Review: Richard Godwin


Richard Godwin
(Vortex, August 30th 2010)


For his second appearance at the Vortex, Richard Godwin had gently self-deprecating wisecracks teed up and ready to introduce each of his two sets, complete with punchlines:

For the first set, deadpan: "They say you appear at the Vortex twice. Once on your way up and once on your way down. Welcome back." And after the interval: "We hope you've had time to go to the loo and adjust your...expectations."

This verbal facility is scarcely surprising. You would expect a talented 29-year old editor/ feature writer/ columnist at the Evening Standard, surrounded daily by a swarm of healthy egos, to be highly articulate. The unknown here was Godwin as singer-songwriter. He has good presence as a performer, and it will be above all fascinating to follow what directions his lyric-writing and song-writing take.

The opening set was quiet, folky, but beset with problems with amp leads. The songs, with strong hints of Bob Dylan - and, a reliable informant told me - the American singer Elliott Smith, who died tragically young in 2003- have a quiet directness about them. The lyrics paint vivid pictures in few words: winds, windmills, crashed cars, shards of glass. But the vulnerability they appear to portray comes with more than a hint of archness.

He enjoys internal rhymes, with the relish of a Dylan Thomas or a Sondheim. Godwin often delivers with a thinnish voice - like Brecht's - in an insistent monotone, pushing out a repeated dominant on guitar. But he is a very capable guitarist, notably in an episode involving flautando harmonics, or when picking out a clear melody in the tenor register with his elegant, long, thin fingers.

Backing vocalist Amelia Tucker provided subtle support, and the trio of Tom Cawley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums were immaculate.

This trio were more in evidence in Godwin's livelier second set. With their support, Godwin's presence as performer seemed to grow palpably. The opening number "Powerful Message" deserved, and duly got, some really committed applause. It is a song about corporations getting a message about their responsibility across, and seemingly drew on more of Godwin's recent experience. The Financial Times has spent the last three decades lamenting the lack of high quality creative work portraying business culture authentically. This song by Godwin, and whatever follows in its wake, may be an answer such calls.

The strongest performances were kept for the end: a robust and heartfelt rendering of Brel's Au Suivant/ Next, an affectionate song Josie dedicated to his wife, and the final Variety, sung as an encore in duo with Tom Cawley. This song came to an end with the words "I keep coming back for more." Which sounds like a very good idea.

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Rochefort en Accords Festival Round-Up

Rochefort en Accords Festival Round-up)
(Various Venues in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France, August 26th-28th,
review and photos by Lisa Gee)


Rochefort – planned and built in the second half of the 17th century as one of Louis XIVth’s naval bases – is a relaxed place, so chilled, in fact, that it allows cyclists to ride the wrong way up one way streets and hosts Rochefort en Accords: one of the coolest music festivals in France.

“It’s incredibly rare to find a festival this open,” says Eric Longsworth (above), whose versatile, empathic and muscular cello improvisations were among its highlights. “As musicians we’re almost always obliged to fit into some kind of category. I’m often categorised as jazz, so I’ll play in jazz festivals. This is the only place I can play with bluesmen, pop singers, an African kora player, where all these styles of music are mixed together.” The musicians love the freedom and stimulation this offers.

From an audience perspective, it makes for an inspiring – if occasionally surreal – experience. Friday night saw 1970s pub rock legend Sean Tyla thundering out his 1974 Ducks Deluxe single “Fireball” with the energy of a man a third his age, accompanied by French rock guitarist Nicolas Mingot, rock bassist and ukelele wiz Brad Scott, loud, precise rock drummer Franck Marco and, er, subtle and playful Malinese percussionist Adama Diarra on, er, balafon. The fact that we could not only hear that Diarra was playing, but also what he was playing speaks volumes for the quality of sound engineering.

Individual concerts are scheduled at various venues around town: in the central square, in a selection of walled gardens and on the 1900 “pont transbordeur,” a platform that slides over the Charente Estuary. This is possibly the world’s shortest gig – one song there, one back.

The only indoor venue, the Temple Protestant, is, inevitably, the best acoustically, and where the Rochefort-en-Accords wow factor really flares. We fetched up there twice; once, as planned, for the first event on Thursday 26th, and again, on Friday 27th, when rain stopped (outdoor) play, providing an extra opportunity to feel the extraordinary power of Haitian vocalist James Germain unamplified. On recordings and mic-ed up live he has a terrific soul/gospel sound. In church, as Le Monde put it (but in French, obviously), “he appeared from nowhere and dumbfounded everyone”. Essentially, his baroque opera training kicked in and what came out was something I can only describe as the voice you’d want to sing you out of this world and into the next.



In church with Germain on Thursday were Diarra, Longsworth and Malinese kora-meister Chérif Soumano (above with Amar Sundy), French classical clarinet/sax player Renaud Gabriel Pion (whose Paradise Alley is worth a listen), acute and lyrical Israeli pianist Or Solomon and French left-field folkie Seb Martel who, with Pion, opened the festival with a gently jazzy take on Bowie’s Modern Love.


Friday’s church gig kicked off with Scott Taylor’s commanding solo accordion. Along with Longsworth, Soumano, Germain, Marco, Solomon, outstanding harmonica player Greg Zlap and Algerian bluesman Amar Sundy – a powerful and generous performer, whose exuberant midnight set warmed and uplifted a chilly Saturday night audience – Taylor exemplifies the best of Rochefort-en-Accords: a forensic knowledge of his instrument’s possibilities and an unerring sense of how and when to apply them; the charisma to hold audience attention stage front combined with the humility and professionalism to step back and let someone else take the floor; and an appreciation of the value of silence. He can whistle, too.

One huge criticism. Out of the 26 billed musicians, only one was a woman: the hard-working, but slightly out-of-her-depth singer-songwriter Laetitia Shériff (above). The entire remaining on-stage female presence makes a short and depressing list:

1) a gyrating semi-clad dancer brandishing a skull-on-a-stick
2) a musician’s loud, attention-seeking, apparently plastered girlfriend, dancing at the audience and intermittently shrieking something off key into a mic
3) Sindy, the devoted, sweet but non-performing dog of guitarist Jef Morin

This is the one area the festival organizers could, should, must improve.


Rochefort en Accords Festival website

Lisa Gee is a Londoner and a writer

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Remembering a different Samantha



BBC Radio Radio 4 is broadcasting the Humph Celebration Concert today at noon. The gig, organized by Stephen Lyttelton, raised nearly £70,000 for a scholarship at RAM.

It is ON BBC IPLAYER

We went to it and REVIEWED it.

