Updated: Nov 20, 2018
Best known for clarinet, alto and baritone sax, Alan Barnes has been prolific internationally as a performer, composer, arranger, bandleader and touring soloist for the past 30 years. He has made over thirty albums, and his long list of session work includes Bjork, Bryan Ferry, Michel LeGrande, Clare Teale, Westlife, Jools Holland and Jamie Cullum. He has toured and played residencies with such diverse and demanding figures as Ruby Braff, Freddie Hubbard, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Ken Peplowski, Harry Allen and Conte Candoli. He's received over 25 British Jazz Awards, most recently in 2014 for clarinet, and has twice been made BBC Jazz Musician of the Year.
We are delighted to present Alan Barnes with US pianist Phil DeGreg for an extraordinary night of jazz, completing the quartet will be Darren Beckett on drums and Dan Sheppard on bass.
Alan, Phil DeGreg is joining you for the show, can you tell us what the dynamic is like between you two? I first met Phil when he was over here teaching on the Aebersold courses. He sat in on a few of my gigs and we instantly got on. We have a lot of humour and repertoire in common between us, both being around the same age. We know a lot of songs between us so no two shows are the same. I think we get the right balance between knowing what will happen and wondering what’s happening.
What can we expect from the show with your quartet next week? We’ll be playing pretty much straight-ahead tunes, standards, and themes from the great jazz composers including Thelonious Monk, Clifford Brown, Duke Ellington and Benny Golson. We don’t play mammoth long solos, as Hampton Hawes said: “You can’t keep squeezing the same orange.” We try and vary ways of playing to keep it interesting. We both talk quite a bit to the audience and let them know whats happening
You've had a long, illustrious career, can you tell us how the scene has changed? There were so many jazz gigs around London when I started out, and lots of sitting-in places. I suppose the thing that has disappeared is the common ground “mainstream” scene where everyone had repertoire in common. The standard now is so high amongst players and most play music of their own. Jazz is bound to change and you have to take what suits you from what’s happening and still be yourself.
Which players excite you today? Lots of them. In this country; Sammy Mayne, Jim Gold on alto, Leo Richardson on tenor. From my own era; Mornington Locket, Dave O’Higgins, Karen Sharp. There are so many great bass players and drummers now that I don’t get a chance to play with them all!
We're very much looking forward to having you back at The Verdict, what are your thoughts on The Verdict as a venue? The Verdict actually looks like the jazz club that you would design for a film about jazz: downstairs, intimate atmosphere and a proper stage for the band with a real piano. The audiences are enthusuiastic, knowledgeable and above all listen.
You can see Alan Barnes/Phil DeGreg Quartet on Saturday 24th November, click here for tickets.