Feedback Loop - Monk Montgomery - Bass Odyssey - Motown/Chisa Records  

Released in 1971, Monk Montgomery’s second album as leader took him in new directions. On Bass Odyssey, the electric bass pioneer sat on top of the mix and came to the fore as both performer and composer. Joined by members of The Crusaders, the band created a fuzz-laden, groove heavy trip into the world of jazz psychedelia. 

Journey To The Bottom is an appropriate title for a track with two bass players. Double bassist Andy Simpkins steadies the band from the bottom up while Montgomery takes the lead. The harmony is predominantly static although it briefly moves through a chord cycle which is emphasised by Montgomery’s melodic outlining. A riff-like melody is the focal point of this, and many of the compositions on the album. Montgomery’s solo becomes increasingly frantic as he utilises his pick to produce explosive flurries. Drama builds behind him which is essential when the solos are taken over one tonality. Due to the sound of the fender bass with flat wound strings, the use of double stops doesn't bring a great deal of colour to the sound. It brings a heaviness and a subtle rhythmic impact. Joe Sample’s electric piano solo uses motivic development and off-beat stabbing to keep the energy levels high. 

Personage is a relaxed bossa nova with longer and more fluid lines from the leader. The piece is spacious as Montgomery is the only bass player and spends much of the performance playing the lead role. He draws a singing quality from his bass by sliding from position to position. His use of legato gives the Fender bass a melodic quality which is wasn’t associated with up to this point. The whole performance is a showcase for Montgomery’s lead playing. His solo lines are predominantly diatonic to the key although he does adopt chromaticism and uses the blues scale on moments of minor harmony. The band bring the piece to a close with a cross rhythm, playing powerful hits grouped in threes. 

Montgomery plays a soulful melody over the descending chord sequence of Sister Lena. Beautiful in its simplicity, drummer Nesbert Hooper drives the groove along. He catches hits in the melody and fills musical breaks with gentle rolls around the toms. The beat itself is a simple soul rhythm where tasteful embellishment attracts the ear to the performance. 

On Fuselage, Pt. 1, Montgomery uses a fuzz tone on the bass to play a four note melodic riff. The ensemble sit on a forceful minor groove that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. The riff is broken up by a suspended chord which builds the tension before the release back into the main groove. Fuselage, Pt. 2 has a more experimental edge. A wall of distorted sound is created by the onslaught of frantic, fuzzed out bass exploration. Rather than being a frame for solo improvisation, the composition remains a rock-influenced infectious groove. 

Foxy Gypsy opens with a solo bass cadenza over a backdrop of colourful percussion and spacious electric piano. Montgomery’s use of harmonic minor trilling evokes Eastern images. When the four chord minor groove begins, Montgomery takes an extended solo. He continues to use legato techniques as well as double stops and extended rhythmic development. Another cadenza concludes proceedings with the leader sliding emphatically up and down the neck. 

Monk Montgomery continued to play more traditional forms of jazz and helped to encourage its performance through the Las Vegas Jazz Society. However, he was not afraid to experiment with his instrument, fusing jazz harmony with rock riffing, funk grooves and soulful melodies. Bass Odyssey was a large step forward for Montgomery as a unique but sadly overlooked voice on the bass guitar. 

John Marley

York Zine Fest - 21st July 2018 - The Crescent Community Venue  

York is regarded as one of the most culturally rich cities in the north of England. This is true in some respects. However, the type of riches have historically been quite limited. The city has three large theatres, several orchestras, an abundance of museums and a passion for early music. Despite this healthy count of artistically enriching blood cells, the city has had a few vital mineral deficiencies. 

The artistic merit badges that the city boasts are generally of a high-brow nature. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, so long as it is balanced with art for a more diverse cross section of society. York is an affluent city when compared to some of its neighbours, but this brings its own social and financial pressures. Not all of its citizens can afford to take the family to the theatre or immerse themselves in the world of baroque music. 

