists include world-class musicians Randy Brecker, Dave Weckl, Gary Meek and other greats. Coming in 2023.

The current album Moon To Gold can be heard at traffic lights,  outside restaurants, on top of the volcanoes and down by the sea here on Lanzarote, and at any other places where I pull up and let the music our out of the open windows wherever I pull up as I drive round the island.

Karla´ has also been gathering radio play in the UK too, with our occasional jazz contributor Steve Bewick recently playing her on his mix-cloud programmes.

When you get back from the High street jungle or the on-line ordeal of  spending all day seeking out that special Karla Harris album for a loved one who doesn´t yet know it is the album they have always wanted, you can settle down to listen to this week´s edition of the Hot Biscuits session presented by o0ur occasional jazz correspondent Steve Bewick.

This week´s programme was recorded at Creative Space and features the Kieran Matthews Trio including Paul Adams, Bass and Andrew Bold Drums. Superb playing to a listening audience. Also included is music from Stephan O Goodson, Debs Hancock Quartet, Grace Black with Esmond Selwyn, Rachel Ashley, Nastazio Gkoumas and finishing with Shahbaz Hussain – Tabla together with Helen Anahita Wilson-piano.

If this looks interesting follow Steve 24/07 and tell your friends

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