Derek Nash: "I'm doing a Gig at Poppies Fish and Chips tonight"...

Saxophonist Derek Nash wrote this morning on his Facebook page

"HELP !!! As i'm doing a Gig at at Poppies Fish and Chip shop tonight, I need a set list please??"

(he suggested three songs:)

Cod only knows
Things can only get Batter
There's a plaice for us

Then the floodgates on Twitter and Facebook opened, with contributions from - among others, quite a band: Dave Douglas, Nigel Price, Dave Chamberlain, Julian Nicholas, Rachael Calladine, Conor Chaplin, Tom Mason,Craig Milverton. First the tunes:

oh mahi mahi
bernie's tuna
ahi a rhapsody
lover manta
kiss me skate
bluefin green.
Straighten up and fry right
Tuna Up
Mack(erel) the knife
Cod bless the child
Body and Sole
Ring of Fire?
Two Bass Hit
food glorious food.
Can't get no Satisfaction.
A Night in Tuna
Somewhere over the rainbow Trout?
You're getting to be a Halibut with Me
Come fry with me
Sole SerenadeV (and for those who don't eat fish) Fry Me a Liver Salmon Chanted Evening.
Blue Monkfish,
Weever of Dreams,
Darn that Bream...
frankie and john dory,
whelk you needn't,
the way you fluke tonight,
bass desires,
try a little turbot-ness.
Hake five,
There's a plaice for huss.
Come fry with me
Mackerel the knife...
It's only Rock and Roe , but I like it
Sole survivor...
The Saveloy Stomp..
I only have pies for you
Fry me to the moon
Whale (Bud Powell)
Something by Gill Evans?
Clams for the memories
Fry me a (cod)liver.
GuessI'll hang my kippers out to dry
Carp (e) diem baby- metallica
'There's a Plaice in the Sun'
Hake, rattle and role
'Small town koi '
'Anchovy in the UK.'
'Walk this Ray
Salmon chanted evening
Cod bless the child
I've got u under my fin
Fry me a river
Cod on Bennett!!!
Smoke my Salmon
Lady be Cod
Skate 'ing in central park
Skater's Waltz
Snoekin' Around
Moon Ray
We'll Kipper Welcome In The Hillside
Tuna Up
Bernie's Tuna
Snapper Yo' Hands
Whale You Needn't...
Cod For Sale.
We're the squids in America
Dream a little Bream?
Shark the Herald Angels sing? (Xmas gig perhaps?)
Body and Sole
Fishes Brew
tunny jungle
Get Ron Chords on the case!
Salmon chanted evening
Dan Kelly Wooden chip be luverly
Sole Eyes
All the Fins You Are
Have You Met Fish Bones?
You Stepped Out of a Bream.....?
Chelsea Fridge...) etc etc
Vaughan My Chip
Nancy With the Laughing Plaice,
Poor Batterfly,
My Favourite Fins Sitting on ha-dock of the bay
Cody and Sole..
Should I ray or should I roe now?
Whiting for the Sun?
Frying without wings
Whale kipper whelk - om in the eel side
Nets get it on
'Ozzie' Osborn The Dace of Wine and Roses?Whale meat again?
Two Bass Hit
Love For Sail ..
Stella by Starfish ..
Come fry with me...
Rollin in the deep
prawn to run
Emplaiceable you
A fishy day in Lobster town.......
Gunard Only Knows
Farm That Bream
Eel Meet Again
Roe Roe Roe Your Boat
My Ray
Gherkin My Way Back To You
Stompin' At The Saveloy
Is there a guy there who swears he's Elvis?
Blue Monkfish
Build Me Up Batter cup.
Daybream Beleiver
Pasty Duchy
'Chip Building' by Soft Drink Machine
Pass the 'mushy' peas...
Hakey Breaky Heart.
Chip n salsa
We gotta get trout of this plaice
Gill Talk
Gone fishen!!
Chippady Do -Da
That`s all polloks
'Goin' Fishin''
'Slap that Bass'
Prawn Free !
Somewhere over the rainbow Trout?
You're getting to be a Halibut with Me ?
Fins can only get batter
Prawn to be wild ...
Fish tea ways to leave your lover
Tina Tuna? Or Tuna Turner
You Hake Me Feel So Young
Ted Heath's classic Tom Shark
Cod bless the child
Peas Be Kind
When You Fish Upon A Star
Stomping At The Saveloy
Bream Dancing
The Touch Of Your Chips
Frying Home
I'm always chasing rainbow trout,,followed by a medley of sole tunas
Sole Eyes
The Long And Winding Roe
Monkfish City Limits by Pike & Tuna Turner?
Eel meet again
Fry Me A Kipper
I Gotta Sea Bass by Sardine Taylor
Big Batter And Egg Man
Whale Meat Again?
chips n salsa
Haddock of the bay
Aint that a cod in the head?
We will rock you
There a bloke works down the chip shop thinks he's Elvis
Cod Bless The Child,
For Evans hake
Eel wind?
Honeysuckle roes
Anybody's sting ray but my own.
The night we cod it a day?
The night we called it a hake?
dolphin dance
Blue Fries?
Orange Coloured Fry

And since there is no race like the British for giving advice (rather than tunes), Derek got quite a bit of that too:

How about something by salmon Dave
Something by Monkfish and Max Roach perhaps.
Do some Skate Bush
Ray Charles...
Doin any Wrap?
Anything by The Fortunas?
That's a mushy title
Do you have a 'bass' player?...
Bit of Eely Dan...
' A few ideas there. Mullet over if you like.'
Any Fish from Merlin songs?
May be you should get Stephen Fry to come up with a few ideas!.
Or u could just spend the gig working on your 'scales'!!

DEREK NASH responded: 

"Wow , Thanks all for a wonderful punny day, maybe come down to the gig itself and I'll try them out on the audience."


Review: Gareth Williams and Dave Green at Cadogan Hall

Gareth Williams, Dave Green. Scarborough 2013.
Credit: Alan Ainsworth Photography. All Rights Reserved

Gareth Williams and Dave Green
(Cadogan Hall Out to Lunch Series, 29th August 2013. Review by Peter Vacher)

Oliver Weindling commended these free midday jazz concerts in his piece on this site last week. And rightly so. That they chime with a crying need in the capital was emphasised by the exceptional turn-out, standing room only, for the final performance in this year’s season given by the duo of pianist Gareth Williams and bassist Dave Green.

Their presentation, received with rapt attention and huge acclaim, was sub-titled ‘The Bill Evans/Scott LaFaro Songbook’, the two men at one in evoking the intensity and yes, the joy inherent in the music made by the intertwined past-masters. Williams was at pains to explain that their interpretations were in the spirit of these US stylists, so no note-for-note replications here, rather the active deployment of their harmonic concepts and modus operandi in the themes our UK equivalents chose to play. To bowdlerise Eric Morecambe’s immortal mantra, here was a case of ‘the same notes but not necessarily in the same order’.

Opening with a dulcet version of Autumn Leaves, Green’s singing tone appropriately LaFaro-esque, Williams moved this lovely tune through a series of harmonic reappraisals that felt Evans-like yet remained firmly in the moment. Tackling Waltz for Debbie next might have seemed like a hostage to fortune, but it materialised from something subtle into a firmly swinging treatment before My Foolish Heart was given a delicate, almost reverential reading ahead of Everything I Love with a Williams vocal, neatly done, as Green settled into a propulsive line and Williams splashed out . Leonard Bernstein's Lucky To Be Me finished a strong first half, Williams flexing his keyboard muscles to riveting effect and stomping in a most un-Evans like manner.

