Lord Rookwood/ East Side Jazz gigs suspended - Kenny Wheeler gig moved

Clive Fenner has written on the East Side Jazz website:

The Lord Rookwood pub has closed
Monday 28 January, 2013

The Lord Rookwood pub, our venue and home for over 10 years, has closed without any forewarning. At this time the future of the pub is unknown.

To minimize inconvenience and uncertainty for all our supporters and for the musicians, and to give us time and opportunity to secure the best possible future for the club, we have decided, with immediate effect, to cancel the existing programme which was due to finish March 26. Please tell any of your friends who may not have computer access.

We very much regret having to make this decision and we are sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment that it may cause you. We will be relaunching the club as soon as we can and making it better than ever. We would like to thank all our fantastic supporters and all the great musicians for the past 10 years and we look forward to a bright new future.

Best wishes and see you soon,

Clive and all the team

Those on the e-mailing list will be kept notified. Please send your e-mail address if you wish to be included: eastsidejazzclub (at)gmail.com

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Stu Butterfield has sent a round-robin e-mail with a different version of the same story, with reference to the Kenny Wheeler gig:

Allegedly, the landlord at The Lord Rookwood in Leytonstone has done a runner with the money, so the place is boarded up, and the long standing jazz gigs are off this month and probably for ever. Foremost amongst these was The Kenny Wheeler Quintet, booked for Tuesday 12 February.

However, all is not lost, because the band will be appearing on that date at

The Great Northern Railway Tavern, 67High Street, Hornsey, London N8 7QB.

Music starts at 8.30 until 11.00pm , Admission £10 Get there early!

Details of The GNRTavern can be found at www.gnrt.co.uk The pub is 5 minutes from Hornsey Overground, or is 12 minutes walk or a 144 Bus ride from Turnplke Lane Underground on the Piccadilly line.

Kenny Wheeler Quintet

Kenny Wheeler trumpet, flugelhorn
Stan Sulzmann tenor sax
John Parricelli guitar
Chris Laurence double bass
Martin France drums


News: Pizza Express Two Piano Festival Listings

The 5th Steinway Two Piano Festival at Pizza Express Dean St is on the horizon once again and this year, runs for six days from the 21-26th March 2013.

Pizza Express Programme Chief and creator of the festival Ross Dines told us:

“The Steinway Two Piano Festival actually started out both to highlight to the world that we'd acquired a new piano, and also as a celebration of piano and performance. This year we've got 6 nights and loads of talented players including Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones who is over with the ABC&D of Boogie-Woogie. When he was here last year he brought Mick Hucknall and we can only speculate as to who he's bringing this year!

Despite being a piano festival, the players involved are all quite different, complimentary towards each other and they are all first-rate. It's nice to have such great players playing on Steinways which are the Rolls-Royce of pianos and they are a great company to work with. I'll definitely be there every night because it's right up my street.”

The listings are (Click the links to book tickets):

21st March: Jason Rebello & Dave Newton / Gábor Cseke & János Nagy / Alex Wilson & Cesar Correa with Will Fry on percussion and Elpidio Caicedo on bass (8:00pm)

22nd March: Gwilym Simcock & Kit Downes / Alex Hutton & James Pearson (9:00pm)

23rd March: The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie (two shows, at 7:30pm and 10:30pm)

24th March: Simon Wallace & Mike Gorman with Barb Jungr (1:30pm)

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie (two shows, at 6:30pm and 9:30pm)

25th March: Ian Shaw & Lianne Carroll (8:30pm)

26th March: Kate Williams & Nikki Iles / Janette Mason & Andrea Vicari / John Taylor & Richard (8:00pm)


Review: Evan Parker's Might I Suggest Festival at Vortex

Mary Oliver, Tristan Honsinger, John Russell at Vortex
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Evan Parker's Might I Suggest Festival 2013 with ICP Orchestra at the Vortex
(Night 1 of 5, Tuesday 29 January; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

The opening night of the ICP Orchestra's 5-day residency at the Vortex, curated with great sensitivity by Evan Parker, got off to a gloriously spirited, high-octane start with two small groups and a bonus of a surprise third set of virtually the entire ICPO weaving a spell of marvellously controlled anarchy.

The Amsterdam-based ICP have been together since its inception in 1967 by Misha Mengelberg, Willem Breuker and Han Bennink (who vigorously propelled the evening's last set from the drum seat), and its steadfastly loyal multinational personnel have remained true to its principles of collectivity, artistic open-mindedness and exceptional musical quality ever since.

The ICP's celebrated co-founder, Misha Mengelberg was sighted briefly at the front of the audience from where he smilingly offered a trademark offbeat contribution of soft whistling which followed Tristan Honsinger's purposefully feral vocalisings as he wiped his cello bow to announce the start of proceedings. The remarkable modernist string trio of Honsiger with violinist Mary Oliver and guest guitarist, John Russell generated a feverishly angular, juddering staccato drift that kept on accelerating with dampened chords, spiky jabs and judders, all held together with an astounding virtuosity that was to be the hallmark of the evening. They momentarily found a slothful refuge from which plaintive, melancholy harmonies drifted, before regrouping and restoking the furnace for a final lightning-fast assault on the three fretboards, leaving broken bow strings wafting in the breeze.

Claude Deppa, Tobias Delius, Gail Brand, Steven Noble, Ernst Glerum at Vortex
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

The creative sparkle and breakneck momentum was maintained by the hefty brass trio of Tobias Delius and Claude Deppa with Gail Brand, and the masterly rhythm section of bassist Ernst Glerum with drummer Steve Noble The brasses sparred joyously. Deppa's elegant, rapid runs on his beautiful deep copper trumpet blended perfectly with Delius's roaring, expressive tenor and his occasional clarinet foray, and with Brand's assertively articulate trombone, which saw her applying mutes as she revealed various un-sounds hiding in the instrument. Through the improvisational mists a marching band was evoked which Noble and Glerum picked up on with humorous gusto; brass oompahs, thuds and precision snare rattling along in tandem. Glerum's powerful, purist bass technique eschewed gimmicks and Delius let loose puzzling, whistling pitches to keep everybody guessing.

As if two master classes weren't enough, a spontaneous set by nine of the ICP Orchestra, put the perfect seal on the evening's events. Thomas Heberer's glistening trumpet highlights, Ab Baars' resounding tenor, Michael Moore's authoritative alto and Wolter Wierbos's rampant trombone were the additions to the mix. Pursuing their unique brand of deep improvisation mixed wickedly with compositional references, each member of the ensemble contributed a unique voice to a devastatingly singular, flowing outburst. Jumping from funk to cabaret to Ellington's Caravan with all manner of excursions in between this was an awesome incarnation of the 'small' big band. The sound of a co-ordinated brass section blazing, blasting and sparring individually, then blending in honey-smooth harmony without a breath between was extraordinary. There were onstage chuckles as Bennink's micro-sharp percussion flipped in to the irresistibly catchy rhythms from the ICP's wonderfully witty film, Steigerpijp. Each musician was so adept at reading the situation, and each other, that there were no stars - because everybody was a star!

This is fabulous music - anybody with the slightest interest in what is so good about jazz at its joyous, inventive best should take this rare opportunity to get out to see the ICP Orchestra while they are here all week.

