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The Chris Coull Sextet – Live At The Ropetackle


Jazz From The Sands sees Chris Coull and Sara Oschlag collaborate for their first album. Recorded in Doha, Qatar in 2014, it came at the end of a tour and it showcases the material that the group had been working on.


This gig was performed at The Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham in September 2023. What a magnificent venue! Such supportive management and a host of local volunteers who make this place one of the best theatres in Sussex. I’ve been lucky to have great players and musical material as well. I love it when a plan comes together to create the right conditions for a truly memorable gig. And so it was for this recording.

I first saw Andy Panayi in the early 1990s as a young man playing at the now legendary Appleby Jazz Festival, in my former homeland of Cumbria – blowing away with the virtuosity, freedom and depth of language that sets this guy apart from the rest of the crowd. It’s an honour to be able to work alongside him in this and other bands too. Mark Bassey is a long standing performer, educator and highly respected musician on the south coast jazz scene. His lyrical, heartfelt solos and skilfully executed ensemble work make the trombone playing on this CD a real stand out performance. Terry Seabrook is my go to pianist, and a band leader, composer, and arranger in his own right. Terry contributed some of the arrangements, notably ‘Speak No Evil’ where he adds his own twist to the already immaculate writing of Wayne Shorter. The project also benefited from his great knowledge of sound engineering and recording; it was Terry’s suggestion we take the live feed from the Ropetackle sound desk for later mixing and release. Paul Whitten is a bass player who can really swing hard and play lines that are both coherent and inspiring. Together with a pure bop styled soloing technique he adds the necessary anchor on which the rest of us can spin our tales. Joe Edwards is a relative new-comer on the Brighton jazz scene, but his prowess on the drums belie his age. Already steeped in the tradition of the be-bop and hard-bop genre, it’s been great to have someone on board who instinctively knows the nuances and details of jazz drumming with this material.


The music selection represents some of my favourite tunes on the Blue Note record label.  Every time I play a Blue Note record I think to myself ‘I must transcribe that!’ Of course, life gets in the way and I rarely do, but still, over the years I have written out enough pads of Blue Note transcriptions to take out with this fine band. The jazz compositions of the mid 50s to later 60s are a slightly different improvisational beast to the standard fare of the great American songbook that we modern dirty boppers love to tout. They often have a more open, modal quality than earlier bop harmonies. The tunes ‘Speak No Evil’, ‘Mr. Jin’, ‘The Sortie’ and ‘A Wheel Within A Wheel’ all fall into this category, with the improviser using fixed scales over a set number of bars within the form. Having said that however, there is plenty of cross over for the soloist to engage in more orthodox harmony; ‘Philly Twist’ for example is a regular blues progression, ‘Lotus Blossom’ is very similar to ‘A Night in Tunisia’ and ‘Funk In Deep Freeze’ has that classic ‘weave’ around a tonic minor. A couple of tunes fall into neither camp (or perhaps both depending on how you look at it!). Oliver Nelson’s arrangement of ‘Sunrise Sunset’ (Fiddler On The Roof) was created for Lee Morgan’s seminal record, “Delightfulee” and he transforms it with a subtle modern approach from its more traditional Broadway roots, whilst Woody Shaw’s ‘Sweet Love Of Mine’ shows he is truly a master of the art in both melody and structure.


But all that said, it’s all about putting this music on and savouring the vibe. I hope you enjoy listening to these tunes as much as we did playing them.

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