This situation seems to be changing. There has always been a healthy live music scene in the city but it has hardly been the most cutting edge. New venues are appearing which are willing to push the boundaries of the inherent cultural parameters. The Crescent Community Venue is one of these. Promoting dance music, post-rock, experimental jazz and free improvisation, the zine fest is the latest addition to their programme of DIY events. 

It was once feared that the dominance, perhaps control, of the internet over many peoples lives would kill the zine. Unexpectedly, the opposite seems to be occurring. The vast majority of the developed world can, and do self-publish online. Has this made online publishing less special, less personal and less exciting? 2018 has seen the rise of more zine fairs in Yorkshire than this writer can remember in his thirty-some years. 

Running for the first time, the York Zine Fest is an exciting addition to zine culture in the north. As soon as I walked through the door, I was given a friendly and enthusiastic welcome from the organiser who seemed genuinely grateful to everyone who had taken the time to attend. The room was laid out with the familiar rows of tables and stalls. Despite the standardised lay out, attending these events never fails to excite as you never know what you will be leaving with. I feel the same excitement as I do at a car boot sale. I enter with some change in my pocket and leave with something I never knew that I wanted. 

It is also fascinating to meet the zine creators and interact with such a range of personalities. Some sit quietly and offer a polite ‘hello’. Others bubble with extrovert enthusiasm and can’t wait to tell you about their creations. I even had a lengthy chat with one stall holder about hardcore punk legends Siege and their influence on Napalm Death. A great way to start the weekend. 

After a slow saunter up and down the aisles, I left with a mound of self-published literature tucked underneath my arm. A collection of polaroid pictures taken on an American adventure, a personal account of family holidays, a guide to miniature golf courses on the Yorkshire coast, tips on coping with life changing illnesses, collections of found material, an examination of the corrupted benefit system and a comic about a violent battle for a milkshake are just a few of the items I acquired. If I had no control, I could have left with much more. 

Hopefully this will be the first of many zine fairs in York. The city centre location was perfect, the atmosphere was fun and friendly and the material on offer was as diverse as anyone could hope for. Importantly, it is another friendly but forceful shove for the arts in York. Pushing the whole thing a little closer into the middle. 

John Marley.

Bradford Zine Fair - 30th June 2018  

Bradford City Library is an inconspicuous building. Based in Centenary Square, this sleepy institution is cloaked by corporate cafes, busy bars, optimistic street vendors and children playing in the fountain. Despite its unassuming presence, the library still offers a helping hand for much of the community. 

Talk a walk around your public library and you may no longer find hordes of hungry literature fanatics, devouring all flavours of the written word. However, you are likely to find people making use of services that are being pulled further from their reach. People seeking work write curriculum vitae’s and the elderly make a desperate attempt to become computer literate as more & more services disappear from the high street. The library may no longer be the heartbeat of the community but for many, it is still a vital organ. 

It is in the City Library that the Bradford Zine Fair takes place. Bradford is one of the most multicultural cities in the north of England. Since a post war surge in immigration, different ethnic groups have lived side by side. The process of integration has not always been peaceful but it has been predominantly stable since the 2001 race riots. Zines and independent publishing thrive in areas where diversity creates a quiet tension and people crave an outlet for their opinions, experiences and emotions. 

As you head up to the first floor of the library, you are presented with a small but exciting selection of tables and stalls where Bradford’s diversity is represented. The selection of zines, books and artwork may not be massive but there is enough variety to draw the attention of attendees and library users. Music, politics, LGBTQ+ culture and art are well covered with publications such as How Do We Get Through This? which offers readers an optimistic route through austerity and Shariah Don’t Like It…?,  an overview and examination of the Indonesian punk scene. 

All of the above make fascinating reading and are an essential part of zine culture. However, one of the joys of attending zine fairs is finding the curiosities…the zines and publications that have you reading about topics which would never normally tease your consciousness. Thanks to the zine fair, this writer spent his evening studying the process of dying in B Is For Bodies from Claire Industries. 

