One of the most moving occasions I went to in 2008 was the memorial to Campbell Burnap (above) held at Lords Cricket ground. Burnap was a trombonist, and also one of the great voices of jazz broadcasting. And a very likeable, popular and charming man.

Burnap's 100-year old father was unable to get down from Edinburgh to London, so the occasion was filmed for his benefit. There was good music, and the event was very professionally presented by broadcaster Russell Davies and actor Michael Simkins, (brother of superb, extremely likeable alto saxophonist Geoff Simkins). The family has released a professionally edited DVD of the occasion, which is for sale. With ALL the proceeds going to two charities:

-Human Rights Watch UK- for their work with children]
-Pancreatic Cancer UK

Campbell was a much-liked member of the jazz community: £2,000 has already been raised purely from sales of DVDs .

To buy one, either send a cheque (with name, postal address, e-mail address and tel. no.) to:

Jennifer Burnap (Campbell Burnap Memorial DVD Account)
36, Glengarry Road,
East Dulwich,
London SE22 8QD

Or for details of how to make a bank transfer, the best way is to email Jennifer Burnap: .

There is also a gig on May 28th lunchtime by fellow trombonists Bone Supremacy in Burnap's memory: see recommended list on the left for details.


Next Monday and Tuesday in Dean Street

The Pizza Express in Dean Street has a very interesting transatlantic line-up for Monday and Tuesday, courtesy of ever resourceful promoter Christine Allen of Basho.



Try this quote from

"Never mind Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, not since Bill Evans has a pianist so thoroughly exposed himself through his music. Every understated note or chord is full to the brim with unspoken emotion. His music is dynamic without exhibitionism or brashness - it builds from some deep and hidden source that allows him to express himself so beautifully. Copland has revived the piano trio, and with Night Whispers created another masterpiece." Recommended


Review: Dave Liebman and Phil Robson/ Vortex

The Dave Liebman (above) / Phil Robson collaboration, with Dave Whitford on bass and erstwhile Liebman colleague Jeff Williams on drums has really developed since their extraordinary first gig which I heard. On the first occasion they were finding each other out on the bandstand. Not any more.

The word is also out: the group crammed the Vortex to bursting last night, and it should definitely be going places , eg finding its way into bigger venues. I'm expecting this group will be perfect for the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham this weekend...... (Tony Dudley-Evans does have a knack of getting these things right! )

The magic of Robson's often unassuming presence, and the gentle way he coaxes and provokes, is that he sets up an ideal context for Liebman. Robson gives the saxophonist unbelievable room for manoeuvre and freedom to explore. Liebman doesn't have to state or articulate or foreshadow anything. He can dive straight in, and snarl and bite and swoop and cluck and squeal from the very first bars of the tune. The immediacy, urgency and attack in Liebman's playing are quite startling.
Robson as player and as composer always leaves harmonic room for anything to happen. And when Liebman gets hold of a tune like Screenwash, it is transformed. Indeed with Solid, the tune which opened the set, Robson explained that Liebman had moved the tune on so far, he had felt the imperative to change the name. The original name was jettisoned and quickly forgotten.

Dave Whitford is an ideal accomplice for Robson. He put a simple but insistent dominant pedal under Liebman's solo in Screenwash which brought out both ferocity and tenderness. Well, actually , a lot more of the former than the latter.

Jeff Williams is capable of being understated, of being sparse, laconic, distant. He can wait patiently, seemingly for ever. But when Williams gets his moment to build the intensity, to up the energy and produce storms, as last night on All Blues, and he delivers big-time.

Robson has a generous spirit . He made a very nice gesture in his first remarks: he invited the audience to show their appreciation of the opening band, James Allsop's Golden Age of Steam with Kit Downes on Hammond and Tim Giles on drums. I got a first taste of this band last night, and am very eager to hear more. One thing is certain: all three are interesting musicians at an early stage of their performing careers. They've spent most of their waking hours thinking about education rather than performance. This will change- hopefully! And that means that Golden Age of Steam won't stand still. Downes last night on Hammond sometimes seemed me to be hiding his light, carefully delivering trance-like backings for Allsop's melodic line rather than provoking him and participating in the dialogue. The best is yet to come.


Breaking news : UK jazz magazines merge

A letter sent this week to Jazz Review subscribers apologises for the non-appearance of the April issue of the magzine, and explainds that Jazz Journal Publishing has acquired Jazz Review. In other words, the two magazines are to merge their activities, into what the new team describes as a "potent new force."

The first - May - issue of a new publication Jazz Journal Incorporating Jazz Review, has been printed and is being sent out to subscribers over the next few days.

Jazz Review was published every two months by Direct Music in Edinburgh, who confirmed to me that they will no longer have an involvement. Jazz Review's founding contributor and editor Mark Gilbert is editor of the new publication. The new publication will be monthly.
Jazz Journal International, has a history going back to 1948, and has a more mainstream jazz bias than the more modern/eclectic Jazz Review .
Jazz Journal has not been without its problems: the last issue was in February 2009. Eddie Cook, publisher and former editor of Jazz Journal , wrote at the time to JJI readers that following the death of his wife Janet, publication of the magazine would cease forthwith, and that the magazine was seeking an acquirer. It is heartening that something positive has emerged from this.
Jazz Review, a much younger magazine, started in 1999, was edited for a number of years by walking jazz encyclopedia Richard Cook , who died - far too young- in 2007.
UPDATE: Wednesday 30th. Benny Golson smiles off the front cover. For either new or existing subscribers the place to go is HERE on the Jazz Journal website. The monthly cover price is £4. Conversions into Euro for subscribers who want to pay in Euro work out at £ = EUR 1.30, which might need updating.....
The Press Release gives more background. Prior to editing Jazz Review, Mark Gilbert had worked alongside Eddie Cook as deputy editor of Jazz Journal. Cook in his statement sees Gilbert as "continuing the core philosophy" of Jazz Journal , while bringing "fresh energy" to it.
The resilience, the endeavour, the pluckiness of those actively involved in British jazz is constantly uplifting! As Digby Fairweather has written to me this morning, "
"One of the best bits of jazz journalism news in many a long year!"


Al and Zoot tribute in Leytonstone

Karen Sharp (above, right, with Robert Fowler) started off in music college as a composition student. But it says in the biography on her website that she got "instantly hooked" by Dexter Gordon. She still composes, arranges - she dropped in to the big band I play in yesterday evening with a beautifully crafted Sam Rivers chart - but these days she pops up verywhere as an always-busy, always highly organized, and always good-to-hear mainstream(*) tenor player. She also plays a mean clarinet and gutsy baritone.

Sharp has a new project , a salute to tenor icons Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. The other tenor in this project is Robert Fowler. Sharp and Fowler both worked in Humphrey Lyttelton's band, Sharp from 2004 to 2007.
You can hear the Cohn/Sims two-tenor combo at East Side Jazz Club at The Lord Rookwood in Leytonstone on May 19th. A CD of this music- Sharp's fourth as leader- was recorded earlier this year . It's called "Brandy and Beer" after the Al Cohn composition. There are online clips of it HERE.

Sharp gives you straight-ahead, approachable, fluent playing, but with that composer's ear and composer's clarity and economy of utterance. The vibe at the Lord Rookwood is bound be good.


