Sshhh. Paloma Faith is in the house

Fran Hardcastle has the scoop!

One of London's those regular gigs, which passes below the radar, but with a great house band, is the Late Set at The Last Days of Decadence in Shoreditch

As is fitting for that part of town, secret guest appearances from some big mainstream names are a regular occurance. Omar made a recent appearance and tomorrow night Friday 1st October you can catch Jools Holland favourite, Paloma Faith (above). The house band tomorrow night is led by trumpeter Quentin Collins, recently spotted playing rather impressively with Ronnie's regulars Snowboy and the Latin Section at the Imperial Wharf Jazz Festival.

Address 145 Shoreditch High Street E1.


Welcoming the first advertiser to LondonJazz

A warm welcome to the left hand column to Nectar, LondonJazz's first advertiser. Nectar was the brainchild of Sir Keith Mills, one of the most effective marketers Britain has ever produced. He also invented Airmiles, and headed the team which prepared the bid for the 2012 Olympics. He sold Nectar in 2007. To our next advertiser, whoever you are, you are welcome too. Be reassured you will be in extremely talented company.


Happy Birthday Joe Mudele- still gigging at 90

Please join me - by adding a comment please - in wishing a VERY happy birthday to bassist Joe Mudele, (the link is to a bio) ninety years young today. Joe was out gigging at Bexley Jazz on Monday with Andy Panayi, Alan Barnes and Derek Nash on saxes, Robin Aspland on piano and Bobby Worth on drums, and sharing the bass duties with Alec Dankworth.


Preview: Devon Sproule

LondonJazz writer Lisa Gee writes about a singer on the boundaries of jazz and country music.

Canadian-born Devon Sproule, based in Charlottesville, Virginia has been compared to Joanna Newsom, Bjork and, on one occasion “a sort of downhome, beatnik, guitar-playing Norah Jones”. Even if you haven’t had the pleasure, you’ll have worked out by now that she’s a left-field, jazz-influenced singer-songwriter with the sort of voice guaranteed to induce the best kind of goose bumps.

Live in London – her 6th album (and she’s still only 28) – features six Sproule compositions, and six covers, the final one of which, Johnny Cash’s I Still Miss Somebody, isn’t trailed in the track listing. It’s being launched, along with the accompanying DVD – a cute, handheld thing, filmed in the tour van and, grainily, at the QEH last year – at Camden’s Green Note on Tuesday 5th October. She’s accompanied on it by husband Paul Curreri on guitar, BJ Cole on pedal steel, Andy Whitehead bass and George Vaughan on drums, with guest musicians popping up here and there.


Sebastian on the Panel

My namesake got used to tough crowds (above by Benozzo Gozzoli, tempera on wood panel, in the Collegiate Church in San Gimignano).

I'm kicking off the closing panel discussion on Jazz in the Media with Alyn Shipton, William Ellis and Mike Connolly at a one-day conference run by Birmingham City University on October 15th. See you there?


Review: John Tchicai

John Tchicai with John Edwards and Tony Marsh
(Café Oto, September 27th, 2010 - day 1 of 2 day residency. Review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

John Tchicai 's gentle, expressive features belie the thoughtful deliberation and compositional intelligence which ran through his sets at Café Oto.

From his first solo notes a depth and sonority flowed from Tchicai's patinated tenor and enveloped the room. The warmth and clarity of the opening statement was delivered with intent and confidence, and described a precise linear pattern – in the spirit of the artist Paul Klee's 'taking a line for a walk'. Bassist John Edwards followed in measured, resonant mode, and drummer Tony Marsh laid down an abstract percussive backdrop before adding a hint of Latin beat, which then gave Tchicai leave to up the pace and pepper the air with flurries of energetic bursts before a short spell of free-scat singing.

Tchicai carefully moderates and builds, creating keen anticipation as to where he's taking the music next, and invites the listener to track and follow. He was so clearly in control of what he's doing - and like the very best, spoke through his instrument with a fresh and unique voice, and an almost ingenuous simplicity.

In his repetitive phrasing, delivered with subtle variety, there were links to African, middle eastern and far eastern roots, yet his mature playing is ultimately embedded in the jazz which he has lived and breathed since the 60s in Denmark and the US.

The clarity of Tchicai's improvisational structures was infectious and inspired the very best from Edwards and Marsh. Marsh, seated before a frame with cymbals hanging off ropes exhibited a natural, flowing dexterity which leant towards a soft meditative, eastern sensibility - mixing mallets and sticks, then switching, in duet first with with Tchicai and later with Edwards, to complex interplay. Edwards dug deep with rasping bowings of the lower registers, and then the quietest of counters to Tchicai's spatial statements.

The second set saw Tchicai bespectacled at first to read the scores for two strong, and slower paced pieces by Finnish saxophonist, Mikko Innanen, with whom he has previously collaborated, which led to intense and drawn-out creative extemporisations in different combinations and finally to Tchicai's mellow-voiced poetic observation, 'Don't go worrying and hurrying, do some loving and enjoying ... sometime.'

With modesty, fluency and knowledge, Tchicai lived up to his adage: 'If you want it, you can create your own style, both inside and outside of music.' A lovely player, and a lesson for us all.

John Tchicai's biography


Jazz Education and the peddling of false dreams

The sharpest eyes in jazz blogging are almost certainly those of Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen. Peter has spotted a lively debate on Facebook about the virtues and failings of jazz education, with contributions from, for example, John Escreet (who returns from New York to the UK and teaches at both the Royal Academy of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire), and Vijay Iyer


Here's a contribution to the debate from Vijay Iyer:

I for one am not summarily dismissing all jazz programs. The real problem is not their existence, or even their quality (which varies), but their abundance. It's primarily a supply-and-demand issue; there simply isn't enough work for everyone, and the system leaves too many with too few options. As this problem fails to be addressed year after year, it starts to look like criminal negligence.

And if you can't get enough of this topic, also head for Barry Dallman's PlayJazz blog where the action moves to the courtroom :

The People versus Formal Jazz Education.


Scarborough in Pictures

"Are you going to Scarborough Jazz?" I asked photographer William Ellis. "Yes," he answered. And here is what he came back with. Wow.

Festivals are about happy groups getting together and catching up. Here, backstage, from left to right, are: Liz and Martin Taylor, Steve Brown, Karen Sharp, Jack Emblow, Terry Gregory, John Goldie, James Taylor, Dave Green and Alison Burns.

And there's never anything grey about Anita Wardell, caught here with Robin Aspland and Steve Brown. She gave a lovely interview two weeks ago to Fran Hardcastle

And William's eye produces an unusual shot of the ever-watchful Liam Noble with Tim Whitehead in the Colour Beginnings project. Tim talked about the project last week to the Guardian

And, finally, national treasure Bobby Wellins, whose 75th birthday falls next January, with Guy Barker and (just in shot) Stan Tracey.