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Review: Monty Alexander


Monty Alexander Quartet
(Ronnie Scott's, August 26th 2010, review by Geoff Winston)


"If it don't sound like Nat King Cole, it's NAT King Cole!" Pianist Monty Alexander has a way with self-mockery. And when he veers off into Jamaican patois and talks about the aftermath of Empire, he could cause discomfort. But, ever the practiced entertainer, he puts his audience completely at ease.

Alexander's hugely enjoyable two-hour set saw him deliver blues-inflected powerhouse runs, jaw-droppingly precise funk, and re-interpretations of the songs and rhythms of calypso and reggae (notably 'No Woman No Cry') - calling to mind his statements that "it's what you do with a song that makes it jazz" and that he has always wanted to "bring out some home vibrations which are still deep inside my life and my spirit."

The repertoire was confidently varied. Alexander ticked off 'Don't Stop the Carnival' right at the start, a great way to set a high tempo and get his grinning group to gel from the off. They stretched out langourously on the Hefti composition, 'Li'l' Darlin'', a similar mood taken up by a poignant 'In the Wee Small Hours' which followed the roller coaster of a heavily funked up 'On Broadway'.

His long-standing rhythm section delivered their own personal touches - Robert Taylor Jnr's long spells of polished hand-drumming, and Hassan Shakur's darting bass and wistful plea for world peace sung in a high register, reggae-style. The youthful Yotam Silberstein's light and accomplished guitar was an effective foil duetting with Alexander on 'To the Ends of the Earth' - although, maybe a touch too anonymous in deference to the master.

Alexander's fluency, focussed invention and natural upbeat delivery never fail to impress. Whether he's swapping the melody from one hand to the other, reaching out to his musicians or the audience, the irresistible, driving swing keeps going.

Like Oscar Peterson, he'd hum or grunt along from time to time - and then he'd break into full song or even yodel. When he blew on the melodica with shimmering reverb, the spirit of reggae's ambient dub genius, Augustus Pablo, echoed around the room. There was an informal detour into 'Unforgettable', joined by his wife, Caterina Zapponi, on vocals, then, emphasising the complex cultural recipe that underpins his music, the quartet dipped in to the ‘Banana Boat Song’ and bowed out at a blistering pace in a bolero-style 'Aranjuez'.

Earlier, pianist James Pearson, with ideal backing from Julie Walkington (b) and Dave Ohm (dr), was joined by singer Georgia Mancio to deliver a quality opening set of flowing vocals and rich piano, a respectful nod to the main man of the evening.

(Photo credit: Montreuxjazz/Lionel Flusin)

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Sunday Nights at the North London Tavern

Regular readers will be recognizing the pattern here. While salaried press officers in the arts establishment send out yet another press release declaring the arrival of Armaggedon....another group of young London jazz musicians sets up another new gig.

The North London Tavern is on the corner of Kilburn High Road and Cavendish Road.

-Your address 375 Kilburn High Road NW6 7QB
-Your music is on Sunday nights
-There's always a double bill for you
-Your doors are 7.30pm
-Your admission is a fiver.
-Jack Davies is your promoter
-Your September programme starts on the 5th with a double bill of Calum Gourlay Quartet+ Tom Hewson's 'Treehouse'
-All your information including two gigs in the London Jazz Festival is on their MYSPACE
-Bob's your uncle

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Norma's Conquest of Paris


Every so often there's a buzz - from somewhere abroad - about Norma Winstone.

A few years ago, her back catalogue was being re-issued by an outright chancer in Japan. Then she won a major prize in Germany and started getting called the "Grande Dame" of European Jazz singing. Then her first ECM album Distances got nominated for a Grammy.

And now with the release of her second ECM album "Stories Yet to Tell" (ECM 273 7426) due on Monday, the strongest buzz is coming from this building in Paris:

It's the Maison de Radio France, from where Alex Dutilh's prime-time, drive- time, five nights a a week jazz show Open Jazz, at 7.05 on France-Musique gets broadcast. The show restarts after the holidays on Monday. As he puts it in his blog, it will "démarrer en trombe" - (start with the foot on the floor)- with a feature about the new album. I received a review copy last night. On first hearing I think it's the best thing she's ever done. Here's John Fordham's review. And there's also a rave review in German from the SZ newspaper, (but someone will need to explain to me - with diagrams and formulae as necessary - how Norma's singing gets to be described as "snorkel-less." Uh?)

Norma Winstone will be at the Barbican Centre as part of the London Jazz Festival on Wednesday November 17th.

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Review: Jamie Cullum Prom

Review: Jamie Cullum and the Heritage Orchestra, dir. Jules Buckley
(Royal Albert Hall, BBC Prom 55, August 26th, Photos by Sisi Burn)


This is Jamie Cullum 's year. As the Proms announcer told the Royal Albert Hall crowd, with 4.5 million album sales, the 31-year old is the most successful young British jazz musician ever. He worked recently with Clint Eastwood. He's been touring a new album extensively with a new band. Oh yes, and he got married (*).

But since April he has also started to re-define where jazz sits in the BBC's output, and is on the road to becoming an integral part of the corporation's offer, and maybe, in time, of its identity. Following the death of the universally revered, irreplaceable Humphrey Lyttelton in April 2008, there had been a hiatus. Humph was a tall, constantly reassuring national icon. His immensely generous and warm presence served as a permanent rallying-point for the music.

In the past four months, the much smaller shoes of this "man-boy", as he described himself, have traced a continuation of that line of footprints every Tuesday evening, as BBC Radio 2's main jazz presenter. There has been a huge variety of music on offer. He has often brought surprises. He has been reverent to the jazz legacy, but also knows, from deep within, its special brand of irreverence.One can only conjecture, but in the long run this Prom may well have put down an important marker of his arrival at the citadel of broadcasting in Langham Place.


The audience last night took its time to warm up. They didn't need the extreme defrost setting which I saw Cullum apply to a Cheltenham audience in May. But the first number, All at Sea, with its dollop of MOR string sound from a 27 piece orchestra was not exactly the thing to get the pulses racing. Indeed, applause only really got going once Rory Simmons on trumpet and Tom Richards on tenor sax started ripping with some muscularity through the changes of "Just one of those Things."

Cullum talked of his first Prom as a proud moment, as humbling. He played "What a Difference A Day makes," recalling an early appearance on the Parkinson TV show.




The Heritage Orchestra, deftly conducted by Jules Buckley, fitted well into the role of backing band. They took their many chances to shine, but they gave hints of a wider range of character, which didn't fully come across. Highlights were a New Orleans Marching band which brought into the limelight at the front of the stage a couple of the most triumphant and joyous sounds in British jazz: Tom Rees Roberts' resplendent high trumpet (above right) , and Andy Wood 's authoritative sousaphone.