Googling the contenders for "jazz capital of Europe"

VOTE NOW ! Can London stake a claim to be the jazz capital of Europe? The outcome of the poll on the left will be interesting . Voting is now open , so you can nominate Europe's jazz capital. It will close on May 28th which is a week before the European elections.

A LOT of European musicians based in London don't need much persuading- they tell me London already is the place to be.

Let's investigate the claim with a bit of help from Google:

A search gives five existing contenders, using the phrases :

"jazz capital of Europe" and
"Europe's jazz capital".

The first stage must to be to eliminate the outsiders.

First outsider: Frankfurt. A few references only. I am prepared to be shot down in flames by Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (born in Silesia now part of Poland by the way) or by anyone else. But I will use the John McEnroe defence: Surely nobody can ask a Londoner to believe that the city (pictured above) looked over by the Dom Sankt Bartholomäus has a serious claim. Or can they?

Second outsider : Somerset. I kid you not. There are a number of links to an article from the Independent by the late Miles Kington mainly based on the undoubted facts that Iain Ballamy had set up home there, and that he routinely had a good time.

Which gets us down to THREE . Drum Roll.

Copenhagen. This claim mainly revolves around the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, now in its 31st year. If you want a quick history of Danish jazz, which doesn't make the claim, here is an official communication on the subject from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Paris. Paris gets more mentions than any of the other three. But often in sentences referring to the past...such as :

"Sidney Bechet died in 1959, on his birthday in Paris, at the time the unchallenged jazz capital of Europe."

If we accept the contentious assertion that London is in Europe....then surely it's..... London: I can only find the claim being made so far once, by Keith Porter of Common Ground Radio, in a transcribed conversation.

From today following phrase will now be Google-able, here, for the first time

"Welcome to London, jazz capital of Europe."


BFI Jazz and Film Weekend 12th-14th June

Here's the short version: The British Film Institute and Ronnie Scott's , also involving City Hall are planning an amazing weekend in June. Full details/ timings of it are on the BFI's website

LondonJazz also has a long version, courtesy of Erica from New Zealand the most industrious press officer in London on.... it's amazing..... you know you want to!

BFI Jazz and Film Weekender: Celebrating Ronnie Scott’s at 50

The BFI Southbank is to be transformed into a hub of jazz music, film, and extraordinary archive images of London. From 12-14 June, the BFI will partner with legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s to celebrate its 50 years of jazz excellence, at the BFI Jazz and Film Weekender: Celebrating Ronnie Scott’s at 50.

This event also forms part of the BFI contribution to the Mayor of London’s new cultural initiative Story of London – an exciting month of events that celebrates the history and identity of our wonderful capital city.

The Weekender will see activities for all ages, observing London’s rich musical heritage and its representation in film and television. This programme of free and ticketed events will feature legends past and present, in person and on screen.

Aspiring young film-makers from all around Britain, aged between 11 and 18, are invited to enter the London in Motion film competition. The films will be judged by a celebrity panel including Sally Greene, OBE, Ronnie Scott’s jazz club proprietor and Chief Executive of London’s Old Vic Theatre; legendary jazz musician and composer Sir John Dankworth, CBE; actor Nick Hoult (Tony Stonem in E4 teen drama Skins and recently made his West End debut in the stage adaptation of William Sutcliffe’s novel New Boy); and young actor/writer Daniel Kaluuya (Kenneth and episode writer in Skins, and Barclay in the Easter Doctor Who special Planet of the Dead). Prizes will be awarded and winning films shown during the Weekender.

Throughout the Weekender, there will be live performances by Ronnie Scott’s musicians and budding performers will have a unique opportunity to take part in a two-day Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Youth Workshop culminating in a live set, or in the Friday night Open Jazz Jam that will be led by Ronnie Scott’s musicians. Party-goers can dress up and swing late into the night as we recreate the beat heyday at our 60s Jazz Scene party.

Jazz great Sir John Dankworth, CBE will join us on the Friday night for a Q&A after a screening of Joseph Losey’s Accident (1967), for which Dankworth composed the score. Dankworth will also be appearing onstage in the British Jazz Greats 1 programme in NFT1 to introduce a screening of Jazz on Four: 4 Up 2 Down (1983), which features Dankworth performing live with his Quintet. Dankworth’s talents as a composer can also be heard on the lush be-bop influenced soundtracks of two other classic Losey movies that screen over the Weekender – The Criminal (1960) and The Servant (1963). We will also be screening rare archive television footage of old jazz friends Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone (both filmed live at Ronnie’s), Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, as well as home-grown talent like Stan Tracey, Courtney Pine, Humphrey Lyttleton and John Dankworth.

There will be free screenings of London archive film in our plush Studio cinema; and visitors will also have the opportunity to be the first to experience our brand new Big Smoke touring archive programme, which will be accompanied by an exciting new jazz score performed live. Visitors can also create their own original film, using footage from the BFI National Archive, as we introduce our new online editing resource, Cutting Room. Cutting Room will soon be available to all internet users through the BFI's unique online education resource, Screenonline: At BFI IMAX, film aficionados can put their knowledge to the test in our friendly London Film Quiz.

Throughout the Weekender, there will be live jazz performances over leisurely brunches and during warm summer evenings, as diners are offered meals and drinks deals to cater for all tastes.

There is a wealth of activities for families – children will be able to take part in film-making workshops, learn and perform song and dance routines, and enjoy lively London dress-ups and other free activities. Also on offer is the Film Funday, a monthly BFI event offering a Sunday of film fun for all of the family. The Film Funday screening is Carol Reed’s Oliver! (1968), the Oscar-winning take on the classic Dickens novel. For more, see Notes to Editors.
There are also many London-themed activities for children – they can write their own London storyboard for a film and enter it into our I Love London competition; and, taking inspiration from London’s famous landscapes, they can create a brand new building or transport system for Londoners, then bring them to life in our animation workshops.

Throughout BFI Southbank, there will be rare archive film and television footage of jazz greats, and of our capital city, in the Mediatheque, on the big screen, and in events across the venue.


About London in Motion film competition
Aspiring young film-makers from all around Britain, aged between 11 and 18 years, are invited to submit a short film (under three minutes) depicting London as a vibrant city in perpetual movement; a film that captures the sights, sounds and spirit of London.

The film could take inspiration from any of London’s sights – tubes, trains, shoppers, skaters, bikers, drivers, hoppers, joggers, jumpers, dancers, jugglers – anything that shows the pace, vitality and character of an extraordinary city on the move.

The films will be judged by a celebrity panel including Sally Greene, OBE, Ronnie Scott’s jazz club proprietor and Chief Executive of London’s Old Vic Theatre; legendary jazz musician and composer Sir John Dankworth, CBE; actor Nick Hoult (Tony Stonem in E4 teen drama Skins and recently made his West End debut in the stage adaptation of William Sutcliffe’s novel New Boy); and young actor/writer Daniel Kaluuya (Kenneth and episode writer in Skins, and Barclay in the Easter Doctor Who special Planet of the Dead).

The awards ceremony will take place during the BFI Jazz and Film Weekender and will be hosted by Iyare Igiehon, popular breakfast DJ with BBC black music digital radio station, 1Xtra.