More good things followed as the pair resumed their clever interplay, Green soloing at length as required and Williams confirming what many of us already knew that his is a piano talent of protean proportions, each improvisation like a master class in harmonic adventure and creative zest. With their preference for standards, it was fun to hear the duo trip through Gloria’s Step, a perky LaFaro piece, toying engagingly with its structure as they zigzagged around the theme. Music of this quality is rare and to be savoured, a point well taken by this audience.

Williams/Green say they aim to record this repertoire. They should, and soon.

There's another review of the same gig over at Bebop Spoken Here


Celebrating 31st August - Trinidad and Tobago Independence Day - with Hazel Scott


One to bookmark : Steve McKee's "Jazz History - All of it!" blog

Jazz History - all of it!

A concise guide to jazz through the ages, travelling from the beginnings right up to date, with CD recommendations and performer profiles.

Just spotted this, and it's a definite bookmark. Steve McKee of Dunblane started a new  "Jazz History- all of it"  blog on July 13th. He is absolutely going for it and is now eighteen posts in, and has just reached Jabbo Smith in 20s Chicago. Hartzell "Tiny" Parham anyone?

As @OriginalJazzHis on Twitter and 356 tweets to the good, he is quite prolific too.

As a fellow Scot once said/sang: Keep Right on to the End of the Road !  


Review: Lonnie Liston Smith at Jazz Café Camden

Lonnie Liston Smith at Jazz Café Camden
Photo Credit Roger Thomas. All Rights reserved

Lonnie Liston Smith
(Jazz Café Camden.24 August 2013. Review and photos by Roger Thomas)

Several decades have passed since Lonnie Liston Smith first graced the scene with music that would establish him as an ardent trail-blazer. His show at the Jazz Café Camden showed that he remains inspirational, despite the passage of time.

Like Miles Davis and Art Blakey, he constantly drafts in fresh and young talent into his line-up, the New Cosmic Echoes. Samir Moulay on guitar provided the funk à la Wah Wah Watson and the more refined Benson-esque elements. Tabitha Pearson - vocals, Vernon Prout - electric bass delivered a firm foundation and Lee Pearson on drums provided a solid driving pulse.

Smith delivered a representative selection of his legendary oeuvre. There were many moments when this maestro of fusion would let a musician feature while he laid back to provide some of his hallmark textures of pads and grooves where he seems entranced and as if his whole body is playing the music. With at least one hand fused to the keyboards, outstretched and leaning back in his signature pose working the keys as if kneading dough, but unfortunately the acoustic of the Jazz Café hid a lot of the subtleties.

That said, the star quality drumming of Lee Pearson had no problem breaking through. A five minute solo spot saw such pyrotechnics as playing with hands and sticks coming from behind his back, and even the stair handrails became drums.

'London Interlude' — first recorded in the 1980's — was given a fresh lick of paint with Prout and Pearson shifting moods from a funky Sly & Robbie style groove to straight ahead jazz swing. With Smith interjecting synth rhodes stabs plus melody topped off by Moulay's tasteful jazz guitar solo showed this to be a reinvention that really delivered. Other favourites such as the much sampled 'A Garden Of Peace' and of course ‘Expansions’ were rapturously received.

Lonnie Liston Smith at Jazz Café Camden
Photo Credit Roger Thomas. All Rights reserved

This poignant moment stood as a reminder of how Lonnie Liston Smith has not just uplifted and entertained but also educated and enlightened. The man is worthy of all the venerable accolades heaped on him. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.


Interview: Tracey Campbell (606 Gospel Group)

Left to Right: Liz Swain, Tracey Campbell, Alison Beck, Sharon McPherson, Kathy Wilkinson, Sophie Harriot, Nick Jarret, Edwin Fawcett. Band: Steve Harris (p), Andre Gabriel (b), Steve Raman (dr).

Gospel singer TRACEY CAMPBELL once did backing vocals for Mariah Carey, Mica Paris, and Westlife (to name but a few), has travelled all over the world singing with Secret Garden, sung for two Popes, and conducts gospel gigs and workshops in the UK Switzerland, Germany. She has also been a member of Miko Giedroyc's Soul Sanctuary since its inception.

The 606 Gospel Group, which she leads and which will feature at the first festival in Abergavenny (more information HERE), have performed regularly in the London and Marlborough Jazz Festivals. The group has also performed at Lambeth Palace, St David’s Cathedral, Brixton Prison, live on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service, and in front of millions on live television as part of the ‘fourth debate’ between the Prime Ministerial candidates in the 2010 general election.

We interviewed her:

LondonJazz: Can you tell us the story of this video?

Tracey Campbell: A couple at the one of our 606 Gospel Brunches asked us if we could sing them a song for their silver wedding anniversary, and off we went! Throughout the entire song they stood in the middle of the 606 and danced in each other's arms. The up-tempo funky/Latin riffing at the end of the song was totally spontaneous.

LJ: How long has the group been going on?

TC: It grew out of the "St. Pats Gospel Group" [actually this is called Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir] at St Patrick's Soho Square. That was where I originally got to know Miko Giedroyc and quite a few of the others

LJ: How many are you?

TC: It's variable. We have been 5 voice a capella, anything from that up to 10 singers with a 6-piece band

LJ: And I remember you used to be the fastest band at packing up in the whole of London

TC: Yes we used to dash across town to St Pat's, where the service started at 5pm - we only had an hour to pack down and get across town!

LJ: Where were you born and where do you live now?

TC: I was born in Waterloo in London, but I've now been out in Essex for a year. I never thought I'd end up there!

LJ: What's the vibe of the choir?

TC: The strength of our group is that we know each other so well. It's that impromptu thing knowing you can go with the atmosphere of the time . We want to introduce people to gospel and give them an uplifting experience.

LJ: And you've made a CD?

TC: Not the group , but me. Called Simply Hymn it's on Amazon and iTunes. As a physical CD there's only one place to get it: Manna Christian Centre Book Shop, Streatham, (020 8769 8588)

LJ: And you're off to Abergavenny. Rare for you to leave London, isn't it?

TC: It's a privilege to be at this completely new festival at the start, cool to be invited, quite an adventure. We used to do Marlborough Jazz Festival and we've been in the London Jazz Festival programme lots of times (at the 606). We have gigged in Wales before, at St David's Cathedral, which was amazing and deeply atmospheric.

LondonJazz: Have a great time in Wales

Tracey Campbell: I'm sure we will!

606 Gospel Group.


News: London Jazz Orchestra - Second Sunday Series at Vortex, plus Guildhall Gig October 18th

That valuable and unique institution now in its third decade - the London Jazz Orchestra - has announced a new series at the Vortex (the Second Sunday sessions) beginning on Sunday 8th September at 4:00pm and continuing on the 2nd of each month at the same time.

The orchestra members are all composer/performers and this session will feature Henry Lowther as composer and soloist. (Incidentally, this gig is definitely recommended if you have a birthday and can get your request in early: Henry's Happy Birthday chart is brilliant.)

There is also a very special gig on October 18th at the Guildhall School at 8:00pm. The band will be performing the music of their late pianist Pete Saberton exclusively as a tribute and be joined by the Guildhall Jazz Band directed by Scott Stroman. The concert is to be recorded and later released (along with subsequent studio recordings) with help of the funds raised to support Saberton during his illness.