A sense of local personality is brought to the occasion by writers and illustrators such as Mike Barrett and Khair Din. Barrett’s surreal tales of roaming wild beasts and genocidal cults are laugh out loud funny. His comedic writing offers a subtle commentary on the deprived areas of the city. Khair Din’s story A Teaspoon Of Shampoo is published by Bradical, a group which aims to expose writing by brown people in the city. 

Three talks take place during the day, the first of which this writer is able to attend. In a cosy lecture room, Kirsty Fife offers a useful assessment of the zine collection at the National Science & Media Museum. Fife is clearly devoted to independent publishing and this enthusiasm shines through her presentation. When discussing publishing relating to pirate radio, Fife sparkles with excitement. She gives an illuminating insight into one zine’s willingness to discuss sexuality and race in broadcasting. It is encouraging to hear about the archive work taking place at the museum. 

Bradford Zine Fair has bravely stepped in to the spotlight and has delivered one of the most unique zine fairs in Yorkshire. The emphasis on local culture, environment and diversity has created an essential platform for the talented writers, visual artists and creatives who work outside of the mainstream in this post industrial northern city. 

John Marley

 

A Beginner’s Guide To Noisecore 

Noisecore is a musical endgame. Displaying an unrivalled level of nihilism, this is a style of music which takes elements of punk, metal, jazz and free improvisation and compacts them into highly charged sonic bullets.  

The genesis of the genre lays in the hardcore punk scene which took traditional song form and turbocharged it. This culminated in Napalm Death’s scathing masterwork Scum. Released in 1987, the album combined impassioned political commentary with memorable riffing and blasts of noise which enter the eardrum like an ice pick.  

One track in particular resonated with audiences ears, albeit not for very long. Clocking in at around 1 second, You Suffer disregarded all rules of form, length and structure. During the late 80’s, fellow British grinders Sore Throat, Intense Degree and Extreme Noise Terror also produced memorable slabs of distorted wax. Championed by Radio One DJ John Peel, the grindcore genre received an unprecedented level of public attention.  

Several bands would take this blueprint and use it to build a new, even more obscure form of music. Lärm from the Netherlands had been adopting this short and fast formula from the early 80’s. Anal Cunt and the Meat Shits from the USA and Seven Minutes Of Nausea from Australia would play with the genre, each creating unique aural identities.  

You may wonder how much personality can be packed into a 2 second blast of noise. Although many of the tracks may be sub-atomic in size, the particles create a solid form which is as full of character as the individuals who create them.  

Held in high esteem in the noisecore world, Anal Cunt began cramming as many tracks as humanly possible on to a 7” platter. The 5643 Song EP took layers of hard grinding noise and layered them on top of one another, creating a hypnotically nihilistic collage. The band went on to use more identifiable riffage, finding the extremes edges in their deliberately antagonistic lyrical content.  

The Meat Shits followed a similar musical approach to Anal Cunt (albeit with a drum machine) but focused on extreme sexual imagery. One of their contributions to the genre was a heavy use of movie samples, often chosen for their humour as much as their controversial content.  

More bands stayed true to the initial blueprint and followed a line of left-leaning political commentary. This was, and remains to be true in the Brazilian scene. Bands like Noise and Industrial Holocaust use an unpretentious lo-fi philosophy to create fascinatingly bleak releases which ooze mystery and rage.  

The DIY production values of many noisecore bands, along with the heavy emphasis on freely improvised music allows them to have prolific outputs. Many bands have discography’s which stretch into the hundreds. Canada’s Deche-Charge being one notable example.  

The age of digital media has penetrated and manipulated most musical genres, finding new audiences and moving people away from physical products. Noisecore has remained relatively immune to this. While grindcore and hardcore punk attract millions of listeners around the world, noisecore has remained steadfastly underground. Bands clutch on to the cassette format and trade releases as though the last 30 years never happened.  

New bands continue to arrive and shred the ears of younger audiences. Japan’s Sete Star Sept being one of the most active bands currently in the genre.  

