Emerging Excellence Awards



Congratulations Kit Downes, Alex Roth, Beats & Pieces Big Band on being included in the current round of awards for Emerging Excellence from theMusicians Benevolent Fund.  

The full list of award winners is here and details of the next round and how to apply are here

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JazzUK devolves listings into Gigs




JazzUK has now morphed into two publications:

1) GIGS is a 16-page monthly (online only) magazine doing nationwide listings.


2) JazzUK is a 32-page bi-monthly magazine, now without the traditional listings content..

The cover of the new issue 106 is of Martin Taylor and Guy Barker, associated with a major feature by John Fordham about the Britten Sinfonia's "Spirit of Django" Prom on August 31st. There is also a round-up of the UK showcase at the Rochester Jazz Festival. There is also a feature about NYJO, which officially confirms the appointment of Mark Armstrong as Music Director.

Jazz Services and JazzUK have a tie-up with Jazzwise on listings which is clearly changing as it evolves: In June it was stated that "Jazz Services and Jazzwise magazine will be working together on a new UK jazz gig guide." The current issue of JazzUK has a different formulation of what's going on:  "We've also arranged for Jazzwise magazine to draw on our listings database for their monthly issues". Good luck to both parties as they embark on this very worthwhile collaboration. 

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Go Team GB - A patriotic guide to the 2012 Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll

Image Credit: BBC

Public voting in the 77th Annual Readers Poll from Downbeat magazine is now open.

Taking our cue from UK media coverage of the Olympics, we are just going to wilfully ignore all the foreigners, and focus obsessively on Brit competitors, whether native or adoptive....

With sincerest congratulations to ALL those nominated, but perhaps especially to good friends whose profile can be raised through this, such as Jim Hart and Alexander Hawkins here they / you are:

Hall Of Fame: John Mclaughlin
Jazz Artist: John Mclaughlin
Jazz Album: Jeff Williams - Another Time (on Michael Janisch's Whirlwind label), Paul McCartney - Kisses on the Bottom
Historical Album: Soft Machine - NDR Jazz Workshop
Trumpet: Kenny Wheeler
Soprano Saxophone: Evan Parker, John Butcher, John Surman
Tenor Saxophone: Evan Parker
Electric Keyboard: Gary Husband
Organ: Alexander Hawkins
Guitar: John Mclaughlin
Bass: Dave Holland, John Edwards
Vibes: Jim Hart
Male Vocalist: Jamie Cullum, Ian Shaw
Female Vocalist: Stacey Kent, Norma Winstone
Composer: Dave Holland,
Arranger: Dave Holland, Evan Parker
Blues Artist: Eric Clapton
“Beyond” Artist/Group: Paul McCartney, PJ Harvey
“Beyond” Album: Kisses on the Bottom (Paul McCartney), New Blood (Peter Gabriel)

Vote in the poll HERE . Participation requires registration

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CD Review: Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio - Sources



Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio Sources
(ECM 279 9532. CD Review By Chris Parker)


“Music conceived for this group and which couldn’t exist until we’d played it … when I presented it to them I saw a huge question mark rising above their heads.”

Thus Louis Sclavis describing his compositions for Sources, which features, alongside his clarinets, Benjamin Moussay (piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards) and Gilles Coronado (electric guitar). The “question mark” Sclavis mentions is entirely understandable: such is the originality (and often downright abstruseness) of Sclavis’s music that at times it sounds as if its notes might have been randomly produced by a computer with the express intention of determining whether or not coherent music could be made from linking them up.

The textures, too, produced by the band are highly unusual, and although recognisable generic influences – among them chamber music, minimalism, free jazz, avant-rock – are discernible, the music on Sources is largely sui generis; as Sclavis himself notes: “It doesn’t resemble anything else played by one of the most original groups I could have imagined both in terms of orchestration and aesthetic orientation.” He’s right: Sources simply has to be heard to be believed.

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MU and ISM have made a Joint Statement re Olympics



A genuine first. The Musicians Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, often at unproductive loggerheads in the past, have put out a joint statement:

"‘LOCOG MUST DENOUNCE NON-PAYMENT OF MUSICIANS’

"The Musicians’ Union (MU) and the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) have today written to Seb Coe to protest at the continued practice of asking musicians to work for free during the Olympics.

"The ISM and the MU have also drawn Lord Coe’s attention to the 5,000 petition signatures and 11,000 Facebook group supporters for the campaign against professional musicians being expected to work for free at the Olympics.

"The two organisations are calling for LOCOG to publicly denounce the practice of asking musicians to work without payment and commit to ensuring that the legacy of the Games is not one where musicians are expected to work for free." (statement ends)

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Ronnie Scott's Autumn Highlights just published

Mingus Big Band - at Ronnie Scott's Nov 26 to Dec 1

RONNIE SCOTT’S AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS. A strong autumn of programming at Ronnie Scott's has just been announced. There are a couple of waiting-to-sign TBC-gaps, but everything listed on this page is now on sale.

The late show is also attracting all sorts of folk to jam, or just to hang. Recent late show attenders: Wynton Marsalis with several members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Macy Gray, Freddy Cole, Jamie Cullum and Joss Stone, the entire Beyoncé band and the Michael Buble Big Band.


Aug 20-21 Wayne Krantz Trio (with Tim Lefebvre bass and Nate Wood drums)

Aug 22-24 Booker T Jones (of Booker T & The MGs; 50th Anniversary of Green Onions)

Sept 3-4 Claire Martin & Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

Sept 5-6 Jay Phelps Big Band feat. Claire Teal

Sept 9 Jason Rebello Band (Joy Rose vocals, Troy Miller drums, Karl Rasheed-Abel bass and Paul Stacey guitar)

Sept 10-12 Bireli Lagrene

Sept 13-15 Frank Sinatra Jnr Sings Sinatra

Sept 17-18 Patricia Barber (With Larry Kohut bass and John Kregor guitar)

Sept 23 Funmi Olawumi (Traditional and contemporary Yoruba music from founder of the Yoruba Womens Choir, creating Faaji music from a mix of influences inc juju, afrobeat & fuji

Sept 24-25 Banda Black Rio (Gilles Peterson feted 70’s jazz-funk-samba band from Rio)

Sept 26-27 John Williams & John Etheridge

Sept 28-29 Ian Shaw with the Phil Ware Trio + Special Guest Guy Barker

Oct 2-3 TBC

Oct 4-6 Hiromi; The Trio Project (with Steve Smith and Anthony Jackson)

Oct 8-10 Alison Moyet (already sold out)

Oct 11-13 TBC

Oct 15-17 Avishai Cohen Seven Seas (with Amir Bresler drums, Omri Mor piano)

Oct 18-19 Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Sound Prints Quintet (Lawrence Fields piano, Linda Oh bass, and Joey Baron drums. Originals and brand new Wayne Shorter compositions)

Oct 21-22 Nathan Haines

Oct 23-24 The Bad Plus

Oct 25-26 Steve Smith & Vital Information

Oct 27 Jeff Lorber

Oct 29-Nov 2 Stacey Kent

Nov 5-6 An Evening With Dianne Reeves (with Peter Martin piano, Romero Lubambo guitar, Reginald Veal bass and Terreon Gully drums)

Nov 8-9 Terence Blanchard

Nov 15-16 Dee Dee Bridgewater (Craig Handy saxes, Edsel Gomez -keys, Kenneth Davis - bass, Kenneth Phelps drums, Laurence Godfrin keys)

Nov 19-24 Mario Biondi

Nov 26-Dec 1 The Mingus Big Band (two shows a night)

ronniescotts.co.uk

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Preview: Cowherd / Pattitucci / Blade / Cardenas at Pizza Express


PREVIEW Jon Cowherd with John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas, by Alison Bentley


Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, London. Thurs. 9th, Fri. 10th Aug. 8.30; Sat. 11th Aug. 7.30 & 10.30 (Support: Espen Eriksen Piano Trio)

Who could resist? Pianist Jon Cowherd's first major outing as a bandleader in such starry company. Cowherd is an incredibly busy and versatile musician, composer and arranger -these gigs are part of a European tour devoted to his own modern jazz compositions, a brief space in his breathless schedule as a sideman.