Tickets for the Vortex gig HERE

Guildhall tickets HERE


Review: Prom 62: Django Bates - A Celebration of Charlie Parker

Django Bates. BBC Proms 2013. Photo Credit BBC/ Chris Christodoulou
Prom 62: Django Bates: A Celebration of Charlie Parker. 
(BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, 28th August. Review by Alyn Shipton)

On the surface, this concert had about as much to do with Charlie Parker as Ross Russell’s idealised and highly inaccurate book about the saxophonist, which was Django Bates’ teenage inspiration for first exploring Parker’s music. There were snatches of Parker themes, and some repertoire associated with his recordings, but little connection to the blues that lay at the heart of his every note, and seldom any direct representation of the saxophonist’s free-ranging improvisational playing.

That said, as with most of Django Bates’s music, deeper currents were swirling through the evening than the surface eddies and whirlpools of the collaboration between his trio Belovèd and the Norrbotten Big Band. The way in which Bates has teased Parker’s body of work into new life in a piano trio setting over the last few years has been highly intriguing. It has been marvellous to witness Belovèd ’s collective growth from concert to concert and from first to second album. The spirited interaction between his increasingly virtuosic piano and the playing of bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Peter Bruun is the link to Parker’s extemporary genius. Whereas Parker mainly experimented with fast flowing melodic lines that delved nonchalantly into passing and unusual chords, playing across, inside and outside the four-square rhythms of his time, Bates’s experiments plot such ideas on a broader canvas, with far more rhythmic flexibility and a less metronomic concept of time.

Prom 62. Photo credit: BBC/ Chris Christodoulou

Sensibly, the trio — with its well-developed intuitive interplay —remained the core of the concert, and particularly in the early part of the evening the textures and tones brought in by the Norrbotten players often remained just that. As the piano, bass and drums delved deeply into David Raksin’s melody “Laura”, the big band’s sustained notes and occasional choppy phrases complemented the trio’s playing, with Finnish guitarist Markus Pesonen adding scratches and crunches to the tonal palette. As they moved on to the next, more uptempo segment of the concert, Bates really went for it as a soloist, somehow managing to be energetic and outgoing, yet introspective at the same time, and his big band writing, with densely textured reeds and punchy brass interjections, was thrilling.

The UK premiere of Bates’s own “The Study of Touch” (originally inspired not so much by Parker as the Incredible String Band) was, ironically the piece that Parker himself might have recognised as closest to his own work with large jazz orchestras. Emerging from a simple five-note left hand piano motif, passages from reeds and brass gradually coalesced into a powerful whole. Both the soprano saxophonist Håken Broström and tenorist Karl-Martin Almqvist then took lengthy solos, the former punching his way over the ensemble, the latter interacting more closely with his reed section colleagues.

Django Bates. BBC Proms 2013. Photo credit BBC/ Chris Christodoulou
Bacharach’s “A House Is Not a Home, with Ashley Slater as vocalist led to a momentary draining of momentum, but the concert took flight again with a rousing “My Little Suede Shoes”. As with many of Bates’s reworkings of well-known melodies, the tune popped out slightly unexpectedly over a rhythmic backdrop that was floating rather than firmly anchored, and the band — trio and section players working as one — then swaggered into its stride, before Bates jumped down off the stage to dance among the standing Promenaders.

The best was saved until last: a dense, thorough and affectionate interpretation of “Star Eyes”. Overall, the expansion of the trio’s repertoire to encompass Europe’s most Northerly professional big band was a great success, with some striking and interesting writing from Bates. Parker, on the eve of what would have been his 83rd birthday, and wearing the hat that loved musical innovation and adventure, would no doubt have loved it.


Listen to @mrchadders fortnightly European Jazz Union Show

The inimitable broadcasting style of Mike Chadwick has just brought the whole of Europe within reach. Playlists for his fortnightly European Jazz Union show, and more details about how to listen / download in HD WAV are HERE


Podcast: Interview with Ian Shaw (Part 2 of 2)

In this second and final part of our interview with Ian Shaw we focus more on a new project: a re-working of songs by Joni Mitchell. Shaw has learned all of her tunes and will be performing some of them, solo and with Claire Martin.

Shaw also talked about a visit to Guildhall School last autumn working with Malcolm Edmonstone and Guildhall students, and about another band he is involved with featuring pianist Barry Green, Mick Hutton and Dave Ohm (with special guest Fabrizio Bosso for some gigs) - a format Shaw looks forward to re-connecting with, having concentrated more on solo work and the big band format.

More information and full details of Ian Shaw's gig schedule are HERE Part One on the Rye Festival is HERE

Musical Excerpt:

Joni Mitchell - For the Roses at 9:53


“I Love this Place, It's Just Like Home, Filthy and Full of Strangers” (Ronnie Scott)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Amure

The building of 47 Frith Street is currently being redecorated, so, to cover it while the work takes place, Ronnie Scott's club has put up a massive picture (original photo by Val Wilmer) of Ronnie smoking a cigarette outside the club, with an immortal quote.


Preview: September at Merlin’s Cave Jazz Club, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks

Andy Boeckstaens Writes:

“Chalfont St Giles” and “jazz” are words that one might not expect to find in the same sentence. But Merlin’s Cave, a pub adjacent to a quintessentially English village green in Buckinghamshire, has been the scene of well over a thousand jazz sessions since the 1980’s.

Since its inception, the club has regularly presented established stars like Stan Sulzmann, up-and-coming players such as Sam Mayne and, more occasionally, overseas visitors of the calibre of Michael Hashim. The music, which begins just after midday every Sunday, has been convened by bass player Peter Hughes for over two decades. For a long time, a different soloist each week played with a house trio led by pianist John Clark (later Bill LeSage) but now the headliner is encouraged to recommend his own sidemen, to improve compatibility between the musicians and increase variety for the audience.

Peter Hughes has built up an astonishing contact-book and even top names wait for months before they get a gig. There is little doubt that jazz at Merlin’s would not have thrived for so long without his dedication and hard work.

During the next month, Merlin’s Cave is presenting a fine selection of old(er) favourites and young turks:

1 September: Al Nicholls (tenor saxophone), with Richard Busiakiewicz (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass) and Paul Robinson (drums). Al Nicholls is a big-toned swing saxophone player. He leads his own group and is a veteran of the bands of TJ Johnson, King Pleasure and Ray Gelato.

8 September: Alan Barnes (saxophones), with Jack Emblow (piano accordion), Peter Hughes (bass) and Jon Scott (drums). A regular visitor to Merlin’s and a great favourite with the crowd, Alan Barnes needs no introduction. His appearance alongside the accordion legend will guarantee musical fireworks and verbal wit.

15 September: Nadim Teimoori (tenor saxophone), with Peter Hughes (bass), others to be confirmed. Nadim Teimoori is a fast-rising and hugely talented young player, championed by Stan and Clark Tracey.

22 September: Paul Eshelby (trumpet), with Geoff Eales (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass) and a drummer tbc. A fine trumpeter and celebrated educator, Paul Eshelby has worked in various contexts with a lengthy list of great singers and musicians from around the world.

29 September: Derek Nash (saxophones), with Peter Hughes (bass), others tbc. The ebullient, ubiquitous Derek Nash has led exciting bands including Sax Appeal for many years, and features prominently in Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.