The winning film will have a fantastic opportunity to have a new soundtrack scored and recorded by Ronnie Scott's Artistic Director, James Pearson. This soundtrack will be performed live by the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Band at the BFI Jazz and Film Weekender, accompanying a showing of the winning film. This film will also receive BFI support to enter into short film and young people’s film festivals, and a copy of the film will also be placed for posterity in the BFI National Archive, joining hundreds of thousands of other titles that make up Britain’s rich screen heritage.

The top five competition winners will have their films shown during the BFI Jazz and Film Weekender. These films will also feature on digital screens across London and will have stills from their film on display at City Hall – all supported by the Mayor of London.

The competition closes on 29 May. Entrants can find more information and download an entry form at


BFI Jazz and Film Weekender – film screenings

Screenings include

Jazz 625: The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet (1966), introduced by Humphrey Lyttleton

Chet Baker at Ronnie Scott’s (1988), the last film of Chet Baker playing before his untimely death, where he is interviewed by Elvis Costello

Ella Fitzgerald Swings (BBC 1965), featuring the grande dame herself in concert with the Oscar Peterson Trio and the Tommy Flanagan Trio

Oscar Peterson: Words and Music with Ella Fitzgerald (1980) showcases the old standards, with the perfect combination of Ella and Oscar

The Late Shift: Nina Simone Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1988) sees Charlie Gillett and Viviene Goldman discussing the place of Nina Simone in the jazz lexicon

Show of the Week: Louis Armstrong and His All Stars (1968) is a fantastically preserved colour recording with Armstrong performing as bandleader, trumpeter and singer.

Several films directed by Joseph Losey

Films with a jazz theme or soundtrack: The Intimate Stranger (1956), The Sleeping Tiger (1954), and Blind Date (1959) (with a score composed by Richard Rodney Bennett).

Scenes set in the capital abound in these movies (with even the Oxford-set Accident boasting a memorable trip to the capital involving the BBC and a night of adultery), with locations ranging from Chelsea and Kensington, King’s Cross and Heathrow, to Merton Park Studios and Wandsworth Prison.

Mediatheque programmes throughout the Weekender

Visitors will be able to come to the Mediatheque at BFI Southbank and watch, completely for free, hundreds of archive films about London. The London Calling collection has over 300 films featuring the city, with new titles being added all the time. Titles range from pioneer film-maker R.W. Paul’s Blackfriars Bridge (1896) to What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day (2006), co-produced by band Saint Etienne and featuring the Olympic site before the bulldozers moved in.
In June, we are augmenting this city-wide collection with 50 titles from across last century, presenting a fascinating window on life in Lambeth and Southwark. Highlights will include Alexandra Day in Peckham (1913) and The Spirit of Lambeth (1962).

The BFI Southbank Mediatheque is open daily Tuesday 13.00 - 20.00; Wednesday - Sunday 11.00 - 20.00. Book in advance for a viewing station which can seat between one to four people, or simply turn up. Book for as little as 15 minutes or as much as two hours. Tel: 020 7928 3535 or simply turn up. Visitors can research what they would like to view in advance at:

Jazz in June season at the BFI

In the 50th anniversary year of Ronnie Scott’s , the BFI throughout the month of June presents a tribute to jazz, and to the extraordinary range of talents who have performed within the club’s walls. This season of jazz from the television archives showcases an eclectic mix of the best jazz performances, as well as seminal documentaries to place those performers in context. Many of the performances, such as those by Nina Simone and Chet Baker, were filmed at Ronnie Scott’s, while other programmes feature artists who had a strong connection with the club - such as Tubby Hayes, who was on the opening night bill back in 1959. Some have been chosen to represent the preferences of Ronnie Scott himself, as well as the tradition the club maintains for offering as wide a spectrum of jazz as possible.

Documentaries include a newly restored Bernard Braden interview with Ronnie Scott from 1968, as well as the whole of the acclaimed series Jazz Britannia (BBC 2005) which examines the roots of the movement in Soho and tracks the form through to its present-day resurgence. From classic 60s performances by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to more contemporary performances by Chico Freeman and Courtney Pine, there is something for everyone at our Jazz Wednesdays throughout June, and during the Jazz and Film Weekender.


Garbarek for St Paul's Cathedral


Get the echo...

The 23rd of June will have the ethereal saxophone voice of Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble echoing sonorously round St. Paul's Cathedral, as part of the City of London Festival.

Booking is open via the Barbican's website

Festival Director Ian Ritchie talked to me about it. Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard is tried and tested in what Ritchie calls the "particularly grand and awe-inspiring ambiance" of Wren's cathedral. This is third visit by these artists to St Pauls.

Here's the blurb:

"Boldly combining the unique sound of their all-male vocal group with Jan Garbarek's saxophone-playing, the Hilliard Ensemble's Officium programmes have become world-famous.
They return to the magnificant surroundings of St Paul's with a programme of new
material as well as works by two composers who are among the most powerful musical
voices of the north: Scotland's James MacMillan, and Estonia's Arvo Pärt."

Ritchie talked about this year's Festival's theme : 60 degrees North. There are leanings towards the maritime... the Nordic, the Baltic, St Petersburg, Estonia, the Northern Isles of Scotland. (Ritchie is a Scot and Kirkwall and references to "59 and a bit" seemed to pepper our conversation...)

Top price is £30 , but there are also seats for just £5. They will no doubt be in places quite a long way away, seats to just wallow in the sound.. with a friend maybe...shut your eyes..and get that echo.



Sonny Rollins: tickets on sale Tuesday

Serious announce:

The London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3 is delighted to announce the first concert in this year's Festival: jazz legend Sonny Rollins will perform his only UK concert on Saturday 14 November at the Barbican .

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday 28 April".


Got Nige

Gilad Atzmon's Palestine Think Tank Website has announced that Nigel Kennedy and, presumably, his violectra (above) will be at the 606 for the gig in aid of Palestine Medical Relief- see LondonJazz's recommended gigs on the left...Christine Tobin is also in the line-up. Good one!

Click here for the LondonJazz Gilad Atzmon interview


Jazz and US Diplomacy

The Economist has an interesting article about the Americans using jazz for more than half a century as a "secret sonic weapon, " and more recently the Rhythm Road project.
The following paragraph from the article seemed to make a lot of sense:

"Jazz [...] is well-suited to diplomacy. It is collaborative, allowing individuals both to harmonise and play solo—much like a democracy[...]. Jazz is also a reminder of music’s power. It helped break down racial barriers, as enthusiasts of all colours gathered to listen to jazz when segregation was still the law of the land."

Any thoughts? Lessons for the UK??

(Photo credit: Bill Johnson, Greenville, MS)


South Bank Meltdown Festival

Some of the concerts for the South Bank Centre's Meltdown Festival, curated by Ornette Coleman, have been announced. There will be more announced later.

Tickets go on sale to Southbank Centre Members at 10am on Wednesday 29 April.On sale to all at 10am on Thursday 30 April.

Concerts so far announced with a jazz presence are the following

Saturday 13 June
Hip-hop band The Roots with guest David Murray (above) and more
Royal Festival Hall

Saturday 13 June
David Murray & The Gwo-Ka Masters
+ Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Queen Elizabeth Hall

Wednesday 17 June
Bobby McFerrin
Royal Festival Hall

Friday 19 June
Ornette Coleman
: Reflections of The Shape of Jazz to Come
+ Master Musicians of Jajouka
Royal Festival Hall

Saturday 20 June
Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra with guests Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt
+ The Bad Plus
Royal Festival Hall

Sunday 21 June
Ornette Coleman: Reflections of This is Our Music
+ Master Musicians of Jajouka
Royal Festival Hall


Rollins. Not Winston. Not Dennis.... But Sonny. At the LJF in November!

