16 September 2013

Jam Sessions: The Brunswick, Hove

Guitarist Paul Richards has been running the jazz jam session at The Brunswick in Hove since July 2010 and says “It’s good that Phil [the owner] agreed to put it on and a lot of the time he is at the back listening and doing the sound”.

    I asked Paul about the wide variety of musicians that appear there. “It’s just me on guitar, a double bassist and a drummer who I change each time. The artists and musicians change so much. In one night someone thinks what jazz might be. People singing the old jazz standards, all the swing hits in the Sinatra style. Then you get all your beboppers coming up, tenor players and trumpeters doing all the Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Blue Note-type stuff. Then you get all the funksters coming up. You get all the latin stuff which is particularly what I like. So, for example, if you’ve got in the house band drummers such as Sam Glasson, Tristan Banks, Tony Shepherd. You might get more of the Latin feel, especially if the conga player is in.”

    “The old style swing, relentless High energy bebop, funky stuff and latin stuff. For example, we had Zee Gachette recently doing drum and bass grooves with her singing and scatting over the top. So there’s all that and you might get an old-school clarinetist turn up playing trad sort of stuff. When I play in the trio I might play some samba music and classical sort of stuff like Brazilian choro which still has improvisation in it. Also, we get tap dancers. Simeon Weedall from Stomp comes down, with his board, and trades fours with the drums, which is often good fun. We’ve had tap dancers, singers and every conceivable instrument that you can think of. Harmonica, sax, trumpet, trombone, everything. You’ll get people singing soft, gentle ballads and then the next person who gets up will do some crazy, off-the-wall music. It is very varied. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You turn up at the beginning of the night and you don’t know who’s going to turn up that night or what people are going to play and to be honest, the standard of the musicians who turn up is very high and that’s why we’ve got such a big audience, regular people there every week watching.”

    Jazz jam sessions can sometimes be intimidating for beginners and Paul appreciates this. “We welcome all people. Beginners come and play and students from Sussex Jazz Guitar School. They might play stuff that they’ve been working on with me. And I’ll encourage them and they’ll get up. It’s not like a cutting contest or anything where you wipe the floor with people and see who is best, treating it like a sport. It’s more like all-inclusive and the audience are so warm and friendly. If there is someone who is struggling or they mess up or whatever people just applaud them anyway for having the guts to get up.”

    “It’s not like a little jam session in the back room of a pub. It’s a proper venue. All the tables are there with candles on and if you get there at 8:15 the venue’s packed out and then through the night you can barely get through the door. So it takes a lot of quite brave beginners and students to get up and play. But it’s good that they can meet others who are further on and get inspired. From my point of view it’s just really good fun being able to play with so many different people in one night There’s such a variety of different musicians. If you’ve been going to the jam for a few months regularly you can just walk in there and go down on your own and you’ll know everyone. It’s such a lovely place to be on a Tuesday.”

    “It’s good when you get people that are passing through, maybe on tour. You’ll be there one  night and Soweto Kinch will turn up and he’ll have a play. It’s just good to play with everyone. The main thing is it’s the community, the jazz community. It’s a community event. It’s just a good place to hang out, catch up and play some music. It’s always really enjoyable. The main thing is, you get all these singers and instrumentalists playing throughout the night, doing all their different styles, and then at the end you get all of them up to do a blues. The last number can get quite raucous. Really good energy. Long may it continue. It’s good being part of the Brighton jazz community. They’re all lovely people to hang out with and play with.”


Interview with Paul Richards conducted by Charlie Anderson

Photo: Mike Guest

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