PREVIEW: Elliot Galvin Trio perform in Tina Edwards Presents ( Pizza Express Dean St, 17 Feb)

Simon Roth, Tom McRedie, Elliot Galvin


As part of the series "Tina Edwards Presents," the Elliot Galvin Trio (with bassist Tom McRedie and drummer Simon Roth - above) will be heading to Pizza Express Dean Street on 17th February. It will be their debut appearance at the club. Tina Edwards will also be doing a short on stage interview before the performance. She had a chat with Elliot:

Tina Edwards: You're about to release a second album; can you give us a preview as to what to expect? 

Elliot Galvin: We decided to record our new album in Berlin at this massive ex-DDR radio complex called 'Funkhaus'. When we arrived we didn't have a drum kit and only had a couple of hours to find Tom a Bass, but we did bring a glockenspiel, accordion, cassette player, roll of duck tape, couple of melodicas and a stylophone with us. At the studio there was a cafe we went to each day for lunch that was run by this terrifying German woman who told you off if you didn't finish your food, we discovered these amazing chocolate biscuits that the recording engineer kept bringing each day called Prinzen and we stayed in this guys house that smelt of feet. I think it all managed to make its way onto the album.

TE: Sounds like a memorable experience. Speaking of which, that's exactly how I'd describe your shows; For anyone who hasn't seen you perform live, would you like to warn them of what to expect? 

EG: We like to play around with different sounds like toy pianos and cassette players, playing music is about as much fun as you can have, and we like a lot of different kinds of music. So we'll be playing everything from pretty whistled melodies to improv on a homemade microtonal melodica, and a lot of things in-between. 

TE: This is your first time playing the  Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street. What will you be playing?

EG: We are really looking forward to playing at Pizza Express for the first time, it's a great venue and our first London gig of the year! We'll be playing some tunes from our first album, but also some sneak previews from our new album coming out later this year. Can't wait!

LINK: Podcast interview with Elliot Galvin from 2014

Read More...

REVIEW: Yukihiro Isso, Roger Turner, Takinojo Mochizuki, John Edwards at Cafe Oto




Noh-kan flautist Yukihiro Isso at Cafe Oto
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2016. All Rights Reserved


Yukihiro Isso, Roger Turner, Takinojo Mochizuki, John Edwards
(Cafe Oto, 4th February 2016; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)


The worlds of traditional Japanese music and of improvised jazz brushed against each other at Cafe Oto last Thursday, and the outcomes were both unpredictable and delightful. The combination of rigorous discipline and flights of inspiration that Noh-kan flute specialist Yukihiro Isso, percussionists Takinojo Mochizuki and Roger Turner and, in the final of three sets, upright bassist, John Edwards brought to the stage, made for a helter-skelter dialogue. All four musicians were confidently juggling the continuous risk of the precarious and spontaneous with their layers of deep experience.

Isso is steeped in the art of his acclaimed family's musical virtuosity, a heritage of flute playing linked to the austere intensity of Noh drama over four centuries, and has brought his skills to the art of improvised performance, notably with Cecil Taylor and Peter Brötzmann. Mochizuki, similarly, has taken his experience of learning from Japanese masters to open up the possibilities of Japanese drumming in the context of improvisation.

Their opening duo gained rapid momentum after a series of tentative taps and flutters. Isso launched into a fast-flowing, extended passage at breakneck pace with resonances of the abundant energy that Roland Kirk applied to the instrument. In the same spirit he would later combine the simultaneous playing of not only two of the many flutes and recorders in his arsenal, but up to five at once. Yet it was the originality and freshness of his solo sorties, including those on a small animal horn and a water bottle (from which he then drank), that made the greatest impacts.

Turner embraced the challenge, continuously sketching out complimentary taps and rolls, jarring scratches, scuffs and complex rhythms, first in a duo with Isso, and then in a trio with Edwards, which became a quartet as Mochizuki, beating a hand-held drum, joined them from the edges of the auditorium. The two percussionists ebbed and flowed in tandem with Mochizuki watching Turner's every twitch and turn to glean clues to shape his contribution, including low key vocalisations in traditional mode.

Edwards blended in magnificently, not only appropriating the tones of Isso's woodwind with eerie echoes of the calls of whales and wolves, but also mining rumbling subterranean strata as he bowed on the strings beneath the bridge to add richly rounded foundation to the intense interactions in the upper reaches.

Yukihiro Isso - flutes, recorders and misc instruments
Takinojo Mochizuki - Japanese drums and vocals
Roger Turner - percussion
John Edwards - double bass

Read More...

REPORT/PHOTOS: Montreux Jazz Festival at 50. Interactive website, video archive launched on late founder's 80th Birthday

The 2016 50th Festival desigb by Giovanni Riva
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Ralf Dombrowski was invited to a gathering at Claude Nobs' chalet in Switzerland. Here is his report (*)

Montreux Jazz Festival 2016 - marking half a century

It's a proud age, 50. In the summer of 1967, Claude Nobs, a trained chef and a hugely enthusiastic music fan brought a festival in his home town of Montreux into being. The spa town on the northern shore of Lake Geneva had once enjoyed a glittering and glamorous reputation, but it was losing both its lustre and its way. The festival, and Claude Nobs' magic touch were to bring back both.

Bronze of Claude Nobs at the Chalet
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


Claude Nobs would have been 80 years old on 4th February this year. A visionary, he built the festival not just into perhaps the most significant musical nexus in Europe, he also ensured that it became one of the best documented concert series in history.

There is definitely something to celebrate this summer. While the management of the festival could not be more tight-lipped about the line-up for this year (it will be announced on April 14th), they did have announcements to make when they invited a group of jazz media to an "At Home" at Chalet Nobs overlooking Lake Geneva. In the first place they presented the brand identity, a logo design by the local Vaudois artist Giovanni Riva in the form of an illuminated sculpture to go alongside those of the previous 49 festivals.

The video archive at Chalet Nobs
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


They also had two far more exciting things to announce at this gathering:

- The festival's tech team has been extremely hard at work, and they unveiled an interactive appetizer of the resources at montreuxjazz.com/50. There are easily navigable pictorial menus to lead the user round the entry points to an image archive collected over 49 years.

- Under the rubric Montreux Jazz Live a digital platfom has been opened up, in which around 800 video recordings of live concerts are available, everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Motörhead is available free of charge.

- A jubilee book was launched, on which 50 artists from all over the world have given theie impressions of the festival.

There is much to discover much to browse and to find one's way around. It is the kind of thing which is necessary to attract large audiences to a country as expensive as Switzerland.

(*) The original German version of this piece is at jazzzeitung.de

This year's 50th Festival runs from July 1st- 16th 

LINKS: Montreux Jazz Festival website

Read More...

NEWS: Mary Greig to stop publishing Jazz in London after 43 years



An era is about to come to an end. Jazz in London which was founded by John Jack in 1971, has been run continuously since 1973 by Mary Greig. After forty-three years, Mary has decided that she needs to stop for personal reasons. She will produce two more issues, one at the end of this month for March, and then her final issue as editor, which will be for April.

Her contribution to keeping people informed of what goes on in the London scene has been immeasurable. The wealth of information which she puts into every edition of Jazz in London is vast. She has seen it through from the print-only era to the internet; it has remanined an unrivalled source of reliable information throughout more than four decades. This community can never thank Mary enough for her unstinting and lifelong dedication to publicizing infomation about the London scene. Whatever happens to Jazz in London (and indeed to jazz in London), it will not be the same when she stops.

If people have not yet voted in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, then a vote for Mary Greig in the Services to Jazz category seems to us like the obvious choice. VOTE HERE BEFORE FEB 18th



LINKS:
- Feature telling the story of Jazz In London, celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2011

- Jazz in London Website 

Read More...