An essay in pictures.

We're talking Rollins.
So it could be this fine player from the Jools Holland Orchestra.

But it isn't Winston Rollins. Or there again it could be this all-round good-guy and massively inspiring musician/performer/educator from Doncaster.

But it isn't Dennis Rollins either. No, we're talking about SONNY ROLLINS. Serious have just announced that tickets for Sonny Rollins London Jazz Festival gig are about to go on sale.

Peter Bacon of thejazzbreakfast has broken the news and the details are HERE


Ronnie Scott's at 50: got any jokes???

The picture above is from just before the opening of Ronnie Scott's club at 39 Gerrard Street in October 1959. It comes from David Taylor's website which is a treasure trove of information about this period.

Here , for example is a good collection of the JOKES.

Here's betting that there will be quite a few more??!!

Where are the jokes?
Send in the jokes!


The financial press looks at Jazz x 2

No link to be made here. An image search for "Financial Times" and "jazz" produced a very random discovery: a company called Jazz, ......and then to follow, a nice article about Ronnie's from today's Financial Times

1) Here's graph of the stock price of Jazz Pharmaceuticals of Palo Alto California (now 60 cents). The origin of the company's name :

Like the musical form that inspired our name… Our company’s name, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, captures our philosophy of excellence in innovation and collaboration as we work together to improve patients’ lives. We are building an environment that values and encourages individual excellence, intensive and productive collaboration and innovation.

But if you're not convinced try this: ....

Jazz has a current product Xyrem which treats narcolepsy, and I'm also reading about pipeline product JZP-7 which treats "restless legs syndrome" (RLS) .

2) A good celebratory piece about the 50th anniversary of Ronnie Scott's by Mike Hobart from today's Financial Times. It draws attention to the strength of the club's May programme. Here's a clipping from it:

Joe Lovano[...] still rates Ronnie’s as being on the same level as New York’s legendary Village Vanguard. “When you play in a room where some of your heroes and masters have played before you, they loom large in that room.”


From the band's Dressing Room at one London venue.....

Anyone know anything about this???
(Photo acknowledgement: Pete Cook)


Laughing till you're horse

A popular section of this site is called "These make me laugh" . It's down on the right. Do check it out. Where, newly posted this week is a curious encounter for an unusual cowboy.

My thanks for this to Cookie-
who is also a blogger - who was blowing up a storm on alto the other night in Barnes.


Everybody Digs Mark Lockheart

It's what you'd call all-round impressive. Not just Mark Lockheart as tenor player/composer/teacher/in-demand- member of many bands....
but the material Edition Records have put together to support the release of his first album as leader since 2005. It's due out at the end of May. Listen to the Podcast interview, on the Edition Records website. Tells you a lot about the (modest) man, the player, the music- there are sound clips in the background.

And then try this assessment of what level Lockheart plays at:

"Were Lockheart living in New York, he'd likely be a part of the circle that includes Binney, saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist Adam Rogers, and bassist Scott Colley. That's recommendation enough for jazz fans outside the UK to step beyond their own defined circles and check out a player as contemporary and significant as any of his American counterparts", review of Moving Air (Basho, 2005)

Saxophonist/Composer Mark Lockheart is one of those busy, busy ubiquitous talismans (talismen?) of excellent playing on the London Scene. In his early twenties he was a member of Loose Tubes (1984-90).
Check out the current gig schedule at - he's involved with many different bands. eg the Norma Winstone and Nikki Iles Printmakers project (still without a London date...)
I very much like the look of these two:

7th May , 7.30pm.
Trinity College Contemporary Jazz Ensemble , Blackheath Concert Halls.
A special concert featuring the music of Maria Schneider and Vince Mendoza, directed by Mark Lockheart
. £8
and with those album clips fresh in the mind:

26th May, 8.30pm
Mark Lockheart Group, ( Liam Noble, Dave Priseman, Jasper Hoiby, Dave Smith)
Pizza Express, Dean Street,
CD launch night


Gwilym and Jamie in unlikely places

Undeniable fact: Jazz piano players can literally crop up anywhere......


Cullum reports on his Twitter page today that he has just landed in Addis Ababa (famous for its blue Lada taxis above) , working with UNICEF. Sounds like the start of an adventure....


Simcock is doing high-profile gigs, e.g. performing his piano concerto with the NDR Big Band in Bremen this weekend in the closing gig of Jazzahead.

But you will also find him....on this Myspace page.....with a singer Gracie Patton who seems to have sadly died in Indiana in 1998. Uh?


REVIEW: Ron Carter/ Ronnie Scott's

Ron Carter (above) stands tall. Approaching his seventy-second birthday, he exudes calm, statesmanlike* authority. Last night - his third and final date this year at Ronnie Scott's - his gentle art brought a completely packed club to a state of reverent, rapt attention.

A Ron Carter gig might just be the best leadership seminar some people could ever attend.
In management jargon you would call his leadership style reflective. There's a radio interview on his official site, in which he describes himself simply, modestly, as "a nice guy, a bass player with a car."

He quietly explained to the audience last night what he enjoys about running the band : you can pick the sidemen you play with, "I like them, they are also my friends," .. you pick the tunes, you write the cheques....

The band of friends which Carter has chosen consists of people with contrasting physical presences on the bandstand.

Carter himself holds centre stage, looking down. He lays down stentorian time with the bass, he holds a melodic line, he tells the kind of story which repays patient listening. Carter has all the qualities which he praises in that other father figure of the jazz bass, "Pops", Ray Brown, in the same radio interview on his official site. As with Brown, so with Carter: you feel the importance which both of them bring to the bass line, the bass sound, the bass presence.

The only other member of the quartet who stands -rather than sits- is diminutive bald Puerto Rican percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos. Surrounded by a paraphernalia of gongs, congas, bells and chimes, Morales-Matos plays the role of a hyperactive loose cannon. He jumps around rebelling against the story-line, kicking it into constant life. His culminating moment came in a routine in the final number "You and the Night and the Music," in which he did a homage to tap dancing on congas. However, any tap dancer witnessing the agility and invention of Morales-Matos' hands could well have been questioning his or her career choice.

Seated at the piano, broad-shouldered Stephen Scott has always been a genius at provoking interplay. The 90's album "Parker's Mood" with Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride was a triumph of cunning and articulate dialogue. This side of his playing is absolutely all there. But maybe the presence of Carter the patriarch forces Scott into the role of young prankster. One of the many London musicians who have heard him this week dubbed him "quote city." His imagination encompasses everything from Concierto de Aranjuez to La Cucaracha to Bill Withers' "Aint No Sunshine," with many resting places between.

The fourth member, Payton Crossley on drums, seated at the back, is utterly solid, with an exceptionally clean beat. He seemed frequently to look on in joyous disbelief and amused surprise at the lunacies and jinx of his colleagues.

The support band, James Pearson's trio with Arnie Somogyi and Clark Tracey, had guest Paul Booth on tenor. This group shone in the quieter numbers: Booth found an ideal tempo for a lyrical account of Johnny Mandel's EmilyHis husky, breathy lower register both caught the ear, and captured the audience's attention, in Gershwin's Embraceable You.