SET 1:
Mary Oliver (violin)
Tristan Honsinger (cello)
Guest: John Russell (guitar)

SET 2:
Toby Delius (saxophone)
Ernst Glerum (bass)
Guests: Gail Brand (trombone)
Steve Noble (drums)
Claude Deppa (trumpet)

SET 3:
Mary Oliver (violin)
Tristan Honsinger (cello)
Toby Delius (saxophone)
Ernst Glerum (bass)
Ab Baars (saxophone)
Michael Moore (saxophone)
Thomas Heberer (trumpet)
Wolter Wierbos (trombone)
Han Bennink (drums)


News: Jazz Warriors International Monthly Residency at Charlie Wright's to Become Weekly

The Jazz Warriors International have recently announced that due to success with their new monthly Draw 2 Tunes night at Charlie Wright's (where musicians take over the DJ decks and play music that “inspires, inspired or just leads them to distraction”) which this month featured Soweto Kinch, they are expanding into a weekly Sunday residency:

1st Sunday of the month: Draw 2 Tunes which will feature Julian Joseph next time and, in upcoming months, will feature Byron Wallen, Christine Tobin, and Django Bates. Tickets are £5. Doors at 7:00pm

2nd Sunday of the month: Voice-1st Instrument which is hosted by Cleveland Watkiss assisted by up-and-coming vocalist Chantelle Nandi Masuku and will feature a workshop, gig and club night. Workshop starts at 5:00:pm and is open to anyone 14 or older (tickets £5). DJ Set at 7:00pm and is for over 18s.

3rd Sunday of the month: Duke Joint. A DJ night hosted by Orphy Robinson and Cleveland Watkiss playing music termed Swing Dub. Tickets are £5. Doors at 7:00pm

4th Sunday of the month: Freedom – The Art of Improvisation hosted by Orphy Robinson and Claude Deppa and featuring Free Jazz/Improv jam sessions with Paul Bradshaw DJ-ing. Tickets are £5 (with £3 entry for Jam Session musicians). Doors at 7:00pm

Charlie Wright's
45 Pitfield Street
N1 6DA


CD Review: John Surman - Saltash Bells

John Surman - Saltash Bells
(ECM 2266. CD Review by Chris Parker)

This is John Surman’s seventh solo recording (his first, Westering Home, was released by Island in 1972; subsequent albums are all on ECM, including his most recent, 1994’s A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe), so as soon as its first track, ‘Whistman’s Wood’ begins, the overall sound is immediately recognisable, unmistakably solo Surman.

The wood in question, a petrified forest on Dartmoor, is, according to Surman, a ‘very strange and spooky place’, so his dark baritone chug and clarinet swirls over tinkling synthesisers and slightly eerie popping percussive effects tie his music to a specific place in a manner entirely characteristic of him. Indeed, the title track was inspired by the sounds of the bell-ringing practice in Saltash, Cornwall, Surman used to hear on sailing trips with his father in a dinghy on Saltash Passage: ‘I loved the way the sound would echo across the water ... I would find myself inventing melodies as I listened to it. I’m pretty sure that’s where my fondness for the bell-like tonalities and repeating patterns of the synthesiser has its origin.’

Over said synthesiser sounds (brought up to date, from analog to digital, with the help of his son, Pablo Benjamin) Surman plays some of his most lyrical and affecting solos, on all his reeds, and even manages to add harmonica to the background of ‘Sailing Westwards’.

In pleasing contrast to the gutsy power and roiling energy of his early work with the likes of SOS and the Westbrook band etc., Surman’s intensely personal solo work has enabled him to access his softer, more contemplative side, and Saltash Bells is a fine addition to an admirable body of recordings.


Review: Hans Koller Nonet with François Théberge at Jazz at the Salisbury

Hans Koller Nonet at Jazz at the Salisbury
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Hans Koller Nonet with François Théberge
(Jazz at the Salisbury, 27 January 2013: review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

It was real treat to be at ‘Jazz at the Salisbury’ for the very first outing by Hans Koller's nine-piece brass-based ensemble. This was test-bed performance to sound out Koller's arrangements ahead of his concert date at King's Place on 9 February, and the signs were really good. From a slightly nervous start in the first set, after a testing rehearsal earlier in the day, they got well in to their stride and were flying by the second set.

Koller led in the unfamiliar role of trombonist, rather than his more familiar position at the keyboard. The hugely talented brass section were kept on track by Jeff Williams's rolling percussion and Nick Jurd's confident bass. A seasonally-spiced Bach song, its soft formality perfectly carried by Jim Rattigan's mellow French horn, was a fitting prelude to demanding takes on Herbie Nichols' The Gig, which was given a bracing lift by Ryan Williams' chordally strong guitar work, and Jimmy Giuffre's Temporarily, both characterised by a structural sophistication which appeals to Koller's compositional instincts.

Mike Fletcher at Jazz at the Salisbury
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

The second set was devoted to Koller's new compositions based on the poems of Friedrich Hölderlin, the early 19th century German Romantic poet. The pieces were played minus the vocal part which will be performed by Christine Tobin at the official premiere on February 9th. A combination of expressive, punchy brass and gentler, intricate ensemble work sealed the flavour of this set which saw the group moving into strong, tense section work. This formed a platform for notable solos by Mike Fletcher on flowing, focused tenor, Robbie Robson's piercing trumpet and in the final number, inspired abstract excursions by Percy Pursglove, his trumpet balanced against the deliberately restrained tones of the rest of the band and François Théberge, whose vibrant, fluency on tenor was matched by Jeff Williams' subtle, trickling beat.

Which makes the King's Place concert a very exciting prospect!

Robbie Robson, Percy Pursglove: trumpets
Mike Fletcher, François Théberge: tenor saxes
Jim Rattigan: French horn
Hans Koller: valve trombone
Ryan Williams: guitar
Nick Jurd: bass
Jeff Williams: drums


UNESCO International Jazz Day, 30th April 2013

International Jazz Day 2012. Photo credit: Steve Mundinger

The German office of Unesco is currently inviting submissions from organizers of jazz events to be included under the umbrella of 30 April International Jazz Day, which prompted me to find out if there is a similar initiative in the UK. There isn't.

The inaugural day last year was under the leadership of Herbie Hancock, and he gave huge energy to the whole worldwide project. He said at the time: 

"When I accepted the honour of being a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, in July 2011, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to a culture of peace. I therefore presented a project that would share the values of jazz on a global scale. The project was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2011 and I hope this new International Day will stimulate interest in jazz, especially among young people."

Where are things a year later, and in the UK in particular? In the worldwide list of events last year, The UK activity in 2012 was very sparse - Live Music Now's Glasgow event being the exception.

I spoke to the UK office of UNESCO to find out what's happening here. They told me they don't have any activities currently planned, citing the fact that UNESCO have had to scale back. UNESCO in the UK didn't receive any materials last year, and are not expecting any this year.

I asked how the German office manages to do something while they can't and won't: "The German commission is about 10 times our size," I was told. They also stated that "In the UK we don't focus on the International Days, there are so many of them", with the exception of "some activity around World Press Freedom Day.

For the record, the UNESCO days during the year are:

International Mother Language Day - 21 February

World Poetry Day - 21 March

World Book and Copyright Day - 23 April

International Jazz Day - 30 April

World Press Freedom Day 3rd May

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development - 21 May

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage - 27 October.


Review: Thurston Moore at Café Oto

John Edwards, Thurston Moore at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Thurston Moore - duos with John Edwards and Jason Pierce
(Café Oto, 25 January 2013; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

When Thurston Moore visits Café Oto he wears the mantle of co-operation, co-opting musical and literary partners, including most recently John Russell and Mats Gustafsson and poet Tom Raworth, to chart an ever-broadening gamut of challenging interactions.

