Two new jazz listings sites - and

Two new entrants into the gig ads/ listings space have recently popped up. is in its test phase and is a sister site of Music and Dance Diary run by Caroline Gresham of Smart Arts PR. Blurb reads:

If you are a Jazz enthusiast, or indeed a performer who likes to keep up with live gigs in the UK you’ll find the best listed on our new site. We’ll be announcing the launch date soon, so if you are a performer or you’re promoting an event, get in touch and we’ll be happy to publicize your event.

o - o - o - o

The other, more advanced, is, run by Southwest London-based Japanese singer Miyuki Tanaka. @LondonJazzNet has been on Twitter since September last year. The site is focussed on singer-promoted gigs on the edges of London. Miyuki's blurb is as follows: is a newly launched jazz networking site for jazz lovers. List your gigs now and watch this space for more coming up soon!!

UPDATE Mar 5th- in the light of the comments below and in the spirit of collaboration, Miyuki has kindly withdrawn a logo very similar to ours. 


CD Review: Joe Lovano UsFive - Cross Culture

Joe Lovano UsFive - Cross Culture
(Blue Note 509996 38761 2 3. CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘You have to try to develop a sound. Without a sound, all you have is notes.’ Thus Joe Lovano, talking to me in London in 1990. He also credited his father’s record collection – ‘he had Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, so I learned from an early age about developing a personality with music rather just copying one kind of player, really trying to find your own sound ...’ – and being taken by him (Tony, ‘Big T’ Lovano) to gigs at 13 – ‘playing, sitting in. He’d leave me on the bandstand alone with his rhythm section and I was studying tunes all the time; at 13 I could call the key and count them off’ – with instilling the essentials of a musical career into him.

Lovano has been recording now for nearly 40 years (his first album, Aphrodisiac for a Groove Merchant was made in 1974 under the leadership of Lonnie Liston Smith) and Cross Culture is his 23rd Blue Note album, but ‘really trying to find your own sound’ is still the core concern of his art: ‘I want a sound with fast brightness in it, but I also want a deep, round tone [and] to have a wide range of dynamics, colours.’

Consequently, throughout this rich, varied but consistently musicianly, cultured, elegant album, Lovano deploys his unique smoky warble, with its hard-edged throaty rasp, to stunning effect on his trademark tenor, but also plays G-mezzo soprano, tárogáto or aulochrome (two sopranos played together) where the particular piece can profit from a different sound.

In this quest for individuality and musical integrity, Lovano has surrounded himself with a dream band – guitarist Lionel Loueke, pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding and Peter Slavov, drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela – and written nine originals (culminating in ‘PM’, a touching tribute to the late Paul Motian, with whom Lovano frequently collaborated from 1981 onwards) which, in their simultaneous mining of the tradition and pushing against its boundaries, constitute a master class in small-group jazz.

Lovano says of Loueke, ‘he doesn’t just play guitar, he freely integrates himself with the rhythm section and with me in the front line, and shares the space in a personal way’; he also sums up the musical appeal of this album perfectly by saying, of ‘PM’, it ‘combines the harmonic and rhythmic structures of modern jazz in a free-flowing way, with a tribal energy, tying together things about the world of music, beyond just categories of jazz’. A hugely ambitious but stunningly realised album from a great master.


Preview: Snarky Puppy - Koko, Camden, 13th March

Snarky Puppy

Trombonist Kieran McLeod previews the gig by Snarky Puppy at Koko in Camden on March 13th. Kieran was a participant in a week-long residency in Manchester, when the US band worked with 13 participants invited from all across the UK, culminating in a showcase concert. He writes about the experience:

I first came across Snarky Puppy by word of mouth; hearing that they had played a great gig at XOYO to lots of young people in the London Jazz Festival 2012. The name stuck in my mind and I checked out some some of their videos online. When I heard about the opportunity to take part in a residency with the band I looked at the application process and thought: why not!

For me, the week focused on three key areas: composition, performance and social media. The aim was to get 13 musicians, who had never met, to create a set of brand new music. I did not expect to meet such a diverse bunch of amazing musicians and lovely people. We had been chosen on merit of the fact that we came from such wildly different musical backgrounds.

Each day we broke down into three small groups to develop compositions and arrangements for the gig then we would rejoin to play as the large ensemble. [Snarky Puppy's] Michael League, Robert 'Sput' Searight and Bill Laurence each took turn to lead these sessions. Thanks to their expertise, ten great songs came out of the process and we all came out inspired by their creativity.

In the evenings we had the opportunity to see them perform as a trio a few times; at their own gig and at jam sessions. Their sense of groove was immense and by the Friday we had all experienced playing with this level of musicianship. It was something special.

The Snarky Puppy residency was organised by Wall of Sounds who are part of a new online platform, Pied Piper Player. Each day we had challenges to complete including recording ourselves and each other, and sharing stories online. By the end of the week the 13 of us had uploaded hours of video and many photos of the process. It was a great exploration into self-publicity which definitely widened my view of the matter. I didn't expect to take to recording myself talking to camera as I did but it was definitely an eye opener.

The week was a great experience where I made friends and played music to a level that I was personally amazed by. Totally inspiring.

Snarky Puppy play at Koko in Camden on Wednesday 13th March.

Kieran's photos and videos from the residency, along with those of the other collaborators and the members of Snarky Puppy themselves, are online at HERE.

Find out more about Kieran and hear his own music HERE.


Review: Alexander Hawkins Octet at Café Oto

Alexander Hawkins. Photo Credit: Andy Sheppard. All Rights Reserved
Review: Alexander Hawkins Octet
(Café Oto. 26th February 2013. Review by Rob Edgar)

The audience at Cafe Oto on Tuesday was treated to two sets of music by pianist/ composer Alexander Hawkins; the first consisted of members of the octet pared down into smaller ensembles and began with Oren Marshall and Byron Wallen on tubas with Mark Sanders keeping things together on the kit. Their piece set the mood for the rest of the evening; it featured sections that sounded through-composed with dissonant contrary motion counterpoint, flashes of free furious cacophony, and a general ebb and flow character with the first theme acting as a reference point throughout.

At the end of the piece, the crowd was briefly stunned into silence before erupting into deserved applause and were fully primed for the next group with biting double stops and sinewy sul ponticello from cellist Hannah Marshall playing against whines, key-clicks and multiphonics of Chris Cundy on bass clarinet and Percy Pursglove's whirlwind of notes on the trumpet.

Alexander Hawkins actually made his first appearance as pianist towards the end of the first half, underpinning the shrieking,wailing, sometimes almost Ferneyhough-like spinning complexity of Pete McPhail and Peter Evans (on flute and piccolo trumpet respectively) with a gnarled and expressionistic chaconne.

“I'm going to have to spend the rest of the evening with my back to you I'm afraid” said Hawkins (he'd had a four hour delay on the motorway, a delay which had eaten into the scheduled rehearsal time) before he began conducting the new BBC commission which made up the second half of the concert. This piece - which does not yet have a title - was fifty minutes of uninterrupted bliss, walking the line between improvised and composed flawlessly, it featured the usual compositional techniques of thematic development and variation (the calm second theme turned on its head to create another passage for example) and grew organically like a flower opening but also featured eight musicians who had equal time in the spotlight and considerable freedom with how they interpreted the lines. Hannah Marshall's frenetic cello at times sounded as though a colony of ants had been let loose to scurry up and down the fingerboard, Peter Evans again blew us away with a delicate solo that almost sounded polyphonic at times followed by equally gentle interplay between the flute and drums, and one particularly conspicuous aspect of the night in general, was that all the players managed to coax new, unusual and sometimes even disturbing sounds from their instruments.

At the end of the piece, the audience was briefly silent once more, we needed time to reflect and let the vast and powerful music sink-in before flaring up in rapturous applause.

The (so far untitled) piece for octet has been recorded in the studio for broadcast on Jazz On 3 on 25th March 2013, as part of BBC Radio 3's Baroque Spring.


