Preview : Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin Festival 5th-8th June

Sebastian writes: 

Next week I'm off for the second year running to the Kesselhaus Kulturbrauerei (above) in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin for the Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin Festival. The programming team based in Strasbourg and led by Philippe Ochem have put together another programme of varied triple-bills, in which (mainly) French and German musicians are combined, juxtaposed, where existing bands appear but also where new collaborations are instigated.

You get the sense of a European crossroads, an openness to influences from all over the place. A place to get a bit of distance from UKIPish isolationism, Farage and his ubiquitous pint.

Yup, I'll enjoy this festival from the very first gig, having listened to - and recently raved about - accordionist Vincent Peirani's album Thrill Box. It will be fascinating to hear Maggie Nicols in the company of two Frenchmen; and the trio of young Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, French guitarist Marc Ducret and the Danish drummer (from Django Bates' trio) Peter Bruun on its second-ever outing is going to produce unfettered energy.


Weds 5th June:

Michel Portal and Vincent Peirani, 20:00 – 21:00
Samuel Blaser/Marc Ducret/Peter Brunn, 21:00 – 22:00
Denis Badault H3B, 22:00 – 23:00

Thurs 6th June:
Actuum, 20:00 – 21:00
Denis Charolles/Maggie Nicols/David Chevallier, 21:00 – 22:00
Heinz Sauer/Daniel Erdmann/Johannes Fink/Christophe Marguet “Special Relativity” 22:00 – 23:00

Fri 7th June:
Wu Wei and Pascal Content, 20:00 – 21:00
Gueorgui Kornazov Horizons Quintet, 21:00 – 22:00
European Saxophone Ensemble, 22:00 – 23:00

Sat 8th June:
Joëlle Léandre and Vincent Courtois, 20:00 – 21:00
J.A.S.S., 21:00 – 22:00
Antoine Berjeaut Wasteland feat. Mike Ladd, 22:00 – 23:00

Festival Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin


Podcast: Interview with Dan Nicholls

Dan Nicholls. Photo credit: Tom Nowell

Pianist and Loop Collective member Dan Nicholls talked to us about his first full-length album Ruins, to be launched tomorrow night (1st June 2013) at the Vortex (where there will also be a visual accompaniment).

In this interview, Dan explains the concept behind the album, the players he worked with, and the intriguing technique of using lo-fi field recordings to provide samples behind the music.

The other musicians on the album are Kit Downes, Shabaka Hutchings, James Allsopp, Dave Smith, and Tom Challenger. It has been produced by Matt Calvert and Dan Nicholls

“This music is always engaging but never obvious. Covering a broad spectrum from complex written material through to spacious improvisation which ranges from the muscular and strident to the subtle, understated and suggestive - truly jazz of the 21st century” - Iain Ballamy

“Listening to this album is a timely reminder of the wide ranging talent and inventive minds that populate the UK jazz scene. These improvisations, compositions and sound sculptures move between many moods yet seem to belong together. A rich sounding palette of colours expertly handled by the kind of virtuoso players who can leave space as well as groove hard.” - Liam Noble

Musical Examples:

Missing in Action at 3:00
Withdrawal at 9:46                                                                                       (pp)


Review: Tom Harrell Quintet at Ronnie Scott's

Tom Harrell. Credit: Claus Willemer. (from
Tom Harrell Quintet
(Ronnie Scott’s, Tuesday 28th May 2013 (2nd of two performances). Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

Few people would fit the “jazz hero” mould less than Tom Harrell. And yet, the 66-year-old, white-bearded musician with a well-documented mental illness is a god to many trumpet players; listeners young and old came out in force for his two rare shows at Ronnie Scott’s this week.

Harrell is revered, not for playing fast, high or loudly, but for his supremacy at fashioning astonishingly beautiful aural shapes with a tone of immense gentleness and depth. The audience at Ronnie’s may have been familiar with his compositions including Sail Away and the superb arrangements on the recording Time’s Mirror, while many will have remembered his fine work in the 70’s alongside Bob Berg in Horace Silver’s band, and a decade later with Phil Woods. His essence, however, is most apparent in the small groups that he leads. His current quintet – together since 2006 - operates with the calm, quiet authority that comes from the best, most experienced groups and it represents a pinnacle in his magnificent career.

Harrell, characteristically, stood with his head bowed as Trances began with a solo by Johnathan Blake. The piece unfolded, the two horn-men sprang into life and London-born tenor player Wayne Escoffery launched into a fast, complex solo that echoed Coltrane’s Eastern influences. Embraceable You, a duet for the bass of Ugonna Okegwo (also originally from London) and flugelhorn, was the one piece not composed by Harrell. It was notable because the melody was virtually unrecognisable and the leader lapsed briefly into cliché, but even that came with style. Elsewhere, his improvisations were typically crammed with quicksilver runs, audacious pauses and brief quotations, constructed with masterful elan. The first set ended with a funky, earthy Terrestris that, in sharp contrast to Harrell’s incisiveness, brought another torrent of ideas from Escoffery.

The second half included the lovely ballad Present – played as a quartet without Escoffery – and highlighted Harrell’s majestic tone on the piece’s stately descending line. Using Fender Rhodes, Danny Grissett was hugely impressive, and throughout the gig he delivered work that sparkled with restrained energy and assurance. The second-ever performance was given of a new composition, Sound Image, during which spiky phrases were mixed with an eloquent fluency. At a point in Harrell’s solo on Del Centro, there was an instant of sheer magic: he produced a high-ish note, held for a few seconds, that was unspeakably, outrageously brilliant. Fleetingly out of context, it suddenly became inevitable, irreplaceable and perfect, a square peg thrust into a round hole with no gaps around the edges. Goosebumps were vindicated by gasps from around the room, followed at the end of the solo by the kind of cheers that are reserved for the biggest thrills. Here, Whitney Balliett’s seldom-realised “sound of surprise” was made flesh. Such moments earn Tom Harrell his place among the greatest of trumpet players.

Tom Harrell – trumpet, flugelhorn
Wayne Escoffery– tenor saxophone
Danny Grissett – piano
Ugonna Okegwo – bass
Johnathan Blake – drums

Trances (Tom Harrell)
Bouquet (Tom Harrell)
Embraceable You (George Gershwin)
Terrestris (Tom Harrell)
Del Centro (Tom Harrell)
Present (Tom Harrell)
Sound Image (Tom Harrell)
No. 5 (Tom Harrell)


Ranjana Ghatak previews Open Souls: Fri 7th June Bishopsgate Inst

Vocalist Ranjana Ghatak writes about Open Souls, a collaboration with Jason Singh and Seb Rochford, part of the Spitalfields Summer Festival. Friday 7 June, 8.00pm-10.00pm at Bishopsgate Institute:

I'm really looking forward to the gig, it's always a lot of fun playing with this band! We're all fans of the festival, we have taken part in it in different guises - so what an honour to be playing the opening night!

I was born and raised in London, my parents came over from Kolkata in India over 40 years ago. I grew up listening to a lot of Indian classical and folk music, in addition to jazz, classical and pop. I studied music in school till I was 18, alongside learning Indian vocal music in London. I then went to India and started learning with Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty when I was 22. That time really opened things up for me, and really started to understand the voice and connect with a particular sound.

Open Souls is a bit of a dream for me, as its a sound that I really connect to. It's a soundscape made up of textures and worlds that we all feel very close to.

We released a FREE DOWNLOAD a week ago, that is a taster of some of what next week will be about.

We came together as a band 2 years ago, almost by accident. I had been collaborating with Jason Singh, and both he and Seb Rochford independently spoke highly of each other's music and playing. They had decided to have a jam one Sunday afternoon, and I went along to meet them in order to go to a gig together. The jam was in full flow when I got there, and Jason passed me the mic. We carried on playing for a while, and it felt incredibly natural. About an hour later, Open Souls was born!

I've been touring with this band, in addition to playing with a quartet that I have with Asaf Sirkis, Ruth Goller and Nick Ramm. I recently came back from Holland, touring a project led by Maarten Ornstein which guested Shabaka Hutchings and myself.

