‘Events dear boy, events….’ When Prime Minister Harold McMillan uttered that laconic phrase, he was talking about the perils of political life in the 1960s. But it could also describe the flow of musical events, some wonderful, some sad during the mid-term months of 2023. So let us now cast our minds back to what’s been all happening – dudes.

There have been gigs, concerts, book launches and documentaries aplenty to whet the appetites of rock, pop, jazz and film fans. But we also mourned the passing of old friends and musicians whose lives and achievements were nevertheless, a cause for celebration.


Summer began with a special tribute concert in memory of Barbara Thompson M.B.E organised by her daughter Ana Gracey and held at the Union Chapel, Islington on June 2. It was a great night when an array of artists and groups performed to a packed audience in the imposing hall. The show was introduced by Ana who explained the aim was to celebrate Barbara’s life and contribution to both jazz and classical music and she concluded ‘Long may her legacy live on.’

Barbara’s brother Marcus also spoke, giving thanks to Repertoire Records director Thomas Neelsen who had sponsored the event. Among the many highlights was a re-creation of Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, with Emma Rawicz playing lively soprano saxophone which Snake Davis followed with a piece on tenor together with Billy Thompson on electrifying violin, Pete Lemer on keyboards, Taif Ball and Phil Mulford alternating on bass and Gary Husband on drums.

Photos by Ron Milsom with thanks.

It was also remarkable to see Barbara and Barbara’s husband Jon Hiseman joining in proceedings, thanks to synchronised video wizardry, playing sax and drums, projected on a screen above the stage.

‘A Cry From the Heart’ a slow blues featuring tenor saxophonist Andy Scott and guitarist Paul Dunne proved another moving moment followed by the chamber music trio Trifarious and the Rascher Saxophone Quartet all the way from Germany. Ana returned to the stage dueting with her mother on ‘Fairweather’ a delicate ballad about climate change. “Mum, that was for you…’ she said to prolonged applause. Saxophone star of the classical world Jess Gillam opened the second half which included Barbara’s arrangements of Kurt Weill pieces performed by The Weill String Quartet led by violinist Simon Baggs with Trish Clowes on saxophone. Later came on stage the stars of legendary jazz-rock band Colosseum, lead guitarist Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson with singer Chris Farlowe and bassist and vocalist Mark Clarke joined by saxophonists Tom Ridout and Snake Davis. The all-female Marici Saxophone Quartet were another highlight alongside a performance by Barbara’s granddaughter Isabelle Hiseman who played saxophone beautifully to Peter Lemer’s grand piano and Billy Thompson’s violin accompaniment. Paraphernalia rejoined the stage together with fifty strong choir Big Sky featuring Kim Cypher on saxophone and Clem Clempson on guitar creating a grand finale that ensured it was a night to remember!


‘Good Intentions’ was the brisk opening number when the SEB played a concert to support the Cheam venue on June 16th. An especially receptive crowd including a dancing teenybopper, clearly enjoyed their mix of original songs and classic ‘covers.’

Lead singer, composer, guitarist and compere Steve was at his most engaging when he told the fans: “Here’s a song from our album…can’t remember what it was called. Oh yes, Hometown Skyline. It’s ‘Falling Into You.’ Next came ‘One Horse Town’ from Lazarus Lights a performance that clearly impressed record producer Andy Brook seated in the front rows.

Steve: “We’d like to play all of our hits now, but we haven’t had any – so we’ll play our Greatest Future Flops instead.” In quick succession came the embittered ‘Sugar & Blood’ and more optimistic ‘Fly Without Wings’ and ‘I Get The Strangest Feeling.’

Jon Kershaw’s powerful guitar interludes burst through the band’s two sets on ‘Turn It Up,’ ‘Roll Over’ and a storming ‘Lonely Tonight’ with a feverish solo.

This came complete with Status Quo style riffing from Jon, Steve and bassist Peter Wass, driven by Mark Taylor’s thunderous drums.

Jon made his glam rock singing debut on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust epic ‘Suffragette City.’ As the dancers paused to cheer and whistle the band encored with Steve Marriott’s ‘All Or Nothing’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ by er, forgotten now. Oh yes, The Beatles!

(photo Olly Bryan)


One of the most pleasant ways to spend the first Monday of every month is to wend your way to Sundridge Park Working Men’s Club, Bromley and sup a few pints of foaming beer, whilst absorbing the dynamic sound of a great big band. And on Monday July 3, the experience was heightened by the bonus attraction of free admission.

However we would have cheerfully paid several shillings to hear the band’s exciting interpretations of Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Stan Tracey arrangements, with both young and mature section players and soloists ready to entertain us.

Conducted by trombonist Sir William Todd and with fellow slide master Paul Taylor acting as Master of Ceremonies, the orchestra enthralled an enthusiastic audience with two sets of swinging performances with moods and grooves adjusted to suit the various themes.

