Tessa Souter's words to Freddie Hubbard's Little Sunflower

Tessa Souter, born behind Barkers in Kensington, now lives in New York. But London, she says, where she also lived for twelve years in her 20s and 30s,working as a prolific journalist, "will always be home". Here she performs Freddie Hubbard's tune Little Sunflower (Nara's Song). The lyrics are by Tessa herself. Recorded live at Scullers, Boston, on May 16. 2012. Featuring Steve Kuhn (piano), with Boris Kozlov (bass), Billy Drummond (drums), Joel Frahm (saxophones), Gary Versace (accordion).

Tessa heads off for a tour of the mid-West October 3-12, performing in a different state, and with a completely different band every night. Tour dates. Tessa is back in London at Pizza Express Dean Street in Saturday & Sunday, February 9th & 10th, 2013


Live Music Act, effective from 00.01 on Monday 1st October

Not before time. The disproportionate, unnecessary, often inconsistent powers given to Local Authorities by parliament to regulate small-scale live music by by the 2003 Licensing Act are being lifted. The Live Music Act comes into effect from midnight on Sunday. A cynic might say they've timed this for the start of the Labour Party Conference, since it was Labour who kept the old powers in place...

Local Authorities have not exactly been shouting this change in the law from the rooftops: UKMusic did a survey, and 78% of the 1000 premises putting on live music which their researchers surveyed were completely unaware of the change. It's been a discussion within Whitehall. The DCMS, incidentally,  have published their "Impact Assessment" of the likely economic effects of changng the law

What does it all mean for musicians? Essentially that musicians are free to pursue gigs, and the venues won't need a licence to put them on. Provided you are singing or playing within the hours of 8 am to 11pm, and provided - if you're amplified - that you don't attract a crowd of more than 200, there is no need for the local authority's licensng department to be made aware. In the depths of Osborne's recession, how much venues will feel confident to pay is another question, but at least the illegality of small-scale live music and all the laughable "unintended consequences" of the 2003 act (this was arguably the best one) are consigned to history. The Musicians  Union has updated its Live Music Kit to explain the change.

I stopped believing in the value of any UK statistics on live music a long time ago, they are always crude back-of-an-envelope guesstimates, but UKMusic are claiming: the following:

•13,000 venues could now stage live music for the first time
•20,400 venues could increase their provision of live music

Here is how Hamish Birchall describes the change :

The LMA amends the Licensing Act 2003, introducing a new and historic exemption from entertainment licensing for performances of live music between 8am and 11pm. If the performance uses amplification there is an audience limit of 200. If unamplified there is no audience limit.

In pubs and bars that already have live music permission on their premises licence, existing live music conditions will not have effect when live music is being performed between 8am and 11pm. Within those hours, conditions such as restrictions on performer numbers, genres, or amplification would no longer be enforceable.

Under the LMA, pubs or bars that don't already have a live music authorisation on their premises licence will now be free to host live music between 8am and 11pm, subject to the 200 audience limit if the live music is amplified.

But in these and other alcohol-licensed venues, the live music exemption could be reversed if the venue disturbs local residents. At a licence review, the LMA allows for local authorities to re-impose conditions on live music performances.

The benefit of the LMA licence exemptions goes much further than pubs and bars. Subject to the same hours and audience conditions above, the exemption for live music extends to all workplaces. This is a broad term that includes offices, shops, schools and hospitals.

The LMA also does away with the requirement to licence the provision of entertainment facilities. Among other things, this means it will no longer be a potential criminal offence to put a piano in a bar for customers to enjoy, or for a school to provide instruments and a PA for a charity fund-raising concert by pupils. Lastly, the LMA makes it possible for recorded music, rather than solely live music, to accompany morris or similar dancing.

There is one possible catch in the new primary legislation: Hamish has spotted a completely ambiguous killer clause, which looks like it gives Licensing Officers latitude to reach for their powers under the old Act, and will also ensure that licensing lawyers are kept in work to sort out yet more inadequate drafting by legislators:


'15.13 The removal of entertainment facilities from the definition of regulated entertainment raises the question of whether conditions can relate to non-licensable activities. If appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives, and there is a link to remaining licensable activities, conditions that relate to non-licensable activities can be added to or altered on that licence or certificate at review. This has been a feature of licence conditions since the 2003 Act came into force. A relevant example could be the use of conditions relating to large screen broadcasts of certain sporting events which, combined with alcohol consumption, create a genuine risk to the promotion of the licensing objectives. Similarly, it is not uncommon for licence conditions relating to the sale of alcohol to restrict access to outside areas, such as beer gardens, after a certain time.

'15.14 So, in relation to the provision of entertainment facilities it might, for example, be possible in certain circumstances to limit the use or volume of a microphone made available for customers to sing, if customers who have purchased alcohol for consumption on the premises have caused a problem by become louder and less aware of potential noise nuisance later in the evening. Another example, where conditions could be considered, might be if public safety concerns arise around raised stages being accessed by customers who have been consuming alcohol and then present a greater risk of accident.'


Joe Mudele - 92 not out on Sunday, gigging on Monday in Bexley

Joe Mudele
Janet Mudele writes:

You were kind enough to wish Joe a happy 90th on your site a couple of years back - which was seen by so, so many people.

At that stage Joe, bass player, had released his very first vocal CD - and now, to celebrate his 92nd on Sunday 30th, he's releasing his second - with same wonderful keyboard and bass (Robin Aspland & Geoff Gascoyne) - but with the addition of Dick Pearce and Derek Nash.

We'll be having something of a "shoehorn" evening at the King's Head in Bexley on Monday with great line up of Derek Nash, Gordon Campbell, Digby Fairweather, Ted Beament, Richard Pite and Joe himself- should be a lot of fun.


Preview: Christoph Stiefel - Trish Clowes Celebration 9th October

Christoph Stiefel's Inner Language Trio

Inner Language Trio's live! album launch (with guest Trish Clowes). 9th of October at Pizza Express. Preview by Rob Edgar

One of the great strengths of Basho Records is that it has documented much of the extraordinary flowering of British jazz piano talent of our time - Gwilym Simcock, Kit Downes, Nikki Iles, Liam Noble, Huw Warren, Geoff Eales,Tim Lapthorn.... 

For the first time however, the label is releasing an album by an all-European band led by a non-British pianist. The Inner Language Trio’s album Live! will be launched at Pizza Express Dean St on the 9th of October and sees Swiss pianist/composer Christoph Stiefel joined by Arne Huber on bass and Kevin Chesham on drums (the album also has drummer Lionel Friedli.)

Stiefel is a thoroughly diverse artist. As a child he was classically trained before discovering the music of rhythm and blues in his teens and, eventually, funk and jazz.

His CV is also impressive having formed his own trio/quartet in 1990, releasing 7 albums and touring all over Europe. In 1998 he premièred with the, Zürcher Kammerorchester, his first orchestral piece and in 2005 he revealed Isorhythms for solo piano and electronics.

His show at Pizza Express sees him joined by saxophonist/composer Trish Clowes and guitarist Chris Montague. Clowes recently won the jazz category in BBC 3’s New Generation Artists and her new album And in The Night-time She is There was released by Basho on September 17th.

Live! will be released by Basho on the 1st of October. Stiefel’s Inner Language Trio will play a short UK tour in October before heading off to Europe for more concerts. They will return to London for the a gig at St James’ Church in Piccadilly (part of the London Jazz Festival), where they will be sharing the stage with Tim Garland’s Korea Moves Project.


Cambridge Modern Jazz Celebrating Joan Morrell - and its 40th Birthday

Joan Morrell ( 1938-2011)
David Gower previews Cambridge Modern Jazz’s special day: October 14th at the Hidden Rooms in Jesus Lane, Cambridge, starting 5pm. He writes:

Not many jazz clubs make it to a landmark 40th anniversary so Cambridge Modern Jazz is set to join a very select band when it celebrates that feat - and its founder - this autumn.