He tours with Cassandra Wilson (he's written arrangements for her gigs with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra). He's a regular with country singers Roseanne Cash (Johnny's daughter) and Alyssa Graham (he's produced albums for her). He's worked with musicians as diverse as Iggy Pop, Joni Mitchell, and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

I was first struck by Cowherd's fine playing on Lizz Wright's Salt album where he's a brilliant and sympathetic accompanist. But he's very self-deprecating - he felt he had to go back to studying classical piano for nine years before being confident enough to emerge as a bandleader, and make his mark under his own name. He plays with expressive virtuosity- gorgeous voicings, bluesy gospelly phrases, complex classical influences, flurries of notes. At times he almost plays free. It's very engaging, firmly in the tradition, yet highly original, and it'll be exciting to hear him play his own Mercy project (due out on a forthcoming CD).

Cowherd studied and worked in New Orleans. He met drummer Brian Blade, a fellow student there, in 1988, and they've played together ever since- notably in the Brian Blade Fellowship Band, a vehicle for their fine compositions and symbiotic music. Blade's in demand with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Wayne Shorter and Bill Frisell, to name a few.

Guitarist Steve Cardenas hails from New York. With his Shinola-era Scofield-ish sound, Cardenas has worked with Joey Baron, Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow and Ben Allison, as well as Paul Motian.

John Patitucci has played with everyone, but is perhaps best known for his work with Chick Corea. You may have seen him in London with Wayne Shorter and Danilo Perez, or the London Sinfonietta playing Mark-Anthony Turnage's compositions. He's won an unimaginable number of polls and awards. He's a strong, communicative performer.

It'll be a treat to hear these stellar musicans in such an intimate venue. In Patitucci's words: 'Jon's music for me...always touches me in my heart.' Don't miss it- if jazz were an Olympic sport, this band would win a gold.

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Preview: Kings Place Festival 2012, Sept 14-16


From the 14-16th of September Kings Place will present its fifth annual festival to commemorate its opening. There will be 100 concerts in total, spread out over just 3 days (rather than 4 as previously), or to put it another way; a year's worth of music in one long weekend. The idea of an anniversary festival was a bold one at first, but has since become a unique tradition at Kings Place.

The Jazz component is made up of 22 gigs. Alexander Hawkins, Jason Yarde, Tomorrow's Warriors, the National Youth Jazz Collective are featured. A highlight is the four-gig Edition Records showcase in Hall Two, consisting of:

Troyka

- Troyka at 9:00PM on the 15th. They are a trio made of Chris Montague on guitar, Kit Downes on piano and drummer Joshua Blackmore. The set-list for the 15th will consist mainly of music from their second album, Moxxy. which sees the band going in a slightly new direction, incorporating elements of classic and alternative rock and funk.

Ivo Neame

- The Ivo Neame Ensemble, the largest of the groups, will play on the 15th at 10:15PM. Ivo Neame is a formidable composer/pianist that the Vortex Jazz Reviews called. “Appealing, fresh and stimulating.”

Marius Neset and Daniel Herskedel
CLICK PICTURE TO BUY THE ALBUM

- The unlikely duo that is Marius Neset and Daniel Herskedal that will be performing at 2:00PM on the 16th. They offer the unusual blend of saxophone and tuba and will be performing pieces from Neset’s latest release, Neck of the Woods, which features a myriad of influences from classical to folk music.


Josh Arcoleo

- Josh Arcoleo and Guests at 3:00PM on the 16th. Arcoleo is a tenor saxophonist who studied with Pee Wee Ellis and will be playing tracks from his new album Begginings which features the aforementioned Ivo Neame on piano.

Follow this link for gigs by all the other jazz artists . Tickets to all performances (except the Free ones) are only £4.50.


90 York Way
London
Greater London
N1 9AG

Box Office tel: 020 7520 1490

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CD Review: Jason Robinson - The Two Faces of Janus



Jason Robinson, The Two Faces of Janus
(Cuneiform Records Rune 311, CD review by Chris Parker)


“An emotional intensity that keeps things at boiling point” is Jazz Now Magazine’s description of saxophonist/composer Jason Robinson’s most striking artistic trait, and he showcases said intensity, which ranges from relentlessly, slow-building to downright roiling, throughout this utterly compelling album.

Deploying a stellar line-up, comprising reedsman supreme Marty Ehrlich and vibrant altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa alongside core group members Liberty Ellman (guitar), Drew Gress (bass) and drummer George Schuller, with all the rowdy, tumultuous vigour and snap customarily associated with New York bands tempered by scrupulous attention to the various twists, turns and musical wrinkles of his multi-hued compositions, Robinson has produced a rousing, rumbustious but consistently musicianly album.

His own richly textured, passionate playing (on tenor, soprano and flute) jostles and interweaves with Ehrlich’s and Mahanthappa’s to great effect, and with UK-born Ellman ear-catchingly original in both soloing and accompanying roles and the rhythm section exemplary in its surefooted anchoring of the music in the often complex time-signatures demanded by Robinson, the Two Faces of Janus is one of the most powerful and robust albums you’re likely to hear this year.

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Preview: Lost Angel in Battersea, Lost Society in Clapham - new gig from August

The Lost Angel
Pianist Gabriel Latchin (who will be playing the first gig) writes about the series of live jazz sessions in August in The Lost Angel in Battersea, and The Lost Society in Clapham.

"This August, The Lost Angel and The Lost Society will be launching their new weekly season of live jazz - exciting news for jazz fans and musicians alike.

The Lost Angel - 339 Battersea Park Road, Battersea - will host mainly instrumental jazz each Sunday from 3 to 5pm, kicking off with a duo performance on the 5th of August featuring MOBO-winning bassist Tom Farmer and myself, Gabriel Latchin, on piano.

Sister restaurant, The Lost Society - 697 Wandsworth Rd in Clapham - will lean more towards vocal jazz, beginning its series with vocalist Georgia Mancio, again 3 to 5pm, followed by Irene Serra from 8 to 10pm.

Booking is being done by singer Louise Dodds, who tells me she has already booked right up to the end of August.

Personally, I think it's great to see two venues in South West London expanding their live jazz programme, offering plenty of gigs for musicians and quality music for local jazz fans."

The listings are:
The Lost Angel:
Sunday from 3 - 5pm 5th - Gabriel Latchin and Tom Farmer
12th - Tim Thornton and Grant Windsor
19th - Luca Boscagin Duo
26th - Shane Allessio Duo

Sunday evenings from 8pm - 10pm
5th - Irene Serra duo
12th - Theo Jackson
19th - Emma Smith duo
26th - Louise Dodds duo

The Lost Society:
Sundays from 3pm - 5pm
5th - Georgia Mancio duo
12th - Les Effrontes
19th - Radio Daze
26th - TJ Johnson


Lost Angel/ Lost Society website

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Review: Wynton Marsalis - Swing Symphony at the Barbican



Wynton Marsalis - Swing Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
(Barbican Hall, 26th July 2012. Review by Rob Edgar)


Tonight’s concert at the Barbican Hall combined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, for the second London performance of Wynton Marsalis' Swing Symphony, (symphony No. 3) bringing to an end JALC's Barbican residency.

The night opened with Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, a charming work from the Russian-born composer's American period. It's an orchestral showpiece, and the end of the last movement virtually blew the roof off.
 

But the main event was the Swing Symphony by Marsalis - you could feel the buzz of excitement in the hall leading up to it. Marsalis' pairing of the two different disciplines of big band and symphony orchestra is bold, even dangerous, but he is such a charismatic composer as well as performer (and he was of course helped greatly by the masterful Sir Simon Rattle) that it worked perfectly.

The first movement opened up at a comfortable speed, sounding like the kind of New Orleans street procession which Marsalis had participated in London on Wednesday for Abram Wilson's memorial service, whilst also blending together elements of Gershwin and perhaps even Shostakovich (in one of his more playful moods).

Marsalis is brilliant at changing the mood, at jumping from Duke Ellington swing to samba, to bebop and what sounded almost like a Golden Age era film score.

The players were on top form tonight; every player in the big band took at least one solo and all were staunchly unique. Joe Temperley’s warm baritone sax tone recalled whispers of Harry Carney, in stark contrast to the raucous and frenzied solos of Walter Blanding Jr. Whilst Sherman Irby and Ted Nash were somewhere between the two.