It was fantastic to see Ronnie's full, buzzing last night. People in all parts of the club were swaying in time, just out for a good evening, but also attentive and quiet when it mattered. Rob Mallows' London Jazz Meetup group were also out in force last night- no fewer than fifteen members had booked for Ron Carter, the online membership of the group now approaches 500 people. London can be unwelcoming place for foreigners, and Mallows and his cohort are doing a great job, showing people the friendliest side of our city.

For them, and for the full house at Ronnie's it was a joy and a privilege to see and hear Ron Carter last night, in every sense one of the giants of jazz.


*Statesmanship in the US is associated with height: Abraham Lincoln was 6'4", George Washington was 6' 3 1/2", Barack Obama is 6' 1 1/2"


McPartland honoured (2)

Photo from the 14th April celebration of Marian McPartland's 30 years presenting National Public Radio's Piano Jazz (list of all the piano luminaries who attended is in a previous post) . McPartland (right) was presented with a lifetime achievement medal from the Musicians' Company by John Escreet (left).


The Con Fest 2009 and a deal for LondonJazz readers

New Zealand/ New York bassist Matt Penman from SF Jazz Collective

I spoke to trumpeter/ promoter Richard Turner about the three night festival he is running at the Con Cellar Bar this weekend.

-Turner has been running gigs at the Con since 2006, and this is a richly-deserved celebration.
-Music is from 9pm to 1am.
-The venue is by the canal in Camden Town.
-You'll be up close to some exciting music: the capacity is just eighty people.
-It's cheap! Admission on Saturday for a triple bill of exciting young UK bands is £5. It's £10 for the international bands on the other two nights.

-And here's a deal:Turner tells me that if you email
or text him on 07830 255 958 LondonJazz readers can get all three nights for £20.

Saturday Triple Bill
Hannes Riepler Quartet with Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone) Calum Gourlay (bass) and Dave Smith (drums)

Round Trip featuring Richard Turner himself on trumpet

Troyka Kit Downes(Keyboards) Chris Montague (Guitar) and Josh Blackmore (Drums). (See a great promotional video at Edition Records)

Sunday 26th April ‘Root 70′
Nils Wogram - Trombone
Hayden Chisholm - Alto Saxophone
Matt Penman - Bass
Jochen Rueckert - Drums

Monday 27th April
Will Vinson Trio featuring Michael Janisch on bass and special guest Jason Palmer.(Palmer is a Boston-based trumpeter who works with Greg Osby and Ravi Coltrane).


British jazz goes to Bremen

This coming weekend (23-26 April) is the main trade fair/mini- festival/ gathering/showcase for European Jazz. It's called Jazzahead and it takes place in Bremen - around a Culture Centre called the Schlachthof (above), which means slaughterhouse or abattoir. Yup. Some jazz people indeed do have a (metaphorical) tendency to get slaughtered on such occasions.

Jazzahead is in its fourth year, and is growing. Last year there were a hundred exhibitors, and the only Brit was Christine Allen of Basho. This year, thanks to industrious people like Allen - again - and Joe Paice of Jazz Services, there is much more of a presence. Which can only be good news for our jazz scene.

Two UK artists are featured headliners at the mini-festival of public concerts, which attracts an audience reaching into the thousands.

-Norma Winstone's trio with Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier are in that. Winstone is also going to receive an award, the Skoda Prize. "This one actually has money with it," she told me gleefully on the phone last week.

-The final concert will be from Gwilym Simcock and the NDR Big Band. It will feature the piano concerto whoch the NDR have commissioned from Simcock, and which is being performed in several venues in Germany this summer.

There is also a quick turnaround showcase for all the promoters attending. Maybe only German organizers would fix start times for bands just 20 minutes apart (!) This showcase has appearances by:

-the Huw Warren Trio

- Brass Jaw from Scotland featuring Ryan Quigley (trumpet) Paul Towndrow (alto sax) and Konrad Wiszniewski (tenor sax)

-the Arun Ghosh sextet featuring Shabaka Hutchings (tenor sax)

-Portico Quartet

A bit of background: Paice organized a British showcase in Jan'08 at the International Association of Jazz Educators' (IAJE) in Toronto. IAJE is no more, and as Paice tells me this absence has implications for Bremen: there will be a lot more non-Europeans, and Americans in particular, at Jazzahead this year, and Paice's guess is that - if they are clocking the European jazz scene for the first time - they will be "surprised by its strength and confidence."

I'm always impressed that Paice as organizer (and also as pianist!) always has another trick up his sleeve: "Do you know about Rochester?" he asked me.

I was about to put my phone in the drawer (that's a joke) while he talked about the delights of the Medway. But I realized in the nick of time that he was talking about the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in upstate New York, where with the support of Arts Council England he has another showcase coming up. Loads of Great British musicians. Check out the link, and you'll see what I mean!

These showcases, this presence at international events helps to get the word out: the UK, and London in particular does have the most vibrant jazz scene in Europe. Initiatives like this are breaking new ground. Joe is setting the Paice. (Groan).


National Jazz Archive at 21- take the quiz

Q. Where is the National Jazz Archive (NJA)

A. It is in Loughton Library (above) , Traps Hill, Town Centre, Loughton, Essex, IG10 1HD. The archivist is David Nathan ( and the number for the switchboard of Loughton Library is 020 8502 0181.

Q. Why there?

A. I think it's because Digby Fairweather who got it off the ground 21 years ago had worked for Essex Libraries and persuaded them it was a good idea to host it. As NJA Newsletter editor Dave Gelly writes: "If it hadn't been for Digby [..] we wouldn't be there.

Q. When is their next event

A. It's a gig by Bone Supremacy at the 100 Club on Thursday Lunchtime May 28th, a tribute to the much-missed Campbell Burnap.

Q. What else is happening at the NJA?

-They received a Project Planning Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in May 2008 to employ s specialist to prepare a full bid to "transform the Archive into a 21st Century National Resource."

-Outreach work led by Graham Langley, with partners such as the RSAMD in GLasgow, UEA in Norwich, Brunel University and others is growing rapidly in significance.

Q. What's the buzz?
A. I pick up a mood of optimism that the NJA will be successful in its bid. Here's wishing you well, this is a really important resource.


Jazzelation - Interview with Kevin Armstrong

Jazzelation (above) is a surprise. It is a band which has recently emerged from the Oxford scene. It involves some fine players. The band has just produced a CD , Spring Is Such a Beautiful Thing. This CD was launched at the fledgling Oxford Jazz Festival on Easter Saturday.

So, what's surprising about it, then? What surprised me was to find music so chock-full of irrepressible hope and simple optimism.

This is Britain… this is 2009….we’re supposed to be- no, we are - in recession….surely we are all completely mogadonned, cudgelled by the bad news flow? Surely gloom and negativity are now so solidly hip, they won’t need to be replaced for many years to come?

Well , Jazzelation is the kind of music which sidesteps all the gloom. With its omni-present theme of renewal and hope, with its inspiration coming variously from the rhythm of the changing seasons, from English hymn tunes, and, according to the project's instigator, guitarist/ songwriter Kevin Armstrong, above all from the musicians who play on the album.... it flies in the face of despondency.

When I met Kevin Armstrong, I was curious to find out was where his optimism actually stems from. "Are you religious?” I asked him.