Joan Morrell (1938-2011) was born and bred in Huddersfield where she established her first club ‘Le Grenier Blanc’ (up six flights above a builders merchant) while still a teenager. She was motivated by a deep sense of the injustices visited on African American musicians at that time and her desire to promote their work to a wider audience.

Ever a modernist Joan played a major role in developing the early careers of numerous fledgling players who went on to become internationally renowned artists. One such, Iain Ballamy, remembers Joan’s enthusiasm to programme new, experimental, imaginative and sometimes obscure acts. ‘Her guiding principle was to champion, respect and support the music rather than ticket sales’.

Joan’s untimely death in November last year was a tragic loss, but she left a remarkable legacy which the club strives to uphold today.


‘Cambridge Modern Jazz’ was founded in 1972 when Joan moved from London. Like its feisty founder, the club was never comfortable with the status-quo and has inhabited no less than ten venues around Cambridge. These have ranged from pub rooms to restaurants, night clubs and even the idyllic surroundings of Kettle’s Yard one of the country’s leading modern art galleries. The club survived and has gone from strength to strength. Since September 2010 it has been based at Hidden Rooms in Jesus Lane where it continues to thrive in a very supportive atmosphere.


Sunday October 14th sees a unique event to celebrate Joan’s life and 40 years of Cambridge Modern Jazz. The club will take over the whole of Hidden Rooms cocktail bar and club room to present three nationally renowned bands, all with Cambridge and Club connections.It starts at 5pm.

- John Turville’s Trio sees John (piano) teamed with Chris Hill (bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums).

- Piano maestro Gareth Williams and ace bassist Dave Green present their salute to the music of Bill Evans

- ‘The Quintet’ will top-off the evening with an extended session including (hopefully) a jam. A stellar line-up sees Art Themen (tenor sax), Jim Mullen (guitar), John Donaldson (piano), Mick Hutton (bass) and Nic France (drums) all on stage together to rock the room to the rafters.


- On October 26th the club welcomes rising saxophone star Trish Clowes with her ‘Tangent’ Quintet as part of their national album launch tour for ‘And in the Night-Time She is There’. Trish’s visit couldn’t be better timed; an ideal opportunity to welcome the new BBC Radio 3 Jazz New Generation Artist for 2012 – 14.

- November 23rd sees a welcome return for Printmakers fronted by international stars Norma Winstone (voice) and Nikki Iles (piano), who performed one of their very first gigs for us in Cambridge.

- The incomparable Liane Carroll rounds off the autumn season on December 14th.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Everyone who knew Joan had a great regard for her principles to foster and maintain the highest standards in creative jazz music. This season is a salute to her and the club she founded, nurtured and loved.

www.cambridgejazz.org  / Tickets for 14th October


Review: Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore at Cafe Oto - 23rd September

Pat Thomas, Mats Gustafsson, John Russell, Thurston Moore. Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved

Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore with John Russell and Pat Thomas
(Cafe Oto 23rd September (day 2 of 2-day residency); review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore go back at least a dozen years - performing and recording as Diskaholics Anonymous (with Jim O'Rourke) and under the Sonic Youth umbrella. Their unswerving dedication to confounding the predictable and to charting uncomfortable ground keeps their music as fresh and vital as ever, and in John Russell and Pat Thomas they found a couple of resolutely articulate, like-minded allies to complete their two-day residency at Café Oto.

Full-on duets and quartet sets ensnared a seam of musical and sonic ideas which catapulted around the room and off its walls with avowedly impolite insistence - but not without a sensitivity and lyricism blended in to the driven, monumentally uphill flow.

Occupying terrain carved out by Ornette's Free Jazz, Brötzmann's Machine Gun and Reed's MM3, they scooped out a sharp, frantic dialogue that dived into tar-encrusted, muddy sound zones with agonisingly evocative associations.

Moore's and Russell's eerie reverb, slide guitar and acoustic clicks set out the stall for their tense opening duet, all rhythmic judders and jarring chordal strums, flattening the high notes to lend a clipped acoustic chime which serendipitously (and amusingly) misaligned with builder's taps from the theatre next door.

Mats Gustafsson (soprano sax), Thurston Moore. Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved

Pat Thomas almost wrong-footed Gustafsson with his thunderous electronic mash to which the saxophonist responded by downing his sax and throwing in a visceral, like-for-like, electronic assault. Their toxic brew was industrial, anguished. Passages of dramatic drones and disturbance landed uncomfortably in the zones of war and torture, unleashing crashing electronic beasts and unremitting interference, reflecting the inhumanity of humanity.

In quartet mode to round off the first set, Thomas's brightly fluttering piano allowed Gustafsson to throw the ballast overboard with elephantine jet bursts on baritone sax, which he swapped for soprano sax and crossed into perhaps an indirect tribute to Coxhill as the mood briefly switched from manic to lyrical. Russell and Moore traded intensely carcinogenic feedback and extruded fretboard squalls, with an overwhelming and riveting suggestion of the direction in which Hendrix might have been aiming, similar to Wadada's live evocations of the spirit of Miles.

Pat Thomas, Mats Gustafsson, John Russell. Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved

After a short break, Moore and Gustafsson picked up the true noise mantle after sending out the lightest of insinuated notes. Playing the back of the fretboard, Moore used a metal bar on the strings to complement the accumulated stresses of Gustafsson's electronics, releasing rippling swathes of raw amplified power. Intentionally severe, increasingly inward-looking, Moore sat hunched over the guitar before turning his back to the audience as they bounced guttural, power-drilling tirades off each other with Gustafsson in explosive, primeval form on baritone, fading out intuitively to put a delicate full stop to this dense, impassioned, out-at-the-edges drama.

'Noise doesn't get better than this!' A spontaneous comment right at the end of this significant collaborative onslaught perfectly summed up the evening's events.

Mats Gustafsson: baritone and soprano saxes and electronics
Thurston Moore: guitar
John Russell: guitar
Pat Thomas: piano and electronics


Update: Freestage Events around the Sun Ra Arkestra concert, Barbican 29th September

Hieroglyphic Being

On this Saturday 29th of September in the Barbican foyers, there will be two freestage events in the interval and after the Sun Ra Arkestra's gig. The stages will feature Afro-futurist producer and DJ Hieroglyphic Being and London-based producer and DJ Mala; two artists very much influenced by Sun Ra's theories and concepts but fusing them with modern house/techno and dubstep.


CD Review: Ivo Neame - Yatra

Ivo Neame - Yatra
(Edition Records EDN 1035. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Dense, bustling, nervy music full of sudden twists and turns is multi-instrumentalist Ivo Neame’s speciality (his debut Loop release was appropriately entitled Swirls and Eddies), and this, his second album for Edition, is packed with characteristic drama and intensity.

Neame himself plays accordion, clarinet and alto saxophone as well as his main instrument (piano), and he has assembled a stellar cast – Tori Freestone (flute, tenor), Jon Shenoy (clarinet), Jason Yarde (alto), Shabaka Hutchings (bass clarinet), Jim Hart (vibes), Jasper Høiby (bass) and drummer Dave Hamblett – to power through his restless, probing themes, striking sparks off each other all the way.

Hart and Høiby played crucial roles in Neame’s previous Edition release, Caught in the Light of Day, and they also draw the ear consistently on this follow-up recording, the bassist vigorously propelling the music through its often tortuous courses, the vibist imparting buoyancy and sparkle to whatever he plays.

