Blue Jar
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Blue Jar

Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus

Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus
Band Jazz Acoustic

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"Review of live gig"

Review: Blue Jar at Castlereagh Dance and Music Festival
Castlereagh Civic Centre, 29th June 2007


Gypsy Jazz quartet Blue Jar captivated the audience in Castlereagh with their unique and eclectic blend of original compositions, classical and traditional music, all delivered with musical mastery and a good helping of amusing anecdotes and witty asides. The group played songs from their first album and recently released 2nd album, Pelican Crossing, intermingled with well-loved classical and traditional pieces, all given the trademark Blue Jar quirky yet beautiful twist.

Blue Jar’s wonderful performance proved to be the highlight of the 2007 Dance and Music Festival, the audience was left in high spirits wanting more and we can’t wait until they return to Castlereagh again.


Christabel Williamson
Arts Officer
Castlereagh Borough Council
- Castlereagh Borough council


"chicagoJazz.net"

In a stirring bid for multiculturalism comes this wonderful gem of a recording called “Pelican Crossing” from a group called Blue Jar, who hail from — of all places, Belfast Ireland. What do these folk from the Emerald Island have to offer hard-bitten Chicago jazz fans? How about a delightful recording of exceptional musicianship that encompasses everything from gypsy jazz and vaudeville to pop to classical. This is one musical stew you can really sink your teeth into.

Opener “I’ve Found a New Baby” sets things off nicely, as violinist Lesley Dennison, accordionist Ivan Black (also on barrelhouse piano and sax) and guitarist Tommy Locke trade off solos on a track that makes you think Django might have been St. Patrick himself reincarnated (or vice versa). Andrew Lavery and Rod Patterson provide solid backing on drums and bass, giving the soloists ample opportunity to shine, and they don’t disappoint. Dennison (who also plays viola) seems well-schooled in the Stephane Grappelli style, but surprises pleasantly with the clear and sure tone and technique that comes no doubt from a rigid classical training, while Locke lives up to his billing as one of Ireland’s most in-demand guitarists with his mastery of the fretboard.

Dennison also shows an engaging pop sensibility on her vocal rendition of the dreamlike original “Hey Mr. Pelican,” while the gypsy flavored “Czardas” calls to mind Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, before “Love Song Without Words” returns to a more romantic time past when dancers moved gracefully on an elegant ballroom dance floor under chandeliers.

The old-time vaudeville classic, made famous by Sophie Tucker (and used to great effect in the movie “All That Jazz”) — “After You’ve Gone” is sheer joy personified into music. But the band then suddenly changes things up again with an utterly glorious take on Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1” that will stay shimmering in your memory long after you hear it.

This intriguing pattern continues throughout the rest of the album (Blue Jar’s 2nd release), as the satisfyingly eclectic song choices careen between traditional (“Dark Eyes”), standards (“Blue Moon,” and “Moonlight in Vermont” both sung with just a touch of an Irish brogue lingering in Dennison’s appealing voice), tangos and interesting takes on classical pieces from Massenet and Saint-Saens, which offer the added bonus of having cellist Scott Heron involved in the presentation. His terrific whistling also highlights the jaunty original “How Can it Be?”

With their wide-ranging and addictive mix of musical styles, not to mention Chicagoland’s large and vibrant Irish population, Blue Jar would be a smash sensation should they ever cross the Atlantic and visit our great city. Here’s a hope that we do see them playing live here someday. In the meantime, pick up a copy of “Pelican Crossing” and enjoy a musical blend that is as tasty as a jigger of smooth Irish whiskey on a hot day.
- brad walseth


"Freshlite review"

Jazz meets classical with the beautiful sound of Blue Jar
Pick up 'Pelican Crossing', the new album from Blue Jar

In preparation for our forthcoming music issues, we have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample a wide cross section of different music styles. One such band was brought to our attention by our friends at Caravan Promotions - Blue Jar.
Toe tapping are two words I'd automatically use to describe the very catchy music of Blue Jar. In fact, as i'm sat here typing this review whilst listening to entertainingly entitled track, 'I've found a new baby' , I'd swear my fingers were tapping in time to the tracks.
Blue Jar released their second album, Pelican Crossing, in June this year. The band is made up of Tommy Locke (guitar), Lesley Dennison (violin/vocals), Scott Heron (cello) and guest artiste Ivan Black (sax/accordian). They come from a mix of backgrounds and have clocked up an impressive twenty years on the music circuit, playing both live gigs and jazz festivals.
This group has nearly 8000 friends on their myspace music page and i'm only surprised its not more!
For more information visit www.myspace.com/bluejarbelfast


- Freshlite


"Human interest story"