Moore and bassist John Edwards took off, without map or compass, on an unerringly telepathic excursion, relying on hunches, judgements and intuition to carve out a chain of vitally defined sonic textures. Sharing a perfect sense of balance, Edwards brought out all the majestic potential of his string bass, recognizing no limitations to the ways in which sound could be drawn from its strings or massive body, while Moore moved from sharp, metallic echoes to a post-Hendrix grist, released from artisan-like attention to the guitar's fretboard. Edwards chose his moments to bring the jazz experience of lightly plucked and strummed acoustic bass rhythms neatly into alignment with Moore's wall-of-noise sensibility. Shimmering underwater feedback and a near-silent drone subverted frenetic rhythmic vicissitudes which hinted at Khatchaturian's Sabre Dance or flamenco strums spinning wildly out of control. This physical, multi-layered concoction demanded a micro-tuned alertness and concentration which was etched in the facial expressions of both performers as they turned in a truly phenomenal set.

Jason Pierce, Thurston Moore at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Jason Pierce's guitar duet with Moore resonated with a hypnotic spirit which kicked off with Pierce's lightly shambling, bluesey chords, and skimmed over beats that recalled Terry Riley's eastern-tinged, minimalist electronica and raga-inflected rhythms before settling into feedback-drenched traffic of densely matted exchanges, machine-gun bursts and remote pinging interventions. Pierce crouched over his pedals at ground level left-stage to manoeuvre the distortions and Moore stood with his back to the audience by the speakers on the right, massaging and pummeling out the notes. The momentum built up to sustain a gloriously raw and unholy barrage flecked with twangs, flutters and hums, which finally all vanished in the blink of an eye.

Jason Pierce at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Two complementary definitions of wall-of-noise and a fiercely demanding evening for all involved, especially Moore who, like a tennis player, had to regroup for the second set and apply a slightly realigned sensibility to equal the power of the first set. And Café Oto again proved to be the perfect setting for these unpredictable and enriching experiences.

Thurston Moore - guitar
John Edwards - double bass
Jason Pierce - guitar


Congratulations Guy Barker

The BBC Concert Orchestra has just announced that Guy Barker will be its new Associate Composer for two years beginning in April 2013. The first commission - taking a cue from the Britten Centenary celebration - is to base a composition on a Henry James short story with ghosts that is not either The Turn of the Screw or Owen Wingrave. Barker will base a work on a Henry James The Jolly Corner.

The story does sound ideal for Guy: "He [ Stephen Brydon, the central character] projected himself all day, in thought, straight over the bristling line of hard unconscious heads and into the other, the real, the waiting life; the life that, as soon as he had heard behind him the click of his great house-door, began for him, on the jolly corner, as beguilingly as the slow opening bars of some rich music follows the tap of the conductor’s wand."


News: New Season of monthly gigs at e17 jazz starts this Weds 30th

e17 jazz have announced their new season starting this Wednesday 30th of January, and fully updated their (good) WEBSITE. The gigs, held on the last Wednesday of every month, will now be at the Orford House Social Club (73 Orford Road, Walthamstow, London E17. A few minutes walk from Walthamstow Central station). Doors at 8:30pm and tickets are £10 (£7 with concessions).

This season kicks off with Babelfish (with singer Brigitte Beraha, pianist Barry Green, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Paul Clarvis). Brigitte also plays on the 26th June with bassist Dave Manington's Riff Raff. Mandorla (with e17 founder and saxophonist Carlos Lopez-Real) play on the 24th April. Tom Hewson’s Treehouse (a trio without drums featuring vibraphonist Lewis Wright and bassist Calum Gourlay) are on 29th May and Stan Sulzmann plays on the 27th March with pianist John Turville, Dave Manington, and drummer Nick Smalley. The season is rounded off with a performance from the e17 Jazz Large Ensemble on 31st July.

There are also regular monthly workshops (on Sundays) for adults who wish to learn to improvise priced at £10 a session.

Full Listings for 2013 are:

30 January - Babelfish
27 February - Compassionate Dictatorship
27 March - Stan Sulzmann Quartet
24 April - Mandorla
29 May - Tom Hewson’s Treehouse
26 June - Dave Manington’s Riff Raff
31 July - e17 Jazz Large Ensemble


Stan Tracey Quartet at Herts Jazz, Jan 27th 2013

Simon Allen, Stan Tracey, Clark Tracey, Andrew Cleyndert
Herts Jazz, Jan 27th 2013. Photo credit: Melody McLaren

Melody McLaren's photo-archive of tonight's gig, which presented new material for a forthcoming album,  is HERE


Anthony Benedetto and Stefani Germanotta to make jazz album

The full story is in a tweet HERE. The arranger is Marion Evans, interviewed in another context HERE


Review: Milton Nascimento at Ronnie Scott's

Milton Nascimento. Photo credit Livepict.com. 
Milton Nascimento
(Ronnie Scott's, January 25th 2013. Review by Matthew Wright)

With a fifty-year performing career as singer, guitarist and pianist spanning jazz, Latin and a varied mixture of pop and funk behind him, Milton Nascimento has now, finally made his debut at Ronnie Scott’s. His versatility, generically and instrumentally, has been one of the hallmarks of his career, but it was his performance on Wayne’s Shorter’s 1974 album Native Dancer that brought Nascimento to the jazz audience's attention in the US and Europe. This appearance at Ronnie Scott’s was, then, long overdue.

Nascimento announced his entrance on stage with a sustained falsetto note. Its ethereal, whistling tone, part flute and part ghoul, was devastatingly effective as a curtain-raiser.

The extraordinary lyricism of that upper register, along with the energy and originality of his funky contributions to Native Dancer are still strikingly present. There’s a bit less falsetto now, nearly forty years after his Shorter debut, than there used to be - some of the elasticity has gone - but his voice is still a marvellous instrument.

A sometimes crackly, seasoned quality is just another shade in Nascimento’s vocal palette - somewhere between Tom Waits and Edith Piaf, perhaps - and he sings lyrically and with stunning emotional power throughout. Occasionally, he crescendoed from stage whisper to roar with such suddenness, it made the hair stand up on the back of the neck, as if a crocodile had suddenly burst from a tranquil stream and snapped in front of one’s nose.

His repertoire took in a selection of hits, perfect for both newcomers and dedicated fans. The substantial Brazilian contingent led the way for the more wary English crowd, by clapping and singing along. Before long, everyone had joined in.

Nascimento has a magnetic stage presence, shuffling about like a shaman between piano - on which he plays a brilliant burst of Nymanesque minimalism - and centre stage. When other band members played solos, he would turn his back on the audience rather flirtatiously, for minutes at a time, in encouragement. He played guitar on a couple of songs, too, but he most enjoys being bandleader, and co-ordinates proceedings with immense theatrical skill.

His looks belie his age: with a neat bob-curtain of dreadlocks and a black hat - a more restrained version of Gregory Porter’s peaked bonnet - and achingly trendy street gear, there's no way he looks seventy.

Niascimento has a highly skilled band - two guitars, sax (Widor Santiag), drums and keyboard (Kiko Continentino plays piano, or synth, or both together) - with every member of it equally capable of launching off into a technically dazzling solo; they all sing too. And best of all, perhaps, is their obvious cohesiveness, their communication of pure enjoyment. These musicians know each other’s playing intimately, balance each other’s input masterfully.