William Ellis currently has an exhibition at the Forge Venue in Delancey Street, Camden Town, and a new one opening on Thursday to coincide with the launch of Jazz Nights at the Yellow House in Rotherhithe


Loose Tubes: Dancing on Frith Street

Peter Bacon's review on his JazzBreakfast site of the newly-released CD "Dancing on Frith Street" by Loose Tubes is quite superb.

There are good big bands and there are great big bands. Good ones are full of talented musicians that are probably interchangeable with other talented musicians. [...] And then there are the great bands, [...] usually led by strong musicians [...] Think Duke Ellington, think Charles Mingus, think Carla Bley, think David Murray… Loose Tubes took it even further[....] Buy this, I urge you, buy multiple copies and send them to all those you love…


Review: Arun Ghosh/ Melange Collective

Arun Ghosh

(Arun Ghosh Quartet/ Melange Collective
Albany Cafe-Bar, Deptford, September 26th 2010, review and photo by Roger Thomas)

There are lots of activities, I suppose, to while away a cloudy and damp Sunday afternoon. But I'm sure all would seem mundane in comparison to spending the afternoon sitting in The Albany's Cafe-Bar and be charmed – snake-like – by the exotic sound of Arun Ghosh 's clarinet with Samy Bishai-violin; Liran Donin-bass and Rastko Rasic-drums and percussion.

Now I'm no cobra but I gained an insight into why such a reptile might feel impelled to raise its inquisitive head and even to leave the safety of it's basket/hiding-place to seek out the source of such hypnotising sounds.

The music took the audience on a journey through the Mediterranean, Africa, Arabia, India and beyond. The quartet was joined by the Melange Collective consisting of Shirley Smart-cello; Soufian Saihi- oud; and Davide Pasqualini-percussion. Combined they made a rich and full sound which glazed the imagination, and cast away the memory of the damp dismal weather outside.

Arun Ghosh's CD Northern Namaste (2008) is on Camoci Records
He will be performing in the Albany's Cafe-Bar again next month, on Sunday October 17th - admission is free, and in the main auditorium on 20th November as part of the London Jazz Festival.



It's a long time since Christine Tobin last promoted a gig at the Progress Bar in Tufnell Park (above). But a landmark article about the resurgence of jazz in London, published five years ago today, still makes fascinating reading.


Boaters 20th Anniversary Month in October

The Boaters Sunday night gig is one of the best free gigs in London. The picture above is a memento of the night Branford Marsalis dropped by and locked horns with Derek Nash.

Boaters is a pub in the middle of Canbury Gardens in Kingston. And in October the gig will have been running for 20 years.It has been run since inception by keyboardist Simon Carter whose trademark palm grinds and elbow smashes have shared the stage with:

Jamiroquai, Craig David, Leo Sayer, Deepest Blue, Rooster, The Divine Comedy, Atomic Kitten, Anastacia, Nik Kershaw, 10CC, Kim Wilde, Dina Carroll, Midge Ure, Elkie Brooks, Judie Tzuke, Hamish Stuart, Jimmy Ruffin and Leon Ware.


This Sunday 3rd October has guitarist Nigel Price, with Vasilis Xenopoulos on saxophone, Bill Mudge on organ and drummer Dave Ohm.

Then Derek Nash on the 10th October. Then the nearest thing to a house band: Mornington Lockett on tenor sax, Simon Carter, Laurence Cottle bass and Ian Thomas at the kit. These guys hit the deck hard. People try to tell me that British jazz is introspective and wimpish. You're kidding me.

The remaining two Sundays also have regulars: vocalist Strictly Come Dancing's Tommy Blaize on the 24th. And expect the best "Street Life" or "One Day I'll Fly Away" you'll ever hear from Shakatak's soul-ful Jacqui Hicks on the 31st, with Simon Carter, Phil Mulford on bass and Frosty Beadle drums (all four are in this photograph taken after the tidying away after the gig at Boaters).


Norma Winstone and Nathaniel Facey winners at WCOM

Nathaniel Facey (photo credit: Richard Kaby) won the Worshipful Company of Musicians' Jazz Medal for Young Musicians, and Norma Winstone was awarded the company's Jazz Medal for Lifetime Achievement

Sarah Ellen Hughes writes:

The Worshipful Company of Musicians presents two awards annually to jazz artists in the UK. The first is the Jazz Medal for Lifetime Achievement, previous winners of which read like a Who’s Who of British Jazz – Sir John Dankworth, Ronnie Scott, Humphrey Lyttleton, George Shearing… the list goes on. This year the medal went to Norma Winstone.

The second is the Jazz Medal for Young Musicians, the competition for which was hosted last night at the new Pizza Express live venue in Kings Road SW3, The Pheasantry.

This is a competition unique in the fact that the jury is the audience on the night. Six musicians are invited to take part in the competition, and have to perform together for two sets, playing music that has not been rehearsed. At the end of the evening, the audience cast their votes as to who has impressed them the most, not just with their individual musical ability, but more so with the way in which they accompany and support their fellow musicians on stage. I found this to be a relaxed and honest way of judging a competition – no row of judges scribbling notes at the back; just a room full of appreciative and attentive jazz lovers.

The musicians nominated for the chance to perform are initially chosen by a panel of respected persons on the UK jazz scene, who each put forward a young musician – ‘young’ being under 30. The nominated musicians are then whittled down to a selection of six musicians that will comprise a band – therefore giving equal opportunity to rhythm section players as well as horn players – to perform at the live competition event. (More information on the selection panel and the selection methodology can be found on the WCOMJAZZ website)

The very first winner of this medal was Tina May back in 1992 – when in fact the medal was decided in a different way; singers are no longer eligible for the award. Tina is now an important part of the competition, playing the role of ‘guesting singer’ with the band for one number, in order to demonstrate the ability of the band members to accompany a singer – an incredibly important skill in jazz. Tina also started off the evening with an enthralling set with pianist Nikki Iles. Wonderfully poised and with effortlessly soaring melodies, the pair set the scene for what was to be a most enjoyable evening of jazz.

The Pheasantry has a lovely music room, complete with grand piano. However, the stage – which is more suited for a jazz trio – heaved under the ridiculous squeeze of 6 musicians, plus instruments, plus music stands. As jazz musicians, they have all mastered the art of ‘coping!’

This year’s competitors were:
Nathaniel Facey (alto sax)
Tom Farmer (bass)
George Hogg (trumpet)
Daoud Merchant (drums)
Alex Munk (guitar)
Ross Stanley (piano)

The set was chosen by the musicians about an hour before the show – and they were late onto stage because they were still discussing things out in the stairwell! A few well-chosen standards, and some of the musicians’ own compositions made for an interesting and well-balanced set. The point of this competition though, is that the competitors should not have played together as an ensemble before – although only a small amount of research will tell you that Tom and Nathaniel are in Empirical together, and as they are all busy on the London Jazz Scene, it is unlikely that none of them would have met or performed together over the years anyway. Nevertheless, they had neither before played as a sextet, nor performed in this situation before.