FEATURE: Nominees for the 2016 Canadian JUNO Awards (winners announced April 3rd)



The nominations for Canada's main music awards, the JUNOs, held every year since 1971, were announced last week. The winners will be announced at the awards bash in Calgary on April 3rd. 

We asked a former winner who is close to the jazz scene to help explain more about some of this year's nominees.

MIKE RUD is a guitarist, songwriter and singer whose fourth album "Notes from Montreal" (reviewed), a superb collection of songs brim-full of affection for his adoptive city, won the prize in the Jazz/Vocal category in 2014. His latest album Miniatures was released in November 2015.

There are four jazz categories, and Mike has chosen to write about "musicians I’ve been touched and impressed by. I’ve lived all over this country, just about, and many of this year’s nominees were familiar to me; it’s great to see them recognized. Here are three whose work stands out to me. These aren’t my 'picks' to win."

"What really took me by surprise this year," writes Mike Rud, "is just how many nominees were unknown to me! The scene in Canada has exploded. It’s a good time for jazz here!"

A full list of the nominees in each category is also given. Mike Rud writes:



1) Nominee for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year: Clear Day - Emilie-Claire Barlow with the Metropol Orkest

Emilie-Claire Barlow is a crisp, unique voice whose band often features some personal heroes of mine. Bassist Jon Maharaj was someone I met at frequent Toronto shows I’ve done with pianist David Braid. No matter who he plays with, he supports them gorgeously and precisely. Saxophonist Kelly Jefferson is in this band as well. He and I go waaayyyy back. Kelly is just a sublime improviser, right-there-with-you-in-the-moment, and with a pocket a mile wide. I’m impressed by both Emilie’s singing, and her impeccable lineup of musicians.

But being a Canadian guitarist, I have to single out Reg Schwager, who also plays with Emilie. Every guitarist in this country knows about Reg. He played a lot of prestigious gigs at a pretty early age, and when you hear him, you’ll know why. I can’t think of a more refined, collected guitar player.



Reg is also featured on Montreal vocalist Susie Arioli’s excellent new CD “Spring,” which I really wish had also picked up a nomination. Susie is unforgettable.

Other Nominations for Jazz / Vocal

New -Alex Pangman
Live from the Cellar - Dan Brubeck Quartet
This Bitter Earth - Jaclyn Guillou
Some Version of the Truth - Tara Kannangara

o - o - o - o




2) Nominee for Jazz Album of the Year/ SOLO: Al Muirhead: It’s About Time

I live in Montreal, but originally I’m from Edmonton Alberta, in Canada’s Western prairies. Trumpetist and bandleader Al Muirhead was a figure whose name I grew up hearing. Al is from Calgary, though, so we never met. Finally this fall I got to go down the highway to a Calgary studio and play an afternoon of music with him. What a fluid, buoyant and lively player. So relaxed at the same time. I’m so excited that he’s been recognized, and along with him, pianist Tommy Banks and saxophonist PJ Perry.

Tommy has been a TV personality, big band leader, conductor and a Canadian Senator! His piano playing, and particularly his accompaniment, is nonpareil, simply incredible. He even knows the verses to all the old tunes. Tommy is an idol to all of us from Western Canada, which is why I was tickled pink when he wrote the liner notes for my 2015 solo CD, Miniatures.

PJ Perry meanwhile, is also particularly important to those of us from the Western provinces. He *always* brings his utter best to each performance. It’s so very intense, the focus he puts into every phrase. He’s from the old school. Also renowned for his clarinet doubling and reading. Just as a natural a musician as ever there was. I remember a version of Laura he played with strings years ago in Edmonton, and still get a chill.

Other Nominations for Jazz/Solo


Dialectics- Curtis Nowosad
Abeng - Rich Brown
Movin' Forward - Robi Botos
Duets - Tara Davidson

o - o - o - o




3) Nominee for  Instrumental Album of the Year: Lost Voices - Esmerine

Bruce Cawdron, my last room-mate in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, was out of town a lot. Partially this was because of his work with the band Esmerine. At 2014’s Juno awards in Winnipeg, he was seated at the next table over from me! He came over and said hi, 2000 miles away from the apartment we shared in Montreal. I hadn't seen him in some time, and I handed him the rental increase letter that had just come from our landlord that week. A few minutes later, he won the first Juno given out that night, for Instrumental Album of the Year.

They're up again this year! It’s really moody, creative stuff, featuring some really lovely writing. Bruce is a tremendously accomplished marimba player, and Esmerine's music needs to be heard rather than described.

Other nominees - Instrumental Album of the Year

Spin Cycle - Afiara Quartet and Skratch Bastid
Never Were The Way She Was - Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld
Orchestral Powwow - Cris Derksen
Legacy Live - Jens Lindemann and Tommy Banks

o - o - o - o

 Nominees for Jazz Album of the Year - Group

Forest Grove - Allison Au Quartet
Over My Head - Brad Turner Quartet
What I Hear Now - Jerry Granelli Trio
Stealing From My Youth - Mark Kelso & The Jazz Exiles
Sheer Tyranny of Will - Peripheral Vision


LINKS: JUNO Awards website
Mike Rud

Read More...

INTERVIEW: US cellist Daniel Levin (co-publication with Citizen Jazz/France)

Daniel Levin. Photo credit: Frank Bigotte.


Vermont-born cellist DANIEL LEVIN is a major figure on the New York improvising scene. In this interview, simultaneously co-published with Citizen Jazz in France, he explains his story and the background to recent releases to Anne Yven:

Anne Yven: Daniel Levin you’re a composer and improviser: what was your first experience as player of improvised music?

Daniel Levin: The first time I really improvised was when I was 19, at a summer chamber music and dance festival. The organizers brought the two divisions together in a room, and asked if any musicians would be willing to try improvising with a dancer. When I got on stage, I had no idea what to do. I just watched the dancer and allowed myself to respond to her gestures – it was physical and visual information that informed what to play. What I remember best about that experience was the last 10 or 15 seconds: she was spinning, very fast. I matched this movement by going way up the fingerboard and trilling. As I was doing this, at a certain point, I had the uncanny feeling that she was about to crash to the ground. I just went with it, and slid all the way down to the low end of the cello, the bottom of the C string. She and I hit the bottom at exactly the same time. I was astounded, and excited. The music no longer had to come from the page. It could come from other places – a dancer, my own ideas. This was the first big step in finding my voice as an improviser and composer.

AY: Your journey with a fascinating instrument, the cello, has been rather unusual: from classical to contemporary, but in the same time, it reflects all the different steps and stages it takes to become a musician, with his own voice. Can you tell us more about your music?

DL: The long and deep relationship I have with the cello, starting when I was 6, has ultimately been an extremely important asset in enabling me to express my ideas fluently and freely. However, when I was first beginning to improvise, there was a lot about the cello that felt limiting and claustrophobic. For example, the way I was used to using the bow throughout my classical training had a kind of built-in delayed attack and release. I was used to putting micro-fades on most of my articulations – and when I tried to do something different, it was maddeningly difficult. I wanted a different sound in order to get my music out, but it was hard to get that sound because of the way I was used to playing.

For a while, I actually put the cello down and worked on the tenor saxophone, which I had played as a kid. I was studying with Joe Maneri at the time, and he generously lent me his 1926 Selmer Cigar Cutter tenor. The instrument had an incredible sound, and it helped me to focus on getting the gestures and ideas out there in an uninhibited way. The fact that I didn’t have a really developed technique on the saxophone was very freeing. On the saxophone, I wasn’t expected to “sound good”, since it wasn’t my primary instrument. The expectation I had of myself to sound great and perfect all the time was a big obstacle for me when I started to improvise on the cello. Joe liked to talk about some of the best musical ideas being stupid. He would use the opening motive of Beethoven’s 5thsymphony as an example. He was trying to help free me from the idea that everything I played needed to be advanced, or hip. It was the way Beethoven used a basic idea that was the amazing part, not necessarily the idea itself. So, using the saxophone for a while enabled me to work on getting my ideas out as an improviser and composer without the hang-up and pressure of having to “be good”.