The Spitalfields Music team have been amazing to work with. Really supportive, and they've been very open in thinking creatively about the performance which is a real treat.

We've been developing material over the the last year, and looking forward to sharing it next week.

More information / tickets


Review: Edwards/ Parker/ Prévost Trio with Alexander von Schlippenbach at Café Oto

Edwards/Parker/Prévost Trio with Alexander von Schlippenbach at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Edwards/Parker/Prévost Trio with Alexander von Schlippenbach
(Day 2 of 3 day residency at Café Oto, 28 May 2013; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

When four musicians with unbounded musical imaginations get together, there are bound to be fireworks. In the case of this tremendous quartet, with jazz at its core, they were definitely friendly fireworks.

Evan Parker and Alexander von Schlippenbach have played together for over 40 years - notably in an evergreen trio with Paul Lovens and in the pianist's Globe Unity Orchestra which Parker first joined in 1973. There was no sign of any slowing down in this creative engagement, more a sharpened clarity and commitment that reflected their inspirations and the fruits of their explorations.

Eddie Prévost has recently been flitting from highly abstract, esoteric meta-music to the demanding side of jazz. The latter was much in evidence as he ramped up the ante with shades of Elvin Jones. John Edwards, the nominal younger statesman of the group, never takes 'yes, that'll do' for an answer - he pushed and connected ultra-intuitively with the emerging rhythms and figures, and even adopted the tonal qualities of other instruments in a chameleon flux.

Von Schlippenbach, guest of the British trio for the evening, opened with an entrancing ten minute solo, in which he mined the resonances of Café Oto's new Yamaha piano, in similar spirit to Keith Tippett a few weeks earlier, the ethereal and the hyper-energetic blending across the bass and treble registers, as he built up and dissolved melodic pathways with calm, precise intent. He then cued in first Edwards through an extended tightrope of a duet, then Prévost who picked up with a spell of perpetual motion, before Parker completed the circle to deliver a resounding classic quartet performance.

Parker, in interview last year (HERE), spoke of Coltrane as "the core of the reason I play" and this came through loud and clear without any cramping of Evan's own personal language, as did another key reference - Pharaoh Sanders' solo with Mantler's JCOA - uncannily evoked when the quartet briefly blazed with the power of a dragster ahead of a notably delicate piano and brushes passage and a delightfully dextrous, lucid piano stretch which owed more to Bartok than Brubeck.

A dramatic, studied pounding of the piano's lower innards was met with a gravelly, cheese grater response from Edwards and Prévost's fluttering mallets. Monk and Ellington echoed through a magically sensitive von Schlippenbach solo break and the foursome whipped up a full sonic tornado for their rumbustuous finale.

Evan Parker: tenor saxophone
John Edwards: double bass
Eddie Prévost: drums, percussion
Alexander von Schlippenbach: piano


Review/Roundup: ELBJAZZ Festival in Hamburg

ELBJAZZ 2013. Photo credit: Christian Spahrbier

Oliver Weindling writes about the fourth ELBJAZZ Festival in Hamburg...

ELBJAZZ, a huge, packed two-day festival in Hamburg, in one of the most prosperous cities in Germany, is based around the city's traditional core, the docks. There are twelve stages, attracting 10000 people a day. But there are surprising things in common with Inntoene, which I had been to (AND WRITTEN ABOUT) on the same trip. While totally different in magnitude, both intriguingly have one strong similarity: they use venues which are not supposed to be for music. Inntoene converts a barn; the larger venues for ELBJAZZ are in a shipyard on one bank of the river Elbe. Closer to the Reeperbahn, the Fish Market Hall is a working fish market and music venue. On Saturday night, after the final music (of Jan Bang’s Punkt remix with Arve Henriksen and Stian Westerhus), the hall had to be emptied fast to make way for the fish market on Sunday morning. You go from one side of the river to the other either by boat or by using the 100 year old foot tunnel.

The inspiration for the festival comes from café owner Tina Heine who felt four years ago that the city lacked a focus for jazz. But while we have a hugely successful festival creatively and audience wise, there is still a gap between what happens in terms of gigs day in, day out in the city. Indeed the closure of the club Birdland after 25 years has just been announced. And Hamburg is, surely, more than a “2 day a year” jazz city? The radio station NDR broadcasts around 7 hours of jazz a week and has one of the best big bands going. We heard this most obviously when we heard the band playing the arrangements by local musician Wolf Kerschek who has just been awarded the Hamburg Jazz Prize, worth €10000. The concert even included a lively cameo by Trilok Gurtu.

Awarded biennially by the Dr. E. A. Langner Foundation, it's such a great opportunity to give to a young musician. And that’s just a prize for one city among the many throughout Germany. If only sponsors over here were to recognise its value. Awards, rather than just grants, help self-esteem and also give a guide to us novices on the German scene as to what might be worth checking out more.

To the credit of Tina and her team, they have managed to create a festival with many less well known and innovative acts. There are of course the big stars. Here the biggest was Jamie Cullum playing the music from his latest album Momentum. Even in the cold of the Friday evening, Jamie was able to communicate with his audience. I am particularly impressed how he manages to add extras which are all basically musical, such as playing inside the piano. And he has a great responsive band, using Rory Simmons, Tom Richards, Chris Hill and Bradley Webb.

Before him, we had heard Joshua Redman’s band, with Aaron Goldberg, for me a master of polyrhythms, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson. Having been on the European road for the past couple of weeks, their performances of their new material were mesmerising and so energetic that they were sweating in their T shirts, despite the coldness.

The festival has a very strong European side and focuses on the unexpected. So, for example, this year they have begun an exchange with the jazz festival in Copenhagen, in anticipation of the building of a new bridge over the short strip of water between Denmark and Germany. The journey between the two cities will be less than 3 hours (instead of around 5 as at present.)

The Danes brought over seven bands and there will be an ELBJAZZ stage at this year’s Copenhagen festival. Cleverly one part of their participation was a series of children’s concerts on a stage by the Elbe. The idea of bringing jazz to children seems to be particularly strong in Denmark and I recall once hearing a lively show led by Marilyn Mazur in a witch’s hat. Unfortunately these concerts suffered from the bad weather that struck on Saturday afternoon. I managed to catch pianist Johanna Borchert (whom some will have seen here as a member of Schneeweiss und Rosenrot earlier this year) and Jacob Munck, who used his armory of brass instruments to create sounds and music inspired by seagulls, pigs and other sundry animals suggested by his audience.

A few other countries’ scenes were well represented, especially the Dutch, Norwegian and British. It also respects the history of European jazz innovation. So, it was possible to see the European Jazz Ensemble, created by Ali Haurand in 1976, including Clark Tracey, Steve Melling and Stan Sulzmann. Though its arrangements were a bit caught in a time warp, it had some great soloing. Alan Skidmore sent me back to some of the old recordings of SOS (with Surman and Osborne). Saturday's programme included the peerless Schlippenbach Trio who have been playing together for over 40 years at the pinnacle of the free improvised scene.

Tin Man and the Telephone

Two Dutch bands caught my ear, both of whom played the Machine Hall. Tin Men and The Telephone had played the Match & Fuse Festival at the Vortex last year and they certainly didn’t disappoint holding a rapt audience of nearly 1000. They achieved this through a performance which matched the music to subtle humour and a strong visual awareness, unusually for a piano trio, the drummer and pianist actually face away from each other. Their videos interactively respond to their playing. They also manage to use the Steve Reichian concept of creating melodic lines from spoken phrases (such as the answer machines when put on hold by the Dutch phone company).

Boi Akih, based around the singer Monica Akihary, does an alternative take on a number of bluesier numbers, including Hendrix and David Crosby. Her guitarist Niels Brouwer has a fascinating guitar including sympathetically-resonant strings. Yado Gibson, a saxophonist who was for some time part of the London Improvisers Orchestra circle, provided some striking interplay on saxophones. In attitude, rather than in particular sound, I was reminded of Christine Tobin’s work - arrangements that they make you reassess and give you a version which matches and even, at times, exceeds the originals.