Nascimento is hugely gifted as performer, writer, musician and bandleader. This was a thrilling evening.


Noemi Nuti (back from Rio de Janeiro) writes...

Noemi Nuti, back in London, writes about the Rhythm of the City visit to Rio de Janeiro,  and previews ROTC's next gig on 9th Feb: 

Barak Schmool's idea of taking his samba band ROTC (Rhythms of the City) proved a far greater success than could have been anticipated. We left London with just three gigs in the diary; once we were in Rio de Janeiro, we found it hard to fit the many opportunities that came our way during our four- and- a-half week stay there.

Our late afternoons would be spent playing and rehearsing with lots of musicians within different Blocos (percussion band), such as Monobloco, Sargento Pimenta and Bangalafumenga whilst our nights would be dedicated to going to see technical rehearsals for carnival at the Sambadrome, discovering more music in the traditional clubs in Lapa (Rio's Soho) or heading to different favelas to check out different samba schools (organisations that gather a community of locals, dancers and musicians to participate to the rehearsals/entertainment leading up to carnival) and see their baterias (the drum section) in action well into the early hours of the morning.

We also took masterclasses in Pagode music, a more lighthearted style where people can sing along to famous sambas. The band was able to absorb new techniques on the instruments of that style including tan-tan and pandeiro as well as being exposed to the hypnotic drumming played during the rituals of the Candomblé religion.

As our reputation grew, we were featured in the newspaper 'O Globo'.....

...we gained another 7 gigs in the book and our main gigs supporting Monobloco and Sargento Pimenta were being advertised in the streets.

So we made friends with many musicians within the Blocos and baterias. Known for being conservative and careful, we received invitations to play with them as they were rehearsing their repertoire, giving us the incredible opportunity to learn to swing even harder and be part of their community.

Just one night after Hermeto Pascoal graced the stage, we had the honour to support and share the stage with Monobloco at Circo Voador in front of 3 thousand people.

We also had the privilege to perform twice at Fundiçao Progresso supporting Sargento Pimenta and Bangalafumenga to a very large audience. With a mixed repertoire of Pop/Soul/Funk music combined with old and new sambas, we grooved well enough to rock a Rio crowd!

Never would we have thought we'd be able to rock a samba school crowd too, but on the very last night we were invited to play our very set to the local community of Uniao da Ilha do Governador, just before they started rehearsing for Carnival! It was a great moment in our band and perhaps a first ever in Brazil to have a UK band perform within a samba school! What an honour that was

Energised by the music, the weather and joyful people, we've come back more keen than ever to keep performing our music!

We will be next performing at Guanabara, near Holborn Station, on 9th February for Carnival 2013!

For more info go to:


If you want to follow what we've been up to, check out our blog.


Book Review: Owen Martell - Intermission

Owen Martell - Intermission
(William Heinemann, 181pp., £12.99. Book Review by Chris Parker)

There is undoubtedly a great novel to be written about jazz, given the complexities of the issue-rich social milieu in which it is played and the subtle unpredictability of the music (and its practitioners), but to date there is, arguably, only one contender for such an accolade: Rafi Zabor’s The Bear Comes Home. Other attempts mostly fall at the first hurdle, the creation of credible, unsensationalised characters; offensive clichés such as the face-scratching strung-out junky, the tragic alcoholic genius, the exploitative clubowner/agent and the supportive (and generally doomed) ‘good-sport’ girlfriend – or, if the protagonist is female, the abusive, violent boyfriend – litter and disfigure the literature. So it’s good to report that Owen Martell, whose first English-language novel this is (his previous two were in Welsh), has taken as the subject of Intermission one of the most quietly spoken, serious-minded figures in the music: Bill Evans. It takes up his story in 1961, concentrating on the pianist’s devastated reaction to the death (in a car accident) of his trio’s bassist, Scott LaFaro, and describes Evans’s attempt to answer the question he himself posed at that time: ‘When you have evolved a concept of playing which depends on the specific personalities of outstanding players, how do you start again when they are gone?’

     Evans (as sensitively documented in one of Martell’s acknowledged sources, Peter Pettinger’s How My Heart Sings) was unable to play for a good while – ‘Musically everything seemed to stop. I didn’t even play at home’ – and dismayed his brother, Harry (then studying for a PhD at Columbia), and his sister-in-law Pat by withdrawing into heroin addiction. Martell’s first 60-odd pages (‘The Petrushka Chord’) detail their well-meaning but ultimately futile attempts to look after Evans, and the book is at its most touching when it depicts the only relationship in which Evans seems at all comfortable: his rapport with his niece Debby, celebrated in one of Evans’s most famous compositions. His brother, reduced to helplessly shadowing Evans around New York and putting him up in his cramped apartment, but unable to connect with him in any more meaningful way, is the first of three family members whose unsuccessful attempts to comfort the bereaved pianist are described in Intermission, and the remainder of the novel takes place in Florida, where his parents, Mary and Harry Sr, also try to bring their son out of his isolation and depression.

     It would be heartening to report that Martell’s treatment of these family interventions presents readers (as the book’s blurb claims) with ‘an intense and moving portrait of the burden of grief’, but unfortunately all four main characters remain shadowy and oddly insubstantial, their individuality muffled by Martell’s narrative technique, which generally eschews the presentation of action and dialogue in favour of a series of interior monologues interspersed with routine activity, in which the relatively obscure – ‘It was as if you could feel your way, suddenly, around a house whose walls were only as they were because you thought them so.

     ‘But only traces of the structure remained come the morning. Impulses that were archaeological suddenly, like ancient footings, and visible only from above, in the weeds that had abounded in the meantime. They existed not to inform daylight and activity but to sit in permanence outside them, a faint calling across distances that had reverted by then to their habitual calculations of non-arrival’ – rubs uneasily against the mundane: ‘Mary turned onto her side, towards Harry, and tucked her elbow in tight to her belly even though the bed was big enough and her husband surprisingly respectful of the division of space.’

     The blurb also claims that the novel provides ‘a unique representation of the jazz scene in the early 1960s’, by ‘conjuring [...] a pivotal moment in American music and culture’, but Martell, concentrating – as he does throughout – on the thought processes of concerned family members, seems strangely uninterested in Evans’s music, the people he plays it with, or the locations in which he performs, so readers desiring enlightenment concerning post-Kind of Blue jazz in general and Evans’s character in particular might be better served by Pettinger’s above-mentioned biography than by this somewhat oblique – if sensitive and worthy – account.

Intermission at Heinemann Books


Podcast: Soweto Kinch talks about the new double CD - The Legend of Mike Smith

Soweto Kinch spoke to us about the background to his new album The Legend of Mike Smith (released 18 February 2013).

Extracts from the album are:

Invidia - 03:05
Traffic Lights - 04:57
The Healing - 06:55

(Interview recorded at/with thanks to Brasserie Zedel)

Tour dates - 16 Feb Stratford Circus, 25-6 Feb Ronnie Scott's , 16th Mar Beat City Fest Birmingham,  5th Apr Gateshead  (pp)


CD Review: Tessa Souter - Beyond the Blue

Tessa Souter - Beyond the Blue
(Motéma MTM-87. CD review by Chris Parker)

Tessa Souter, since replacing a career in journalism with one in singing (in 1997), has more than justified the faith placed in her by both her initial mentor, Mark Murphy, and Sheila Jordan, who locates her ‘at the top of my list of great talent’. Three wide-ranging and impeccably performed albums have appeared under her name since 2004, but Beyond the Blue is the first to focus strongly on her lyric writing, a skill applied in this instance to a series of pieces from the classical repertoire, including the Allegretto from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Schubert’s Serenade, a Chopin Prelude and Fauré’s Pavane.