AY: What I like in your music is its playful, educational content. I know you are eager to deal with the question of transmitting your approach of music to young audience, new players. Can you tell us more about it?

DL: When I’m teaching a workshop or privately to beginning improvisers, especially string players, this is one of the things I find myself continually returning to: don’t be afraid to play something bad/dumb/obvious. It’s incredible the kind of resistance people have to playing something that might be considered bad – particularly when one’s whole ego and self-image is wrapped up with “being good”. The news that I have had to share with many experienced musicians who are just beginning to improvise is this: you’re NOT good, and don’t expect to be good. The fact that you have spent many years developing a phenomenal technique and great refinement as an interpreter of music that has been written by someone else does not necessarily mean you should be able to compose or improvise well. In fact, the self-image of “being good” that many people who are deeply experienced interpreters, but inexperienced improvisers usually makes it harder, not easier, to become a strong improviser. It’s only after dissolving this attachment to being good that one can be successful in doing the work of developing one’s own, original voice as an improviser. That’s what I had to do, and it was a very uncomfortable process. All of this stuff I have been talking about is not about technique, or style, or genre. It’s totally psychological.  Being able to make a shift from being a capable and convincing interpretative musician to becoming a strong improviser/composer requires a bunch of psychological work, at least in most of the people I’ve encountered.

AY: Who would you call as your fellow brothers and sisters on the music scene today ?

DL: There are many musicians active today who inspire, challenge, and excite me. I have had the good fortune to work directly with many of them. Some of these musicians are current and frequent collaborators; some of them I haven't worked with in a while, or very often. All of them have had and continue to have a positive impact on my growth as a musician and as a person. Here are a few who stand out to me: Peter Bitenc, Rob Brown, Juan Pablo Carletti, Gerald Cleaver, Chris Corsano, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Jon Irabagon, Tony Malaby, Mat Maneri, Joe McPhee, Matt Moran, Joe Morris, Ivo Perelman, Chris Pitsiokos, Matana Roberts, Nate Wooley, Torbjorn Zetterberg

AY: Why did you choose Clean Feed records, a European label ?

DL: Pedro Costa has created a phenomenal platform that is both focused and open-minded. It's been a home for most of my recent work as a leader: my last four quartet records, a trio record, my duo with Mat Maneri, and my first solo record. I've also been fortunate to record as a sideman on a number of other projects for Clean Feed. Pedro gets and appreciates what I am trying to accomplish and what my music is about, and I've been very happy with the situation. I do not know of any other label that shares all of qualities I love about Clean Feed, either in the US or in Europe.

AY: Now The News! An album with your quartet called "Friction " + two releases, two duos. One with Mat Maneri entitled “The Transcendent Function", and another one with Rob Brown called  “Divergent Paths”. Can you tell us more about these?

DL: Friction is my quartet's 7th record, the first one being "Don't Go It Alone" (Riti, 2003).This record is the first one with Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, whom I met several years ago doing a trio tour and recording project with Ivo Perelman. He's a fantastic musician and person, and adds a tremendous amount to the band. There are some new kinds of compositions on this record that weren't explored on my previous quartet records - for example, some with very minimal loop structures that layer in different ways. There are also tunes that relate more closely to the material I've done before.

Divergent Paths : Rob and I have been playing together for quite a long time, starting around 2001, when we were introduced by our mutual friend, Joe Morris. We would play duos at Rob's house frequently, and then Rob formed a trio with me and Satoshi Takeshi, which made a couple of records and performed a bunch around NYC. After all of the trio activity, we went back to working as a duo. At first, we sort of explored a dynamic that came out Rob's trio writing. It often reminded me a bit of Julius Hemphill & Abdul Wadud. That sound was certainly a reference point at that time. Our first record. "Natural Disorder", which came out in 2008 documents that sound. Eventually, we started to move away from that way of playing as being our primary frame, and we explored other ways to engage. "Divergent Paths" was recorded while we were doing a series of duo concerts in Portugal in 2012.

The Transcendent Function. I first encountered Mat's music when I was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, back in the 90's. I was studying composition & improvisation with his father, Joe Maneri, who left us in 2009. I would go Joe Maneri Quartet concerts religiously, and was always awestruck and overwhelmed by the sophistication of their group dynamic, as well as by the stunning virtuosity and brilliance of everyone in the band. I saw that Mat had created a unique voice and approach as an improvising string player, which really helped inspire me to chart my own course in finding my voice as a cellist in improvised music. Playing duo with Mat is incredibly exciting and rewarding. The viola and cello are very similar, using the same strings an octave apart, and we are able to use a tremendous range of timbres and sounds to create phrases and lines in this acoustic setting. We recorded "The Transcendent Function" at the conclusion of a week-long EU tour in February of 2015.

Daniel Levin’s upcoming releases in 2016 :

- A solo LP/CD due out in April 2016 on Smeraldina-Rima. 
- A trio with Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and Chris Corsano is due in Spring, 2016 on TROST.

LINKS: Daniel Levin's website
Divergent Paths at Cipsela
The Transcendent Function at Clean Feed Records
Friction at Clean Feed Records

Read More...

NEWS/INTERVIEW: Fiona Monbet to replace Thomas Gould in The Man Overboard Quintet

Fiona Monbet. Photo credit: Murielle Weston

Guitarist Jean-Marie Fagon, bandleader of The Man Overboard Quintet, has announced that Thomas Gould is to be replaced as the violinist in the group by Fiona Monbet. Sebastian Scotney took the opportunity to find out more of the background:


LondonJazz News: So Thom is moving on - what is the story and is it a big wrench?

Jean-Marie Fagon: There’s no story, really, it’s more a natural progression. Thom’s classical music commitments are so intense that he was finding it increasingly difficult to devote much time to the Quintet. We have played numerous gigs without Thom, a kind of “Man Overboard Quartet + guest”, and it has worked really well, we’ve got a great pool of musicians we can call on. We’ll continue doing that, because although we now have Fiona Monbet on board she’s based in Paris at the moment, so she won’t be able to do all of our gigs. So it’s a wrench in the sense that we’ve had some great times with Thom, but it’s also new beginning, which we’re excited about.

LJN: Who is Fiona Monbet ?

J.-M.F.: Fiona is an exceptional violinist. She studied with Didier Lockwood, who supported her career when she started playing jazz. She won the SACEM’S “Young talent Award” 3 years running (2005, 2006, 2007) and has played numerous high profile gigs with very good players. It actually was Thom who introduced Fiona to us. We played a couple of function gigs with her a couple of years ago, when she was based in London, and of course she was with us for our gig at the Festival Jazz Amarinois in Alsace late last year. She fits in so well with the band it wasn’t a difficult decision to ask her to join us.



LJN: The video was at Amarinois – is it a good festival - was that an important gig for you?

J.-M.F.: The Festival Jazz Amarinois, which takes place in October not far from Mulhouse in the Alsace, has been happening for the last 7 years. It’s a great event, specialising in New Orleans and manouche jazz, and runs over 3 days. People come from all over the world to enjoy the music. There was a big article about it in a prominent US Jazz publication last year. The journalist who wrote the article attended our gig there, and I think he liked it. So yes, it was an important gig for us, one we feel might open a few doors.

LJN: And she presumably opens doors stylistically?

J.-M.F.: Stylistically Fiona is actually very similar to Thom, so there won’t be major changes there.

LJN: And new opportunities too?

J.-M.F.: Inevitably a new band member brings new contacts, and new fans, so who knows? We’ll certainly be playing in Europe a lot more.

Ewan Bleach and Dave O'Brien
Photo credit: Murielle Weston


LJN: You are a very busy band ? You all still have fun together ?