Marsalis himself only took one or two fairly brief solos, preferring to showcase the considerable talent amassed on stage. The soloist who really stole the show tonight though, was Victor Goines on clarinet and saxophone. His playing used just the right amount of rough glissandi and other appropriate techniques that it virtually transported you to New Orleans in the 30’s or 40’s.

Much has been said about Marsalis’s ability to orchestrate and there were some fantastic moments; the LSO's woodwind section produced a sound uncannily like a Hammond organ, and there was an extended section for the double basses alone, full of interest and character. Some might cavil that with over 100 players at his disposal, he could have done more with them: with the basses in mind, the big band's bass player could - to my ears, it is possible it was lost in the mix - to  have been given more individual prominence rather than mostly duplicate the part allotted to the LSO's eight-piece section.

That is my own little hang-up though, and it certainly seemed that nobody else cared/noticed; at the end of the night there were three separate standing ovations, two encores. Marsalis came across as hugely humble and modest, seeming uncomfortable with taking the spotlight and directing the audience’s applause to his band members and the orchestra.

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CD Review: Dave Jones Quartet - Resonance



Dave Jones Quartet - Resonance
(DJT005, CD Review by Chris Parker)


His “Journeys” trio now augmented by multi-instrumentalist Lee Goodall, Dave Jones has produced a characteristically attractive, wholly accessible album in Resonance, the music on it, as is usual with the Port Talbot pianist/composer, made up of relatively straightforward, often riff-based original material, played with panache and pep by a band completed by regulars Ashley John Long (bass) and Lloyd Haines (drums), the latter replaced on three tracks by Kevin Lawler.

The strings of the Mavron Quartet and – on other pieces – a brass section join Jones’s quartet on three tracks each, and bring welcome textural variety to the mix, but the album’s immediacy and power are derived from the uncomplicated directness of the compositions, which call to mind both Spirit Level in their heyday and (occasionally) McCoy Tyner’s immediately post-Coltrane output.

Goodall fires off cogent solos on both soprano and tenor, and his one-track contributions on flute and guitar are also telling, the latter in particular bringing the album to a rousing climax by perfectly complementing Jones’s feisty Hammond organ. Jones communicates most effectively in live performances, but this unpretentiously enjoyable album is the next best thing.

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The Abram Wilson Funeral Procession. London 25th July 2012



Dress code: smart and colourful. The London Memorial Service for Abram Wilson (1973-2012) was a poignant, very special occasion. The funeral procession started by the National Theatre today in Central London. (Video from SE1website where there are further pictures)

An astonishing band and choir formed the procession, including Wynton Marsalis (below) performed at the service, and all contributed massively to a moving occasion. They were led by Karen Gibson and Kevin Robinson. Rev. Giles Goddard officiated. Hannah Wilson, Pia Furtado and Anthony Welsh gave readings. Most moving of all was a brilliant eulogy by Jennie Cashman Wilson.

CLICK HERE to give to the Foundation set up in his honour which has so far raised $13,000 and is open to further donations.

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Jazz Downstairs, Kings Head, Crouch End needs people to show support

I'm hearing of a potential threat to the Sunday afternoon Jazz Downstairs at the Kings Head in Crouch End.

This gig/ jam session has been in its current location for over twenty years, and is the continuation of a gig which has run in different locations for around half a century. So it would be a pain, but not the end of the world if this gig - which drew seventy people last Sunday, I'm told -  has to move on. 

This is one of the cornerstones of the North London scene. So in the meantime, please show your support, and let's hope they can stay put.... by LIKING THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE and/ or leaving a comment or a memory or an expression of support here.

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CD Review: Dan Messore - Indigo Kid

Dan Messore - Indigo Kid
(Babel/The Vortex BVOR1197, CD review by Chris Parker)


Huw Warren, one of Dan Messore’s tutors at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, reacted to Indigo Kid thus: “Great tunes, I love the fluid feel. I like the freshness of the overall vibe.”

Messore himself aspires to inhabit musical territory where “Pat Metheny meets Kurt Rosenwinkel” and aims to draw on the “rich folk-rock tradition of John Fahey and Bert Jansch”, and such lofty ambitions are by no means overstated; Indigo Kid is a finely wrought, carefully considered piece of work whose compositions are clearly the product of a nimble musical mind, and Messore’s bandmates – saxophonist Iain Ballamy, bassist Tim Harries and drummer Gethin Jones – address his richly varied pieces with discernible relish.

Ballamy brings his customary affecting fragility to ballad material and elegant, controlled power to the up-tempo pieces, and Harries and Jones are a vigorous and neat unit, but it is Messore's precise yet gutsy playing that is the most immediately attractive feature of a fine album.

The band’s residency at the Vortex in September should be a real treat.

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Exclusive: Jason Moran/Seb Rochford Release



The Leeds based Leaf Label are giving LondonJazz readers a sneak preview of one of two new tracks from Seb Rochford and Jason Moran.

The single (which is part of Seb’s Days and Nights at the Takeaway Project) features two tracks: the original improvisation by Jason and the re-working of it by Seb. It will be available on the Bandcamp Website from Friday the 27th of July.

The Days and Nights at the Takeaway project is a “monthly online singles club.” Seb Rochford records artists in his studio (an ex-takeaway, hence the name) and releases two versions of the tune for streaming and/or purchase online.

This time it was different though, as Seb says, “Since Jason lives in New York, I asked him to send me a recording of himself on piano that I could then mess with at my place.” However, what he received initially seemed quite daunting, “I was blown away by the music he sent and felt a little intimidated by it.”

Seb included the original improvisation by Moran (recorded at a solo concert in Northern Italy) as the second piece this time rather than the usual remix, but what you get here are two almost completely different pieces of music. The opening passages of the improvisation, which in the original are played with an almost Bill Evans-like warmth, are transformed into something almost disturbing, with live drum takes and live iPad and synth figures.

The middle of the piece is remarkable for the rhythmic interplay between his drums and Moran’s piano Seb has taken a small 2 or 3 second phrase of the improvisation and given it perhaps the most prominent role.

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The 2013 NEA Jazz Masters announced



The US National Endowment for the Arts has announced its 2013 Jazz Masters, "The nation's Highest award in Jazz":

Mose Allison, pianist, vocalist, composer

Lou Donaldson, saxophonist

Lorraine Gordon, jazz club owner

Eddie Palmieri, pianist, bandleader, arranger, composer

FULL DETAILS ARE ON THE NEA WEBSITE

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Review: André Vida, Rashad Becker, Bass Clef and NHK at Café Oto

Rashad Becker, NHK (Kouhei Matsunaga), André Vida
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved


André Vida and Rashad Becker with Bass Clef and NHK
(Café Oto, 16 July 2012; day 2 of André Vida/Rashad Becker 2-day residency; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)


Last autumn saxophonist André Vida was in London to take on the awesome challenge of playing nine times a day for three months in Anri Sala's film and sound installation at the Serpentine Gallery - over 400 performances! So it was nice to be able to see him share a solo setting with another Berlin-based musician, electronics master, Rashad Becker, and team up with British electro-dance and left-field, experimental trombonist Bass Clef, and Japanese electronics innovator, NHK (Kouhei Matsunaga). This was under the auspices of Berlin's Pan label, which recently put out Vida's impressive 3 CD retrospective release, 'Brud', and for whom Becker is the mastering and cutting engineer of choice.

Becker and NHK set up the electronic backdrop to the first half, an eerie, echoing industrial soundscape, over which Vidal introduced harsh, breathy distortions on a Yamaha WX5, and sporadic tonal interventions on sopranino sax. The coalescent sound revved up with a sudden, intense momentum - sustained sax, disruptive motor engine sounds of near-drag racing volume, and then with equal rapidity faded into blips and signals with lo-fi creaks from Vida.

Becker performs with a rare, unmediated engagement. His ideas of the specific notes, colours and textures come to life in the dialogue instantaneously. He works with quiet confidence from a massively complex palette, avoiding clichés, imbuing the interactions with an acute fingerprint.

This fitted perfectly with Vida's inclinations, flipping between sopranino and tenor sax, with a wilfuly disjointed, phraseless intent, returning to vocalisations, pulses, whistles and tics, that melded seamlessly with Becker's and NHK's soaring electronics, nautical chimes, and sampled drones.