His answer was quiet, thoughtful, determined, unfazed:

"Not really. I don’t think people like being preached at. Yes, I love gospel music, I love Sufi music. But culturally, I'm a jazz musician. I hate playing things which are going to be the same every night. But I also want music to mean something. And for a long time before the rehearsals and recording sessions I was waiting for the thrill of hearing the band bringing these tunes to life."

Armstrong talked to me about the difficulty of fitting the project into a genre... jazz , gospel, pop tunes….. in the final analysis, the Jazzelation project is deeply uncategorizable.

That hasn't stopped a website devoted to Christian music calling it variously "Jazz Gospel" and "Jazz Ministry." Armstrong and I both came to the conclusion that if the official Jazz Police met, they would eventually pronounce that Jazzelation isn't jazz at all. And we were certain that any similar Gospel Police would banish it straight away because it isn't Christian music either.

"A lot of jazz musicians wouldn't have wanted to play this. It's not knowing, it's not sophisticated or cutting-edge. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to burn through bebop heads any night of the week. But for this project I needed musicians happy playing simple music."

I noticed that the Jazzelation website mentioned the inspiration of Miles Davis and Mahalia Jackson. But when I met Armstrong what we mostly talked about was his inspiration from the English Hymnal.

A very good example of this process at work is Track 5 on the album “Some time soon.” I had listened to it a few times before I met Armstrong. He told me that there is a “background” hymn tune here, John Ireland’s “Love Unknown.

I confessed to him that hadn’t picked up that reference. And it made me realise that Armstrong hasn’t just cribbed or lifted this easter hymn like Coldplay did in “The Message.” He’s internalized it, filtered it in over a long period. And then , in performance and in recording, has allowed it to be a vehicle for things to happen. “ I wanted the album to have a live feel.”

The end of Track 5 - here's a CLIP of it - has that feel. Singer Alison Bentley goes up through the gears and finds real energy in this tune, supported by Pete Whittaker on Hammond.

Armstrong talked to me with emotion about listening to the playback of that track for the first time. The process of thinking about and working on the compositions had been very long. So he was genuinely moved by what the other musicians had brought to the recording. And other comments he has had have all been from people who found themslves moved by the live gig in Oxford and by the CD..

Among those other musicians, Pete Whittaker on Hammond is an impeccable player who always brings huge character to the instrument. Another key collaborator is Raph Mizraki. A quick Google of Mizrahi reveals him- in a lengthy Jamie Cullum biography- to have been the bassist on Cullum's original student-loan-financed 1999 album "Heard it All Before". Mizraki is an interesting bass player, in fact he plucks much else besides: in world music the oud, in baroque music the lute, plus he plays piano and orchestral percussion. The horn soloists , Matt Holland from Van Morrison's band and Andor Jensen are fine players, and well recorded. Paul Cavaciuti on drums has both a precision and an invention which are ideal for this date. Chris Fletcher’s contribution on percussion is....uniquely Chris Fletcher’s.

Ken Burns in Jazz in Time alludes to the role of jazz in the American depression of the 1930’s:

“Jazz, which had always thrived in adversity and come to symbolize a certain kind of American freedom, would be called upon to lift the spirits and raise the morale of a frightened country. And in the process, it would begin to break down the barriers that had separated Americans from each other for centuries.”

Seven decades later, maybe Oxford, the city of dreaming spires has produced music which can help to dispel the similar gloom afflicting Britain.

(This profile of Jazzelation also appears at, from where the CD is available.)


Steve Gray (1944-2008)

Tomorrow, Saturday 18th April, would have been the 65th birthday of one of the unsung VERY greats of British music, arranger/composer/ pianist Steve Gray.

"Steve Gray is the finest jazz band arranger of his generation."
Thad Jones

"His modesty hid his extensive contribution to modern music"
John Fordham - (Guardian obituary)

His Requiem for Big Band and Chorus and a Piazzola album are available from Skip Records of Hamburg. His guitar concerto on EMI dedicated to long-time collaborator John Williams is also available. Gray worked extensively in his last years with the NDR Big Band and with Abdullah Ibrahim.

I understand the Royal Academy of Music may have a concert in preparation?????

I will do whatever I can to support any initiative to help get Steve Gray's music better known. I therefore welcome tributes, memories, and any news of initiatives getting off the ground.So please add comments and news.


Into the cool!

Two British musicians who get star billing in Russia- complete with their names in cyrillic script to prove it!

As Russia emerges day by day from the icy grip of COOL is that. Na zdorovje!


NEWS: McPartland honoured in New York

The career of Marian McPartland -see a well-made, informative and affectionate video tribute to herabove - was celebrated at Club Dizzy's Coca Cola (please can someone enlighten me where that name comes from?!) in New York last night. The event celebrated her 30 years presenting Piano Jazz on National Public Radio in the US. McPartland is now 91, and originally hails from Windsor Berkshire.

The Preview in JazzTimes says that the following were exected to attend:

Karrin Allyson, Kenny Barron, Joanne Brackeen, John Bunch, Jackie Cain, Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Dena DeRose, Taylor Eigsti, Kurt Elling, Laurence Hobgood, Grace Kelly, Mulgrew Miller, Arturo O'Farrill, Renee Rosnes, Daryl Sherman, Grady Tate, Kenny Werner and Randy Weston.

As if that weren't enough as ever ultra-reliable sources tell me....... there were also two Brits in the room....

- One, a long time ago, came from Battersea. Yes, the great George Shearing was there. The organizers weren't sure if he would make it, but he did. Shearing will be 90 this August.

-From Doncaster, and from a much younger generation, John Escreet. He gave a speech as he proudly presented a Lifetime Achievement award to McPartland on behalf of the Musicians' Company.

This music unites and unifies generations like no other. Discuss. Or- better- just enjoy.


REVIEW: Paul Clarvis and Liam Noble/ Vortex

Both Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis are fully equipped and seasoned professionals , at the top of their respective games as pianist and percussionist. They are permanently in demand in any number of contexts. But the Starry Starry Night duo project seems special, personal to both of them. This was a very happy gig.

I had found the CD addictive. It has received a lot of attention and got some deservedly very good reviews. (It is also available on LIMITED EDITON VINYL, I hear good reports of that too!)

But, as ever, the live experience proved more complete. Not only because it delivered to the listener/viewer a good sense of how the interplay of Noble's and Clarvis' contrasting personalities works. But above all because the live experience brought out the particular humour and laughter which a musical friendship at this level of attainment can bring.

The contrast was there from the moment the two took the stand. Clarvis talked about the opening number: Ellington's Mood Indigo. But it wasn't just talk. He also sang the monotone third trumpet part to Mood Indigo, which he remembered note-for-note from his days as a youngster in the Silver Street, Enfield, Boys Brigade band. And he didn't just sing. He also fixed his now regular collaborator, trumpet great Henry Lowther, with a smile as he did so. It was a poignant moment, revealing the journey travelled. "That's why I gave up the trumpet," said Clarvis, the smile still fixed on Lowther.

And then the music started. A slow number like this finds Noble completely absorbed in his phenomenal craft. He doesn't always go for eye contact on the stand. But he has a unique way of completely inhabiting a tune, of communicating from deep inside it, of re-inventing its twists and turns from within it. This opening number found him at his most thoughtful and Bill Evansish, while Clarvis' fluid and creative brushwork had every bit of the infinite subtlety of a Joey Baron or a Paul Motian.

