A night to remember
The Alex Clarke Quartet, featuring renowned saxophonist Rob Fowler, delighted the audience with an unforgettable performance at Imber Court in East Molesey on August 13, 2023.
The young talent shines bright
Though still in her early 20s, saxophonist Alex Clarke demonstrated a level of confidence and skill beyond her years. With a clear stylistic direction, her performance seamlessly fused bebop and swing, captivating the audience from the moment she took to the stage.
The ensemble’s prowess
Joined by the acclaimed mainstream tenorist Rob Fowler and the skilled rhythm section of pianist Dave Newton, bassist Dave Green, and drummer Clark Tracey, Clarke showcased her creative abilities and proved herself to be an influential force in the jazz world.
Paying homage to the greats
Throughout the performance, Clarke’s admiration for alto saxophonist Phil Woods was evident, particularly during her rendition of “Bernie’s Tune.” The arrangement, originally penned by Woods, featured Parker-ian inspired solos that Fowler effortlessly engaged with, building his own phrases in a classic Hawkins-Webster style.
The ensemble continued to enthrall the crowd with their renditions of “Dearly Beloved,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” and Curtis Fuller’s “The Opener”—the latter highlighting Clarke’s tenor saxophone skills and her affinity for the “tough tenors” sound of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin.
Exploring various moods
The group’s setlist also included Edison’s “Did You Call Her Today” and Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not,” further showcasing the versatile talents of Clarke and her ensemble. These performances were characterized by a more restrained, intimate atmosphere, revealing the group’s ability to adapt and switch styles with ease.
Rising to the challenge
Alex Clarke set the bar high for herself by taking on Carmichael’s classic “Stardust” as her solo tenor feature. Accompanied by Newton, she successfully navigated the complex piece, delivering a masterful performance. Rob Fowler’s take on Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul” was equally impressive, featuring an a cappella opening before transitioning into the iconic melody.
Celebrating youth and experience
The evening concluded with a rousing rendition of Tubby Hayes’ “After Tea,” highlighting the dynamic synergy between the young talent of Clarke and the seasoned expertise of her fellow musicians. The audience’s enthusiastic response was a testament to the successful blend of youth and experience on display throughout the performance.
Upcoming events at Imber Court
Imber Court’s jazz program, curated by long-term organizer Carole Merritt, continues with performances by Five-Way Split (24 September), Art Themen (29 October), and Quintet-à-Tête (11 November). For more information, call 01932 845174.
Alex Clarke (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, arrangements), Rob Fowler (tenor saxophone), Dave Newton (keyboards), Dave Green (bass), Clark Tracey (drums)