J.-M.F.: 2015 was a busy year for us. A new album, a collaboration with the Aurora Orchestra, live appearances on In Tune, and many gigs. So yes, we’re still having fun.


LJN: Have there been high points ?

J.-M.F.: The new album Down in the Deep Deep Blue was definitely a high point. The choice of material was a bit risky, with far less well-known tunes than we played on the first album. But it seems to be doing well, copies are being shifted, and we’re getting great feedback on it.

LJN: And presumably quite a few laughs along the way?

J.-M.F.: Being the general organizer for this band always involves a combination of stress, joy, and good belly laughs. Our trip to France last year was epic, in this respect. Getting everyone to catch early trains and generally be where they needed to be when they needed to be there was very stressful indeed, and the gig itself was a complete joy. As for laughs, I’ll only mention Louisa coming out of her hotel room just before the gig, looking sharp with a black hat and black dress, but also looking devastated as she stood there holding a black shoe in each hand. I immediately spotted the problem; one leather brogue, one satin slipper, shoes from different pairs. So I told her there was nothing we could do about it, she’d just have to wear odd shoes, to which she said “I can’t, they’re two left shoes”. For the record she did the gig in great big brown hiking boots.

Man Overboard's second album on Champs Hill Reccords

LJN: Brian Blain recently wrote: "The counter-revolution has well and truly broken out"..Do you feel that Man Overboard is part of a broader trend?

J.-M.F.: There are a lot of bands around that play a more traditional type of jazz, but I don’t think it’s a trend. We don’t play the type of music we play to make a statement on the merits of old style jazz. We play it because we love it. I’m sure the people who play experimental jazz, for example, do it for the same reason.

What I think is wrong in the debate that’s been going on, the “modern vs traditional” debate, is that it tries to pit one against the other. Surely the whole thing’s a matter of personal taste. I can bore people silly by going on about the richness and depth of swing music, just as I’ve been bored silly by people going on about the need to constantly push musical boundaries and challenge the audience. I think there’s room for every type of music, and within jazz there’s room for every style.

LJN: What gigs / landmarks / excitements coming have you  got coming up?

J.-M.F.: We’ve got a few interesting things in the pipeline, some more firmed up than others. Our music used as the soundtrack for a BBC1 documentary, a residency in an exciting new venue, that sort of thing. All will be revealed in good time.

LJN: Mais saperlipopette! Man Overboard est en train de devenir de plus en plus français (Man Overboard is becoming more and more French)

J.-M.F.…et de plus en plus féminin.

To join the mailing list and be informed of future Man Overboard gigs, use this contact form

Read More...

TRIBUTE: Jimmie Haskell (1936- 2016)

Jimmie Haskell and Richard Niles

Dr. Richard Niles remembers composer/arranger JIMMIE HASKELL, three-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner, and responsible for 135 gold or platinum albums, who died last week aged 79. Richard writes:

Jimmie Haskell was successful as a composer, arranger and producer from the late 1950s onwards. Starting out with Ricky Nelson, he worked with Sheryl Crow, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, Elvis, Blondie, Tina Turner, The Bee Gees, Chicago, Bobbie Darren, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Doobie Brothers, Jose Feliciano, Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson. He won Grammys for his work with Simon & Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water), Chicago (If You Leave Me Now) and Bobbie Gentry (Ballad of Billie Jo). He also won an Emmy (four nominations) and composed music for 31 feature films, 32 TV movies and 445 TV episodes.

I was fortunate enough to interview him on three occasions and devoted a chapter to him in my book on the great pop arrangers, The Invisible Artist. He was a warm, inviting, kind gentleman with an understated sense of humor. He told great stories but he was also a great listener, really interested in other points of view. He was the kind of guy who it was impossible not to like. The twinkle in his smile made you think about perhaps putting on a pair of sunglasses. He was couch-comfortable to be around.

He had a relaxed confidence about his years of success and was able to clearly explain the working methods of his art.

Arrangers must be generically literate to be able to write for a variety of styles. His arranging choices were determined not only by the song and the artist, but by the meaning of the song. Much of his work was “scoring the lyric”. He advised aspiring arrangers to transcribe their favorite work and get help from a teacher or mentor. He warned against over arranging.

“A good arrangement enhances the song, makes you want to listen to it again and again and, most importantly, makes you want to buy the record.”

How did he begin writing?

“When I listen to the song, I think of what I’m gonna write but I don’t try too hard. I listen some more and notes pop into my head. I jot them down on paper.”

Commercial considerations?

“Commerciality doesn’t control what I write, but it controls the attitude of the people who hire me!”

Haskell won a Grammy for “Bridge Over Troubled Water” though it was “the song I did the least work on”. But his masterful writing, as exemplified by his arrangement of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” and “America” uses many techniques. Contrasting orchestration, melodic counter lines, varied voicing techniques, descriptive programmatic writing and dissonance are all used with the sole purpose of intensifying the emotional impact of the music and the lyric.

To what did Haskell attribute the longevity of his career?

“The fact that I enjoy 99% of my sessions and they’re all fun!”

I am very grateful that I was able to share some stories and some fun with him. He was a very nice man.

Dr. Richard Niles (website) is a composer, arranger and author living in California. His new album BANDZILLA RISES is due April 2016.

Jimmie Haskell (born Sheridan Pearlman). Born November 7, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY, died February 4, 2016, Laguna Niguel, CA.  (WEBSITE)

Read More...

PURE GUESSWORK: Love Supreme Festival (First programme announcement due 11th Feb 9am, Festival July 1-3)



Love Supreme Festival is due to make the first announcenent of headliners this Thursday February 11th at 9am. In the meantime, the festival has been tantalising its mailing list members with what that announcement might contain. Indeed, the picture above goes by the document name of "website tease." 

The email promises:  

"We set ourselves the challenge to outdo what has come before.....  A big line up for this summer....Music legends, jazz and soul superstars, the hottest newcomers to the scene and a few leftfield choices....We may even be announcing a UK exclusive collaboration between some legendary jazz artists…More announcements to come."

Without any prior knowledge whatsoever, and with just as much chance of getting it wrong as getting it right..... we started to wonder, and also to enter into the spirit. The Copenhagen Jazz Festival, at the same time, is still in the middle of its Winter Jazz offering, and has not yet announced its headliners, so no clues there...However, interestingly, two major US artists have been booked into quite small London venues around the time of the festival. So in the spirit of the tease, they are:

 1. A guitarist called Patrick born in 1954 in Lee's Summit, Missouri, who is at Ronnie Scott's 29 June- 2 July (LINK)

2.  A pianist called Armando born in 1941 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, who is at the Wigmore Hall on 8th July (LINK)

All will become clearer on Thursday morning...

 LINK: Love Supreme Festival Website

Read More...

PREVIEW/ FEATURE: Saxophonist Aldevis Tibaldi (New sextet album with John Eacott TwentySix Three + Launch February 26 at Hampton Court House)

Aldevis Tibaldi

Italian-born saxophonist ALDEVIS TIBALDI launches a new sextet  album "TwentySix Three" on February 26th with a group including trumpeter/composer John Eacott. Rob Adams found out the background:


Carla Bley, Willie Garnett and Bill Kyle are unlikely ever to play in the same band together but the pianist-composer, saxophonist-instrument repairer and drummer-jazz club owner form an invaluable trio of encouragement and assistance in the career of Aldevis Tibaldi.

The Trieste-born saxophonist, who has been resident in London since 2004, encountered Bley while playing with a student orchestra in Bologna and was impressed by her willingness, over lunch with the young musicians she was tutoring, to answer any and all questions about arranging techniques. As the saxophone technician to players from Ben Webster to David Sanborn, every professional passing through London owes Willie Garnett a favour, says Tibaldi. And mine host of Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar, Bill Kyle has consistently given Tibaldi the opportunity to see that his musical ideas work and may be this trio’s most vital component.

