Yes, good friends all, the Half Dozen its members and I are coming up close up to our first real ‘West End’ season! From TUESDAY APRIL 7TH through to SATURDAY APRIL 11TH, we’re booked for a whole week of appearances – in a whole variety of presentations – at London’s PIZZA EXPRESS to celebrate our ‘Top Small Group’ win in the 2008-9 British Jazz Awards. It’s going to be great.
In a second I’ll tell you all about the shows we’re putting on but first let me give you all the contact details. The great PIZZA EXPRESS JAZZ CLUB is at no 10 Dean Street, Soho, London. The nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road on the Central line. Or if you’re driving in (and have SatNav!) the postcode is W1D 3RW! Parking isn’t that easy – though you can sometimes find a place in Soho Square if you’re lucky – but a lot of our friends prefer to park up in Newman Street, north of Tottenham Court Road (more or less behind the Hundred Club) where the parking’s easier and then walk across Oxford Street to the Pizza. You can sometimes park in the Mews behind the Hundred Club too (shhh………….!)
Either way you’re coming in, you’ll probably be safest to book in advance, and here’s the phone number for the club: it’s 0207 437 9595 . They alsohave a website of course and the address is: pizzaexpresslive.co.uk
And here are all the shows we’ll be playing to celebrate our week!
TUESDAY 7 APRIL
“Meet the Pollwinners!”. The Half-Dozen brings its own fast-moving presentation – which has toured for the last eight years with George Melly and now blues-legend Paul Jones – to the Pizza for a solo outing! This’ll be a great opportunity for the band to strut its stuff complete with our close-harmony and fantastic team of soloists – and, no doubt you can meet the pollwinning members in the ‘Nellie Dean’ over the road at half-time too!
WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL
The Half Dozen is joined by my old friend VAL WISEMAN in our brand-new show called ‘JAZZ GOES TO THE MOVIES’. Val – who for the last two decades has been starring in the sell-out British theatre tribute to Billie Holiday called ‘Lady sings the Blues’ was – (at last!) voted ‘top vocalist’ in the British Jazz Awards 2008-9, and our new show has been touring British theatres for the last two years. It’ll be fun to do it in the club-atmosphere of the Pizza Express andwe’ll be bringing you you dozens of movie-hits from the l930s to the Millennium and beyond!
THURSDAY 9 APRIL
Well, 2009 marks the Centenary of the legendary songwriter JOHNNY MERCER! – composer and lyricist for classic standards from ‘Something’s gotta give!’ ‘Blues in the Night’ and ‘One for my baby’ right up to ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’ ‘Moon River’ and hundreds more. There’s to be a million Mercer celebrations this year, but this is the first to hit the West End. And for this extra-special revue I’ll be working with Craig Milverton’s Trio and singer MAGGIE REEDAY, direct from the London Palladium! An extra-special night for lovers of great songs! And we’re HOPING for another star-guest singer to be with us too. I’ll keep you informed!
FRIDAY 10 APRIL
When I first played in the Pizza Express in (why should I tell you????? – ok, 1978!) we used to get together with the original Pizza Express All Stars and play hot music in the Dixieland style. You don’t hear too much of that kind of music in theWest End these days! So I thought it would be great to re-assemble my ‘Chicagoans” – a reall all-star team featuring the new clarinet phenomenon TIM HUSKISSON and trombonist CHRIS GOWER – to present a show called ‘Echoes of Chicago’. We’ll be blowing the roof off the club, but that’s only musically, so leave the umbrella at home! And there are some great guests who’ve promised to drop in including SEBASTIAN SCOTNEY whose new jazz site the LondonJazzblog is the best reading this side of Will Shakespeare! A GREAT night of real good-time jazz! And that brings us to:
SATURDAY 11 APRIL
In Autumn last year our very latest show ‘Ella and Louis’ – a tribute to guess-who! – sold out five clear shows ‘standing-room-only’ at Ronnie Scott’s round the corner. In fact on the last night they couldn’t even find places for people to stand, despite putting on two shows a night! So we thought we’d finish our week by bringing back this great evening for a one-off re-appearance at the Pizza. Our evening features all the wonderful hits that Louis and Ella recorded with Oscar Peterson and others – ‘They Can’t Take that Away from Me’, ‘A Foggy Day in London Town’ ‘Stomping at the Savoy’ and dozens more. And after Ronnie’s we really are expecting a sellout! So, to be sure of catching the show – co-starring MAGGIE REEDAY and CRAIG MILVERTON – do be sure and book early.
And I really hope to see you there! It’s going to be a week – not just ‘a night’ – to remember!
Meantime, all my best,