Her subjects range from the emotional aftermath of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami (‘Out of the sorrow will come tomorrow’s new life, a new love, a new day’ – set to Fauré’s Elegy) to the more personal and intimate (‘Touched by the light that love makes, I find you in the darkness...’ – Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor), but whatever the mood, Souter addresses it with the surest of touches, never over-dramatising but always imbuing everything she sings with great personal warmth and sincerity.

Technically, too, she is flawless, with superb diction and dynamic control, so – to quote the wise words of sleevenote writer Will Friedwald – ‘In the larger sense, the source of the melodies is unimportant – what’s important to her is narrative and swing’; these are songs, first and foremost, performed with utter conviction by both singer and band.

Said band, moreover, is consistently impressive: the core is the trio of subtly inventive pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist David Finck and drummer Billy Drummond; extra solos/texture are provided by vibraphonist Joe Locke, accordionist Gary Versace and saxophonist Joel Framm, so the album’s twelve tracks (three of which feature already existing lyrics, the most celebrated being the Forrest/Wright adaptation of Borodin, ‘Baubles, Bangles and Beads’) form a rich, intelligently varied set, accurately described by Souter herself as ‘hands down the most fun and artistically satisfying of my four CD projects so far’.

Tessa Souter will be performing (with pianist Lynne Arriale) at the Pizza Express, 9 and 10 February.


Dave Douglas Masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music

The closing chorale of Bach's Cantata O Ewigkeit Du Donnerwort BWV60 , Es ist genug leads an unbelievably active social life for a 289-year old. It's been non-stop hectic ever since the Berg Violin concerto. He or she (take your pick, chorales are masculine in German, but feminine in French - just like the moon) was out last night at the Royal Academy of Music being put through his or her paces by a group of Royal Academy students under the direction of International Artist in Residence  Dave Douglas. Bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado and drummer Scott Chapman had been given 20 and 40 minutes respectively to come up with a re-working which were played and played over by the group. No pressure, then .... the results from both were stunning. The students talked through the methods used to produce their compositions, and players from the group were thoughtful and interesting on the subject of finding a language to improvise over these sequences. It's not nearly as dry as it sounds, there were moments of real pathos. The concert  - with lots of other material too - is tonight in the Dukes Hall.


Preview: Evan Parker writes about the Might I Suggest? ICP week at the Vortex

ICP Orchestra

Preview: Evan Parker writes about Might I Suggest? and the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) week at the Vortex (29th Jan - 2nd Feb 2013)

My first knowledge of Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg was of course their fantastic playing on Eric Dolphy's Last Date, but I first met and played with Han in 1968.  We were both invited to Wuppertal to be part of Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun band. Willem Breuker was also there and after that first meeting I got invited to the Netherlands for various projects under the ICP banner in the early days of their formation. ICP at that point was just Misha, Willem and Han and they were busy making records and organising concerts with invited guests which was my role on several memorable occasions.  A few years later Willem broke away to form his own label BVHaast and his own large group the Kollektief.

In the next five or so years there were many exchanges between Germany, the Netherlands and England much of which was documented on record.  I think Han and Misha's first trip to the UK was made in response to an invitation from students at the Edinburgh College of Art. I wish we had recorded those concerts.  The students responsible went on the become life-long friends and indeed to be very distinguished in their chosen fields: Alan Johnston eventually became Professor at that same College of Art, Graeme Murray ran the Fruitmarket Gallery after establishing his own Gallery and Iain Patterson became a lecturer at the College and of course continued to draw and paint.  Han became very friendly with Iain and for many years would visit Scotland for holidays.  Alan went to Germany on a DAAD scholarship and lived in Wuppertal...In fact the network of friendships, collaborations and connections would take a book to do justice to.

In 1970 we started Incus records.  This was as a direct consequence of having seen how Peter Brötzmann. and ICP were doing things for themselves and in the grand tradition on musicians' labels. In association with Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and Mike Walters we set up Incus and I made the first record, The Topography of the Lungs. This has been one of my most successful records and when it was reissued on CD it also sold its first pressing very quickly. The second pressing is still in print but selling well. Han and I have always stayed in touch and while we now only play together occasionally it is always a feeling of friendship that goes all the way back to those early days. Misha and I were invited by Graham Mckenzie and Raymond Macdonald to make the first record for a new label they were planning.  Their plans were shelved when Graham became Director of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Raymond founded the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.  They offered me the tapes back and I issued them on psi (my new label formed after leaving Incus). This CD is either called Broken Chair or This won't be called broken chair depending how you read it. In response to this record we were invited to play at Jazz em Agosto at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and the reviews were so positive that we were then invited to play at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam on earlier this month.  It will be great to have Misha in London.

On Thursday January 31 I will play a trio set with Han and John Edwards at the Vortex as part of the Might I Suggest? ICP week.  This will be another chance to refresh the friendships that have lasted so long.  Advance sales for the week are good and it will be a great opportunity for the London audience to hear small groups led by individuals from the ten piece playing with London based musicians of their choosing and then the full ten piece playing for two nights.



CD Review: Brigitte Beraha & John Turville with Bobby Wellins - Red Skies

Brigitte Beraha & John Turville with Bobby Wellins - Red Skies
(e17 Jazz Records/Splashpoint Digital. CD Review by Alison Bentley)

  Singer Brigitte Beraha and pianist John Turville are known for writing their own imaginative music. On this CD, they bring their jazz and classical influences to others’ songs, both well-known and rare, and Bobby Wellins plays lusciously on the first and last tracks. Turville and Beraha are based in London; Beraha was born in Italy and grew up in French-speaking Monaco, and there's a European feel to the album, beautifully recorded in the Italian Artesuono studios.

The album opens dreamily with Dindi (LISTEN HERE), one of several bossa novas. There's a fine musical rapport. Beraha drifts across the beat, the sound of the breath becoming a part of the voice. As she moves the phrases around, Turville follows her, while keeping the pulse strong and anchoring the timing. Desafinado is upbeat, and in Turville's solo the notes tumble over each other in Monkish glee. Beraha creates a kind of playful rhythmic tension against the piano, improvising with a light percussive touch. Moon and Sand summons the melancholy of Chet Baker's version. Turville's solo is romantic and sweeping, with strong bossa grooves, making the piano sing, like John Taylor. Beraha sounds strong but never strident, changing volume suddenly on a note for emphasis, with emotive effect.

A high point  is Chico Buarque's Beatriz. Milton Nascimento was once regarded as the only singer with the vocal range to negotiate its wide intervals. Beraha sings them beautifully in Portuguese, exploring the lower part of her range before ascending the rungs of the tune, like the trapeze artist portrayed. There's an unmistakable frisson as Turville echoes the melody between the vocal lines.   They Can't Take That Away From Me  and This Heart of Mine are swung and sung with fun. Turville's walking bass lines and Tristano-like counterpointed motifs show how versatile this award-winning pianist is. Beraha's exuberant boppy scat phrases have some of the contours and vocal tone of Anita Wardell’s improvising. Autumn Leaves was originally composed for Jacques Prévert's French poem Les Feuilles Mortes, which Brigitte sings here: as the lovers part silently ('sans faire de bruit') her voice fades with pathos. As the song starts to swing, you're reminded by her clear, delicate tones of Tina May's 'Jazz Piquant'- and Turville can sound like Nikki Iles.

