News from Brad and Elliot Mason

Just name-check this super-band, from an announcement which has just appeared. It's New York's (and once upon a time Norwich's) finest, Elliot Mason, of the Mason Brothers (above) writing on his Twitter

"Brad and myself are heading into the studio to record our debut album with Antonio Sanchez, Scott Colley, Dave Kikoski, Joe Locke, Chris Potter & Troy Miller."


Review: Monty Alexander

It is with very great pleasure that we welcome young writer Luke Pinkstone to LondonJazz. Here's his review of an evening complete with a fitting eulogy from one great Jamaican, Monty Alexander, to another: Usain Bolt.

Monty Alexander Trio plus Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance
(Ronnie Scott’s, August 28th 2009)

Two very contrasting ensembles playing back to back produced a very memorable night at Ronnie Scott's.

Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance, who pride themselves as ‘specialists in musical accident and insurgency’, kicked the night off at Ronnie’s with their refreshingly eccentric yet focused sound. The band comprised of Paul Booth on saxophones, Gareth Williams on piano, Dave Smith on drums, Rob Townsend saxophones and flute, and led by Arnie Somogyi on double bass.

After warming up with a Latin-tinted blues, Ambulance led into the nautically named tune Captain Courageous. Abstract saxophone howls, note bends and heated free improvisation naturally dissolved into a dark bungling beat. Smith held things down, accentuating the band's unison angular phrases before breaking into a furious double-time swing, abstract grooves and more punchy backing figures for the soloists to build on.

“That was all in 4/4,” Somogyi announced drily afterwards, “you’re just a bit drunk”.

The ensemble continued to fuse free and experimental improvisation with contemporary jazz styles, finishing with a round of heated improvisation over a funky blues before a final tight unison riff, which marked the end of their set.

However impressive Ambulance were, nothing could have prepared for the versatility and pure skill of Monty Alexander Trio.

Drummer Herlin Riley was the first to take the stage. After a stylish round of his kit, he leant back in the chair and just simmered, laying down an infectiously cool, crisply rhythmic swing groove. Next on stage was Hassan (JJ Wiggins) Shakur who added a slick walking bass line to the recipe. All that was required now was for the Jamaican piano virtuoso to take his place. He did so to a rapture of applause from the audience. Shakur and Riley responded effortlessly to complement Monty Alexander through full-bodied rumbling chords, furious bop lines, graceful melodic phrases and re-emerging calypso grooves.

The trio’s version of Smile, made famous in 1954 by Nat King Cole (one of Monty Alexander’s primary influences), began with rich romantic harmonies and Alexander strumming the strings inside the piano before settling nicely into a light swing. Similarly though, it wasn’t long before the band were charging through different styles, drawing the audience further in with every tack. Riley’s rhythmic precision pushed the trio forward with his stick hovering over the ride cymbal long before choosing the right moment to land the hit.

A particular highlight was a cover of Bob Marley’s Running Away: what better song could there be to celebrate the superhuman achievements of Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt.... It featured Monty Alexander on melodica (asa above , but complete with Jamaican flag). The night finished with a special encore feature from Italian-born Katarina Alexander, who perched on the edge of her husband's piano stool to sing Bruno Martino's ballad Estate (Summertime). The drawn out silky tones rounded off the trio’s set beautifully and received a final standing applause from the appreciative audience.

Luke Pinkstone


Offal up North - back Tuesday

UPDATE FRIDAY 28th. Quite a few comments continuing to come in the site about Nate Chnen's piece in the New York Times about young audiences (FOLLOW THIS LINK)

There are reviews in the pipeline of gigs by Evan Parker and Monty Alexander.

And the sun is starting to break through the clouds in Edinburgh. Was.


John Williams and John Etheridge- Review

Review: John Williams and John Etheridge. (Pizza Express, Tuesday August 25th 2009)

Here's how it begins: two men (pictured above) step onstage in the half-light. They listen intently as they tune their acoustic guitars, solely by ear. An announcement on the PA system reminds the audience of the Pizza Express's (admirable) "club silence policy." Stage lights up. The music begins. Francis Bebey's Sangara. This civilized conversation in music between two of the world's great guitarists starts quietly and grows steadily. They have different ways of showing the pleasure they get from their unsurpassable craft: Williams expresses it with a wry smile, Etheridge is much more demonstrative. As here:

The rest of first half of last night's gig built to a satisfying close. Malinke Guitars imitated the multi-layered sound of the 27-string kora, and was followed in conclusion by Ludwig's Horse. This was a new commission, written for this duo from Paul Hart. Etheridge and Williams appeared to be relishing, lappping up its fiendish, varied technical and musical challenges.

Williams and Etheridge can deliver and win an audience over with the devilishly complex. But they also convince the listener with the simple things. Nobody floats a melody in tenor range with the beauty and line of Williams. I can't get enough of the subtlety with which Etheridge states the simplest of phrases, and then trades it back and forth. These are joyous sounds. The programme in both sets had astonishing variety.

And as for what one sees, last night my indirect view of the stage turned out to be more of an inspiration than a problem. What I could see from the shadows was refracted through a couple, who were clearly getting on well. They were leaning in towards each other as the evening progressed. Perhaps increased closeness is a natural response to musical dialoguing of this quality.

Just a thought: dating couples, couples who want to communicate better .... ANY people who want to be brought closer together will find inspiration from the duo of John Williams and John Etheridge.

I reckon those three categories include 100% of the population. This was an evening impossible not to enjoy.


Our Mystery Shopper writes

LondonJazz's Mystery shopper, ever the good time girl, has been out and about in Chelsea:

The Mike Westbrook band blew a rousing couple of sets performing his "Off Abbey Road" at the 606 last night. The first set was divided into specific songs and to start with Kate Westbrook was a little off mike but this was quickly rectified and the second set was a blast when a whole album side was melded together in an extended 20 minutes of really exciting music. If you have never heard this stuff you should search it out in the future - being live is so much better than a record!


Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago: the Newton Abbot connection

I've just been speaking to a record producer.

His label has produced over 600 CDs. At least 15 of them are by the iconic Russian now-disbanded Ganelin Trio. More than thirty are by Anthony Braxton. He has recorded Marilyn Crispell, Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago. His label will celebrate its 30th anniversary this October.

So what are the cream boarding and the benches in the picture about? They are in the quiet Devon town where this record producer lives. Rather quietly, it seems.

A British success story?

He tells me he's looking forward to the mini-festivals which will celebrate his label's anniversary.

In Moscow , St Petersburg and Skopje.


Abram Wilson's Street Team

I'm recommending the three night Ronnie Scott's Kind of Blue/Giant Steps nights next week.

But here's something different. An interesting marketing initiative from Abram Wilson and Dune Music: volunteers for his Official Street Team. (The picture is completely unrelated, an Official Wilson-NCAA Street Ball). Read on for the full blurb:

In conjunction with Abram's forthcoming album, Life Paintings, Abram Wilson is setting up an official Street Team... and you can be a part of it.

We are looking for proactive and enthusiastic fans to work with Abram Wilson and the Dune Music Team to help market his new album and tour, Life Paintings. In return you'll get the opportunity to win signed CD's, exclusive merchandise, free tickets to Abram's UK tour, and the chance to hang with the artists backstage.

As a member of the Street Team your responsibilities will include bringing people to the gigs, spreading the word about Abram Wilson’s work, creating a buzz on forums and social networking sites, as well as using your skills and initiatives on specific agreed projects.

To apply, email a short paragraph about yourself outlining why you would be an asset to the team including any skills and interests you have to: (Deadline 28th August).

This is from the Abram Wilson Myspace blog


Steve Grossman- Pizza Express 15th September

Regular LondonJazz reader Frank Griffith , who also has a show on new internet radio station UKJAZZRADIO - has written in about a gig he's looking forward to by Steve Grossman (above- photo by Ezio Zaia)

"Tenor saxophonist Grossman, got his start with Miles Davis in 1970 on the innovator's seminal Jack Johnson album. He then moved on to Elvin Jones' group alongside Dave Liebman followed by the trail blazing ensemble, Stone Alliance, in the late 1970s.