But I want to return to my thought about Noble's and Clarvis' thorough-going professionalism, which for me was the hallmark of the evening. These two know from experience, in their very different ways, how to pull in the attention of an audience.

I know I shall hold in the memory the unique experience of having heard a Professor of pianoforte from Birmingham Conservatoire- on Steinway- and a Professor of percussion from the Royal Academy of Music -on spoons- skipping their way through the Country Waltz from "Brother Where Art Thou."

But above all I shall hold in my mind from last night at the Vortex the faces of two small children accompanied by their parents. Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag had both of them completely captivated. They were smiling, and I sensed that without all those grown-ups around, both of their young faces would have burst out into laughter.

This music, live, played by professionals such as Noble and Clarvis who put their hearts and souls into it, has communicative power, joy and humour. Maybe grown-ups get in the way, and it takes a six year-old to understand such things.


Diggin' Wanstead

Digby Fairweather (above left, with me) , a good friend and one of the most generous spirits in British jazz, was on the phone to me. We always talk about all sorts of things....but this evening we chatted about something different coming up.
Follow this link to an event at Wanstead Library with the National Jazz Archive's archivist David Nathan. It's at 7pm on Monday 27 April at:

Wanstead Library,
Spratt Hall Road,
Wanstead, E11 2RQ.

Nathan has a very quirky dry sense of humour. Dig is a very great raconteur - a VERY experienced broadcaster..- with a huge fund of stories. The two will have fun together, spinning some CD's , telling stories. For example about the people Dig's worked with over the years - G Melly , H Lyttelton, Alex Welsh, life on the road, the good old days and the more recent ones....

It will be a very convivial evening. And all for just a fiver. It's going in the list of gigs; nice to be stretching definitions!


Review: China Moses/ Ronnie Scott's

LA-born, Paris-raised China Moses is a completely electrifying live performer. I would urge anyone who is unwillingly facing the prospect of a quiet Tuesday evening indoors this week, to head straight for Ronnies at 7.30pm, to catch Moses, fresh off Eurostar for her first outing here, for the second of two dates.

My pre-gig homework had informed me that Moses, the daughter of Dee Dee Bridgewater, has a day-job as a presenter for MTV France. And my rapid glance at the earnest, left-leaning Nouvel Observateur had let me know that, after previous outings as an R & B/hiphop singer, her decision to concentrate her energies now on a Dinah Washington tribute had been a "surprise très agréable" and that she has "une voix idéale" for jazz and blues.

But that is only part of the story. She was straight down to business from the very first number, "Fine, fine daddy." She attacked the song with energy and precision. Then, during the instrumental solos, she strutted, danced, her hips swaying with the backbeat on four-inch heels.

Her trio tonight consisted of her regular accompanist from Paris Raphael Lemonnier, impeccably suited, yet well matched, plus two carefully-chosen Brits capable of swinging hard: Mark Hodgson on bass and Rod Youngs on drums.

I remember videos of Ella Fitzgerald slapping her left hip on the backbeat. Moses has an acute sense of time too, but her method is to hold on to her right hip, and to bandlead or hold the microphone with the left. It seemed nothing short of a miracle that while the rest of her body was gyrating incessantly and forcibly in time, she could keep her head at a more or less constant distance from the microphone. Her voice delivered muscularity, drive, punch and real character throughout the heavier numbers. Yet in quieter songs such as "Blue Gardenia" she proved capable of an affecting lightness, concentration and musicality.

Between numbers she wisecracked raunchily with the band, and also, separately with the men and with the women in the audience, particularly in her preamble to Dinah Washington's anthem to love handles, "Fat Daddy." With this number, and in an even lower-down and dirtier "Teach me Tonight" she completely won over an audience, who started whooping and cheering and baying for more.

Children of singers can be cowed by the example of their parents. Steve Torme, son of Mel, admits on a Youtube clip that he can only ever hope to be half as good as his dad. Jacqui Dankworth, a wonderful singer, often seems to feel a need to validate her credentials as a musician. Moses has none of this uncertainty, and just delivers. She told me that her mother's live albums, particularly "Live at Yoshi's" are her favourites.

Moses has imbibed her mother's platform-craft. She can sock it to the audience. Tonight she did, with complete conviction. And with professionalism and stature which can only grow.


How will you be celebrating Record Store Day?

Ray's Jazz at Foyles (above)

I am alerted by Tom Moon's"1,000 recordings to hear before you die" site... that it is Record Store Day this Saturday 18th.

There is also a piece in the Guardian about it, with some killing stats:

"Over a quarter of the UK's independent music stores went out of business last year, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association. In the record store heyday of the 1980s there were 2,200 stores; by 1994 there were 1,200. Today only 305 remain."

And for those for whom the thought of record stores makes them nostalge rather than
number-crunch.... try thislengthy memory-rake about Charing Cross Road. Or just have a taste of it!

"Like Rauschenberg’s work, the Charing Cross Road has never seemed to be a jumble, it always seems to fall into place, have a compositional form."

If I can get to it, I think my best way of celebrating Record Store Day will be to get to the Vortex for Six Strings and the Beat with Phil Robson, and buy something from Oliver Weindling's new by-appointment record store venture...
Or for once
stay in and watch the jazz on BBC4..

But something tells me a LondonJazz reader will have an as-good if not better idea of how to celebrate?


Sounds to Chill to, from Brian Blain

I do like the look of Brian Blain's Thursday evening gigs for May and June. They are at Lauderdale House in Highgate (above) Great acoustic, nice place for a summer night. The room is quite long and thin, so it's worth getting there early. Blain is a very experienced promoter who knows the London scene as well as anyone.

The details are in Lauderdale House's very, er, tasteful red-and-pink brochure
featuring the wonderful Tina May and an open-mouthed smile...

Here are the dates (start time 8.30pm, admission £9)

7th May Pete Churchill Trio (Steve Watts (b) and Dave Wickins(dr) ) with Bobby Wellins (tenor sax).
The unique Wellins tenor sound is uniquely memorable in this acoustic.

21st May Georgia Mancio (vocals) with John Pearce (p), Julie Walkington (b), Dave Ohm (dr)
Mancio drifts naturally into singing very well in both Italian and Portuguese.

28th May Dave Newton (p) with Andy Cleyndert (b) and Steve Brown (dr) )

4th June TOKYO SISTERS : Tina May (vocals) , Nikki Iles (p) - the regualr duo joined by Karen Sharp (saxes). (I confess to being baffled by the name of this very classy band from.....Kings Rangrey in Hertfordshire)

Drifting away from jazz I also would put a word in for cellist Frederique Legrand and her French programme on Sunday April 26th at 11.30am. Legrand is a super young cellist - I heard her absolutely shine in a conductorless Stravinsky Apollon Musagete. Legrand defies stuffy classical orthodoxy by appearing regularly in a band called Outside Royalty, and maybe the fact that she is rhythmically far stronger and assertive and less mousy than a lot of young cellists has something to do with that.


BBC Jazz output-another GREAT Saturday 18th....Any thoughts?

On the BBC Jazz Message board, a boardee , or poster, or whatever one calls such people, Nico Morrison writes:

"Next Saturday 18th April will be a good day for jazz lovers but on BBC TV4, not on radio:
8pm: The Charlie Parker Story
11pm: The Jazz Baroness (Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, above, with Bud Powell)

But Morrison also has a few points to make......