While the votes were counted, we were treated to an impromptu jam session featuring some stars of the audience: Andy Panayi, Tim Garland and Norma Winstone who sang ‘A Timeless Place’ – a reworking of Jimmy Rowles’s ‘Peacocks’ that pianist Nikki Iles (who had been up since 2am) played entirely from memory.

The Young Musician’s Prize went to Nathaniel Facey, who will perform at a victory gig during Spring 2011 at a London venue with a band of his choice.


Review: Gwilym Simcock

Gwilym Simcock Solo Piano
(Kings Place Hall One, part of "Samuel Joseph presents")

Gwilym Simcock has just made a solo piano recording for the German ACTMusic label. It will be released in January, probably in their Piano Works series. The recording was made at the "Schloss Elmau Cultural Hideaway & Luxury Spa" (above) in Upper Bavaria.

This recording venue turned out to be rather less hidden away than would be ideal: the pianist and the engineers were obliged to fit their work around interruptions from extraneous tractors and lorries.

There were no such distractions in the near-ideal acoustics of Kings Place Hall One last night, where the material written for the recording was receiving its very first public performance in front of a very appreciative audience.

What came across most vividly on a first hearing was the breadth of the palette of styles, of textures and voices which Simcock conjures up: Mezzotint was exotically perfumed with Ravel. Gripper was far more jazz-inflected, with a jaunty bass figure rocking back and forth, Wake-Up Call seem to disappear off into free improvisation, but later built in one of those full textures where the ear tells you that Simcock definitely has many more than ten fingers. Can We Still Be Friends was deliciously elegaic and reflective. The standard My One and Only Love was a high point and received cheers. "On Broadway," played as a birthday gift to Professor Max Steuer, who was in the audience, was a miracle of completely letting it rip, while also staying in total control.

Gwilym Simcock keeps developing, moving forward. I'm looking forward to hearing this music again when the album comes out.


Robert Glasper Trio

Sit back. Here's 108 minutes of streaming video from Arte Live Web of the Robert Glasper Trio with Derrick Hodge and Chris "Daddy" Dave, joined later by vocalist Bilal, recorded at La Villette three weeks ago on September 12th.

Thanks to the sharp eyes of the Nextbop blog from Montreal for spotting this one.

The Robert Glasper Trio share a double bill with trumpeter Terence Blanchard's Quintet in the London Jazz Festival on Sunday November 14th. Booking is on the Barbican's site. Jazz on 3 will be broadcasting the Glasper set, Jazz Line-Up the Blanchard set.

This one looks like one of the stand-out gigs of the festival.


Cambridge Jazz in new premises tonight

Arun Ghosh-(Photo Credit: William Ellis)

Best wishes for the new season to Cambridge Jazz in their new premises in the basement of the Pizza Express in Jesus Lane, starting tonight with John Etheridge's new quartet. Tonight's opening gig is COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. Result.

Next up on October 29th is the Arun Ghosh Quintet. Great photo William!

Address : Hidden Rooms, 7a Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA


October 2nd - Collectives Day at Kings Place

One of the driving forces creating such a vibrant, varied, evolving UK jazz scene has been the formation of musicians into collectives. Yes there is idealism, there can also be naivety, and politics. But don't knock this phenomenon which has led to an explosion of high quality music, and a unique context in which artists can develop.

On Saturday week here at Kings Place , F-Ire Collective , at the forefront of this phenomenon for fifteen years, is organizing a short conference bringing together a number of collectives. They also people with an interest in the phenomenon. Attendance for students and educators is free. "Commercial organisations are also invited but will need to pay a £25 fee for the day." I would hope a few representatives of funding bodies turn up - because there are models here for other sectors which have been more successful at playing the funding game. And achieved far less. I'm feeling crabby, and have, for example, a particular taxpayer-funded glitzy party venue and a superfluous mini duplicate Arts Council in mind.

(NB Kings Place is also hosting Django Bates' 50th Birthday Gala in the evening)

The organizers of the day are Barak Schmool and Peter Slavid of F-Ire

For more info contact F-Ire's administrator by email at:

Here's a hastily assembled list of links to collectives (Smoke-based unless otherwise indicated) - please add to it:



Way Out West

LIMA (Leeds)

Cobweb ( Birmingham)

Note: London's F-Ire Collective has no connection with this Fire Collective


Karin Krog

Karin Krog Quartet
(Pizza Express, Dean Street, September 23rd 2010, part of "Georgia Mancio presents..)

Let's try out a theory. People from cold climates have warm temperaments. The sample size on which the theory is based is just one person, Karin Krog. But I'd call last night's evidence to support the theory totally overwhelming.

What Krog communicates from the bandstand, to other musicians and to the audience is a quite extraordinary level of likeability and humanity, in every gesture and every phrase. She had only met the top London trio of Ross Stanley on Steinway, Mark Hodgson on bass (strong, measured) and Dave Ohm for an hour and a half to rehearse, but what I picked up was total command, an ease and joy in communication. Krog has had a continuous and distinguished career ever since the mid-1960's. These days she sings judiciously chosen, unfailingly interesting songs, which she owns completely. There's a few on the CD pictured above. This was a happy gig. The club should have been completely full.

Stanley was a joy throughout, abundant colour, fantasy, unfailing interest in the line. Hodgson and Ohm were blending and matching and communicating perfectly.

I only heard the last few numbers. But it seemed to get better and better. And in one respect in particular. The last two numbers were Ray Charles' "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin' " and Miles Davis' "All Blues" had her reaching for the lower range of her instrument which extends comfortably down to the E below middle C. There is only one word I can find for the opulent, gorgeous, full, blooming, smile-bringing, life-enhancing, tropical sound she produces down there.


Imperial Wharf Festival in 3 photos

Three of Richard Kaby 's photos of the Imperial Wharf Festival. First up a very happy Gwyneth Herbert.

An even happier Simon Harris of Trio Manouche

And a tap-dancer (name please?) keeping lookout for Tony Kofi and Larry Bartley.

These are extracted from Richard Kaby's folios of Imperial Wharf photos


Sign for Camberwell


I've just signed the petition in support of reinstating JazzLive and Jazz Umbrella, a registered charity, as promoters of the Friday nights at the Crypt under St Giles Church Camberwell.

The Friday nights at the Crypt of St Giles have been going for fifteen years. They have been promoted by JazzLive in asscociation with Jazz Umbrella. This is one of the cornerstone gigs of the London scene. Although the new managers are asserting that the Friday night jazz will continue, that all existing bookings will be honoured, the manner in which the running of the gig was wrested from the hands of the promoters in July does not bode well at all. I have a call out to the vicar, and I am hoping that he will be able to answer quite a few questions.

