Jazz concert performance far from ugly

Ugly Bug Ragtime Three. Guitar: Ross Milligan, Double bass: Andy Sharkey, Clarinet: John Burgess. Photo by  Stephanie Pegg
Ugly Bug Ragtime Three. Guitar: Ross Milligan, Double bass: Andy Sharkey, Clarinet: John Burgess. Photo by Stephanie Pegg

Isle of Bute jazz fans were rewarded with a rare musical treat at Rothesay’s 292 Club when the Edinburgh-based Ugly Bug Ragtime Three were special guests at the February Winter concert.

The Ugly Bugs are led by the highly versatile clarinettist John Burgess, whose great feel for this musical genre is well known to Bute audiences. Ross Milligan complements on a beautiful mellow-sounding guitar, alternating with the staccato banjo, while Andy Sharkey more than played his part, almost making the string bass talk.

In two hours of fabulous entertainment, the Ugly Bugs criss-crossed the greatest age of jazz with numbers made famous by artistes like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band and Django Reinhardt.

There were also little-played compositions like ‘Louisiana Fairytale’ by John Frederick Coots, in collaboration with Haven Gillespie and Mitchell Parish, recorded in 1935 by Fats Waller.

The concert started with Lew Pollack’s 1914 ragtime composition, ‘That’s a Plenty’. Another song from that era in the first set was the 1917 released ‘Tishomingo Blues’ by Spencer Williams while classics included ‘I Found a New Baby’ which was recorded by Bing Crosby among many others.

Features of the second half included ‘Weary Blues’ by Hank Williams, Bob Carleton’s ‘Ja Da’ and the Professor Longhair/Theresa Terry number, ‘Mardi Gras’.

The concert ended with a sparkling rendition of ‘Tiger Rag’ with Ross’s banjo not far off combustion point.

All three are highly confident musicians who play with passion and panache, blending together like the finest port yet relishing their soloist roles which give them the freedom to show off their exceptional talents.

The next jazz concert in Rothesay is a celebration of the Jazz Festival on May 6 at the 292 Club when the ever popular Richard White, all the way from the Isle of Wight, will be making music with Tim Saul and friends.

The Isle of Bute Jazz Festival, held annually over the May Day Bank holiday since 1988, is taking a break this year. For more information and local concert listings go to www.butejazz.com/.