Steve's initial Coltrane influences were tempered with his own anguished and wiry sound bouyed up with even more modern melodic vocabulary. During the 1980s he cultivated a deep interest and influence of Sonny Rollins to which he still aspires to today. I had the pleasure of playing with him a few times, one of which when he was hornless and played mine instead sounding completely like himself. I haven't changed my reed since…"




London's Cookin'

Find out the hottest spots on London's Underground system by FOLLOWING THIS LINK


Tickets on sale for Marcus Roberts- Wigmore Hall

The Wigmore Hall's website has a rare London appearance on Monday November 16th-in the London Jazz Festival- by the Marcus Roberts Trio. His regular trio partners for the past 14 years have been Roland Guerin on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums (all above).

For how to get tickets: Here's the LINK


Michael Janisch- Update on quintet tour with Jason Palmer

Website traffic has been picking up in the past few days here. Readers have been seeking out an interview I did back in March with bassist Michael Janisch. He's about to set out on tour with a quintet including trumpeter Jason Palmer (above).

Janisch has an amzing story to tel. But the reason for the renewed interest is that Janisch is about to embark on a national tour, launching the first album under his own name, "Purpose Built.". I'm going to catch it at the Epsom Playhouse on September 17th. In fact I'll be interviewing Janisch onstage before the Epsom gig.

Janisch's extremely classy touring band sees him in the company of Brits Paul Booth (saxophones) and Jim Hart (vibes) with Americans Clarence Penn (drums), and Jason Palmer (trumpet)- whose musical journey is as remarkable as Janisch's (follow this link) .

UPDATE: I Managed to post this just TWO HOURS before Michael Janisch announced that his website was going live: Check out for eg the Pizza Express Residency "Michael Janisch Presents..."
Here are the full list of tour dates.

Monday 31 August: AberJazz Festival, Theatr Gwaun, West Street, Fishguard,

Box Office: 01348 873 421; Tickets: £7/£5 concs; Time: 6pm

Tuesday 1 September: St Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall
Box Office: 01736 798 061; Tickets: £9/£6 concs; Time: 9pm

Wednesday 2 September: Swansea Jazz Land, St James Club, St James Crescent,
Swansea, Wales
Box Office: 01792 380 615; Tickets: £10/£7 concs; Time: 8.30pm

Thursday 3 September: Plough Arts Centre, Fore Street, Torrington, Devon
Box Office: 01805 624 624; Tickets: £10/£9 concs/£8 Plough supporters; Time:

Friday 4 September: Fleece Jazz at the Stoke by Nayland Club, Keepers
Lane, Leavenheath, Colchester, Essex
Box Office: 01787 211865; Tickets: £17; Time: 8pm

Saturday 5 September: Orange Street Music Club, 15 Orange Street,
Canterbury, Kent
Box Office: 01227 760 801; £8/6 concs; Time: 8pm

Wednesday 9 September: Hull Jazz Club, Goodfellowship Inn, Cottingham Road,
Box Office: 01482 346 239; Tickets: £12; Time: 8.30pm

Thursday 10 September: The Bonnington Theatre, High Street Arnold,
Box Office: 0115 9670 114; Tickets: £12/£10 concs/£5 students/children;
Time: 8pm

Friday 11 September: Wakefield Jazz at Wakefield Sports Club, Eastmoor
Road, Wakefield
Box Office: 01977 680 542; Tickets: £12/£10 concs/ £6 students; Time: 8.30pm

Saturday 12 September: Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle
upon Tyne
Box Office: 0191 232 1232; Tickets: £10/£8 concs; Time: 8pm

Sunday 13 September: Recital Room, City Halls, Glasgow
Box Office: 0141 353 8000; Tickets: £13/£11.50; Time: 8pm

Monday 14th
Elgin , Nichael Janisch is guesting with Tommy Smith's Orchestra and Gary Burton

Tuesday 15th
Dempsey's Cardiff

Wednesday 16 September: Taylor John's House, Coal Vaults, Canal Basin, St
Nicholas Street, Coventry
Box Office: 024 7655 9958; Tickets: £8; Time: 9.15pm

Thursday 17 September: Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Avenue, Epsom, Surrey
Box Office: 01372 742 555; Tickets: £16.50/£13.20 concs; Time: 8pm

Friday 18 September: Scarborough International Jazz Festival, The Spa,
South Bay, Scarborough
Box Office: 01723 357 869; Tickets: TBA; Time: 8pm

Saturday 19 September: Scarborough International Jazz Festival, Scarborough
- guesting with E.A.S.Y. Jazz Big Band
Box Office: 01723 357 869; Tickets: TBA; Time: 8pm

Sunday 20 September: Smokeys Jazz and Blues Bar, 37 Mesenes Street, Wigan
Box Office: TBA; Tickets: £6; Time: 8.30pm

Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 September: Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho,
Box Office: 0845 6027 017; Tickets: £15; Time: 8pm

Thursday 24 September: The Spin at the Wheatsheaf, 129 High Street, Oxford
Box Office: 01865 721 156; Tickets: £9/£7; Time: 9pm


Review: Julie Sassoon at Now's The Time 2/ South Bank

Lothar Ohlmaier (tenor saxophone)/Julie Sassoon (piano)/ Milo Fell (drums)

(Clore Ballroom , South Bank Centre, 21st August 2009)

I dropped in briefly to Kevin Le Gendre's evening at the South Bank, where he was curating/ compering/ live DJ'ing/album-launching..and generally multi-tasking. I caught the end of the first set from a group featuring Loz Speyer on trumpet and a particularly impressive Jason Yarde on alto.

Julie Sassoon has moved from her native North-West of England and now lives in Berlin, so this was a rare sighting. Her solo album on Babel was extensively and well-reviewed in 2007. What held the attention then, and again, live, last night, were those left hand idees fixes, in her compositions such as "Safe Passage" and "Forty-Four". Maybe it helps as a listener if one tends to listen low rather than high. I know I do. Yes, in the upper register there are different things going on: you hear Sassoon singing wordlessly, ethereally. There's Lothar Ohlmaier on tenor saxophone often retreating into higher registers and sustaining a line, and bringing in a lot of different colours and timbres and contrasts. And there's also Milo Fell, the ideal partner for this combination, free, creative, inspiring. But Sassoon's authoritative left hand holds my attention, and I hope she's back in London before long.


Vote for Evan Parker

Peter Bacon of thejazzbreakfast blog has just put up a great review of Evan Parker's new CD. Which reminds me that voting is open in the Downbeat Poll till Monday 24th, and Evan Parker is listed in the soprano saxophone category. (Parker is seen here with another soprano saxophone god, Steve Lacy, in 1985) Follow this link


Bill Evans

No excuse, no news hook, just the music. Enjoy.


WCOM Young Jazz Musicians Competition: Sunday 27 Sept

It's the 16th year of the Worshipful Company of Musicians Young Jazz Musician Award. And this year the competition is going up in the world. Translate. It's being held for the first time at Ronnie Scott's.
On Sunday September 27th, starting at 7.15pm.

The finalists for this contest have a challenge possibly unique in music (someone tell me otherwise?) : they all appear together...collaboratively, supportively.... but they are also simultaneously trying to catch the audience's eye or ear. Each musician has to function as just one of the band- they'll also be supporting Tina May- and observe all the bandstand etiquette of jazz......and yet, if he or she wants the spoils of victory.... there is an obligation to leave the others for dust.

As one of this country's great jazz educators has just explained a lot more succinctly: "They're all up for a Man of the Match Award." The award is substantial, a well-paid winner's gig with the band of their choice, and professional audio or video recording/editing of that gig.