Here is the Jazzlive website which explains more. Anyone want to explore with us the foundation a London venues and promoters forum as a support network? We're happy to host it here at Kings Place.


Jazz for ....

A transliteratively challenged publicist has just written to us:

I just wanted to take you the opportunity to remind you about the first ever Jazza (jazz for Gazza) festival at the Scala in Kings Cross on October 12th and 13th.

Mis-spellings aside... a very impressive line-up of musicians will be out performing for a concert in association with the Free Palestine movement a humanitarian and non-political cause which draws attention to the plight of all Palestinians.

The Scala is at 275 Pentonville Road N1 9NL. Robert Wyatt will be launching a new album "The Ghosts Within" (Domino).

Here's the full line-up

Tuesday 12th October 2010

8 pm Nizar Al-Issa
8.40pm Sarah Gillepsie
9.15pm The Unthanks
9.45pm Robert Wyatt ‘For The Ghosts Within’ Featuring Gilad Atzmon, Orient House Ensemble & Cleveland Watkiss

Wednesday 13th October 2010

8 pm Shathayah (Ramallah Underground)
8.45 Rory McCloud
9 pm Jazza All-Stars featuring Seb Rochford, Alex Garnett, Oren Marshall, Gilad Atzmon
9.45pm Robert Wyatt ‘For The Ghosts Within’ Featuring Gilad Atzmon, Orient House Ensemble & Cleveland Watkiss

Tickets from or phone 020 7833 2022


100 Club facing threat of closure at year-end

The Evening Standard today reports that the 100 Club in Oxford Street will, unless something changes dramatically, be faced with closure at the end of the year, following a hefty 45 % rent rise.

Owner Jeff Horton is quoted: "What the 100 Club needs is a buyer or major sponsor to step forward. Barring that, we're closing at Christmas despite being as popular as ever. It really is insane."

The landlord is Lazari Investments. Here is a profile of Chris Lazari

Venues seen as providing "commercial entertainment" rather than "art" would appear to have very little protection comeback against unscrupulous landlords, or sudden cost hikes.

Here is the ARTICLE.


JazzUK online

The Aug/Sep edition of JazzUK is available online as a 64-page pdf HERE.


Heads South CD Launch - October 1st

Quick diversion: name three places where you can find absolutely anything.

1) Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant,

2) a Paris department store called Les Grands Magasins de la Samaritaine (now closed) - the clip has a great sound track of Cole Porter's "I love Paris in the Springtime"

3) the London Jazz scene.

Yes, I often get that feeling - if I haven't (yet) found an amazing improvising Lithuanian nose-flute player in, say, Arnos Grove yet, it's because I haven't looked properly.

But I have found a genuine Cuban percussionist with the most amazingly exotic name, JOSE MARTELL MORGAN, universally known as Chino. He's from Cardenas, a sea-port in the Matancas province on the North coast of Cuba. He tells me he misses the beach. Chino became a percussion addict in Cuba in his teens and has lived in the UK since 1998.

Chino is to be found bongo-ing it and conga-ing it in bands all over the place, like Gillespiana, and a salsa band called Heads South, where he shares percussive duties with good friend drummer Buster Birch. Fronting the band with his scorching Arturo Sandoval trumpet sound is the ever-versatile Steve Waterman. Running the band is pianist John Harriman.

Good times guaranteed.

+ + + + + +

Heads South launches its debut CD Record Flight at the Pheasantry in Kings Road on Friday October 1st.


RIP Buddy Collette (1921-2010)

The distinguished alto saxophone and flute player Buddy Collette, omnipresent in Holywood studios, died on Sunday.

Here is a lovely lengthy tribute from Jazz Wax's Marc Myers who knew him well. It ends

"Buddy took jazz playing, composing, arranging and studio work seriously, developing a reputation in Hollywood as a disciplined ironman and highly dependable reed and woodwind player. He also was an awfully nice guy. I miss Buddy. "



News from Ken Vandermark

Having reviewed Ken Vandermark's Vortex gig for us, Geoff Winston has been checking out Vandermark's busy Facebook page, and writes:

Great to read that Ken Vandermark thought that the Vortex gig was ‘one of the best on the tour’, praising musicians and audience, alike. Well, even better news – he’s joining the formidable Peter Brötzmann Full Blast Trio on both nights at Café Oto (29/30 September), after a spell of r & r to take in London’s artistic and cultural offerings, and aware he’s got to keep sharp to keep up with Full Blast:

Now a week in London for an actual vacation before two shows with Full Blast at the end of the month. I'm going to need to find a way to keep my chops up while enjoying the city and the museums, otherwise Brotzmann, Pliakis, and Wertmuller are going to level me on the 29th and 30th ...'

He’s been there before, of course, and these promise to be two nights of totally committed musical intensity. The Youtube clip above is one of four excerpts from their Berlin concerts of 2008.


Review: African All-Stars/ Pinise Saul

African Jazz Allstars/ Pinise Saul
(Albany Deptford, Sunday September 19th, review and photos by Roger Thomas)

It was not your usual quiet Sunday down in Depford as The African Jazz Allstars brought a right old knees-up to The Albany.

With the Allstar band being lead by veteran South African guitarist Luck Ranku featuring the vocals of Pinise Saul, they performed compositions by the late Dudu Pukwana, also Claude Deppa -Trumpet, Tony Kofi -Alto Sax, and Bukky Leo - Tenor penned a couple of tunes.

Some of the compositions with their complex rhythmic lines were vibrantly stated by the horn section which also included Greg Bonnie on baritone providing a hard punch, and Miles Danso massively present on acoustic bass.

Providing a steady anchoring pulse was rhythm section consisting of Adam Glasser -keyboards, Siemi Die -percussion and Kunie Olafijana -drums, enabling Pinise to weave her vocal spell on the entire Sunday congregation, and to compel every single member of it to hit the dance floor.


Tim Whitehead's new CD

Tim Whitehead spent more than a year on a Leverhulme Scholarship studying JMW Turner. We previewed the resulting gig in detail last October - HERE .

Part of that gig at Tate Britain (with Liam Noble, Pat Bettison and Milo Fell) was recorded. There were further sessions this July, and this CD is the result.


-The Turner Colour Beginnings music can be heard at Walton Riverhouse on Sunday Oct 3rd, and at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond on Oct 10th
Tim Whitehead is an artist responding with sincerity and depth to Turner's work. His work will last longer than............. this this lurid cheapening of Turner's art, also released today, .

JMW never had much to do with public subsidy. He only ever received public money for his art once.


Jazz at the Green Man

In days of tightening belts and cancelled gigs, it's cheering to see some regular series go from strength to strength. Jazz at the Green Man relaunches as a weekly gig from it's monthly slot this Wednesday 29th September, with Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard UNPLUGGED.