Preview : MOSS PROJECT - What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? Album Launch: 6 Mar, Vortex

Preview : MOSS PROJECT - What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? Album Launch: Wednesday, 6 March, Vortex

MOSS FREED talks about the inspiration behind his new album, a unique collaboration between music and words…

I was driving to a family Christmas gathering. It was one of those crisp, dark winter nights and I was listening to the new masters from the recent recording session, trying to come up with an album title. I’d spent the best part of a year composing music for the new Moss Project album, exploring a variety of influences and trying to exploit the distinctive talents of the musicians playing in the band: Alice Zawadzki’s awe-inspiring combination of vocals and violin; the blend of tight grooves, heavy riffs and expansive free playing made possible by a Marek Dorcik and Ruth Goller rhythm section. I also wanted to make room for the audacious talent of Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and sax.

Instead of coming up with album titles, however, I found myself imagining scenarios, people, places and interactions. Streetlamp-lit brawls played out in my head one minute, a woman mourned her lost love the next, and as the music went on it became apparent that there was a cinematic thread running through the album – each track was a self-contained short story. Very quickly this idea developed. Wouldn’t it be a fascinating and exciting artistic exercise to ask authors to write actual stories based on the individual tracks? I was curious to see if there was a difference between my thoughts and feelings when composing and those conjured in the listener.

I can think of many composers who have been inspired by stories, poems and plays. Prokofiev, Verdi and Wagner spring to mind, and Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder (an album I grew up listening to) is part of a sizeable repertory based on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Then there’s Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, two profoundly influential bands whose music contains references to Tolkien and Orwell. But I struggled to think of any literature that was based on specific musical works.

So I started trying to find authors who might like to get involved. Luckily those I contacted were interested in the idea and keen to write something. I was moved and surprised by the results; not only by the breadth and scope of the authors’ imaginations and how different they could be to my own, but also by how well the words partnered the music.

I feel hugely honoured that such distinguished writers were able to contribute their talents to the project. They are: National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann; Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine, recently adapted into a film; Naomi Alderman, winner of the Orange Prize for Young Writers; one of the most influential Arab writers in the world, Hanan al-Shaykh; bestselling historical fiction writer, Lawrence Norfolk; and Time Out’s Rising Star James Miller.

What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? has been two years in the making and I’m hugely excited to be celebrating its imminent release at the launch party on Wednesday. Come along if you can! It will be a feast of words and music, with readings from three of the authors, and a hearty serving of good times.

 Moss Freed's What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? will be released in two formats (Audio CD/Book and/or Digital Album) on Babel on 22nd April 2013.


Book Review: Peter Elsdon - Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert

Peter Elsdon - Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert
(Oxford University Press, 183pp., £10.99. Book Review by Chris Parker)

The Köln Concert was recorded in distinctly unpromising circumstances: Keith Jarrett was utterly exhausted (he had not slept for over 24 hours before the performance), had just bolted down an Italian meal in an overheated restaurant, and was so unhappy with the state of the instrument he’d been given that he later compared it with ‘a harpsichord or a piano with tacks in it’, and consequently played much of his solo concert, as biographer Ian Carr points out, in ‘the lower middle area of the piano [using] a lot of repetitive rhythms – because it is [there] that such rhythms “speak” and sound best’. Yet, as Carr goes on to point out, ‘within this narrow confine, he achieves the usual state of grace – the inspired state’, and such is the enduring power of the recording of the night’s music that the ECM albums (first a double LP, then a single CD) have now sold 3.5 million copies worldwide.

Peter Elsdon, a jazz pianist who lectures on music at the University of Hull, attempts to anatomise this phenomenon in a number of ways: contextualising the concert (both widely, in terms of jazz’s 1970s reception in Europe, and more narrowly, in terms of Jarrett’s other dates on the same tour, as well as by looking at other contemporary solo piano recordings); examining the fundamental nature of improvisation; speculating about the reasons behind the music’s rapturous reception, both on the night and subsequently on record; philosophising about recordings as artefacts and ‘texts’; and scrupulously examining the music itself courtesy of the authorised 1991 transcription by Yukiko Kishinami and Kuniko Yamashita. All these avenues of enquiry are intelligently (and surprisingly readably) explored by Elsdon, and the book as a whole is a thought-provoking, tightly focused and scholarly piece of work, of considerable interest not only to Jarrett aficionados, but also to anyone fascinated by the processes involved in playing, listening to and marketing music.

Each reader will no doubt seize on one of said avenues as of particular interest to him or her; my own preference is for the speculation concerning the music’s popularity. One only has to glance at the comment section of Sebastian Scotney's recent review to see just how violently Jarrett still divides opinion: admirers see him as a uniquely inspired (and inspirational) figure; detractors think him grossly overrated, even going so far as to say he is ‘to the music world what Jack Vettriano is to the art world’. I must confess to having some sympathy with the latter view, having held a somewhat less vitriolically dismissive, but none the less negative opinion of his work until relatively recently. I’d seen him in concert on numerous occasions, and been put off not only by what I then saw as the unthinking adulation of his followers (many of them – horrors! – not Proper Jazz Fans At All), but also by the grimacing and grunting that I considered disfigured his performances. I now see the former reason as (almost) pure snobbishness, and the latter I’m prepared to accept (as dear old Ian Carr always used to insist it was) as signs of Jarrett’s having achieved the aforementioned ‘state of grace – the inspired state’.

And the reasons for this conversion? Two albums: the recently issued Sleeper and the solo Rio, both of which I found simply enthralling, my reaction easily summarised in the phrase ‘What’s not to like?’ As with The Köln Concert (which, I blush to admit, I had not actually heard until a fortnight ago – but then I’ve never heard Headhunters either – go figure), these recordings are simply irresistible, showcasing all Jarrett’s strengths: an unerring ear for a well-turned, accessible but sophisticated melody; an ability to conjure extraordinary joyousness from rhythm alone; an inexaustibly fecund improvisational gift, wonderful dexterity and precision of articulation – I could go on. All these attributes, though, are instantly accessible to (non-specialist) audiences – anyone who is moved by music can appreciate Keith Jarrett – and The Köln Concert – coming at a time when large numbers of seriously dedicated listeners were looking, for musical satisfaction, beyond the rock they’d grown up listening to – hit the spot for a wide spectrum of album buyers searching for sophistication not necessarily obtainable from rambling, overblown concept albums with gatefold sleeves depicting incomprehensible cosmic events.

Whatever the reason, The Köln Concert is to ECM what Tubular Bells(!) was to Virgin Records, so perhaps best leave the last word on the attractions of Jarrett’s solo improvisations to Joe Lovano: ‘[his] stuff sounds like written music, the way he moves his harmonies, he’s inside all the colour of the harmony and the rhythm together, not just playing what he wants; he’s letting one thing lead to the next ...’ Couldn’t have put it better myself.


Review: Soweto Kinch - The Legend of Mike Smith at Ronnie Scott’s

Soweto Kinch. Photo credit: Benjamin Amure. All rights Reserved

Review: Soweto Kinch - The Legend of Mike Smith
(Ronnie Scott’s, Mon. 25th Feb. 2013. Review by Alison Bentley)

`If you`re quiet, you can hear the sound of teeth grinding with Envy!` UK saxophonist Soweto Kinch introduced his jazz and hip-hop drama The Legend of Mike Smith, featuring the Seven Deadly Sins, played and rapped with Nick Jurd on basses, Shane Forbes on drums, and some laptop wizardry. His new CD (SKP003CD) has a multiple cast, but this gig featured a reduced but potent number of Sins and musicians.

Kinch’s fictional character, Mike Smith, is a well-meaning urban musician pursuing a record deal, and a mystical golden microphone he's seen in a dream, like the Holy Grail. He's waylaid by various characters: the Seven Deadly Sins, who tempt him from his true course. On the gig we heard raps based on Envy, Greed and Gluttony (though the man at the back of the audience kept calling out in vain for Lust!) Kinch is a powerful, charismatic performer of his two loves- jazz and hip-hop- and engaged the audience totally from the outset, in a glorious mixture of highbrow and comic rap, social comment and virtuoso jazz.