There seems to be nowhere to discuss the beeb's lamentable paucity of jazz, nor to celebrate when it very occasionally getsd it right. For TV Jazz it seems that only a single board, "Points of View" covers this as a sort of catchall.
Why are there no BBC jazz blogs? The place for in-depth extended writing & linking ..... nothing to be seen - very sad.
I celebrate the jazz programmes above - I despair of seeing their kind more than once a year.

And I despair of adequate blog or message board coverage - amazed this little corner hasn't been axed."

I wrote alongvery similar lines in a previous post.

Any thoughts????


"Musicians simply have to work to get better." Dave Douglas

Just a nice, positive and thoughtful piece of writing from Dave Douglas's blog about the "dedication, perseverance and honesty" which go into creating an individual voice. He should know....

I'm looking forward to Cheltenham on May 3rd. According to his schedule it's the only UK date.

"I was sitting in a café yesterday and a recording of Chet Baker came on. Man, I love the way he played! I always have. And I thought to myself: I play the same instrument, but I don't sound anything like Chet. I don't think I could if I tried. Not for lack of practice--it's just not who I am.

A musician has to work hard to sound like anything at all. Just to get a decent sound out of a horn is, to be honest, several years' work, even for the most naturally gifted players. I could be wrong, but I'd venture that goes for any instrument--acoustic, electric, or electronic.

If a person is going to work that hard to play music, at some point he or she has to choose what to work on. Decisions are made about that practice material, especially in the most intense years of work, when the so-called rudiments have been dealt with. (I say so-called rudiments because every professional musician I know, save one, still practices the basics every day). It's a formative time, and a player finds a unique path based on those choices.

But no matter what musicians work on, they are still endowed with their own body and with their own life experience. Whether they aspire to sheer originality or to carbon copying kind of doesn't matter. At the end of the day, they are going to sound like themselves--part of playing music is facing up to that reality. Not that it's a limitation; there are always infinitely deeper layers to be discovered. But everything one works on, no matter how rote, no matter how repetitive, no matter how creative and transgressive, is ultimately going to be a reflection of oneself. Musicians simply have to work to get better.

Whether or not a musician chooses to strive for an original voice, they are going to remain who they are as long as they continue to work with dedication, perseverance, and honesty.

The paradox is that if you can only sound like yourself, then there's no way you can be anything but original


BBC /JRR - The Guardian in praise of Geoffrey Smith

The Guardian has given over its third editorial to a complaint that the highly knowledgeable, ace presenter Geoffrey Smith (above) - who doubles as Country Life's opera critic - has had to give over his 5pm spot today opera from the Met.

I take the view that the damage was done before.... I was very disappointed when Jazz Line-up was moved permanently from Saturday afternoon to the horrible time of around midnight on a Sunday/Monday.

The full text from the Guardian follows :

"Teatime tonight will be lacking something important for the thousands for whom part of the evening ritual is Jazz Record Requests on Radio 3 at 5pm. Unhappily, in recent months the BBC has been messing JRR about, running it at unsettling times such as 8pm, halving its outings, or even, as today, dropping it to accommodate opera. This has ruined the pattern of a programme that has been running for 45 years. The formula could hardly be simpler. There is a knowledgable presenter: the first was Humphrey Lyttelton, who so often in life seemed indispensable but in this case was not, since Steve Race and the late Peter Clayton kept it going in the same spirit. It is now in the care of the quirky American former jazz drummer Geoffrey Smith. He plays what the listeners ask for, and fortunately the listeners ask for everything from the most obvious Armstrong and Ellington to artists you have barely heard of. He tells you a bit about the group and the context, but he does not blather on. The result is a dependable mixture of artists and music you know and others you might wish to explore. Last week it offered a characteristic mixture of Ellington, Beiderbecke, Oscar and Ella along with names you may have needed to note down. Today, in its place, comes The Valkyrie live from the Met in New York. Wagner fans, who can feel as deprived as any jazz fan, will cheer. But having got the mixture right for so many years, the BBC should bend every sinew to see that JRR stays in its rightful place. "

UPDATE: Alyn Shipton has written to me :

"The continuous jazz programming on Saturdays goes back before Jazz Lineup to Jazz File, and it has continued after it with Jazz Library. There's been a "jazz zone" as R3 calls it on Saturday afternoons from 4pm for around 10 years. Normally it's still 2 hours.
Jazz Library is off next week to make room for JRR.


Music from an earlier Elizabethan era- for a change

A break from jazz. My old college chum Harry Christophers - as a pair we used to get completely thrashed at pool in a filthy pub on the Holloway Road - was out directing the "Lamentations of Jeremiah" Robert White(c. 1538 – 1574). White was choirmaster at Ely (above).....

The concert was at King's Place on Friday. The sustained lines of Elizabethan polyphony; singers , just one voice to a part, blending superbly, but also bringing out the crunching dissonances; definitely helped by the King's Place acoustic at its best.... the whole thing was mind-blowing.

Others sing this renaissance music. The Tallis Scholars...the Hilliard Ensemble also perform it like Christophers' group, one-to-a-part.... but I'm wondering if Christophers' younger singers aren't now pushing the technical and expressive bar ever higher, allowing this music, nearly 500 years old, to finally speak in all its powerful simplicity.

I was curious to read a good review of a CD the Lamentations, of all places, on the Allaboutjazz website.

These days Dr. Harry Christophers has big conducting jobs in Boston , Madrid and Manchester. Just as well: we were seriously crap at pool.


More Jazz on TV Saturday night..if you can find it

As I wrote in a previous post , it takes the instinct of a professional sleuth or stalker to track down all the jazz on the BBC.

Tonight the schedules of BBC4 have :
20:30 Jazz Goes to College
21:20 1959: The Year that Changed Jazz...
23:15 Smokey Dives
00:15 1959: The Year that Changed Jazz...

"Jazz goes to college" is 1960's footage of Stan Getz's quartet of Gary Burton, Steve Swallow and Roy Haynes at the London School of Economics (we might dream it was from 2009...)

1959... is the documenary first shown last week.

Smokey Dives is a 2001 documentary about post-war Britain, the trads and the beboppers.

My sleuthing has alerted me to comments about these programmes on the Organissimo jazz forum

If only the BBC's silo-ization didn't make this stuff so damned hard to track down!


A Blogger Blagging it

I'm looking forward to sitting in for a couple of numbers with my friend, and one of the real gents of British jazz, trumpeter Digby Fairweather (above centre) . Pizza Express Dean Street , tonight, it's a celebration of Chicago. I get to play alongside superb clarinettist and marathon runner Julian Marc Stringle (left) , so I expect to be learning with every note I play...


Charles Mingus (1922-1979)... and cats

Thank you to my friend Mike for this.

When jazz legend Charles Mingus died in 1979, he left behind quite a legacy (all that follows is from the official website):

-a uniquely important place in twentieth century music
-inspirational work as bass player, pianist, bandleader and composer.
-nearly 70 albums as a bandleader
-a discography chock-full of treasures
-one toilet training manual for house cats.

Quote: "Don't be surprised if you hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night. A cat can learn how to do it, spurred on by his instinct to cover up."

The method progrssively cuts down on the use of newspaper, so may be indeed be a parable for our times....