Both these concerts were in the Machine Hall of the shipyard. Despite its full size of 100 metres, the way that the space was cut to make it work for a smaller capacity and the excellent p.a. made it, for me, the best of the venues there. It also has something which should be on the wish list for any self-respecting jazz venue: a crane.

Marius Neset’s problems on one of the outdoor stages - that he more than overcame - were not just weather-created. The band started their set as a trio, since Ivo Neame had been delayed at Heathrow. But by the end of the first tune pianist Ivo Neame had arrived and it lifted the show by many notches. Marius was able to launch into his trademark performance of spellbinding virtuosity. Ivo acts as as a great foil in being able to give a harmonic and sonic depth to the show. Unfortunately, because he had not properly sound checked the full band, the balance was at times painful on the ears.

Much of my second day was spent around the St Pauli Fish Market. Among the performers there were a project of Trilok Gurtu with a number of trumpeters. His collaboration with Ibrahim Maalouf was particularly effective.

My forays away from there were particularly to a nearby church to hear Mary Halvorson Trio. A breathtaking performance because the way in which she, John Hébert and Ches Smith interact sucks us in and we join them happily meandering through every circuitous byway. She'll be back at the Vortex with Tom Rainey in June - not to be missed.

The other performance I really enjoyed in there was by Simon Nabatov with Nils Wogram. Simon Nabatov is the jazz Rachmaninov. A virtuoso technique formidably deployed to jazz like very few others. Trombonist Wogram is able to let us relax from time to time, but can match him note for note when required. Fortunately a good piano allowed the duo to show their skills to the full. Note to classical venues, such as King’s Place and The Forge: book this duo as soon as you can. Nabatov hasn’t played London for too long!

Troyka was on in Golem, a much smaller venue over the road from the Fish Market. They followed a trio where Christian Lillinger, one of the best young drummers out of Berlin and usually part of Hyperactive Kid, shone. Troyka itself had been on quite a mini-tour over the past three days. Bergen and Chemnitz before they got to Hamburg. In a small club which took no more than perhaps 70, and I know that for Kit it had meant an early morning dash after a gig at the Vortex immediately before with Ben van Gelder. And they had that perfect balance of tightness and freedom as they ran through much of their new material ahead of a new release next year. Pleasing that they’ll be showing off this material soon at the upcoming Match & Fuse Festival. (Other British bands at ELBJAZZ included Roller Trio and Get The Blessing, but times were such that I couldn't get to them.)

So a spectacular weekend where the music and atmosphere were so strong that the numbers seemed undiminished by neither the wet and windy weather (Sorry, Tina, but I had to mention it) nor the Champions League final with two German teams. Thank goodness that we have such a great weekend of music. Let's hope it can be translated to give a new impetus to the ravaged club scene Perhaps a small part of the budget for the new Elbphilharmonie, budgeted to cost €800 million, could be diverted to our 'cause'?

You can catch a bit of Jamie’s performance on HERE

There will be an all night special devoted to the festival on NDR in September and a special report on WDR. 


CD Review: Martin Speake - Always a First Time

Martin Speake - Always a First Time
(Pumpkin 005. CD Review by Chris Parker)

‘We all played from the heart. I hope you can feel that when you listen’ is Martin Speake’s comment on this, his latest recording, a double CD featuring his lyrical, clear-toned but surprisingly robust alto playing alongside the multi-textured electric guitar of Mike Outram and the subtly assertive drumming of Jeff Williams.

The most obvious template for such a band is of course the Paul Motian Trio (featuring tenor player Joe Lovano and guitarist Bill Frisell) of a couple of decades back, and there are moments (especially during the albums’ numerous standards – cf. the Motian trio’s various ‘On Broadway’ recordings – but also on ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’) where Frisell’s ‘flames flickering from a log’ sound and Motian’s rustling, controlled vigour are echoed by this trio; overall, though, Speake’s playing is what draws the ear: a heartfelt, occasionally plaintive but always vigorous and eloquent sound.

On material ranging from Ornette-ish stridency and pep to hushed ballads, the trio demonstrate appropriate versatility and flexibility, bouncing ideas off each other in a conversational manner that demonstrates not only their mutual understanding but also their hair-trigger sensitivity to the nuances of their material, standard or original. Infused with the pleasing informality that results from playing ‘live’ in the studio – ‘Mike, Jeff and I all played in the same room with no headphones and almost every tune was a first take’ – these two CDs comprehensively vindicate Speake’s belief in the value of ‘the close communication that improvising musicians need with each other to create freely’.


Three portraits of Mulgrew Miller at Brecon by William Ellis

Mulgrew Miller at Brecon 2007. Photo credit William Ellis. All rights reserved

This morning the jazz world comes to terms with the loss of a master, a central figure at the too early age of 57. Here is Mulgrew Miller, a welcome visitor to Europe, and to Brecon where photographer William Ellis took these photos in 2002 and 2007, reproduced here with his kind permission. (All enquiries about them to William directly). There are superb homages out there from Peter Hum and Bruno Pfeiffer (in French). In sadness.

Mulgrew Miller at Brecon 2007. Photo credit William Ellis. All rights reserved

Mulgrew Miller at Brecon 2002. Photo credit William Ellis. All rights reserved


CD Review: Maurizio Minardi - The Cook, the Clown, the Monk and the Accordionist

Maurizio Minardi The Cook, the Clown, the Monk and the Accordionist
(MM11/Belfagor. CD Review by Alison Bentley)

Italian London-resident accordionist Maurizio Minardi reveals his cinematic influences in the title of his new CD. He pays tribute to Michael Nyman and the latter’s soundtrack for the film The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover.

Minardi himself makes charmingly surreal short films to accompany his own music. In The Cook in Love, the band plays in the kitchen of a French restaurant, the Cook chopping in time to the swing beat. There's almost a parody of Nyman's string writing here- when transferred to accordion the repeated chords have real panache. There’s some fine swing drumming from Jason Reeve (he plays on about half the tracks) that can only be described as cheeky. The ensemble playing in the slow romantic section is exquisite, as the Cook falls for Shirley Smart's rich cello tone- though in the film she's bowing an umbrella.

The film for Penguin has the band in penguin suits- tuxes- and huge penguin masks to accompany the strong melody. The accordion seems to bring out the melodist in Minardi- his previous album My Piano Trio seemed to use more repeated motifs and chords. However, The Black Book and The Gambling Queen have insistent chord patterns redolent of both Bach and Steve Reich.

Three pieces, The Monk's Escape, The Monk Abandoned and The Monk is Back are so visual, you can almost imagine the film as you listen. As the Monk escapes the theme speeds up like a Greek dance, before tumbling nervily to a halt. The accordion and cello improvise darkly over Marco Quarantotto's splashy cymbals. We feel the Monk's solitude in the Piazzolla-like, melancholic interplay of accordion and cello. Ennio Morricone is one of Minardi's influences, and there are overtones of Morricone's writing for the film Cinema Paradiso. The Monk returns to Phillip Glass-like chords with Gypsy jazz flourishes and strong swing. Dirty Clown has a gamine charm, like Yann Martel's accordion waltz theme for Amelie (another film composer admired by Minardi). But there's a jazzier, tenser section with a fine drum solo from Quarantotto.

Italian folk is also in the mix: Marcello has comic moments, drawing on ragtime rhythms held together by Nick Pini's strong bass pulse. The Taming of the Shrew could almost be a tarantella dance, played in Southern Italy to exorcise a spider's bite. The frenetic tune stays on a very tense chord, as the drums bring a jazzy, almost funky feel. The tune that gets under the skin is Five is Better Than Four. It brings a lump to the throat like a half-remembered song from childhood. It recalls the haunting work of Argentinian bandoneón-player Dino Saluzzi. Minardi's accordion keeps the 5/4 beat while the restless jazz-inflected bass and funk-ish drums play uneasily across the bar- but the melody is what stays with you.

This is a beautiful album, weaving together jazz, folk and minimalist Classical music- the evocative melodies conjure up lasting images of comedy and pathos.

See the group on Fri 7th June at the Vortex, Dalston


Jazz Times and New York Times report death of Mulgrew Miller (1955-2013)

The New York Times and Jazz Times both report the death following a stroke of one of the greats of our time, and still playing phenomenally until very recently, Mulgrew Miller at the age of 57.