Blame it On My Youth introduced a cameo appearance for guitarist Martin Taylor, described by Cullum with true Brit understatement as a "real jazz musician." Chris Hill on bass and Brad Webb on drums are the kind of rhythm section players who just nail absolutely everything, and in style. Mixtape got the moshers in the Arena pogo-ing and clapping.




I particularly enjoyed the narrative sequence by which These Are The Days with its Ba-da-da-dup-da vocal refrain morphing, via a piano interlude, into a Ray Charles Big Band ending- orchestrated by Tom Richards. It ended with impressive mountaineering around the piano by Cullum (above), the appropriation of a megaphone, and an in-your-face final chord consisting of an entire raspberry bush of altered notes.

Kevin Le Gendre's elegant account of Cullum's career, and his elaborate and slightly tongue-in-cheek programme notes to the songs added to the experience. But the main point which Le Gendre made was a serious one: again and again, Cullum's triumphs have happened "in the one place where it is impossible to fake talent: the stage."

As the meditative Gran Torino sent the huge crowd away extremely happy, it was clear that he had proved it again. On the stage. That's showbiz. This is also integrity.

AVAILABLE ON BBC IPLAYER

www.bbc.co.uk/proms

http://www.sisiburn.com/

(*)into the family of one of the finest storytellers this country has ever produced, whose own story is about to be told more completely than before in a new authorized biography by Donald Sturrock

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Trudy Kerr/ Ingrid James Reunion Tour and CD Prize Draw



A tough job but someone has to do it. Vocalists Trudy Kerr and Ingrid James are currently performing songs from their CD Reunion (Jazzizit) in Noosa, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast (above). It's whaere they have connections....Ingrid James lives in Queensland, and adoptive Londoner Trudy Kerr originally hails from there.


They will be bringing some of that Australian sunshine, and also the experience of having gigged the material extensively in Australia, to a lot of places where a little sunshine goes a long way. Here's the list, (central London dates in bold.)

Sat 25th Sept Maritime Jazz Festival, Chatham
Sun 26th Sept Jagz, Ascot, 1pm
Sun 26th Sept Hawth Theatre, Crawley
Tues 28th Sept Live session BBC Radio Southern Counties Jazz Hour
Wed 29th Sept The Woodman, Sevenoakds
Thu 30th Sept Grimsby Jazz
Fri 1st Oct The Fleece, Stoke by Nayland Club, Colchester - 8pm
Sat 2nd Oct Wooburn Festival, Beaconsfield
Sunday 3rd Oct CD LAUNCH Pizza Express, Dean St
Tues 5th Oct Lord Rookwood, Leytonstone,
Thur 7th Oct Harri's Jazz Club in Shepperton
Fri 8th Oct Poole Jazz Cafe,
Sat 9th Oct 606 Jazz Club, Sunday 10th Oct- Daytime workshops, evening gig


I particularly enjoyed the two-girl sassy backchatty version of Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup's "Girl Talk".

Full info on dates, times, venue contact numbers on Trudy Kerr's website.

A copy of Reunion is on offer this week- exclusively to LondonJazz weekly newsletter subscribers (the sign-up box is on the right)

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Tonight at Ronnie's - It's The Talk of The Town



From Brandon Allen's Facebook:

If anybody's looking for anything to do...come to the Ronnie Scott's Late Set tonight (Wednesday 25th Aug) to hear my quartet doing a tribute to the great tenor saxophonist GENE AMMONS...We start at 11/11.15pm...feat me (tenor), Ross Stanley (piano), Mike Janisch (bass) and Steve Brown (drums)...Swinging greasy tunes...£5 entry after 11pm and free for musicians...Hope to catch you..! Brandon Allen.

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Brilliant Corea in Marciac



Freedom Band: Chick Corea with Christian McBride, Roy Haynes and Kenny Garrett. Check out another clip HERE

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Jazz at the Oxford re-starts : Monday Sept 13th


Get out your diaries. Set the alarm for Monday. One of the key musician-promoted gigs of the young London scene is Jazz at the Oxford in Kentish Town (Photo from Rocky Lorusso's Kentish Town blog. From September 13th when it re-starts it will move night from Tuesday to Monday. It previously steered clear of Mondays to avoid a clash with the Con Cellar Bar, which has now stopped promoting. Here's the schedule:


Monday 13th First up is a double bill: Troyka plus a trio: trumpeter Chris Batchelor with bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer Dave Smith.

Monday 20th. Flautist Gareth Lockrane 's 'Grooveyard' with Ross Stanley

Monday 27th. Mark Hanslip, Alex Bonney, Olie Brice and Mark Sanders

The October dates announced are
-4th Sam Crockatt
-11th Bruno Heinen's band 'Tierkreis'
-18th Rick Simpson Quartet (including - I believe- the promoter putting it all together, George Crowley
-25th Rachel Musson's double drummer quintet 'Skein' with Alcyona, Javier Carmona and Josh Morrison

Music starts at 9pm. Entry is just £5.

The Oxford is on Myspace - - twitter on Twitter as @jazzattheoxford and back in reality it's at 256 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AA

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Brad Mehldau: "on Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Beethoven and God"

Brad Mehldau has written a blog post. No, Brad Mehldau has written a serious and highly personal essay. Titled as above.

If you skim-read through it, OMG, the first thing which jumps out visually is that there are quotes, extensive quotes in German. From Hermann Hesse's Siddartha and Rilke's Duino Elegies. Like tricky music, it's the kind of gesture which will put some people off. Maybe that was the intention? A pianist thing?

It's a fascinating piece of writing, and far from dry, in fact the language gets pretty colourful.

Mehldau's subject matter is personal. He remembers the first encounter with Coltrane's music at a classical music summer camp:

I was sweating and freaking out; it was awesome. I had never heard any music remotely like that. When we emerged again from the cabin, I was changed. Sometimes music can do that to you. It raised the bar for my expectation as to what music could – and should – be.

And Hendrix:

...that guitar solo seemed to carry the grief of the world on it, and it was so deep and beautiful that I was just lost to it.

And an acknowledgement that these are the kind of experiences which remove certainty, seem enormous, like a religious conversion.

You confront something that is greater than you and greater than what has until that point been safely contained in your worldview.

The remainder of the essay uses these experiences to jump off into probing what these kinds of experience mean, and looks at similarities and differences between the experience of art and of religion and belief.

Music dissolves these boundaries [between spiritual and sensual], or at least questions their stability. When we confront the sublime in great music – when we confront the sublime anywhere – hopefully we are ready for it. Hopefully we can submit to it, letting its power fill us, even while we remain humble, awed by its beauty.