It Might as Well Be Spring, played as a ballad, starts with Norma Winstone-like wordless vocal plummeting. The slight break as the voice slides up creates a folk-like quality, a childlike innocence. As she sings low, the piano takes the upper register in expressive contrast. Brigitte Beraha can sing warmly and at other times with a cool Nordic poise, evoking Sidsel Endresson's work with Django Bates. She turns Paul Simon's Night Game from a song about baseball into something Northern and mystical; phrases like 'colder than the moon' , 'upon the winter frost' are heightened, the breath blurring the outline of the voice like snow on a branch. My One and Only Love is a heartfelt  ballad, the piano arpeggios sensitively billowing between the vocal lines. In Beraha's Elephant on Wheels (the only original) she sings long subtle tones behind the piano solo, combining Evans-style Romanticism with darker minor modes.

The slow A Time For Love again shows Bill Evans' influence, but Turville uses sparser broken chords to outline the harmony. Bobby Wellins solos here and on Dindi: his solos are gorgeously breathy with a core of toughness. As the sax folds in with the high ethereal voice and flowing piano, it's very beautiful. Their sincerity and humour combine with superb musicianship to create a very special atmosphere. To quote Ruskin, describing it feels like like 'counting clouds'.

Brigitte Beraha, John Turville and Bobby Wellins:
CD Launch: 17th Feb. Pizza Express, Dean St., London.

Touring: 1st Feb. Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon
             27th Feb. Stratford Jazz Club, 1, Shakespeare St., Stratford on Avon


CD Review: Dave Manington’s Riff Raff - Hullabaloo

Dave Manington’s Riff Raff - Hullabaloo
(LOOP1015. CD Review by Chris Parker)

This is bassist/composer Dave Manington’s first album as leader since Head Rush in 2007, and reflects the changes he’s instigated in his band since then, chief among them the substitution of tenor player Tom Challenger for Mark Hanslip and the addition of vocalist Brigitte Beraha and electric guitarist Rob Updegraff to the line-up, which retains keyboard player Ivo Neame and drummer Tim Giles.

Beraha’s pure-toned, pleasantly dreamy wordless vocals are a striking feature of the new band’s front line (she sings lyrics in the conventional manner on three tracks), as are Updegraff’s multi-textured guitar contributions (Manington comments: ‘The guitar also “glued” the sound together ... and made it a lot easier to free up over’).

The resultant band sound is thus an unusual one even in ‘default’ mode; when the often tricksy themes have been stated, moreover, the above-mentioned freeing up process takes over, and Challenger and Neame in particular utilise all the experience gained, respectively, in Outhouse/Dice Factory and Phronesis (and Neame’s own bands recently documented by Edition) to transform the pieces into free-ish improvisations that cleverly exploit the idiosyncrasies of Manington’s compositional style.

The songs may have less overt impact than the wordless-vocal features, but their ethereal qualities tellingly complement the grit and tug of the band sound, and the album is an intriguing one which promises much from Riff Raff’s live performances.

Riff Raff launch this album at the Vortex on 28 January.


The Yamaha SH Silent Piano Ain't Gonna Let You Down, says Jamie

From a roof in North London. YAMAHA UK SILENT PIANOS


Preview: Match & Fuse (with Sinema City) at Vortex, 26th January

Match & Fuse is a project with a European dimension which was  formed out of Dave Morecroft's critically acclaimed band World Service Project. Their aim is to provide links between the UK jazz artists and their contemporaries from Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, bringing them to the UK (with the help of their residency once every two months at the Vortex).

In 2012, they really made themselves known with their first two day festival at the Vortex (clips of which you can watch HERE) and a sold-out show at the London Jazz Festival in November further cemented their position.

On Saturday the 26th January (2013), Match & Fuse team up with Sinema City, a project which aims to bring progressive music to warehouse parties, or in their words: "Nights of excellent sentiments, involving candid music, both from actual people on a raised platform and from recorded media, and certainly beverages.."

The acts are:

Tubix, an Italian band who recently released their debut album Il Mondo Stava Finendo (The World was Ending) and take their inspiration from 70's sci-fi film music, prog and funk

Honey Ride Me a Goat are described as “ultra tight, gnarly progressive-avant-punk.” They have been playing together since they were children (growing up in Kent) and have an extended EP recorded with the late Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine) due for release in the spring of 2013

Psylus are another English band inspired by jazz, hiphop and electronic music. They had a packed-out show at the London Jazz Festival (Queen Elizabeth Hall). 


Artist Profile: Laura Cole

Laura Cole is a jazz composer/pianist who lives in Leeds but whose band (Metamorphic) is based in London. Metamorphic features, Kerry Andrew (vocals), Chris Williams (alto),John Martin (tenor/soprano), Paul Sandy (bass), Tom Greenhalgh (drums).

Metamorphic will play in Jazz in the Round at the Cockpit Theatre on Monday January 28th. They also have a gig at the Vortex on the 24th February with Frank Byng's (Slowfoot Records) quintet, Snorkel.

The group have one album out (The Rock Between, 2011, F-IRECD43 - reviewed by Chris Parker ), and release their follow up (Coalescence, also on F-IRE) later this year (2013).

Laura also has a blog which discusses the issues that women face in music and holds a First Class Honours Degree in Jazz from Middlesex University.


Rob Edgar interviewed Laura Cole:

Rob Edgar Laura, one thing that seems to come through in your music is that you seem to take a bit of a 'back seat' in your playing preferring not to 'over-play'. Is this intentional?

Laura Cole: I suppose it is in a way, although it’s more about me feeling comfortable in myself when I play, and with whom I play. This is really important to me, as I had to have a few years off due to severe repetitive strain injury and depression...

RE: ...Which is what formed the inspiration for your first album isn't it?

LC: Yes, The Rock Between, was very much about reflecting on and attempting to translate what had happened to me, when I became ill (I was in the 2nd year of the jazz degree at Middlesex - I had to postpone finishing the degree) I was very sensitive to pressure psychologically, real or imagined. So aside from physically not being able to do flashy solos (or play at all in the end!) psychologically I wasn’t really able to either, as it felt like pressure somehow. Once I got back into music through composing I realised that there were other ways in which the music could come out and this was a big relief. I realised that I was much more comfortable thinking of myself as an improviser rather than a soloist and I prefer the spotlight to be on us as a band, rather me being singled out for whatever reason.

RE: What is the new album 'Coalescence' about?

LC: This album is about a consolidation, of bringing things together again; I wanted our second album to be about moving forward. I was really pleased with the title I decided on for the album, as I feel the word coalescence really reflects this. I also wanted a word with ‘coal’ in it- as coal is a metamorphic rock and is also very close to my last name- and I like the way coalescence sounds like ‘Cole’-essence.

RE: How do you go about composing? What is your process?

