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The BJS Trio - comprising Big Jim Sullivan, Doug Pruden, and Mike Piggott - played CJC on February 17. Attracting a large audience, they were enthusiastically received throughout the evening and I’m reliably informed ‘the audience went home smiling’ – committee in-joke.
There should be no surprise about this reaction. Big Jim is a fine musician with an outstanding pedigree in many fields. He worked most of his career as a prolific session man and to do that he had to be reliable and adaptable. In conjunction with Doug, his BJS Duo plays all kinds of clubs, bars and restaurants with a mixture of mainly gypsy and mainstream jazz plus some blues, country or rock tunes. In last season’s members’ survey they were narrowly beaten into third place, behind the all-conquering Chichester College Students.
When I booked the BJS Trio I was trying to bring to the club a mixture of the Duo’s gypsy and mainstream jazz, enhanced and ‘refreshed’ by the addition of Mike, an outstanding and experienced violinist playing extensively in the Stephane Grappelli and Stuff Smith mould. The combination worked well but, in spite of Mike’s skill and flair, occasionally he seemed an outsider in the world of Big Jim and Doug: Big Jim was the main solo driving force and Doug was the utterly reliable and solid one-man rhythm section without a single solo in the evening.
Let’s not quibble. The music was of a thoroughly high standard and the audience loved it. Mike will have the chance to shine more brightly when he returns to CJC next season, as leader of his own quartet of piano, bass, and drums, probably during Jazz In The City.