It all takes place in the barn, a few steps across the car park of the pub. Wobbly tables and dodgy chairs are scattered around a venue that is small in size but big in character. The gas heaters – essential most of the time in the uncarpeted room - are still cursed by Benn Clatworthy almost a decade after he burned a hole in a new pair of trousers. For years, an enormous grey cobweb hung over the stage like a cloud, but it was mercilessly removed during a refurbishment in 2007 that did little to improve the room’s cosiness. The discomfort is irrelevant though; it’s all about the music. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience is extremely loyal and many of the locals (frequently with blankets on their knees!) sit in the same seats every week.

New visitors are genuinely and warmly welcomed at Merlin’s. They are also needed by the musicians, because the only funding is the cash taken at the door and it is not unusual for fewer than two dozen people to turn up. A bigger turnout means that the top professionals who perform there stand a better chance of going home with more money than they came with. And a larger crowd is a warmer crowd.

The September line-up will prove once again that Merlin’s Cave is a great little place to hear jazz.

The Merlin’s Cave, The Village Green, High Street, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks HP8 4QF

Admission is £5; doors open at 12 noon.


Review/Comment: Cadogan Hall's Out to Lunch Season

Moscow Drug Club
(Cadogan Hall’s Out to Lunch season. 22 August 2013. Review/Comment by Oliver Weindling)

Moscow Drug Club occupies a fertile cross roads: with a manouche-oriented line-up including guitar, accordion, trumpet and voice it gives the scope to turn east to Klezmer and Berlin cabaret, dwell in the world of chanson, or look west to the world of Leonard Cohen or the Andrews Sisters. Adding the trumpet of Ben Cummings blended well with Katja Gorrie’s voice. The rhythmic drive of Andy Crowdy on bass made the lack of drums a non-issue. 

A word of praise for this series, now in its fifth year, is definitely in order: it was encouraging to arrive at Cadogan Hall on a wet Thursday in August and find that there was standing room only in the foyer, implying an audience of over 200.

At a time when we are hearing stories about losses of funding and audiences, the ‘Out to Lunch season over the summer has set out its stall for a new location and time for top quality jazz. Perhaps very few of the concerts are as radical as Eric Dolphy’s album - after which the season is named. Nevertheless the chance to go to free concerts which include the likes of Dave O’Higgins, Gareth Williams and the Ronnie Scott’s House Band is to be welcomed. So all credit to Becky, Romy and the team there for their initiative.

It was great to hear Jacques Brel songs at midday (though there was no real need for the band to apologise for singing his songs at this time of day) and some less well known Bertolt Brecht/Hanns Eisler (“Supply and Demand”). Unsurprisingly, the audience had a great time and they were queuing up to buy their new album (which is now available through their web site).

Cadogan Hall will - according to rumour - be organising an ‘Out to Lunch’ Christmas special as the ‘village hall’ of Sloane Square. Christmas seems such a long long way away -   maybe this  success will encourage the management of the venue  to put on more dates during the period in between.


Review: John Wilson Orchestra Prom at the Royal Albert Hall (Prom 59)

Jane Monheit at Prom 59. Photo credit: BBC / Chris Christodoulou
BBC Prom 59 / John Wilson Orchestra
(Royal Albert Hall, 26th August 2013. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

This Bank Holiday Prom by the John Wilson Orchestra featured the briefest of appearances in the UK by singer Jane Monheit. She dropped in for a quickfire shared medley relay of movie theme songs, floated melodies like Victor Young's My Foolish Heart in real style. She and fellow medley-er Matthew Ford were applauded heartily, but then vamooshed, not to be seen again. More, soon. Please? When?

There were some other fine cameo jazz moments in the John Wilson Prom. Mike Lovatt on trumpet blazed fervently in the first number; Gordon Campbell was mellifluous and winning in David Raksin's Laura. Colin Oxley on guitar made a telling mandolin contribution to That's Amore in the medley, as did Jay Craig on baritone  in The Tender Trap. Howard McGill on alto and soprano saxes had some fine solo moments too. Matt Skelton on drums and Jeremy Brown on bass anchored many a fine moment, particularly in the rapid tempo changing antics of a 'Tom and Jerry' feature for full orchestra, which probably got the loudest cheers of the evening from the full house. This fifth annual John Wilson Orchestra Prom, had sold out on the first day of booking.

Thinking about those all-too brief jazz moments brings my mind back to those moments - even in a kaleidoscopic evening of huge energy - which (for me) passed too slowly, particularly the Max Steiner/ Hugo Friedhofer Casablanca Suite. The Korngold 'Robin Hood' suite proceeded from a love theme with dollops of extra cream reminiscent of Richard Strauss's 'Rosenkavalier', to a never-ending finale.

A high-energy evening with many moments to treasure - the  audience loved it and cheered it.  I probably haven't done justice to all of the pre-planning that went into selecting the programme. Over at The Arts desk, David Benedict has. For devotees of fim music, there's more to come:

- This Prom will be on BBCFour Television - Friday 30th August

- The John Wilson Orchestra sets off on a NATIONAL TOUR in November.

- Film music is a focus big-time in September at the BBC, with the #BBCSoundofCinema month and documentary series (see our feature from the launch)

- UPDATE: Leah Thomas of Blue Flamingo and Caroline Crampton of The Arts Desk also reviewed.


News: Christine Tobin wins Herald Angel Award at Edinburgh Fringe

Christine Tobin and her Herald Angel  Award.
Edinburgh, Augist 2013

Christine Tobin's Leonard Cohen/ 1000 Kisses Deep programme (premiere was covered here) has been awarded an Edinburgh Fringe Herald Angel Award. Rob Adams has written and explained the background to the award:

"The concert, part of the inaugural British Vocal Jazz Festival in the Scottish capital, was Tobin’s first-ever appearance at the world’s biggest arts festival and featured her trio with guitarist Phil Robson and bassist Dave Whitford playing their arrangements of Cohen favourites including Suzanne and Famous Blue Raincoat interlaced with jazz standards and Bobbie Gentry’s 'Ode to Billie Joe'.

Now in their nineteenth year, the Herald Angels are awarded by Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for excellence across the range of festivals that take place in Edinburgh during August and are much-coveted among performers, companies and event organisers. Previous winners with a jazz connection include The Bad Plus, Jack Bruce, pianists Leo Blanco, Louis Durra and Brian Kellock, trumpeter Colin Steele and drummer Tom Bancroft.

The award follows Tobin’s success in the 2012 British Composer Awards (covered here), where she won an award for best contemporary jazz composition for her album Sailing To Byzantium, on which the Dublin-born artist combined jazz compositions with the poetry of W.B. Yeats."


News: wall2wall Festival at Swan Hotel, Abergavenny, 31st August - 1st September

The wall2wall weekend festival (the first to be promoted by Black Mountain Jazz) is running from the 31st August to the 1st September at the Swan Hotel Abergavenny. It's a beautiful spot, even if the Tourist Board's webcam does have rain on it today.

This out-of-the-way festival is a hidden jewel, with two stages (one indoor - the Club Room - which seats 70, and an outdoor marquee which can hold 180 plus) and some great acts including: Brass Jaw, Sarah Gillespie Trio, Asaf Sirkis Trio, and Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats.

wall2wall also features two free morning events, the first (on the 31st) is lead by Brass Jaw and will explore different influences on jazz through the ages, and Sunday morning sees the New Era Reborn Brass Band playing a wide variety of styles from the best local musicians. 