Delving in to the world of noisecore cannot be done by clicking a few buttons or loading up Spotify. It demands patience, curiosity and dedication, but it will deliver a whole new world of sounds which will test your tolerance and prejudices. Sometimes humorous, often dark…Noisecore exists like a musical Chernobyl. A place which many find fascinating but refuse to enter.  

10 Noisecore Releases To Check Out (If You Can Find Them) -  

Sore Throat - Disgrace To The Corpse Of Sid   
Anal Cunt - The Early Years  
Meat Shits - Bowel Rot  
7 Minutes Of Nausea - Cancelled  
Noise - Demo Tapes 1991-1995  
Nihilist Commando - Noisecore Violations 2002-2008  
Beip - I Like Penis  
Deche-Charge - Disgrace To The Corpse Of Seth   
Industrial Holocaust - The Holocaust Continues  
Lärm - Extreme Noise 

John Marley

 

The Jazz Scene - Hull 

Although it may come as a surprise to many, Hull has a vibrant jazz scene that dates back to the 1960’s. On an average week, there are at least 4 opportunities to hear live jazz in the city. Local musicians and enthusiasts have been integral in creating some of the longest running jazz clubs in the north.  

Hull Jazz Club can be traced as far back as the 1960’s when it was run by the local legend John ‘Blind Lemon’ Holborn. Still performing, Blind Lemon is one of those characters that make local music scenes great. Always immaculately dressed and full of wit, Lemon regularly appears at jam sessions in the city to play his signature blues Frankie & Johnny. Hull Jazz in its current form was launched in 1983 by bassist and banjo player Ken Ford who sadly passed away last year. A grassroots promoter in its purest form, Ford brought some of the biggest names in British jazz to the club as well as running regular players nights. Since his passing, the club is being kept alive by a small group of hard working volunteers. Running on a Wednesday at The Goodfellowship Inn on Cottingham Road, upcoming highlights include the Hull Big Band on October 18th & Route De Django on November 29th.  

Another long running jazz session happens at Pave Bar which is located in the fashionable Avenues area of the city. The jam session, which has taken place every Tuesday for a decade sees guest musicians join the Rob Law Trio. The front liners include vocalists Jenny Smith & Kate Peters as well as horn players Ben Lowman, Rod Mason & Stuart Garside. Due to the bar’s location and the lack of admission fee, the jam has a varied and vibrant audience that is made up of jazz fans, drinkers and students. Pave also runs a Sunday afternoon session with smaller ensembles for diners to enjoy. Georgina Barr, Dan Edwards and Martin Jones are amongst the regular rotation of performers.  

The most recent gig to emerge in Hull’s jazz scene takes place at 4.30pm every Sunday at the Humber Street Gallery. Humber Street is an artery of the old town that has seen a great deal of regeneration in recent years. When the sun is shining, the street has a bustling atmosphere with a heady mix of shoppers and culture vultures. The gallery jazz session takes place in the cafe and features duos. Organised by bassist George Beastall, he is regularly accompanying musicians such as Nicki Allan & Thom Whitworth.  

One of the biggest events in the Yorkshire jazz calendar is the Hull Jazz Festival. In recent years the festival has been split into 2 parts with a Summer and Winter edition. This year, they are celebrating their 25th anniversary in style. Jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny will be leading a quartet to open the festival which will also features performances by GoGo Penguin, Arun Gosh and Andy Sheppard.  

One of Hull’s most famous jazz connections comes not in the form of a musician but that of a writer. Philip Larkin was a librarian at The University of Hull, during which time he wrote many of his most well known works. As well as his poetic compositions, Larkin was also a keen jazz fan and the jazz critic for the Daily Telegraph. His outspoken jazz reviews were often full of controversy due to his his criticism of modern jazz. Larkin favoured early styles of jazz performance and this preference is apparent in his writings which have been compiled in a book, All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–1971.  

