It’s always nice to see a new jazz club opening, so it was a pleasure to be in at the start of Splash Point Jazz Club Eastbourne, which has found a home in the Fishermen’s Club, just a pebbles throw from the seafront.
Scheduled to run on the last Wednesday of each month, the opening night saw two giants of the tenor sax reunited.
A band featuring the frontline saxes of Art Themen and Andy Panayi was always going to be a joyous collaboration, and this quintet certainly didn’t disappoint.
Roy Hilton, Bobby Worth and Nigel Thomas completed the line-up, and given the mix of exuberence and experience present in all five musicians the evening was, predictably, a real treat.
The set list was a mixture of the familiar and the more unusual, from ‘Green Dolphin Street’ to ‘Body and Soul’, from the Latin feel of Charles Lloyd’s ‘Forest Flower’ to the tricky timings of Mingus’s ‘Dizzy Moods’, there was plenty in the programme to satisfy even the most jaded jazz fan.
Nigel Thomas took some particularly pleasing solos, and was a solid presence throughout, and Roy Hilton and Bobby Worth proved yet again that they really are at the top of their game.
Meanwhile the saxophone juggernaut of Themen and Panayi at the front just kept rolling.
Both masters of inventiveness, Art Themen’s soloing on ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ was a definite highlight, and Andy Panayi’s tenor solo ‘Body and Soul’ was beautiful, as were his two excursions onto the flute – real crowd-pleasers. But it was when they were both playing tenor that some of the sparkiest fireworks happened, as with the closer ‘Cheesecake’.
Local sponsors Reid Briggs Insurance, Lawler Davis Financial Advisers and Jessica Hylands Confidence Coach have all helped to make this club happen, but without the enthusiasm of the team behind SPJC, and the paying public who turned out in impressive numbers, it wouldn’t have happened.
If their first night is anything to go by Eastbourne Jazz looks set for a bright future – the parking’s easy, the drinks are cheap, the sound is good and the venue works well for jazz. When you factor in the quality of musicians booked to appear it’s plain to see this club is going to be a healthy addition to jazz in Sussex. By Annette Keen.