Straight after the break, Bass Clef set up a shoal of sparkling electro-patterns which served as a foil to Vida's rasping bursts and bellows and his own deviant trombone insinuations which included gleeful, intermittent elephantine blasts in response. A hint of trance, but no chance of falling in to the trap of repetition, their duet was marked by a freshness and a sense of awakening to sonic possibilities at every turn.

Joined by Becker and NHK, who worked in close unison to develop a haunted, reverberating post-Floyd atmosphere for the final stage of the journey, Vida scrapped and scraped with compelling deliberation and embarked on a spell of sustained circular breathing that Kirk or Dizzy would have approved of. Bass Clef added a sharp, percussive layer and by way of contrast, took the trombone down to virtual silence, before Vida slowly walked from the stage and around the audience to Café Oto's front door, his rippling independence on sopranino countered by a menacing darkness and fast changing patterns set up by the electronics trio. A rumble in the jungle to finish off an evening of bright articulations.

André Vida: tenor and sopranino sax and Yamaha WX5
Rashad Becker: electronics
NHK (Kouhei Matsunaga): electronics
Bass Clef: trombone and electronics

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Preview: Guys and Dolls, Cadogan Hall, 22nd-25th August



WE INTERVIEWED CONDUCTOR RICHARD BALCOMBE ABOUT THE ENDURING APPEAL OF GUYS AND DOLLS, WHICH RECEIVES FIVE CONCERT PERFORMANCES AT CADOGAN HALL BETWEEN AUGUST 22ND AND AUGUST 25TH.


Guys and Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser (1910-1969), is based on stories by Damon Runyon, and was popular and successful from the day it opened in 1950 on Broadway.

The cast for the performances at Cadogan Hall includes Dennis Waterman, who will be narrating, setting the scene, but also gets one song in the role of Arvide : More I Cannot Wish You.

Also in the cast Ruthie Henshall, Lance Ellington, Anna-Jane Casey and Graham Bickley. The 20 piece orchestra - the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra - will be conducted by Richard Balcombe, who conducts opera and musicals all over Europe.

The first remarkable thing about the show, and what brings audiences back to it again and again, is that it should be the repository of quite so many classic songs: Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat, Luck Be A Lady Tonight, If I were a Bell, I Have Never Been I Love Before.”..... [**]

"These are proper show tunes”, says Balcombe. The audience knows what it is going to get. Balcombe contrasts the show with How To Succeed in Busines Without Really Trying (1961) and Green Willow (1960) which he has also conducted. They have real strength and originality, but are not overtly "populist and approachable" as Guys and Dolls.

The songs in Guys and Dolls are not just good tune, they are also completely true to the characters singing them , they underline and reinforce each of their personalities. Or as Balcombe explains, “the characterization is genius “. When Skye Masterson sings My Time of Day he’s “suave elegant, sexy, bluesy with more jazz inflection than elsewhere in the show - major 9ths, flattened 5ths”. And when Sarah sings If I were a Bell, she’s “shy, loving, romantic”. A lesser-known song from the show, the duet “Sue Me” has Nathan (sung -above-  in the movie version, by Frank Sinatra) singing in a laid back way while Adelaide (the main female comic turn in the show, to be sung by Ruthie Henshall) is “in your face, brassy.”

And what else keeps bringing musicians and audiences back to this show< I asked.  Balcombe's response says it all: 

“The whole score is pretty much a masterpiece because its so concise. After every song it’s like unwrapping the next parcel and finding that what’s inside is as good as the last. The show never feels it coasts, it’s all at a level of achievement which never backs off.”

[**] There are short clips from all of the musical numbers (including Travellin' Light which was written for the show but which got left out) at ALLMUSIC.COM

CADOGAN HALL, AUGUST 22nd to 25th. FULL DETAILS AND BOOKINGS HERE

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CD Review: Airkraft - Pyongyang Express



Airkraft Pyongyang Express
(FMRCD324–0212 CD review by Chris Parker)


In April 2009, Airkraft (baritone saxophonist Chris Caldwell, soprano player Pete Whyman, tenor saxophonist Frank Van Der Kooij) were invited by the organising committee of the “April Spring Friendship Art Festival” to play in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

This intriguing album provides a record of this experience, comprising a number of short field recordings of singing, news broadcasts, trains, street sounds etc., interspersed with trio pieces (mostly composed by Van Der Kooij) inspired by the trip.

These are mainly stately, tender compositions in which tenor and baritone typically harmonise the rhythmic foundation for Pete Whyman’s blazing, agile, pure-toned soprano solos, but there are also freely improvised passages, a couple of Hugh Hopper tunes (one of them recorded live at the Bookworm, Beijing, at an earlier stage of the band’s short Far East tour) and some perfectly judged tenor contributions from Van Der Kooij.

Overall, this is unusual and absorbing saxophone-trio music, well described on the sleeve as mirroring the sights and sounds of the DPRK: “organised, angular, meticulous and industrial, but … sweet and melancholic”.

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BT River of Music latest

Serious who have produced this weekend's BT River of Music write: Tickets are no longer available for BT River of Music. You can still take part by coming along on the day to our Asia stage at Battersea Park and Oceania stage at Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich (subject to capacity). Please do not come to any of the other stages unless you already have a ticket as they are fully booked and you will not be able to get in. FULL SCHEDULE HERE

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Scottish Jazz Awards (winners in bold )



HERE ARE THE WINNERS IN THE SCOTTISH JAZZ AWARDS, HELD TONIGHT IN EDINBURGH,  IN BOLD (OR SHOULD THAT BE BRAVE?). HOSTED BY IAN SHAW, SUPPORTED BY CREATIVE SCOTLAND, ORGANIZED BY THE SCOTTISH JAZZ FEDERATION..

Lifetime Award

Ronnie Rae

Album of the year

THE HOWNESS - Martin Kershaw (EJF Records)
KARMA - Tommy Smith (Spartacus Records)
ON THE WALK - Breach

Vocalist of the Year

Alison Burns
Fionna Duncan
Carol Kidd

Instrumentalist of the year

Brian Kellock
Ryan Quigley
Julian Arguelles

Jazz in the Media

Rob Adams
BBC Radio Scotland's Jazz House
Jazz Waves with Alan Steadman

International Award


Randy Brecker
Kurt Elling
Peter Erskine

Innovation Award

Phil Bancroft - Home Small as the World
Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra
Graeme Stephen - Sunrise a Song of 2 Humans

Jazz Ensemble of the year

Brass Jaw
NeWt
SNJO

Education Award

NYJOS
Tommy Smith
Paul Towndrow

Services to Jazz Award

George Duncan
Bill Kyle
Tommy Smith

Emerging Artist / Rising Star

Euan Burton
Ru Pattison
Joe Wright

Live Jazz

SNJO
Martin Taylor
Jazz @ Hospitalfield


With thanks to Alison Eales who live-streamed the results on Twitter

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Toni Morrison / Peter Sellars' Desdemona at the Barbican

LondonJazz reader Henry Little writes about the power of the Toni Morrison/ Peter Sellars Desdemona featuring Rakia Traore:

The Desdemona Project at the Barbican is a real one-off blend of song cycle and dramatic monologue. Featuring wonderful and very poignant singing by the Mali-born artist, Rakia Traore and a great central performance by Tina Benko, here is the story of Desdemona's relationship with her black nurse, Barbary, charting her tragic relationship with Othello. Directed with great sensitvity by Peter Sellars with a beautiful poetic text by Toni Morrison, Desdemona is a powerful meditation on a woman struggling to find her voice in a man's world. It's only on for two nights at the Barbican Concert Hall and certainly should not be missed.


Reduced price tickets here

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Joshua Redman Series Nov '12 - May '13 at Wigmore Hall

Joshua Redman at North Sea Jazz. Photo credit: Rupert Parker
I've just spotted these three very recommendable concerts, for which tickets went on sale a few weeks ago. They're at Wigmore Hall, curated by Joshua Redman, (see our North Sea Jazz write-up, our reviewer was blown away!) culminating in a duo concert with Christian McBride. 