The day to day running of the gig has been taken over by three enterprising young jazzers, trumpeter Henry Armburg-Jennings, bass playing GSMD alumnus Luke Steele, and tenor-playing RAM graduate Tom Stone.

Upcoming gigs include the Nigel Price Trio, the Calum Gourlay Quintet, Alan Barnes, the Lewis Wright Quartet, Martin Speake quartet and singer Atila Huseyin.

Plus catch four consecutive nights of gigs as part of the extensive London Jazz Festival, including appearances from Bobby Wellins and Jim Mullen. More details here.


Review: Vandermark 5 and Atomic, Vortex

Vandermark 5 and Atomic at Vortex, 16 September. Review, and drawing of Atomic, by Geoffrey Winston(*).

Vandermark 5: Ken Vandermark (tenor sax/Bb clarinet), Tim Daisy (drums), Kent Kessler (bass), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/electronics), Dave Rempis (alto/tenor sax)

Atomic: Magnus Broo (trumpet), Ingebrigt Haker Fleten (bass), Fredrik Ljungkvist (reeds), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), Havard Wiik (piano)

'Awesome' is an overused word these days, but in the case of this performance by Vandermark 5, it is justified. There was a palpable sense of anticipation at the tiny Vortex ahead of this exceptional double-header, and the evening's serious intent was evident with the array of music stands, scores and BBC recording mikes onstage. These two bands, bridging the Atlantic divide from the US to Scandinavian Europe, have a history of cross-fertilisation and collaboration, and it was with characteristic humility that Ken Vandermark put his quintet on first to allow Atomic the headline set.

He distributed tumblers of water to his musicians before they launched in to Friction, with its drum snap and hovering cello sharpening the senses for an extraordinarily fresh, fluent and muscular set. As the pace picked up the focus shifted from the rhythm section to the twin reeds blowing up such a storm that it could have been Roland Kirk in full flight. Vandermark's extended tenor solo was torrential in its intensity, and was matched by Rempis's equally dextrous and vigorous alto. Their duetting flowed with phenomenal confidence as Rempis switched to tenor and Vandermark to clarinet in Fables of Facts, a timely nod, surely, to Mingus's key political title, Fables of Faubus, and whose uncompromising orchestrations of the early 60s were always in the air.

Location, dedicated to painter Philip Guston, saw Vandermark's clarinet in dynamic tension with the dual plucked strings and delicate percussion before building to an explosive crescendo. Intermittently pulsating riffing was given full rein in the last number, Leap Revisited, with Lonberg-Holm's demonic brew of heavy cello and electronic distortion - more Jimmy Page than Hank Roberts. Daisy was loose, energetic, and creative throughout, and Kessler's bowed bass brought a resonant acoustic aspect to the set. Vandermark is an advocate of the power of the live experience, and this mesmerising set was testimony to his conviction, the music so much alive, never predictable and sewn together by remarkable musicianship and interplay.

On this form, they were a hard act to follow, and it took Atomic a while before they were truly in their stride. They came out all guns blazing with a blistering trumpet barrage from Broo, elegantly countered with a peaceful discordance. Nilssen-Love, initially restrained, got into his natural polyrhythmic flow, and propelled the ensemble with a light touch. Ljungkvist's wide spectrum of colour, painted on tenor, baritone and clarinet was an effective foil to Broo's intensity and Wiik's rich, flowing piano arpeggios.

Atomic chip away at the Scandinavian style, yet also derive a certain formality from their native genre - making for a truly rounded evening, which, as Jez Nelson announced, was recorded for two imminent broadcasts on Jazz on 3, and should not be missed.

Image copyright Geoffrey Winston 2010 . All Rights Reserved.


Album Review: Stories Yet to Tell, Norma Winstone

Stories Yet to Tell CD 6025 273 7426. Norma Winstone; vocals. Klaus Gesing; bass clarinet, soprano saxophone. Glauco Venier; piano.

Review by Alison Hoblyn, September 2010

The edge of autumn seems a good time to release this collection that verges on the melancholic. Maybe I have to admit to a lack of objectivity as I am completely sucked into the story of this album. What strikes me is how integrated it is; that three artists were thinking as one. And it seems as though everyone who contributed understood the conclusion they wished to reach.

From the moment you look at the sleeve notes you encounter beautiful images that tell a story without words; not unlike some of the tracks, where Norma Winstone uses her wordless voice as an instrument to harmonise with piano and reeds. But that underplays the importance on this album of the words, which deserve to be heard. There is poetry in the lyrics that Norma penned for eight of the twelve songs.

The strong introductory song is Just Sometimes. It conjures for me a room in a crumbling mansion with a piano echoing in its dark corners. Memories are glimpsed in the half light. In the words of the song ‘…a window to the past is opened’ and the lyrics are highly evocative. When Norma’s voice enters it’s unhurried, the words hanging somewhere between being sung and being spoken. (Both voice and sentiment remind me of Peggy Lee singing Ready to Begin Again on her 1975 album, Mirrors.) There’s longing and warmth in Norma’s voice - here in the lower end of her register and infused with experience as she sings her own lyrics. On the line ‘I hear a distant train that’s going somewhere’, Klaus Gesing’s bass clarinet replicates the glancing noises as a train slides past near objects. Yet, with his unique technique, sometimes the low vibrations of his instrument are almost double-bass like.

Norma’s voice lightens for the opening of Cradle Song, a reworked folk-tune with words by Norma and some borrowed from Christina Rosetti. The piano theme, rocking as a cradle, underpins the gentle mix of words and Norma’s distinctive wordless improvisation, which is in turn echoed by clarinet. The album title comes from a line here; ‘In the lane, steady rain, stories to tell yet.’ There’s just enough of a hint of menace outside the nursery not to make this a pink and pearly song but one that points to the brevity of life. In Rosetti’s words ‘What are heavy? sea sand and sorrow/What are brief?today and tomorrow/What are frail? spring blossoms and youth:/What are deep? the ocean and truth’. Quite a few of Norma’s deft lyrics on this album reflect on summer going, chill winds, time passing. Maybe that’s partly because she’s recently become a grandmother. Not that you’d know it, pictures of her looking distinctly glamorous and Helen Mirren-like adorn the sleeve notes. She’s finding new depths in autumn. And perhaps it’s because I always see pictures in music that I appreciate her lyrics particularly. For me, on this album, the music and the visualisation conjured by the words are a perfect fit.

However, I also loved the arrangement of the folk song Lipe Rosize by Glauco Venier which begins with his percussive piano and the buzzard-like mewing of soprano sax and voice-noises; no words here but the tale is told well as the plaintive tune moves into jauntier mode. The elements of piano, sax and voice meld together perfectly with no-one above another.

Goddess – a Wayne Shorter composition, is adventurous in form and Norma has said she is particularly pleased with the addition of her lyrics; she hopes that the words ‘make the music into a different piece’. Her inspiration for this piece about Diana the Huntress came from looking up into the starry sky. Her voice ascends into the purity of her upper register and the soprano sax follows, etching light patterns into a velvet backcloth.