I've been to it once, and it's a compelling spectacle.

This year's competitors are
Henry Armburg-Jennings Trumpet
George Crowley Saxophone
Peter Edwards Piano (photo above by Helena Dornellas)
Shane Forbes Drums
Alam Nathoo Saxophone
Percy Pursglove Bass

The impressive list of past winners is HERE.


"Majesties" at the Spice of Life

I was sorry not to make it to the Majesties gig last night. Abram Wilson, on the evidence of his Twitter feed, has been having fun. Did any readers go?

OH man. The gig was amazing. so so nice. aww man. we played some music tonite. to the whole world! - man, we had some FUN tonite. (5 hours ago)

great rehearsal for the Majesties gig. time to do the gig now! cant wait! 4.37pm, Aug 19th

man, i had to just stop for a minute. . .and sleep. let's try this again.6:38 AM Aug 19th

IT's DONE!! I finished all the Majesties Gig Music!! Now all I have to do is. . . .LEARN HOW TO PLAY IT!!!!!8:49 PM Aug 17th

Just sent 6 SONGS to the band for the MAJESTIES GIG! WHEW!!!! Finally! Catching the plane NOW! . . .go OBAMA!!2:33 AM Aug 14th


New York Times, nice piece from Nate Chinen

Here's a nice piece from Nate Chinen dispersing some of the grey the clouds over jazz in the columns of the New York Times. Thank you to the eagle eyes of Tessa Souter for spotting it!

There IS a new audience of 18-24 year olds in the US. As there is right here in London.


STOP PRESS. This Friday 21st- Album launch (free)

This Friday sees a launch event for the second release on the Vortex Club's own label. The CD is a compilation by critic/DJ Kevin Le Gendre: 'Now's The Time II' . John Fordham gave it 4 stars.

The launch event will be in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall . It's this Friday 21 August starting at 5.30 p.m.

Performers include free jazz trumpeter Loz Speyer,pianist over from Berlin Julie Sassoon and saxophonist Jason Yarde.

As the Vortex's Press Release tells me: Kevin Le Gendre spins the tunes for this extended night of top free music.


Michael Garrick Trio review

Michael Garrick (piano) , Chris Allard (guitar), Simon Little (bass)
National Theatre Foyer, August 17th 2009

I only dropped in briefly, but hadn't wanted to miss the the privilege of hearing one of the irreplaceable (or is that irrepressible) legends of British jazz again, and in a nice context with two excellent players from a younger generation. The crowd in the National Theatre is an appreciative one. One lady even defied the normal limitations of cork platform sandals, and got up and danced.

The youthful Michael Garrick is in his late 70s. He is still very active, particularly as educator.

I could only catch part of Garrick's set with excellently melodic guitarist Chris Allard and powerful, supportive bassist Simon Little(above- photo: Steve Lawson). Piano/guitar/bass is one of the most satisfying yet trickiest combinations in jazz. The quality of the listening-to-each-other, of the getting-out-of-the-way-of-each-other which these three were putting in was exemplary.

The interplay worked best for my ears yesterday in Garrick's composition A Thing of Beauty which the composer prefaced with quotes from Keats, Bill Evans and Pete King, and with anecdotes from what sounded like very happy tours to Rome. This fine tune, with its clever tension between three and four brought out the very best in all three players. I'm puzzled why it's not a tune one hears more often?

* * *

Here's further reading about Garrick: a more detailed portrait. And a nice review from Sholto Byrnes from 2003 brings out his unique contribution to jazz in Britain.


LondonJazz now has 300 followers on Twitter. Big . Deal.

Yeah, yeah, three hundred followers. Is that all?

Quite so.

But if you look at the Twitter pages of London singer Imogen Heap above, or San Francisco cellist Zoe Keating, you will see that both musicians are rapidly reaching 900,000, yes that's nine hundred thousand -followers.

And , unless I'm mistaken, most of that was achieved before a major record label got in on the act.

This is the new fan-power, this is the willingness of people to become believers, this is the mind-blowing immediacy of new, non hierarchic media.

Do I have a crystal ball? Nope.

Do I have superior understanding of what is going on? You kidding?

Check out marketing sage Colette Weintraub....who may, or who may not, have one or other of the above.

All I know is that things in music are changing fast. And that there are people out there who are frightened to embrace change. And I wonder what they are doing in jazz.


Autumn programme from East Side Jazz

What a fantastic autumn line-up drummer / promoter Clive Fenner has put together for East Side Jazz in Leytonstone for the Autumn.

Admission - a mere, modest fiver. I'm tempted by all of these gigs.But my pick would be October 20th: Julian Siegel (tenor/ bass clarinet/ soprano) with Chris Batchelor (trumpet) Oren Marshall (above- photo credit Contagiousmemes -tuba) and Dudley Phillips on bass. If a radio producer were to be there, she or he would catch the energy and musical hi jinx and 24 carat professionalism of this crew. If TV cameras were present they would also catch these guys' good humour and communicative power -for posterity. Whatever. For the rest of us the trip to Leytonstone won't be in vain. It will be a memorable gig.

Tuesday, September 22

Stan Sulzmann (saxes)
Liam Noble (piano)
Mark Hodgson (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, September 29

Jay Phelps (trumpet)
Shabaka Hutchings (tenor sax & clarinet)
Jonathan Gee (piano)
Karl Rasheed-Abel (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, October 6

Benn Clatworthy (tenor sax & flute)
Robin Aspland (piano)
Simon Thorpe (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, October 13

Sam Mayne (alto sax)
Steve Fishwick (trumpet & flugel)
Jim Watson (piano)
Geoff Gascoyne (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, October 20

Chris Batchelor (trumpet)
Julian Siegel (tenor & soprano sax)
Oren Marshall (tuba)
Dudley Philips (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, October 27

Lewis Wright (vibes)
Steve Pringle (piano)
Pete Randall (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)

Tuesday, November 3

Tony Coe (tenor/alto sax & clarinet)
John Horler (piano)
Mark Hodgson (bass)
Clive Fenner (drums)


Tommy Smith trio+ Kit Downes trio Review / BritJazz Festival Round-up

Review: Tommy Smith/ Arild Andersen/Paolo Vinaccia plus Kit Downes Trio- Ronnie Scott's

The BritJazz fortnight at Ronnie Scott's has been a decided success.
Ronnie Scott's has been rewarded for putting on BritJazz with a full house every night. This can only lead to one conclusion: please can it be repeated on a regular basis?!

I went for the final evening of the fortnight. The opening set was from the Kit Downes Trio with Callum Gourlay (bass) and James Maddren (drums). This trio has an album coming out on Basho, launch date 14th September. Downes played exceptionally, beautifully. I have heard the Kit Downes trio in the past functioning more as a democracy, where to my ears the emphasis appeared to be on mutual respect, on each voice getting heard, on each musician having his space. But at Ronnie's, Downes was playing out more, letting his right hand really sing: it sounded like a completely coherent unit. All three players relaxed into the tricky grooves. They were taking the rhythmic complexity of Downes' tunes completely unde their skin and into their stride. I found the gradual intensity-build in the opening number Jump Mintzi Jump particularly compelling; the audience appeared to take the group to its heart right from the beginning. A delicate, lyrical rendition of Don McLean's Vincent also worked very well. I shall look forward to hearing the album, now in the knowledge that Downes' trio has already grown and developed further in the short period since it was recorded. Onwards or upwards who cares, there's definitely momentum here.

The main act was Tommy Smith's trio with Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen and Italian / Oslo-based drummer Paolo Vinaccia. Most of the music was from the group's ECM album Live at Belleville. And the most meaty part, with which the set started, was Arild Andersen's composition , the four part suite Independency, commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905, written for this trio, and recorded on the Belleville CD.