For those looking to do further reading on the history of Hull’s jazz scene, a fascinating book was released in 1991 entitled Hull Jazz and Jazzmen. Compiled by Laurie Dex, the book features interviews with local musicians who have been part of the scene since its beginning. The book gives a powerful insight into the development of a local music scene from those who helped to create it.  

John Marley

 

Useful Links -  

Jazz In Hull - www.facebook.com/jazzinhull/ 

Pave Bar - www.pavebar.co.uk 

Hull Jazz Festival - https://jnight.org/hulljazzfestival.php 

Humber Street Gallery - http://www.humberstreetgallery.co.uk 

 

Leeds Zine Fair 2017  

In 2017 we are walking the line between a golden age and the darkest days of independent publishing. With the growth of the internet and related technologies, anyone and everyone can publish their thoughts in an instant. This can be a great thing. Positive and well thought out articles can be sent into the world to counteract bias in the mainstream media. Social media is like an irritating wasp buzzing around Rupert Murdoch’s head and it’s one which he hasn’t managed to swat or tame just yet. However, for every well constructed article, there are ten more which are ill informed, hastily put together and full of misinformation.  

There has been a fear that the domination of the internet in our lives would spell the end of zine culture and independent publishing in print. It could be argued that the opposite is true. An article on the internet can be written in an instant and forgotten about even quicker. A zine is different. A zine is a commitment. It often takes weeks to write, weeks to assemble and much of the writers hard earned money to put in to production (most of which they will not recuperate). This means that a zine by its nature must contain two things that internet articles sometimes lack, namely passion and sincerity. You may not always agree with what is written in a zine but it would be difficult to question the writers integrity. In these days of disposable media, fake news and short attention spans, a zine should be cherished more than ever.  

Leeds Zine Fair is a celebration of zine culture and the scenes which they are regularly associated with. Now in its seventh year, the fair is held in the Left Bank building on Cardigan Road. Left Bank is a grade 2 listed former church building which is run as a charitable organisation. The event, organised by the Footprint Workers Co-Op, hosts stalls run by zine makers and distributers from across the UK. The event has a friendly and supportive atmosphere with the zinesters visiting each others stalls and offering words of encouragement.  

The material on offer ranged from classic punk booklets and vintage horror magazines to art prints and less conventional writing. There was a heavy leaning towards vegan, anarchist and feminist literature interspersed with tour diaries, Lovecraft inspired horror writing and a nihilistic take on vintage computer games. Some of the people behind the stalls were outgoing and talked enthusiastically about their creations. Others were more reserved, happy for visitors to fan through their booklets and to let their thoughts come out in print.  

As well as reading the fascinating literature on offer, visitors could indulge in a vegan cake, have a drink or take part in creating a zine themselves. Independently published print media has been integral to the growth of many subcultures. Punk, metal and free improvisation are three musical genres that have relied heavily on dedicated fans to document the music in zines. It seems that other genres could benefit from the a similar level of involvement.   

John Marley.

Left Bank - leftbankleeds.org.uk

Footprint Workers Co-opfootprinters.co.uk

The Jazz Scene - York  

York is not a city well known for its musical exports when compared to other parts of the county. However, it has a friendly and welcoming jazz scene which has been growing steadily in recent years. The resurgence of jazz in York could be traced to the renovation of The Phoenix Inn which is located just inside the ancient city walls.  

When it was reopened in 2009, the new landlord endeavoured to promote as much live jazz as possible. The popular Wednesday night jam session found a new home at the pub and continues to the present day. All players are welcome to sit in with the house band which is fronted by trumpeter James Lancaster. The Phoenix Inn has been host to several vocalists on a Monday evening including Kate Peters, Rachel Croft & Marlena Rose. The Sunday night slot is shared by contemporary jazz outfit The Firebird Quartet, The Georg Ruschmeyer Trio and guest bands from across the region. On a Friday evening, Karl Mullen plays solo on the pub’s upright piano.  All events at The Phoenix are free entry.  