Overall, though, this is very much an ensemble effort, the emphasis on the group sound and textural variety rather than on individual prowess; Neame deploys his forces skilfully throughout and his own contributions, whether he’s soloing or providing supporting prods and flurries, are always cogent and considered. Another absorbing album from one of the sparkplugs of the current UK scene.

Ivo Neame will play with recently announced Jazz New Generation Artist Trish Clowes at her album launch in Kings Place on September 29th


Preview: Matthew Bourne's World Tour of London

Matthew Bourne previews his World Tour of London - four dates, four contrasting shows in October...

- So, the idea behind this all was to pull together a series of very different shows in various venues around London, beginning with a 'Piano Relay' event at Laban Hall  Deptford on October 9th. (This is part of the BBC piano season, the whole of which London covered  HERE -Ed ). Here I'll be playing in duo with Kit Downes in the first half then, in the second half, the 'relay' event will take place - with Jez Nelson and crew directing AND in some cases I believe that the audience will also have a hand in choosing who plays when(!) This concert is also being recorded for Jazz on 3...

- The second concert will take place on October 11th at King's Place - as part of Talvin Singh's Symbiosis of Sound festival. Originally, this show was to feature The Fluid Piano but for various reasons it was not possible to use it on this occasion so, myself and Utsav Lal will be exploring the sonic possibilities of a conventional piano in our own ways. I'm looking forward to this event and to be hearing Utsav perform in the lovely acoustics of Hall One.

- October 12th - another solo concert, this time at St. John's Smith Square, where I'll be performing Montauk Variations, released on The Leaf Label earlier this year.

- October 14th sees the debut of Billy Moon, with vocalist Seaming To - where I'll also be performing a short solo set on my Memorymoog synthesizer - all topped off by a performance with my old friend, Andrew Plummer's World Sanguine Report. This concert will take place in the delectable environs of the Shacklewell Arms, Dalston.


Preview: A Cappella Group Mycale in the ReVoice! Festival

Mycale at Pizza Express Dean St. 18th October
(Georgia Mancio's ReVoice! Festival. Preview By Rob Edgar.)

Mycale are a New York based a-cappella vocal group who have been working closely with composer/saxophonist Jonh Zorn since 2009. Zorn has written a number of Klezmer based compositions of late starting with the first (and vast) Masada book for the Masada String trio and the Bar Kokhba Sextet among others and the second (equally huge) Book of Angels.

Continuing in a similar vein, Mycale will be performing their new commission from him. The 18th will feature: Israeli-American Tammy Scheffer, Israeli singer/composer Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Argentinian Sofia Rei and Moroccan Malika Zarra

The night will consist primarily of Zorn’s compositions but the group have extemporised and arranged the music in their own way. As Ayelet Rose Gottlieb tells us: “we’ve been told that we have managed to create our own “language” within this a-cappella quartet… At the foundation is our music are the compositions of John Zorn, which in this case are melodic tunes, based on the “jewish scale”… but always with a twist that sends the pieces off to another place, beyond straight klezmer…on top of that are our arrangements, and text choices.”

The group themselves are from diverse musical and cultural hinterlands: “One of my favorite things about this group is that each of us brings her cultural background into it. it expresses itself in use of our native languages, but also in uses of text materials... Sofi brought Fernando Pessoa, Basya often draws on traditional Jewish texts, I love finding sources in contemporary poetry and Malika often prefers to write her own texts.”

Mycale are an extremely close band who rehearse often. Gottlieb explains “The A-cappella setting is one of the most challenging ways to make music... There are no masks, nowhere to hide... you are naked on stage every night, with a large spotlight to highlight your virtues and your flaws... YOU are IT! you are the bass, and the violin, and the guitar, and the cymbal... if one person gets lost for a moment or goes flat or sharp - there is true danger of the whole thing falling to pieces... so the responsibility is immense... we have to “hold each other” on each song. I guess to me that is the con and the pro of working in this setting. I love the challenge of it, and the intensity of it.

Mycale will be performing at Pizza Express Dean St on 18th October, the final night at Pizza Express in Georgia Mancio’s ReVoice! Festival. The action then moves to the Union Chapel. Support is Georgia Mancio and Pete Churchill.


BBC Radio 3’s Jazz New Generation Artist for 2012-14 is Trish Clowes

It has just been announced that BBC Radio 3’s fourth Jazz New Generation Artist is saxophonist/composer Trish Clowes.

Trish is the first woman to have won the prize and will now participate in the scheme for the next two years (2012-14)

Previous NGA’s from jazz have been; clarinettist/saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings (2010-12, see our news piece giving some more background about the scheme HERE), trumpeter Tom Arthurs (2008-10) and pianist Gwilym Simcock (2006-08 ; he is also in Clowes’ quartet)

Most of the musicians chosen to participate are from classical music. Simultaneously with this announcement comes the news of the other participants: tenor Robin Tritschler,  guitarist Sean Shibe, 'cellist and member of Nicola Benedetti's trio Leonard Elschenbroich, clarinettist/composer Mark Simpson, the Apollon Musagate Quartet and violinist Elena Urioste.

Clowes has a new album And in the Night-Time She is There which will be launched this Saturday 29th at Kings Place. She will be joined by on the 29th by Ivo Neame. 


Jeff Williams (back from New York) writes....

Jeff Williams, February 2012. Photo credit: Andy Newcombe
Drummer JEFF WILLIAMS, recently back in London from New York,  has written for us, previewing activities over here in the next few months. Welcome back. 

- My UK quartet is at Jazz on the Hill a week from this Friday, the 5th of October. Since Josh Arcoleo has a tour with Joss Stone and won't be able to make it, I've asked Finn Peters to join us (Phil Robson and Sam Lasserson) and am excited about this new addition and an opportunity to play with Finn.

- We'll also be appearing at the Green Note during the London Jazz Festival on the 16th of November with the same group. There's a slight chance Josh will be able to join us, which would make it a quintet--even better.

- I'm excited to be back in London after spending the summer in New York. While there I made it a kind of mission to see as many master drummers as I could: Louis Hayes, Al Foster, Tootie Heath, Alvin Queen, Billy Drummond, Tom Rainey, Adam Nussbaum... the list goes on.

Jack DeJohnette, Jeff Williams

- A definite highlight was Jack DeJohnette's 70th birthday celebration on his home turf in Woodstock.  Incredibly inspiring.

- Summer also provided a number playing opportunities with my group and Richard Sussman's Quintet in support of his new CD Continuum (Origin). (We had THIS REVIEW  in Allaboutjazz)

- When I brought my US quartet (Duane Eubanks, John O'Gallagher, John Hébert) over for our May tour of the UK we recorded live at the Vortex. I am now putting together the tracks from that for my next release on Whirlwind Recordings, hopefully out early next year.

Some day I'd like to put both bands together for a double quartet/quintet series. It would be amazing.

Jeff Williams' Willful Music Website


CD Review: John Turville Trio - Conception

John Turville Trio - Conception
(F-IRECD 57. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Pianist John Turville has had a rich and varied jazz career thus far, playing with the likes of Gilad Atzmon, Tim Garland and the Frank Griffith Big Band, as well as leading and composing for his own E17 large ensemble, but he has also taken part in a number of tango-based projects – the London Tango Orchestra, Transtango, this recording’s cellist Eduardo Vassallo’s El Ultimo Tango – and, consequently, this recording is not only infused with the robust lyricism of the likes of Keith Jarrett and (particularly) John Taylor, but also bristles with the drama and pep customarily associated with tango.

The core trio, which has been playing together for over a decade, is completed by bassist Chris Hill and drummer Ben Reynolds, and it addresses Turville’s originals (both his bright, rhythmically vibrant pieces and the odd more contemplative ballad), a Radiohead tune (‘Scatterbrain’) and the George Shearing-composed title-track with exemplary verve and aplomb, the whole band sound beautifully captured by Artesuono Studios, which seems to have an enviable knack (see also John Law’s various recordings there) of precisely capturing a piano trio’s particular interactive dynamic.

