Blue Flamingo Entertainments

Browsing category: Bass, Blue Flamingo, Con Cellar Bar, Drummer, Gig, Guitar, Jazz, Live Music, Musicians, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Venue, Vocals

Our three favourite small jazz venues in London Town

We actually prefer the smaller venues.  Music’s better, vibe’s better, price’s better.  Check out these three if you ever have an evening free… ~BF

First Friday of the month
the smallest basement with the best musicians
The Con Cellar Bar, The Constitution, 42 St Pancras Way, NW1 0QT

Every Thursday
they have sofas & phenomenal music
256 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2A

First Thursday of the month
in the arches with fabulous music vibe
Arch 61, Ewer Street, SE1 0NR


REVIEW: BBC PROM 59 ‘Hollywood Rhapsody’

bbc prom 59 hollywood rhapsody blue flamingo

One of the most popular proms of the BBC season, the ‘Hollywood Rhapsody‘ performed by the John Wilson Orchestra was a storm of colour and energy.  (Full programme below).

Two things stood out.  Firstly: whilst we went to listen to the music of the films we may have seen, in listening the result was mirrored: it inspired us to see the films (again).  It is a great thing that the visual and aural complement each other so well.

Secondly: despite the first point, the music still stands in its own right without any need for the visual: Psycho and Tom & Jerry are case in point.

The perfomance was fantastic.  The 1950s Hollywood sound was generated with full horn, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and rhythm sections, alongside the great sweeping and warm tones of the strings.

Herrmann’s Psycho invoked one of the most bizarre responses we have ever seen in a live music audience.  As soon as the repeated violin lines with full harmonics emerged – there was a physical lurch and bizarre involuntary murmur.  The question really is whether the ‘screeching’ violin timbre invoked the response, or whether the association with the film is so vivid that it is that which raises the hackles.   Either way – the JW strings played this wonderfully.  It was also interesting to watch the orchestra ‘breathe’ during the ‘stabbing’ patterns.  They literally lent in and out of their instruments with their bow movements giving us a visual stab pattern.

Tom and Jerry was hilarious.  The audience were laughing and cheering.   The orchestra itself plays cat and mouse.  The muted trombone had his line stolen by the flute; the clarinet came and surprised us then stole the melody again;  the trumpets and cymbals argued with one another as to who could play the shortest and loudest.  Then of course we had the literal humour: water splashing around, bubble wrap being crinkled, snoring.  It’s so refreshing to listen to this without seeing the cartoon: the quality of the music is high, and it was so well performed.  It was clear the JW orchestra were enjoying themselves and therefore so did we.

The audience adored Venera Gimadieva with her rendition of Citizen Kane and Howard McGill’s sax playing in A Place in the Sun was wonderful.  His pure tone resonated beautifully.  Playing alone in the great Royal Albert Hall  he had the audience in the palm of his hand.  Too rarely does the RAH hear solo sax fill that great space.  Jane Monheit and Matthew Ford did a fine job with the Movie Medley and it was great to hear the orchestra come alive and burst into full on Big Band sounds.  Mike Lovatt did a top job on trumpet.

The night finished with Ben-Hur, a tale of a man whose life changes when he sees Christ’s crucifiction and the forgiveness that brings.  It was a genius way to end a great night.  What more could you want than that great RAH organ on full whack – with 15 of the best brass players going full blow.

Great programming, great spectacle, spectacular playing.  Don’t miss it on BBC Four – August 30th.



Alfred Newman: 20th Century Fox Fanfare

Alfred Newman:  How to Marry a Millionaire / Street Scene

Bronislau Kaper: Forever, Darling / Confetti

David Raksin: Laura / Suite

Bernard Herrmann: Psycho / Suite for Strings

Bernard Herrmann: Citizen Kane / Salammbô’s Aria

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Adventures of Robin Hood / Suite


Jerome Moross: The Big Country / Main Title

Max Steiner: Casablanca / Suite

Move Theme Song Medley: An Affair to Remember / Something’s Gotta Give / Young at Heart / It’s Magic / The Tender Trap / My Foolish Heart / Three Coins in the Fountain / Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing / That’s Amore / Que Sera, Sera / All the Way

Franz Waxman: A Place in the Sun – Suite

Scott Bradley: Tom and Jerry at MGM

Miklós Rósza: Ben-Hur / Suite


Mid-Tour Update: Dave Smyth’s Timecraft

dave smyth on tour timecraft blue flamingo jazz london drummer

We asked mid-tour Dave Smyth for an update….

“We’re now halfway through our first UK tour with this band.  Despite some of the pre-tour set backs with venues pulling out, it’s safe to say that the tour is going well and we’ve been having a great time!  We’ve been absolutely knocked out by the amount of people who’ve come out to the gigs, bought CDs and the support that the promoters and venues have given us along the way – so thanks everyone!

We’ve got three more dates left for the diaries. The first is tonight (25/6/13) at Charlie Wright’s in London and then we hit the road again playing at Dempsey’s in Cardiff on Wednesday 26th before finishing up at Soundcellar on Thursday 27th.  If you’re local to London tonight will be only date on the tour with the whole octet, featuring the last minute addition of mega-dep guitarist Alex Munk.  For those who cannot make tonight, we have another London gig next month appearing at the 606 Club on Tuesday 23rd July. Thanks again to everyone who has come out and supported the gigs and we’ll hopefully see more people over the next couple of days!”

You can read all about the tour here.

Thanks Dave!



REVIEW: BBCCO The Rest is Noise, “The Home Front”

quickieThis great night was part of the BBC Concert Series going through Alex Ross’ popular book ‘The Rest is Noise‘.  Tonight’s theme: “The Home Front”, including Ireland, Vera Lynne and Walton.  It’s difficult to go down a more ‘Accessible’ route than this.