News: Jazz Ex-Temporé/Andrea Vicari - UK Tours in June & October

Jazz Ex-Temporé, fresh off their recent European tour (including dates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Italy, have announced a UK-wide tour in June and October, with the recording of their second album - after the first Round Trip - taking place shortly afterwards.

The group, formed as a cultural exchange between Croatia and other European countries, features Andrea Vicari from the UK on piano, Croatia-born Elvis Stanic on guitar and accordion, Rico de Jeeron from Holland/Indonesia on bass, and Bulgarian Hristo Yotsov on drums.


Wednesday June 5th: 606 Jazz Club, London, 7.30pm
Thursday June 6th: The Spin, Oxford, 9pm
Friday June 7th: The Verdict, Brighton, 7pm
Saturday June 8th: Jazz Cafe Posk, London, 9pm
Sunday June 9th: Hideaway Jazz Club, London, 2pm

Wednesday October 23rd: The Cask Inn, Scarborough, 8.45pm
Thursday October 24th: Bonington Theatre, Arnold, 8pm (0115 9560733)
Friday October 25th: Wakefield Sports Club, Wakefield, 8.30pm (01977 680542)
Sunday October 27th: Herts Jazz Club, Welwyn Garden City, 8pm


Preview: The Buck Clayton Legacy Band with Michael Roach at Music in the Garden, Wavendon, June 8th.

Michael Roach at Cheltenham 2013. Photo credit: John Watson

Goin’ To Kansas City! Alyn Shipton writes about the Buck Clayton Legacy Band, the singer Michael Roach (above), and previews the band's appearance on the opening day of Music in the Garden at Wavendon:

Back in the 1980s, when I was working in New York, one of my projects was to try to gather up the life stories of as many of the swing and early jazz pioneers who were still around, and get them published. It was just the moment when the generation of men and women who had first forged jazz were still around to tell their tales, and in the end I did books with (among others) Ellingtonian clarinettist Barney Bigard, New Orleans veteran Danny Barker, territory bandleader Andy Kirk, Goodman alumnus Art Rollini, bebop drummer Roy Porter, and Decca’s house pianist Sammy Price. All of them — except Barney, who died before the project was finished — became friends. However one musician became not just a friend, but a mentor: trumpeter, arranger and bandleader Buck Clayton. When he died, he left me a collection of his music, and in 2004 I formed a band with German saxophonist Matthias Seuffert, to play Buck’s compositions and keep his memory alive. In the last nine years it has gone from strength to strength, with a CD Claytonia about to appear, and a successful tour last year with Gwyneth Herbert doing the Peggy Lee repertoire, with charts by the likes of Billy May, Jack Marshall and Quincy Jones, written for a band of just this size.

But there’s one thing I knew was missing. In my New York days, at Buck’s behest, I went down to Fat Tuesday’s to hear Big Joe Turner singing the blues with Jay McShann. There’s a spine-tingling thrill hearing a K.C. blues shouter projecting over a band and singing his heart out about lost love, too much time spent drinking, or just the beauty of the moon shining through the trees. I knew that this was a kind of music I wanted to play with the band, not least because Buck had written some splendid charts not only for Turner, but for Little Jimmy Rushing and Jimmy Witherspoon. Yet there was a big problem. Since Humph toured in the sixties with all three of those aforementioned blues singers, nobody has specialised in this repertoire.

Quite by chance, blues expert Paul Oliver introduced me to a country blues singer called Michael Roach, who had moved to the UK. He’d grown up in Washington D.C., and at the very time I was collecting the tales of elderly jazz musicians, Michael was out meeting the pioneers of the blues. He learned this music from the likes of Henry Townsend, John Jackson, and — significantly Jay McShann and Sammy Price. So, earlier this year I called Michael and asked him if he’d like to try his hand at singing the K. C. blues with the band. To my great surprise, he not only agreed, but told me his family used to have all the records by Buck’s band with the great blues singers, and he knew the music well. So, our trombonist Adrian Fry and trumpeter Menno Daams updated charts by Buck and Ernie Wilkins to fit our nine-piece line-up, and we launched the show at this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Cheltenham just happens to be Michael’s adopted home town, and the art-deco Daffodil was just the place to revive the ambience of K.C. speakeasies. It seems the Gloucestershire Echo thought so too, as their critic wrote: “Hallelujah! The Buck Clayton Legacy Band delivered [and] the naturalised Cheltonion has a fine feel for authentic phrasing and rhythm - plus a high sense of humour.”

We’ll be playing this programme again as often as Michael’s own touring schedule allows, but the next outing is on the opening day of Music in the Garden at Dame Cleo Laine’s house, next door to the Stables at Wavendon.



Happy 100th Birthday Rite of Spring - with The Bad Plus

The art of the misprint. Not "On scared ground" but "SACRED". The Bad Plus have done this re-imagining for a ballet with Mark Morris, which will get some more perfomances in Berkeley in California soon. Video has entire 38 minutes.


Preview: Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. 19-28th July

Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra

Former Londoner now resident in Edinburgh, Patrick Hadfield previews his five most anticipated gigs of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival which runs from the 19-28th July...

With over 120 concerts spread over ten days at the end of July, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival - now in its thirty fifth year - goes from strength to strength. This year they're branching out into several new venues, a full daytime programme in a former church, and taking the show on the road with gigs in nearby cities and towns. The festival covers every jazz genre with gigs for every possible taste - from trad and Dixie through mainstream to full improvisation and clubs sounds, a full programme of blues gigs, and lots of free events too!

With so much going on, here are five gigs I'm looking forward to...

-  Pianist Brian Kellock, recently heard on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's well-received "The Spirit of Duke" CD, is bringing over Daniel Franck (bass) and Niclas Camapgnol (drums) from Denmark, where he regularly plays. Kellock often starts a theme before heading off on an imaginative tangent; whilst drawing on standards, Kellock plays inventive music across several jazz styles.

-  One of the things EJF does really well is putting together artists in novel combinations. Last year's revelation was an amalgam of Scottish musicians Colin Steele and Dave Milligan and the Enzo Favata Quartet, hailing from Sardinia and Italy. What started as a one off event grew into a lasting relationship, with Steele and Milligan joining Favata for gigs in Italy, and this year they are back in Edinburgh as Stone Islands. Both sides of the equation are firmly rooted in their respected folk musics, and together they create something new.

-  Neil Cowley Trio were last in Scotland last September, when they played two gigs on Islay. Their concert on Saturday 27 July at 3 Bristo Place promises to be equally intimate. Their exciting mix of melodic riffs and dynamic rhythms managed to be both popular and emotional. Cowley's very physical playing combined with Evan Jenkins' powerful drumming and Rex Horan's bass produces energetic and powerful music.

-  The highlight of the festival may well be a rare performance of Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert. In the suitable setting off a former church, this gig features Stan Tracey, a superb interpreter of Ellington, together with an orchestra comprising the cream of Scottish jazz musicians and a range of international guests, with the voices of Scottish Chamber Orchestra Choir. Much of the music may be familiar, though the settings more formal than the Ellington originals on which they are based, the three Sacred Concerts mark the apotheosis of Ellington's spiritual music, and the opportunity to here a live performance should not be missed.

-  Closing the festival is another musician known for bringing a spiritual dimension to his music, Pharoah Sanders. Playing with his quartet, and supported by Phil Bancroft's new quartet. Sanders is now one of the grand old men of jazz, his career spanning five decades; his playing, still muscular, has mellowed since his days as a firebrand on the fringes of the free movement.

Brian Kellock Copenhagen Trio - 7pm, Friday 19 July at 3 Bristo Place

Stan Tracey & Ellington Sacred Concert - 8pm, Wednesday 24 July at the Queen's Hall

Stone Islands - Enzo Favata, Dave Milligan, Colin Steele - 8pm, Thursday 25 July at the Queen's Hall

Neil Cowley Trio - 9.30pm, Sautrday 27 July, at 3 Bristo Place

Pharoah Sanders Quartet, 8.30pm, Sunday 28 July at 3 Bristo Place


Video: Becki Biggins meets Emily Wright of Moonlight Saving Time

On video, Emily Wright (of the band Moonlight Saving Time) being interviewed by Becki Biggins.