Axis Saxophone Quartet (Joshua Redman, Chris Cheek, Chris Potter & Mark Turner)- Friday 2 November 2012 - 7:30 PM

Guillermo Klein piano, voice; Aaron Goldberg piano; Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenon saxophones - Friday 1 February 2013 - 7:30 PM

Joshua Redman saxophone; Christian Mcbride double bass - Saturday 11 May 2013 - 7:30 PM

TICKETS HERE

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Review: Jazz at Cafe Society

Gwyneth Herbert, Alexander Stewart, China Moses


Jazz at Cafe Society
(Tricycle Theatre Kilburn, 17th July 2012. Review by Augustina Dias)


Fresh from its London Jazz Festival premiere at the Southbank Centre, Alex Webb’s revue charts the meteoric rise and eventual decline of Café Society, New York’s first non-segregated nightclub. The club’s founder Barney Josephson (played by Radio 3 DJ Max Reinhardt) narrates the turbulent story of this pioneering establishment with extracts from his memoirs.

His story punctuates expertly rendered jazz classics first immortalised by the great musicians of the era, many of whom had their first spot on his stage: Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, to name but a few. Lena Horne recalled her time on Café Society’s stage as ‘the sweetest spot I’d ever had.’

The show’s outstanding cast had many sweet spots of their own: Paris-based singer China Moses, with a sweet yet powerful voice reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald, did justice to old favourites like ‘What A Little Moonlight Can Do’, and ‘Parlez-Moi d’Amour’. Gwyneth Herbert purred her way from jazz, via her spine-tingling arrangement of folk song ‘Lord Randall’, to early R & B; her husky, sultry tones were the ideal compliment to Moses’ style. Alexander Stewart lent a more contemporary feel to proceedings, and the three came together for some successful trios.

The ‘Café Society All Stars’ octet were sensational, both accompanying the singers and in their own right. In the horns, there were exceptional solos from each of the musicians, especially Sue Richardson on trumpet and a memorable trombone solo from Nathaniel Cross, earning him an enthusiastic round of applause. Nathaniel Facey, too, executed some skilful solos, and Frank Griffith displayed his first-class skills on both tenor sax and clarinet. Together the musicians proved their range and versatility performing strongly characterized songs in a variety of styles, nailing each one with complete confidence.

‘Jazz at Café Society’ situates the development of Josephson’s nightclub well as part of the civil rights movement of the early Twentieth Century. One night at the end of her spot, Billie Holiday sang the poignant, disturbing song ‘Strange Fruit’, with just a spotlight on her face, and no encore, a moment that would define her career. It was paid due homage as the show’s finale, with Moses stepping into Holiday’s shoes. Josephson recalls telling Lena Horne that ‘a song tells a story’: it is Webb’s celebration of the music of the time that carries us through his touching narrative of such a unique (and thankfully not forgotten) place in musical and cultural history.

All of the remaining performances at the Tricycle of Jazz at Cafe Society are sold out. It is to be hoped that this show can be heard, and seen again, and soon.

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Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Hyde Park

Bruce Springsteen on the main stage in Hyde Park, 14 July 2012
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
(Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park, 14 July 2012; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)



Finding Bruce Springsteen and Phil Minton on the same bill would seem to be beyond all reasonable possibility - but it really did happen at Hard Rock Calling! And the day was better for it, too.

The shenanigans at the end of Springsteen's concert, with the resultant media frenzy, didn't detract from his momentous performance. Stadium concerts or festivals are generally to be avoided, but because of the Boss's reputation as a live performer, braving the 75,000, when a friend hit lucky with tickets was an opportunity not to be missed.

'The Boss' is a superb communicator. There's no superstar stuff, he gets in with his fans (he literally walked in close to the adoring audience, found a young kid to sing with him, danced with a female fan) and onstage is the musical personification of the working men and women for whom he speaks in so many ways. His core audience was there in the park, a great swathe of died-in-the-wool fans who knew every word of his songs, cutting across the blue and white collar, many in mid-life and a lot of youngsters, too.

In the company of a great Springsteen fan, Steve Stecklow, who also hails from New Jersey and for whom Springsteen's music has been the soundtrack to life, many of the links were connected, and a good spot was staked out, the equivalent of being in the ‘back row of the gods’ in a concert hall, no mean achievement!

What a great set. Entertainment in the best sense – no fluff, nothing superfluous, no theatricals, no special effects, just strong songs - some epic roller-coasters, some spare acoustic coffee-house cuts. He had an unerring sense of how to make everyone in the massive audience feel as though he was talking directly to them and playing just for them, reaching out to touch his fans with a natural humility.

Springsteen has a tremendous band which delivered, and some. Nearly twenty onstage with his E Street Brass and Choir. Legendary, long-term members included pianist Roy Bitten - who provided perfect tinkling, richly chorded accompaniment to the Boss's vocal and harmonica on the spine-tingling opener, 'Thunder Road' - guitarists Stevie Van Zant and Nils Lofgren, bassist Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg on drums, the Mexican-tinged accordion of Charles Giordano and multi-instrumentalist, Soozie Tyrell linked up in a broad-weave tapestry of songs that covered every facet of Springsteen's output.

There are too many numbers to namecheck individually, but check out http://backstreets.com/setlists.htmll for the set list and a good round-up. Amongst the highlights were 'Spirit in the Night', from the first album, which included an emotional stretch with Jake Clemons, a richly experienced tenor player who stepped with respect and inspiration in to his late uncle Clarence's shoes, blowing with knockout maturity and confidence. A mention, too, for some quietly classy jazz trumpet soloing from Curt Ramm, deftly slipped in to the E Street Band's whirlpool momentum.

'My City of Ruins', in gospel mood, thrilled with its snatches of Curtis Mayfield's unforgettable 'People Get Ready'. 'Jack of All Trades', one of eight from the latest album, 'Wrecking Ball', was a poignant, all-too-real reflection on the plight of the ageing working man adrift in today's fast-moving world, and had Springsteen belting a large bass drum to emphasise the heritage invoked. 'Johnny 99' from the album 'Nebraska' was played at a cracking pace which drew out its rock and roll roots, complementing the original's eerie, sparse mood. 'Rockin' All Over the World', earlier in the day, had Springsteen team up with its author, John Fogerty, to barrel it out with raucous humour and energy - and showed what great rockin' guitarists they both are!

With Paul McCartney at the climax, it was just like one imagines a Beatles concert might have been, with a touch of hysteria thrown in, and the words to 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Twist and Shout' all but drowned out by the enthusiasm of the audience. No wonder Springsteen said he'd "been waitin' about 50 years for this!"

Over three hours - you just can’t knock it. The lifelong devotees were living every word, and all were drawn in by Springsteen's stage presence, his timing and the band's musicianship, absolutely honed to rough perfection.

My last word on the now-infamous ending - well, it has to be down to the promoters - knowing that he can play for nearly 4 hours, Springsteen should have been scheduled for a 6pm start.

Feral Singers, Hyde Park July 2012
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved

In the 'Hard Rock Rising' tent I caught the final scintillating number from KonKoma - a Ghana-via-London mix with tremendous brass and percussion in the true spirit of the best bands out of West and Central Africa, and an extraordinary set by Phil Minton's Feral Singers.

The Feral Singers are six vocalists - Dylan Nyoukis, Kay Grant, Luke Poot, Elaine Mitchener, Sharon Gal and Phil Minton - who pushed the boundaries in a continuous performance which was all about what was possible, never about what was expected, in the realm of the communicable, evoking the chattering, screeches, growls and wails of the animal world in an unstoppable, explosive flux which was never less than mesmerising.



Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 14 July 2012
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2012. All Rights Reserved

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Review: Babelfish Album Launch

Brigitte Beraha
Babelfish Album Launch
(Pizza Express Jazz Club, 15th July. Review by Rosalie Genay)

Last Sunday was the long awaited album launch of Babelfish, a collaboration between Brigitte Beraha and Barry Green, recorded at Abbey Road with Paul Clarvis on percussion and Chris Laurence on bass.

They performed tracks from their new album as well as a moving tribute to Pete Saberton (to whom the album is dedicated) 'Heart, We Will Forget' by Copland segue-ing into 'Chasing Rainbows' in front of a welcoming audience at Pizza Express.

