Sunday, July 29, 2018

Andy Lawrenson Trio @ Prohibition Bar, Gateshead – July 28

Andy Lawrenson (violin, vocals); Simon O’Byrne (guitar, vocals); Paul Grainger (double bass)
(Review by Russell)
Prohibition Bar’s lovingly crafted homage to an era of US bootleg liquor, European decadence and good times came into its own this evening with an appearance by the Andy Lawrenson Trio. A select audience listened intently as a swing dance couple – Anja and Alec – effortlessly evoked the period.
Le Cafe Parisien is violinist Lawrenson’s latest project encompassing the jazz of Reinhardt and Grappelli with Celtic and Romani influences alongside one of the great improvisers of this or any era…JS Bach. Minor Swing established the mood and Lawrenson’s first vocal of the evening – It had to be You – suggested the trio’s approach would be one of casual virtuosity.

Guitarist Simon O’Byrne took his share of the vocal numbers – After You’ve Gone the first of them – and between them the fiddler and guitarist, positioned either side of double bass lynchpin Paul Grainger, created the illusion that we were in a cafe on the Left Bank of the Seine rather in a converted railway arch on the south bank of the Tyne.

The classical pieces – Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue – sat comfortably alongside the early twentieth century jazz and popular song at the heart of the performance and, to make the evening, Anja and Alec, two familiar faces on the swing dance scene, gave a winning performance of their own.
J’attendrai (voc. O’Byrne), Honeysuckle RoseLady be Good with its whistled coda and the trio’s first public airing (a world premiere, said Lawrenson) of Bei Mir Bist du Schoen made for a balanced set enjoyed by Prohibition Bar’s Saturday evening patrons.
 Elements of humour and pathos were central to the set, not least O’Byrne’s tenor-to-baritone vocal take on a Russian song – Kasienka – sung in Polish and Lawrenson’s delicate version of I Can’t Give You Anything but Love. To conclude an enjoyable evening of entirely acoustic music the trio went out on Sweet Georgia Brown.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Bebop Spoken Here – Andy Lawrenson Trio @ Gosforth Civic Theatre Jazz Club –

July 12th, 2018

Andy Lawrenson (violin/vocals); Simon O’Byrne (guitar/vocals); Paul Grainger (double bass).
(Review by Lance).
Sadly, the English World Cup dream was over and we didn’t face a confrontation with France on Sunday which made the Andy Lawrenson Trio’s presentation Le Café Parisien less controversial although, such was the strength of performance by the trio that I may have almost been persuaded to change allegiances – almost!
This was one of those mini gems that spring up on you unexpectedly. On the face of it, it looked likely to be yet another Hot Club outing – I think there are now more hot-clubbers around than there are traddies – and a large part of the ALT repertoire does stem from Django & Stephane. However, it doesn’t end there, if anything it starts there before weaving its way around the arrondissements of Paris.
The most unusual aspect of this vignette was the complete lack of amplification – even the vocals were sung acoustically – yet it didn’t detract, if anything, because of the intimate setting of Gosforth Civic Theatre (the musicians played at ground level enabling them to interact with the audience), it enhanced the music. A Maccaferri in full flight is a force to be reckoned with and O’Byrne is a commendable exponent of the genre. He also sings quite uniquely. I’m unsure as to whether its great drama or dark comedy but, whatever, he does it well.
By contrast, Lawrenson’s voice is lighter, perhaps even romantic in the late ‘twenties/early ‘thirties style that heralded the arrival of the crooners.
His violin playing ticks all the Grappelli boxes just as O’Byrne’s does the Reinhardt ones. But there’s more to it than that. Celtic reels and jigs turn up in the most unexpected places – not least in the most swinging version of Paganini’s Caprice XX1V since Benny Goodman’s 1942 recording.
The classics were well and truly jazzed. Apart from Pag’s Caprice, we had Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turka once recorded by Red Ingle and his Natural 7 as Moe Zart’s Turkey Trot! On top of that, we had a couple of Klezmer pieces, a few bars of Cream and a lot of repartee twixt Andy and Simon with the occasional intervention by the exquisitely coiffured Grainger who, as ever, was a tower of strength.
So, apart from Mozart and co, what else did we hear?
Minor Swing; It Had to be You, sung by Andy complete with verse; After You’ve Gone, vocal by Simon; Greensleeves; J’attendrai; Honeysuckle Rose; A fast waltz, Under Paris Skies; Lady be Good, crooned by Andy; Coquette; Kashtanka (or something similar) sung in Polish by Simon; Django’s Tiger; I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, sung by Andy; an incredible Sweet Georgia Brown that sounded as if it was intended for the Dublin Globetrotters and, finally, All of Me with a Segovia type intro by Simon and vocal by Andy.
Needless to say, all of the above numbers had swingy violin solos. Our fiddler added a mute on J’attendrai that gave the violin an almost viola-like sonority and, throughout he displayed an enviable technique.
O’Byrne too can get around the guitar. At times it sounded as though all three Hot Club guitarists were riffing away.
Paul Grainger, as elegant as any Frenchman proved he can handle music and rhythm from any continent or genre as well as soloing more melodically than most bassists.
Overall, it was a delightful evening of gypsy jazz and its spinoffs handled by three of the finest and all done in an entertaining manner,
They’re at the Prohibition Bar on July 28 don’t miss it.