Tibaldi began playing classical trumpet and double bass as a child in Trieste and by the age of eleven he had added a parallel interest in jazz courtesy of Gerry Mulligan and Sonny Rollins, whom he discovered through an art teacher with a fondness for passing mix-tapes to pupils he thought might share his musical tastes.

“One of those tapes had Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus on it and I was immediately seduced by the sound of the tenor saxophone,” says Tibaldi. “This was small town Italy in the 1980s and there wasn’t a lot of jazz around. The nearest saxophone teacher was 150 kilometres away so I learned to play with the school concert band until I moved on to the academy, where I played all sorts of music, church music, a lot of rock music. It was a great experience.”

Having won a place at university Tibaldi went ahead and took an MA in Political Studies but just days after he completed his final dissertation he was studying the singular inversions and voicings that make Carla Bley’s music so distinctive. By this time he was playing baritone in the OFP Orchestra S.Lazzaro in Bologna, whose many guest directors included Steve Coleman and Bruno Tommaso as well as Bley and her long-time partner and collaborator, bassist Steve Swallow.

“Carla and Steve were wonderful,” he says. “We had a week of rehearsals with them and often the guest directors would eat with the professors but Carla and Steve sat with the students and let us fire questions at them all through the meals. What Carla told me stayed with me for years and I still use the knowledge she imparted in my own music today.”

Another lasting influence from his early days is Balkan music. Trieste being near the Yugoslavian border, musician exchanges brought him into contact with the compound time signatures that are a feature of the Balkan traditions. “I never actually played that music but it made a big impression,” he says. “What amazed me was that, not only could they play music in those metres, but they could also dance in 13/8 – and I could barely count it!”

In 2004, Tibaldi decided on a change of scene. He moved to London and taking time to find his way on the gig scene he got a job in Virgin Records’ Oxford Street store. In the jazz department there he was exposed to a lot of music he hadn’t heard before and wandering through Soho after work he encountered a local worthy, Jake Vegas, who was his passport onto the jobbing musician circuit.

“Jake is a very funny guy but also a genius,” says Tibaldi. “And through him, I was able to give up my job with Virgin and earn enough to live on as a musician, playing weddings and other functions, a whole variety of things.”

It was around this time that, on a road trip through Scotland, Tibaldi happened upon the Tuesday jam session at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh. Hearing him play, club owner Bill Kyle offered him a couple of nights’ work the following weekend, playing with the World Premiere Quintet – an ad hoc meeting of musicians who are often meeting for the first time and who organise the set list on the bandstand.

Two nights became three as Tibaldi sat in with the Jazz Bar Big Band on the Monday and from then on Kyle would call and invite him back periodically to work with musicians including award-winning trumpeter Colin Steele, pianists and young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year winners Alan Benzie and Pete Johnstone, and the now Korea-based Paul Kirby, and the experienced Kyle himself.

“Playing at the Jazz Bar has been a great help with my career in the UK,” says Tibaldi. “Having these musicians playing my own music has let me see that my ideas work and it’s given me confidence when putting my own projects together.”

Among those projects is the London Jazz Ensemble, which includes sometime Loose Tubes, trumpeter John Eacott and trombonist Paul Taylor, alongside pianist Liam Dunachie, bassist Richard Sadler, and drummer Chris Gale. The band launches its first album, TwentySix Three, on February 26 at Hampton Court House, where Tibaldi has been teaching saxophone since 2009.

Mostly comprising Tibaldi originals, with arrangements of Mingus, Monk, and Ellington tunes and the Italian standard Mi Piace, TwentySix Three showcases Tibaldi’s ability both to make a three-horn frontline sound almost orchestral and to produce his best work to a deadline.

“I have ideas on the go all the time and notes all over the place that I’ll keep coming back to and revising,” he says. “But I find that my best writing comes when I have to come up with something to order. For some reason a deadline makes me think clearer and more decisively. It’s a great motivation.”

Aldevis Tibaldi at Galetone Records
February 26th concert on Facebook - and BOOKINGS - Hampton Court House is in Hampton Court Road, KT8 9BS

Read More...

CD REVIEW: Mike Westbrook and the Uncommon Orchestra - A Bigger Show



Mike Westbrook and the Uncommon Orchestra - A Bigger Show
(ASC Records. ascd162163. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)


This double CD records Mike and Kate Westbrook's recent large scale theatrical project. Using an orchestra of twenty one, incorporating actors and a dramaturge (a rare credit on a jazz CD) and musicians from a variety of traditions, it builds on themes that the Westbrooks have been working on for several years. Several of the songs appear in shorter versions on the Village Band's CD “The Waxeywork Show”, and other tracks have been developed from pieces in the Art Wolf project. But this is a bigger band – a bigger show.

Sung in Kate Westbrook's distinctive, stylised voice, the songs tell tales of the Waxeyworks, a composite of a fairground, a freak show, Bartholomew Fair, a seaside music hall, and today's internet-driven celebrity culture. The cast of characters would fit right in to Brecht's The Beggars Opera or a Shakespearean bawdy house. They serve to emphasise the absurdity of our hectic, networked modern lives.

Most tracks are based around relatively simple riffs, but Mike Westbrook's luscious orchestrations and arrangements create complex musical structures which, together with some excellent soloists, hold one's attention across both CDs. Several tracks last around fifteen minutes, and Propositions, at over thirty minutes, could form a suite of its own as it moves through several different sections, but the music flies along. Kate Westbrook's words come across with more pathos and irony than in their previous incarnation. There are several new songs, too, and the older ones have been extended and reworked for the Uncommon Orchestra's broader canvas. The interplay between the three singers allows for a varied characterisation as they take different on different roles.

The whole has been described as an oratorio, in which the Westbrooks have created a compelling if sometimes repellant world. Taking from jazz, rock and folk musics, something unique emerges. Building on his large body of work, Mike Westbrook has produced music that is by turns exciting, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Let's hope it really is “the show that never ends”!

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield

LINKS: Review by John Turney of the Westbrook Blake from the Bath Festival in 2015
Reviewby Chris Parker  of Glad Day in London in 2014
Interview with Mike and Kate Westbrook about Glad Day
CD Review: The Serpent Hit by Chris Parker

Read More...

CD REVIEW: Malija - The Day I Had Everything



Malija - The Day I Had Everything
(Editions Records. EDN1064. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)


Malija comprises in equal measures Mark Lockheart on reeds, pianist Liam Noble and Jasper Høiby on bass. All three are familiar from their busy workload and prolific collaborations. They played together on Lockheart's quintet recording In Deep, but this is their first outing as a trio. Lockheart contributes more tunes than Høiby or Noble, but other than that the trio is very well balanced.

The music has an eclectic feel, bringing together several styles and influences, whilst keeping a singular voice. Indeed, the closing track is called In One Voice, a gentle, exploratory walk which allows each of the trio (and the guest violinist) to contribute to the whole.

The trio are joined on that track and on Mr Wrack by a string quartet who, though unobtrusive, provide a little nudge along. Mr Wrack starts with slightly off-kilter, Monk-like piano and some tender clarinet, and gradually gets more frenetic, until at the end it threatens to come off the tracks.

The band give their name to Høiby's Malija, a slow, contemplative number to which each contribute solos, full of space and light. Noble's Blues is in a similar vein, a slow, moody piece. Lockheart's languid solo takes up much of the tune, full of gentle, long notes. Beneath the reeds and bass, Noble adds subtle touches here and there.

Despite each tune having different inspiration – there are hints of New Orleans, tango (not so much a hint, since it's called Almost A Tango), Ellington, folk and classical genres – the whole recording is a very satisfying statement of what three musicians together can achieve.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

Read More...