Turville himself is a lively, resourceful soloist, his compositions just complex enough to reward repeated exposure but readily accommodating uninhibited exploration by all concerned; overall, this is a compelling and powerful album that mines an abundant seam of influences without unduly compromising its individuality.

The album will be launched at Pizza Express Dean St this Thursday 27th September. This is also the first gig of the F-IRE Festival, previewed HERE.


Trio Manouche EP Launch, 4th October Brasserie Zedel

This has just been announced:  Simon Harris's gypsy jazz outfit Trio Manouche is launching its new EP at the Crazy Coqs Venue in Brasserie Zedel. Showtime is 9 30 on Thursday October 4th. And we'll have a pair of tickets for the launch as one of two Prize Draws for newsletter readers this week.

Resevations here. It's a great room, you find yourself just daydreaming, looking at the glorious red white and black decor... and it's only thirty yards from Piccadilly Circus Underground.


Laura Jurd's new album - launch date 5th November

Laura Jurd's debut album Landing Ground is released on 5th November and will have its launch gig at the Vortex on 3rd December. "Confident, engaging, stimulating" says Stephen Graham in the first short review to be published so far.


Review: Phil Robson’s Immeasurable Code Quintet at the Vortex

Phil Robson. Photocredit: Anthony Stantham
Phil Robson’s Immeasurable Code Quintet
(Vortex, first night of two, 25th September 2012.  Review by Alex Roth)

Hot on the heels of its 25th birthday celebration weekend, The Vortex last night welcomed a stellar band led by guitarist Phil Robson for the first of two nights at the club as part of its Jazz Services UK tour.

Last year Robson launched this new group (LondonJazz reviewed the very first gig in February) and released the CD The Immeasurable Code, which went on to be nominated for both the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and the London Awards for Art & Performance.

The original line-up, featured US saxophonist Mark Turner and flute maestro Gareth Lockrane alongside powerhouse bassist Michael Janisch and the brilliant Cuban drummer Ernesto Simpson. The record centres around the concept of communication, with each piece exploring a different way in which humans have transmitted ideas throughout history. With Julian Arguelles replacing Turner for the current tour, the band arrived in London after several dates in Scotland and there was a palpable sense of mid-tour flow about the music. Robson has assembled a group of truly world-class players and he is right up there with them, leading the ensemble through his often intricate charts with flair and fluidity.

Janisch launched the opening piece Nassarius Beads (named after some of the earliest surviving examples of human art) with a robust solo improvisation and he was a powerful force throughout, locking in well with Simpson's muscular but agile presence and producing a climactic solo in the set's closer Bicycle Hire at the Zoo, one of two compositions inspired by Robson's recent stay in Berlin. To judge by the playfulness of these pieces, he must have thoroughly enjoyed his time in Berlin.

Robson afforded each of his bandmates plenty of soloing space, featuring Lockrane's bass flute on the beautiful Serenade and an emotionally charged tenor statement from Arguelles on Telepathy and Transmission. Lockrane employs the full range of flute weaponry from bass to piccolo, and his facility on each instrument is unparalleled: he is capable of exhilarating Brecker-ish lines one moment (as in one of Robson's older compositions Bug Eyes), and colourful extended techniques or wonderfully crafted arpeggiated figures the next.

Ultimately, however, this is Robson's vehicle, and it drives him to play at his very best, producing some of his most raucous solos (the distorted guitar shred in Telepathy and Transmission) and some of his tenderest, as in the introduction to Serenade where he subtly integrated looping effects to create a soundscape over which he then improvised. Robson's harmonic freedom, rhythmic phrasing and speed of execution are all on par with household names such as Rosenwinkel and Scofield, and he deserves the global reputation they enjoy. On the strength of this band, he will soon earn it.

The Immeasurable Code Quintet returns to the Vortex tonight (Tuesday) for round two – go and hear them if you can. TOUR DATES


Preview: The Arts Hijack, Brixton 28-29th Sept

The Arts Hijack. 28-29th September
(354 Coldharbour Lane. Preview by Dave Smyth, whose quartet will play the Friday night, 8.30pm)

The Arts Hijack is a two-day event taking place at 354 Coldharbour Lane in Brixton this Friday and Saturday. Conceived and curated by Platform33, the tag line is "1 weekend. 6 areas. 33 artists – completely different genres". In reality, this means everything from live visual art to immersive theatre to contemporary classical music - all performing side by side in an informal setting.

My quartet will be performing on the Friday night and features Matthew Herd (sax), Tom Millar (pno) and Sandy Suchodolski (bs) - all are either current students or recent graduates from the prestigious jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. We will be playing a set of largely original music that draws on the influence of contemporary British jazz greats including John Taylor, Julian Argüelles and Django Bates. Having already experienced a few Platform33 nights, we're excited to have the opportunity to perform at one - it's a great opportunity to play to an a-typical jazz audience, alongside some really interesting and talented acts from other fields of performance.


Round-up: 2012 Tanjazz Festival, Morocco

M'Oud Swing Quartet. Photo credit: Rupert Parker

Rupert Parker writes…

Tangier is a city notorious for expat writers like Paul Bowles - who lived there from 1947 until his death in 1999, and William Burroughs in the 1950's. Plus 
 the Rolling Stones and Beatles who visited in the 1960’s. The 13th Tanjazz festival couldn’t boast anyone as famous. It was a gentle affair held over five days, split between a large outdoor stage near the port and more intimate rooms in the Palais des Institutions Italiennes, an ornate Moorish palace.

Morocco was represented in force with Isslman, Tawfik Ouldammar and Soussi Trio, MoAdib Garti Quintet, Majid Bekkas "afro gnaoua jazz band" and M’Oud Swing Quartet. Karim Kadiri, on Oud, soloed over a hypnotic groove provided by Barry Sames on keyboards although I must say it was slightly soporific, or maybe it was just that time of night.

There was also too much fusion going on elsewhere as well as an unhealthy dose of jump jive. The crowd pleaser was Ben Presage, a bluesman from Florida, very much in the Seasick Steve mode, although I must say I think he’s rather more talented. My pick was Interzone, a young Austrian trio led by trumpeter Mario Rom, who managed a tight and inventive set.

TANJAZZ website / Rupert Parker travelled to Morocco courtesy of Visit Morocco


BBC: "So jazz will never die?" Lionel Loueke: "Jazz will never die."

Lionel Loueke neatly dodges some loaded questions from a BBC interviewer:

BBC Interviewer Leslie Goffe: "How do you answer those people who say that jazz is a dying music? It has no future. Record sales are down. Clubs are closing. Audiences are disappearing. Why not make money and win fame playing rock, or pop?"

Lionel Loueke: "Most of the people who say that, it's because they're like, traditionalists, and the thing is they're not trying to open up, accept the new thing going on."

Leslie Goffe: " So jazz will never die?"

Lionel Loueke: "Jazz will never die. For sure."



Preview: Terryazoome Album Launch, Forge, Sat 13th Oct,

Preview: Terryazoome CD Launch
(The Forge, Camden, Sat. 13th Oct. 2012. Preview by Alison Bentley)

'Greek-flavoured jazz..a mezze of music...' - bouzouki-player, guitarist and composer Terry Hunt describes her music.

She's half-Greek, and brings together her musical heritage and lifelong love of jazz, Latin and African traditions. Her influences are diverse: she grew up in Nigeria, in a town with 80 nationalities, listening to everything from the flutes of Tuareg camel traders to the Greek and Brazilian songs her mother sang at home. This gig is the launch of her CD Xana (WMP0112CD) from her long-term band Terryazoome (a play on words where Terry's name becomes part of the Greek word for 'well-matched').

