Gwdihw Jazz Revhw

Posted on 16/03/2012


Monday 27th February 2012

Now, I’m certainly not what you would describe as a jazz connoisseur. In fact, the only jazz album I own is a Herbie Hancock CD that I bought when I was at uni because I thought I should. I might have listened to it once but I probably got bored and put Bill Withers’ Greatest Hits on instead. So, to make up for my lack of knowledge, I went to this Jazz Revhw night with two friends who are big Jazz fans … and my mate John.

Jazz Revhw is a monthly Jazz night at Gwdihw and on the night I went, Carlo Fraccalvieri, Paul Jones, Aidan Thorne and Mark O’Connor were performing “original compositions and their own unique interpretations of contemporary jazz, particularly from the Italian Jazz scene”.

A night like this seemed to suit Gwdihw down to the ground. It’s a cosy, intimate and laid back bar and to fit in with my notion of what a jazz night should be, I was pleased to note they had put tea lights on every table. There was also a small but appreciative audience who clapped at the appropriate moments. For fellow non connoisseurs, the appropriate moment to clap at a Jazz gig is after every solo, particularly if you enjoyed it and also at the end of every song. I found out that whooping isn’t generally what a jazz audience does, unless it is the best damn jazz solo you have ever heard in your life. Nodding is not as common as you might think but was definitely present.

Encouraged by the tea lights I drank red wine, just to fit in with my own notion of what a jazz night should be. Now, I’m not sure if it was the wine or the music but when the band played I went into what I can only describe as a ‘Jazz Trance’. A contented & pleasant state which allowed what I thought at the time was ‘deep thought’ but on recollection was more likely ‘no thought’. This was a very enjoyable state to be in and so I had a great time but I don’t think I am well placed to describe the music to you. I have therefore asked my two jazz friends … and John to provide the musical insight for this post.

Ricky Williams (former employee of The Welsh Jazz Society):

“The quartet played two sets of enjoyable straight-ahead material, combining a very good Italian alto sax player with an excellent rhythm section made up of well-known locals – any regulars of the Jazz Attic Jam sessions will have heard combinations of these guys at one time or other. The venue was cosy and so intimate I could have hit some bass notes on the keyboard if I had poked by elbow in that direction! 3/5 stars“.

Alan “sax” Gumbold (pioneer of the silent jazz scene):

“At times the rhythm section really gelled, particularly in the piano solos and this was when things became very interesting. You could hear the bass player taking up motifs from the piano solo which the drummer would also pick up on, providing some really nice intense moments. There were a number of times this occurred but it was most effective on their encore, Sonny Rollins’ ‘St Thomas’, where they relaxed into the tune and were much more playful. Although the saxophone player was technically very proficient, he never really seemed to find a connection with the rhythm section, which often led to his solos being a little scale heavy, without really giving us any dynamics or melodic interest. Again original numbers were often clever but didn’t really seem to give rise to a cohesive sound which often left them missing the emotional mark and losing the audiences interest a little 6/10“.


“3/5 is a bit harsh”.