"We'll see you at the end," was Smith's tease as the group embarked on its journey. This is music composed for a decidedly serious purpose, and played with serious intent. Hymn-like melodies were solemnly intoned both by Smith and Andersen in the first part; the second was the most angry and free, with explorations of multiphonics, multi-tracking, and deep thrums from Andersen; the third felt to me like a film score with its shifting vistas; the fourth started as a jazz march, developing and eventually leading to a quiet fade. A lot to absorb at one sitting.

Vinaccia (above) has exceptional freedom and mobility about the drum kit and draws on a rich palette of sound. I have not heard Tommy Smith's venture into Nordic ECM territory before. But there is no question that after four years, as with everything he does, he occupies the territory as convincingly and completely as he has absorbed, say, the slow Ellington ballad, or Yemeni music. Andersen on Yamaha Electric Upright Bass and electronics was masterly.

There was a celebratory feel about the whole final festival evening, of challenges faced and successfully met, together with the knowledge that one never stays still: there are new ideas to absorb, new places to go. That's jazz. And that's also the spirit of Ronnie Scott's.


Fleece puts out plea for support

The Fleece in Suffolk, recent winner of a Parliamentary Jazz Award, has put out a plea to its audience. Read it HERE


** come along yourself,
** bring (or send) your friends
** forward this email to anyone you think might be interested.

It would be tragic, having just won the award for best Jazz Club at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, if we were unable to continue because of insufficient support. We know the recession makes things tough for everyone and we have made strenuous efforts to reduce our costs, but Fleece Jazz receives no outside funding or subsidies. We are non-profit-making and none of the committee receives payment. All revenues are used to book the best musicians we can afford, maintain the best sound system we can manage and advertise our events.

Here's a LINK to how the other half live.


Canary Wharf Jazz Festival- Review/Round-up

I went down to Canada Square Gardens briefly on the Sunday afternoon. What a nice friendly vibe. "Just like South Street Seaport in Manhattan," said my knowledgeable Stateside friend

And here, dear LondonJazz readers, are TEN things which I learnt about the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival:

1) That the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival is the successor to a Docklands Festival which has been going since the eighties. These guys have done some practice, and it shows.

2) That after two years in a venue elsewhere in the district, this was the first one on Canada Square Gardens. It seemed like an ideal spot. The programme is constructed to build during the course of the day.

3) That, even when Jubilee Line and DLR get put out of action it is capable of attracting a sizeable crowd. I was told it had been rammed for Omar Puente on Friday night and for Gilad Atzmon last night. When I wimped off at about 4pm it was fillling up nicely.

4) That the festival is VERY professionally run. The bandstand looked and functioned well, sound and screens were great. People in the crowd seemed completely relaxed. And one musician whom I overheard said he has never been treated better at any other festival in the UK.

5) That the snack and drink prices were great value: High Street rather than Rip Off Alley prices

6) That Australian stay-here (please!) saxophonist Brandon Allen runs a really cool outfit. He was out there out there at Sunday lunchtime laying down some funky stuff with London's finest: Chris Allard , Ross Stanley, Tom Mason and Jon Blease.

7) That Soweto Kinch has a bass player whose name I didn't catch, but who could start a new fashion among bass players: looking really happy. You have no idea how disturbing as an idea that is.....

8) That Soweto Kinch's two personas (or possibly personae) are both, simultaneously growing in staure and individuality. As an alto saxophone player he is developing a real signature sound to go with ferocious technique. And that as a rapper he is masterful at internal rhymes. And add a third persona: he entertains the crowd with real style.

9) That it is possible to really win over a crowd by Freestyle Rapping on six words whose first letters spell "CANARY," those words in this instant being: Carnival, Amplifier, Nelly, Accountant, Rhubarb and Yoyo.

10) That when someone, in this case Mr Kinch, suggests I should stand up and "stroke the hippo, " it makes sense to acknowledge that one may have reached an age when one's hippo has already been sufficiently stroked.

And that in the circumstances one does well to take one's leave of a highly successful Festival, to write about it.

I'll be back.


Frank Griffith's Pearls of Wisdom

Wise Sayings…….

“Don’t get it right, get it written”

“Two very simple rules-
1. You don’t have to write
2. You can’t do anything else
The rest comes of itself

Raymond Chandler

“Anything can happen. And probably won’t”

Graham Collier

“Around each corner is a new mistake simply too good to miss”

Django Bates

“People are fearful of the unknown. That’s just a fact, historically speaking, when something unknown is presented to people, they either want to rid the world of it or suppress it, stop it at source. When people are confronted with things that are unknown, they have to challenge their intellect. They have to use their framework of reference, and if its shallow, well then they have actually to do some work and do some research, and a lot of people are too lazy…”

Greg Osby

“Inspiration does not visit the lazy- it needs to be invited”

Peter Tchaikowski

“Mean what you say, say what you mean, do what you say you’ll do if ever you have the chance and never attack people personally”

Tony Benn

“The gig is 99% on, with a real high chance of the 1% happening”

Frank Griffith


Led Bib Review by Adam Tait/ Rough Trade East

Review of Led Bib at Rough Trade East by new LondonJazz writer Adam Tait
(August 12th 2009)

I'd got soaked and more than a little disgruntled on my way to hear Led Bib at Rough Trade East, because a monsoon had caught me out on Bishopsgate, and a second-hand flat cap and a free paper don’t exactly provide shelter. This wasn't a band I knew, so I had no idea what to expect. And by the time I reached the end of my swim through the streets of London, I had my doubts as to whether it was all going to be worth it.

But what greeted me from Led Bib onstage was a joyous explosion of noise that brought me nothing but a contented grin.

From the outset it was obvious that we were all watching some very talented musicians, but technical acumen was not what was making me smile. What was most satisfying about Led Bib was that they clearly truly enjoy the music they make, something that seems to me to be all too rare at the moment. And as the ominous opening chords suddenly broke in to pulsating upbeat rhythm, keyboardist Toby Maclaren didn’t seem to be able to keep himself still, neither could drummer Mark Holub, as he whirled his way around his kit with impressive aptitude.

I think the 30 minute performance could appropriately be described as mesmerisingly, discordantly rhythmic. Led Bib’s ability to move from punchy outbursts to subdued rattling rhythms, on songs like Yes Again and Squirrel Carnage, leaving you pleasantly bewildered just how that transition happened so seamlessly, made it nigh-on impossible to be distracted by anything. It was truly refreshing to watch a band with no idea where the song might be going next, building dramatically to what seemed the point of no return before dropping back to pattering drums and tinkling keyboard.

A listen afterwards to the band’s Mercury Prize nominated album Sensible Shoes provides a sample of the band’s appeal. The songs still demonstrate Led Bib’s exciting builds and breaks, and songs like Yes Again still contain the sudden burst of energy that the make the band’s sound so pleasing. But what is not present on the album, and what I felt at the gig, is the ability which this band has to hold the listener’s attention so absolutely.

And that’s the best feeling you can find in live music, if you ask me. To find yourself watching a band you knew nothing of previously, had no expectations of when you arrived, but cannot turn you smiling face away from until they say ‘right, that’s it, go home now’, and that is what Led Bib do very successfully.

Whilst it may not have been my favourite occurrence, a room full of wildly dancing people, it was just as satisfying to see a room full of people unable to turn their attention away from the five men on stage; and the five men on stage not seeming at all bothered about the audience because they were too busy having a good time.

(Photo : Magpiemind. Led Bib set list. Ink on toilet paper, 2009. )


Mark Holub's Spitalfields Summer Stew - 26/27 Sept (Free)

Mark Holub of Barclaycard Mercury-nominated band Led Bib) is curating a free mini-Festival called Spitalfields Summer Stew. It will happen on the afternoons of Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September in Bishops Square Amphitheatre.

For me the highlight is in the finale on Sunday afternoon.