The EX-factor
What's it like working with your ex-husband and your new new husband? Lesley Dennison (37) from Belfast is the violinist in Gypsy Jazz band Blue Jar - a group that includes her husband Tommy Locke (48) and ex-husband Scott Heron (36). Lesley and Tommy have been married for five months while Scott and Lesley were married for 10 years and have four children. As the band launch second album Pelican Crossing, Chrissie Russell finds out more
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Lesley has four children with first husband Scott, Christopher (15), Serena (14), Ben (11) and Dominic (10). She says:
Other people might find it strange but my husband Tommy, my ex, Scott and myself all get on really well. So much so, we socialise together, we're part of the same group of friends and we go on holiday together. At Christmas Tommy's family, Scott's family and mine all get together - if I'm already cooking for seven, what does a few more matter? And on Mother's Day, Scott's and Tommy's mothers both come out for dinner -they get on really well.
In fact, Scott was almost best man at mine and Tommy's wedding five months ago but I thought that was maybe going a bit far. Instead he performed with our children. He sang Robbie Williams' Angels, which is a favourite of mine, and then went into a version of Let Me Entertain You, but changing the words to Tommy and Lesley's Big Day. We all laughed 'til we cried.
Nobody who knows us bats an eyelid at our situation. It was a wee bit strange at first - the three of us together. But it makes sense that Scott joined Blue Jar and because of the children, it's great that we're all good friends.
I'd played in the Dennison String Quartet with Scott for more than 20 years. We met at the Belfast School of Music when I was 14 and he was 13. We used to go on residential courses and were renowned for arguing - absolute humdingers that other people would come in and watch, but behind that we became very good friends. We got together when I was 17 and he was 16 and got married when I was 20. I was pregnant by my 21st birthday.
Difficult
We spent a lot of time together, living and working together in the string quartet. But actually I think our marriage was easier when we were together.
It was when Scott went to work in Dublin and was travelling a lot that it became more difficult. It was hard to feel like it was all fun and games when I was on my own bringing up four kids under five. It took about three years for our marriage to end even though we both knew it was terminal. After being married for almost 10 years we split up eight years ago but continued to play together in the quartet.
We stayed friends because the reasons we got together and liked each other were still there and were more important than the reasons why we split up.
I've always been someone who stays friends with exes but I think maybe the fact that Scott and I still played so brilliantly together has helped us stay friends.
Spending time and playing music together can almost be better than sex. It's not a male or female thing, it's just a very special bond. Even when it was too raw for us to speak about what was happening in our relationship we still had an amazing buzz from playing music. But the most important thing was the children - we knew we would always need to be there for their sakes.
It was love at first sight with Tommy. I'd been in a few relationships after splitting up with Scott but I met Tommy when I started going to the pub quiz at Lavery's (bar in Belfast).
I didn't know him at all and we got talking about music but it was only after three years of being in the same team that we started going out. He was in a showband and started to teach me a lot about improvising jazz music. I realised the string quartet could be adapted into something new - that was the start of Blue Jar. Scott was an obvious person to have in the band - he was part of the quartet and there was no one who would be able to play so instinctively. Tommy had a baptism of fire when it came to meeting Scott. It was one of our first dates and he came to pick me up for a picnic. Scott was at the house to pick up the kids so in one fell swoop Tommy met ex-husband, kids and all. But now Scott and Tommy consider each other best friends.
Tommy and I look after the children when Scott works nights at the School of Music, then he picks them up and has tea at our house. We only divorced just before Tommy and I got married. There had been no reason to finalise it before then. All three of us went to court and the judge said he was very impressed by the mature way we were able to settle things. I couldn't stop giggling - it all seemed so surreal.
I have felt guilty about the marriage ending, particularly when I was able to get into another relationship easily but Scott was still on his own and I'm always trying to play match-maker for him.
Sometimes I know Tommy will go to Scott to talk about things because they are such close friends. But neither of them would ever let me down and I know they don't talk about me in a 'comparing notes' way. The relationship just isn't like that and I know Scott isn't jealous - he's not some macho, aggressive ex-husband and Tommy's very private. They would never even think about discussing anything personal about me, and I never could compare them - it makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it!
The only similarity between Scott and Tommy is the music and the fact that they are both good people. The kids adore both of them. Scott's their dad, but Tommy is like a big brother.
Tommy was married and has older children he doesn't see much of. He got married very young. It only lasted a while.
All three of us have made this set-up work. If we have problems we sit down and chat but no arguments are about my relationship with Scott or Tommy."
Guitarist Tommy Locke (48), from Belfast, also plays in other bands and works with disabled children as part of the Drake Music Project. He says:
The first time I met Lesley, I remember being absolutely flabbergasted because she was so gorgeous. I knew one day I would marry her.
I also remember the night I first properly met Scott. Lesley and I were going out at the time, but it was his birthday and she brought him to a gig that I was playing. I was dreading meeting him, but after the first 10 seconds of chatting to him I knew everything was going to be grand.
There was some surprise and disbelief from friends and family when they found out I was good friends with my girlfriend's ex and that we were all in Blue Jar together. My mum couldn't believe it but once she met Scott she could see why we all got on well.
Trust
We all respect each other musically and I trust Lesley and Scott and I know that nothing is ever going to happen again there. Scott's a good friend and I know he would do anything for me. If you'd asked me eight years ago 'would I be best friends with my wife's ex?' I'd have said 'no way', but it's funny how things work out. Scott isn't just someone from Lesley's past, he's part of both our present and the future. Music is just one of the things that keeps us all together, but I'd say the most important one is the children.
Like all relationships mine and Lesley's has its ups and downs, but there are more ups than downs and when we argue it is never anything to do with Scott being in our lives. Now and again I'd maybe go to Scott for advice on Lesley, but I think I've got her pretty much sussed now. It would be very rare that we'd talk about her, though, and we both know where the line is in talking about her. And I have other friends to talk to if I need."
Dad of four Scott Heron (36), from Belfast, also plays in the Dennison String Quartet as well as working in other musical ventures. He says:
Even before meeting Tommy I could tell he was good for Lesley from talking to her. Then I met him and I could see that he made her happy. He's lovely with the kids, has lots of qualities I admire and they are right together. I think Lesley and I are better friends now than we ever were before. I do still love her in my own way but as a friend. She's a lovely, attractive woman but I don't think of her in a sexual way anymore.
It hasn't always been easy. I suppose my annus horribilis was 2002. I found the break-up quite difficult and we were still in the quartet together. People asked me why we were still playing together. They advised me to break ties and get on with my own life, but I ignored them and I think that was the right thing to do. I was a very committed Christian when I met Lesley and after praying I felt it was right for us to get married. I'm not as committed now, but I still live my life by religious values. And I've prayed and genuinely feel everything has worked out for the best.
Happier
Being married gave me four wonderful kids and I don't see how they can be a mistake.
I think I feel happier now with where I am. I've played in a professional orchestra and I've got my degree. When I was with Lesley I think I maybe felt I had so much more to do in my career and perhaps that was more at the forefront of my mind.
I've had a couple of relationships since Lesley, but I think in the past ex-girlfriends have found it difficult because Lesley, Tommy and the children come first. Also, in 2005, I went to do a masters in Glasgow. It was hectic and difficult to find time to spend with another person and I never wanted to make anyone feel second best.
Initially some people are taken aback by our set-up in the band, when it comes out that I used to be married to the violinist, who is now married to the guitarist. But Tommy and Lesley feel like family to me and I can't imagine life without them in it. I couldn't do a lot of my work if it weren't for their help and support. I have other friends, but they are definitely my best friends."
Blue Jar's second album Pelican Crossing is out now

