LJF Round-Up Review: Emma Smith/ Liam Noble/ Soweto Kinch

Soweto Kinch. Photo credit: Benjamin Amure
Emma Smith/ Liam Noble / Soweto Kinch
(LJF, various venues. Review by Sebastian Scotney)


During the LJF I caught three important pieces of work-in -progress by UK musicians. They're all things to latch on to, as they develop and grow:

1) Vocalist Emma Smith was performing a lunchtime concert at St James Piccadilly.She gave a first outing for with-strings project which as yet doesn't have a name, but which sounded very promising , and could well eventually turn into an album project.

Joni Mitchell's Blue, the last tune was a highlight. She also arranged Juju by Wayne Shorter, using lyrics by Gretchen Parlato, and there was a very moving renditon of I'll be Seeing You (In All The Old Familiar places) dedicated to her trombonst/ arranger grandfather.

Andrew McCormack is definitely the right pianist for this kind of project, perfectly adaptable, just able to find the right voicings and moods.

Emma is very busy indeed, she's just taken the place of one of the Puppini Sisters. Her new project had been put together quite quickly , but Smith led the band and got the results she wanted from the musicians. It was as if bandleading is nature rather than nurture. A particular word for the subtle bass-walking of Adam Speirs on 'cello.

2) Liam Noble – also heard at St James Piccadilly - the pianist will be recording a solo piano album for WDR on the first weekend in February. Liam Noble is one of the best -kept secrets in British jazz, but this might be the project which gives him something of the recognition he deserves.  I'm due to be blogging from the festival in Cologne when he records. Can't wait. UPDATE : Liam Noble has made the whole concert available on Soundcloud

3) Soweto Kinch was trying out his a new album and touring project The Legend of Mike Smith at the Albany in Deptford on Friday 16th. His playing of tenor and alto saxophones is mesmerizing, Karl Rasheed-Abel on bass and Shane Forbes on drums formed the rest of his pianoless trio. It would have been Joe Henderson's 75th birthday, and hearing Soweto in that format brought back strong memories of the great, endlessly inventive tenor saxophonist commanding the stage.  “Not enough music” was a comment I overheard. TLoMS is a fascinating take on contemporary culture. It's witty, fearsomely clever, and on the way towards something interesting, and is bound to be making waves next year.

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