Kinch's raps were brilliant: witty, analytical and engrossing. There was call and response with the audience: in Invidia we chanted, 'When will I be getting mine?' in a satire on jealousy, over groovy electric bass subtones from Nick Jurd and hiphop beats. In The Board Game, we called out, 'Privatise the gains, socialise the losses,' as part of the clever, searing yet comic analogy between Monopoly and the recession: 'Someone's torn up the Community Chest'. Gula almost recalled Linton Kwesi Johnson's reggae performance poetry, as 'Mike Smith' rapped the rhythmic sounds of different kinds of food over a quirky synth track.

The instrumental pieces held the audience equally spellbound: Kinch's sense of the dramatic spilled over into his soloing. His alto sound and phrasing sometimes recalled tenor players: Joe Henderson's pianoless trio in Sweeping Changes, with its oblique tonality, as well as free-form Sonny Rollins. The remarkable Shane Forbes frequently sounded like Elvin Jones to Kinch's squalling Ascension-era Coltrane. In Vacuum, Kinch filled out the harmony with crying arpeggios, against Jurd's double bass counter-melody and beautiful rich-toned solo. A Restless Mind had Steve Colemanish sharp-edged dissonance and skewed shapes in the melody, over loping double bass phrases that made Forbes grin with appreciation. Kinch played as if rapping on Traffic Lights, riffing on a theme, always communicating, Forbes' sizzling rimshots echoing.

Kinch is a consummate entertainer, and he ended by working the audience's chosen words into his freestyle rap (raunchy? onomatopoeia? indigo?) heckling the hecklers with great humour and getting everyone dancing to the absurdist Stroke the Hippo. The trio created a wonderful blend of musical brilliance, wit, showmanship and sheer energy.


News: Brecon Festival Progamme announced (August 9 - 11)

Tim Garland at Brecon 2012

The headliners for the second year of the festival under the aegis of the Orchard Group and the directorship of Pablo Janczur have just been announced. For the second year running there is an important role for artist- in -residence Huw Warren

The artists announced so far are:

The Impossible Gentlemen
Gwilym Simcock,Mike Walker, Steve Rodby Mark Walker.

Courtney Pine

Mavis Staples

Acker Bilk

Blue Spirits Trio
John Etheridge - guitar, Pete Whittaker - Hammond, Mark Fletcher - drums

Django Bates

The Orient House Ensemble
Frank Harrison - piano, Yaron Stavi - double bass, and Eddie Hick – drums

Jason Rebello Group
Troy Miller - drums, Karl Rasheed-Abel - bass, Paul Stacey - guitar, and Joy Rose – vocals

John Surman Trio
Chris Laurence – double bass and John Marshall - drums

Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Julian Siegel Quartet
Liam Noble - sax, Gene Calderazzo - drums, Oli Hayhurst - bass

Laura Jurd Quartet

Laurence Cottle Trio
Mornington Lockett - sax and Ian Thomas - drums

Martin Taylor and Alan Barnes

Nils Petter Molvaer Trio


Roller Trio

Tim Kliphuis Trio & David Newton

Zoe Rahman Quartet

Iain Ballamy - sax, Huw Warren - piano, June Tabor - vocals DJ Snowboy

Mailing list subscribers can (according to the press release) book tickets online from this morning HERE. Public booking opens on Friday, March 1st.


Jez Nelson previews 'Loop meets Chaos' at the Vortex March 2nd


JEZ NELSON previews an evening (Saturday March 2nd) when two bands from the Loop Collective - Tom Challenger's Brass Mask and Fofoulah a band from the Chaos Collective - the Laura Jurd Quartet. The late night DJ set from 11pm to 2am is from Soundspecies DJ Oliver Keen . 

JezNelson writes: 

The rule of three states that things that come in trios are inherently more fun, satisfying and perfect. Well I don't know about perfect but this is one hell of a triple bill.

I've seen all of these bands recently, and each offers a window on the explosion of British jazz talent we're lucky to be witnessing right now.

Laura Jurd's compositional skills are way beyond her years and she's a skilled and impassioned trumpet player to boot. Her blend of chamber and jazz influences is a glorious thing.

Tom Challenger is well named - each of his projects seems to challenge the form and refuse to be constrained by rules or tradition. Brass Mask is a brave brass (and percussion) collective boasting some of my fave horn players of the day - George Crowley, Rory Simmons and Tom himself.

I saw Fofoulah just last night at my Jazz In The Round night and again was blown away by what is a really special group. Their tunes are based on West African praise song and built around the extraordinary communication of the Sabar drums - but at times the ensemble manage to reach moments of groove based trance, a little like the Master Drummers Of Joujouka. Biram Seck has a voice that will woo and wow you. Oh and this is a dance band - the perfect way to end your night.

Saturday 2nd March @ The Vortex
8pm to 2am

£12/10, then free after 11pm The Vortex Jazz Club 11 Gillett Square London N16 8AZ 


CD Review: Robert Mitchell - The Glimpse

Robert Mitchell - The Glimpse
(Whirlwind Records WR4630. CD Review by Chris Parker)

‘The feeling of learning to have ideas flow into a deliberately limited place’ is how pianist/composer Robert Mitchell characterises the appeal of the material on this, an album of solo left-hand jazz/classical piano. His motivation, however, is by no means solely artistic: he is about to celebrate, via a festival named ‘Leftitude’ (The Forge, Camden, 20/21 March), ‘all those who have performed/created in this way ... whether from birth, injury, warfare etc.’ in order to ‘breed a positive future for the left hand [and] to inspire the creativity of composers and improvisers in this area’.

To be convinced of the need for this reassessment, one only has to look at the English-language adjectives derived from the Latin words for left (sinister) and right (dexterous); the consequences of this prejudice range, according to Mitchell, from ‘many being forced to change their writing hand’ to ‘witch-hunts and worse’. (I can personally confirm the seriousness of this issue, having been threatened, on my first day at school, as a natural left-hander, with having that hand tied behind my back if I continued to write with it – I now write with the pen gripped uncomfortably between the first two fingers of my right hand – and was, as a child, continually being berated for the ‘clumsiness’ that resulted from this unnecessary switch.)

Mitchell’s album is something of a revelation, including absorbing improvisations, compositions (by Federico Mompou and Fred Hersch) and a number of cogent Mitchell originals that intriguingly vindicate his stated aim: to exploit ‘different pathways, previously unseen possibilities, and a sensibility that uses the explicit and the implied in a fascinatingly different way’.


Jasper Høiby previews Phronesis and guests at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, 5th April

Phronesis: Anton Eger, Jasper Høiby, Ivo Neame

Jasper Høiby talks about the forthcoming Phronesis concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on Friday 5th April 2013.

Playing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with this line-up (Olivia Chaney - vocals, Dave Maric - keyboards/electronics/etc., Jim Hart - vibes/percussion, plus Phronesis) is a dream of mine about to come true.

Back in college I used to have an extended ensemble called Qualia, which is the band that put all my first bits of writing to the test, teaching me what did or didn’t work. Some of the pieces that passed the test have ended up on Phronesis albums later on in trio format like Blue Inspiration, Untitled#2 and Organic Warfare.

Qualia included the very same Olivia Chaney on vocals and Ivo was on piano, though he started on alto. Other great characters were involved too: Tom Arthurs was on flugel, Justin Quinn on guitar and Tim Giles and Tom Skinner played drums respectively.

Through Olivia I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Maric and I remember being blown away by encountering someone who was so fluent in composition and just in music in general. He totally openened my ears and eyes to so many new things. I was very drawn to his music and to his balance of melody and rhythmic intricacy, which seemed to really resonate with me on a very deep level.

Coming to music late and from a totally different background, Olivia and Dave were also my introduction to classical music and they made me properly aware of composers like Bach, Bartok and Stravinsky.

Jim Hart is someone I met purely through jazz and we must have played our first gig together in 2002. That was when his main instrument was still drums probably as much as mine was still electric bass. Anyway, I have been a fan of Jim’s for years as well as having the luck to play and record with his band Gemini, and he has played a couple of Phronesis gigs on drums too, so I know he understands my music.

My musical focus these days is the trio, and all the playing and time spent with Ivo and Anton has been invaluable to me in so many ways. There’s a real trust between the three of us and a deep and very instantaneous musical understanding too. In a way it’s something that’s taken us years to build up, but thinking about it the seeds have actually been there from the very first time we played together.