I count the opportunities to hear a giant of improvised music, the legendary trumpeter Kenny Wheeler who will be appearing in the trio Ordesa-above-with saxophone giant Stan Sulzmann and top drawer guitarist John Parriccelli to be one of the privileges of living in London and following jazz. The kind of company Wheeler has kept- both on ECM Records and on the bandstand - kind of speaks for itself:

To get the chance to hear him FOR FREE just seems something just be thankful for, and to
put in the diary now.

That is followed by a one off collaboration called Mustard Pie, which will have kicking energy to spare.

The full details of the Festival follow. What's in italics is from a very well produced press release.

Spitalfields Summer Stew 2009 - curated by Mark Holub

(Part of the Spitalfields Annual Free Events Programme that includes lunchtimes concerts, tango classes, tea dances, cultural festivals......)

Day 1: Saturday 26th September

12:30 – 13:30
Arun Ghosh’s Indo Jazz quintet
Conceived in Calcutta, bred in Bolton, matured in Manchester and now living in London, Arun's musical vocabulary and vision reflects his rich geographical heritage. Using the spirit and language of jazz, with the sounds and styles of hip-hop, Indian classical and folk, western classical, rock, pop and avant-garde, Arun's music is full of lyrical melodies and searching harmonies, down to earth directness and psychedelic ambient introspection.

13:45 – 14:30 Orphy Robinson Quartet

One of the most exciting performers (on Vibraphone / Marimba / Percussion) to have emerged on the international scene for years. Orphy has a background which ranges from the golden days of the British Jazz-Funk Scene. He is a founding member of top band Savanna through to playing and recording with Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard, and the groundbreaking big band Jazz Warriors. This new project sees Orphy bringing together 3 musicians that he has admired and performed with in various high profile bands. With: Orphy Robinson Marimba, Ntchuks Bonga Alto Saxophone, Camelle Hinds Bass and Steve Noble Drums.

14:45 – 15:30 Chris Biscoe – Ben Davis

The duo made its debut at the Cluny Festival in 1999, and grew from workshop sessions by Ben Davis and Chris Biscoe exploring the material written for Ben Davis' group. In 2001 it appeared at the Bath and Appleby festivals. Chris and Ben also played together during 2001 in John Donaldson's Sextant.
Ben Davis is the founder and leader of Mercury Music Prize nominated Basquiat Strings and has toured with Julian Joseph, Django Bates and Mike Westbrook, and recorded with Jamiroquai, D-Influence, Christine Tobin and Hugh Warren.
Chris Biscoe has appeared as a soloist on more then 30 albums, including a dozen on alto clarinet. He has toured and recorded with George Russell, Mike Westbrook, Andy Sheppard, Hermeto Pascoal and l'Orchestre National de Jazz. His own projects include Full Monte, Mingus Moves and Approximate-Lee. Currently he is working with Harry Beckett and the Liam Noble Quintet.

Day 2: Sunday 27th September

12:30 – 13:30 Billy Jenkins & the Blues Collective
The master of suburban blues, guitarist and Humanist preacher Billy Jenkins leads his foot stomping, thought provoking fun for all the family Blues Collective through a secular Spitalfields Summer Stew Sunday set - a whirlwind of emotion, humour, farce and sadness that will leave one and all with a big stupid grin on your face.
Featuring Dylan Bates on violin, Thad Kelly on electric bass, Mike Pickering on drums and Richard Bolton on rhythm guitar

13:45 – 14:30 - Ordesa
(see above)

14:45 – 15:30 Mustard Pie
(One off collaboration with members of Led Bib – Polar Bear – Pinski Zoo)

The Drummer and bass team (Seb Rochford and Tom Herbert) from 2005 Mercury nominated Polar Bear and the drummer and bass team from 2009 Mercury nominated Led Bib (Mark Holub and Liran Donin) team up with a true legend in UK jazz, leader of Pinski Zoo Jan Kopinski.


Rashied Ali and Les Paul

The past couple of days have seen the passing away of two important figures: Rashied ali and Les Paul.

Free jazz drummer Rashied Ali at 76 . The link is to Lance Liddle's nice piece from his blog. The image above is the cover of the 1967 album Interstellar Space, with Ali and Coltrane.

Also Les Paul, guitarist and inventor, at 94. Out of 1,879 news references on Google I picked a thoughtful appraisal of his importance from Atlantic Monthly (I guess the link won't last more than a week).
Thank you.


Downbeat Poll voting open till Aug 24

Thirty categories. Quite a few Brits in the running- including Evan Parker on sprano, dave Holland, Jamie Cullum, Joe Temperley. Vote early (before Monday August 24th) vote .....once. Vote HERE


Summer Jazz Bicycle Tour in Holland?!

European Jazz Festivals come in so many shapes and sizes...

There seem to be an awful lot of bicycles in car-free(?) Groningen (above)....This event on Friday August 28th and Saturday 29th sounds completely wacky! ...... and, hey, I fancy translating some Dutch anyway.

It's called the Summer Jazz Bicycle Tour/ Zomerjazzfietstour 2009 (link to English language website) . Claudia Quintet from the US are performing, for example. Admission for the whole thing is 25 Euros until the week before, then 30 Euros. There are several routes and starting points, it looks well - organized....

Click on a band and the website rings a bicycle bell when it has scrolled to it. Sweet.

Een muzikaal fietsavontuur door het prachtige landschap van het Reitdiepdal
A musical bicyce adventure through the beautiful landscape of the Reitdiep valley

met optredens in middeleeuwse kerkjes en boerenschuren.
with performances in nediaeval churches and barns.

Een fietsfestijn met een internationaal gevarieerd programma met actuele jazz en improvisatiemuziek.
A bicycle feast with an internationally varied programme of contemporary jazz and improvised music.

Volgens beproefd concept kan op de 23ste ZomerJazzFietsTour per fiets de nieuwe jazz worden verkend.
By a tried and tested concept, you can check out the new jazz on the 23rd Summer Jazz Bicycle Tour.

I'd love to know if a LondonJazz reader has been ? Or goes and then feels like reporting back about jazz in the saddle afterwards?


Montreux Piano Competition

Peter Hum of Ottawa has a good piece with Youtube clips about the Montreux jazz piano competition .

1st Prize (Shared) - Beka Gochiashvili (13 year old from Georgia)

1st Prize (Shared) - Isfar Sarabsky (Azerbaijan)

2nd Prize - Franz Von Chossy (Germany)

Encouragement Prize - Claude Diallo (Switzerland)

Encouragement Prize - Kuba Pluzek (Poland)

Public Prize - Isfar Sarabsky (Azerbaijan)

Hum also lists the judges....

And if lifting the lid on pianos or piano competitions is your thing, try this from the New York Times courtesy of Jessica Duchen's blog.

After which you'll need some Swiss mountain air (above).


Vic Ash Simon Spillett Quintet Review/ Concorde Club, Eastleigh

Review. Vic Ash / Simon Spillett Quintet.
(Concorde Club , Eastleigh. August 12th 2009.)

Last night at the Concorde Club in Eastleigh they seemed very relaxed. The club has just got national recognition a few days ago through winning Brecon's (kind of) Blue Plaque as jazz venue of the year. But nobody saw fit to mention it all evening.

After 52 years of promoting jazz, a club like this can take most things in its stride. The sizeable regular audience knows the drill. People get comfortably settled into their comfortable chairs. Listeners arrive for the music which starts quite late: 9pm. And they quietly disperse at 11.30pm when it ends. The atmosphere brought back memories of some of the best clubs in the US. Jazz Alley in Seattle, or Yoshi's in Oakland. But the Concorde with it's low ceiling is .....cosier.

Featured artist last night was the 79-year old Vic Ash. He's playing a few gigs before his 80th birthday in March. And he's playing a few gigs after it. But he'll be celebrating the birthday itself quietly...

