Our Next Concert (1)

Saturday 26th October 2019   (all concerts begin at 8pm and end at 10.30pm)


Like both Michael Garrick and John Dankworth before him, 

Alan Barnes enjoys playing in every format from duo to big band, 

and like them he never ceases creating new projects and new material.  

Tonight's concert offers another brand-new band, 

taking a fresh look at some of the greatest themes in jazz.


1959 - sixty years ago - was the year some of the greatest jazz records of all time were made.  Just a few of them would be Kind Of Blue, and Sketches of Spain (both by Miles Davis), Time Out (Dave Brubeck), Portrait in Jazz (Bill Evans), Blowin' the Blues Away (Horace Silver), Mingus Ah Um (Charles Mingus), Art Pepper Plus Eleven, ....

1959 was also the year Alan Barnes was born, so to celebrate his own sixtieth anniversary he has commissioned Mark Nightingale to write arrangements for a twelve-piece big band.  The tunes themselves were all written in 1959, and they include Dreamsville (Henry Mancini), As Catch Can (Gerry Mulligan), Little Rootie Tootie (Thelonious Monk), Single Petal of a Rose (Duke Ellington, A Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim), Boogie Stop Shuffle (Charles Mingus), Naima (John Coltrane), Blowin' the Blues Away (Horace Silver), Take Five (Paul Desmond / Dave Brubeck) and Blue In Green (Miles Davis/ Bill Evans).

Alan is one of the best-known and most creative musicians in British jazz.  He has won many awards for playing alto, baritone, clarinet and for arranging.  He has received the BBC Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award and has been made a fellow of the Leeds College of Music

For Alan Barnes Plus Eleven Alan is featured on alto and baritone saxes, clarinet and bass clarinet with a top-class band featuring:

Pat White trumpet

James Copus trumpet

Mark Nightingale trombone 

Gordon Campbell trombone

Jim Gold alto/ woodwinds

Robert Fowler tenor/ woodwinds

Andy Panayi tenor/ woodwinds

Mick Foster baritone/ woodwinds

Robin Aspland piano

Sam Burgess bass

Matt Skelton drums


Here's what Alan says in the sleeve notes for the CD by the band:

"Even though it is set in an exceptionally fertile decade,1959 still stands out as a remarkably fruitful year for Jazz albums.

​"‘Kind of Blue’, ‘Giant Steps’, ‘Mingus Ah Um’,  ‘Thelonious Monk at Town Hall’ and Dave Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ are all iconic recordings from that year, as is my personal favourite, ‘Art Pepper+11’, in which the the altoist’s quicksilver improvisations are highlighted in Marty Paich’s peerless arrangements of modern jazz standards.

"To celebrate my 60th birthday, I wanted to record an album with a similar concept and to ask one of my favourite musicians, trombonist Mark Nightingale, to take on the arranging duties. We decided on a slightly different instrumentation, that all the musicians would be featured as soloists at some point, and that we would choose themes from my birth year -again 1959. 

"I wanted to solo mainly on alto but to also spotlight my ‘doubles’ of clarinet, bass clarinet and baritone on some tracks as Art Pepper had done 60 years earlier on tenor and clarinet. Mark responded immediately, enthusiastically and brilliantly, and within a few weeks I had a collection of wonderful charts all of which displayed his astoundingly fecund imagination in re-thinking completely new takes on these ageless tunes.

"All the musicians were our first call choices and we eventually found a day to record when they all had a gap in their busy schedules. Everyone came up with the goods - great section playing, lovely swinging feel and exceptional solos all round. There was also a very happy vibe in the hall that day, which I think has spilled onto the recording. These are all like minded, highly accomplished and individual musicians with a real love of this music and, most important to me, definitely not of the ‘Gloom School’.

"As soon as I heard the recent Chris Traves recording of Pete Long’s Jazz Planets Suite, I knew that I wanted to record with him in exactly the same situation - the whole band playing “live” in a concert hall. He really understands how to get that lovely natural sound.

"The jazz compositions here will be well known to most jazz listeners - all from classic albums of the period. We also have one standard, Mancini’s ‘Dreamsville’ from the album ‘The Music from Peter Gunn’ and one of the earliest Jobim bossa-nova compositions ‘A Feiicidade’ from the film ‘Black Orpheus’.