She's written the tunes and lyrics and there's a wonderful variety of moods. Most have Greek rhythms- at least five are in 7/8 and one is a traditional Greek dance: a 9/8 Zeibekiko. They make total sense when you dance- that perfectly-placed hop over the extra beat. Some express a mischievous love of life; some a sense of yearning.

The pieces are carefully arranged, with lots of space for solos. Saxophonist Diane McLoughlin is the ideal choice, with her background in jazz and Balkan music (her own big band Giant Steppes fused the two). At times her sweet soprano sounds like Jan Gabarek playing oriental scales; at other times she recalls Basil Coetzee with deeper, throatier sounds over a South African Township feel.

Athens-born, UK-based Angelos Georgakis improvises in the bouzouki tradition, with fiery triplets and trills which contrast with McLoughlin's cooler tones. When they improvise together it's very beautiful.

Hunt loves Weather Report, and Herbie Hancock's music, and there's something of that in the composition as well as in Alison Rayner's fine bass playing. Winston Clifford's drumming brings an afro-jazz sensibility to the grooves. You’ve probably heard Rayner with Deidre Cartright, and Clifford with Jonathan Gee, among many others. Both are clearly having a lot of fun playing these tricky rhythms.

Lorraine Jordan (joined on the CD by Cypriot vocalist Keti Tanou) sings beautifully in English and Greek like a Delphic prophetess. I predict exuberance, and (who knows?) dancing- this is music to lift the spirits. Can't wait.


Sax on the Beach


Preview: Amit Chaudhuri's A Moment of Mishearing, Kings Place, 6th October

Ahead of 'A Moment of Mishearing', an audio-visual show featuring Amit Chaudhuri and his band at King's Place on 6th October, the musician and novelist speculates on the inexplicable beauty of close-up shots in Hindi films, with their radiance and subtle gestures, and explains their connection to the classical music of India:

By close-ups in Hindi cinema, I don’t mean movies today (though these aren’t necessarily excluded), but primarily those of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. In other words, films made in the midst of, marked by, and contributing to the music renaissance, the golden age of film songs. Many of us know that the close-up is not one of filmmaking’s respectable undertakings, and is looked on with almost as much disdain by trained filmmakers as the zoom shot is. Yet why did it possess such transcendental beauty in Hindi movies?

Part of it has to do with the untranslatable quality of the Indian face, particularly the Indian head, and its range of expressions and gestures, both fleeting and recurrent. I use the catch-all term ‘Indian’ because Hindi cinema, located as it is in Bombay, occupies the borderline of North and South, of Karnataka and the land further below, but also of Gujarat in the West and then further north into Punjab – not to speak of the impact of migrant Bengalis. And so one notices a gamut of cranial movements in Hindi films – not pan-Indian movements, but a collage of shakes and nods from different parts of the country - that may be richer than its counterpart in other parts of India, however compelling popular cinema (and its faces) in, say, fifties Bengal might have been.

There’s no denying the complexity of the codes that inform moving the head from side to side in this country. The arc or swivel from left to right, or right to left, or left to right to left to right, have all sorts of registers here, and only one of them means ‘No’. I recall standing early one morning in Gloucester Green, the central bus station in Oxford, waiting with my wife and mother for the bus to Heathrow. As usual, my mother found herself in the middle of a conversation with a young woman, a Japanese student, who, like her, was also going to India, although she’d be visiting it for the first time. She was very soft-spoken, but at one point, amused by some thought, she started laughing, and leaned forward, at the same time, to explain to my mother, who began to smile too. When I asked my mother later about what had caused laughter, she said, ‘She is a bit nervous about going to India, because she isn’t sure she’ll understand what people are saying. She has heard that Indians say Yes by shaking their head from side to side.’

It’s undeniable that the straightforward nod exists in India, an urgent, vigorous indicator of agreement. Urgent, vigorous – but frugally used; because other head-movements are employed more commonly to signal agreement, but in a more emollient, tender manner. There is the sideways shake of the head, which in other countries mean No; confusingly, in India it means No too, but one can also, in the right context, infer absolute, unqualified agreement from it. Then there is - often seen in Bengal but perhaps not exclusive to it, and especially used by Bengali girls - the tilting of the head to one side. This gesture, in England, would be accompanied by the eyes following the same direction the head is tilted towards, to suggest ‘Look at that.’ In Bengal, the head is tilted gently, but the eye contact with the interlocutor is immovable; the tilt is the most ingenuous gesture available to imply agreement, assent, even complicity - ‘All right’ (thhik ache), or, ‘Yes, I’ll do it’ (hain, korbo). Further south, people are apt to make doll -like movements with their head: not a shake of the head, but quick tilts on either side; almost, but not quite, a cranial rotation. Again, this, notwithstanding its wobbliness, is essentially a genteel, unintrusive gesture, meant to convey agreement and camaraderie without starkly emphasising and reducing these to a single unambiguous movement, as a simple nod does. That the nod and the shake of the head, with their conventional global significances - of agreement and disagreement respectively - are also a part of this vocabulary of gestures, brings home to us the sweet contradictoriness of Indian emotive life.

This emotive life and its gradations and paradoxes are nowhere as clearly on display as in the life of the face and the head of both the listener and the artiste during a North Indian classical music performance. The most reliable integer of a listener being touched or moved by a phrase that the singer has just rendered is the movement of the head from side to side - what in most contexts means denial or disagreement. Here it means astonishment, delight, and also, incongruously, stoic resignation. All three – astonishment, delight, and resignation – are components of wonder, the wonder that accompanies revelation. But why resignation - denoted so fully, to the brim, by that shake of the head? Is it at the fact that what might have seemed implausibly beautiful has somehow been made possible, without us quite knowing why or how? Is it because, given the partly improvisational nature of Indian classical music, that the moment will not return again, in a future performance – unlike a piece of Western music, where it can be reproduced almost verbatim? Is it just that a vague crystallisation of the fact that life is at once mundane and sublime that occurs at that instant, leading to that bewildered shake of the head? Sometimes, a simple, predictable component of a raga – like, for instance, the downward glissando from the upper tonic to the flat ni (or, in Western notation, ti) in Khamaj, will produce that gesture; a chromatic sequence there, including both the normal and flat ni, will only exacerbate and intensify that emotion.

Much of the time the head, during the performance, is relatively still (punctuated by occasional oscillations from side to side), especially in comparison to its behaviour in African-American music, although, in contrast to a Western classical music aficionado, the expression might be less focussed than faraway – on both the singer’s and listener’s part. This is because both singer (or instrumentalist) and audience are listening; listening, even more than performance, and certainly more than composition, is the principal raison d’etre and gravitational field of Indian music. Long ago, I remember a piece of research was reported in a British newspaper saying that Western classical music was conducive to workers, and functioned well as a prompting to action; while Indian music had the opposite effect, of slowing down work, seducing the worker’s attention, and retarding his regime. It’s the old story of the Lotus Eaters, of which there are several variations in Western culture; it’s instructive that Indians have no comparable parables, since that slowness appears to be so integral, historically, to our response to the classical arts.