I’m looking forward to presenting some new material from the trio in the first half of this concert, which we will be recording later this year for the next Phronesis album. Then in the second half, being able to extend the trio with Dave Maric adding extra lines as well as an electronic perspective, Jim Hart’s vibraphone engaging on a linear and rhythmic level plus something more pure than all of this combined - the voice of Olivia Chaney. I get to play with some of my favourite musicians in London and even better, I get to present them all to those who until now might not have heard about them.

So all in all I guess this concert is a look back down memory lane for me. An attempt to pay homage to some of the important people and events in my development that have helped me to grow as a musician, composer and human being since I moved to the UK. And it’s an opportunity to present these towering talents in the setting of Phronesis, my favourite band to play in, which our audiences have helped along the way to get to where we are today by giving us all their support. In a way it’s come full circle.

Phronesis and the South Bank have also invited Laura Jurd's Quartet to play a free-stage at the QEH before Phronesis, starting around 5 45pm.


News: William Ellis and the One LP project

Soweto Kinch: Hockley Circus, Birmingham, 5th August 2011
One LP - Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes From the Underground.
Photo Credit: William Ellis. All Rights Reserved

WILLIAM ELLIS is well known for his performance and portrait photography and his pictures are often featured here. His contribution to the culture has been recognised by the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City where his work has been exhibited on two occasions. He writes, about a new project...

  ‘One LP - a study of the artist portrayed with a favourite recording. Each portrait is accompanied by a short interview that explores the album's meaning and value for the subject.’

That’s the concept that came about following many enlightening parlers about music with players after gigs. So I tried to think of a format to get the kind of fascinating conversations I was having out there so I came up with the One LP idea.

The first person I approached was Stan Tracey and he very kindly agreed – Stan doesn’t waste time with small talk so I knew when he said yes the project had legs! It’s very moving and a great privilege to hear people talk very about the music that is so dear to them - and in some instances helped set out the course of their artistic lives.

I photograph players on the road at venues, hotels, bars and restaurants and sometimes at home. Al Jarreau was photographed and interviewed between sets!

The location, date and links to the artist’s site and chosen album are given in the caption on the website so if people want to learn more about the recording and maybe get hold of it they can do.

I’ve opened it up to players in other genres of music, it’s all good - people like Johnny Marr, Tommy Emmanuel and Anna Gabler - soon figures working in other aspects of the arts will be involved I hope.

Jazz is such a diverse idiom of course; right now you can see styles represented from Acker Bilk to Soweto Kinch along with American artists like Robert Glasper and Terence Blanchard.

It’s an ongoing project - there’s a lot more still to come. website


Review: Keith Jarrett - The Solo Concert

Keith Jarrett : The Solo Concert
(Royal Festival Hall, February 25th 2013. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

The audience's appreciation for Keith Jarrett's first solo concert in London since 2008 grew louder and more passionate as the evening developed tonight. By the end of the fourth and final encore, the utterly devoted London audience was on its feet, whistling, cheering, saluting its hero.

Reports from the weekend's Dublin concert had hinted at Keith Jarrett's current mood: "the bonus we got was all the between-piece patter that he did...he was very funny" wrote Ronan Guilfoyle. And that was exactly what transpired. An example from tonight: "Does anybody have a chord they'd like to request?"

I don't know the Dublin audience, but the London Jarrett audience surely wears its adoration for him more obviously on its sleeve than most. And so you have to wonder if Jarrett - (apart from giving the users of phone cameras the earfuls of abuse they deserved, and probably wanted) - doesn't treat us here to a little more mischief, a little more paradox, a little more playfulness.

The first set had started in the knotty gnarled angry discordant piano world of, say Boulez's 2nd Sonata or Ligeti's Chromatic Fantasy. Some piano cognoscenti told me they loved all that unforgiving complexity, but I wondered if it wasn't just a device to remind the listener that beauty and shape can more readily assert their value and appeal if they are seen to emerge from formlessness and chaos. If I am right, then the bucolic innocence of the second number did seem to score that debating point rather well, before stiffening its sinews to become a dark and insistent pasodoble, with Jarrett the matador stamping his outsize shoes.

The sheer variety of mood, the things tried and moved on from, the influences summoned from thin air were what stay in the mind. The first improvisation of the second half seemed to start in Debussy territory, become more modal and Messiaen-ish, then searching and fantasizing, to land in a final lyrical moment of sheer beauty. All you knew by the end of that particular journey was that you had travelled a long way from where you'd started.

What were those encores? No 2 was Cole Porters Miss Otis Regrets. No 3 was a blues. Anyone?

Another moment which left plenty to think about was a gospelly South African vamp which got abandoned after less than a minute. A teaser, an unfinished sketch, a fragment which will doubtless find its completion one day, in another concert hall in another time zone. Jarrett was playing with the conventional form of the concert, happy to leave an audience thinking what might have been. And why not?

Jarrett gave his legions of admirers exactly what they wanted tonight, and will definitely have made some new converts too.


Preview: Gabriel Garrick - Two Album Launches, Spice of Life, 14th March

Gabriel Garrick writes:

On Thursday the 14th March at the Spice Of Life at 8pm; I am launching two début albums at one gig.

It's a little unorthodox I know, but for multifarious reasons I have had a spurt of individual productivity over the last year and have recorded my first two CDs at long last, at the mature age of 40.


The first is by my Standards Septet and the album is called Song For My Father. It is a tribute and thanksgiving to my dad.

It has 14 tracks, most of which are standards including Song For My Father, 'Mood Indigo', 'In A Mellotone', 'Out Of Nowhere', 'Cherokee', 'What Is This Thing Called Love' and 'Bye Bye Blues', which is quite simply in my opinion, an under played tune these days. It has a great melody and has an engaging and fun structure to improvise on. I was inspired to include it when I heard a version featuring Dizzy Gillespie with, I think Lionel Hampton's band from 1940. Ripping stuff! There are other standards as well as four originals.

The CD features: 
Martin Hathaway - Alto/Clarinet
Jon Stokes - Trombone
Martin Kolarides - Guitar
Peter James - Piano
Joe Pettitt - Bass
Patrick Davey - Drums

I'm particularly happy to have the seamless swinging King Candy and The Sugar Push rhythm section on my album Song For My Father. 'King Candy...' is a 30s-40s 9 piece swing band run by Jon Shenoy and featuring Kate Mullins of the Puppini Sisters which I play in. Also to have my old friends Martin Hathaway and Peter James on board is a privilege that spans the years!



The second album is by my original quintet and is called Sunlight. This has been my project for writing original material over the last 6 years and it used to feature Dad. Unfortunately he passed before this album was made so the very capable Will Bartlett has filled the piano chair. Link here:

The material is mostly mine except for an arrangement of the standard 'You Don't Know What Love Is' and a duet with William Bartlett of a tune of Dad's called 'Blind Faith'. It also features a piece called 'All Because of You', which is really a dedication to the close loved ones in my life; my mum, dad, and wife in particular. It is a generic thanksgiving for one to express gratitude! A gentle and melodic bossa nova to denote a simple but wholesome feeling incumbent in us all.

The CD features:

Sam Walker - Tenor
William Bartlett - Piano
Matt Ridley - Bass
Chris Nickolls – Drums

I would like to make a special mention about Will Bartlett who plays the piano and Rhodes on Sunlight. Will is an extremely talented and versatile musician who is a real joy to have in the quintet. His treatment of my tunes is poignant and beautiful with very little need to direct him in any way, he adapts naturally to the demands of the material a bit like slipping on a very comfortable pair of slippers..!


News: Reuben Fowler Big Band CD - and Sponsume fundraising

Recent RAM graduate, prizewinning trumpeter/ composer REUBEN FOWLER has recorded a debut CD featuring Tom Harrell, Stan Sulzmann, Jim Hart - and himself, with Guy Barker conducting. It will be released on Edition Records this summer. Reuben explains the background to the project, and how readers/ fans can get involved, via Sponsume fundraising, with TEN different levels of involvement from just £10 upwards


Reuben Fowler Writes:

My first exposure to jazz was through big bands really, I came up playing in the Doncaster Jazz Orchestra and NYJO. However I wasn't really 'into' big bands. Everyone else was listening to a lot of the big band repertoire, and into trying to be fantastic 'lead' players...whereas I was always a lot more into jazz and being a soloist- checking out Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard and Kenny Wheeler.