Ash was playing tenor and clarinet last night in a pairing with his former pupil Simon Spillett. Ash looks like a diminutive scrum half (George Gregan?) alongside Spillett whose natural place would be in the second row (Martin Johnson?). Their platform manners and musical styles are contrasted too. Ash plays with astonishing economy of movement. The patter and the playing are laconic, oblique. They give you the sense that he knows a lot more than he's prepared to divulge. The highlight of the evening for me was his second half clarinet feature. He introduced it thus.

"We've had a request for Johnny Mandel's The Shadow of Your Smile.... I hope I can remember how to play it.... It's from a film, 'The Sandpiper.' or was it 'The Sandpaper?'

Ash then played the melody beautifully. He has a lovely sound in the throat register of the clarinet. He unravels patterns gently, in manner reminiscent of the cooler side of Buddy de Franco. Very, very nice that. And you will never see a tinier, more subtle movement of the head on a bandstand than that which Ash gave his rhythm section colleagues to bring them back in after his closing cadenza. But that minimalist nod is all that seasoned pros like John Critchinson on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass, and Martin Drew at the kit need. They landed perfectly on the sixpence.

I find John Critchinson a wonderfully melodic pianist. Somehow I can only ever get pleasure from his playing. But unlike some commentators, that's something I find I don't ever have it in my heart to complain about. He holds my attention with the constantly unfolding line, the strong forward movement, the constant element of surprise. I never feel short-changed.

Simon Spillett is a big character. He settled down gradually and mellowed during the course of the evening. Some of the later solos saw him helping the listener gently into the water rather than launching himself straight into the deep end. Best for me was a gentle second half solo on I'm glad there is you , on soprano, which reminded me of Zoot Sims.

For West Londoners with a car, Eastleigh really isn't far. My sober friend who used to be in the drinks industry kindly drove me down to the club in about an hour. It's a few hundred yards from Junction 5 of the M27. And there's a very warm welcome when you get there.


George Shearing - Happy Birthday -90 Today

Many happy returns to Battersea-born joy-bringing George,here playing his most famous composition.

"When people ask me how is it I was a musician, I facetiously say that I'm a firm believer in reincarnation and in a previous life I was Johann Sebastian Bach's guide dog."

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed blogger Peter Hum from Ottawa has found these four interviews


Pizza Express new jazz campaign

PR Week carries the following piece:

[PR Agency] Unity is handling the Pizza Express ‘Neverendingsong' - a campaign that will centre on a jazz band performing a single piece of music for 24 hours a day, for an entire week.

The band will play the song in relay around the UK, culminating in nightly live sessions in Pizza Express restaurants. Local celebrities and diners will be invited to join in at the evening shows.

Unity co-founder Gerry Hopkinson said: ‘It is not about flogging Pizza Express, it is about making a wider audience appreciate jazz.'

Pizza Express has been asso­ciated with jazz since 1969, when founder Peter Boizot opened the first restaurant in Dean Street, Soho.

1) What/where/when/who?
2) Every little helps!!!


A Quiz at Ronnie's- with seven questions to answer

In the chair at tonight's "I've got Jazz for you" quiz and asking the questions was James Pearson. Keeping the score was Lizzie Ball. They played as a duo some unknown Brahms compositions such as Ornithologie, written in Bad Ischl in the summer of 1898.

Team captains were Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw- are you sort of getting the idea this wasn't all poe-faced and serious?

Liane Carroll's team had pianist Tom Cawley (who had played to an enthusiastic full house on Monday night and is a must-see at Canary Wharf this Friday lunchtime) and Ronnie's staffer Paul Pace. Ian Shaw's team had Digby Fairweather and Ronnie's staffer Katherine Ames. possibly her first performance onstage?

The musical and comedic highlight was probably Ian Shaw's ear-splitting rendition of the Bodyform commercial...

And there was a round of questions about the club. Try your hand at these:

1) Which saxophonist went on playing, oblivious, through a police raid?

2) Whose affair with Princess Margaret started at the club?

3) What was the traditional bonus on the last night for a week's work?

4) In what year did Miles Davis play at the club?

5) What instrument was Ronnie learning in the last years of his life?

6) Who broke the toilet?

7) Who used the club for practice -with virtually no clothes on?

Subscribers to LondonJazz Wednesday Headlines will receive a full set of answers for the next couple of weeks.

You know you want to. Put yourself on the list.


Xuefei Yang Review: Dry ice and Tarrega's Lava

Xuefei Yang (above). Classical CD promotion for EMI, Westfield Shopping Centre
August 10th 2009

I hadn't intended to write about this.... it's not jazz....but I don't think that musical experiences can come much more surreal, much closer to the existential void than this.

6.00pm Scheduled start time for recital by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang -pictured on posters all around Westfield Shopping Centre naked behind a guitar. No fewer than seven industry people and four photographers in attendance.

6.14pm Dry Ice Machine gets switched on

6.15pm Important Eighth Industry Person arrives wheeling Important Black Flight case. "Yah. Hasn't she started yet?"

6.22pm- 6.54 pm

1) Xuefei Yang plays mixture of recital pieces. Albeniz Leyenda with very punchy accented Flamenco downstrokes. "Fast time I play in smoke. Vey Inspational." And later "My last piece is Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tarrega. A challenge to play this piece in Shopping Mall. They say he wrote it for his lava. Maybe that is why it is so beautiful."

2) Important Eighth Industry Person and seven others talk non-stop through music but applaud very loudly at the end of each number.

3) Photographers snap eagerly, both in front of the stage and on it, for first ten minutes.

4) A few shoppers drift past bemused.

6.55pm Xuefei Yang comes off the stage, and is obliged to kiss all eight industry people on both cheeks, and head straight off with record company PR person to a CD signing elsewhere in the centre.

6.56 pm Important Industry Person disappears, wheeling Important Black Flight Case off to next Important Appointment. Exeunt omnes.


How (and whether or not) to Sing the Blues

1. Most blues begin with the bald-faced lie, "I woke up this mornin'." The
truth is that nobody who sings the blues gets up before the crack of noon.

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you
stick something nasty in the next line:

I got a good woman
With the meanest dog in town.

3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it.
Then find something that rhymes. Sort of:

I got a good woman
With the meanest dog in town.
(S)he got teeth like Margaret Thatcher,
And weigh 500 pound.

And here is also a fine example of blues creativity at work:
You will note that if you use "She" to begin the third line, the listener
understands that you are describing your good woman. However, if you begin
that line with "He," then, by process of elimination, you are necessarily
singing about the dog. Get it? Good! Note, also, the characteristically
poor diction (which blues people understand to be "poetic license"), in
"weigh" and "pound." When singin' the blues, if you have perfect grammar and
diction, you ain't got the blues!

4. The blues are not about limitless choice. Unless, of course, having
limitless choice causes one troubles without end. In which case, one should
sing about the troubles, and not about the choices. But you knew that.

5. Blues cars are Chevys and Cadillacs. Ford is acceptable if, and only if,
it is pronounced, as part of the song lyric, "Fode." You could tell that
Chuck Berry was clearly blues-inspired, because, in his tune "Maybelline,"
he used the phrases, "Nothin' outrun my V-8 Fode," and "Fode got hot and
wouldn't do no mo'." But only somebody with the musical stature of Bob
Dylan could get away with a blues tune entitled "From a Buick 6." And you
know that "FAB6" is a blues tune, apart from its 12-bar and 4-chord musical
structure, because of the blues lyrics and images like "I got this graveyard
woman," "She keeps this .410 all loaded with lead," "If I go down dyin',"
and, of course, "She walks like Bo Diddley." Other acceptable blues
transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound FREIGHT train (AMTRAK and
other passenger rails do not give rise to the blues, unless their whistles
and wheels are heard, passing and then receding into the distance, from
afar). Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin'
to die, although that is not, technically, a mode of transportation, except
in the most abstract sense. And "the most abstract sense" is usually not
good blues material.