It's well worth a read. There are people for whom music is background, priddy toons, useful for selling stuff. And there are others for whom it is the most powerful thing they can ever experience. Which gives it its value.

Come to think of it, Thomas Aquinas and Descartes never heard Coltrane or Hendrix, so the ontological argument for the existence of God may now have serious flaws.

Discuss.


THE WHOLE ARTICLE IS HERE

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The Quartier Latin of Camberwell

Sarah Ellen Hughes writes:

Sunday evening sees the quaint French bistro Le Petit Parisien transformed into the most happening jazz hub in South East London. Booked by the same organisation that books Jazz Live @ The Crypt - Camberwell's answer to Chelsea's 606 Club - it's no surprise that the jazz is always of the highest standard.

The night is labelled ‘On The Up’ – perhaps a reference to the continuing regeneration plans of Camberwell and the surrounding areas. Regular musicians include vibraphonist Jim Hart, drummer Pete Cater and flautist supreme Gareth Lockrane.

A weekly gig. No entrance fee. That's all down to Simon Fernsby – regular guitarist here, and MD of the On The Up house band. Well worth a visit.

September line-up:
5 Tommaso Starace Quartet
12 Marama Café Band
19 Bob Martin with the On The Up House band
26 Tony Kofi with the On The Up House band

Sunday evenings 7:30pm Free entry 16 Grove Lane, Camberwell SE5 8SY

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Jazz Graphic Design Heaven Times Two



- Geoff Winston, who unearthed the video above on a graphics networking site, writes:

"This is a 3-minute video produced in Italy by Filmatindustriali in 2009 to promote the Bella Vista Social Bar in Siena.

It’s an ‘hommage’ to classic jazz album covers, which are given an extra filmic dimension with total love and respect. Many of the selected albums are designs for Blue Note by Reid Miles. Miles, who later moved on to photography was a classical music enthusiast, not a jazz man, but that didn’t stop him from being a great jazz album designer.

The other featured designers such as the groundbreaking John Hermansader, to whom Reid Miles was originally assistant, would have loved these. Francis Wolff, the amazing photographer and Blue Note partner, would have smiled at the way actor Moussa Kaba has taken on the role of the jazz heroes who appear on his original covers.

His take on Grachan Moncur III on the Some Other Stuff album cover is a particular delight, not to mention the scene-stealing cameos of the Jack Russell dog, Ultimo in Jimmy Smith’s Back at the Chicken Shack and the Elmo Hope Blue Note 10-inch cover animation. Blues and the Abstract Truth, designed by Robert Flynn/Viceroy, fleetingly gets the lightest of touches from director Bante (aka Stefano Tinti) and Kaba, too.

There are also some great detail touches such as turning the appearance of ringwear to visual advantage (the scuffed outline of the enclosed record on the outer surface of a well-worn LP cover).

The mis-spellings - Blakey as Blackey, on Introducing Kenny Drew, and Grachan as Grachsn really don't matter!”


-And while on the subject of graphic design heaven...if you want to buy a magazine to go on reading and enjoying from now until the cows come.... at least till Christmas....Eye Magazine's Music Design Special Issue, the current issue, No. 76 is essential.

-And another thing. There's a graphic designer encouraging LondonJazz to go down the road of Strange Frutiger, Baltimore Arial, Bodoni Soul (Do we really have to?)

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Review: Mr Ears presents.... at the Map Cafe

Mr Ears presents.... at the Map Cafe.
(Map Cafe, 46 Grafton Road NW5, Augist 22nd 2010, review by Rob Mallows)

New jams and regular sessions seem to be cropping up all over London. It's a good sign- jazz in London is definitely on the upbeat. The young turks of the city's music scene are taking the lead and injecting vitality into the small-scale gig circuit.

Cai Marle-Garcia is a good example. This personable young London bassist - taking time out from promoting and touring his first album, the excellent Mr Ears - has added promoting to his musical CV by creating a platform for up-and-coming and established young musicians. Judging by the quality on show this weekend, they are ready and willing to back him to the hilt. On Sunday Cai was joined by drummer Stuart Semple, Shabaka Hutchings, playing the whole gig on clarinet, and Tom Millar on the piano.

Over an hour and a half they ran through standards such as Donna Lee, a couple of Monk tunes - on which Shabaka particularly showed some great improvised touches - finishing off with the breakneck blues of Billie's Bounce.

After the main set, each Sunday there's an open jam session. Judging by the number of teenage players waiting to get up and do their thing - and do it well - the production line of young London-based players seeking to make their mark is operating at full speed. Cai's initiative is to be applauded.

The Map Café is definitely one of the friendlier and commodious of London's smaller jazz venues and the room upstairs is big enough for these sessions (though a few more cushions would be of benefit to those staying the whole afternoon). At the weekends lunch before enjoying the music can definitely be recommended - the vegetarian lasagne was top notch and the vibe of the place is definitely the polar opposite of Starbucks.

A whole afternoon's worth of entertainment for £4: it's phenomenal value.

Either the 46 or the 214 bus gets you there from Kings Cross in less than ten minutes.

http://www.mapmusic.net/cafe.php

Rob Mallows is administrator of the London Jazz Meetup Group

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10th October - Harry Beckett Memorial Concert




Cafe Oto's site announces a Memorial Concert to Harry Beckett on Sunday October 10th, starting at 6pm..

Musical tributes are announces from a very long (and strong) line-up: Annie Whitehead, an octet led by Claude Deppa, Chris Biscoe's Quintet, Roland Ramanan's Tentet, Caroline Kraabel, Ray Russell, Maggie Nicols, Veryan Weston Duo, Dave Amis, Byron Wallen, Lol Coxhill... the list goes on

Admission is "£TBA on the door." Full details are HERE. How is everyone going to get in?

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Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes



CD Review: Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes: Double Portrait (Blue Note)by Tom Gray


In October 2008, the husband-and-wife duo of Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes charmed a Ronnie Scott’s audience with their effortless demonstration of that tricky art form, the jazz piano duet. Thankfully, their beguiling musical partnership has now been beautifully captured on record, in the generous acoustics of Manhattan’s Kaufmann Concert Hall.

These are two of New York’s most elegant pianists, though with contrasting styles. Charlap’s feet are planted firmly in the mainstream and his recordings of Bernstein, Gershwin and Carmichael tunes have established him as one of the finest interpreters of the American songbook. Rosnes has more modern leanings, with overtones of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea prominent in her radiant lines.