These gracious and wonderfully talented musicians delivered an exciting and unusual combination of music. Featured were new compositions, with highlights for me being the remarkable eccentric 'Popular Mechanics' by Green with text from Raymond Carver, the melancholy 'The Apple Tree' by Beraha, and cherished tunes such as the beautifully executed 'Falando de Amor' by Jobim. And we can of course rely on Green and Beraha to dive into lesser explored territory with art songs from Britten, the haunting 'Poem for F' by Ned Rorem and a touching arrangement by Pete Bernstein of Alec Wilde's 'While We're Young'.

This partnership is the sum of very special parts indeed. Brigitte Beraha's warm and interpretative vocals are deployed with sincerity and musicality. She has a wondrous and fearless ability to push the limits of vocal agility. Barry Green's inventive and sensitive style of playing for which he is well recognised, create patterns of rich harmonies and locked-in pulses from which he launches all kinds of unanticipated narratives.

The nothing but brilliant percussion by Paul Clarvis, the equally astounding Chris Laurence and the visible joy of this band working together on stage were transferred to the audience. The sensitivity toward the music and each other and the creation of space within the form made it into a unique evening, a moment when magical soundscapes would transport you out of our dreary London.

Tour dates at moletone.com

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CD Review: Roller Trio - Roller Trio



Roller Trio - Roller Trio
(F-IRECD 52 CD. Review by Chris Parker)


“Epic rock-edge riffs, angular sax explorations, brooding beats and haunting dub-step style electronics” and “searing sax over buzzsaw guitar riffs built on looped melody and angular drumbeats” are two recent descriptions (from Jazzwise and Livenotes YLMP respectively) of the approach adopted by Roller Trio, the latest product of the thriving Leeds music scene.

The three bandmembers (saxophonist James Mainwaring, guitarist Luke Wynter, drummer Luke Reddin-Williams) began playing together as a jamming band inspired by everyone from Tim Berne and Anthony Braxton to Queens of the Stone Age, and a spontaneous informality and a willingness to settle into and explore all the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of hospitable grooves and more tricksy time-signatures consequently characterises their music, but it is the sheer variety, power and energy of the nine tracks on this compelling album that immediately impress.

Once a musical platform is set up, Roller Trio simply “develop the bits [we] like” (in their words), and they do this to great effect whether they’re playing big-beat stormers (“The Nail That Stands Up”) or mellower, slow-building fare (“The Zone” or “A Dark Place to Think”). Admirers of Troyka, Trio VD and their like will love Roller Trio – this rollicking, full-on album demonstrates in spades just why one promoter reacted to a gig by the band thus: “I have never seen a jazz act appeal so vehemently to a non-jazz audience.”

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What happens when the headliner can't get to the gig...



When flight cancellations prevent a headliner reaching a gig, what happens? This review by Mike Collins from Bristol, telling what happened after Will Vinson coudn't make it from Spain speaks volumes about the strength in depth, the capable hands, the resilience, the creativity of the musicians we have here in the UK. As Mike writes: "Top class bands often feed off the energy and response of an audience, and that effect seemed to be amplified tonight, adding to the intensity."

Amen to that.

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Vortex Collecting for Lol Coxhill's family / funeral details

Lol Coxhill. Photo Credit: Vortex Jazz Club/ Francisco Rivotti
The board of the VORTEX writes:

As a tribute to the unique saxophonist and dear friend to the scene Lol Coxhill, we at The Vortex are collecting money to support the family, and to sustain the legacy of a uniquely influential and important figure in British music.

To donate, drop into the club and leave some money or contact Tim Ward on tim (at) vortexfoundation.org.uk or Oliver Weindling on oliver (at) vortexjazz.co.uk for details of how to contribute by cheque or bank transfer.

======================================

Funeral Arrangements: Lol Coxhill's funeral will be at 1.15 on Tuesday July the 24th at

South Chapel
Modern Crematorium
City of London Cemetery
Aldersbrook Road
London E12 5DQ

(Direct trains from London Liverpool Street to Manor Park)

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Ana Silvera, Richard Godwin, Josh Neicho - Edinburgh Preview



Marylebone Gardens is a bar and basement venue in Marylebone High Steet, operated by Theatre Delicatessen. It's opposite Daunt Books, the BBC is nearby....it has (not kidding, it really does) an astro-turfed chill-out zone and an ultra-hip bar. And a good, unobtrusive guy on sound.

Last night the venue was hosting a preview of an Edinburgh Festival show, with singer/songwriters Ana Silvera, Maya Levy and Richard Godwin. Host/MC Josh Neicho interspersed their sets of songs with his carefully, cleverly crafted verse monologues. The first of these charted a failed cyber-relationship with eloquence, another probed the strange mind-set of heritage custodians who somehow find it normal to spend other peoples' millions on Titian pantings. It was consistently sharp writing, with a keen sense of irony, and humour, and well delivered too.

Ana Silvera is a singer/songwriter and award-winning composer. An Irish-Syrian North Londoner, she has had Roundhouse commissions, and worked with an impressive list of top names in both pop and classical music. The joy of last night's performance was to hear her just delivering her songs. She's an absolutely natural communicator on this small scale. There's real honesty in this performance, and her two highly characterful songs definitely weren't enough.

Jacques Brel is named as an influence for Ana Silvera. He also figures strongly in the background for Richard Godwin, who has strengthened vocally and as a performer since I last heard him in 2010. The song "A Powerful Message" stays even more strongly in the mind than it did then. Richard's day job is as a feature writer at the Evening Standard, and being downwind of corporations' "powerful messages" is territory he must know now even better than he did then. My erudite companion for the evening was completely mesmerized by his right hand guitar technique, which reminded him of Sidi Toure. The third musician on the bill, Maya Levy, is a very clever and intelligent songwriter.

A show to be recommended if people find themselves in Edinburgh at festival-time, where it will also feature Gwyneth Glyn, Marie Naffah and Sophie Ramsay.

The show will at the Fiddlers Elbow, 4 Picardy Place EH1 3JT, 6.30-7.30, from 20th-25th August (20th August not listed in the Fringe guide and officially a preview but it will be a full performance). It's part of PBH's Free Fringe.

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CD Review: Yazz Ahmed - Finding My Way Home



Yazz Ahmed - Finding My Way Home,
(Suntara Records SUN 7422001, CD Review by Chris Parker)


Trumpeter/composer Yazz Ahmed has made something of a splash on the current UK jazz scene since graduating from the Guildhall School six years ago, and this album can only help establish her as a strikingly original voice.

It’s structured as a roots-oriented journey, exploiting both what the accompanying publicity calls “Arabic scales” and more overtly conventional jazz-based fare in the process, its core the strong, infectiously enthusiastic musical bond between Ahmed and bass guitar virtuoso Janek Gwizdala, with whom she improvises four spontaneous duets and a number of more structured duo pieces, including deft, absorbing visits to Miles Davis’s So What and Stan Sulzmann’s Birthdays, Birthdays.

Ahmed has a precise, poised but warm, atmospheric sound, well suited to the flugelhorn she also plays, and both her informal but rousingly powerful collaborations with the alternately growling and spurting Gwizdala and the more ambitious, extended, multi-textured pieces in which she skilfully deploys larger forces (among them clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings, tenor player Alam Nathoo and cellist Chris Fish) showcase a considerable and – most important – highly individual instrumental and compositional talent.

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CD Review: Tim Thornton - New Kid



Tim Thornton - New Kid
(SaySo Records SEHS005CD, CD review by Chris Parker)


“I am very happy with the organic nature of the record … it captures the essence of a live performance” is bassist/composer Tim Thornton’s verdict on this, his debut recording as a leader.

It features his compositional and instrumental talents (the latter in both energetic, propulsive accompanying roles and solos of admirable power and cogency) alongside a shifting line-up of players, with many of whom he has had lengthy associations. Chief among these is tenor saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, who fires off a series of characteristically sinewy solos on Thornton’s jauntier pieces (the opening title-track, the closing Southpark Avenue and tastefully tones his approach down on the bassist’s quieter compositions.

The album also contains intelligent Thornton arrangements of standards/jazz classics, most notably Ornette Coleman’s When Will the Blues Leave, which elicits a rousing solo from pianist Ross Stanley, who is ear-catchingly impressive throughout (his contribution to the ballad A Scene for Dreaming a particular highlight), as is drummer Chris Draper.