The interview covers the history of the band so far, past gigs and reviews (with a special mention given to our very own Alison Bentley for her review of the group here), a recent play for the band's music on Radio 3, the self-titled EP, the summer tour (dates HERE), and more. Watch very closely, and it transpires that the tea-cups (and/or Emily and/or Becki) have magical properties. 


Preview: My Jazz Islands Festival in Sardinia and London

Preview: My Jazz Islands Festival
(Cagliari, Sardinia, 20th-22nd June 2013 & Pizza Express, London, 11-13 Nov. 2013. Preview by Alison Bentley)

  Spring can really hang you up the most, as the song says- especially when it blows hot and cold. Summer's already arrived in Sardinia, and they're organising a Jazz Festival to celebrate the solstice and full moon ('plenilunio'-even the word makes you feel relaxed). The venue is the Lazzaretto di Cagliari Centre, a beautiful, ancient hospital building, recently restored to house artistic events in its cloisters. It's right on the sea, below the historic city of Cagliari.

The festival's  'jazz islands' are Sardinia and the UK. Singer, actor and theatre director Filomena Campus is from the former, but lives mostly in London.  She and Nicola Spiga of the Forma e Poesia nel Jazz Association have created the festival to bring British and Italian musicians together. The second part is in London in November.

  Thurs 20th June  22.30: Antonello Salis + Orphy Robinson.

Antonello Salis is a superb accordionist and pianist who combines jazz and and folk styles with no-holds-barred  anarchic improvisation.  He's worked with Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Pat Metheny, Nana Vasconcelos. Orphy Robinson is one of the finest jazz vibes players around, famous on the UK scene since his 1980s work with Courtney Pine in the Jazz Warriors. Virtuosic and versatile, he's played with everyone from Andy Sheppard to Nigel Kennedy. Salis and Robinson have both worked with just too many acclaimed musicians to list- it’ll be exciting to hear them together.

  Fri. 21st June 21.30  Filomena Campus 'Jester of Jazz' Qt. (with UK's Steve Lodder, piano; Dudley Philips, bass; Martin France, drums) + Antonello Salis. 

Filomena Campus is a wonderfully dynamic and passionate performer- you may have seen one of her gigs at London's Pizza Express with fellow Sardinian Paolo Fresu. She's as much at home singing jazz arrangements of Sardinian traditional songs as she is improvising freely- she studied with the great Maria Pia de Vito. Lodder (Andy Sheppard sideman), Phillips and France (both play with Mark Lockheart and John Parricelli)) are well-established on the London scene.

  Sat 22nd June 21.30  Stefano Benni + Filomena Campus Qt. (with Orphy Robinson)

Renowned Italian novelist, playwright and poet Stefano Benni joins Campus' Quartet. He's no stranger to performing with jazz musicians (he's toured with Paolo Fresu) and on this gig he'll be performing a dialogue with Orphy Robinson, as well as singing traditional Italian songs arranged for jazz quartet by Dudley Phillips. Campus directed Benni's play about Thelonious Monk, Misterioso, at London's Riverside Studios in 2009.

There'll be exhibitions, video artists, book presentations and food events throughout the festival too.

  Part 1: Jun. 20-22
Lazzaretto di Cagliari
Via dei Navigatori
09126 Cagliari
Tickets 0039070567438, or on the door.

  Part 2: Nov. 11-13 Pizza Express Dean Street

Features Giorgio Serci, Adriano Adewale, Filomena Campus Qt., Paolo Fresu, Clevland Watkiss

LE MIE ISOLE on Filomena Campus' website



Gary Burton and Julian Lage in Session for Jazz on 3 (and Hessische Rundfunk)

Civilized conversation in three, between the vibes master Gary Burton and his young guitarist colleague Julian Lage. To see Gary Burton in a larger context, Hessische Rundfunk have put out nearly two hours on the Arte channel. (FOLLOW LINK).


Book Review: Ronnie Scott with Mike Hennessey - Some of My Best Friends are Blues

Ronnie Scott with Mike Hennessey - Some of My Best Friends are Blues
(Northway, 126pp., £13.99. Book Review by Chris Parker)

This is a second (casebound) reprint of Ronnie Scott’s book about his early jazz life and the opening of the Soho club that still bears his name. As the 2004 Preface by Scott’s partner Pete King suggests, the UK jazz scene was slowly transformed by their initiative, from one in which ‘modern’ jazz was a minority taste that needed to be preached to a suspicious listening public, judiciously mixed with ‘pops of the day and sets of waltzes’, to a situation where the music could be heard on its own terms in ‘a scruffy Gerrard Street basement’, albeit by audiences, initially, containing ‘more musicians ... than paying customers’. King, in particular, was also largely responsible for working towards the lifting of the Musicians’ Union ban on foreign jazz musicians playing on UK soil, so that by the book’s end (1979) Cedar Walton, Johnny Griffin, Houston Person, Art Blakey and Scott Hamilton were just some of the many Americans whose music had been presented at Ronnie Scott’s, now relocated to its present premises in Frith Street.

Much of this story, these days, is of course available in other historical sources, but this book’s USP is the ‘voice’ of Scott himself: Benny Green, in a characteristically astute introduction, recalls that ‘Ronnie ... was possessed of an intense romanticism about jazz while, at the same time, having an utterly realistic approach to playing it ... [an] apparent contradiction ... [that] always resolves itself into a series of idealistic actions accompanied by a running barrage of his own sardonic self-criticism’. Accordingly, Scott baldly states at the outset that the club’s one concern was always to ‘provide good musicians with a decent place to play and jazz enthusiasts with a congenial environment in which to hear good music’, but immediately allows said realism to temper such enthusiasm: ‘At that time trad bands were drawing all the crowds, and beboppers reacted to public indifference by taking refuge in a kind of haughty elitism ... the trouble with being a haughty elitist is that it is not only impossible to make a living, but it is also extremely difficult to find somewhere where you can be musically elite in public.’

Undeterred, however, Scott and King carry out their plans, and the book, by recording Scott’s own account of his journey – via Geraldo’s Navy, the foundation of the Club Eleven, his participation in groups such as the Jazz Couriers, and the various vicissitudes and (occasional) unalloyed joys involved in running a jazz club – from the East to the West End of London, shines a typically vivid, racy, intensely personal sidelight on a crucially important period in UK jazz history. Illustrated by Mel Calman and containing, at the end of each chapter, ‘Interludes’ composed of jokes and terse asides that will bring back fond memories of the man himself to anyone who attended the club in the days when, leaning (cigarette in hand) against a pillar in front of the stage, he’d introduce musicians with remarks such as: ‘And now it’s a great honour to welcome back to the club the great Von Freeman, and the man who he fondly believes is his son, Chico’, Some of My Best Friends are Blues is a highly entertaining and revealing account of the birth pangs, delivery and subsequent careful nurturing of an establishment that now plays an indispensable role in the UK (and world) jazz scene.


Video Interview with Norma Winstone from IF Music

An interview with Norma Winstone produced by record store IF Music UK, and filmed on their premises, in the context of the release of Kenny Wheeler / Mirrors (Edition).

The English-ness of her music-making - the story of how she was able to replace a saxophonist in the Michael Garrick band - Flora Purim/ originality / introducing Maggie Nicols to John Stevens - the free improv scene.

The questioners (left to right) are Dave Stapleton, vocalist Kathrin deBoer of Belleruche, DJ Patrick Forge and Adam Sieff of Gearbox Records who produced the vinyl version of Mirrors. Also involved were Darrel Sheinman of Gearbox , and Jean-Claude Thompson of If Music.


Photos from Maciek Pysz Trio's Insight Album Launch at the Forge

Maciek Pysz Trio at the Forge
© Paweł Fesyk. All Rights Reserved

Maciek Pysz Trio's Insight launch gig took place at a full Forge in Camden Town on 22nd May (photos reproduced here with kind permission of the photographer).