The varied material on this album accommodates both pianists’ approaches well, ranging from an urbanely swinging account of Dietz and Schwartz’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, Jobim’s ‘Double Rainbow’ set as a sprightly jazz waltz and infused with Debussy-like harmonies through to Wayne Shorter’s ‘Ana Maria’, delivered with a subtly funky undertow. On a breakneck ‘Inner Urge’, it sounds as if Rosnes had coerced her husband into a little more risk-taking than he is used to, making for the album’s only really edgy moments during some percussive exchanges.

But the lasting impression is of the luxurious and full sound created when this pair combines, using the 176 keys available to optimum effect while doing a great job of not treading on each other’s toes (not easy in this format). Sometimes, a little goes a long way with music so rich, and at 50 minutes, the album’s length is well judged. Nevertheless, for those who saw that London performance and for all jazz piano obsessives, this should be an essential purchase. Maybe Ronnie's will welcome them back.

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Map Cafe: putting Kentish Town on the map

The life and the spirit of endeavour in the London Jazz scene is the most inspirational thing!

News: Kentish Town, NW5 is getting properly on the London jazz map. The Map Cafe at 46 Grafton Road is not just hosting its Sunday lunchtime gig and its Wednesday night gig, there are quite a few others.

Programme details are on the Map Music website.

There'll be definitely gigs going on the the recommended list.

Like Shabaka Hutchings there this a Sunday. Or a three night Carol Grimes residency Or John Etheridge on Thurs Sep 23rd. Ian Mann has published the full programme. More power to the Cal, Tom, Daisy and the team at Map. Reports please!!!!

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St Patrick's Gospel Choir at St Stephen's Walbrook



This is one of the most extraordinary buildings in London. Sir Christopher Wren's Church of St. Stephen's Walbrook EC4N 8BN‎ is a space which you can literally read in three ways.

As a Maltese Cross. Or as a dome. Or as a rectangle. Professor Lisa Jardine is in love with the building too. It's known as a study for St. Paul's, but the smaller scale allowed Wren to be far more bold with sources of light. It's a masterpiece!

On Sunday August 29th at 6.15pm, Miko Giedroyc's fabulously lively St Patricks Soho Gospel Choir are performing sung vespers there.The nucleus of this group do the gospel lunches at the 606 with the astonishing Tracey Campbell.

Admission on the 29th is free, with complimentary soft drinks and snacks afterwards.

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Monty Alexander- at Ronnie Scott's next week



Tom Gray preview's Monty Alexander - Ronnie Scott’s, Monday 23-Thursday 26 August

Anyone still feeling the comedown after the glut of great music on offer during the Brit Jazz festival would be well advised to get themselves back to Ronnie’s next week for the cure. The warmly enveloping sound made by Monty Alexander ’s group is certain to pull faces into near-permanent grins and set feet and fingers involuntarily tapping. With a CV including names such as Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown and Tony Bennett, it is no surprise that Alexander can swing like no other pianist around today. Add into the mix his innate feeling for reggae and ska (Alexander grew up in Kingston, Jamaica), and his music becomes pretty much irresistible. His late-August residencies have been a highlight of the Ronnie’s calendar, providing some memorable evenings.

This year he appears with an intriguing line-up of Hassan Shakur on bass, Yotam Silberstein on guitar and Robert Thomas Jr on hand drum. And you never know who might join them: a guest appearance from Kevin Spacey a few years back still sticks firmly in my mind, along with the sheer joy of Alexander’s set that night.

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Mercury Prize odds



"Golden" by the Kit Downes Trio has been the outsider to win the Mercury Prize. But the odds have been steadily widening.... They now stand at 50/1. Anyone tempted yet?

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There aren't any exciting new bands...



The publisher of "Q" and "Kerrang" magazines, Stuart Williams, of Bauer Media, talking to Music Week about why music magazine circulation has tanked this year:

"It's been a really quiet year for music releases.[...] Readers want to find out about new and exciting bands and if there aren't any out there for us to cover then we can't blame readers for not wanting to spend money on our titles".

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Congrats Richard Michael

HARK. Richard Michael, jazz educator, inspirer of the Youth Jazz Orchestra of the Kingdom of Fife, former schoolteacher, possessor of the infectious smile above.... has just won a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel Award for his Edinburgh Fringe Show “The History of Jazz Piano.”

For anyone in Edinburgh, there is an extra performance to cope with the demand at St Mark’s Church tomorrow night. Rob Adams of the Glasgow Herald wrote this great profile last week. Congratulations. Reports welcome!!

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The LondonJazz prize draw



The LondonJazz weekly newsletter has a Prize Draw every Wednesday. Subscribe. It brings you in closer to the pulse of London's jazz scene, going through it's most exciting time in fifty years. Today, in addition to an email address, it will -unusually - also need the answer to a question.

QUESTION: Bill Evans (above) wrote to a Britih jazz musician: "Your work is beautiful- all good luck to you though you won't need it if you continue as I heard you." But who is he? (There ISN'T a clue in the video. )

The prize is a CD by this musician. So please join the list, it's free. There's a box on the right which needs an email address and a 5-digit Captcha code.

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Canary Wharf Festival in Pictures



Photographer Richard Kaby was down at the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival taking photos. This is a tiny selection. He caught Pee Wee Ellis's band (above), which was getting people up and dancing.



...and some great shots of Natalie Williams ....

..and a young crowd...



...and the Haggis Horns....


He also caught Alex Wilsons Salsatak band...



..which also got the crowd up on their feet.



THE FULL COLLECTION OF RICHARD KABY'S PICTURES IS HERE

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London Jazz Awards- Winners



At last nights awards ceremony at the Pizza Express, Best Jazz Instrumentalist was won by pianist John Turville, and Best Jazz Vocalist shared between Norma Winstone (above) and Cleveland Watkiss.

Sarah Ellen Hughes writes:

It was a privilege to be at the London Jazz Awards last evening, at Pizza Express Jazz Club. A whole host of people were there - of course the calibre of musician on the shortlist meant that there was a plethora of talent present. The evening began with wine and pizza (and continued with wine and wine). About half of the club had been emptied of its tables, leaving room for mingling and chatting - a great atmosphere.

It wasn't only the London Jazz Awards that were presented last night, but also the London New Poetry award. The shortlisters were announced, and then the winner - Carrie Etter for her work The Tethers - read something from her winning entry. The words were so deliciously woven that I found myself - to my surprise - moved and captivated.

There was a great feeling of community between two societies that don't often mix, but have shared experiences and interests. Even so, the jazz community was certainly more vocal. The shortlist was announced, to degrees of applause for each candidate. It was the job of London Fringe director Greg Tallent (what a wonderful name!) to announce the nominees. Unfortunately for him, his list was incomplete, and he wasn't familiar with all the names. It all worked out in the end- all the candidates were offered and suitably applauded.