6. Teenagers can't sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues adulthood
means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man, or knife a
woman, in Memphis, if you are a man; or, knife a man, or shoot a woman, in
Jackson or New Orleans, if you are a woman. Dynamiting some ahole's bait
shop in East Texas just doesn't qualify.

7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens.
Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota is just a treatable depression, and
might actually be only the trendy ailment, "Seasonal Affective Disorder."
If that is the case, then you should consult your psychiatrist, and NOT John
Lee Hooker or B. B. King. Outside of Memphis (and, possibly, Tupelo), it is
Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City which are still the best places to have
the blues, even though they are North of the Mason-Dixon Line.

8. The following colors do not belong in the blues:

a. violet
b. beige
c. mauve
d. taupe
e. chartreuse
f. burnt sienna

9. You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting
is all wrong. In fact, if you are in an office because you have an office
job, you are already disqualified from singing the blues on the grounds that
you have a steady income. Regular paydays are just about fatal to the
blues. You got any, like, spare change, man?

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. the highway
b. the jailhouse
c. the empty bed
Bad places:
a. Ashrams (NOBODY got dem ol' saffron-robe and ponytail blues, Jack).
b. Gallery openings ("Blue period" is NOT a reference to music).
c. The Hamptons (There are no "My Polo Pony Done Come Up Lame" blues).
d. Gay Paree (You can't rhyme "l'Arc de Triomphe" with anything).

11. Do you have the right to sing the blues?
Yes, if:
a. your first name is a southern state (Virginia, Georgia, Caroline, Texas).
b. your first name is a southern plant (Ivy, Magnolia, Locust, Marijuana).
c. you're blind. (In which case, bite me. You can't read this anyway).
d. you shot a man in Memphis.
e. you can't be satisfied.
f. you're one signifyin' mofo.
g. you used to own a bait shop.
h. your woman got the meanest dog in town.
No, if:
a. you were once blind but now can see.
b. you're deaf.
c. you have a trust fund.
d. you woke up this mornin'.

12. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbra Streisand can sing the blues. Ever.
And Barry Manilow, too, while you're at it. It is also
REALLY hard for Jews to sing the blues. Oy! Who knew? Look at the very
many Jews who tried, and the very few who succeeded. (Norman Greenbaum's
"Spirit In the Sky" is NOT a blues tune, despite its musical structure.
Besides, he converted. He now lives in an ashram. In the Hamptons. But
his woman weigh 500 pound).

13. If y'all aks fo' water and yo' Momma give y'all turpentine, it's the blues.
Other blues beverages are:
a. wine: the cheaper, the better. (Thunderbird is particularly good).
b. whiskey: ditto. (Hence, white lightning is de rigeuer).
c. muddy water (Whence, McKinley Morganfield is de rigor mortis).
d. methyl (wood) alcohol (Why Blind Lemon Jefferson was blind).
e. Gordon's Gin (Ask Elvin Bishop. Oops, sorry! He's dead. Cirrhosis).
Blues beverages are NOT:
a. Any mixed drink
b. Any wine kosher for Passover (Remember, already, about the Jews).
c. Yoo Hoo (all flavors)
d. Grape Tru-Ade

14. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's blues death.
Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the
electric chair, substance abuse (particularly alcohol), or being denied
treatment in an emergency room. It is not a blues death if you die during
liposuction, unless, of course, YOU are the woman that weigh 500 pound.
("The docto' suck my baby's fat, an' now I don't know where she at").

15. Persons permitted to sing the blues have names such as
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Little Willie Joe
e. Lightnin'
f. A two-syllable nickname, by which one is known to the police, the
second syllable of which is the word "house." Good bluesmen have first
syllables like "Round," "Poor," "Bunk," "Whore," "Jail," "Mill" "Fire,"
"Farm," "Stack," "Fish," and "Smoke." Not "Court," "Coach," or
"Out." Thus, in the blues movie "Crossroads," we heard the name Willie
"Smokehouse" Brown. Other examples might be names like Whorehouse Jones,
Jailhouse Jackson, or Poorhouse Smith. However, you will not hear of a
bluesman named Outhouse Rat.
Persons with names like Heather or Biff will not be permitted to sing the
blues no matter how many men they shoot, or women they knife, in Memphis.

Source: Facebook/ The Mojo Hounds Blues Band


Musings on the state jazz is in

The past few days have produced an absolute deluge of prose about the state which jazz is currently in.

1) For a very quick fun read - warning it may raise your temperature - try this from Tabatha Southey of the Toronto Globe and Mail who is fed up of people telling her she is obliged to like jazz.

Summary: "I do not like it at a fest. I do not like it as a test. I do not like jazz, boys. Deal with it."

Comment: It'll happen. When you least expect it.

2) For something longer and a LOT more meaty about the state of funding.... try the correspondence between Nate Chinen and Ronan Guilfoyle on Chinen's the gig blog

3) Then there's Terry Teachout wrote a "Can Jazz Be Saved?" article in the Wall Street Journal.

4) Peter Hum , a really knowledgeable journalist for the Ottawa Citizen wrote an entertaining piece about reavhing younger audiences.

5) Jason Parker, a professional trumpet player from Seattle responded to (3) and (4), under the heading Jazz: A Museum Piece or a Living, Breathing Artform? It’s Up to Us!

My three-fold response:
1) Most of us have the very good fortune to be equipped with both ears and the capacity to smile. But no instruction manual to tell us what to do when we forget how to use either or both.
2) I shall go on writing with energy, enthusiasm, some knowledge - and, I hope with as few factual and typographical errors as possible- about the unique , life-affirming experience which listening to this music played and sung live can bring, and encourage others to use LondonJazz as a platform to do the same.
3) There are particular reasons why ALL statistics about music audiences which I have ever seen should be handled with a very long bargepole. I would like someone to try to convince me of the opposite.


Canary Wharf Jazz Festival Aug 13 to 16 plus Tom Cawley's picks


Here is the full programme listing for the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival. It's on next weekend in Canada Square Park (above).

There are lunchtimes on Thursday and Friday, and the early evening of Friday. On Saturday and Sunday it gets going at 1pm, and the music goes through to mid-evening. And it's all free.

People working in Canary Wharf- especially those starting new jobs on Monday, Philip - should check out pianist Tom Cawley's band Curios , with Sam Burgess on bass and Josh Blackmore on drums, on Friday lunchtime. I've been picking up quite a buzz about Cawley's playing standing in for Ronnie Scott's Music Director James Pearson recently. And Telegraph critic Ivan Hewett heard them last December and here are his typically thoughtful musings. Cawley tells me he's performing some new compositions for a CD due to be recorded next month. As Hewett says, you never know quite where he's going to get inspiration from next...

Chatting on the phone to Tom Cawley is fun, he's a live wire. And his Twitter page is highly entertainig. We skimmed through the rest of the programme. What else did we like? Cawley's a big fan of the Twelves Trio, with saxophonist Mark Hanslip and bassist Riaan Vosloo. If you fancy it, get there for 1pm on Saturday to hear them.sBirmingham Jazz have a podcast to check out Twelves Trio.

Other names we talked about were Gilad Atzmon, whose irrepressible energy will bring proceedings to a close on Saturday evening, and the ever-fascinating eclectic Soweto Kinch, whose quartet is on at 2.45 on Sunday.

Cawley is a Grand Prix nut, and was excited to learn that Canary Wharf do live Grand Prix relays on a giant screen.

All sounds like fun.....I hope the Canary Wharf organisers get a continuation of the good weather.


Christine Tobin/Liam Noble review: Carole King 'Tapestry'

LIVE: Christine Tobin/Liam Noble
Carole King's Tapestry
Vortex, August 8th, 2009

The Vortex was completely full last night for the first outing of Christine Tobin ( above*) and Liam Noble's Carole King Tapestry show. And there was something different about that audience too. Something about which, surely, nobody could complain (thinking about it, one rather odd friend of mine would!): it had a higher percentage of women than I have ever seen attending a jazz gig.

