There's an image in my mind, from my childhood, of a cartoon cat playing impossible jazz runs on a double bass. It's Tom of course, from Tom & Jerry, and one of the strings on the double bass is Jerry's tail. Maybe I'm imagining this, it was a long time ago and I know for sure that Tom played a classical piece on a grand piano but I have a strong unfounded vision of Tom playing an upright jazz bass as well.
Tonight at Brecon Jazz Club at the Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, a double bass is being played and I can swear it's Tom. Ashley John Long plays ridiculously swift bass runs, many ending up in what musicians call the dusty end - where the high notes live. He does his cartoon solos up there too.
We're at the Muse Arts Centre for a rare performance entitled the Italian Connection. The Italians in question are alto saxophonist Piergiorgio Elia and pianist Davide Logri. Piergiorgio tells the audience that Davide is his boss. It's unclear how but we all laugh anyway. (Later research finds that both musicians teach at the Italian Academy of Music in Monza).
Below: Greg Evans on Drums
The Welsh half of the quartet tonight are bassist/composer Ashley John Long who graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Greg Evans on drums. Greg has the look of a New York 50s era jazz drummer. He's got a bit of Buddy Rich about him - explosive.
Below: Saxophonist Piergiorgio Elia
It's mainly swing tonight and entirely virtuoso, solos are performed by each of the quartet in turn, when the main theme has been played. If anything, it gets a bit telescoped but no-one drops a note, we're in the presence of high-end jazz musicians here. Organisers Lynne Gornall and Roger Cannon are doing a fine job bringing jazz to Brecon. Unsurprisingly, Lynne and Roger are providing the backbone for this year's Brecon Jazz Festival in August.
Below: The Italian Connection take a break with Brecon Jazz Club organiser Lynne Gornall
Below: Ian Mann from thejazzmann.com
Brecon Jazz Club has pushed the envelope this year with gypsy jazz, South African jazz and tonight's Italian/Welsh, New York inspired set. In May, we'll witness the Castillo-Asencio Bossa Nova Quartet. Jazz from around the world. Find out more at www.breconjazzclub.org.
Below: Davide Logiri on piano (left) and Ashley John Long on double bass (right)