LC: I tend to build my compositions around grooves and short chord progressions that I like. I then jam these out myself at the piano, and see how they develop. I then fix a few things and get them down in Sibelius. From there it’s a question of hearing how the other instruments in the band might lock into what I’ve written. I find I can hear how this can work -most of the time!- as I picture and hear the musicians in my band playing what I’ve written, maybe as we’ve been together a while as a band I can sort of re-imagine the sound and vibe. With the exception of one or two more strictly composed pieces, I feel the music can evolve through rehearsing and gigging. Often, even though my compositions are original pieces, I have a funny sense that I’ve heard them before, that they’ve already kind of existed in another realm, and I kind of snatch them up. With arranging this is a bit of a different process. I feel a bit like a magpie taking favourite sections, grooves or progressions from some of my favourite songs and kind of sticking them together, with some compositional ideas of my own.

I like the challenge of this, of making these kind of musical collages sound like whole pieces. Little Woman, Lonely Wing is an example of this in Coalescence, which incorporates Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman. There a quite a few pieces on The Rock Between in which I explored this collage idea too.

RE: Despite your collage approach to composing, storytelling plays a big part in your music. In 'Puma'[first track of 'Coalescence'] (LISTEN HERE) it's quite apparent...

LC: This piece is about a powerful dream I had about becoming a puma. I wrote the words originally as a poem, so I think this is why I wanted to use the spoken word, to really emphasise the words; and also to try and convey the intimacy of being asleep. For the groove section in the middle, this is sung to give a greater dynamic range, to try and convey the frantic feeling of being chased...

RE: The second track 'What is Real' follows on almost imperceptibly from 'Puma'. It actually seems as though the album was conceived as one long piece.

LC: I really like fusing pieces together to create a narrative, almost like questions and answers sometimes, or to develop ideas. Musically I wanted the album to have a certain light and shade, with surprises and contrasts, but that could be heard as a piece of music that hung together as a whole somehow, with a narrative. This was a challenge but I hope that the sense of this comes across. You rightly pointed out that originally this album was conceived as one big piece of music with no breaks- Will Worsley, the fantastic engineer who mixed and mastered the album, advised that the listener needed a breather here and there!

RE: The vocals are interesting in that some of the music seems to serve as a backing for the storyteller (the vocalist) but at other times they're blended with the rest of the instruments and become another texture

LC: I am really interested in the vocals being used in an instrumental way, I like the texture this brings and I think it is interesting to add words too but not as the main focus as is the way with maybe more traditional ‘jazz’ singing. I think this can maybe be a bit confusing or unexpected on the ear for some people on first listening for that reason, but I like the element of mystery and surprise I think this can bring.

Kerry Andrew has come from a classical and folk background and I think I’d be right in saying that this has come very naturally for her to do this. It’s interesting you use the word blend, I think the front line blends really well actually, they have worked hard at that, and I am always in admiration of them for doing this so effectively.

Rob Edgar When will the new album be available?

Laura Cole:The album is due out on April 22nd. I should also mention that; I've decided to dedicate it to the memory of my great-grandfather, Sidney Walker, who was an accomplished silent film pianist and violinist; Sidney died at the age of just forty five from tuberculosis in 1939.


Preview: Jazz Gig/Jam at Green Note, Parkway NW1 - 3rd Feb and first Sunday of each Month

Tom Millar writes about the Sunday gig and jam session at the Green Note. The next one is on Feb 3rd:

The Green Note is a wonderful intimate space on Parkway, near Camden Town tube and Camden Road overground stations, which creates the perfect atmosphere for the creative, inclusive monthly gig and jam session that I have been running since May last year. I took over the curating from Alexa von Hirschberg, who started the night in 2006, and did an incredible job at developing an audience and reputation before her work commitments became too great.

There have already been some real highlights in the first few months since I took over: Nick Smart's Cuban crossover band Jazz Matanzas, Mark Perry and Duncan Eagles's quintet in December, and playing to a packed house during the London Jazz Festival with my quartet. I also really enjoyed January's gig with London-raised but New Orleans-based tenor player James Partridge, with Karl Rasheed-Abel on bass and Jon Scott on drums.

So what's coming up? I'm looking forward to hosting drummer Simon Roth's group Stories on Sunday 3rd February. As a new band, I have not yet had a chance to check them out, but Simon has assembled a heavyweight group of young musicians that I have heard in different contexts, so I'm sure it will be an exceptional gig. Laura Jurd on trumpet has been making waves with multiple accolades, including being the second brass player to win the Worshipful Company of Musicians' award, and a recently-released debut album Landing Ground which has been very well received.

Tenorist Joe Wright graduated from the RAM a year and a half ago, and has developed a unique sound. I have heard him playing with diverse ensembles including Simon's brother Alex's group Otriad (in which Simon and their other brother Nick also play), as well as with pianist John Cervantes's trio and Dave Hamblett's band (alongside Josh Arcoleo, debut album coming out soon on Whirlwind Records.

He has also become a go-to guy for live electronics, which will feature in this gig, as it does in trumpeter Jack Davies' big band and Otriad, as well as his own band Nightjar.

James Opstad is a fantastic bassist who performs in my band, as well as Jack Davies's big band and Flea Circus, and a couple of successful Balkan and Tango bands, Fugata and Paprika. I love his writing for his own medium ensemble, and it deserves to be more widely heard. I have played with Simon himself a few times and he is an imaginative and powerful drummer, involved in several bands on the London scene.

The band is completed by Joe Murgatroyd on clarinet and bass clarinet, whom I look forward to hearing for the first time.

Looking further ahead, I can't wait for gigs from leading musicians Phil Robson and Liam Noble in September and October respectively, as well as gigs from young bandleaders Tommy Andrews, Dave Smyth, Tom Green and Pete Ibbetson confirmed from March to June.

Programming has been a pleasure, since I book groups that I'd like to hear live and will sound right for the venue, and there is no shortage of talented musicians in London.

The night takes place on the first Sunday of every month, starting at 8.30pm, £8 entry (£5 musicians or students). From February, the Green Note will be serving a simple tapas/snack menu from the bar on Sundays.

For more information please see the website, and join the Facebook group, or follow on Twitter @GreenNoteJam.


Pete Cater Big Band birthday gig at Jazz at the Manor, Feb 10th

Pete Cater gives an update on the regular Sunday lunchtime gig at Jazz at the Manor, and previews his gig on Feb 10th:

"Jazz at the Manor, the current incarnation of a west London Sunday lunchtime big band gig which has been running for decades, was in danger of coming to an end as the promoters had decided to call it a day. Thankfully pianist Graeme Taylor has stepped up to the plate and the gigs are set to continue for the foreseeeable future.

My gig there on Feb 10th (to mark my 50th birthday!) was going to be a farewell to the gig that launched my first London based big band in 1995. Now however it is just a celebration of being 50, 30 years of big band leading and the continuation of a precious venue featuring big band jazz."

Jazz at the Manor website


Interview: Vijay Iyer

Pianist Vijay Iyer's trio is at Purcell Room on Feb 5th. In a wide-ranging interview he  talks to Alex Roth:

Alex Roth: You've written extensively about the experience of coming to jazz from an Indian-American perspective (and vice versa). Here in the UK we are perhaps at an extra remove from the history of jazz (having appropriated its influence primarily through recordings, not through direct exposure in the country of its origin). Do you listen to many current UK (or if not, European) jazz artists? If so, do you perceive any particularly recognisable traits as distinct from our US counterparts?