Thank you Ian Mann, Alison Beck and Sarah Gillespie for alerting us to it!  OK it's not London, but this kind of enterprise deserves all of our support.

Tickets can be bought online HERE, at the Tourist Information Centre near Abergavenny Bus Station, or by calling 0795 8612 691.

Indoor events last for around 75 minutes and the marquee gigs are on for around 90 minutes.



10.15am: Marquee Venue, Jazz Through the Ages
12pm: Younger Players Workshop
12:15pm: Club Room, Christian Brewer Quartet
2pm: Marquee Venue, Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion
4pm: Club Room, Hot Club Gallois
5:45pm: Marquee Venue, Brass Jaw
7:45pm: Club Room, John-paul Gard Trio
9:30pm: Marquee Venue, Sarah Gillespie Trio


10:15am: Marquee Venue, New Era Reborn Brass Band
12:15pm: Club Room, Martha Skilton / Ben Treacher Quintet
2pm: Marquee Venue, 606 Gospel Singers
4pm: Club Room, Asaf Sirkis Trio
5:45pm: Marquee Venue, Heavy Quartet
7:45pm: Club Room, Damon Brown Quartet
9:30pm: Marquee Venue, Gilad Atzmon's Power Cats


A return of Philip Catherine to London (LJF/ Vortex)

The Vortex's programme for the London Jazz Festival has some real gems. And at the prices they are being offered at, they might not be around for long.

Not least the return to London of Philip Catherine (he was born here) to play in a duo with John Etheridge, as part of a Belgo-Lux treble bill on Sat 23 Nov. We don't believe Catherine has played in his native city for a decade. There are just 33 tickets for Saturday, at £12 left for that.

Co-incidentally, his piano partner in the  above, Enrico Pieranunzi, who recently, according to the New York Times, recently succeeded triumphantly in making "[his] peace with the ghosts in the room" at the Village Vanguard (no mean achievement), is also on the Vortex's LJF programme: he's on a double bill on Friday 15th at the Bishopsgate Institute with Julie Sassoon.


NEWS: Gearbox Records' Best-selling LP to date

Adam Sieff of Gearbox Records

Our near-neighbour Adam Sieff of Gearbox Records popped in to see us today, and tells us that the most recent Gearbox Records LP, Prelude to Heart is a Lotus, from the Michael Garrick Sextet, recorded in 1968, and with thoughtful new sleevenotes by Stephen Graham, has just become Gearbox's best-selling album to date. It was released just last Wednesday August 14th, and the first print has more or less already run out.

Gearbox Records website


RIP Kris Goessens (1967-2013) - with updates

Jazzenzo and Slipped Disc report the suicide on Wednesday of Belgian- (Aalst) born pianist composer Kris Goessens, at the age of 46. Goessens had lived for a time in New York and built a fine reputation, working extensively with Bob Brookmeyer. He also had a fine trio with Dré Pallemaerts and Ricardo Del Fra.  He was prominent member of the Dutch scene and taught at the conservatoires in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. His Monk Inside Out  with the Clazz Ensemble  was due to be performed next month. Tragic. 

UPDATEs: The Kris Goessens Facebook Page has many tributes.

His former colleagues in the Clazz Ensemble express their deep shock and their appreciation for everything he did (in Dutch) HERE.

Here is a quote from Bob Brookmeyer's liner notes for his (Brookmeyer's) Grammy-nominated 2004 Album Get Well Soon:

"Kris Goessens is one of the world's best kept secrets, something he and I hope to alter soon, playing duo concert tours. He has a depth of feeling and touch that I find unequaled by anyone I have heard. He also has a quiet daring, use of space and register that break accepted barriers AND, patience, to allow an idea to unfold and fully speak. His language is his and he feels almost painfully the act of creation. I am unashamedly biased... My bias, however, is well founded and rarely given".


CD Review: Sunna Gunnlaugs - Distilled

Sunna Gunnlaugs - Distilled
(Sunny Sky 730. CD Review by Chris Parker)

As anyone who’s heard Sunna Gunnlaugs’s previous trio album (Long Pair Bond) will already know, the Icelandic pianist’s penchant is for considered, carefully constructed music, skilfully calibrated to showcase the robust but subtle interactiveness of her trio, and to accommodate the eloquent soloing skills of all three participants.

Drummer Scott McLemore and bassist ƥorgrímur Jónsson also contribute two compositions each to a wide-ranging programme embracing everything from the two Gunnlaugs openers (‘Momento’ and ‘Distilled’), which encapsulate the leader’s ‘love of moving harmony’, to outright free improvisation (‘Spin 6’ and ‘Spin 7’) and much more in between, including the bassists’s ‘Gallop’ (more a brisk trot, actually), the drummer’s pleasantly nervy ‘Switcheroo’ and – based on an Icelandic folk tune – ‘Things You Should Know’,.

Gunnlaugs herself is a supremely tasteful pianist, her intelligent restraint slowly loosening in her solos to allow her to explore all the nooks and crannies of pieces such as her insistent closer, ‘Opposite Side’; McLemore is a brisk, confidently assertive drummer, his playing always tempered by delicacy and sensitivity, alert to every nuance of an absorbingly varied set; Jónsson is impressively responsive in his accompanying role and ear-catchingly melodic and lyrical as a solosit (highlight: a beautiful contribution to the title-track). Overall, this is a fresh and impeccably presented album from a strongly bonded trio brim-full of ideas.


The Django Bates Prom - Wednesday 28th Aug 10.15pm

Django Bates. Luleå, 2013 New Directions Festival.
Photo credit John Kelman . All Rights Reserved

Django Bates, with regular trio members Peter Bruun drums, Petter Eldh  bass, brings the Norrbotten Big Band, from Sweden, with Ashley Slater vocalist, to the Late Night Prom next Wednesday 28th, start time 10.15pm.The concert has Django's re-workings of Charlie Parker plus original compositions.

The Norrbotten Big Band commissioned the works, which were premiered in Luleå, Sweden on June 1st at the New Directions Festival. John Kelman of Allaboutjazz wrote this IN-DEPTH FEATURE ABOUT HOW THE WORK CAME INTO BEING. John's substantial cache of great photos of rehearsals and performance is HERE (Facebook). There is also video of Django Bates' Trio at Jazzahead

Details/ tickets (Proms standing £5 on the night) on the BBC Proms website.


Brandon Allen (@bdajazz77) Highgate Jazz With Soul Festival - Aug 23-26

There are regular, often weekly, musician-led weekly gigs all over London. They are cornerstones of our active scene. But Perth/ Western Australian saxophonist Brandon Allen, who hosts a regular late night session at Ronnie Scott's has brought huge energy to the scene, gone further, better, bigger, and created a substantial festival in Highgate over the four days of August Bank Holiday Weekend.

In its  thid year (I think?) it has fifteen gigs, and the names are getting bigger. It is a tenor saxophone fest, with distinctive voices such as Bobby Wellins, Alex Garnett, Brandon Allen himself and Scott Hamilton. There are well-known singers like Ian Shaw and Tina May, and one lesser-known, about whom I've heard a distinct, steady, quiet buzz for a while - Abigail Boyd. The late night Caipirinha jams will be quite something...

