REVIEW:60 years of Jazz at The Concorde,

The Concorde Club, Eastleigh.

IT was a jazz journey that began 60 years ago.

After starting life squeezed into the back room of Southampton’s former Bassett Hotel The Concorde has grown into an international jazz mecca.

It was a jazz session to top all jazz sessions as they paid homage to musical greats who have graced the Concorde stage since 1957. From both sides of the Atlantic it read like an A to Z of the jazz world.

Over the years the club has mushroomed to cover all musical tastes but this was a night to dig deep into its jazz roots and celebrate a rich musical heritage.

It is the oldest jazz club under the same management in the United Kingdom and possibly the world.

And the man who started it all, Cole Mathieson said: “It has been a great journey for me and a great pleasure to present all my jazz heroes.”

Helping him to celebrate The Concorde’s 60 th was a glittering line up of musicians - Jim Davison, Enrico Tomasso, Pete Long, Alan Barnes, Simon Spillett, Jonny Boston, Ian Bateman, Nick Dawson, Dave Chamberlain, Joe Pettitt and Richard Pite - who each delivered a master class in jazz.

Over two sparkling sets they saluted many jazz giants who have appeared at The Concorde including Nat Gonella, Alex Welsh, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Humphrey Lyttelton, Kenny Ball, Georgie Fame, Gene Harris, Kenny Wheeler Ruby Braff, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Harry Gold, Stan Tracey, Buddy DeFranco, Phil Woods and Sir John Dankworth.

Jazz aficionados with fond memories of those early Concorde days packed the audience.

Limbo Jazz by American tenor saxophone superstar Coleman Hawkins – from The Concorde Hall of Fame – and Duke Ellington got the 60 th party into full swing.

Then it was a transatlantic trip back to home shores for a tribute to British bandleader Alex Welsh, one of the opening acts when the club moved to its current Eastleigh home in 1970.

One of the United Kingdom’s top jazz trumpeters, Enrico Tomasso saluted the legendary Gosport based bandleader and trumpeter the late Nat Gonella, with Louis Armstrong’s You Rascal You. Nat’s vocal style was reminiscent of the great Satchmo.

Later Enrico gave a moving rendition of Bad Penny Blues by Humphrey Lyttelton, which was the first British Jazz Record to get in the top twenty.

Humph, as he was affectionately known, wrote the foreword to the history of the club. He died nine years ago, aged 86, and just weeks after appearing at the Stoneham Lane club. I was the last journalist to interview this true gent of jazz.

Another giant of this musical genre, the late Sir John Dankworth was remembered with two of his famous compositions including Lifeline.

Those of a certain age will remember it as the jaunty theme tune to BBC TV’s iconic science programme Tomorrow’s World.

This nostalgic night of jazz was rounded off by the audience joining in the chorus of the very catchy Yeh, Yeh, a sixties hit for another Concorde favourite, rhythm & blues star Georgie Fame.

And it was a Yeh, Yeh to more diamond coated years of jazz at this famous jazz landmark.

Duncan Eaton