Vijay Iyer: I've listened to a lot of British musicians over the years, whether or not they self-identify with the term "jazz."  But I have checked out a few different improvised music communities in the UK. Some of the best known are the elder experimentalists like Evan Parker, AMM, the late Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley, not to mention of course Dave Holland and Kenny Wheeler; on another axis there's Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson, the Mondesirs, and the late Bheki Mseleku, all of whom I was checking out 20 years ago; and then after them, cats like Anthony Tidd and Robert Mitchell (both of whom I worked with via Steve Coleman in the mid-late 90s), as well as Jason Yarde, Byron Wallen, Abram Wilson, Soweto Kinch, David Okumu, and the young tenor player whose name I'm forgetting.  Also the F-IRE guys, Barak Schmool and all of them, those young guys Phronesis, Nikki Yeoh, Shabakah Hutchings, Zoe Rahman, and then also Matthew Bourne...

Ok, I'll stop but you get the idea - I've been listening to you guys.  I'm also connected with the Asian Underground community through Talvin Singh, some of the ADF guys, and have been checking out all the UK hip-hop/electronica/grime/dubstep/etc too.  I know that there's a lot of activity in these scenes that has some overlap with so-called jazz.  People can always make music together, no matter whatever label might be following them around.

AR: How is it different from the American scene? 

VI: I think it has to do with who's empowered, how and why.  Of course jazz was created, defiantly, by African Americans living in the margins of 20th-century American cities, while facing immense, systemic oppression and dehumanization; and of course those aesthetics and methodologies have been taken up around the world.  But there has been a distinct and very different history of struggle for empowerment for the post-colonial immigrant communities in the UK, and that history (and the different musics born of it) perhaps has the most kinship with the history of African-American musics - jazz, soul, r&b and hip-hop.  So I wouldn't exactly say that UK is removed from the history of jazz; I think the histories of the black and brown diasporas in the UK and US have been entangled, and their musics reflect that.

On the other hand, those musicians who self-identify as European, which seems to include a lot of white British artists, often speak of a different sense of connection, to different communities, histories, and set of identities: to European classical music, to modern composers, rock, experimentalism and "art music," and ultimately to a certain dynamic of pan-European nationalism.  And I've noticed that what globally gets labeled "European jazz" usually seems more connected to these white European experimentalists and their protegés, and less to these post-colonial Black and Brown artists who identify and engage with techniques of black American music. Of course, certain individuals from these latter communities do get anointed from time to time.  And anyway, as I said, I've been checking out all of it, and have found things I like in every corner.

There are certainly racialized divisions in American jazz, as evidenced by, say, the different choices made by Herbie Hancock or Robert Glasper versus Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau, and subsequently the different audiences that connect or identify with them. And the emergence of people like myself or Rudresh has certainly complicated matters, too.  Nonetheless, I think that with all of us there's probably still some sense of "Americanness" that helps tie it all together. It's not only in the common set of references, but in the real, lived connection to various American histories, communities, and legacies.  We all worship Coltrane, but we also know that he walked these streets, he played these same venues, and he (for example) gives us all something very concrete to reach for.

Vijay Iyer Trio plays the Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) on Tuesday 5th February. His latest album Accelerando is out now on ACT.


Lleuwen wins Liet International

The Liet International is the Eurovision Song Contest for the minority languages of Europe. And this was the winning song of the most recent one, sung in Breton: Ar Gouloù Bev, (The Living Light) by Lleuwen Tangi (nee Steffan), or indeed just Lleuwen for short. The competion was held last month in Gijon in Asturias, so whoops, we're a bit slow.

Lleuwen was up against fellow finalists from Corsica (2nd), East Frisia (3rd), Asturias, (they unsurprisingly won the audience award), Sardinia, Scotland, Friesland (outrageous, Voodooelectric are like Madness singing in Lower Saxon), the Basque Country, Udmurtia (they'd come the furthest, from 1,200 km due East of Moscow), Sapmi (the judges don't seem to have Lapped that one up - ouch) and in last place Friuli.

Lleuwen made her mark on the British jazz scene with a fine album of Welsh hymn tunes (in Welsh) for Babel in 2005 with Huw Warren and Mark Lockheart, and also proved to be a good and highly knowledgeable TV presenter for S4C at the Brecon Jazz Festival in days gone by.

Good news is good news. In any language. Congratulations and best wishes!

Liet International website / Lleuwen's website


Two UK dates in March for Becca Stevens Band

The Becca Stevens Band's first ever visit to the UK as leader of her own band was last October, as part of the Revoice! Festival. She made quite an impact. And she's back:

- Monday March 4th - Pizza Express Dean Street

- Tuesday March 5th - Band on the Wall Manchester

We INTERVIEWED her before her first visit. And here's a BIOGRAPHY. Get in. 


Preview: Dave Manington's Riff Raff - Hullabaloo Album Launch

Brigitte Beraha, Tim Giles, Dave Manington, Tom Challenger, Ivo Neame

Dave Manington's Riff Raff - Hullabaloo Launch
(Vortex Jazz Club. 28th January 2013. Preview by Dave Manington)

I’m very excited about my upcoming album launch gig at the Vortex at the end of this month. It’s the culmination of a lot of work for me since my last album 5 years ago, and at the same time it’s also the beginning of something new. The album is a documentation of the music we’ve created together as a band over the last few years, and now it’s out there we can move on. I hope to be playing at least two new compositions on the launch gig and more will follow over the next few months.

The current 6 piece line up of Riff Raff has developed organically over the past 10 years. I originally started a Quartet with Ivo Neame on piano, Tim Giles on drums and Mark Hanslip on Tenor Sax (since replaced by Tom Challenger) around the time the Loop Collective was formed in 2005 (seems a long time ago now). Brigitte Beraha and I later collaborated on some new material for the 2009 Loop Festival and it worked so beautifully that she joined the band. This new material became the starting point for this album. Soon after I added Rob Updegraff on the guitar as the final piece in the jigsaw and the music really fell into place. Rob, Tim and I have a great understanding as we were in a band at school together and have been playing with each other for over 20 years now which seems remarkable!

I place a great deal of importance on creating a unified `band sound’ and identity that comes from not chopping and changing personnel or getting deps in unless absolutely necessary. This means we can interpret the music flexibly each time we play it, and often pieces will be reinvented quite radically from one gig to the next, or will gradually morph as we develop a new angle on it. Much of the music has undergone many revisions this way, and each member of the band has had a lot more individual input and freedom than they might normally have in a band where they basically just turn up and sight read through the music. There needs to be a lot of trust between the musicians for it to be possible to play freely and improvise over music that may be quite complex rhythmically. Similarly, it’s important to me to know how each member of the band will play intuitively. When I write new material, I write with them and their playing in mind. If I write a new piece and take it to rehearsal, I know they’ll “get it” straight away, and soon they’ll have developed it into something much greater with their inputs. I generally end up rewriting each tune several times!

For me it was most important to record the album at this stage to document the music at a point where I felt it had reached maturity. We’d been playing half the tunes since the 2009 Loop festival collaboration, and I’d steadily added the rest of the set over the following 2 years. We’d gigged the material quite a lot over the preceding year and it was feeling settled and comfortable.

Then when Rob started to play with us, he added another dimension, and gave the music a new level of excitement. The guitar also “glued” the sound together a lot and suddenly made it a lot easier to free up over. We all agreed that it was time to go into the studio.

- For a description of the tracks on the album click HERE

- Listen to excerpts HERE

Dave Manington interviewed by Kate Winter on The Jazz Show

Live Dates:

January 28th - The Vortex jazz Club (Album Launch)

February 5th - The Amersham Arms (run by SE Collective)

February 10th - The Salisbury

March 11th - The Oxford

May 3rd - The Con Cellar Bar

June 26th - e17 Jazz Club