Cool drummer Dennis Smith kept a low profile on the opening ‘Switch In Time’ while ensuring the brass section was given full support as they wended calmly through the Sammy Nestico arrangement An agile Todd trombone solo drew the first applause of the evening. Then an extended tenor sax solo from Tim Sanders enlivened the Latin tinged ‘Changes ‘ while the snappy brass section was in its element on Kenton’s ‘A Little Minor Blues’ (or was that ‘Booze’?). At any rate Stan would have been proud of them.

There were many more highlights notably the upbeat ‘Nancy Jo’ and ballad ‘Yesterdays’, the Mingus special ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’ and Horace Silver’s ‘Song For My Father’. Thad Jones’ ‘A Child Is Born’ had a piano intro from Stephen Davies while the 1970s Jazz-Rock era was recalled with ‘The Day We Called It A Night’, Harry Evans excelling on trumpet.

Great also to hear ‘Cockle Row’ from Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood suite, while ‘Drink Tolly Only’ was fun. The show hit a Basie-ite finale with ‘Every Little Beat Helps.’ It sure did, along with a glass or three of Tolly.


It was a right royal celebration when renowned author Patrick Humphries arrived in the pleasant traffic free streets of leafy Dulwich, to announce the publication of his latest book (June 29th). As he addressed the throng, gathered on the pavement outside Village Books, you could imagine Marc Antony about to make a Shakespearian speech, asking friends and fellow countrymen to lend him our ears.

But Patrick was in much jollier mood than Marc ever was, as he regaled us with astonishing facts, unearthed for his in-depth account of one of the film world’s most notorious sagas concerning the making of Cleopatra the 1963 block buster starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The full title of the book that has pre-occupied film critic and rock music journalist Patrick for many years is Cleopatra And The Undoing Of Hollywood and sub-titled How One Film Almost Sunk The Studios (The History Press). It deals with a subject long since engraved in the annals of movie mythology,

It was expected the reception would be held inside the cosy book shop, but as so many guests arrived and it was a pleasant sunny early evening, we all de-camped outside, to an area furnished with seats, drinks and nibbles. You could imagine Elizabeth Taylor herself arriving, garbed in that famous Egyptian hair style and eye catching make up, deigning to perch with us on a bench, while sipping a glass of asses’ milk.

Alas dear Liz passed away in 2011 but her legend lives on as Patrick explained. Her story, as well as that of her co-actors and directors became involved in what proved a hugely expensive movie. Setting the story in the context of the boom years of the cinema industry, Patrick told how the star demanded a million pounds to play Cleopatra. It was a hair and eyebrow raising example of over spend by the film makers who hired thousands of extras and built elaborate scenery before a scene could be shot. Remember this was in the days before CGI. They were also forced to move the whole production from rainy England to sunny Egypt, wasting miles of footage in the process.

Humphries the fan highlights her beauty, acting skills and magical appeal to film goers. But as critic and historian he also reveals how Ms. Taylor was always late on set, became distracted (or perhaps fired up) by her on-going romance with her co-star Richard Burton and was angry with the final cut of the finished movie. Indeed it’s quite shocking to hear Elizabeth’s verdict on the less than inspiring performance from Burton. Too much asses’ milk it seems.

Cleopatra is a real page turner and while Patrick Humphries doesn’t hold back on criticism, he has assembled a complicated story like a seasoned movie director with enthusiasm, humour and a deft touch. The book is certainly more fun than the movie and deserves to sell a million. Certificate ‘A’ as passed by the British Board of Film Censors.


 Among those we have lost in recent months was Cream lyricist Pete Brown who died aged 82 on May 19th. Famed for writing lyrics with co-composer Jack Bruce he was responsible for many of the super group’s greatest hits including ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ and ‘White Room.’ A full obituary and tribute detailing the remarkable life and times of Pete, the singer, poet, band leader and producer was published in The Guardian newspaper on June 1st , 2023.

We were also saddened to hear of the death on July 3rd of Mo Foster the celebrated bass guitarist, composer, producer, author, public speaker and all round inspiring personality. Mo made his last public appearance, performing with lifelong pal, guitarist Ray Russell in their aptly named Mo Foster & Friends group at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho in May this year.

Born Michael Ralph ‘Mo’ Foster in Wolverhampton on December 22, 1944 ‘Mo’ was diagnosed with liver cancer in May and died at the Royal Free Hospital on July 3, 2023 aged 78.

Noted for his unique bass guitar sound and technique, Mo toured and recorded with many top singers and musicians including Gil Evans, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Joan Armatrading, Brian May and Cliff Richard. He also wrote the acclaimed Seventeen Watts? (1997) book about the history of British rock guitar (with a foreword by Hank B. Marvin) that evolved into the more recent hardback British Rock Guitar. This has dozens of personal interviews by Mo with his fellow guitarists and is highly recommended.

The departure of Jeff Beck, earlier this year, Pete Brown and Mo Foster are great losses to the British music scene and they are all much missed.