There are individual day passes(£30) and festival passes (£80) can be purchased in advance. Advance concession tickets can only be purchased for the 5 main concerts. These are:

FULL PROGRAMME - All, and much more - venue addresses etc - to be found at  the FESTIVAL WEBSITE

Friday 23rd August

8pm till late Festival launch Gig with THE FILTHY SIX (Caipirinha) £10

Nick Etwell(trumpet), Brandon Allen(tenor sax), Nigel Price(guitar), Carl Hudson(keys), Dan Dury(elec. bass) and Simon Lea(drums).

Saturday 24th August

1pm Pete Oxley/Nicolas Meier - guitars   (The Old Crown) £10/£7

3.30pm Trio Manouche with guest Quentin Collins (The Old Crown) £10/£7

Simon Harris(guitar and vocals), Ducato Piotrowski(guitar), Nick Pini(bass) and Quentin Collins(trumpet)

6pm Ian Shaw (The Bull) £17.50/£12.50

Ian Shaw (vocals), Barry Green(piano) and Mick Hutton(bass)

8.30pm Luca Boscagin "Playground" (Caipirinha) £10/£7

Luca Boscagin(guitar), Tomasz Bura (keyboards), Rick James(electric bass) and Francesco Mendolia(drums).

11pm till late Jam session (Caipirinha) £5

Sunday August 25th

1pm The Alan Barnes Quartet plus Scott Hamilton (Lauderdale House) £17.50/£12.50

Alan Barnes(alto and baritone saxes), Scott Hamilton(tenor sax), Robin Aspland(piano), Simon Thorpe(bass) and Bobby Worth(drums).

3.30pm The Brandon Allen Quartet (The Old Crown) £10/£7

Brandon Allen(saxes), Ross Stanley(piano), Mick Hutton(bass) and Chris Higginbottom(drums).

6pm Abigail Boyd (The Bull) £10/£7

Abigail Boyd(vocals), Ross Stanley(Organ) and Matt Home(drums).

8pm Tina May and Nikki Iles (Lauderdale House) £17.50/£12.50

Tina May(vocals) and Nikki Iles(piano)

11pm till late Jam session (Caipirinha) £5

Monday August 26th

1pm Bobby Wellins and Kate Williams (Lauderdale House) £17.50/£12.50

Bobby Wellins(tenor saxophone) and Kate Williams(piano)

3.30pm Jim Hart's Cloudmaker's trio (The Old Crown) £10/£7

Jim Hart(vibes), Mick Coady(bass) and Dave Hamblett(drums).

6pm Jeremy Sassoon (The Old Crown) £10/£7

Jeremy Sassoon(piano and vocals), Elliott Henshaw(drums) and Richard Hammond(electric bass), and Sam Healey(saxophone).

8pm The Tough Tenors featuring Alex Garnett and Brandon Allen (Lauderdale House) £17.50/£12.50

Alex Garnett(tenor sax), Brandon Allen(tenor sax), Ross Stanley(Organ) and Enzo Zirilli(drums).

10.30pm till late Jam session (Caipirinha) £5


CD Review: Patrick Cornelius - Infinite Blue

Patrick Cornelius - Infinite Blue
(Whirlwind Records. WR4637. CD Review by Alison Bentley)

NYC alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius' Infinite Blue is like a book of short stories, or paintings where dreaminess is filtered though sharp colours. Each track has a short written introduction in the liner notes - enough to arouse your interest, but not enough to explain the piece away. It feels right to read the book straight through.

Regent Street opens. ('Nothing makes the man quite like a sharp pair of shoes.') It's sassy and thoughtful: fast walking, boppy, occasionally stopping to watch the world go by. The theme's made up of almost abstract, beautifully-harmonised phrases, with alto, trombone and trumpet. Nick Vayenas' trombone solo is rich-toned and roguish.

The title track Infinite Blue ('A man, a plane, a pencil and a window seat.') was conceived on a plane and named after his 3-year-old daughter's crayon colour. It's shaped like a Kenny Wheeler composition, spacious and moving, the accessible melody skating on the more complex modal harmonies. One of Cornelius' aims in composition is to 'eliminate the superfluous', and this solo hasn't a wasted note, either. It's a little like Charles Lloyd in tone. He waits for the just the right note, with a childlike openness and engaging huskiness.

Waiting ('She sits alone, staring out the window, waiting for him.') begins with Michael Janisch's brooding, dramatic bass solo (Intro to Waiting). I find myself looking out for Waiting each time I listen to the album. The two-note phrases of the theme fan out into harmony with exquisite piano fills from Frank Kimbrough. His piano solo is perfectly in the mood, a little Herbie Hancock-ish, very beautiful. There's plenty of space for Jeff Ballard's creative drumming- it recalls Jack DeJohnette's work on the 90s Scofield/Lovano albums, keeping the subtle energy going behind the slow feel.

The fast bop-swing Puzzler ('Four, then Four again, then Three, Rinse and Repeat.’) bursts into Mike Rodriguez' trumpet solo, with its Woody Shaw-ish timbre and fierceness (elsewhere his deep breathy tones can sound flugel-like). There are some thrilling bars as the trumpet and sax solos fold into each other, Cornelius' liquid tone and modern harmonies perhaps influenced by mentor Dick Oatts.

Unfinished Business (‘A boy sets off on a new adventure in a strange land. A man returns, tired and weary, but resolved, determined and at peace.') has a mellow expansive feel, like a Tom Harrell tune. It has a nicely counterpointed hook line, the subtlety of the melody almost undermined by the modal harmonies. The waltz In the Quiet Moments slows things down further. ('The thoughts, desires, hopes and worries pass by overhead like birds in the distance'.) It's minor and melancholy, stirring up emotion with a certain detachment, as Cornelius plays the tune with a Dexter Gordon-like breathy vibrato. Cornelius likes improvisation to be 'to be an aid to the tune', and the solos sound as if they have the tune in mind.

My Green Tara (a Buddhist goddess-'Compels me to create, think and achieve'.) was commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Art and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, NYC. It has a pulsing swing (courtesy of Janisch) and a Shorter/Hancock vibe, with its unpredictable yet melodic intervals. Projection is written and played by pianist John Chin - the album's only piece not by Cornelius. It has a strong Latin piano groove behind the languid melody, wonderfully delicate cymbal work from Ballard, and an uplifting feeling.

The album takes you through many moods, from melancholy to sparky, with finely-crafted writing and superb musicianship. The more you listen, the more stories it has to tell you.


Review: A Night of Heliocentric Duo Exchange at Café Oto

Dylan Nyoukis and Thurston Moore: Lucifer Duo at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Thurston Moore & Dylan Nyoukis, Sharon Gal & Andie Brown, Byron Coley & Savage Pencil: A Night Of Heliocentric Duo Exchange
(Café Oto, 20 August 2013; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

For a quiet August evening this was a lively affair at a buzzing Café Oto.

Thurston Moore proposed and facilitated three markedly different duos with inspired, oblique takes on the worlds of sound and words. Each performance was a single piece of around thirty-five minutes making up a balanced, stimulating and concentrated programme.

Opening were Thurston Moore and Dylan Nyoukis, their first performance together as Lucifer Duo - a musical conversation cast as 'The Fireside Chat', which well described this gently extreme conversation comprising explorations batted back and forth by Moore's blurry electric guitar treatments and Nyoukis's out-on-a-limb vocals, electronics and wired-up violin. The volume was down, which gave these interrogations a deceptively pastoral feel, taking in Moore's Indian-tinged zithery strums, and shuddering, muted distortions and Nyoukis's mouthy clicks, Noh vocalisings and frayed bowings - an exercise in quiet thunder and jarred sonics which brought a smile to Moore's face at its conclusion.