. . . We really enjoyed your sessions and it was amazing the atmosphere you created with just three instruments. I am not a jazz fan but I was enthralled by the sheer musicianship of you all and you made it a very lovely way to spend a few hours. Hope you had a safe trip home! Thanks again, (Sandra and Phil, Geddington Village Hall, 13th May 2016)

“Wow…. I have fallen in love with music all over again, amazing night 14th May. I want your amazing new album and I will definitely come listen again.Thank you also for teaching my 8 year old true music . . .” (Helen Crouch, Bagworth Community Centre, 14th May 2016)

” We went to see Stephane Grappelli in 1982 – and you really do him justice!” (Dave Roberts, Helmsley Arts Centre, February 2016)

“Great Music, full house! What more could we ask for?” (Chris Sherburn, Event management, Newcastle Jazz Cop-op, February 2016)

“What an astoundingly good night! So sad I had to leave early. Will definitely be back for more. Thank you guys!” xx (Helen Shephardson Newcastle Jazz Co-op, February 2016)

“Great night – really enjoyed it! I’m sure the rest of the tour will go with a swing… “(Ellen Phethean, Newcastle Jazz Co-op, February 2016)

Jazz Co-op @ The Globe: The Andy Lawrenson Trio – February 6

Andy Lawrenson (violin, vocals); Simon O’Byrne (guitar, vocals); Paul Carroll (upright bass, piano) + Also guests Stu Finden (soprano sax) Fiona Finden (vocals)

(Review by Ann Alex)

“This was described by the band as their Stephane Grappelli show, so we held on to our hats (should it be berets?) for an evening of stonking, swinging Grappelli/Reinhardt gypsy jazz.  A large audience (donate more chairs?) heard such numbers as My Dear Mr Shane (Mei Bir Mist Du Schoen), sung by Andy; Tea For Two, with its beautiful verse from the guitar, main theme from a luscious-sounding violin, and loads of improvisation all round.

That’s just a small sample of what we enjoyed: other numbers included Reinhart’s 1940s tune Nuages; a 1937 tune of just introduction and chords, the band make up the rest: I Can’t Give You Anything But Love; It Don’t Mean A Thing; Honeysuckle Rose; How High The Moon; Misty; a very dramatic Jealousy tango; Besame Mucho. For good measure, to show what the fiddle could do, we had the well known Caprice No. 24(Paganini), with Paul using the piano as a bass line.  I especially liked the slightly husky tone of Simon’s voice on Misty and Besame Mucho. Sorry about any tunes I’ve missed or mistitled, but I was also counting the money we’d taken – we volunteers get to do all sorts.

Then came the surprise guests, the Findens, to join the band for the mad lyrics of Bernie’s Tune (twangy guitar and Fi scatting) and also Lester Leaps In.

This was when I leapt out to catch the Metro. Another night of wonderful music at the Globe.”

Ann Alex    

“The performance had everything, entertainment, laughter, warmth, insight into musical history and above all highly skilled musicianship and beautiful atmospheric music. . .  (Bruce Knight, Artistic Director, Spilsby Theatre)

I smiled from start to finish – still smiling now! . . . (Katherine, Skirwith Village Hall)

“We thoroughly enjoyed Friday night, I have had nothing but positive feedback and happy comments. One lady said it was like sitting outside a French cafe in the sunshine, you must have made a good impression to achieve that effect in winter in a village hall!  . . . . . . . Thanks to you we are now regarded as a hall worth coming to, have had several enquiries about our next event.”   Louise, Santon Bridge Village Hall,  February 2015

“The gig was a stormer, you got our first ever standing ovation!”  James Smith, Events organiser, Newcastle Lit & Phil, January 2015

“A veritable smorgasbord of European Jazz, Classical and Gypsy Music . . . ” Cumberland Herald, October 2014

“Absolutely Fabulous! I smiled from start to finish, still smiling now . . . ” Skirwith Village Hall October 2014

“I knew you were going to be really good as soon as you walked on stage. . . . not only were you fantastic musicians, you were also brilliant entertainers . . .” Granary Theatre, October 2014

“The performance had everything, entertainment, laughter, warmth, insight into musical history and above all highly skilled musicianship and beautiful atmospheric music. A brilliant tour of Europe in sound!” Bruce Knight, Artistic Director, Spilsby Theatre, July 2014



imagesStephane Grappelli was at the forefront of Jazz violin for over 60 years. Originally making his name in 1930’s pre-war Paris with the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhard, through to international touring in the 1960’s, 70’s,and 80’s, and finally to his much lamented death in the mid 1990’s at the age of 89.

Over this time he played on literally hundreds of recordings with artists such as Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and Martin Taylor to name but a few. A popular partnership with the classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin captured the public’s imagination and made Stephane Grappelli a household name – Arguably, he enjoyed a unique role as the only Jazz violinist to ever achieve international fame, with frequent concerts and TV appearances throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, and a Grammy lifetime achievement awarded just after his death in 1997.

The STEPHANE GRAPPELLI STORY featuring the ANDY LAWRENSON TRIO have made a bold and adventurous tribute to the life and music of the great musician. With interplay between Violin, Upright Bass and Guitar, expect to hear such greats as “Minor Swing” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” from the Django Years, through to Grappelli’s unique arrangements of “ It had to be You” and “Honeysuckle Rose”. Of course Grappelli also worked with singers, so songs such as “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Misty” feature in the set, you may also hear some of Grappelli’s own compositions.

With sensitive, inspired arrangements, delivered with skill, spirit and plenty of banter between band members and audience, this show promises to provide a moving, enjoyable and memorable night’s entertainment which brings back echoes of a truly great Violinist and Musician.