I actually copied out all the parts to Kenny Wheeler's 'Sophie' (from Music for Large and Small Ensembles) with my friend Matt Robinson (pianist on my album) so we could play Kenny and John (Taylor)'s parts with the Doncaster band.

I graduated from the Academy last year. When I was at college I wasn't always massively focussed on the academic thing, and it was really in my last year or so, when I was feeling really disheartened about playing and college, and I was having a bit of hard time (with a girl!) that Nikki Iles really encouraged me and inspired me to get into writing. I started taking some septet arrangements to her as at the time I was really into that sound, and she quickly encouraged me to score some of them up for big band. She was massively inspirational- I was already into Kenny but she showed me all sorts of stuff like Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza, Maria Schneider, Gil name a few.

When it came to doing my final I ended up putting a big band together to play all the music I'd written, and (somehow) I won the Kenny Wheeler award... I was very surprised as I was in a pretty terrifying year- (Matt Robinson, James Gardiner Bateman, Nadim Teimoori)

So I decided early on that I was going to do it properly and I was going to record my big band music, in the best studio I could find, with the best people possible...which started a bit of an obsession for nearly a year, writing and rewriting all the music- I was very lucky that all my dear friends, and my teachers from the Academy all really liked the music and were up for doing it- having Mike Lovatt, Gordon Campbell and Sam Mayne all leading their sections was a pretty humbling experience. In the writing I try to maintain the small group kind of feel that I love so much, however maintain the scale of a big band- and the compositional element as well.

The Tom Harrell thing came about because he's been my favourite trumpet player since I was about 15, I was first exposed to his playing by a trumpet teacher playing along to the 'Tom Harrell Aebersold'. The tunes were really hard but I loved them (I couldn't read changes at the time!) so my mum bought me the Tom Harrell Transcription Book and his CD 'Upswing' to help me out. I ended up just playing along and listening to that CD on repeat! I Still didn't know how to read chords, but it was great trying to play some of his licks by ear in weekly rehearsals at school. When I was writing the music for the album, I could just hear how I wanted some of the melodies to be played and I could hear his trumpet playing and I just thought why not! So i contacted his wife Angela, sent some samples and they were really up for it.

The same was with Stan Sulzmann really- the first I heard of Kenny Wheeler was Music for Large and Small Ensembles when I was about 16, and the first solo on it is Stan on 'Part II'. I Was blown away by his sound and the massive melodic thing- how he phrases melodies...I did a gig with him with my band a couple of years ago so when this opportunity came up to record the big band album I immediately started writing a couple of pieces with him in mind.

Jim was the same really- the first gig I ever saw (down at Wakefield Jazz Club) was the New Jazz Couriers with Jim on vibes and immediately decided that Jim was the best vibes player in the world, an opinion that I think has stuck with me until this day. So I was listening to a lot of the metropole stuff, and also to Stan Sulzmann's Big Band album that have vibes when I decided I was going to write for that instrument I really wanted Jim to play.

I was very lucky to have won the Kenny Wheeler Award, the Peter Whittingham Award and the Jazz Services Recording Support Scheme, which made it all a reality really. Booked 2 days at Angel Studios with Steve Price, which was by far the best studio I've ever been lucky enough to record in. Guy Barker was also really helpful (I'd been in contact with him on and off since I was younger and I'd met and picked his brains as a trumpet player after one of his gigs at Wakefield Jazz) and was in the studio with us to conduct the big band.

I'm in need of help to complete the mixing and mastering so we can turn the rough mixes we have on a hard drive (which i'm already blown away by) into an album.

Reuben Fowler: Trumpet/Flugel/Composer/Arranger


Sam Mayne
James Gardiner Bateman
Joe Wright
George Crowley
Rob Cope


Mike Lovatt
George Hogg
Percy Pursglove
Freddie Gavita (Day 1)
Andy Greenwood (Day 2)


Gordon Campbell
Robbie Harvey
Kieran McLeod
Callum Au


Alex Munk


Matt Robinson


Tom McCredie


Dave Hamblett


Brigitte Beraha


Guy Barker


Tom Harrell: Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Stan Sulzmann: Soprano Saxophone
Jim Hart: Vibes


Preview/ update: Global Music Foundation Jazz Workshop and Festival Mar 28-30

Samba performance at GMF 2012 student concert at Kings Place
Photo credit: Melody McLaren
Preview/ update: Global Music Foundation Jazz Workshop and Festival
(Kings Place Hall 2. 28-30th March.)

Stephen Keogh writes: 

GMF London Jazz Workshop and Music Festival at Kings Place is now sold out for full participants of the workshop, 6 weeks in advance. Many thanks to London Jazz News for the invaluable help with the publicity. This is of course great news but at the same time it’s a little sad as we’d like everyone to be able to attend. It is still worth sending in your application and keeping fingers crossed as we are operating a waiting list in case some people already signed up are unable to come due to illness or “life happening”, which it often does.

The students are coming from over 12 different countries and from as far afield as China and the USA, and the age range is from 18 – 70+.

As always we’ve been working at creating opportunities for students who may not have the means to come to our courses where they are able to meet, study and play with Jazz Masters and we are happy to announce the following:

RICO REEDS/D’ADDARIO have awarded a scholarship for Saxophone and the recipient this year is to be 22-year-old Victor Jiminez from Valencia, Spain.

The “Global Music Foundation Award for Drumming Excellence” has been launched together with Leeds College of Music, and this year there are 2 recipients; Tom Higham and Scot Duff who will also attend the workshop.

Global Music Foundation opens relations with the prestigious Jazz Standard Club in New York and welcomes Cole Davis, a talented young bass student on the youth orchestra division of the Jazz Standard Discovery Programme education programme that is run by renowned composer/arranger David O’Rourke.

There are still places available on the Listener Option which is tremendous value and includes entry – as a participant – into the morning group sessions, as an observer during afternoon sessions, and free entry to all concerts and jam sessions at Kings Place for five days that the event runs.

We’re running jam sessions in Hall 2 from Thursday March 28 – Saturday March 30 inclusive from 10pm. Tickets are less than a fiver and you have a chance too see jazz legends mixing it up with the students and guests spontaneously in the true spirit of jazz, and there is a full bar.

Tickets are still available for all evening and lunchtime concerts during the weekend. Please check out the whole programme HERE . (pp)


Interview with Branford Marsalis/Finding Your Roots on PBS America TV Preview

Branford Marsalis was on a short visit to London to help promote the PBS show Finding Your Roots in an episode which also features Harry Connick Jr..

In our short interview (above) Branford talked about that documentary - the musical culture and songs of New Orleans - improving as a musician by reading (especially non-fiction) - about extra-musical events whch allows the musician to form a convincing narrative - the "new" versus the "good" , i.e. can there be such a thing as innovation with just twelve semitones - a comparison of Coltrane's Impressions and Morton Gould's Pavane from his American Symphonette No.2.

The episode of Finding Your Roots in which Branford and Harry have their family trees unearthed - extract below - is the fourth episode in the series. It will premiere on Sunday 17 March at 8pm. It was screened privately at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square last night, and Branford gave a lively and engaging Q & A.

FINDING YOUR ROOTS starts this Sunday Feb 24th at 8pm on PBS America - the new channel from America's Public Broadcasting Service on Sky channel 166 and Virgin Media 243.

Branford Marsalis' Quartet will be appearing on the closing night of the Love Supreme Festival at Glynde in Sussex on July 7th


CD Review: Esmond Selwyn - Renegade

Esmond Selwyn - Renegade
(SLAMCD 291. CD Review by Chris Parker)

A recent review of this double live CD from one of the UK’s most respected guitarists praises Esmond Selwyn’s ‘clean picking, abundance of ideas, and a tone to die for from his ES 175 with Charlie Christian pickup’, and his website contains fulsome tributes from (among many others) George Coleman (‘you sound great, boy!’) and Frank Sinatra’s guitarist Tony Mottola (‘these days my pleasure is listening to great players like yourself’), yet Renegade’s sleeve-note writer, Digby Fairweather, is somewhat rueful about Selwyn’s undersung status in the jazz pantheon, quoting the late alto player Bruce Turner to illustrate his point: ‘There is no route to greatness in British jazz’.