There are other reasons why the head is relatively still during a music concert in India, to do with the fact that our enjoyment of rhythm (unlike the Afro-Caribbean’s) is uniquely cerebral, despite, or because of, our time signatures being so difficult, and Indian rhythmic improvisation so sophisticated. But now I must come to those close-ups, which, during a film song, reproduce the experience of listening as no other tradition of cinema does. The close-up during a song is an arrested moment; the effects are minimal – backlighting; a breeze unsettling the hair. The breeze, as in Kalidasa, is a metaphor for the faraway and the invisible, and its sudden closeness: ‘The breezes from the snowy peaks have just burst open the leaf-buds of deodar trees and, redolent of their oozing resin, blow southward. I embrace those breezes, fondly imagining they have lately touched your form, O perfect one!’ – a metaphor for sound and melody, then, which are always invisible, and arrive from elsewhere. The song, and the close-up, is a hiatus, during which the story is set aside and the universe revolves around the head or the face, which is singing, or listening, or doing both simultaneously. The actors who ‘sing’ the best songs – Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna – will make potentially silly movements with their head to convey the uncontainable emotion they feel on hearing themselves (or the playback singer, who is them, but in a transient, disembodied sense). The beloved, who might be singing too, will stop in a duet to listen to her partner; as Sadhana does in Abhi na jao chhodkar, with a curious expression, which in another kind of cinema would signify sex or love, but here denotes the listener’s peculiar ecstasy. In Hollywood, the close-up attends to visual clichés of fear, the orgasm, pain, and feel-good denouements to do with winning – a race, or a fight with cancer – and is, as a result, properly discredited. In India, the close-up frames the pleasure, the surprise, of registering the loveliness of melody – Waheeda Rehman woken up from sleep by Guru Dutt singing in Chaudhvin Ka Chand, her expressions ameliorating from startlement to surrender; the husband stealthily creeping up on his wife at the piano in Anupama, singing ‘Dheere dheere machal’. His charged, almost bewildered, face records the discovery of an unlooked-for surplus.

Amit Chaudhuri's music website


The Vortex Celebrating its 25th

This was the scene this afternoon in Gillett Square N16 for Vortex Outdoors, a celebration of 25 years since the club first opened in its original location in Stoke Newington Church Street.


Be Still - new release from Dave Douglas

Dave Douglas gave us a fascinating interview at the end of 2011. The very least we can do in return - nine months later -  is to salute the birth of a new, highly personal album Be Still, launched in New York last Wednesday at the 92Y- TriBeCa, and released worldwide next Tuesday on Greenleaf Music.

Dave Douglas has previewed the album launch :

"Be Still initially came about from a collection of hymn songs suggested by my mother, Emily Douglas. She passed away last year after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She wanted a joyous celebration of life, and playing these arrangements with Aoife and the band has been powerfully uplifting and life-affirming. Far from funereal (!), playing these tunes has become a true celebration for us, and the kind of party that Emily would have wanted.

I never imagined I would be playing this music, and yet the songs have come to life for me in a rich and powerfully personal way. Along with the hymns, I’ve written some new pieces for the band, and arranged a few more folk songs. Adding harmonies and improvisations brings a new context for these songs, and the musicians in this project are bringing so much of themselves to the music. This is a new area for me after many years in music and I look forward to sharing it on Wednesday and beyond."


Review: Jon Lloyd Quintet at The Spin, Oxford

Jon Lloyd

Jon Lloyd Quintet
(Spin Jazz Club, Oxford, 20th Sept. 2012. Review by Alison Bentley)

Down an ancient Oxford alleyway, lock the bike, up the winding stairs above the old pub, to find music that transports you to another world.

Saxophonist Jon Lloyd started out playing free jazz, but his own musical journey has led him to write more structured music as a basis for improvisation. In this gig the feeling wasn't of movement but stillness. The Spin audience concentrated totally, creating a space for the band to pour their music into.

Lloyd names John Surman as a major influence, and Surman's folk-edged, unhurried sound was there in the opening minor ballad, Float. Lloyd has a soft, pure tone on soprano, though at times the notes were split, rasping- not always sweet, but still alluring- Anthony Braxton is also an influence. In Synapse, a Kenny Wheeler-like tune, the sax almost recalled Paul Dunmall on Northumbrian pipes. Lloyd played pentatonic phrases at high speed with amazing fluency, the notes fading like their own echo. Closer was a high point- or perhaps a still point at the centre of the gig- long, slow sax tones over subliminal harmonics bowed on bass, and shifting percussion, like being lulled in a boat on water.

In the Debussyesque Intervallic, John Law played keyboard as if elements that were once cerebral had become pure feeling. His honeyed Fender Rhodes sounds lured the audience into his wonderfully destabilising harmonic world. The band played every dissonant harmony known to mankind, and probably a few previously undiscovered by musical explorers. (Jon joked: 'We discovered we've all got the same chords to this tune- so it's going to be rubbish!')

Yaga, based on an Indian scale, began with Lloyd and Law playing a seemingly random unison melody, invoking John Cage- but when the piano chords came in, they made perfect harmonic sense. Rob Palmer played some funky single string rhythms before a sensitive, beautifully-phrased solo, with hints of Abercrombie and Metheny. Lloyd played bass clarinet in Bear Hug, recalling John Surman's bubbling underwater soundtrack to the film Respiro. Law's piano was gospelly, over an 11/4 groove with the spirit of 70s jazz rock. (Miles' Bitches Brew or UK band If.)

For most of the gig, Asaf Sirkis' restrained energy held things together but his huge textured sound was unleashed in Synapse- tribal toms, cascading cymbals. Tom Farmer's superbly rhythmic bass pulse underpinned the wild freedom of the improvising, and his soloing was thoughtful, atonal yet bluesy. Krapp's Last Tape was Lloyd's serene yet spiky tribute to Beckett's play about ageing. (Jon: 'Jazz audiences aren't 25 any more.') The Spin audience (aged 18-80) loved it.

The band's mysterious mix of space and energy; modal and free jazz; modern classical music, and sheer skill created something very special and bewitching.

The Spin won the 2012 Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Live Venue. They've a great programme coming up this autumn, and Oxford's practically West London these days.....


CD Review: Django Bates’ Belovèd - Confirmation

Django Bates’ Belovèd - Confirmation
(Lost Marble LM007. CD Review by Chris Parker)

‘Joyful, insouciant and insanely clever’ are the adjectives chosen by liner-note writer Evan Parker to describe the way pianist Django Bates has ‘reconsidered, fragmented and thoroughly “Djangoised”’ the melodies and harmonies on Confirmation.

The last verb is probably the most significant: success in jazz is widely thought to depend on finding an individual voice, and the use of a musician’s name as shorthand meaningfully encapsulating a particular approach is thus the highest form of compliment that can be paid to a practitioner.

And, as anyone who’s heard Bates’s trio’s previous release, dedicated to Charlie Parker tunes, will attest, the UK pianist is something of an expert in the art of what Parker (Evan) refers to as a determination to ‘deconstruct and reconstruct’ the great altoist’s lines. Here, the trio – completed by Petter Eldh (bass) and Peter Bruun (drums) – addresses Charlie Parker material (‘Donna Lee’, and ‘Now’s the Time’ in addition to the title-track) with the same mix of intensity and adventurousness that made the album’s predecessor so compelling; it also plays six Bates originals (with typically quirky titles such as ‘Senza Bitterness’ and ‘We are Not Lost, We are Simply Finding Our Way’) with all the spiky, nervy but somehow utterly appropriate verve and wit that their originality and eccentricity demand.

If the trio’s previous live performances are any guide, the band’s forthcoming November/December UK dates (see below) should be a real treat.

24 November: Stratford Circus, London E15 1BX
29 November: Crucible, Sheffield
30 November: Wakefield Jazz Club
1 December: Leeds College of Music


Kings Place 2012 Festival Roundup

Kings Place 2012  Festival
(September 14th-16th . Round-Up review by Sebastian Scotney – Friday, Saturday; Rob Edgar - Sunday)

The fifth annual festival at Kings Place, celebrating the anniversary of the opening of the building in 2008, brought in almost twelve thousand visitors, over just three days. Each year, the number of sold-out gigs has increased. And this building, where we produce LondonJazz, certainly felt the busiest it has ever been.