Another pub which hosts a weekly jazz session is The Eagle & Child on the opposite side of the city to The Phoenix Inn. There is a regular rotation of bands led by James Lancaster, Kate Peters, Karl Mullen & Ron Burnett. Ron has been an integral part of the York jazz scene for many years having played in the city since the 60’s and written the jazz column in the York Press. He also leads bands at The Cross Keys on Tadcaster Road. This session is on a Thursday afternoon and is hosted by various traditional jazz musicians and organised by the trombonist Alan Bramley.  

Gypsy Jazz is well represented in York through the Wednesday night jam session at The Victoria Vaults which is close to the train station. This fortnightly jam has been running for several years and has an atmosphere closer to that of a folk music session. Many of the musicians involved in the jam play at other venues across the city including a monthly slot at the tiny & appropriately titled bar The Nook.   

The longest running regular jazz event in the city takes place at Kennedy’s Bar on Little Stonegate every Sunday at 1pm. Having taken place for the best part of a decade, the restaurant has seen hundreds of musicians pass through its doors. The instrumentalists who play there currently include guitar virtuosos Adrian Ingram, Nik Svarc and Jez Platt.  

Opportunities to see touring jazz musicians come predominantly through two venues. The National Centre For Early Music always includes jazz as part of their programme. The venue is a converted church which makes it more suitable for acoustic performances. Christine Tobin & Andy Sheppard are visiting the NCEM in the coming months.  

One of the success stories of 2017 is the Basement Jazz Club which is located below the City Screen cinema on Coney Street. The club brings in cutting edge bands such as Flying Machines, Perpetual Motion Machine & Taupe and just as importantly, it consistently brings in a substantial audience with many events selling out. Gigs are happening at the club with increasing regularity and they bring in a young audience which is vital to the survival of live jazz.  

Another success story of the York jazz scene is the York Jazz Initiative. Spearheaded by trumpeter Ian Chalk, YJI runs several ensembles including three youth big bands, a funk band, an adult big band and a jazz choir as well as organising educational workshops. Although it has only existed for a short time, several of its alumni have gone on to study at highly respected institutions such as Leeds College of Music and Chetham’s. This has led to the YJI becoming an educational partner of Leeds College of Music and receiving funding from the Ronnie Scott’s Foundation. A monthly showcase event is held at The Post Office Club and the ensembles have also played across the regions jazz clubs and festivals.  

York University also plays an important part of the city’s jazz scene. Visiting lecturers at the university include Nikki Iles, Steve Watts, Iain Dixon and Mike Walker. A weekly Monday night jam is held on campus at V Bar during term time and the night always has a lively atmosphere. The University Jazz Orchestra plays two annual concerts with guest soloists. Over the last 12 months, the orchestra has been directed by the Canadian composer John Warren. A resident of the city, John is well known for his albums with John Surman & Stan Sulzmann amongst others.  

For those wishing to learn more about the York jazz scene, you can visit the website www.jazzinyork.com which lists all of the jazz events in the city. Although not as well known as its neighbours to the west, York has one of the fastest developing scenes in the north of England.  

5 Gigs For Your Diary -  

Tom Millar Quartet - Basement Jazz Club - 19th September  

Laginha, Argüelles, Norbakken Trio - York University - 11th October  

Christine Tobin Trio - National Centre For Early Music - 11th November  

Andy Sheppard Quartet - National Centre For Early Music - 13th November 

Kate Peters Big Band - The Post Office Club - 3rd December  

John Marley.  

10 of the Best Northern Jazz Venues  

The north of England has its fair share of jazz festivals. Manchester, Scarborough, Burton Agnes & Gateshead are just some of the towns & cities which host national & international talent annually. These well attended festivals bring jazz in a variety of guises to music lovers young & old. 

Jazz fans do not have to wait until the summer for their fix of live music. The north is littered with music venues which programme live jazz regularly. Here are ten of the best northern jazz clubs. 