PREVIEW: Todd Gordon's Going Gaga over Tony! - (Pizza Express, Dean Street, 11th Feb)

Todd Gordon aged 3


We almost never post cute portraits of 3 year olds.... But jazz and swing singer TODD GORDON has pointed out some uncanny coincidences around this photo, and persuaded us to make an exception. He writes:


Facebook recently had their Way Back Week and I noticed people uploading photos of when they were young(er). So I did the same. It was one that I’d discovered on moving house a couple of years ago. Then two coincidences happened: firstly, having uploaded it onto my Facebook page in the early hours of January 23rd, I discovered on a discoloured piece of paper that the photograph had been taken 54 years earlier to the day on January 23rd, 1962.

The second coincidence is even more uncanny. One of the shows I am touring with this year celebrates the music popularised by Tony Bennett. I started working on this project a couple of years ago after meeting the legendary crooner, and the Bennett family has given me the green light to run with it. 


Tony Bennett and Todd Gordon


As I was preparing the material for the show, I discovered that Tony Bennett recorded what was to become his big-selling hit and signature song, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", in January 1962. Checking it out online, I couldn’t believe that my photo had been taken on the very same day - January 23rd!


 Todd Gordon's show - Going Gaga over Tony! - is at Pizza Express Jazz Room in Dean Street on Thursday, 11 February (Doors 7.00pm; Performance 8.30pm.)

LINKS: Todd Gordon website
Pizza Express Details/ Bookings

Read More...

NEWS: Jazz on 3 to be replaced by new Monday night BBC Radio 3 jazz programme starting in April



A Press Release from 7Digital today confirmed the rumours that Unique, its radio production subsidiary has won a tender process, and will be replacing Somethin' Else, the producers of Jazz on 3 for the past eighteen years, as producer of BBC Radio 3's Monday Night jazz programme. The first programme from the new team is scheduled for early April.

In an first official statement - more detail will emerge in the next few weeks - Executive Producer Alyn Shipton, on behalf of 7Digital/ Unique said:

'We are all very excited by this opportunity to bring the best of contemporary jazz to BBC Radio 3, both from Britain and the rest of the world. We hope to satisfy existing fans of jazz, and also draw in plenty of new listeners to music we are passionate about and committed to supporting. We look forward to the work ahead.'

The full text of 7Digital's Press Release is HERE.

Read More...

CD REVIEW: Ian Shaw - The Theory of Joy



Ian Shaw - The Theory of Joy
(Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi 55001. CD review by Mark McKergow)


This CD finds Ian Shaw not sitting in his apparently natural habitat at a piano, but having replaced his own accompaniment with an excellent trio. There is no doubt that Shaw is a good pianist, but this format seems to free him upto really focus on his vocal performance - which he does with accuracy and aplomb.

The 12 tracks on the CD version show an excellent mix of material from Bart to Bowie, plus three Shaw originals. The opening Small Day Tomorrow (a useful concept for the jazz enthusiast, staying up late as you only have a small day tomorrow) quickly opens up to allow Barry Green to sparkle on piano. Shaw's voice seems to have something of the light touch and agility of Joni Mitchell about it, and this becomes even more clear on the Canadian artist's own In France They Kiss On Main Street. The section in which Shaw sings over Mick Hutton's round-sounding bass and Dave Ohm's tight-yet-dynamic brushes is a particular delight.

The Bowie song is Where Are We Now, from 2013's The Next Day album. This is a wistful song, looking back with a little regret, and Shaw turns in an impassioned performance. The album was recorded in summer 2015 before the shock recent news of Bowie's death, and the number makes a very fitting tribute. Mick Hutton must surely produce the most sonorous double bass tone in London, and he uses it to great effect here and throughout the album. This reflective mood carries on into Legrand/Bergman/Bergman's How Do You Keep The Music Playing, a song of love an uncertainty looking into a long-term relationship which Shaw renders beautifully -tears in this listener's eyes at any rate.

The three original songs come grouped together towards the end of the album. My Brother, about Shaw's brother Gareth who died before Ian was born, is catchy and meaningful. It's been rightly receiving radio plays - check out the video link below, which ties it in to Ian's work with refugees in Calais. All This And Betty Too is a jazz-filled romp with Shaw remembering listening to Betty Carter in Ronnie Scott's with Claire Martin, a long-term friend who also produced this album. A trio reworking of Somewhere Towards Love (chosen in its solo version as a Desert Island Disc by both Molly Parkin and Julian Clary) sees the song moving with a little more urgency, and it's great to get another way to hear it. As if to stress Shaw's versatility, we move from a pointed You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two (sung with social comment in mind, surely) to a closing If You Go Away/Ne Me Quitte Pas, in Brel-ish style over Green's solo accompaniment.

This collection has great variety, yet is defined at its core by four top-class musicians on their own terms. If, like me, you have enjoyed Ian Shaw's live performances but never yet taken the plunge with an album, this is a wonderful place to start. It's also available on double vinyl with three bonus tracks including Clive Gregson's Last Man Alive and Mel Tormé's Born To Be Blue. Cracking.

LINKS: Video of My Brother
Brian Blain's review of the launch gig of The Theory of Joy

Read More...

PREVIEW: Radio feature about Norwich, Alton, Wakefield and Dunfermline (Broadcast on BBC Jazz Line-Up Saturday 6th after 5pm)

Photo from Writers Centre Norwich


Sebastian writes:

A radio feature I did,looking at four places in the UK which produce more than their fair share of top jazz musicians will be transmitted during Jazz Line-Up on Saturday February 6th - the programme starts at 5pm. The places are Norwich, Alton, Wakefield and the Kingdom of Fife, and the musicians who were interviewed are George Crowley and Kit Downes, (both originally from Norwich), Laura Jurd and Gwyneth Herbert (Alton), Reuben Fowler and Matt Robinson (Wakefield) and Kim Macari and Calum Gourlay (Fife, and both in fact from Dunfermline). A number of people have also suggested I could have looked at Derby and/or Cambridge. True.

The link to the programme on the BBC website is HERE.  UPDATE, 6th Feb: The item begins [18:12] into the programme is introduced by Julian Joseph and was produced by Sushil Dade.

There has also just been a repeat of another feature for Jazz Line-Up about some links between jazz and cricket. That is [18:50] into last Saturday's programme. LINK

Read More...

PREVIEW: Wayne Shorter with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Barbican Feb 18th)

Wayne Shorter in 2006. Photo Credit:Tom Beetz/Creative Commons

Wayne Shorter will be at the Barbican on 18th February with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as part of their fourth Barbican International Associate Residency. Jim Burlong previews the concert:

 “Wayne brings us [the Wayne Shorter Quartet] things that are highly composed and orchestrated. We play them. Invariably he says, ‘Okay, that’s what it is—now I want to delve into it and break it apart and reconstruct it in many different ways.’ He wants it new every time. The form of the piece is cemented in everybody’s mind, but then the one rule, you could say, is that there are no rules.”
John Patitucci (Quoted in a programme note by Ted Panken for Jazz at Lincoln Center.)

London audiences will have the opportunity to witness that laconic, ever-probing spirit at first hand, when the saxophonist and composer joins the orchestra of Jazz at Lincoln Center with leader Wynton Marsalis for one performance only, on the first night of their two-yearly London Residency. The programme was performed in New York last May and Ben Ratliff of the New York Times came away completely enthralled. Here's Ratliff's final paragraph:

"The really breathtaking moments often weren’t in emotional surges — one of Mr. Shorter’s specialties — but in denouements. Like any musician, he’s got a few of his own clichés, but they weren’t much in evidence on Thursday. Mr. Shorter was taking ideas for a ride, working episodically with no fixed outcome, making quick and impulsive turns: discovering, basically." 

 Shorter's career has embraced the early ground breaking years of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers through Miles Davis second great quintet and fusion giants Weather Report to his recordings with his own groups on the Blue Note and Verve labels.Throughout six decades he has been at the forefront of creativity both on tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as being one of the most compelling composers in jazz.