- Belfast Telegraph


Discography

Ducks and Geese album 06
Pelican Crossing on general release June 07

Photos

Bio

BLUE JAR are made up of husband and wife team Lesley Locke (violin,vocals) and Tommy Locke (guitar) They have both been professional musicians for over 20 years, and formed this duo in 2003.

TOMMY LOCKE (guitar) studied at the Ulster College of Music in Ireland. In over 30 years in the music business he has been involved with most styles of music, numerous bands and many commercial recordings. He recently performed and recorded with the esteemed Louis Stewart.

LESLEY LOCKE (violin/vocals) studied at Trinity College of Music, London. She has freelanced with many orchestras throughout the UK and Ireland. She was with the Dennison String Quartet for 25 years and is currently playing with Aphrodite Strings in Cyprus. She has made many recordings and performances for TV and Radio; most notably playing with Vanessa Mae live on BBC

BLUE JAR first performed at garden party for HRH The Prince of Wales. Since then, they have performed throughout Europe, including Womex and The Marbella International Film Festival, Spain; MEI, Italy; and toured Denmark alongside Peter Gabriel and the Gypsy Kings. They have 2 albums released in the UK, USA, India and the Middle East whilst signed to WOA Records.
They have been in Cyprus since Feb 09 and have performed in The Capital Coast Hotel, The Elysium Hotel, The Amathus Beach Hotel, The Athena Beach Hotel; Artio, Goosefat & Garlic, Colisseum I and II, Brahms & Liszt restaurants, and over 160 weddings; they have also performed as part of the Music in the Mountains programme.

They currently have residencies at:
La Vigna Trattoria, Coral Bay
The StoneHouse Inn, Peyia
Thalassa Hotel, Coral Bay

Mp3s, videos, photos and info at: http://www.reverbnation.com/bluejar