The breadth of sources in this collection is interesting, ranging from a thirteenth century troubadour song through jazz ballads such as Dora Caymmi’s Like a Lover, to original pieces composed by Venier or Gesing that have classical influences. To me, the sound production of the whole album is totally fitting. To suit the closeness of purpose that the musicians demonstrate, it feels intimate; as though we are locked in a dark room with them and a light is shining upon each modulated note. Everything can be well-heard but somehow this clarity doesn’t remove the mystery that you always need to make real art.


Are jazz critics too kind?

Peter Bacon of The Jazz Breakfast potentially provokes a very interesting debate with his post, 'Are jazz critics too kind'? He notes that it is rare to read outright criticism of jazz musicians in any industry publication, known blog or website. He also admits that he prefers to refer to himself as a jazz 'reviewer' as oppose to a 'critic'.

Most jazz commentators write because they love the genre and feel honour bound to promote it. That is certainly the reason I write about jazz and I feel privileged to have an outlet to do so.

The majority of gigs I have been to this year have been awesome. So much so that I would struggle to pick out my top five. But one does come across gigs that are at best, mediocre and at worst, a bit rubbish. To my mind, rather than lambast poor or mediocre performances, I would prefer simply not to write about them and it seems that Peter Bacon agrees with that sentiment. I personally don't feel I have any right to dismiss musicians or their music off hand. I would rather spend my time promoting the music I love.

Sebastian's thoughts on the matter mainly emphasise the contemporary interaction of the 21st century reader:

" 2010 we receive comments. Yes, they can be simple, from the hip, inane, whatever. But they do bring diversity of perspective. The single-voiced review without the comments can even seem incomplete now. George Bernard Shaw’s time has gone.

Check out a recent review I did of Richard Godwin. It was the first time I had heard him: I was kind, constructive.

The first commenter took out the slagging sledging heavy hammer, and applied it both to the performance and to my review. But what gradually emerged, as the comments accumulated, was a fair perspective.

And what’s wrong with that?"

Take a read of Peter's article and see where your opinion lies.


And the winner is...

At a packed awards ceremony last night in Jean Nouvel's very red Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the winner of the PRS for Music Foundation New Music Award 2010 was announced as The Organ of Corti, by liminal. An intriguing and hopefully worthy winner.

Which got LondonJazz to thinking... what would we do with £50,000? Here's our top 5 in no particular order:

1. From Sebastian in China... Put on the world premiere of the Underwater Subtone Saxophone Choir.

2. Create a jazz version of Making the Music/New Music Award and set up a competition for new, unrecorded jazz groups to win funds for a debut album recording, money for marketing and towards a well oiled PR machine, mentoring from a well connected manager and touring cash.

3. From Fran... Have my very own one day Jazz Voice Festival at King's Place and commission pieces from Pete Churchill and Richard Niles for my own Fantasy Swingles League, featuring Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, Anita Wardell, Michael L Roberts, Natalie Williams, Kwabena Adjepong (you may not have heard of him yet, but you will), the beatboxer Schlomo and Rachelle Ferrell (it is a fantasy after all).

4. A bit unoriginal but always needed nonetheless - provide scholarships for the jazz courses at RAM, Trinity, Guildhall and Leeds College of Music (apologies if I've left anyone off my list).

5. Reader's choice... What would you do with £50,000? Answers on a postcard please....


Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition

The second Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition, run by Clement Pianos will take place in Nottingham on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd October 2010.

Here are the runners and riders in alphabetical order. Note the 15 year old British/French entry, Mathis Picard (video above). He’s currently studying at Chetham’s with Les Chisnall, supported by Tina Turner, Michael Jones and Phil Collins and winner of a few awards already. Oh and according to his biography, he played support for Jamie Cullum at the Orleans Jazz Festival. The next Gwilym Simcock perhaps?

Roman Babik Germany 29

Zoltan Balogh Hungary 26

Andrzej Baranek UK 28

Dory Bavarsky USA 28

Nial Dujliarso USA 29

Chris Donnelly Canada 27

Samvel Gasparyan Armenia 28

Joonas Haavisto Finland 28

Gabriel Latchin UK 26

Mathis Picard UK 15

Jake Sherman USA 21

Logan Thomas USA 25

The judges are Tim Richards, Robert Mitchell, David Newton, Zoe Rahman and Jonathan Gee.

Much more detail on their website.


Preview: Mike Figgis at Kings Place

Mike Figgis is a man of many talents. As a director he was twice nominated for an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas and he has photographed for Agent Provocateur and Harper's Bazaar. But in his own words, "first and foremost, I was a musician."

His father's love of jazz inspired him to take up the trumpet at 12, the instrument he later played with Bryan Ferry. For ten years, he toured with the free improvisation group, The People Band as part of The People Show, who reunited at The Vortex three years ago. He brings The People Band back to Kings Place on Saturday for a live two hour improvisation in which the audience will become part of the event.

He opens his residency tonight with Sound, Music and Film, a demonstration of the effect of music on drama using his film Timecode. Thursday's Theatre Songs with vocals from the wonderful Christine Tobin features a selection of songs from his three works of multimedia music theatre, composed in the 80's involving live music film crossover. On Friday, he will sit in on bass and trumpet with pianist and performance artist Rosey Chan, playing a combination of classical works from Ravel and Scriabin with a journey through jazz staples from Mingus to Bix Beiderbecke. Should make for an interesting week.


Wednesday Morning Headlines

For those of you missing Sebastian's Wednesday Weekly today, here's a little update to feed your thirst...

Prize Draw

Tamco will be launching their album at the Vortex next Wednesday 22nd September. To celebrate, the first six readers to email Tim at will receive a copy of the album Don't Think Twice. The photo above of lead singer, Tammy Payne is courtesy of Tim Dickeson.


Director, Photographer, Composer, Musician and jazz fan Mike Figgis is in residence at Kings Place this week.

The Charlie Wood Quartet will be at the Hideaway on Sunday with the lovely Jacqui Dankworth.

One of Anita Wardell's favourite singers, Christine Tobin will be at the 606 on Sunday. See our interview with Anita here.

And another of Anita's favourites, Brigitte Beraha, will be at Jazz Cafe POSK this Saturday.

A long list of fantastic musicians will be appearing at Ronnie Scotts this coming Monday for the Chris Dagley Memorial Concert.

Enjoy a free preview of Simon Roth's Mayday Project at Ray's Jazz next Tuesday at 6pm.

Also on Tuesday, Lea Delaria and Anita Wardell will be blasting the Jerome Kern Songbook at Pizza Express Dean Street.


Whilst some regular gigs are closing due to the current economic climate, Jazz at the Green Man goes from monthly to weekly starting on Wednesday 29th September with Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard UNPLUGGED.