The set lists for the concert will consist of a total of ten Wayne Shorter compositions, re-arranged for the big band setting by members orchestra, to include Mama G recorded with The Messengers in 1960, Armageddon made with McCoy Tyner in '64 and from later years The Three Marias and Diana first released with VSOP. The highlight may well be the title track from the the Miles Davis album E.S.P. written when Shorter was emerging as one of the leading composers of his generation.

 LINK: Details of Jazz at Lincoln Center's fourth,three-day Barbican International Associate Residency 

Read More...

NEWS: Concern over future of Ealing Jazz Festival is spreading / petition reaches 1000 signatures

The 2013 Ealing Jazz Festival. Photo: Ealing Summer Festivals


Sebastian writes:

I have been approached by a number of people who are extremely concerned that decisions which will "decimate" one of London's most popular summer festivals, and certainly one of the closest to the jazz community, the Ealing Jazz Festival in Walpole Park.

At the root of the concerns are the involvement of a company called The Event Umbrella (TEU), based in Whitstable in Kent which has taken an increasing role in the summer festivals run by Ealing Council, and is proposing - from the information I am being given - to cut the festival down to two days, to take over the programming of the jazz festival, and (somehow?) to absorb the financial risk of the festival. The company itself does not currently have a functioning website, it is exempt from filing proper accounts and appears to have minimal assets, but there is some detail about it HERE.

There is a petition giving more information HERE which has just reached 1000 signatures. 

Read More...

REVIEWS: Jazzmeia Horn, James Carter Trio, Pablo Held Trio at Unterfahrt in Munich

Gerard Gibbs, organist with the James Carter Trio
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Jazzmeia Horn, James Carter, Pablo Held Trio
(Unterfahrt in Munich, 26, 28 and 19 January. Reviews by Ralf Dombrowski)

Sometimes it can be a real mystery why musicians choose to surround themselves with the bands they do. One is just left imagining what might have happened, had Jazzmeia Horn been able to work with musical colleagues at the same level as her, for her appearance at the Unterfahrt in Munich. She has such an astonishing presence and a sparkling personality, it would surely have been the kind of musical experience that everyone in the club would want to tell their grandchildren about.

Jazzmeia Horn. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

In any case we heard a singer who stands a part from many of her peers because she takes on every song she sings so naturally. She is a performer for whom every word, gesture and ornament becomes and expression of her total conviction, and she completely comes alive in the moment. She inhabits the standards repertoire with every breath she takes. This a mesmerising, charming involving voice. She has soul, swing, she can scat...but her real distinguishing feature is her compelling storytelling. Her performance culminated in a Lush Life which can have left very few if any eyes in the house completely dry.

Her concert was the centre-piece of a great week in Munich. The city seemed to offer just one great gig after another, and all it wanted in return for this great bounty was large quantities of my sleep. Each of these concerts could not have been more different from one another.

James Carter Trio
Phoro credit: Ralf Dombrowski


For example there was James Carter. He was once a high-spec saxophonist back in the nineties, and was over here in a trio with organist Gerard Gibbs and drummer Alex White at Unterfahrt. Carter still has something of the circus performer about him. Nevertheless, despite occasionally resorting to a box of tricks that includes hefty slap-tonguing, extended circular breathing and wildly expansive Coltranesque episodes, he does keep finding his way straight back to an authentic American soul-feel. The agility, and also the laid-back ways of communicating of the musicians working with him  must also have helped him to locate that core.

Pablo Held. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


On the previous day in the same club it had been the Pablo Held Trio on the bill. According to what was announced, the musicians were going to let themselves be led by their intuitions and instincts. In the course of their two sets their structured sense of where they were headed within their own compositions, plus the immediacy of the flow of this band, a mutual understanding that has been built up over ten years was generating recognizable and concise song forms, complete with all their fine nuances.

The original German version of these reviews, extended and also including a review of Israeli saxophonist Oded Tzur at the BWM Welt Jazz Awards, is appearing at jazzzeitung.de

Read More...

NEWS: Vijay Iyer announced as Wigmore Hall Jazz Artist in Residence.

Wadada Leo Smith and Vijay Iyer
Photo: musicworksinternational.com

The Wigmore Hall has announced that Vijay Iyer will become the Wigmore Hall's fourth Jazz Artist in Residence from January 2017, following in the footsteps of Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman and Christian McBride.

The first concert in his series will be a performance with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith on 6 January 2017. There is an ECM duo release announced for this autumn.

John Gilhooly, Director of Wigmore Hall, says: “I’ve admired Vijay Iyer’s work for many years now. I attended one his live shows for the first time in Paris last year and was blown away by the immediacy and vitality of his musicianship. After meeting with him the next day, creative sparks began to fly and I knew that he would be a great Jazz Artist in Residence for Wigmore Hall. Vijay is perhaps better known in America and on the continent, but I am thrilled that this gives us the opportunity to introduce him properly to London audiences and that Vijay can do this by collaborating with artists from all over the world. Vijay’s interests in psychology and education are also something that we will explore during the residency. His approach fits with the Hall’s philosophy that ‘everything is learning’ – that our Learning programme and artistic programme are fuelled by one overarching spirit of creative exploration.”

The next event in Christian McBride's residency is a duo concert with fellow bassist Edgar Meyer on 18th March (DETAILS) and then a duo with Chick Corea on 8th July (not yet available for public booking.

Read More...

REPORTS: Third and fouth nights of the 2016 WDR3 Jazzfest at Theater Münster

Mike Gibbs (right) thanking the NDR big band as they
acknowledge the applause from a full house


Third and fourth nights of the 2016 WDR 3 Jazzfest 2016
(Theater Münster, 30th and 31st January 2016. Reports by Sebastian Scotney, Oliver Weindling - late Saturday, and Tobias Richtsteig - Sunday)




SATURDAY (Jazzmeia Horn, Nils Landgren, NDR Big Band/ Gibbs, Sternal/Manderscheid duo / Chris Speed Trio)

This, our third report from Münster, is a three-way collaborative effort. For the Saturday night of the WDR3 Jazz Festival, the main theatre was completely sold out for a two part programme.

First Nils Landgren and Viktoria Tolstoy performed Some Other Time, a new Bernstein project with specially commissioned arrangements from Vince Mendoza. Landgren is a hugely popular figure throughout Germany, and the full house gave him a hero's welcome.

Viktoria Tolstoy, Joerg Achim Keller, Nils Landgren
with winds and brass of the Bochumer Symphoniker


There is a full explanation – in English – to the background to the project in this beautifully produced Youtube EPK . A key constituent of the project is that top dog among German jazz bass players Dieter Ilg, whose less-is-more approach completely fits with these arrangements.

The second half was a set from the NDR Big Band directed by Mike Gibbs, and playing almost exclusively arrangements by him. The NDR Big Band's programme was yet another demonstration of what a consummate arranger for big band Mike Gibbs is. He took the trouble to explain where some of the devices in particular pieces has been – to use his word - “nicked” from. In the first piece, he set out his stall as an admirer of Kenny Wheeler, in the second a bass progression from Messian's L'Ascension, elsewhere there was a piece in memory of Paco De Lucia – and in honour of the country where he now makes his home. There was also a slightly re-worked version of Gibbs' arrangement of Eberhard Weber's Maurizius. It felt like a masterpiece when I first heard it in Stuttgart a year ago, and on the record, and even more so in this second live performance. It has a completely natural pace and development from the quiet piano opening (Wladislaw Sendecki) and shimmeringly quiet guitar arpeggios (Sandra Hempel) onwards and upwards and bigger and ever more heartfelt, through an episode which John Adams would have been pleased to write, and on to the full-band blaze.

This concert was just part of a very full night, with one concert before the main show, and two after it. It was also the “long night of jazz” on WDR3 and Oesterreich 1, which involves the broadcasters radio programming flitting into and out of the live concerts.