"Thanks to Mark, all the musicians, and Chris for making my reaching 60 years old feel like a wonderful new beginning!"


Alan Barnes April 2019

Saturday 28th September 2019   (all concerts begin at 8pm and end at 10.30pm)


Darius Brubeck, Dave O'Higgins, Matt Ridley, Wesley Gibbens


Darius Brubeck is a member of one of the most famous families in jazz, and one of our most popular visitors.  It's more than six years since Darius and his long-running British quartet came to Berkhamsted and we are delighted they will be playing for us for the third time.

Concerts always include Darius Brubeck compositions, South African jazz, and certain ever-popular Dave Brubeck hits; the musicians' mutual understanding and interaction is always a pleasure to see and hear and their acoustic sound is melodic, spontaneous, rhythmic and engaging.


Darius Brubeck (born in San Francisco, California on June 14, 1947) is the eldest son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck.  He spent many years in Durban, South Africa as a professor and head of the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of Natal.

He has received at least six 'Outstanding Service to Jazz Education' awards.  Darius performed (with three of his brothers) at the Kennedy Center Honours Gala when his father received a medal for his lifetime contribution to American culture; President and Mrs Obama were in the audience.

 During the 1970s and early '80s, Darius led his own groups and also toured the world with Two Generations of Brubeck and The New Brubeck Quartet (Dave, Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck).

Darius currently teaches and performs in Europe.  His current group, The Darius Brubeck Quartet has featured at UK Festivals and top London jazz clubs and he also played a special concert at Ronnie Scott's celebrating fifty years of "Time Out", Dave Brubeck's breakthrough album.


Dave is a popular and well-known figure on the international jazz scene.  Reviews have described his playing as "dazzling" and said "his fund of ideas never runs out."

He cut his teeth with NYJO, Cleo Laine, Roadside Picnic and Mezzoforte and went on to work with Jim Mullen, Ray Charles, Martin Taylor, Itchy Fingers, Frank Sinatra, Salif Keita, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Stan Tracey, Matthew Herbert, Chico Chagas and the BBC Big Band to name only a few.

Dave teaches saxophone, harmony and improvisation at the London Centre for Contemporary Music and also runs a studio which specialises in recording live small jazz ensembles.

Dave is a regular guest at Ronnie Scott's and at the 606 Club in Chelsea.


Matt studied for a BMus (Hons) in Jazz Studies at Trinity College of Music.  He graduated in 2005, winning the Trinity College of Music 'Friends in New York' award for excellence, and also garnering the Archer's Scholarship for big band.

Since then he has made a name for himself on the London jazz scene, the list of people he has worked with being a veritable who's who of UK jazz; he has appeared with, among others, Art Themen, Alan Barnes, Bobby Wellins, Clark Tracey, David Newton, Dave O'Higgins, Don Weller, Gilad Atzmon, Henry Lowther, Jim Mullen, Jim Hart, Kit Downes, Mark Nightingale, Steve Waterman, and Vasilis Xenopoulos.

He played bass in all of Mike Garrick's many ensembles, including The Mike Garrick Jazz Orchestra, and the 'MJQ Celebration', featuring Jim Hart and Steve Brown.  He has also recorded and toured extensively with Darius Brubeck.


A drummer originally from South Africa now based in North London, Wesley says: "I would describe my playing as African, jazz, world and organically funky.  I have worked with many SA jazz artists ... and since my arrival in London I have been privileged to play at some great venues and festivals in England and Europe such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Ronnie Scott's, Spice of Life, Pizza Express, 606, Wigan Jazz Club, the Marlborough and Brecon Jazz Festivals, London African Music Festival, and across Europe in Sweden, Holland, and Germany.

"Groups and players that I've worked / recorded with include Ritmos da Cidade, Mbawula, The Irreverents, SA Gospel Singers, Pinise Saul, Lucky Ranku, Claude Deppa, Joyce Mohologae, The Manhattan Brothers, Chris Letcher, Steve Norman, Arden Hart, Paul Bruce, Craig Johnston, Andy McDonnell, Matt Ridley and other cool musicians from various London Colleges.  On the international scale, I've recorded and performed with Darius Brubeck in SA and London and various tours with Netsayi."