Voting is open for this year's MOBO awards. Ronnie Scott's favourite, Natalie Williams, is up for Best UK R&B/Soul Act and it's difficult to choose a winner in the very strong Best Jazz Act category. I've cast my vote.

American free jazz saxophonist, Noah Howard, sadly passed away this month. John Fordham wrote a nice obituary in the Guardian.


Chris Dagley Memorial Concert

Photo courtesy of Charlie Chan

An ever increasing list of star performers will be turning out on Monday at the Ronnie Scott's benefit gig for Chris Dagley's family. As it stands, the following have been confirmed to take their turn on stage in memory of Chris:

Natalie Williams, Jamie Cullum, Claire Martin, Mike Lindup, Liane Carroll, Phil Gould, Carleen Anderson, James Pearson, The Ronnie Scott's All Stars, Jim Mullen, Selena Jones and Rick Astley.

The variety of performers reflects the far reaching and varied career of the much loved and much missed house drummer. LondonJazz have been informed that on the night, a framed photo of Chris signed by the evening's musicians will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Let's hope there are deep pockets in the room.

I have a feeling this will be one of those gigs that stays in the memory for a very long time.

UPDATE: The concert has now SOLD OUT but for those of you who are attending, Lizzie Ball has been added to the line-up and a raffle of all sorts of prizes will be held on the night.

FURTHER UPDATE: Neil Williams has set up a memorial site for Chris, which will be selling music downloads donated by Gerard Presencer, NYJO, Neil Williams and Nigel Hitchcock, with all profits going to Chris' family.


Tune In, Swing Out

At 6pm tonight, Jazz FM will be airing a special broadcast of Ella Fitzgerald’s concert, recorded twenty years ago on the 4th March 1990 at the Royal Albert Hall to mark the launch of the station. Joined by the Count Basie Orchestra, Ella was flown over by Jazz FM to make her last appearance in Europe before her death in 1996.

The broadcast coincides with the announcement that Jazz FM are to be the new media partners for the Royal Albert Hall's Late Night Jazz series, with upcoming gigs from Ian Shaw, Alan Barnes, Christian Brewer and Tammy Weiss.


Review and Pictures: Blue Note Quintet at the 606

Ed Bentley's Blue Note Quintet at the 606 Club, September 9th 2010. Featuring Ed Bentley on organ and piano; Jim Mullen, guitar; Dave Lewis, tenor sax; Rod Youngs, drums; Pete Eckford, percussion. Review and pictures by Roger Thomas.

For the start of their first set Ed Bentley lays down a groove that lives up to his namesake - that well upholstered vehicle – with Rod Youngs the purring engine. By the time Pete Eckford kicks in with percussion you begin to imagine the muted sound of tyres as the vehicle leaves a graveled driveway transporting Jim Mullen and Dave Lewis in plush comfort to go out exploring. 'Damn, this is funky' the person sitting next to me exclaimed.

By the time they reached Green Dolphin Street and took us for a stroll amongst Autumn Leaves I swore I could smell fresh upholstered leather. Could I be tripping on half-glass of red wine? No, it was definitely the music cooking and seriously grooving.

Ed's organ was providing a cushion of sound as only the master Jimmy Smith could have for Jim Mullen and Dave Lewis to deliver up pure excitement and lyricism. Looking around, I was glad to see the audience enjoying themselves as much as I was. What I found most amazing, after speaking with Ed, is that the band never rehearsed. Further confirmation of the virtuosity of the Blue Note Quintet.

I shall be looking to catch more of this groove machine in the future!


Preview: Hypnotic Brass at Ronnie Scott's

Fran Hardcastle is looking forward to Hypnotic Brass at Ronnie's

The band of brothers from Chicago will be raising the roof at Ronnie's next week. In the same vein as Youngblood Brass Band and the Hot 8, they take the traditional New Orleans street band format and inject inflections of hip hop and funk to create a young, party sound. Their family upbringing, as the sons of former Sun Ra Arkestra trumpeter, Phil Cohran with singers for mothers put horns in their hands at an early age, so their individual musicianship is strong.

Having collaborated with some of the world's biggest names in rap, hip hop and soul such as Mos Def, Gorillaz and Erykah Badu, their appearance at London's most famous jazz club should be interesting. Sebastian reviewed them at Brecon Jazz recently and noted that they quickly had the audience up on their feet. Those tables will be bouncing at Ronnies this Monday and Tuesday.


Jazz CDs Featured Artist: Asaf Sirkis


The title of Asaf Sirkis' latest CD, the sixth album in his own name, is "Letting Go," (Stonedbird). Which, Sirkis says, means "forgetting who you think you are, and being what you really are."

Look for clues to what Asaf Sirkis really is in the tracks of this very personal CD, and there are quite a few. The last track, for example, "Waltz for Rehovot," gives an insight into the town where he grew up.

Rehovot is a city in Israel of 115,000 people, some 20km to the South of Tel Aviv. It is a place which proudly displays its associations with Western culture, science and commerce in the three unlikely emblems on its municipal crest: a microscope, a book...and an orange. Israel's "City of Science and Culture" also happens to be its citrus capital.

But there is another, equally long-standing heritage in this city. Some of the earliest settlers in Rehovot in the 1890's were from Yemen. Asaf Sirkis grew up in the part of the town inhabited by the town's substantial Yemenite community, surrounded by the sounds of Middle Eastern drumming.

"Waltz for Rehovot" is a quiet tune which dwells on precisely this East/West duality. As a waltz, it draws its inspiration from West. But it is also constantly infused with the middle eastern rhythms among which form an integral part of Sirkis' musical language.

The track starts with delicate work on the snare drum, with brushes. Then the tune is restated. And then comes some of the quietest drumming you will ever hear, still on brushes. Sirkis has not just an alertness to different timbres but a very wide dynamic range, and here he is testing the very boundaries of silence. He then takes the tune out, with a completely different sound, a prouder, more extrovert voice. I asked Sirkis about this: this time it's a western instrument, straight from the classical orchestra: "They're timpani mallets," he tells me.

One of Asaf Sirkis' early drum idols, and a key influence was Stewart Copeland, who grew up in Cairo and Beirut, and who shares this dual heritage. " A lot of people think his rhythms come from reggae and ska. But what his druming really is, is a rocky assimilaton of strong, powerful Arabic rhythms. I like his energy."

Like Copeland, Sirkis considers the drum kit the place at which he feels most at home. Yes, Sirkis is happy to play a wide range of percussion in other contexts, such as Tim Garland's band. "If Tim Garland were to ask me, I'd play anything. Cardboard coffee cup, no problem. But in my own band it's strictly drums. I've always felt I'm a drummer. It's my 110% vocation.."

