With live music on furlough it’s a good time to discover great recordings, so we asked some of the city’s top jazzers to share the music that inspires them.
Name: Andy Hague
Instrument(s) played: Trumpet & drums
As well as being an excellent trumpeter with a rich tone and a fine hard bop edge Andy Hague can play as vital a role in the rhythm section behind the drum kit. His own Andy Hague Quintet is a well-established supergroup of Bristol jazz names with a wide-ranging repertoire of Andy’s distinctive compositions. His other more occasional projects include tribute bands to modern jazz greats like Charlie Mingus and Horace Silver and a very occasional big band comprising pretty much everybody who is anybody on the local jazz scene. Andy’s recreation of the Miles Davis classic Kind Of Blue was one of the biggest hits of the 2019 Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival.
All of that is well and good, but possibly even more important for jazz in Bristol is the tireless way Andy has run the Be-bop Club in the cramped back room of The Bear pub in Hotwells. The club’s weekly session has been bringing great visiting players to the city for decades as well as showcasing the best of the local bands, all of whom receive an attentive and appreciative (if tiny) audience.
What was the first record you discovered that made you want to learn more about (or even get into playing) jazz?
Harry Edison – Willow Weep For Me
I was introduced to the idea of jazz through our school swing and dance band which led to listening to some Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, but the first small group jazz recording I can remember borrowing from Croydon Library was Harry Edison– Sweets, with Ben Webster on sax. It features lovely melodic solos over a really swinging rhythm section, and I still enjoy listening to it today.
What tune represents an inspiration for you when you began learning to play?
Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay
I remember Freddie Hubbard – Live At The Northsea Jazz Festival getting played a lot amongst our little group of jazz fans at school, this version of Freddie’s famous tune Red Clay has tremendous fire and energy and a really funky groove.
Who is your great hero of the instrument you play? What recording shows them at their best?
Woody Shaw – Seventh Avenue
It’s hard to pick just one and I’ve already mentioned Freddie Hubbard, so I’ll go with Woody Shaw. Stepping Stones – Live At The Village Vanguard is a great CD. Here’s a video of the band from around that time.
What is your choice of record that shows the future of jazz?
Alex Hitchcock Quintet – Hamburg 2010
I’ve really been enjoying listening to Alex Hitchcock Quintet – All Good Things. These young UK players are all superb, and I really like Alex’s compositions.
What is a great tune from your favourite jazz project to come from the Bristol Jazz scene?
Electric Lady Big Band – Ain’t No Telling
Whilst featuring some players from London, Denny Ilett’s Electric Lady Big Band was formed to perform at Bristol Jazz Festival and features a healthy smattering of Bristol musicians. Here is one of their lock-down offerings.
Finally: Are there any other great jazz records you think might help the uninitiated to share your enthusiasm for the J-word?
Hard to answer because jazz covers such a broad spectrum of styles – if I were trying to introduce someone to jazz I would try to find out what kind of music they already liked and then try to find some jazz that related to it in some way and might connect. So if I may I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums. Saxophonist Walter Smith wrote this tune in tribute to the daughter of fellow saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who was murdered in one of the USA’s terrible shooting incidents. It’s one of the most emotive performances I’ve ever heard.