See the full album on the Paweł Fesyk Facebook page

Maciek Pysz
© Paweł Fesyk. All Rights Reserved

Asaf Sirkis
© Paweł Fesyk. All Rights Reserved

Yuri Goloubev
© Paweł Fesyk. All Rights Reserved


CD Review : Vole - The Hillside Mechanisms

Vole - The Hillside Mechanisms
(Babel BDV12102. CD review by Chris Parker)

‘An opportunity to make music with improvisers that is a bit different and a bit difficult’ is trumpeter Roland Ramanan’s description of his experience forming Vole with guitarist Roberto Sassis and drummer Javier Carmona.

‘Jagged, howling group extemporisation, with blustery trumpet, taut guitar shredding and tumbling percussion’ is what’s promised in the accompanying press release, and the album’s opener, ‘No Knees’, and subsequent tracks such as ‘Tim’s Frosties’, deliver just this toothsome package, interspersing full-on rock set to industrial-strength beats with passages of free improvisation.

Quieter moments are described as ‘environmental audio postcards from a mist-clad mossy hillside or a steamy jungle valley’, and Anthony Braxton’s recent music is also referenced; certainly, admirers of the great Chicagoan’s new-millennium music will also find much to enjoy here, whether Vole are in no-prisoners scrabbling mode or in more meditative mood, and for textural variety, rip-it-up energy and fierce interactiveness, the trio is hard to beat.

Apparently Vole are now a quartet, with the addition of pianist Alexander Hawkins (and Tom Greenhalgh replacing Carmona on drums), but on the evidence of this rousing, no-holds-barred album, their live act should be something special whatever the personnel.


Review: Gwyneth Herbert - The Sea Cabinet Live at Wilton's Music Hall

Gwyneth Herbert - The Sea Cabinet
(Wilton’s Music Hall. Opening night 23rd May 2013. Review by Alyn Shipton)

I have to declare an interest at the outset. During the gestation of this imaginative and absorbing project, Gwyneth Herbert was kind enough to find time to sing a series of concerts with my Buck Clayton Legacy Band. As a result of this, not only am I impressed from an on-stage as well as a critic’s perspective by her endurance, resilience and versatility as a singer, but in a series of time-lapse snapshots, I’ve watched from afar as The Sea Cabinet developed. Originally conceived during her time as composer-in-residence at Aldeburgh, the piece has grown from a somewhat haphazard collection of musical aquatic objets-trouvés into a tightly focused suite, with a complex tissue of sung and played musical textures, plus spoken words and (for the Wilton’s shows at least) back projections of images.

The conceit is simple: a spoken diary of things found, seen, experienced and collected on the shoreline, linking musical evocations inspired by the collection noted in the diary. Underlying the objects in the cabinet is a theme of women and the sea, so we share the experiences of fifty Fishguard ladies as well as the dislocated population of Alderney.

From her debut album First Songs through Bittersweet and Blue, via Between Me and the Wardrobe to All The Ghosts, Herbert has had the knack of writing catchy melodies and simple verbal hooks that help her songs to linger in the mind. Indeed Lorelei has lingered from All The Ghosts into the Sea Cabinet, getting a stirring and plaintive performance from Herbert and her fellow water sprite Fiona Bevan. The two voices melded well, though in character they are very different, Bevan’s dainty, delicate delivery being a model of control, whereas Herbert’s invocation to piratical lovers Plenty Time For Praying in the Morning was lustily delivered a capella from the side of the auditorium with no microphone, every syllable being crystal clear. However even in the forgiving acoustic of Wilton’s crumbly Music Hall, the balance did not always favour Herbert’s delivery. Sometimes the backing was just too enthusiastic, and her more intricate syllables were lost.

That said, her regular band came up trumps with Al Cherry producing his usual level of guitar wizardry and Dave Price somehow managing to be relaxed and in control of drums, piano, violin and goodness knows what other effects. Special guests the Rubber Wellies added plenty of texture, with Christophe Capewell’s mournful fiddle and melodica catching the wistful melancholia of times past particularly effectively. (Their opening set, with Fiona, was also a delight, with a particularly catchy Catalan cycling song setting the tone for the evening.) Overall it was Gwyneth’s night. Her songs will grow and develop with live performance, but this first full outing for the show was a triumph and after a whooping, cheering standing ovation, the audience spilled out into the narrow alleyway beyond the theatre, humming The King’s Shilling. There’s no better advertisement for a musical show than this!

We interviewed Gwyneth Herbert about The Sea Cabinet


NEWS: German ECHO JAZZ 2013 Winners Announced (Updated Post)

Winners at the German Echo Jazz Awards have been announced. (UPDATE)

Awards previously unannounced went to Melody Gardot, Toots Theiemans and ACT, for bestseller, lifetime achievement and label of the year respectively.

This morning, after the ceremony last night - there are no fewer than thirty-four videos up. Some in English like Kenny Garrett (admitting ignoranceof the German scene) and Jamie Cullum (with nice things to say about Go Go Penguin and Gregory Porter). The complete list of videos is HERE. And our listing of the award winners is HERE

All the winners from the Awards night - Hamburg - 23rd May. 

1. German Ensemble of theYear
Michael Wollny’s [em] "Wasted & Wanted"

2. International Ensemble of the YEar
Brad Mehldau Trio "Where Do You Start"

3. German Male Singer of the Year
Michael Schiefel "An Berliner Kinder"

4. Internatonal Male Singer of the Year
Curtis Stigers "Let’s Go Out Tonight"

5 German Female Singer of the Year
Caro Josée "Turning Point"

6 International Female Singer of the Year
Malia "Black Orchid"

7. German instrumentalist of the Year Piano/Keyboards
Florian Weber "Biosphere"

8. International instrumentalist of the Year Piano/Keyboards
Vijay Iyer "Accelerando"

9. German instrumentalist of the Year Saxophone/Woodwinds
Lutz Häfner "Deep"

10. International Artist of the Year Saxophon/Woodwinds
Kenny Garrett "Seeds From The Underground"

11.German instrumentalist of the Year Drums/Percussion
Bastian Jütte "Hassliebe"

12. International Artist of the Year Drums/Percussion
Brian Blade "Quiver"

13. German instrumentalist of the Year Bass/Bass Guitar
Sebastian Gramss "Homo Ludens"

14. International Artist of the Year Bass/Bass Guitar
Avishai Cohen "Duende"

15. German instrumentalist of the Year / Brass
Nils Wülker "Just Here, Just Now"

16.International Artist of the Year /Brass
Christian Scott "Christian A Tunde Adjuah"

17. German instrumentalist of the Year
Guitar Giovanni Weiss "Wilhelmsburg"

18.International Artist of the Year Guitar
Lionel Loueke "Heritage"

19. German instrumentalist of the Year Other Instruments/Vibraphone
Wolfgang Schlüter "Visionen"

20. International Artist of the Year Other Instruments/Violin
Adam Baldych "Imaginary Room"

21. German Newcomer of the Year
Sebastian Sternal "Symphonic Society"

22. Lifetime Achievement
Toots Thielemans

23. Editorial Achievement of the Year
Hans Lüdemann "Die Kunst des Trios 1-5"

24. Bestseller of the Year
Melody Gardot The Absence

25. Big Band-Album of the Year
Stefano Bollani & NDR Bigband "Big Band!"

26. DVD of the Year
Renaud Garcia-Fons "Solo – The Marcevol Concert"(ABOVE)

27. Jazz Promoter of the Year
Sedal Sardan / Jazz-Club A-Trane Berlin

28. Jazz-Label of the Yea
ACT Music + Vision

29. Company of the Year
jpc Distribution

30. Live-Act of the year

The original report in German is HERE.


News: Richard Michael's Jazz Masterclass on the BBC Radio Scotland website

Renowned jazz educator Richard Michael's masterclasses are being made available to a wider audience as podcasts by BBC Radio Scotland. The series cuts through some the potentially off-putting, technical jargon of the jazz world and has been well received so far. The first one onto the BBC website is about Scales and Modes. Others so far posted are about Melody, Groove and Harmony.