Helen Mayhew stepped up to the stage to present the jazz awards. The instrumental award went to John Turville, particularly in reference to his album Midas. The vocal award was split between two singers - apparently the judges had such a hard time separating these two, that it was decided there should be two vocal awards this year. They were Cleveland Watkiss, and Norma Winstone.

It's often very difficult to decide on who is a better singer, or who is your favourite, because even though the instrument is the same, the way two people sing can be worlds apart from each other - in effect, two totally different instruments.

A jam session ensued, during which John took to the stage along with Norma and Cleveland, finishing Blue Monk with an epic last note that they clearly didn't want to end! Other nominees including Nia Lynn, Fini Bearman, Derek Nash, Gary Husband, Patrick Bettison performed, as did panel members Barry Green, Asaf Sirkis and Mark Hodgson. An enormous treat.

A notable performance was an improvised duet between Gary Husband (drums) and JazzCotech dancer Perry Louis (feet). Unfortunately the carpeted stage meant that it didn't quite have the impact it should have.

It's only a shame that not everyone could be awarded last night, because each jazz musician who was nominated brings something particular, individual and special to this diverse UK jazz scene.

The London Jazz Awards are presented each year as part of the London Festival Fringe. The Jazz Awards have been organized by the Global Music Foundation .

http://www.londonfestivalfringe.com/

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Jazz and the Media - Conference in Birmingham


Professor Tim Wall and the Interactive Cultures team at Birmingham City University are hosting a one day academic conference on Jazz and the Media on October 15th. Speakers so farannounced are:

Mike Connolly- Documentary maker - Jazz Britannia and Folk Britannia

-Alyn Shipton

-William Ellis

Full details of the conference are here.

Photo: one of the most celebrated images of jazz. Dexter Gordon by Herman Leonard, who passed away this weekend, . RIP

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Review: Colin Towns Mask Orchestra plus Denys Baptiste

Colin Towns Mask Orchestra plus Denys Baptiste Quartet
(Ronnie Scotts, August 13th 2010, part of BritJazz Festival. Photo credits: Roger Thomas for Mask Orch, Michael Stemberg for portrait of Denys Baptiste taken at Hideaway Live)


Hearing Colin Towns' tribute to Kurt Weill the second time around, it hit home harder, touched deeper into the soul.

In Krakow last year the NDR Big Band had played it in the Festival. NDR had originally commissioned the work from Towns for the Weill centenary in 2000, recorded it for ACT , and it's now a repertoire staple - hugely impressive as a showcase piece. Most of the Hamburg-based players have their main jobs in the band, and know the piece backwards. The performance had been meticulously rehearsed by the clean-cut and highly professional Jorg Achim Keller. I'd remembered above all the subtle exploration of texture .

This Ronnie Scott's performance was a much more powerful brew, particularly intheclose confines of the club. It had massive, edge-of-the-seat energy. The next best thing to a printed programme: this blackboard outside listing the names of an astonishing band of top-flight London players. (Photo credit: Edward Randell) .


Colin Towns himself was conducting, and there was emotion in the air: he dedicated the performance to John Dankworth, who -as he did with so many young musicians- had encouraged Towns as a teenager, and helped him fulfil his musical ambitions.

What Towns brought out in the composition was the intensely dark character, the loucheness, the snarling insinuation of the Weill tunes. The re-harmonised Mack the Knife was pure evil.

Thoae players. I hadn't ever heard Julian Siegel play baritone saxophone before. He was featured on Speak Low. And, guess what. He plays it with the same total authority which he brings to the tenor, the bass clarinet, or indeed the double bass. A complete revelation was Sting-collaborator pianist Dave Hartley. Another pianist to go straight on to my hear any-night-of-the-week list. His piano interlude before Speak Low was a highlight. A trumpet section, with Guy Barker at one end and Henry Lowther at the other is as definitive and first-call first-take as you get. Ralph Salmins on drums and Stephan Maass on percussion were the persomification of high quality teamwork.

I was there with the winner of our weekly newsletter prize draw. The condition for taking part was never to have been to Ronnie's before. I enjoyed Xavier's company. He was blown away by the performance, and no doubt he'll be back to Ronnie's soon.


Support act was the Denys Baptiste Quartet, playing tunes from Baptiste's fourth album, Identity by Subtraction, due to be released on Dune Records in January

Baptiste's compositions are intricate, and don't reveal all their twists and turns on a first hearing. I look forward to the CD. In the title track drummer Rod Youngs did a particularly fine job of turning up the heat notch by notch, and got the liveliest applause of the evening for it. The whole quartet did a beautifully controlled fade to one tune which doesn't have a title yet but might be called Fractal Realms. For a jazz-head, the delicate Special Times, a duo with Andrew McCormack, brings repeatedly to mind the standard Here's that Rainy Day. That didn't prevent the enjoyment of Baptiste's gorgeous sound, of Gary Crosby's big bass presence, of McCormack's variety of colour. It was an enjoyable set.


The BritJazz Festival - look no subsidy/ sold out every night - has been a fabulous achievement.

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RIP Abbey Lincoln (1930-2010)



Sad to report the death of Abbey Lincoln.

"I think that's what really a substantial work is, it's forever. It's the truth now and it was the truth then, and it will be the truth tomorrow."


Nate Chinen's sensitive New York Times obituary is HERE

And a memory of being overwhelmed from the Brilliant Corners blog

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Chris Dagley Benefit Concert - Andy Panayi




UPDATE: WHERE TO SEND DONATIONS

Following a conversation with Chris's family today (Aug 20th)

People who would like to send donations to support Chris Dagley's family should send a cheque payable to

CHRIS DAGLEY (BSCC) MEMORIAL

to the Funeral Directors

HC GRIMSTEAD
164 FIELD END ROAD
EASTCOTE, PINNER
HA5 1RH


--------------------------------------------------------

What a year for flautist/ saxophonist/ bandleader Andy Panayi(above).

Earlier in the year he took what would have been John Dankworth's alto solo in Tonight I shall sleep, immediately after the announcement from the stage at the Stables in Wavendon that Dankworth had died earlier in the day day.

Andy Panayi has now stepped forward to organize the first benefit gig in aid of Chris Dagley's family.

If you want a demonstration of how strong beating heart of the British jazz community is, the "Just Do It" spirit, look no further. Details of the concert:


Sunday August 22nd, 12.30pm start.
Ruislip Manor Sports & Social Club,
Grosvenor Vale (off West End Road),
HA4 6JQ

SPECIAL CONCERT TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHRIS DAGLEY'S FAMILY

The Andy Panayi Big Band + guests

Jazz at the Manor are taking email reservations

The email address on the J@TM website is jazz-at.the-manor@virgin.net

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Drummers, bassists, your country needs you.