But you know what?  It was just fantastic.  There was an audience sing-a-long for ‘We’ll meet again’ (I went with three singers, we loved it, don’t tell a soul!), with the rest sung beautifully by Laurie Ashworth.  Another great soloist, Pianist Victor Sangiorgio performed Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto with unhindered dexterous flyingly fast fingers.

The Walton (Henry V: a Shakespeare Scenario), complete with fabulous British actor Samuel West, was all an over eager audience member could want.  A ridiculous (that’s a positive thing) brass section, a massive and fabulous percussion section, and something wonderfully novel: melodies you could hum afterwards.  West was effortlessly musical in his role as narrator with such timings, slight nuances and charm that had an audience, who only moments before had been singing joyfully along, in silent awe, wrapped in the words of prayer to God, with thanks of a battle won.

The Hertfordshire Chorus sung well and Keith Lockhart was master at the reigns – bringing every cymbal crash, tuba blast and string vibrato line together with delightful energy.

Fine job BBC Concert Orchestra, Keith Lockhart (Conductor), Laurie Ashworth (Soprano), Victor Sangiorgio (Piano), Samuel West (Reciter), Hertfordshire Chorus!

If you’d like to listen, the concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in ‘Afternoon on 3’ on Tuesday 25th June at 14:00. (This was announced. Programme suggested broadcast date of 24th)

John Ireland: Epic March for Orchestra

John Ireland: Music While You Work medley (March ‘Calling All Workers’ Eric Coates, Bank Holiday from ‘Cockney Suite’ Albert Ketèlbey, Waltz ‘Nights of Gladness’ Charles Ancliffe, Merrymakers’ Dance from ‘Nell Gwyn’ Edward German)

Songs made popular by Vera Lynne: The White Cliffs of Dover, Yours, We’ll Meet Again.

Clifton Parker: Seascape from ‘Western Approaches’

Richard Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto


William Walton: Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario



Dave Smyth’s TIMECRAFT on Tour…

dave smyth on tour timecraft blue flamingo jazz london drummer

Coming to a venue near you: Dave Smyth’s fabulous octet ON TOUR!

Featuring: Matthew Herd (sax), Sam Rapley (sax), Tom Green (trombone), James Copus (trumpet), John Armon (guitar), Sam Watts (piano), Sandy Suchodolski (bass), Dave Smyth (drums/compositions).

“Drawing influence from contemporary British jazz greats, the group explores improvisation within the context of captivating and melodic tunes”


Mon 17th: Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU, 01132 429442, 21:30 FREE

Tue 18th: Parr Studio, Parr St, Liverpool, L1 4JN, 01517 073727 , 22:30 £3/FREE (NUS)

Wed 19th: The Lescar, Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield, S11 8ZF, 0774 020 1939, 21:00 £6

Mon 25th: Charlie Wright’s, 45 Pitfield St, London, N1 6DA, 0207 490 8345, 22:30 £4

Wed 26th: Dempsey’s, 15 Castle St, Cardiff, CF10 1BS, 02920 239253, 21:00 £7/£5

Thu 27th: The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, BH15 1NE, 01202 682247, 22:30 £7

Go check it out!

And if you’ve got a review of one of the gigs – drop us a note and we’ll post it! ~BF


Interview with Trombone Player Ellie Smith

Was the trombone your first choice of instrument?

The violin was my first choice and trombone my second, which I started a year after.

Why did the trombone win out?

I enjoyed playing the violin (and still do now occasionally in a string quartet and I hope to do a bit of teaching) but I think I enjoyed the trombone more as I was involved in many groups and was a member of the Doncaster Jazz Association for many years.   The trombone became a much more interesting instrument, being able to play both classical and jazz music to a high level.  I will never forget my first rehearsal in the trombone section in my first big band up North!

Being a ‘Northerner’ have you found any difference in musical perspectives with ‘Southerners’?  Or is it irrelevant?

When I first moved to London I got the impression a lot of musicians thought they were better than people from the North, but I never felt that I was an inferior player.

How did your pre-Trinity musical life prepare you for Music College?

The music department was great at school, having a great head of music also helped.  He encouraged me to join many different musical activities both in and out of school.  I met lots of interesting people and learnt more advanced things about music.

So who have you learnt the most from?

I’d have to say the teachers I had at Trinity, and most of all, my trombone teacher Malcolm Earle Smith.  He knew my ‘technique of learning’ and could explain things in a way I could understand with regard to learning jazz and improvising.  His jazz vocal technique was also a great learning curve for me!

Tell us about the best gig you’ve ever done….

The best gig I’ve ever done would have to be recording Michael Bolton’s DVD at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2009.  Great experience, great place, great gig! 

 …The most inspiring gig?

The BBC Big Band (in various places)!  It would be incredible to be a part of that band in 10 years time!  Also watching trombone players Mark Nightingale and Gordon Campbell play inspires me to learn more new and exciting things!

…So your perfect gig would be?

To perform with the BBC Big Band, or to tour with Sting/Michael Bublé.

Do any Blue Flamingo memories stick out?

I really enjoy the 100 Club gigs as I love to watch the dancing, amazing!

If you weren’t a musician, what would your absolutely perfect job be?

I’d be a gymnast!  I used to love going to gymnastics seven days a week when I was 7/8 years old, went for around four years until music took over! I used to love doing competitions and meeting lots of different people.  It was an enjoyable hobby and one that I hated giving up!

What’s your most unusual habit?

Too weird to tell! [sounds ominous! ~BF]