There is, however, a simple explanation for this apparent neglect: he plays an instrument that – arguably more than any other in jazz – has undergone a sea-change in the technology that produces the sounds available to it, and as a consequence, the technique of its practitioners, since the rise of rock music in the late 1960s. Selwyn’s models (listed by Fairweather as Tal Farlow, George Van Eps and Joe Pass) are simply not those commonly cited by most contemporary guitarists, raised on the music of Carlos Santana, Lowell George, Jimi Hendrix and post-rock-era jazz guitarists such as Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Mike Stern et al.

Nevertheless, listening to Selwyn barrelling his way through seven exhilarating choruses of this album’s opening track, ‘Fine and Dandy’ does induce a kind of nostalgia for the days of clean, fleet solo runs, especially when, as here, the guitarist in question is as well versed in what Fairweather calls ‘the sunny major-key vocabulary of swing and its predecessors’ as in ‘the advanced harmonic lines and devices that distinguished bebop’.

Throughout a nicely balanced set that includes accommodating standards (‘All the Things You Are’, ‘Just One of Those Things’ etc.) as well as jazz classics and bop staples (‘Blue Monk’, ‘All Blues’, ‘Yardbird Suite’), Selwyn breezes confidently through a series of joyous, exuberant but consistently musicianly solos, competently shadowed by pianist Paul Sawtell, bassist Bill Coleman and drummer Tony Richards, to the audible satisfaction of an enthusiastic audience.

Those wishing to hear Selwyn in an organ-trio setting, moreover, might like to investigate another Slam CD, The Middle Half, on which Selwyn plays alongside organist John-Paul Gard and drummer Robin Jones. Great playing like this should never really go out of fashion.


Jazzwise magazine moves to new ownership

Jazzwise magazine is under new ownership. The sale of the magazine to the Mark Allen publishing group, whose eponymous Chairman is the driving force behind the Wiltshire Jazz Festival, was completed earlier this week.

It is announced thus in the current edition of the magazine:

"Jazzwise Magazine is on the move. We bid a fond farewell to Suite 21 in Streatham Business Centre and our jazz education colleagues, Charles Alexander, Timna Morgan and Lynn Barrett, from which Jazzwise originally sprung in 1997, and who have done so much to support us through thick and thin. We now take our own giant step as we venture forth to join the Mark Allen Group of magazines at St. Jude's Church on the leafy borders of Brixton and Herne Hill. From the next issue, Jazzwise will be comin' atcha from the Church of Jazz. The service is about to begin..."

Congratulations and very best wishes to all involved.


Our reviewer for the first Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival picks his gigs...

Mike Collins will be our man in Colston Hall Bristol. He'll be catching the vibe and reviewing the first Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival  (March 1st-3rd) for us. Here's his pick of the gigs:

I'm particularly looking forward to

•Ginger Baker's jazz Confusion
•Get the Blessing with Portishead's Adrian Utley
•John Scofield's Organic Trio
•Arturo Sandoval
•The smorgasboard of delights on the free stage.

The full line-up is HERE, and This list is based on a longer preview on Mike Collins' own blog


Lluis Mather, Dan Nicholls, and Percy Pursglove are the first Jazzlines Fellows

Jazzlines Fellows Dan Nicholls, Lluis Mather, Percy Pursglove
Photo credit: John Watson/

It was announced tonight in Birmingham that the inaugural Jazzlines Fellows - a new career development initiative supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation - are:

- pianist/ bandleader Dan Nicholls

- saxophonist Lluis Mather

- trumpeter/bassist Percy Pursglove.

The fellowships start in March and will run for a year. Full story and links are on Peter Bacon's Jazz Breakfast site.


Chris Hyson writes about 'Little Moon Man' - Vortex premiere and download, 25th Feb

Bassist Chris Hyson writes about his set of piano music 'Little Moon Man', played by Kit Downes. The work will be premiered on Monday 25th February at the Vortex, in a double bill with Richard Fairhurst - and available from the same date as a download on iTunes, AmazonMP3, and

How it came about...  

I spent a lot of time experimenting with different musicians and instrumentation to find the right combination for this music. After some time, I came to realise that it was best suited to being played on the piano alone, as that's where I spend a lot of my time composing - alone on the piano.

I got in contact with Kit Downes, a pianist I have always loved as an improviser and a composer and we got together for a day to record it. We were really happy with the outcome so decided to release it for download.

When I write music, I try to be as honest as possible, drawing influence from my own personal life experiences, and the relationships I have with others.

Chris Hyson on Soundcloud


Preview: New Tuesday Jazz Nights at the Shaftesbury Tavern, Hornsey Road N19

Bruno Heinen. Photo Credit: Noemi Caruso
Bruno Heinen Writes...

Starting on the 5th of March, I am starting a Tuesday jazz night with the help of Alex Merritt and Andrea Di Biase at the Shaftesbury Tavern in Crouch Hill, N19. We have got some great acts booked for the first eight weeks.

The thinking behind the night was to give a platform to great musicians that might not play in other circumstances. I.e: foreign musicians: Ben Kraef, Antonio FuscoStefano Carbonelli and Francesco Bigoni or younger up and coming musicians like Miguel Girodi and Dave Ingamells. We also wanted to do some unusual programming like the trumpet and drums duo on 9th April and the solo bass set on 30th of course alongside bands that we admire and want to promote

The night will take place in the Shaftesbury's beautiful ballroom next to an open fire. The pub has a piano, delicious food, great beers and is located close to Archway tube/Crouch Hill overground station or is on the 210 (from Finsbury Park), 91 (from Kings Cross), or 41 bus routes.

All gigs start at 8:30pm with a £5 entry.

5th March:
New Simplicity Quartet
Featuring: Ben Kraef (USA) - Tenor, Bruno Heinen - Pno, Antonio Fusco (Italy) - Dr, and Andrea Di Biase - Bass

12th March:
George Crowley Quartet
Featuring: George Crowley - Tenor, Dan Nicholls - Pno, Sam Lasserson - Bass and, Jon Scott - Dr

19th March:
Alex Merritt Band
Featuring: Alex Merritt - Tenor, Sam Leak - Pno, Nick Costley-White - Gt, Dave Ingamells - Dr, and Andrew Robb - Bass

26th March
Tommy Andrews Band
Featuring: Tommy Andrews - Alto, Rick Simpson - Pno, Nick Costley-White - Gt, Dave Manington - Bass, and Dave Hamblett - Dr

2nd April:
Stefano Carbonelli Quartet
Featuring: Stefano Carbonelli - Gt, Francesco Bigoni - Tenor, Andrea Di Biase - Bass, and Dave Hamblett - Dr

9th April - Double Bill:
Support: Miguel Girodi - Trp/Dave Ingamells - Drums
Main Act: Kristian Borring Trio

16th April:
Simon Roth's 'Stories'
Featuring: Laura Jurd - Trp, Joe Murgatroyd - Clarinets, Joe Wright - Sax, and James Opstad - Bass

23rd April:
Rick Simpson Sextet

30th April - Double Bill
Support: Andrea Di Biase Solo Bass Set
Main Act: Tom Hewson's Treehouse
Featuring: Tom Hewson - Pno, Lewis Wright - Vibes, and Calum Gourlay - Bass


CD Review: Mark Lockheart - Ellington in Anticipation

Mark Lockheart - Ellington in Anticipation
(Subtone Records ST802. CD Review by Chris Parker)

As anyone who’s heard composer/arranger Mark Lockheart’s previous Subtone release, Through Rose-Coloured Glasses (1998), will already know, the ex-Loose Tubes, -Perfect Houseplants and current Polar Bear saxophonist is (like the eponymous inspirer of this album) a superb deployer of individual jazz voices.