Also featuring three guest appearances by lively trumpeter Steve Fishwick, this is a consistently listenable, immediately accessible album, unshowy – even relatively easygoing – but an auspicious debut none the less.

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CD Review: Maurizio Minardi -My Piano Trio



Maurizio Minardi - My Piano Trio
(Belafagor Label MM10. CD Review by Alison Bentley)


'My Piano Trio': minimalist title, exquisite minimalist music. Italian pianist/composer Maurizio Minardi's new CD actually has two trios: from London (where he now lives) and Bologna, featuring his classically-influenced compositions. He admires film composers such as Michael Nyman and Yann Tiersen. Minardi's own pieces draw you in to their serene world, and Tord Gustavson's sense of space comes to mind.

Some tunes have a limpid simplicity, such as Shiny, with harmonic progressions and arpeggios redolent of Bach -he's a presiding spirit in several pieces. Jason Reeve's drumming emphasises the off beats, creating tension, and Nick Pini's double bass solo is a expressive counterpoint to the piano's lines. Most of the solos are by the bassists, over textures created by piano and drums. Einaudito (A tribute to minimalist composer Ludovico Einaudi?) has something of Stravinsky's Cinq Doigts for Piano Solo. The repeated motifs move slowly though the keys like overlapping waves. Perludio has a strong narrative sense, almost cinematic, ending with a section recalling David Rees-Williams' reworking of Purcell.

Poppies is more romantic, and like Michel Legrand, Minardi uses classical cadences to create a gorgeous melody. The burnished cymbal sounds enhance the piano arpeggiation, rather than laying down a groove. Minardi names e.s.t. as an influence, and his piano solo here has imaginative, spiky rhythms. Clapham Park and Breton are romantic ballads- the first rubato with swooping arpeggios, the second with jazzier modal chords. Felice Del Gaudio's melodic bass solo on Clapham Park is particularly rich-toned. Roberto Rossi's fluttering cymbals are sensitive and percussive. Minardi's solo on Breton has a touch of Jimmy Rowles' Peacocks in its atonal yet emotive patterns.

Minardi also plays accordion, and recorded the tango Tulipano Nero with his Quartetto Magritte before this version. It has an urgency and intensity. Perhaps accordion tangos have inflenced Minardi's piano style in the slower Canicola. Magritte (see the excellent Surrealist cover art!) has Nyman-esque flowing repeated phrases. There's a remixed, orchestrated version of this tune on the album too, reminding us of Minardi's earlier electro-funk ventures.

This CD should appeal to classical and jazz lovers alike. The overall feeling is tranquil and meditative- interesting, crafted writing, fine playing and above all a strong emotional appeal.

Live on Saturday 21st July 2012 at 9pm at Oliver's Jazz Club, 9 Nevada Street, Greenwich, London SE10 9JN / www.mauriziominardi.com

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Review: Keith Jarrett Trio in Vienna

Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock


Keith Jarrett , Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette
(Vienna Konzerthaus, July 8th. Review by George Foster)


One of the casualties of the Olympics has been the annual Festival Hall concert by Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette at the end of July following a month in Europe. This year it would have clashed with the opening of the Olympics. Since this band get together for barely a dozen concerts a year, this is a considerable loss to London.

This trio has been playing together for over 25 years. Style and repertoire have barely changed, but this music is timeless and every performance fresh With Jarrett’s trio the key things are the intensity of the moments of creating and listening, and the 3 held a packed auditorium, ranging from early teens to elderly enraptured. Jarrett has the gift of being able to go directly to the heart of a piece with an incisiveness which allows him to extract its essence, which he is then able to communicate to the listener. Often this involves playing the melody in a deceptively simple way, bringing out harmonic and melodic qualities you had never noticed before. At his 2011concert at the Festival Hall I remember being moved to tears by his rendition of “Answer me my Love", a song I knew only from a syrupy Matt Munro version.

On the opening night of the current tour in Vienna. Jarrett was on superb form. He opened with a version of "Stella by Starlight" which didn't state the melody until the last chorus. He seemed inn a skittish mood, with "Just. Squeeze Me" and a jokey ending to " The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea", but the emotional intensity was there in the ballads "Once upon a Time" and "Blame it on my Youth". The virtuosity wasfs there too when "Autumn Leaves" segued into his own "Up for it", a piece where he plays different rhythmic pulses with each hand, and somehow a melody as well without losing rhythmic coherence. It was breathtaking in its timing, as were some of his extended arpeggios alternating with short staccato phrases in the funky slow blues numbers he excels at.

But if Jarrett was superb, Gary Peacock was outstanding. He drove the rhythms with unerring power and precision when the music called for it, counterpointed as if in telepathic contact with the pianist sometimes following, sometimes leading. His solos were lyrical and melodic and the audience loved him. Jack DeJohnette was as subtle and varied as ever he showed a total command of his kit without any apparent effort. You could hear his evocation of the great drummers of the past - Sid Catlett in particular. His fills in the encore favourite “God Bless the Child” were a joy. But the virtuosity was never showmanship – none of them ever gave the impression that they were there for anything but making music collaboratively and what they played was as good as it gets. Roll on July 2013 at the Festival Hall.

The concert was recorded by Austrian Radio ORF1.

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Breaking news: Headliners for the 1st Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival Mar 2013

Arturo Sandoval
The first Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival, which will take place next March, has announced today: "All three of our 'headline' acts are now in place." These concerts will be in Colston Hall


Friday March 1st: Richard Galliano & Bireli Lagrene will play an evening of Jazz, Nuevo Tango, Gypsy Swing & Valses mussette in both solo & duet mode.

Saturday March 2nd: John Scofield Organic trio. John brings his organ trio to Europe which features Larry Goldings on Hammond organ and Greg Hutchinson on drums.

Sunday March 3rd: Arturo Sandoval brings his 6-piece group of Jazz & Afro-cuban virtuosi to the festival.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. "Expect lots of great and exciting bands, many visiting Bristol for the first time and playing alongside the best the South West has to offer."

Bristoljazzandbluesfest.com will have more in due course

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Review: Take 6 at Ronnie Scott’s



Take 6
(Ronnie Scott’s, July 12th 2012, Review by Sarah Ellen Hughes)


Rooted in gospel, and passionate about Christian music, Take 6 is a formidable vocal force, with 16 albums and 10 Grammy Awards under its collective belt

Each vocalist took a turn on lead and background vocals, showcasing the fact that here were six singers at the top of their game. The current Take 6 members are Khristian Dentley, founder Claude V. McKinght, Mark Kibble, Joey Kibble, Alvin Chea and David Thomas. Their relationship as singers, friends and colleagues made for a terrific show.

Opening with an up-beat version of Straighten Up and Fly Right, it was clear what Take 6 could do: entertain with immaculate vocal harmonies, slick choreography and impressive melodic lines.

This visit to Ronnie’s was part of a worldwide tour to promote the new album One (Shanachie), which is their first collection of entirely Christian music but by no means did the group exclusively sing from their gospel repertoire; they sang a melange of songs from Stevie Wonder to Prince, to Michel Legrand and Charlie Chaplin. Fast swing morphed seamlessly into energetic funk and back again, with vocal percussion creating a setting for the musical scene to change.

Take 6 produced almost the entire show using their bare voices – with the occasional use of shakers and the piano – aided by some sophisticated and clever microphone techniques. Other instruments – trombones, trumpets, a cajón – were created impressively by voice. Such was their skill in this, that my companion and I can be forgiven for thinking that the backing track used when performing their album’s new single It Only Takes One, was human voices!

The group immediately made the audience feel at ease, asking the audience to participate in only the second number of the set. Their obvious appreciation and devotion to fans was apparent, as they dedicated a lush “Happy anniversary to you,” by name to a young couple at the front.

Despite only performing for less than 90 minutes, they managed to cram so much entertainment in, that the audience didn’t feel short-changed. The show ended with a rip-roaring medley of 70s tunes including a Michael Jackson feature, and a beat-box competition between two members.

On Thursday, they crammed two shows into a packed Ronnie Scott’s to an expectant audience who did not leave disappointed. Next time I hope they’ll entertain their English fans for more than just one night.