The Asaf Sirkis Trio on the CD consists of electric guitar, electric bass and drums. This is a format which Asaf Sirkis has been thinking about, and working in, for most of his musical life. Allan Holdsworth has been a major influence, as has Larry Coryell, with whom Sirkis has toured extensively. "This is a sound I can hear," he says.

The other members of the trio are guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos, originally from Athens, and Israeli bassist Yaron Stavi. This band has been together for four years, ever since Spiliotopoulos first depped for Mike Outram in another unit which Sirkis leads, Inner Noise, the trio with church organist Steve Lodder. Sirkis has known Yaron Stavi via Gilad Atzmon's bands ever since he came to London in April 1999. Sirkis is happy to be looking forward to around thirty-five gigs with this unit, promoting the album, wich will give the opportunity to take their collective sound further.

There are other strong personal associations in this CD, which come through in the song titles. "Other Stars and Planets" and "Full Moon," lead the listener in the direction of Sirkis' interest in astrology. Drumming has so much to do with balance and weight and counterweight, it somehow comes as no surprise to hear Sirkis talk of his interest in Vedic astrology, according to which there are times of day when people do better to work in conjunction with, rather than against the natural pattern of events.

Sirkis is also pursuing, intently and seriously, an interest on Indian music. "I have been listening for years to South Indian Temple music, a complete genre in Karnatic music. Temple music is sonically much rawer than the better known Indian music wih sitar, tabla and voice. It's beautiful. In last couple of years I've started to get into the amazing rhythmic system . It's an old system. It's challenging. It really works your brain out .It's real hard core maths."

The opening track "Chennai Dream," is where Sirkis explores this."Have you been to Chennai?" I ask. "No. That's why it's a dream." But rather than looking to East or to West, Sirkis keeps looking forward.

In fact, he spells out his objectives as a musician thus: "Developing language and technique is a means of communicating better what you want to say, of getting in to the core of what you want to say, and to say it simply..."

After making this serious point, I notice that he suddenly breaks into one of those powerfully infectious laughs for which he is known in the profession. Sirkis, who is capable of playing unbelievably fast and volcanically loud, relishes the irony:

"And quietly. And slowly."

LETTING GO is available from


Interview: Anita Wardell

Scat queen and all-round lovely lady, Anita Wardell, talks to Fran Hardcastle about her upcoming gigs at Pizza Express (next one this Sunday Sep 12th) , her favourite singers and her American tour. Plus we get a sneak preview of her next album, due to be recorded by the end of this year. (Photo credit: Richard Kaby)

Tell LondonJazz about your gig at Pizza with Michael L Roberts this Sunday.

Michael is a singer who I think is a real one to watch. He's in that Kurt Elling vein. He's got a real respect for the Great American Songbook and knowledge of the great jazz instrumentalists, like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and even Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. He draws from that knowledge then injects his own personal feeling into it, which makes a really interesting mix. So he's got the jazz streak that we've learnt from all the greats before us but he's also got his own innate sound, which he's been working on and developing over the last 6 years, since I first met him. It's that unique sound that I love about him. I think he'll go far, that guy!

What kind of rep will we hear at the gig?

We've been doing a few gigs together over the past year or so and we've got a few tunes together, Miles Davis' Four, a couple of Bob Dorough tunes and some Horace Silver. We pick these great instrumental songs from these great instrumentalists and perform some with lyrics, some not. We do a great Stan Getz tune called Don't Get Scared. Michael sings one of the solos and I sing the other one, then we do loads of scatting together... He roasts me, then I roast him but nowadays he nearly always roasts me more! The interaction we've got with each other and the interaction we've got with the band is really special so I'm really looking forward to that gig.

And you'll be appearing on his new album?

I was really chuffed when he asked me to do a guest spot. The album is a mixture of all that stuff. Standards and a couple of originals that he's done. The one that I've guested on is a tune Michael wrote called Faces. The album, Moving is Living, is coming out on the Nota Bene label. I've been told the record company want to bring Faces out as a single, which is very exciting for Michael and certainly exciting for me.

In a couple of weeks you're back at Pizza Express on 21st September with Lea Delaria.

Yes, we'll be doing the Jerome Kern Songbook. It'll be very exciting to sing with Lea, because Lea is somebody that loves to improvise. September is proving to be a great month for me because I'm gonna be doing what I love the most - scatting. As well as joining up with people who inspire me to do different things.

I hear you've got some dates in the States coming up?

Yes, it's something I'm really looking forward to. I'll be doing a series of House Concerts, which are quite fashionable over there. People host a concert in their home and invite about 40 guests. I'll be doing one of Ernie Shelton's House Concert's in Sebastapol, California and a couple for Nich Anderson in Seattle. I'm also giving a workshop at The Jazz School in Berkeley and am due to confirm a gig in New Orleans.

And plans are afoot for a new Anita Wardell album?

Yes. Once a few logistics are sorted, I'll be away recording, which will be something to look forward to. There will definitely be an Anita Wardell record out very soon. If not this year then at the beginning of next year.

What are your plans for the album? Can you give us a taste of what we might expect?

All I can say is that there will be some scatting on it...

We'd be disappointed if there wasn't!

(Laughs). There'll definitely be some scatting and some vocalese. And maybe a couple of new arrangements... I've taken some old songs and really given them a new lease of life by changing some of the time signatures. I'm just trying to keep doing what I do, so that the fans will be happy, while really trying to find another streak of my performing skills. I love scatting and I love vocalese but there's so much out there to explore. So I'm now in the process of trying some new feels and new ways round the tunes and maybe I might even write one or two of my own. But there'll definitely be something for everyone one on the album.

You mention exploring new feels for songs. What new directions do you think jazz singers can take these days?

Jazz instrumental music is really taking off in new directions. It's fused together with so many different styles... You've got folk fused with jazz and world music fused with jazz and even the pop music of today is really fused in. People are working in different time signatures, taking rocky/poppy/jazzy/folky feels and really moving in a forward direction.

With the singing, it's still quite standardy based in a lot of ways. However, then there are people like Gretchen Parlato and Esperanda Spalding that are really taking it into another area. They're doing things that the instrumentalists are doing, taking on different time feels and experimenting with different textures. Doing things like mixing Brazilian music and world music in with jazz, which I think has been done before but they're taking it to new heights, like putting songs in 11 and 13 time signatures. They make music that sounds really new and rich. I think there's something to be learnt by that.

Then there are my favourite singers in London, Norma Winstone, Christine Tobin and Brigitte Beraha - who I think is just awesome. I've always thought Christine and Norma were my favourite singers, then in the last five years, Brigitte came on the scene. I find her very talented and think she has some really interesting things to say. She gives something different. Brigitte writes her own material. She's another one who is taking things to a different area. Which is really great.

Thank you!

Anita will perform with Michael L Roberts at Pizza Express Dean Street this Sunday 12 September and returns for Lea Delaria's Wall2Wall on 21st September.

For more info on Anita's USA dates, go to