Jazzmeia Horn performed an early evening set. She won the 2013 Sarah Vaughan Competition in 2013, the Thelonious Monk competition in 2015. I thought she was getting more powerful and connecting better and better as the set progressed, and just hold in my mind what the second set which never was might have been like. Her Concord Records debut scheduled for later this year will be something worth waiting for.

The Saturday ended (Oliver Weindling writes) with two late night sets in the small hall. First a duo of Sebastian Sternal, a former WDR prize winner and pupil of John Taylor, with Dieter Manderscheid on bass. The classical inspiration for the music was asserted by Manderscheid’s extensive use of the bow. The core music on which they improvised was, on the face of it, a disparate bunch which didn’t seem to work: mixture of originals, classical composers such as Vivaldi, Scriabin and Mompou with purer jazz such as Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Bill Evans. Part of the rationale is that they clearly love the originals, but also that they actually have common strands: The care with which they have developed the duo is shown by how they were able to fuse two compositions that when introduced might induce a few eyebrows to be raised but achieve it seamlessly, such as the Scriabin with Duke Ellington or Bill Evans’ Time Remembered with a composition by Thomas Heberer.

The final set of the night from the trio of Chris Speed with Chris Tordini and Dave King showed quite a contrast in approach to the duo but not necessarily in sound level! Relatively melodic and rhythmic, it was anchored by King who managed to deliver Bad Plus drumming and intensity at the quietest of levels which allowed Speed and Tordini to open up terms of their lines with relative ease. It was reminiscent of a Sonny Rollins trio in approach but certainly anchored in the scene of 2016

Sunday 31st (Annette Maye with Gianluigi Trovesi, Sidsel Endresen)


Julia Hülsmann


First onto the main stage for the second half of Sunday night (writes Tobias Richtsteig) was Julia Hülsmann, but - for once - not to play piano. She introduced a solo performance by Sidsel Endresen. The Norwegian singer had been awarded the European Prize of the FrauenKulturbüro NRW at the prize concert on Friday, in honour her major career as improviser, educator, and as an impressive role model for generations of young musicians.

Hülsmann, an academic educator in her own right, had chaired the jury which awarded the prize and told the audience in Münster that she would often play Endresen's recordings to her pupils, as an inspirational example of an artist, constantly exploring ways to find a unique and individual expressiveness in Music. What followed was one of the most breathtaking performances of the whole four day WDR 3 Jazzfest.

One chair and one microphone were all Sidsel Endresen, her singing, whispering and breathing. needed to capture the attention of the well-filled theatre. She began her performance singing a kind of Folksong, although it was hard to tell if the words were Norwegian, or in some kind of improvised dialect.

Such doubts were cast aside in her following piece, which turned the simple acts of inhaling and exhaling into highly effective audio art, presumably telling the story of a magnetic tape editing process, rewinding and scratching, and so on. This was followed by a Gertrude-Stein-like poem, linking Endresen's "abstract" storytelling to the "absurd" DaDa-Performances a hundred years ago in Zürich.

That might give the impression that Sidsel Endresen is just an artsy and other-worldly performer. She proved the contrary in the encore which the audience had been begging for, concluding with some real-world advice: "ears listen. lips kiss. feet walk... and these are some basic techniques of survival."

This mind-opening final concert of the WDR 3 Jazzfest had been preceded by a set from clarinettist Annette Maye, who had been presented the "Förderpreis" of the FrauenKulturBüro NRW. Maye in turn presented her band "Vinograd Express", which co-leads with trumpet player Udo Moll. This quartet, together with the guest (and longtime musical friend) Gianluigi Trovesi played a bunch of pieces of the"masada"-series of John Zorn. They have an unusual take on it, treating Zorn's "radical jewish music" as a sort of "folklore imaginaire".

These young musicians and Trovesi (a kind of 'Umberto Eco of the Clarinet' being north-italian and a universal genius at ease with pre-renaissance music as well as with non-European traditions and free improv avantgarde) presented the wisest form of musicianship: their music - and pieces of Maye and Moll made that point more than clear - is not about showing off virtuosic skills (although they handled some tough odd-meter-tasks very deftly).

Instead they took time, invested musical personality in their playing an created a moment of communion - something, every festival should be happy to aim for. Especially Udo Moll's piece Rubidium stayed long in the heart and ears of the listeners: basically a ten-minute drum solo (Max Andrzejewski) with some carefully added chords by the wind instruments - the Jazzfest-audience loved it!

(Sebastian again). This festival gave continuing and potent reminders of the commitment of WDR and of the region of NRW to promoting and supporting jazz is not just substantial, it is also targeted and built around the model of sustainability.

The story is to be continued, in 2017, on February 2nd to 5th in Gütersloh.....and then, as ever, broadcast on the German radio station which does more for jazz than just about any other in Europe.

LINKS: Review Martial Solal Trio
REPORT: Nights 1 and 2 of the 2016 WDR3 Jazzfest

Read More...

REVIEW: Snowpoet album launch at St Pancras Old Church

The Snowpoet album launch

Snowpoet
(Album launch at St Pancras Old Church, 29th January 2016. Review by Adam Tait)

Many performers would undoubtedly insist St Pancras Old Church is the ideal setting for their music. The idiosyncrasies of the acoustics are one thing, but the magnitude of the atmosphere is as much of a boon as anything else. The ageing religious images decorating the walls make for a sense of reverence. There’s an eerie stillness to the place, an instant feeling of quiet introspection.

Few acts or pieces of music are could be more perfectly matched with the venue, though, than Snowpoet and their self-­titled debut album. Their music wonderfully accompanies the sort of inward­facing consideration the space encourages. Lauren Kinsella’s lyrics dance around the metaphysical and ontological pondering found woven throughout religious thinking.

Opening with the charming, idyllic Mermaid, Snowpoet patiently, intricately apply intertwining layers of music until their sound fills the space. Kinsella’s voice resonating wonderfully, the band ease the audience into the performance before a change of tempo makes it irresistibly compelling.
In A Quiet Space provides and early highlight. The gently unfurling lyrics are strikingly cathartic, the ebb and flow of the music mesmeric. Bjork’s influence on the band is immediately and unavoidably clear, whispered words teasing at the edges of the music. But the clarity of the keys over the shuffling rhythm frames Kinsella’s murmurings artfully, enchanting the crowd with the spaces between sounds.

Admittedly the band revisit this sonic approach several times, most notably perhaps on Poetry Of Stillness, and the similarities to Bjork becomes a little too apparent at points. But the intrigue of Snowpoet lies in their fantastic blend of influences and inspiration. At times they allow a jazzy swing to take hold of the music, letting it dance across the audience. At others spiral ling loops inject an electronic urgency to the warm folk tones with hypnotic effect. One moment an earthy sparsity controls the music, the next Josh Arcoleo's sax adds a blaring vibrancy.

Glad To Have Lost swells wonderfully over Nick Costley-White's twinkling picked guitar notes. The spoken word utterances of Butterflies, the title track from 2014’s EP (see interview with Chris Hyson below), are riveting. Waves is soothingly introspective and considered. Throughout, Kinsella’s lyrics ponder obtuse questions of life, of finding a place in existence, conjuring stark images with their narratives. And the impact of these words is magnified by the venue’s serenity, the stillness of the atmosphere the perfect canvas for Snowpoet’s music.

Every second of the show is beautifully thoughtful, a carefully constructed calmness holding everything together.

The space gives the music an added gravitas. The music enhances the reverential impact of the building. In both style and substance, this band with this music in this place could not be a better match.

Adam Tait is a music journalist and digital campaign manager, previously for Gigwise and The 405 among others

Snowpoet's album is on Two Rivers Records

LINK: Interview with Chris Hyson about Snowpoet from June 2014

Read More...