The Dancing Shadows Duo, Sharon Gal, vocaliser extraordinaire, and Andie Brown, sound artist and bassist, developed an exceptionally intense dialogue around Gal's anguished, dark vocal expression. Brown's eyes followed Gal's every deviation, allowing her to build up an ominous, humming environment that the agony of Gal's intimations of the horrors of today's Guernicas would inhabit. Like Phil Minton, Gal presents a disembodied and uncomfortable mirror of our times in an allusive, yet direct, manner. Vocoder-like mouthpieces allowed Gal's speech to briefly take on a siren tone and Brown to add additional indistinct layers. Brown's oversize water-filled wine glasses, rims wiped to draw out whining sounds, and Gal's tinkling chimes were foils to the raw drones, wails and screams released with such passion in their moving performance.

The Galacto Fidelity Duo gave voice to the poetry of Sun Ra. Massachusetts-based music writer, Byron Coley recited a selection of Ra's disarmingly stark insights in to the human condition - accompanied by the strikingly bearded, behatted and dark-bespectacled Savage Pencil (aka Sav X/Edwin Pouncey) on Moog, who provided insistent, thrumming engine pulses and eerie echoes, carefully modulated to synchronise with the sense and intensity of the rapid-fire stream of words. Coley's articulation caught the spirit of Ra's thoughts and cerebral flow, with its mix of hipster jargon and outraged pronouncements from his extra-terrestrial alter ego viewing the follies of humankind, in fitting succession to Gal's desperate entreaties, seemingly from the battlefield that Ra observed with disbelief. "I'm in orbit, man!" Coley declaimed. We certainly were!


Jamie Cullum's Radio 2 Show Jumps into Asia

Jamie Cullum at Musilac, near Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, 2013

The folk at the production company of the BBC Radio 2 Jamie Cullum show, Folded Wing write:

"For the last year Jamie’s show has been syndicated to stations in France (TSF Jazz) and Canada (Jazz 91 FM), but from this week commencing 26th August the show will also be broadcast on the following stations in South East Asia:

 - Lush 99.5FM (Singapore)
- Crossover 105.1 (Philippines)
- CR2 and RTHK2(Hong Kong)
- CRI 915 EZFM (China)
- Swaragama FM (Indonesia)
- ICRT Radio (Taiwan)
- Heart Radio 93.5 (Thailand)

Jamie’s show has 920,000 listeners in the UK, a record reach and share for the slot. Nominated for ‘Music Broadcaster of the Year’ at this year’s Sony Awards, The Parliamentary Jazz Awards named Jamie ‘Jazz Broadcaster of the Year’, while the New York Festivals Awards awarded the show silver for ‘Best Jazz Format’ in 2012 and 2013."

BBC Radio 2 Controller Bob Shennan calls the show "one of the highlights of [Radio 2's] specialist music schedule." Shennan has been Controller of Radio 2 since Feb 2009; the Cullum show started in Apr 2010.


Claire Martin, Joe Stilgoe - Lost for Words

Claire Martin, Joe Stilgoe. Lost for Words. Something which can't happen to either of them that often (joke.)  Recorded Monday 19th August 2013, British Vocal Jazz Festival, Dirty Martini Bar at Le Monde Hotel in George Street, Edinburgh.


Elizabeth McGovern aka Sadie and the Hot Heads - Nov 14th, 21st, 28th, Hippodrome Casino

Illinois-born, adoptive Londoner, actress Elizabeth McGovern fronts a band called Sadie and the Hotheads. It all started - I read - with gigs at the Castle in Portobello Road in 2008. Three London dates on successive Thursdays this November: 14th, 21st, 28th. BOOKINGS HERE.


CD Review: Major Surgery - The First Cut

Major Surgery - The First Cut
(NEXTDPI. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Rekindled in 1972 from the ashes of Boris, a band including saxophonist Don Weller and guitarist Jimmy Roche, Major Surgery added drummer Tony Marsh and electric bassist Bruce Collcutt to the frontline pair and swiftly established a name for themselves in south London, performing regularly in Croydon pubs such as the Dog and Bull and the Gun. They didn’t record until 1976, and The First Cut is the fruit of that session, now reissued with a bonus track, ‘Calypso Reg’.

Their music is a punchy, frequently fiery brand of the then voguish jazz-rock, spinning intense solos from tight, perky riffs (‘Jubileevit’, ‘Foul Group Practices’), setting up relatively complex time signatures for Weller and Roche to explore (‘Dog and Bull Fight’, ‘Shrimpboats’) or simply building climactic hurtles from repeated bass figures (‘Hoe Down Up’), and overall, as the album’s accompanying publicity claims, The First Cut documents ‘a time when four skilled musicians arrived at a small venue, set up their gear and simply went for it’.

The late, great Tony Marsh might be more often celebrated these days for his work with the Westbrooks and for freer music, but here he plays in strict – if occasionally fiendishly complex – time, delivering his signature precise and considered yet often rockingly ebullient drumming; Bruce Collcutt deftly anchors all the wildness going on around him; the frontline pair of Weller and Roche, the former all beefy, sinewy strength, the latter utilising a variety of unusual guitar textures in his intriguing solo excursions, complement each other effectively in what is a pleasingly varied and powerful programme. A valuable record of an undersung band.


RIP Marian McPartland (1918-2013)

NPR has reported the death last night Tuesday 20th of another of the jazz greats, Windsor-born Marian McPartland. STORY HERE.

Read John Fordham's obituary in the Guardian HERE

And The Telegraph's obituary HERE


Review: Ron Carter Trio at Ronnie Scott's

Ron Carter's Golden Striker Trio
(Ronnie Scott's, 20th August 2013. Second night of three. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

I was flicking through the 35-page guidance notes for an arts grants scheme yesterday afternoon. As you do.  Phrases like 'great art' and 'experiences that enrich people’s lives' kept coming up. A few hours later I was listening to guitarist Russell Malone at Ronnie Scott's.

As in the video above, Malone didn't emerge from the shadows for a while, but when he did, it was something unforgettable, and it certainly enriched my life. This is music of warmth, connection, conversation, companionship, beauty, affection, expression from deep, coherent and simple lines, each one emerging in relation to what has gone before, balance, subtle voicings, a deep sense of swing and an infectious backbeat. Everywhere, in all three musicians' contributions to the whole, but above all in Russell Malone's feature Candle Light, all of these virtues were in abundance. Great art indeed.

The new participant - to me at least - was Nicaraguan-born pianist Donald Vega, who does not play on the same sheer scale as the late great Mulgrew Miller, is different again from Jacky Terrasson (above), and - as Mike Hobart points out in a good FT review - brings an interesting, new, Latin dimension to the trio. Ron Carter's presence, dominance, leadership from the bass are simply that "magnetic North" which we all look for, and which Spielberg portrayed so well in the dark expanses of the film Lincoln. You know it when you've seen it.

Support was Benet McLean, with a characterful Duncan Eagles on saxes, immaculate Max Luthert on bass and Mark Mondesir on drums. McLean's virtuoso homage to Art Tatum was just phenomenal. More please. And Mark Mondesir is as decisive, positive and characterful a drummer as can be heard anywhere. The shimmering delight of his two-cymbal roll, just before bringing the last number to an emphatic close, will stay in the mind. 