That title. OK. It's not quite true. Tunbridge Wells needs you. Michael Garrick (MBE)'s Jazz Academy course running from the afternoon of Sunday August 22nd, for the week, is offering discounted rates to drummers and bassists. There's website or phone 01442 864 989.

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Dave Douglas - a one word review


"This Love Affair" by Rufus Wainwright

Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy -Vincent Chancey (French horn), Luis Bonilla (trombone), Marcus Rojas (tuba) and Nasheet Waits (drums).

Yes.

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The life....

Here's Steve Fishwick (and fan) between solos at the Old Red Cow in Farringdon. He's with Gareth Lockrane and Kate Williams' trio with Jez Brown and Tristan Maillot at the Grand Junction Arms on Sunday afternoon 29th.

It's just gone in to a newly updated (!!) recommended list.

Photo Credit: Fatlipmac

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Review: Carol Grimes/ Mike Westbrook's Village Band


The "HOUSE FULL" sign outside Ronnie Scott's is showing distinct signs of wear and tear. The club's second early August BritJazz Festival, like the first, has been a complete sell-out every night. From Managing Director Simon Cooke's tone of voice, it sounds as if he can't yet force himself to believe it. The crowd last night for Carol Grimes and Mike Westbrook's Village Band included some tourists, but both bands also brought out a loyal and supportive following, notably Carol Grimes' students, choir members and workshoppers.

In Carol Grimes the tourists will have got the authentic sound of London. Grimes deploys a range of accents from cockney sparra (This is a song wo' I ri' in in the Iygh'ies, De'ford 'Igh Stree') to clearly enunciated BBC RP Alvar Liddell (particularly when repeatedly savouring every consonant and aspirate in the phrase "Annie White-Head")

She brought a wonderful range of songs, all great material. Highlights were "Steps," a song about disembodiment, populated by, inter alia, ghosts under beds. Pianist Dorian Ford rocked the delicate harmonies gently back and forth in a piano interlude, and Max De Wardener was decisive and clear on bass. Oscar Brown Jr.'s "But I was Cool" was a theatrical tour de force. “A Tree and Me” slipped deliciously in and out of wacky eroticism. Fran Landesman and Simon Wallace's “Scars” brought out the Piaf power which resonated round the club. “The Dance” had Grimes driving the rhythm with a gesticulating and Ella-style-hip-slapping left hand. Winston Clifford had faultless volume control in every song, and Grimes also complimented him on his gifts as backing singer. His way of finding and matching her phrasing can, she ventured, only be explained by some kind of magic. Annie Whitehead is, as Londonjazz readers know, perfect.

Mike Westbrook's Village Band left the best of its series of dramatic twists for last. Neal Hefti's Li'l Darling, played as an encore, was a simply beautiful way to end. Poised and controlled, the five other instruments provided a made-to-measure jewel case for Mike Brewer 's pellucid flugelhorn tone. A shame, then, that a lot of people had already left the club. Mike Westbrook will ALWAYS spring a surprise: they missed a real treat.

The piece before it, the main course, was Waxeywork Show. This was a lengthy piece, dwelling on the juxtaposition of the Victorian Fairground and the Worldwide Web, packing a punchy polemic against, for example, cybersurveillance and superficiality. But only Mike Westbrook would have the sideways imagination as a composer to even attempt to set the crashing of the world's computers to music. On first hearing, this was the most effective part of the work, which is a piece probably better suited to the concert hall.

As ever, the range of Westbrook’s writing and arranging was a joy to hear. A New Orleans funeral, a Monk tune, a Blake setting - sensitively sung by Kate Westbrook, Tadd Dameron’s If you could see me now, originally written for Sarah Vaughan. So much to enjoy.

Ronnie Scott’s BritJazz Festival has two more nights to run, and is sold out.

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Kenny Wheeler Tour October 21st-28th + Windmill Tilter Release


There doesn't seem to be a press release yet (?) but various venues outside London have on sale a major 80th Birthday tour in October by an all-star big band playing the music of Kenny Wheeler, also listed on the ECM website. London had a gig on the actual birthday inJanuary, reviewed for us by Frank Griffith.

Here's the line-up as (e.g.) on the website of the Anvil, Basingstoke, where the opening gig will take place on October 21st.


Kenny Wheeler flugelhorn, composer/arranger
Stan Sulzmann, Evan Parker, Ray Warleigh, Duncan Lamont, Julian Arguelles saxophones
Henry Lowther, Derek Watkins, John Barcley, Nick Smart trumpet
Mark Nightingale, Barnaby Dickinson, Dave Horler, Dave Stewart trombones
John Taylor piano
John Parricelli guitar
Chris Laurence bass
Martin France drums
Diana Torto vocals
Pete Churchill conductor


The other dates are

Oct 22nd: Turner Sims Southampton

October 23rd: RNCM Manchester

Oct 24th Leeds College of Music

October 27th Sage Gateshead

Oct 28th: Elmwood Hall (Belfast Festival).

I understand that the material to be played will be new compositions by Kenny Wheeler.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Also, according to Amazon, September 6th will see the release of a newly re-mastered CD of the seminal album Windmill Tilter from 1969 on the BGO Label. It's been out of the catalogue for yonks - there has to be a good story behind that....

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Spinal Tap on Jazz



"Jazz is an accident. Waiting to happen." Discuss

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Brecon Festival Round-Up



This is the second year in which the Brecon Jazz Festival has been run by the Hay Festival team. Last year, newly arrived, they put together a programme in just a few weeks. Before this year's festival, the organizers were quoting a 25% increase in ticket sales. The final number is bound to be a lot higher.

The main festival programme this year had 47 gigs, plus educational events. There is also a lively fringe programme, often with very little to do with jazz.

SATURDAY (Fran Hardcastle)

Sarah Dennehy's programming at this year's Brecon Jazz Festival has been deliciously varied and progressive. Familiar sellout international and British stars such as Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, Gwilym Simcock, Kyle Eastwood and Jacqui Dankworth were programmed along with the now generation, names rapidly becoming just as familiar to jazz audiences.

Gig of the day had to be Portico Quartet.