The programming team keeps to the formula of putting on 100 events. It's as if they've now invented a tradition. People might have questioned it at first, but now it's established. The space gets used boldly, relentlessly. As the team gets to know it they try new things, like a stage right by the Box Office this year, alternating every hour with another free-stage two floors below.

Because of force majeure, this year's 103 events had to be shoe-horned into just three days rather than four. We heard a small selection of what was on offer. Here's an open invitation to readers to add comments about the good things we missed...

FRIDAY –Sebastian Scotney

Already on Friday lunchtime the building was busy, there suddenly seemed to be pushchairs everywhere. Singer-songwriter Richard Godwin gave a set of songs, some of them inspired by Elliott Smith and Jacques Brel on the new Box Office free-stage. It was well received, but there were a lot of passers-by...

Alexander Hawkins performed two sets in Hall Two. In both the first - solo piano - set and the second - trio - set, the key idea was exploration, that sense of creation in the moment. From the very start the vibe was of concentrated listening. A chord. A cluster. A chord. Another chord. Hawkins played with oppositions and paradoxes. Order and disorder. Clever use of mirror images and opposites. The first set had influences from the French classics – Ravel, Messiaen? ...

In the second trio set with Neil Charles and Tom Skinner, the intense interaction continued. I found myself mesmerised by one thing: that any pulse - briefly- established can also imply/ signal/ suggest -or perhaps disguise - a pulse at twice or four times the speed; or conversely at a half or a quarter of the speed. The tempo is basically free, so these moments don't last for long, despite the magnetic sense of groove of Neil Charles. The bassist has that commanding Ron Carter/ John Pattitucci way of setting a pulse - for the others to question, to subvert.  It requires concentration to listen to music unfolding like that, but it's really worth it.

Saturday – Sebastian Scotney

I heard a fascinating lecture by Dmitri Sitkovetsky on transcribing the Goldberg variations – they've been done on accordion and, unbelievably, flashily, by a German saxophone quartet. Then a highlight on the box office free-stage, a duo performance on the box office freestage by Julia Biel and Ben Hazelton was a reminder of how strong a performer Biel is. I was told this was their first outing as a duo - I'd never have guessed if I hadn't been told.

The main jazz event of the evening was a set from Troyka. Newcomers to their music around me were bowled over. It was the first outing of a new tune which grows inexorably, Chris Montague's Ornithophopia, the title relating to an incident with a dead bird on Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland.

Ivo Neame's octet is a vehicle for sonic contrasts with piano and vibes (Jim Hart on his busy wedding weekend) and three saxes. I particularly enjoyed Neame's first solo. It was as if, liberated from the responsibilities of assembling the players and the material, he could suddenly jump headlong into the unknown. Perhaps no pianist in Europe does out-of-the-starting-gate exuberance quite like Ivo Neame. Festival is an over-used word, but Neame needs no reminder how and where to find and use the (imaginary) turbo pedal on a piano.

Sunday – Rob Edgar

Sunday saw the third and final day of the densely programmed Kings Place festival. Kings Place is the perfect venue for this collection of varied performances and it became a bubbling hub of all styles of music and performance art (there was even a traditional Indian ritualistic dance on one of the free stages in the foyer - SEE PHOTO ). This – coupled with the excellent catering facilities and canal side view – made for a great day out.

Daniel Herskedal on tuba and saxophonist Marius Neset play a short set comprising mostly of songs from their new album Neck of The Woods. It was truly a treat to hear just how full a sound the duo could get from just saxophones and a tuba. Marius Neset on sax seems to owe a small debt to fellow Norwegian Jan Garbarek in his soaring, lyrical and contemplative lines, whilst Daniel Herskedal, armed only with a tuba, reverb and loop pedals, could coax every sound imaginable out of his instrument (towards the end even playing what sounded like a cross between a percussion section and slap bass).

The Norwegian landscape really shone through in their playing, the echoic, call and response sound with so much space for the lines to seep through was profoundly reminiscent of sheep herders calling across the fjords and mountains.

 Josh Arcoleo  played an afternoon set with Ivo Neame on piano, bassist Tom Farmer and the tenacious Josh Blackmore. Despite being fairly shy and timid in addressing the audience, Arcoleo had a wonderful laidback playing style that sounded delightfully care-free.

The most remarkable thing about the set though, was that it had an overall form (much like a symphony or a concerto). It started with an almost aleatoric introduction wherein it sounded as though the players were constructing the piece note by note from nothing but a referential Ab, which they often returned to. InGlade, the only ballad of the set, Ivo Neame played some Bill Evans inspired chord voicings with Josh Arcoleo providing an aching melody which, somewhat unusually, was then picked up seamlessly by Tom Farmer on the bass.

After one of the most thoughtful and organic drum solos I have ever heard, by Josh B, the final tune returned to that aleatoric construction and deconstruction theme of the first, centering again around the note Ab. The set had taken off and landed at the same spot it where it began.


CD Review: Arrigo Cappelletti/Giulio Martino Quartet - Mysterious

Arrigo Cappelletti/Giulio Martino Quartet - Mysterious
(Leo Records CD LR 615. CD Review by Chris Parker)

‘I would have never grown my interest in investigating tonality without my passion for Hindemith,  Schulhoff, Poulenc and within the jazz field I would never have cultivated my passion for the undetermined and mysterious chords of Paul Bley as well as Cecil Taylor’s clusters.’

Thus composer/pianist Arrigo Cappelletti, describing the process leading to the identification of ‘what is for us and what isn’t’. What is for him on this thoughtfully constructed, elegant album is an intriguing mix of composed ‘heads’ (anything from a striking tuneful fragment to a tantalising wisp of melody) and quartet improvisation springing from them, frequently free, but occasionally more conventional and overtly structured.

Cappelletti’s co-leader, saxophonist Giulio Martino, sets the band’s tone with his cultured, considered, pleasantly dry yet powerful style, and bassist Roberto Piccolo and drummer Nicola Stranieri are equally adept in both straightforward explorations of Cappelletti’s often jaunty, catchy themes, and the more adventurous, discursive, freer improvisations that are sparked by them.

Such a beguiling mix of immediately accessible lyricism and rubato extemporisation is more frequently encountered, generally accompanied by a sleeve portraying a frozen lake (this one shows people observing the Northern Lights), on the ECM label; Mysterious, as well as containing over an hour of consistently absorbing music, also demonstrates just what an enterprising and accommodating label Leo Records is.


Remembering Lol Coxhill, Cecil Sharp House

Lol Coxhill (1932-2012)
Rob Edgar writes: Last night at Cecil Sharp House (home to the English Folk Dance and Song Society), there was a memorial gig in honour of Lol Coxhill who died on the 10th of July this year. The date marked, and indeed celebrated, what would have been his 80th birthday.

The Mike Westbrook Brass Band played a set inspired by the poetry of John Clare, featuring Chris Biscoe on saxophone, Phil Minton on trumpet/vocals and Kate Westbrook on vocals/recorder.

There was a spellbinding solo set from Evan Parker, a strong free improv set by Gail Brand, Mark Sanders, Simon Picard and Ollie Brice, an eloquent tribute from Michael Horovitz a touching performance from Lol’s son and grandson (Simon Coxhill and Sam Coxhill-Davis) culminating in a finale by the Herbert Spliffington All Stars whose easy blend of laid back reggae and jazz had everyone on their feet.

A fine celebration for a unique man. Remembering Lol Coxhill Part Two will be at Cafe Oto on October 31st. 