Richard Michael does workshops with children. He contributed a piece about his Edinburgh Festival family show to LondonJazz News last summer

Listen to the podcasts HERE


News: Chaos Orchestra Launch Indiegogo Campaign to Fund Début Album

The Chaos Orchestra, a London-based 20 piece big band featuring the likes of Laura Jurd, Alex Roth, and Simon Marsh have announced a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help with the costs of releasing their début album.

Their goal is to raise £3000 by Wednesday 17th July.

The perks range from a £12 donation, which allows you to pre-order the album, receiving it upon its release later this year through to the full £3000 donation which gets you a performance of 2 sets of music by the orchestra at your home or venue of choice.

Donate HERE


Review: Pat Martino at the 606 Club (First night of 25th Anniversary Festival)

Pat Martino

Pat Martino
(606 Club, 22nd May 2013. Review by Rod Fogg)

Back in the early days of downloads I picked up two Pat Martino albums for the price of one. It was a bit of a punt, as I knew his music only by reputation. They were "Hombre" and "Strings" both from 1967 - his first two albums – and something of a bargain. “Hombre” featured the classic soul organ line up of guitar, organ and drums, beefed up by bongos, congas and occasional flute. “Strings” added exalted company – Joe Farrell on tenor and Cedar Walton on piano. Both albums consisted mostly of Martino's own compositions. There was a soulfulness about the writing; unison riffs, guitar melodies in octaves, free flowing bop-style solos - and great "fat jazz" tone. I have returned to them many times – they're that good.

Throughout the 70s Martino averaged a couple of albums every year. Then in 1980 a career-ending brain operation called a halt. Except that despite amnesia, he learned to play again and resumed his career in 1987 with the comeback album "The Return". There’s plenty of live stuff on Youtube if you want to check him out – he’s everywhere on the guitar and there’s nothing about his playing to suggest that he was ever in anything other than perfect health.

At the 606 last night he was few months short of his 69th birthday, on a European tour with Pat Bianchi (Hammond B3) and Carmen Intorre (drums); the classic line-up. I love jazz Hammond players; it’s like watching a cartoon octopus at the controls of a crazy Heath-Robinson machine. Pedal-board walking bass, comped chords, unison heads and inspired soloing – it’s all happening. And Bianchi doesn’t disappoint, nor does Intorre. These guys take fast tempos without breaking a sweat and cool grooves are suitably deep and slick.

The set was mostly standards – Footprints, taken slowly, Oleo, taken fast. Charlie Christian’s Seven Come Eleven, Miles’s Blue in Green and All Blues, a couple of Wes Montgomery tunes, Full House and Twisted Blues, and Martino originals Catch and Mac Tough. Martino blends old-school jazz tone with a modern sense of harmonic adventure – in amongst all this cool post-bop grooving, whether fast or slow, there are some seriously contemporary chord/scale relationship things going on that take his solos to the edge. Yet there’s a strong melodic sense that holds everything together.

The 606 is a great, intimate venue for music like this and there was a heart-warming glow about the room by the end of the gig, with gratitude expressed from both audience and performers. This was the first night of a 40-artist twelve-day festival to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary of re-locating to Lot’s Road. Day one, without doubt, was something special.


News: Valamar Jazz Festival (25-29th June) – Special Offer for Music Students

Tickets for the Valamar Jazz Festival (running from the 25th-29th June) in  Poreč (Croatia) are now on sale. The festival, with its stage right by the sea, one venue in a 5th century basilica, and an amazing after-party hang..... can be purchased HERE (for 25-26th June) and HERE (for 27-29th June).

Regular ticket prices are:

25th June: 50 kn (roughly £6)
26th June: 70kn (roughly £8)
27th, 28th, and 29th June: 150kn (£17)

This year, the festival is offering a great deal to music students (from anywhere!) at the price of just €21 per day which includes bed and breakfast and tickets to all the festival events on the day.

More information on the programme (which includes Buster Williams and Eddie Palmieri) HERE. Sebastian went last year and did this A to Z round-up 


Review: Bobby Broom and The Deep Blue Organ Trio at Ronnie Scott's

Bobby Broom and The Deep Blue Organ Trio at Ronnie Scott's
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Bobby Broom and The Deep Blue Organ Trio
(Ronnie Scott's. 21 May 2013; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

A sparkling corner of Chicago's jazz world was airlifted to Soho for a couple of nights when The Deep Blue Organ Trio rode into town.

Regularly performing together in Chicago clubs such as the Green Mill, the trio of Bobby Broom (guitar), Chris Foreman (Hammond B-3 organ) and Greg Rockingham (drums) have moulded a tremendous rapport built on pure musical respect. As Broom emphasised, "We are a trio .. a trio ..." In other words no clashes of egos, just a visible generosity of spirit which pervaded their single two-hour set.

Foreman and Rockingham go back 25 years and they have such an understanding that they can exchange musical ideas by singing on the phone. Broom first joined them 5 years later, eventually formalising The Deep Blue Organ Trio in 1999, who were then invited to open for Steely Dan on tour.

Bobby Broom's excitement for jazz was sparked by hearing his father's copy of Charles Earland's BlackTalk and the early George Benson and Wes Montgomery shaped his fluent, melodic style. His CV includes two stints with Sonny Rollins, the first of which he delayed at age 16 until he'd finished his studies. He has played in his mentor Kenny Burrell's Jazz Guitar Band, toured and recorded with Dr John and Tom Browne and had shorter spells with Miles Davis and Art Blakey.

Chris Foreman's fiery, nuanced flourishes were given centre stage, a reflection of the ethos of the trio and the enjoyment they share in this formidable format. Blind from birth, he immersed himself in the classic Hammond players to lay the foundations of his own irresistible take on the infectious jazz organ groove. The roller-coaster drive and phrasing of the 'Giants of the Organ', Jimmy McGriff and 'Groove' Holmes is in the DNA of his keyboard work, along with a sense of the balance wielded so memorably by Wild Bill Davis with Ellington's orchestra, and that ingrained knowledge of when to hold right back, when to apply the distortions and when to pile on the power exemplified by Earland. Virtually every number kicked off with spine-tingling solo organ laced with a wicked sense of dynamics which brought whoops of appreciation from the floor.

Greg Rockingham played it cool - he didn't need to hammer the skins and metal, he just tickled and tapped them to lay down a lightly teased but rock solid pace with consummate assurance and a gentle grin.

The trio set out its stall with Hank Mobley's This I Dig of You, getting into cruise control with a swinging pace and crisp, no frills brushwork over which Broom built up extended explorations with masterly understatement, revealing glistening riches just below the surface. Broom's fascination with Stevie Wonder's canon let in a lightly camouflaged Ma Cherie Amour that mixed blues and brushes. The trio's anthemic A Deeper Blue came with the warning from Broom, "You're in trouble if you don't like the blues!" which had Foreman showing the B-3's teeth with searing, juddering licks and Rockingham hitting out with perfect, tight trap work.

In encore slinky, slippery gospel moved into a loose, off-duty jam, which took us right back to the feel of the small club in Chicago where we'd started. It's easy to forget that the power organ trio is quite a rarity these days, and the quality of The Deep Blue Organ Trio live on-stage was without doubt an experience to be treasured.

The Gareth Williams Power Trio put in a quality performance to open proceedings, notable for Laurence Cottle's softly gliding bass lines, meshing in deceptively relaxed fashion with Williams, brightly versatile on piano and impressively rounded percussion from Chris Higginbottom.

Bobby Broom: guitar
Chris Foreman: Hammond B-3 organ
Greg Rockingham: drums


Review: Deco Heart - Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri - at the Vortex

Deco Heart. Drawing by Geoff Winston, Vortex 2012. All Rights Reserved
Deco Heart: Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri
(The Vortex, Dalston, Tuesday 21st May 2013. Review by Andy Boeckstaens. Drawing by Geoff Winston)

This Vortex gig was the first of three British appearances by the Romanian pianist Lucian Ban and the viola player from Brooklyn, Mat Maneri. Since meeting in New York in 1999, they have played and recorded in several configurations. As a duo, Ban and Maneri are known as Deco Heart.