The attentive, appreciative crowd was an eclectic mix of serious jazz heads, the young and stylish, families and other musicians from the festival, creating an open, European atmosphere. Their latest album, Isla, builds on their distinctive sound by adding loop pedals and real time electronics. We were soaked in soundscapes from the start, with most of the tunes creating texture with layers of sound. Line was a journey of light and shade. Simple melodic lines from Jack Wyllie on sax were introduced over gentle ostinatos on the hang. The use of subtle slow changes to keep the music moving forward was reminiscent of Nik Bartsch's Ronin. Perhaps the most beautiful of the set was Life Mask. Milo Fitzpatrick's haunting bowed bass was overdubbed by a tender melody on what appeared to be a child's glockenspiel. I think it's the ability to produce the sweetest of sounds that give the quartet such broad appeal. However, Clipper, takes the accessible and becomes a brutal tempest of sound, before returning to delicate motifs and gentle grooving bass. Yet even in the most agressive and challenging moments, such as Jack Wyllie's boisterous interplay with Duncan Bellamy on drums, you are drawn to go where they take you.

Phronesis.



Jasper Høiby's compositions combined with the individual excellence of his trio keep creativity to the fore. I had expected to see a few more youthful faces in the audience, but the Kit Downes Trio, overlapping in the programme may have pinched that crowd. A combination of his physicality and confident leadership give Jasper Høiby a hypnotic stage presence. Stand out moments were the moving and lyrical 8 hours. Ivo Neame's sensitive touch is emotive and captivating. Abraham's New Gift was thrilling, catching listeners in the first few seconds with a breakneck riff from Hoiby, chasing through moments of invigorating grooves and pulling back for an excellent bass solo. Throughout every piece Anton Eger stood out as the most exciting drummer of the day, playing with delicacy, humour and style. The band sold nearly a hundred CDs at the gig, unsurprisingly.

Jacqui Dankworth followed, the start of her set slightly hampered by technical glitches with the sound levels.



But Dankworth pulled through to deliver a frequently touching set which included several songs penned with her late father. Jacqui's most prominent attribute as a singer is to play with the colours and tones of her voice to express a song with emotional honesty. Her capacity to convey the meaning of lyrics was highlighted by her bare version of Mood Indigo with brother Alec Dankworth on bass. Other peaks in the set included the fantastic, Lucky Charm, a duet with Charlie Wood, currently nominated in the Downbeat Poll for Best Blues Album. Jacqui's own song, Sweet Devotion, composed with pianist Malcolm Edmonstone was a poignant gem even on first hearing.

I managed to catch the start of Daniel Yvinec's Orchestre National de Jazz. Their programme, Around Robert Wyatt, takes the compositions of the Soft Machine musician and delivers them in a jazz setting. Daniel Yvinec invited artists such as Camille and Rokia Traoré to lay down vocal tracks of the English musician's songs. Arrangements were then created around these vocals. The performance is enhanced by live VJ display behind the band. Rokia Traorés interpretation of Alifib was simply stunning.

Kyle Eastwood provided an invigorating end to the day.


Kyle is an assured but laid back front man, with a strong band. The confident horn section of Graeme Flowers (trumpet) and Graeme Blevins (sax) are a tight line up and killing soloists. With Martyn Kaine, understandably described as 'mind-blowing' by Nitin Sawnhey, on drums and Andrew McCormack, also seen on Friday night with Jason Yarde, attentive and imaginative on piano and Rhodes. Tracks from the album Metropolitain such as Samba de Paris, make it difficult to stay confined to your seat. The set also featured the wistful Song for You, a personal favourite of mine. Marrakech from the album Paris Blue had the fans in the audience cheering in anticipation.

Saturday's programme could only have been improved by progressions in quantum physics, allowing audiences to be in two places at once to see every act.

-------------------------------------------

SUNDAY (Sebastian)

I asked Izmail how business had been over the jazz festival weekend. The proprietor of Brecon Chicken & Pizza Land, Ship Street just grinned back at me:

"I'm sad, very sad."

Demand for chicken and pizzas had been so high that the store's electrics had fused, for the first time ever, shortly after midnight on Saturday night. He'd had to shut up shop. Yes, Brecon was certainly busy last weekend.

Izmael's Ship Street location, just above the bridge across the Usk (1563) had been well away from the action in previous years. But this year it is right on the festival's main thoroughfare. Christ's College (1861), just on the other side of the bridge with its characteristic dark red stone, has become one of the main festival venues, with two stages, a lawn to chill out (this year's weather was mercifully good), plus the main headquarters and box office.

But what of the Sunday gigs....


Matthew Halsall: "I've been here before" was a particularly unpromising song title, but Gavin Barras on bass gave life to the tune's slow pulse, and Rachael Gladwin on harp brought a fascinating range of colour, from music box and Japanese Koto to impressionistic wash and even the occasional bent note. I'd love to know how she did that, it was very effective.

Keith and Julie Tippett. With a voice in remarkable shape, Julie Tippett set off in a fifty minute set to explore all sorts of extended techniques. No matter what flight of fancy she was embarking on, it was always musical, always sane and balanced, everything worked. The performance would land briefly on a recogizable style or form - klezmer, gospel, a music box playing the theme from The Godfather - and would then withdraw into the half light of abstraction. The pair, and the twists and turns of their unpredictable story, completely held the audience's attention throughout.

China Moses: At Ronnie's last year, China Moses' had responded with unforgettable immediacy to the power of Mark Hodgson on bass and the kicking energy of Rod Youngs on drums. With that memory in mind, her regular French band came across as completely professional, but with fewer volts.


Hypnotic Brass. (Top. Photo Credit William Ellis) "We specialize in positive energy." "Our plan is to become your favourite band." Hypnotic Brass's mission statement was delivered with evangelical zeal, but they are a massively energetic band with huge presence. Four trumpeters in low-slung jeans, hips gyrating, a sousaphone player twisting his shoulders with every beat, it wasn't long before they had the whole crowd in the Market Hall up on their feet.

Eric Legnini 's Brecon Theatre gig was a much quieter affair, but there were many moments to savour . Legnini is a wonderfully subtle and resourceful pianist.I particularly enjoyed his funk-shuffle number "Tripping," reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal, and Monk's colourful "Hackensack." Top French bassist Thomas Bramerie never disappoints.

DJ Sexy Fluff. Having just read Carl Hiaasen's hilarious and thoroughly recommendable Florida teenage popstar romp "Star Island," with its climactic scene in Chapter 30 set in Pubes night club, I felt a duty to check out DJ Sexy Fluff. I will learn from such abject mistakes.

Andy Sheppard. Peter Bacon got the character of this band spot on in his CD review in April 2009 (nothing surprising there) "Friendly and welcoming," he called it. All of these musicians are the real specialists of contributing to a texture. The lively presence of Kuljit Bhamra on tabla and percussion was a delight throughout. His smiling dialogue with stellar bassist Arild Andersen raised the spirits.

Hugh Masekela. If you want a Festival to go out on a high, right from the moment when the main protagonist walks onstage, you get a performer with warmth charisma guaranteed to reach every member of the audience. Hugh Masekela is unique.

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