Alongside his own poised, assured, emotive tenor, he has assembled a crack band – Finn Peters (alto/flute), James Allsopp (clarinets), Liam Noble (piano), Emma Smith (violin), Tom Herbert (bass) and Seb Rochford drums – able not only to negotiate Lockheart’s subtle (re)arrangements of Ellington classics (the opening ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’ a delightful rhythmical reworking, ‘Come Sunday’ suitably hymnic, yet intensely personal, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Creole Love Call’ intriguingly original reinventions) but also confident enough to stamp their own considerable personalities on the music.

Noble in particular shines throughout, his adventurous playing bringing his own recent Basho explorations of Brubeck’s works to mind, but all the other participants are also tellingly featured on both the Ellington fare and Lockheart’s own compositions, which often teasingly reference the great bandleader’s work (‘My Caravan’, for instance, obliquely incorporates Juan Tizol’s theme only after an absorbing multi-textured collective improvisation) while remaining distinctively Lockheartian: intelligent without ever straying into archness, punchily accessible, but unpredictable and complex.

Powerfully propelled by one of the tightest rhythm sections in UK jazz, this is a rich, rewarding – and often surprisingly radical – set, impeccably performed by a vigorously interactive band.


"Bristol keeps on coming up with things I really want to hear": The Jazz Scene in Bristol

In anticipation of the first Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, Jon Turney writes about who and what give the particular character and vibe to Bristol's jazz scene:

Bristol's first international Jazz and Blues Festival (March 1-3) is going to span an impressive range of music over two-and-a-bit days. Also impressive, I think, is the number of sets on offer from musicians based in and around the city. In various combinations, they make up more than a dozen different bands who will be fitting in sets in the Colston Hall’s splendid new landmark foyer as well as in the main concert spaces.

What makes for a thriving jazz scene like this? I've wondered since I fetched up in Bristol from London a bit over five years ago. OK, I knew that there was jazz outside the capital, in theory. But I was worried there wouldn't be enough good stuff. Surely, just as US jazz players gravitate toward New York, the good ones in the UK make the trek to London?

I quickly learnt it ain't so. Bristol keeps on coming up with things I really want to hear. I should have expected that in a city of nearly half a million. But perhaps there's more to it than that. I’ve a strong impression there’s as much going on here as in much bigger conurbations like Birmingham or Manchester. Is it something in the water? No, growing a nicely working jazz scene seems to need something like this:

- A pool of good musicians. But not too many. When everyone knows everyone else, new combinations arise naturally. That's always happened in jazz, and you can see it happening here all the time. So Dan Moore plays with Andy Sheppard's trio for local pub gigs, The Pushy Doctors, with young alto sax star James Morton in Pork Chop, as well as joining singer Yolanda Quartey in country/soul fusion outfit Phantom Limb. The Festival’s artistic director Denny Illet also plays funk with Morton, pops up again in jazz/cabaret outfit Moscow Drug Club, and has his own trio. Trumpeter Pete Judge is half the horn section in avant rock/jazz favourites Get the Blessing, but can also be heard playing wistfully beautiful acoustic tunes (and lots of other instruments) in Three Cane Whale in the free-spirited duo with drummer Pete Wigens, Eyebrow,and weaving dancing lines into the horn tapestry of Dakhla.

- Reliable rhythm sections. Bassists, pianists, drummers get to play with more people on the whole, so a few key players make a huge contribution to keeping a scene ticking over. Many bands rely on the drum skills of Mark Whitlam, and the keys of the country’s best undiscovered piano player, Jim Blomfield. Bass player about town Will Harris is probably the busiest of all, playing in two or three bands alongside Emily Wright, appearing regularly with trumpeter Andy Hague's quintet, and popping up with any number of bands at the weekly sessions at the bebop club down in Hotwells. Which brings us to…

- Organisers. Andy Hague, as well as leading a long-running, all-star boppish quintet has run the bebop club for many years, and frequently convenes ad hoc ensembles to play new arrangements he has worked up from the many jazz composers whose work he loves and knows inside out. Jim Barr, bassist with Get the Blessing and the (slightly more famous) Portishead has his own studio, which helps get recordings organised, too.

- Venues, and plenty of them. A few have gone on long enough to be heard of out of town, like the aforementioned bebop club at the Bear in Hotwells or the Old Duke in the city centre. But there is hardly a pub, bar or café that hasn’t tried the odd jazz night. I’ve seen good music in at least eight venues I can walk to from my house. There’s certainly no lack of places to try out your new band on a live audience.

- Regular new blood. Infusion in Bristol comes on occasion from Dartington in Devon, and from an excellent jazz course at the Royal Welsh College of Music across the Severn in Cardiff. Some Bristolians like up and coming vocalist Emily Wright (Moonlight Saving Time) finish their musical education there. Other players, like recent Cardiff graduate Dan Messore shift to Bristol because it means they can still keep links forged in Wales, play around the South West, but also make a date in London when they come up. Because…

- It’s not London, but not so far away. Plenty of Bristolians stay in close touch with the local scene while studying in London (young sax exponents James Gardiner-Bateman and Josh Arcoleo come to mind). Others, like the superbly gifted trumpeter Nick Malcolm take the London plunge but keep coming back here to play (in Moonlight Saving Time again).

- Mentors. As well as the newcomers, a healthy scene needs its inspiring elders. Bristol, of course, has one bona-fide international jazz star in Andy Sheppard, who plays regularly in the city when not on tour. He has taken a close interest in James Morton's career. Josh Arcoleo got his early tips from Frome resident and sax legend Pee Wee Ellis. It's another fine jazz tradition. You learn from more experienced players: you pass it on. Iain Ballamy, Jason Rebello, and the great Keith Tippett all live in the South West as well.

- Add all that up, and stir in a little Kevin Figes (saxes), guitarists Jerry Crozier-Cole and Adrian Utley, and keyboard player Mike Willox (a London refugee, plays with everyone),and you account for a very healthy proportion of the festival. That's a pretty healthy scene.

- Oh, and it needs one more thing: someone to tell everyone what all these people are up to that's good, and where to find them playing. That would be Tony Benjamin, Festival trustee, jazz reviewer for the former Venue magazine, and now for theVenue website and the Bristol Post. Tony had a fine 60th birthday party a couple of months back. Who turned out to play? Just Moonlight Saving Time. And Smith and Willox. And Sheelanagig. And Get the Blessing. And an 11-piece Afro-Jazz big band to finish. It was the best possible showcase for a city bursting with jazz talent. All it lacked was an after hours jam session. But the Festival is putting that right, with three of them running after the main evening gigs. I’ll be there, hoping to spot the our best local players discovering the germ of a new idea, or a new band, somewhere Round about midnight…


Review: Steve Grossman / Damon Brown Quintet with Peter King at Pizza Express Dean Street

Steve Grossman, Damon Brown, Peter King.

Steve Grossman/Damon Brown Quintet with Peter King
Pizza Express, Dean St., London, 18th Feb. 2013. Review by Alison Bentley)

A saxophonist friend once spent a summer sharing a flat in Rome with Steve Grossman. When Grossman lent him his sax, he thought he’d do Grossman a favour by cleaning out the nicotine-filled mouthpiece. Grossman was horrified: `You’ve changed my sound, man!’ That was long ago, and fortunately Grossman’s sound was as enthralling as ever for this gig, rich yet acerbic, like whisky and cream. Born in Brooklyn, famous for getting the call from Miles Davis when aged 18, Grossman’s now resident in Italy.

They opened with Grossman’s hard bop Blues for Damon. Trumpeter Damon Brown told us it had been written after Brown had ‘bought him lunch’! With his flowing hair and beard and air of gravitas, Grossman looked and sounded prophetic. He’s named Sonny Rollins as an influence and there was some of the latter’s rhythmic throatiness in the sound.

I’m Confessin’ followed, which Grossman has recorded with gentle trumpeter Tom Harrell. It was interesting to contrast it with Brown`s take on the tune. Brown’s playing is always exhilarating and perfectly-phrased. He was like a jazz raconteur- he repeated a phrase for emphasis, played some robust blasting high notes then ran down the notes, getting quieter and more conspiratorial. You wanted to follow everything he had to say. He was a perfect foil for Grossman’s darker complex harmony, which evoked late Coltrane. You could hear the history (and future) of jazz saxophone in his tobacco tone in the fast swing There`s a Small Hotel. Grossman started playing Charlie Parker aged 8, and everything he played tonight sounded completely natural, as if he’d lived it- toughness and vulnerability in equal parts. Munich’s Martin Zenker played a very agile bass solo with fast bop lines- the audience loved it. East of the Sun and West of the Moon had Brown playing in bright primary colours against Grossman`s chiaroscuro.