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Hitchcock's film The Ring, Music by Soweto Kinch, Hackney Empire


ALISON COLE writes: I was lucky enough to be at the premiere of the newly restored Hitchcock silent masterpiece The Ring (1927) last night (Saturday July 14th 2012), with a specially commissioned live score performed by Soweto Kinch and his band.

In the evocative music hall atmosphere of Hackney Empire, we were transported back to the Jazz age, to a melodrama focused on the boxing ring, a wedding ring and an arm bracelet - and a love triangle between up and coming contender Jack 'one rounder' sander, his girlfriend Mabel and his love rival, heavyweight champion Bob.

The irrepressible score brought out the quirky humour of the piece, the fun of the fairground setting, the drunken abandon of the party scenes, and the mounting tension and excitement of the genuinely enthralling fight scenes. Beautifully acted, vigorously accompanied, and shot through with Hitchcock's humanity and wicked sense of the bizarre, it was an absolute treat. Soweto rightly received his standing ovation.

The Ring was restored by the BFI National Archive, presented by the BFI, and was part of the BFI's wider project, The Genius of Hitchcock.

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Copenhagen Jazz Festival (Neneh Cherry/ Jim Hall/ Paolo Fresu / Brad Mehldau etc.)

T.S. Høgh Pop-up Orchestra in front of The Royal Theater
Photo credit: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen / www.jazz.dk
Here is another perspective on the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Jez Matthews (@jazzteabeer on Twitter), who travelled to the festival for the first time, picks TEN GIGS and then gives his overall impression.

Neneh Cherry with The Thing, at The Jazz House.


A powerful meeting of Neneh Cherry's charismatic vocals and The Thing's intense energy made for a visceral performance with a real emotional punch. Covers of MF Doom's 'Accordion', Suicide's 'Dream Baby Dream' were highlights, but Don Cherry's 'What Reason Could I Give' tied things up perfectly. Easily one of my most memorable gigs of the last few years.

Pianist Søren Kjærgaard at Cafe Mellemrummet.

I have come across Søren's playing in his trio with Andrew Cyrille and Ben Street, on an album called 'Femklang'. He is an intriguing and original artist, with a particular use of space to define the contours of his music. Here he was playing electric piano (and an analogue radio) with drummer Peter Bruun (from Django Bates' Beloved Bird trio), and Lars Greve on saxophone. This was fascinating music, with great rhythmic interplay, considerable dynamic range, and really effective use of multiphonics by Greve. Although apparently free, there seemed to be an underlying groove and compositional sense to the playing, and on one particularly beautiful slow piece, the music seemed to glisten and levitate, oblivious to time passing.

Paolo Fresu with an all-star Danish lineup at Jazzhus Montmartre.

This was something of a wish fulfilled for me; a legendary club that I've always wanted to visit. The club is now based at a new location, but nevertheless its a great venue with a sense of history, friendly staff, and an attentive, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic audience. Having seen Paolo Fresu before, I knew what to expect, and he didn't disappoint, playing two sets of (mostly) standards, with great straight ahead playing from the classy band that accompanied him, featuring Jan Lundgren on piano, Jesper Lundgaard on bass (more on him later), and Morten Lund on drums. Fresu has such a wonderful melodic sense and great time and phrasing, with Miles and Chet Baker never far from sight in his playing.

Søren Kjærgaard trio at the Tranquebar bookshop/cafe.

This time the piannist was with veteran Hugo Rasmussen on bass, and Carsten Dahl on drums, giving new life to a set of early Ellington tunes (including 'The Mooche', 'East St Louis Toodle-oo', and many others). Although respectful of the harmony and arrangements of the originals, and reminiscent of Ellington's 'Money Jungle' and Thelonious Monk's Ellington album, the music and presentation of it were full of wit, and with a definite 21st century sensibility particularly evident in Kjærgaard's piano playing.

Mulgrew Miller with Jesper Lundgaard and Alex Riel in tribute to Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen at Jazzhus Montmartre.

A hard-swingng trio with an impressive pedigree. NHØP's daughters were in the audience for this concert, which was marked by a strong sense of community shared by both the band and the audience. Riel was both playful and earnest in his playing and on-stage persona, and Lundgaard played several solos of remarkable lyricism and depth. Miller paid moving tribute, both musically and verbally, to his late playing partner, and capped it all with a marvelously swinging 'What a Difference a Day Made', straight out of the Oscar Peterson school of piano trio playing.

Karen Bach's trio at Bar Harbo.

A young crowd on the Monday afternoon. Karen on Rhodes piano, Erik Olevik on electric bass, and Erik Lautsen on drums. Her group has a very contemporary feel, with some great grooves, subtle playing, and a strong narrative sense on some attractive and very listenable compositions. Someone to look out for, and a sign perhaps of the depth of talent in this part of the world.

Brad Mehldau trio at the Kongelige Teatret.

This was predictably intense and close to perfection, with the expected eclectic mix of tunes covering Radiohead, The Beatles, Paul Simon, and Charlie Parker. The performance was really summed up in the perfect groove in the coda for the 2nd encore 'Knives Out'. Brilliant stuff.

Nikolaj Hess at the Christians Kirke

A New York/Danish-based pianist; again someone whose playing I was to become acquainted with over the next few days. A more conventional player than Soren Kjaergaard, but no less interesting for that, with great emotional and expressive range. Hess dealt with the demands of a vast church acoustic on a range of pieces from originals to versions of Bob Dylan's 'Masters of War' and 'Make You Feel My Love' (his touch on this was simply beautiful), and Strayhorn's 'Come Sunday', and a jaunty version of 'Cottontail'. Playing like this made us keen to see more of Hess, and we were able to catch him in different settings (both trios) later in the week; at Bartof Cafe, a marvelous jazz bar selling great beer and with a really informal atmosphere, and in the open air in a trio featuring french bass player Francois Moutin.

Julian Lage Quintet, Prøvehallen.

Lage's group featured Kenny Werner on piano, Henrick Dam Thomsen on cello, amazing percussionist Tupac Mantilla, and Benjamin Koppel on sax. This was an engrossing set of all original music, and a strong ethos based on group interplay, however I left feeling slightly disappointed not to have heard a little more individual playing from both Lage and Werner, both of whom showed their genius in short enticing bursts. There was however plenty to enjoy in Mantilla's virtuosic display covering his entire percussion set, as well as using his body for an endless array of finger clicks, rhythmic slaps and clapping.

Jim Hall Quintet, Prøvehallen

Hall's group at the same venue also included Kenny Werner and Benjamin Koppel, with Scott Colley on bass, and Jonathan Blake on drums. This was for me a much more satisfying affair, starting with a duo with the Colley, then joined by the larger band. The set was remarkable for the obvious respect of the younger musicians for the leader, allowing him space to express himself, yet not holding back in their own contributions. Blake was a model of restraint in his drumming, and there were beautiful melodic solos from Colley and Werner. My highlight was a wonderful version of Hall's 'All Across the City' - a tune familiar from Hall's famous recording with Bill Evans. What a privilege to hear this played live by the great man, and backed so sensitively by the musicians around him.

SUMMARY

- This was my first visit to Copenhagen. Over the course of 6 days, I barely scratched the surface of this huge festival. 1100 plus gigs in 10 days make it impossible to do anything more than that.

- There is music everywhere, in public spaces, squares and parks, small bohemian bars, restuarants, bookshops, libraries, museums, churches, jazz clubs, and theatres.

- The compact geography of Copenhagen means that you can navigate easily from one gig to another, however by the end of our stay we estimated that we had covered over 100km on foot. Next time we will hire bicycles!

- The festival app (downloadable from iTunes) proved invaluable in navigating the vast array of gigs and venues at this festival.

- The bill has a long list of big name acts, and also lesser known artists, many of whom appear several times, in different line-ups, making it possible to see the same musicians in a variety of different playing situations.

- The big-name concerts were great, but really the icing on the cake, and not the full story of the festival. For me the essence of the festival lies in the breadth, range and quality of really great, and often quite innovative music on the programme, and the sense of a city being given over to jazz for 10 days.

- This was an absolutely inspiring experience, and one I hope to repeat next year.

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