Seven Arts, Leeds - Seven Arts has seen many great jazz musicians pass through its doors over the last few years. This fashionable arts venue in Chapel Allerton has a relaxing bar to the front & an auditorium to the rear. Jazz concerts take place every Sunday afternoon from 1.30pm. Special events & workshops are held at various times throughout the year. Seamus Blake, Steve Swallow & Liane Carroll are just some of the illustrious names to have graced this venue which is the most recent winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards ‘Venue of The Year’. (www.sevenjazz.co.uk

The Phoenix Inn, York - Situated just within the city walls, The Phoenix Inn is an award winning real ale pub which lay derelict for many years. Brought back to life in 2009, this cosy pub has been hosting jazz ever since. The Phoenix Inn now has live jazz 4 nights a week with resident bands including the Chris Moore Trio & the Firebird Quartet. The popular Wednesday evening jam session is always packed full of musical talent and an appreciative audience. (www.phoenixinnyork.co.uk

Pave Bar, Hull - As the current UK City of Culture, a spotlight is shining on Hull’s art & music scene. Pave Bar, situated in the bustling area known to locals as ‘The Avenues’, has been hosting a popular jazz jam session for over a decade. The Tuesday night session sees a plethora of local talent join the house band led by pianist Rob Law. The local jazz legend ‘Blind Lemon’ never fails to win over the audience with his infectious take on the blues. Duo’s and trio’s entertain the diners on a Sunday afternoon with the music ranging from jazz to soul. (www.pavebar.co.uk

Wakefield Jazz, Wakefield - Tucked away from the town centre, Wakefield Jazz has its home at Wakefield Sports Club. Although the venue may be somewhat traditional, the music is certainly not. The club has consistently welcomed many of the UK’s most well respected jazz musicians across the scope of the genre. Running every Friday evening, you are always guaranteed world class musicianship. (www.wakefieldjazz.org

The Cask Inn, Scarborough - Not only is Scarborough the home of a long running annual jazz festival, it also has a weekly jazz session at The Cask Inn. Running for over 30 years, guest musicians join the house band to entertain a loyal audience. Full bands from across the north also visit the club on a Wednesday evening to play in this cosy basement bar. Scarborough jazz is perfect for a trip to the coast, first rate pub grub & high quality live jazz. (www.scarboroughjazz.co.uk

The Lescar, Sheffield - Run by one of the most welcoming jazz promoters in Yorkshire, The Lescar never fails to deliver a consistently varied programme of live jazz. On a Wednesday evening throughout the year, the pub pleases its regulars with cutting edge touring bands as well as more mainstream outfits. Based in the student area of the city, The Lescar is a real ale pub with a youthful atmosphere. (www.jazzatthelescar.com

The Jazz Cafe, Newcastle - Newcastle has a reputation for producing genre bending jazz musicians such as Chris Sharkey & ACV. The city’s live jazz programming has been boosted by the work of The Sage and promoters such as Jazz North East. The Jazz Cafe has a busy live jazz schedule which covers everything from free jazz to accessible vocal quartets. (www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk

Matt & Phreds, Manchester - Based in the fashionable Northern Quartet of the city, Matt & Phreds has built a reputation for hosting high quality jazz, latin & funk music throughout the week. The venue serves great pizza and has a fantastic party atmosphere over the weekend. Having played host to household names Adele & Jamie Cullum, it is no surprise that Matt & Phreds’ reputation for live music continues to grow. (www.mattandphreds.com

Zeffirelli’s, Ambleside - Not only a jazz venue but a cinema & restaurant, Zeffirelli’s is situated in the picturesque Cumbrian town of Ambleside. The town has a strong jazz pedigree due to the title of pianist John Taylor’s famous composition Ambleside Days. If you like to listen to jazz whilst enjoying some excellent food then Zeffirelli’s is the ideal venue. (www.zeffirellis.com

Cafe Lento, Leeds - No bigger than most peoples living rooms, Cafe Lento is situated in the Headingley area of Leeds. How does such a small venue consistently attract some of jazz music’s most well known names? Due to the buzzing atmosphere, generated largely by the charismatic owner Richard Lindley. A genuine music lover, you can’t fail to catch the bug of Richard’s enthusiasm for the music heard within the tiny walls of his venue. Cafe Lento delivers a truly intimate live music experience. (www.cafelento.co.uk

