Is it really almost eighteen months since we last attended one of the Association Jazz Edge events? Let me put you in the picture dear reader.

Before the Audience Arrive

Before the Audience Arrive

Jazz Edge are an association (everything is an association here in France) who are passionate and extremely knowledgeable about all things jazz and every once in a while they put on an evening at the Conservatoire de St Brieuc where they pick ten tunes of jazz with a linking theme and play it all to an appreciative audience on some pretty high-end gear.SJ8s

SJ9s

SJ2s
This time the gear was provided by French manufacturer Leedh and Jean-Luc Sazio, a local audiophile who we have had the good fortune to meet on a number of occasions…don’t you just love how music brings people together?
For those who like this kind of thing the gear used tonight was a pair of Leedh E2 loudspeakers, a PrimaLuna pre, Wilson Benesch Circle turntable with an Origin Live arm (my old turntable as it happens) and Ortofon cartridge, with the power amp being the new Leedh creation. Indeed, the even marked the World premier of this power amplifier and despite its state of undress (see pics) it sounded very nice indeed and I can’t wait to try one once it goes into production…this was so new the power supply was in a plastic bucket!

First up let’s look at the building that this event is hosted in. St Brieuc isn’t a huge city or town but it does have a lively live music scene and the Conservatoire is an absolutely superb concept and space. The place is bustling with people young and old carrying a vast array of instruments even at 19:00 when we roll up. We find the room easily from the TV notice-board in the reception and the space is festooned with modern art and sculptures…not to mention a few photographs of famous musicians. SJ1s

Tonight’s event was hosted by the outstandingly knowledgeable Alain Loguillard and Christian Harlé, with the tunes being played being from the rich period of the 1960/70s and featuring musicians from the bop, cool and pre-free.  JS4s

So, given the time period of the advertised chosen period it came as a bit of a shock that the first tune to hit the turntable was Lester Young’s Peg O My Heart from the 1945 Lester Swings album on Verve. First off the sound is marvelous from a sonic point of view with the large and high-ceilinged room being good, if not great, acoustically. The introduction to this tune, like all the tunes to follow was really well done by the guys and as the evening progressed it became clear why they started with this tune.SJ3s

The rest of the night’s tunes were as follows:

Bob Brookmeyer and Friends – The Wrinkle 1964 (CBS)

Jackie McLean – Riff Raff 1964 (Blue Note)

Paul Desmond featuring Jim Hall That Old Feeling 1963/65 (RCA)

Charlie Mingus – Orange Was The colour Of Her Dress 1964 (1987 rerelease)

And then we were played a mystery disk which was a bit of a highlight for me thus far in the evening. Turned out this was The Super Session with Tommy Flanagan, Red Mitchell and Elvin Jones from 1985 on the Enja label. Definitely one on my “to buy” list of records in the near future!

Gil Evans 1983 – A Merman I Should Turn To Be from the Gil Evans Plays Hendrix (RCA 1974) was another absolute corker of a tune making another to add to the list. Actually, I’d have liked to have heard a lot more of this particular record.

Ornette Coleman Trio – Dee Dee from the live At The Golden Circle album (Blue Note 1965). Now, Coleman is supposed to be challenging, but I really don’t find him to be challenging at all. Yes, it is different but still foot tappy and enjoyable. This is a live recording from Stockholm and very good indeed….a great recording.

Carla Bley – Dream So real from Dinner Music (Watt – ECM) 1977.
And then the finale to the evening, and what a finale. A drift away, close your eyes tune from Miles Davis’ Water Babies album called Sweet Pea (Columbia 1967). Again a jump back in time rather than a natural progression, but I can see why the guys chose to do this.

This is a great way to engage people in music…and good audio reproduction and should be encouraged…we’ll certainly be along to the next event and have promised to provide refreshments in the form of wine…pink of course!SJ7s

A huge thank you to the Association Jazz Edge and all the people that gave their time so freely for what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Stuart Smith

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