UK alto saxist Peter King joined them for the second set. Elvin Jones has called him ‘a master of his instrument’, and his bebop style was incredibly fast and liquid, like the tide rushing in between the chords. Grossman responded boppily with his dry-edged tone. In one interview Grossman has said he never knew what to play for Miles’ rock fusion projects in the early 70s. (Jack Johnson, Live-Evil) After they parted company, Miles wanted him to rejoin the band, but Grossman preferred to stay with Elvin Jones’ groups. He sounded completely at home playing over UK drummer Matt Skelton`s sympathetic swing and Zenker’s strong pulse.

Joyspring, with its upward chord modulations, is uplifting all by itself and to hear these three horn players interpreting the harmony was a revelation. King`s notes seemed to bounce back from the beat. Grossman’s solo had the familiar shape of bebop but with wonderfully unexpected notes. When all three horns improvised together at the end the blend of their distinctive voices was exceptional.

Dave Liebman, who played sax with Grossman on the iconic `Elvin Jones Live at the Lighthouse’ 70s recording, talks of their 60s free jazz influences- you could hear them in Grossman’s elemental, growly split harmonics in On Green Dolphin Street. Edinburgh pianist Paul Kirby played a riveting solo, with his fine Wynton Kelly-ish sense of swing and McCoy Tyner flourishes.

The music felt addictive. It was the fourth outing at Pizza Express for Grossman and Brown, and you can see why Brown says he ‘...looks forward to it all year.’

I’m looking forward to the next one too.


Review: Elaine Delmar at Crazy Coqs

Elaine Delmar at Crazy Coqs.
Photo credit: Marcos Bevilacqua

Review Elaine Delmar
(Crazy Coqs. 19th February 2013. First night of five. Review by Frank Griffith)

Jazz singer extraordinaire Elaine Delmar presided brilliantly at the newly opened Crazy Coqs cabaret venue in the Brasserie Zedel complex in Piccadilly. It’s heartwarming to see that her stint is running a full week (Tuesday- Saturday) with  this being the opening  night. This harks back to the time when all gigs of this nature were week long residencies, a rarity nowadays.

Supported by pianist Brian Dee and Jim Mullen on guitar, Miss Delmar was in top hands throughout as their accompanying skills were evenly matched by their  refreshingly inspired solo forays.

Performing a largely Gershwin programme, Delmar provided the audience with bits of chat about the songs without evolving into lecturing or overegging the pudding. She delivered what the punters wanted. Songs. Her voice and interpretations did not disappoint as her  poised elegance achieved an equal balance of emotion and technical perfection. The inclusion of a few non-Gershwin selections also brought out her versatility. Amongst these were a whirlwind reading of Noel Coward’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen as well as a (double) encore of Murray Grand’s Guess Who I Saw Today (from Broadway’s New Faces of 1952 revue) and Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose to finally close the proceedings. Elaine’s eighty minute show included no less than twenty songs most of which were quite familiar Gershwin titles and clearly satisfied both camps- the jazzer and the “cabaret-ster”.

For this listener, particularly memorable moments were Isn’t It A Pity with Delmar’s searching vocal supported by Jim’s “Mullencholy” guitar. Never one to resist an opportunity to sneak in a cheeky  quote he managed a brief oriental fanfare in reaction to the lyric “Somewhere in China” at the end of the bridge. Classic. The trio’s version of Love Walked In featured a spirited and rollicking solo from Brian Dee, highly regarded as a top vocal accompanist, and longtime pianist with Elaine Delmar.

A superb evening had by all - please book now for this week as seats will go fast, I’m sure.  


News: First Richard Turner Jazz Fund Award Winner Alex Davis

Alex Davis
Photo Credit: Melody McLaren. All Rights Reserved

The First Richard Turner Jazz Fund Award at the Royal Academy of Music has been awarded to Double Bassist Alex Davis.

The fund was set up in memory of Richard Turner, a student at the academy, who died unexpectedly in 2011. The winner is selected by a panel of Richard's family and friends and the head of the college's jazz department, receives a prize of £1000 to help them with their studies and should ideally have a connection to the Yorkshire/Leeds area.

Alex Davis is a student of the academy who has already amassed an impressive resume; in 2010 he joined the Nu Civilisation Orchestra despite only having played the double bass for 6 months. He was playing with the Abram Wilson Quartet in 2011 and 2012.


News: Professor Dave Stapleton

Congratulations to pianist/composer and Artistic Director of Edition Records Dave Stapleton. It just been announced by the Turner Sims Concert Hall that he has been appointed to a professorship at the University of Southampton, on a renewable one-year contract.

The Turner Sims Concert Hall is part of the campus of the University. As part of his duties, Stapleton will be lecturing and mentoring music students.

Stapleton told us:

”This appointment is incredibly exciting and I'm absolutely thrilled to be working with such a prestigious venue such as Turner Sims. They have been consistently putting on some of the best music in the world in both classical and jazz, so it’s a complete honour to work with the venue in this way. The professorship is also closely associated with the music department at Southampton University too so I'm very much looking forward to working with the students not only as a musician but also in the music business and career management.”


Preview: Peter Ibbetson's The Twelveheads at the Amersham Arms

Preview: The Twelveheads (new band from Peter Ibbetson) with Live Recording by Alex Bonney
(Amersham Arms, New Cross, SE14. 5th March 2013 at 8:30pm. Preview by Peter Ibbetson)

Since September 2011, I have been proudly part of the SE Collective, presenting music every week at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, London SE14.

We have been lucky enough to have the likes of Shabaka Hutchings' Sons of Kemet, The Jeff Williams Quintet and Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard. The night has also been a brilliant platform for newer bands from Collective members.

On Tuesday 5h March, I will be presenting my new band there, The Twelveheads is named after a small hamlet in Cornwall, which I used to drive through every day whilst I was studying, and features saxophonists Tom Challenger and Alam Nathoo, bassist Tom Farmer and myself.

Our music is very much influenced by the bands of Jim Black, Tim Berne and John Zorn. Compositionally, I also take influence from the sonic approach of bands such as Mogwai, Tortoise and Radiohead.

I first came across Tom Challenger hearing him in the band OUTHOUSE with guitarist Hilmar Jensson. He brings a brilliant sense of freedom to my music and is able to get to the core and seemingly rip it apart and put it back together in an instant.

Tom Farmer is one of Europe’s most in demand bass players. I was familiar with his playing in the bands Empirical and Dice Factory (both of which have appeared at the Amersham Arms) and more recently his playing with Jeff Williams in George Crowleys new Quartet. Again, his ability and intuition constantly brings new ideas and concepts to my music.'

Alam Nathoo and I have been playing together for almost 4 years, have released an album with Map Trio and are currently planning another record with Tom Hewson and Identity Parade. The trust that I have playing with Alam is rare; he has played a big part in my development as a composer and his approach to my music is constantly inspiring.

I have entrusted the recording duties with Alex Bonney. He has recorded a lot of my favourite London based bands. Check out this site, there are gigs with Tom Rainey, Jeff Williams and the bands of Dave Smith and Rory Simmons. All available to stream. For Free.

I put this group together after experimenting with various line ups and compositions and I now feel that this is a true representation of how I hear my compositions.

The Twelveheads will be playing at the Amersham Arms with Partikel on the 5th of March
Tickets: £5
Starts: 8:30 pm

For more information and live previews go HERE


Richard Williams' new The Blue Moment blog

Richard Williams, who recently left the staff of the Guardian,  started a highly informative music blog earlier this month called The Blue Moment

Posts so far include:

- Drummer Dave King of the Bad Plus

George 'Shadow' Morton

- The ECM exhibition in the Haus der Kunst in Munich

Alexander Hawkins

Rock Critic archives also has an extensive interview with Richard Williams

The blog is named after Williams' 2009 book, putting Miles Davis' Kind of Blue in its wider historical context.