CD Review: Enrico Rava - Rava On the Dance Floor

Enrico Rava - Rava On the Dance Floor
(ECM 370 6654. CD Review by Chris Parker)

If the idea of Italy’s most celebrated, elegant and accomplished trumpeter leading a young band through a selection of Michael Jackson tunes surprises you, you’re in good company: Enrico Rava himself gave no thought to the pop star’s music until, intrigued by the global interest in Jackson’s premature death in June 2009, he began listening to it in earnest.

Initially grabbed by what he calls ‘the contagious riff to “Smooth Criminal”’, Rava eventually concluded, after immersing himself in Jackson’s music, that the singer was ‘a total artist, a perfectionist, a genius’.

Here, in a live concert at the Rome Auditorium, Rava spearheads an eleven-piece band (Parco della Musica Jazz Lab) in an often rumbustious but consistently tasteful selection of Jackson tunes (plus his perennial favourite, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile’) arranged by trombonist Mauro Ottolini.

As with most material initially intended as danceable pop, Jackson’s tunes (and, especially, Rod Temperton’s ‘Thriller’) are a mite predictable and unvarying, in both their chord sequences and their basic rhythms, for wholly satisfactory jazz exploitation, but the band approaches the project with verve and aplomb, and Rava himself impresses every time he solos, imbuing everything he plays with his trademark poise and slightly raffish refinement.

There are also some magnificent rocky, head-banging climaxes (‘They Don’t Care About Us’ a particular highlight), but overall, the stylistic gap between the immediacy – the ‘sugar-rush’ – of pop and the subtler gourmet’s delights of jazz is never quite bridged.


The Establishment Club – First Night at Ronnie Scott’s

Peter Cook (1937-95)

Charlotte Keech attended the first Establishment Club late night at Ronnie Scott's and writes…

Comedy at London’s No. 1 jazz club? Hmph. But that’s exactly what happened last night (Wednesday 19th September) when Ronnie Scott’s late show gave a platform to Keith Allen and a string of comedians as part of Allen’s endeavor to re-establish The Establishment (the 60s Soho nightclub, founded by satirical genius Peter Cook).

Alongside the not especially memorable comic turns, George Galloway got in on the act telling the first joke of the evening and lecturing on free speech with Allen, a mime artist brought a interview of Judy Garland’s from 1963 back to life to stunning effect and a prodigiously talented and scarily young band sang covers from the era.

Last on, Terry Alderton was the comedy act that went down the best with the audience - surreal, moving and just plain funny. For most of the 2+ hour show the fabulous James Pearson Trio was on hand to provide musical help but they were sadly underused. THERE IS SECOND NIGHT TONIGHT.


Preview: Claire Martin – Charity Gig, 606 Club, Sun 30th September

Claire Martin writes…

Last year, I was approached by the Edward Starr Trust here in my home town of Brighton to become a Patron of the charity. The late Edward Starr was a jazz fan who often came to my gigs and his son Robert has done a stellar job of setting up a charitable foundation in his father's name.

The charity is an 'umbrella' foundation for many different children's organisations. I was honoured and thrilled to be asked to be a Patron (alongside former olympic figure skating champion Robin Cousins) and have now organised my first gig in aid of the Foundation and also the charity Whizz-Kidz at the world- famous 606 jazz club in Chelsea.

Half the money raised will go to Whizz-Kidz who help give disabled children a more independent life with their amazing chairs, and the other half to Edward Starr Trust. We have set the entrance fee to a flat £20 and for that you get a whole lot of music!

I will host the night and sing a few numbers but our star turns who are all agreeing to do the date for free are:

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Liane Carroll, Joe Stilgoe, Darren Abrahams, Ashley Slater, Gareth Williams, Steve Watts and Martin France.

We will also have an amazing raffle with great prizes donated by the artists, the 606 club and the Trust.

Please do come and support our cause and hear some terrific jazz. Bookings Here.



Preview: Loop Upload Festival

Tom Challenger writes...

The Loop Collective is very excited to present 'Upload'. Upload is a dual venue festival taking place at The Forge (28/09) and The Vortex Jazz Club (29/09), and features some incredibly exciting events and ways to engage with the music for this particular festival.

On conceiving this particular festival, we wanted to present something that would contrast with the past editions of it. The last, focused on presenting music not only from within the collective, but also from Foreign artists that had a strong musical identity and who had been affiliated with us in one way or another.

The festival itself includes some very exciting new music, not least the brand new Loop Large Ensemble - Cat's Cradle feat. Dan Nichols and Kit Downes (Keyboards), Dave Smith (Drums), PA Tremblay and Johnny Brierley (Bass), Rory Simmons and Alex Bonney (Trumpets), Robin Fincker, James Allsop and Myself (Reeds). Also featuring in the festival are 25 Drummers playing at the same time on Gillett Square in Dalston; Afro/Jazz trailblazers Fofoulah; Numerous and varying Duo Projects; Snack Family (feat. Andrew Plummer) and my own new project, Brass Mask.

The latest edition comes at a time when Loop Members have been producing lots of new music, and also at a time when the Loop Collective has been live in its new format for a short time. The web site we have is an extremely powerful engine, and we wanted to incorporate it into our concept for the festival.

Thus, 'Upload' is simply as the title suggests! We will perform, and (to the highest quality possible) quickly upload the recorded performances to our website. Thus, we hope that the enjoyment of the music on both nights won't be confined to just the people present.

We're looking forward immensely to this new edition of the Festival.



Preview: F-IRE Festival 27th Sept - 30th Oct

Roller Trio

F-IRE Festival
(27th Sept - 30th Oct, Pizza Express Dean St, 10 Dean Street. Preview By Rob Edgar)

The F-IRE (Fellowship for Integrated Rhythmic Expression) collective have a great deal to celebrate; the label will soon turn 10 years old, a 10-night festival features no fewer than 14 concerts with 5 album launches (including two launches from their sister organisation the LOOP collective), Roller Trio have just been given a Mercury Prize for best album of the year (F-IRE's third Mercury nomination) and also nominated for a 2012 MOBO.

All gigs will be held at Pizza Express Dean St with the exception of The Sam Crowe Group on the 11th October which will be at The Forge, Camden.

Listings Below:

Thursday 27th September: John Turville Trio (Album Launch), Music: 8:30PM, £17.50

Friday 5th October: Robert Mitchell’s Panacea feat. Omar Puente, Iain Ballamy, Soweto Kinch. Music: 9:00PM, £17.50

Saturday 6th October: Fofoulah and Oren Marshall’s Charming Transport Band (early and late shows)
Early Show: Music: 7:30-9:00PM, £17.50
Late Show: Music 10:30PM-Midnight, £17.50

Sunday 7 October: Oriole and Menino Josue, Music: 8:00PM, £15

Monday 8th October: Ivo Neame Octet (Album Launch), Music: 8:30PM, £15

Thursday 11th October: Sam Crowe Group (AT THE FORGE), Music: 9:00PM, £9/7 online - £10/8 on the door

Friday 19th October: Album Launches
Ealry Show: Chambr and Fly Agaric, Music: 7:30-9:00PM, £17.50
Late Show: Chambr and Eyes of a Dog, Music: 10:30PM-Midnight, £17.50

Saturday 20th October: (Early and Late Shows)
Early Show: Roller Trio and The Beguilers, Music: 7:30-9:00PM, £17.50
Late Show: Fly Agaric and Roller Trio, Music: 10:30PM-Midnight, £17.50

Wednesday 24th October: Emily Saunders (Album Preview), Music: 8:30PM, £15

Monday 29th Octber: Chris Higginbottom (Album Launch), Music: 8:30PM, £15

Tuesday 30th October: Burton Bradstock (Album Launch), Music: 8:30PM, £15

All tickets can be booked through the PIZZA EXPRESS SITE apart from The Sam Crowe Group. Tickets to this event can be booked HERE