Two masters of jazz improvisation, the legendary alto saxophonist Geoff Simkins and the highly original pianist Liam Noble play a mixture of standards, originals and traditional tunes. Their recently released and critically acclaimed duo album “Lucky Teeth” takes its name (though not much else) from the feat of a late Victorian circus act who in 1896 successfully impaled a turnip dropped 270 feet from Clifton Bridge onto a fork held between his teeth in front of an audience of 5000. Simkins and Noble will execute equally astonishing musical feats improvising on turnarounds and rootless voicings, rather than impaling turnips and other root vegetables.
They will wind and swoop their way around melodies from classic standards to 80’s pop. They’ll be a sense of danger and daring throughout, capturing, they like to think, some of the sheer terror and beauty of root vegetables in flight. Standards like “Stella By Starlight” and “When You’re Smiling” contrast with Duran Duran’s melodramatic “Save A Prayer” and the traditional folk song “Black Waterside”, provoking interaction both rumbustious and delicate, and perhaps a rethinking of what it means to be staring a speeding turnip in the face.
“A philosopher’s stone of a listen with excellently authentic Vortex club sound captured when all the pieces of the puzzle seem to have slotted into place…sheer alchemy is only ever a stone’s throw away.” Stephen Graham, marlbank.net
“Each piece is a launchpad for the duo’s dazzlingly intuitive interplay, and whether playing empathetic counterpoint, thrilling chase sequences or exchanging good-natured blows, their orbits are always aligned. “Frank Graham, London Jazz News
“We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time. We finally did it” Liam Noble
“One fine Sunday my partner and I were meandering through the peaceful, overgrown paths of Brighton’s Victorian extra-mural cemetery when we happened upon a memorial stone to one Albert “Zanetto” Bale, a music hall artiste and member of a family known as “The Royal Zanettos”. Some on-line enquiries uncovered this detail about another family member, George……”Because he was the tallest of the Bale brothers George is easy to recognise in many photos. In some later close-ups it looks as if he may have had “lucky teeth” with a slight gap between the front two. If so, it may have helped to hold the fork on which he caught turnips”. I had assumed that this was part of some sort of eccentric stage act but further research yielded the information that in 1896 George, with a crowd of 5000 watching, actually stood underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge and caught a turnip (dropped 270 feet from the bridge) on the prongs of a fork clenched between his teeth”
“Playing this music is not quite as dangerous as catching an accelerating vegetable on a fork, but there are parallels. It’s enjoyable, but challenging. You have to make something happen over and above the act itself. A good set of strong teeth can be beneficial. But luck is only part of either story. A gap in between teeth does not a turnip catcher make. There’s work to be done, practice and thought, and this recording is a celebration of that work.”
See the full interview on London Jazz News here
Music is here
An excellent jazz evening is coming this Thursday evening 22 February Seven Arts Leeds! The main performance is from two UK masters of jazz improvisation, the legendary alto saxophonist Geoff Simkins and the highly original pianist Liam Noble play a mixture of standards, originals and traditional tunes featured on their new album “Lucky Teeth”
Support (7.30-8.15pm) will be from jazz vocalist singer songwriter (and Leeds University student) Jerry Liu and his septet 7.30-8.10pm with Haile on flute/Ben Allen and Eleanor Wood on clarinet/Eleanor Cragg on violin/ Yongxin Zang piano/plus bass and drums
Tickets £18/16 (25s and under £9) here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/jazzleeds/liam-noble-and-geoff-simpkins-lucky-teeth/e-oqmkle
Geoff Simkins and Liam Noble with support from Jerry Liu Septet @Seven Arts, Thursday 22 February 7.30pm