The songs of Carole King's 1971 album, either in their original recorded versions- or Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman - are very deeply ingrained in most listeners' minds. Tobin described the songs as "perfect in themselves. " She talked to the audience with openness about the challenge she and Noble had embarked on: not just to do "carbon copies" of them, but rather to "do something with them."

And that, even on this first performance, is exactly what Tobin and Noble have done. For my ears it works already, and is bound to develop. It certainly caught the audience's mood last night.

It works because Tobin and Noble create a different vibe, a different world maybe, for each and every one of Carole King's songs. This happens in the first split-second of every song. The hushed simplicity of Home Again was there in the gentle pulse of the opening, slowly shifting chords from Noble. The trance-like world of the title song Tapestry came alive instantly in psychedelic colours. I liked Tobin's artful protestations of childlike innocence in Will you still Love me Tomorrow. Many of the tempi were slow, but every phrase Tobin sings is leading somewhere. There is always delicacy and poise in her melodic line, but also power, conviction and direction.

I found myself mesmerised by the endings last night, whether of the King songs , or of the others performed , a Tobin original I'm your friend and a Brazilian worksong Cancao do Sal . Tobin has an astonishing way of taking her leave of a song. Very often it's a perfectly in-tune fade-to-nothing in the lower part of the voice, which stays full of colour and personality all the way through to silence. There are so many singers, but I can't think of another completer-finisher quite like Tobin.

The support, the dialogue which Liam Noble provides are infinitely varied. Just as nobody would ever say there was monotony in the nineteen different versions of a babbling brook which Schubert provides in Schoene Muellerin, Noble is always off somewhere different, he states the harmony which the listener is expecting, but also asks teasing questions of it. Noble's artistry, variety and intensity will have won over some new converts last night.

This is already a perfect package. It suited the listening atmosphere of the Vortex. But it will also grow and bloom and go places. I look forward to hearing it again as it travels. Maybe in a festival in a town with a weaving tradition....Ghent? Aldeburgh??

*Photo: Helena Dornellas


Concorde wins

The winner of Brecon's (Kind of) Blue plaque is.....

the fifty-two year old Concorde Club in Eastleigh. Band On The Wall in Manchester came second, and Ronnie Scott's third.

First with the news were BBC Wales, and here's the link to their story.

The Concorde Club began as a one night a week venture at the Bassett Hotel in Eastleigh. . Ronnie Scott played at the club the night before he opened his club in London. Will Bill Davison, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Buck Clayton & Memphis Slim also appeared.

The club's website says: Manfred Mann (Manfred Sepse Lubowitz) started out at the Bassett and many of Pops Hall of Fame including Cream, Slade (as Ambrose Slade), Rod Stewart (with the Soul Agents and Steam Packet), Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames (still a regular fixture in the Concorde's diary), Alan Price, Shakin Stevens, The Free, Elton John (when still Reg Dwight with Bluesology), The Nice, Joe Cocker, Robert Plant, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton & Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated (including Dick Heckstall-Smith & Zoot Money) held a residency in the 1960s.

The club moved its current site in Eastleigh in 1970. It also has an Ellington Lodge Hotel. , superbly placed for Southampton Airport.

Malcolm Creese tells me it was packed to the gills for the Allan Ganley Band a few weeks ago. I'm down there on Wednesday for Vic Ash's 80th birthday celebration, and will report back. Congratulations to the Concorde. A glass of champagne please.


Tate Britain review: "Late Night Radio"

Like more than a thousand others I was strolling round Tate Britain's free 6pm to 10pm Late Night Radio evening last night. Various musical performances and experiences had been arranged, in and around the splendid 1897 building.

Blues harmonica player Errol Linton, for example, and a guitarist, were entertaining a big and contented crowd of people outside on the lawn consuming what smelt like very tasty barbecue food....a few Cornelius Cardew fans were staying put for a performance of one of the paragraphs of The Great Learning in the Duveen Galleris, dwarfed by metal geometrical shapes by Eva Rothschild (above) .... Late Junction fans were drinking Grolsch and chatting over some electronic re-sampling, and waiting for Keziah Jones... a few brave souls managed to find their way down to the auditorium in the Turner Wing to try out a soundscape by Max Reinhardt who had curated the evening, and Rita Ray, with a disturbing image on film by Grace Ndiritu....I saw people (adoring women, mostly)who were happily to follow saxophonists Finn Peters and Jason Yarde around as they strolled, playing with, and allowing listeners to enjoy, the echo of the building.

But mostly people were just trying things out, drifting, just enjoying the experience of being in the Tate.

It brought to mind a wonderful line of sixteenth century French sage Michel de Montaigne,

"C'est une absoluë perfection, et comme divine, de sçavoir jouyr loyallement de son estre."

Pretentious, moi? Here comes the translation:

'It is an absolute, as if divine perfection, to know how loyally to enjoy one's being."

What the Tate had done was to give a multitude of choices, of vistas, to allow everyone to simply find their own way to spend an evening in this wonderful building. A range of choices on a Friday evening of how to be oneself.

My choice of how to loyally enjoy my being? No contest: sitting in the corner of a room of Bomberg and Frank Auerbach paintings, hearing that uniquely happy phenomenon of British music Zoe Rahman conjuring joyous sounds and persuasive harmonies from a piano.

Each to his or her own, you will say. Which, in a way, is the point.

The next dates are Friday 4 September and Friday October 2nd. Tate will also start to use an amazing new space which I saw for the first time last night, the restored Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art and Design, across the road. Details from the Late at Tate Britain microsite.


Dune Dates

Dune's monthly newsletter has some interesting dates in August and early September.

Plus the promoter is flagging up the start of a South Bank residency, which will kick off with a Jazzploration event on Saturday 26 September.:

20th August at the Spice of Life, 8pm
£10 with the fourth ticket free

A Tribute to Wynton Marsalis and Duke Ellington- celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Wynton Marsalis' album THE MAJESTY OF THE BLUES

Abram Wilson - trumpet Jason Yarde - alto saxophone Denys Baptiste - tenor saxophone Nathaniel Cross - trombone Peter Edwards - piano
Karl Rasheed-Abel - double bass Graham Godfrey - drums

31st August, 1st and 2nd September at Ronnie Scott's

Gary Crosby's Nu Troop will appear in two guises, a Kind of Blue Band and a Giant Steps Band

The Kind of Blue band:
Gary Crosby - double bass Abram Wilson - trumpet Jason Yarde - alto saxophone (on 31 Aug and 1 Sep only) Denys Baptiste - tenor saxophone Andrew McCormack - piano Rod Youngs - drums

The Giant Steps band:
Gary Crosby - double bass Denys Baptiste - tenor & soprano saxophones Andrew McCormack - piano Rod Youngs - drums


Tuesdays at "West Hampstead's Premier Nightspot"

I cannot vouch for the proud claim of the Lower Ground Bar in West End Lane, NW6, to be "West Hampstead's Premier Nightspot."

But what does look rather more unambiguously appealing is the jazz programming , by saxophonist Christian Brewer.

I would be happy to recommend any of the line-ups, but August 25th has the Bob Martin Quartet with Mike Gorman and Steve Brown. Martin, a Buddy Rich Band alumnus who makes his home in Hampton Middx is one of those players whose sound engraves itself permanently on the mind's eardrum. Go to "MUSIC" for sound clips. Recommended.



This post might be just an excuse to put up a picture of beautiful scenery. But people interested in the Scottish scene should follow these..

-Jennifer's Euphbass blog (she's just posted a piece about the new Scottish Arts Council/ Serious scheme to help Scottish jazz musicians' development.)

-Tom Shearer's Byas'd Opinion blog

This isn't the full list...Any more anyone??


Congratulations to JazzFM

Congratulations to Richard Wheatly (above) and to the team at the re-born JazzFM, who include a few regular LondonJazz readers.....confirmed as the UK's fastest-growing radio station