Much of the material at the Vortex was drawn from the pair’s Transylvanian Concert, recorded two years ago and recently issued on ECM. Shades of Monk and early Jarrett could be heard on a furiously-swinging, off-kilter Not That Kind Of Blues, and later pieces containing audacious harmonies and unresolved cadences brought to mind both Béla Bartók and Annette Peacock. On Two Hymns, there was an aching, almost Wagnerian melancholy.

Mat Maneri worked with Paul Motian for six years towards the end of the drummer’s life, and Deco Heart tackled one of his compositions from the 1970’s, Fantasm. The familiar spiritual Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen (played on unaccompanied viola) provided the most straight-ahead music of the evening. The three pieces composed by Maneri, Last Steps, Blessed and Passing, were full of restless turbulence and a subtle, agonised tension. Lucian Ban’s Monastery was very dark, despite its folk-dance jollity, and Harlem Bliss highlighted his technical aplomb and empathy with Maneri. The closing Irreverence reaffirmed the quality of the pianist’s writing.

Deco Heart wrung out not only the great seriousness of this music but also its wit and joy. The blues – often disguised and sometimes played so softly as to be virtually inaudible – were never far away. At no point during the evening was there any hint of grandstanding. The many quieter moments were the most powerful, and one was left with an overwhelming feeling of serenity.

Lucian Ban – piano
Mat Maneri – viola

Not That Kind Of Blues (Lucian Ban)
Harlem Bliss (Lucian Ban)
Two Hymns (Lucian Ban)
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen (Traditional)
Passing (Mat Maneri)
Monastery (Lucian Ban)
Last Steps (Mat Maneri)
Fantasm (Paul Motian)
Blessed (Mat Maneri)
Irreverence (Lucian Ban)


CD Review: Roger Beaujolais Quartet - Mind the Gap

Roger Beaujolais Quartet - Mind the Gap
(Stay Tuned Records ST009. CD Review by Chris Parker.)

‘Brazilian-influenced tunes, modern compositions as well as the usual influences from the days when swing and blues were essential ingredients in jazz’ is vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais’s description of the fare on this, his 18th studio album.

The last category is perhaps the most reliable guide to his quartet’s overall approach: pianist Robin Aspland, bassist Simon Thorpe and drummer Winston Clifford are all notable for their adherence to these core jazz values, and with Beaujolais himself turning in his customary vigorously cascading but measured performance, this is a thoroughly enjoyable straightahead set of lively originals, interspersed with a couple of Wes Montgomery tunes, two Brazilian pieces (Milton Nascimento’s ‘Vera Cruz’ and the Martino/Brighetti bossa nova sung by Shirley Horn, ‘Estate’), Thad Jones’s glowing paean to parenthood, ‘A Child is Born’ and Chick Corea’s ‘Sea Journey’.

Beaujolais, as his 1990s work with Acid Jazz Records suggests, is a musician who has always favoured the directly communicative, unfussily peppy approach to music-making, and in the hard-swinging Aspland he has the perfect foil; with the tight, crisp drumming of Clifford and the propulsive Thorpe driving proceedings with exemplary vim throughout, this is a warm, uplifting album, fresh as a summer breeze.


Stetsons in the air for Cafe Oto

Hats off to Cafe Oto for a very impressive intiative, working with Songkick Detour. They write:

Thanks to Songkick's new Detour initiative we were able to confirm a concert with saxophonist Colin Stetson at Cafe OTO for 28 October 2013.

Colin had got 50 odd pledges on Detour, and amazingly the show had almost sold out just hours after going on sale this morning. Luckily we've been able to secure a second date the day before on the 27 October 2013 so hopefully there will now be a few less disappointed punters!

Songkick Detour is a three-stage process: (1) Interested audience menbers pledge to buy tickets for the artists they want to see, and decide how much to pay. Songkick Detour don't take payment until the concert is confirmed. (2) SD then work with potential promoters to make the concert happen.  (3) If the concert is confirmed, the ticket price is set and SD charges the audience members, up to a maximum of the final ticket price even if more was pledged.


28th May 6 30pm. Seminar/debate - Follow The Money: Can The Business Of Ad-Funded Piracy Be Throttled?

On next Tuesday May 28th there is a seminar/ debate produced by Musictank at Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW. Start time is 6.30pm. Advance booking only - no walk ups on the day.

Here's Musictank's blurb:

Recent debates on how to tackle infringement are increasingly focusing on the role of advertising in bankrolling unlicensed services.

Piracy is not some romantic fantasy of rebellious teenagers sharing music and sticking it to the man; it is brand-sponsored – with advertisements for major blue chip FTSE and Fortune 500 corporations being served systematically to the most nefarious corners of the Web on an industrial scale - keeping the likes of MP3Ape and 4Shared in business, while diverting much-needed revenues from the pockets of creators.

Focusing on brand-sponsored piracy is creating a new common ground between Big Tech and the content industries, but can it be stopped, even if the will is there?

On May 28th, MusicTank will explore this subject in some detail, considering whether it might be possible to throttle brand-sponsored piracy, even if the appetite to do so exists.

The session will also examine the wider relationships between music and Big Tech and ask whether we are approaching a tipping point, away from the adversarial lobbying that typified the last decade, and towards a future based on more fruitful commercial partnerships.

David Lowery (Artist & Commentator ) and Theo Bertram (UK Policy Manager, Google ) will be key speakers at this event.

BOOK HERE. Full price is £35. USE PROMOTIONAL CODE LJAZZBIGTECH13  to save £5 off the full price.


CD Review: Craig Taborn Trio - Chants

Craig Taborn Trio - Chants
(ECM 372 4543. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Operating as a trio for eight years, but recording together for the first time on this album, pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver have staked out ground that will be familiar to anyone who saw the latter pair interpreting the music of Tomasz Stanko at the Polish trumpeter’s recent Barbican concert (reviewed here). Taborn’s description of Morgan – ‘a great “free” bassist but if you give him material there is nobody who honours the compositional fabric more than he does. He is really rigorous about holding onto the essential concept and helping to realise it’ – sums up the group’s approach perfectly: Taborn’s compositions are often relatively complex, tricksy affairs with subtly shifting rhythmic emphases and unusual melodies, but their shape and spirit are carried over into the improvisations to which they give rise with an almost telepathic faithfulness by both Morgan and the ever restless, probing yet confidently emphatic Cleaver, so that the pianist/composer’s ambition ‘not to break the spell by over-defining things ... extend[ing] the boundaries you can create in’ is skilfully balanced, in these nine intriguing pieces, against what he calls ‘allowing things to arise out of musical necessity in the whole arc of the story being told’.

If all this discussion of theory makes the music sound rarefied or abstruse, brief exposure to the album’s more vigorous passages will swiftly dispel this notion: this is consistently powerful, dense music, packed with dynamic and textural contrasts, performed by three mutually sensitive individuals who all subscribe to Taborn’s succinctly expressed philosophy: ‘If there’s a question, it’s because you intended there to be a question, and the improvisation is the answer.’


NEWS: Shortlist of unsigned acts competing for a play at Love Supreme announced

The ten unsigned acts who have been shortlisted for one winner to play at the Love Supreme Festival have been announced. THE SOUNDCLIPS OF EACH BAND AND THE VOTING ARE BOTH EXCLUSIVELY VIA FACEBOOK . The bands are:

Shama Rahman Band

Local Authority

Ellene Masri

Anoushka Lucas and the Humbolts

The Outlanders

Portia Emare

Nubiyan Twist

Giacomo Smith

Bassment Project

JFL Organ Trio


Jamie Cullum at St Pancras this morning - in pictures and video

Jamie Cullum (on top of the piano, where else) was out doing a 9am half-hour set in the concourse at St Pancras this morning, with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and regular band members Tom Richards on tenor sax/ keyboards behind the poster, Chris Hill on bass, in blue, top of the shot, Brad Webb on drums, and Rory Simmons (guitar/trumpet, in pink). Tenor sax solo on the video is from Nadim Tiemoori.

It's part of the launch activity around the new CD Momentum which we've just reviewed. ITN's programme In Town Tonight were on hand filming (the guy with headphones in front of the sax section in the top picture).