John Marley

Monk Montgomery - The First Pioneer of Electric Bass  

The Montgomery family name is well established in jazz history due to the musical accomplishments of Wes, perhaps the most influential jazz guitarist of his era. Yet the legacy of the Montgomery name stretches further. Buddy Montgomery, one of Wes’ brothers, was an accomplished pianist and vibraphonist who recorded with Johnny Griffin, George Shearing and Charlie Rouse.  

The name of Monk Montgomery may be unfamiliar to many jazz fans, yet his story is fascinating though largely untold. Monk was the first to hand his younger brother Wes a guitar when he was approximately 11 years old. Monk himself did not take up the double bass until he was 28 years old, almost unheard of for such a proficient jazz musician. After practising for a couple of years, Monk found himself in the orchestra of Lionel Hampton.  

It was Hampton who first encouraged Monk to switch to the new electric bass which was made popular by instrument maker Leo Fender. Monk told Guitar Player Magazine “Hamp handed me the Fender and told me he wanted the electric instrument sound in the band. The electric bass was considered a bastard Instrument. Conventional bass players despised it. It was new and a threat to what they new…At first I freaked out, because I was in love with my upright bass…(but) I made up my mind to do it and did it well”   

Monk Montgomery was not only one of the first to tour with the new Fender Precision bass, but he is believed by many to be the first to record with the instrument. The record date took place on July 2nd 1953 and was released as The Art Farmer Septet. All of the musicians on the date (aside from drummer Sonny Johnson) were members of Hampton’s orchestra. On this recording, Montgomery successfully eased the new instrument into jazz by emulating the sound of the double bass. Playing the instrument with his thumb, Monk produced a warm round tone which suited the cool swing and latin groove based compositions on the album.  

Being one of the first musicians to adopt the Fender bass, Monk had no influences on the instrument. This allowed him to adapt his style throughout his career. Although the use of the thumb produces an appealing sound, it can be technically limiting. Monk dealt with this problem by creating his own plectrums made of felt. This allowed a greater playing speed while maintaining the soft attack.  

Monk Montgomery would continue to have an extensive career as a sideman and bandleader, recording with his brothers, Hampton Hawes, Hugh Masekela and Kenny Burrell amongst others. Yet he continued to break new ground on a series of albums released under his own name. His first solo album entitled It’s Never Too Late was released in 1969 and features members of The Crusaders. On the album, Monk plays a style of lead bass guitar which wouldn’t achieve widespread acceptance until Jaco Pastorius burst on to the scene some 6 years later.  

Monk Montgomery came into his own as a leader on his 1971 release Bass Odyssey. Not only does he continue his vision of a lead bass sound, but he develops it even further, introducing fuzz effects and tremolo picking. The album also features double bassists Andy Simpkins & Kent Brinkley, allowing Monk to focus on his role at the forefront of the music. The music is infectious soul jazz with a notable contribution from keyboard player Joe Sample. The record, like most of Monk’s solo output, remains out of print.  

Monk Montgomery’s influence in jazz should not be underestimated. Not only did he introduce the Fender Bass to the genre, but he gave it a unique and credible voice through his sensitive accompaniments and memorable solo albums. He was also an early pioneer of playing the instrument with a plectrum, a style of playing which is still rare amongst jazz bassists (Steve Swallow and Carol Kaye being two other notable plectrum users).  

Despite this, Monk Montgomery remains largely unknown and unmentioned not just in jazz circles but also in the world of bass guitar. Many of his albums are out of print, as is his in-depth and extensive 1978 bass tuition book. In the internet age, Monk Montgomery’s playing may not contain enough fireworks to be featured on bass guitar websites but his legacy deserves acknowledgement and his music deserves to be re-examined in the modern age.  

John Marley.