RIP Sathima Bea Benjamin (1936-2013)

Sebastian writes: sad to report the death yesterday of singer Sathima Bea Benjamin, an important figure in South African music, who was married for many years to Abdullah Ibrahim.

Cape Town Broadcaster Eric Alan has written:

I still reeling from the news of the death of lauded, Cape South African Jazz vocalist, the celebrated Sathima Bea Benjamin, and had a rather fitful night, with so many thought's and recollections of happy times of chats and interaction over the last 20 or so years. Although I knew and had her music, it was only when I became involved in radio during the heady days of early community radio, did I get to know much more about her legendary status, career and on a more personal level. We were going to have an in-depth chat on All Jazz Radio during my show although some what frail her steely strength showed when chatting to her on the phone and in person. The last time we met personally was at her first Cape Town club gig at the The CRYPT Jazz Restaurant. She was a dignified figure on the stage soaking the love shown by the jazz lovers of Cape Town in the crowded venue on the night.

Sebastian met her last year in Cape Town and Gugulethu, where she talked about her career - and took this picture of her with Adam Glasser.

We reviewed African Songbird HERE


LP Review: Peter King - Miliki Sound

Peter King - Miliki Sound
(Mr Bongo Records MRBLP103. LP review by Andrew Cartmel)

Some necessary disambiguation: this particular Peter King is the stellar Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, who plays much more than the saxophone. And Miliki Sound is the second album by him to be reissued as part of Mr Bongo’s laudable “Classic African Recordings” project. The first one, Shango, can be found reviewed here.

Recorded a year after Shango, in 1975, Miliki Sound represents the beginning of a dazzlingly prolific period for King — he’d record another eight albums in the next three years. And if they’re all as good as this you should set aside a section of your record shelf to accommodate them.

Originally released on Sonny Roberts Orbitone label, Miliki Sound is a hybrid of Afro-Jazz, High Life and African root music. It was produced by Roberts and features Eddie Tantan on trumpet, Dudu Pukwana on alto sax and Mfon Idem on tenor sax. Peter King himself also features on tenor, not to mention singing, playing the flute (as beautifully displayed on Jo Jolo), soprano sax, piano, percussion, and more.

Indeed, on Boleya Koya King even proves adroit on the violin. This number has a flavour of Cajun dance music as well as township jive and even a hint of James ‘Blood’ Ulmer. It is shuffling and insistent, beguiling and captivating. Having demonstrated his ability on strings at the beginning of this tune Pete King comes weaving in again on tenor saxophone at the end, shining against the solid, unified backdrop provided by Tantan, Pukwana and Idem.

Compared to Shango there is a more of an emphasis here on catchy, danceable tunes. The playful joyous lightness of Iya La Jole, for instance, carries us into the musical territory which would eventually sell millions of records when explored by Paul Simon. On the other hand, on Elelzy King’s violin once again conjures up a premonition of James Ulmer — specifically the Ulmer album Odyssey which featured the fiddling prowess of James Burnham.

The record as a whole is a tightly packed box of musical tricks and treats, packing in many a surprise. Memorably described on the liner notes as a ‘Sweet Afro Casserole’ the music on offer is wide ranging but always presents a direct emotional appeal.

The mood throughout this album is perhaps lighter than on the formidable Shango, so if you’re intrigued by Peter King this might be the ideal entry point to his recordings. You don’t necessarily have to chose between the two albums, though, as Mr Bongo is offering a bundle of the two on vinyl at a very advantageous price.

As with the other Classic African Recording LPs, Miliki Sound is offered on lightweight but high quality vinyl and the sound is excellent: noise-free, deep and dynamic.

The record is a faithful replica of the original, right down to attractive yellow and silver Orbitone label. There is one area where it might have been a good idea to be a bit less faithful and more practical, though. The sleeve has absolutely no printing on the spine, presumably to maintain fidelity to the 1975 release. So if this record gets misfiled, good luck ever finding it again.

Perhaps the solution is simply never to take it off your turntable.

Miliki Sound is also available on CD if you’re into those digital sorts of things.


Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013 in Pictures

The Audience at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013
Photo Credit: Richard Kaby. Some Rights Reserved

We've received these photographs from photographer Richard Kaby of the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013 (read Seb's review HERE). See all of Richard Kaby's photographs HERE.

Zoe Rahman at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013
Photo Credit: Richard Kaby. Some Rights Reserved

Omar Puente at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013
Photo Credit: Richard Kaby. Some Rights Reserved

Yolanda Brown at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 2013
Photo Credit: Richard Kaby. Some Rights Reserved


News: The Jam In Ham. Revived

Tony Heiberg writes:

I am delighted to announce that, due to overwhelming popular demand, the weekly Jam in Ham my band hosted at the Hand & Flower last year, begins anew this Sunday from 6-9pm .

The Hand & Flower is a beautiful pub/restaurant that, under the auspices of its new owner, has recently been revamped to even greater heights of splendour. It is located just opposite Ham Common at 24 Upper Ham Road, Richmond Surrey, TW10 5LA. Moreover, the 65 bus stops very near the pub and there are lots of parking spaces available on the common.

The H & F has a wide range of beers and larger at some of the lowest prices in the area while chef Piers Driver presides over a menu of traditional British fare that is given a bistro type of flair. Then too, managers Jessica Mawson and Tim Hourican are gracious hosts.

So, our jam couldn't be in a more salubrious location and all jazz musicians and singers are most welcome to sit in with the house band. We run the whole gamut of jazz repertoire from trad through to bebop, blue note, Latin, funk and modern tunes and enjoy playing in every style.

Rhythm section players are encouraged to augment our regular cast of pianists led by Ben Gilbert, while Max Luthert and Sophie Alloway preside over the bass and drum sections, and I am always glad to enlist the aid of my fellow guitarists.

We are always pleased to welcome horn players of every variety to our jam. Duncan Eagles frequently hosts on tenor sax and other upcoming guest hosts include Bob McKay, Dave Harvey, Robert Goodhew, Piers Green, Sam Eagles and, on trumpets, Toby Nowell and Paul Jordanous. I am also looking forward to having guitarists Leo Appleyard and Dan Redding as guest hosts along with singers Tracy O'Conner and Patsy Gilbert nee' Burns.

I intend to give guest host spots to all of my musician friends and hope to make many new friends at the Jam in Ham. 


Stevie Wonder at the George Duke “Celebration of Life” - Los Angeles 19 Aug

Stevie Wonder's homily to George Duke, and "If It's Magic" (from 6:56).


Preview: Lonnie Liston Smith at Jazz Café Camden. 24th Aug

Lonnie Liston Smith at the Hideaway in 2012
Photo Credit: Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas previews Lonnie Liston Smith - Jazz Café, Camden, Saturday 24th August 2013.

I bought Expansions as a teenager, it had been featured at the old Thursday night disco upstairs at Ronnie's (others might also recognise it from the Grand Theft Auto games ). It was catchy, danceable but the lyrics had more to them with their universal message of peace and love:

Expand your mind to understand
we all must live in peace to earth
extend your hand to help the plan
of love to all mankind on earth

I remember it was closely becoming an anthem. Some of the sentiments could now be seen as cheesy or clichéd but back then it was clearly heartfelt and genuine.

The Ronnie's Disco was also a perfect place for to hear it. This was Liston Smith's first album since leaving the Miles Davis band in 1974 and was a synthesis of jazz, soul, funk, and disco with a signature bass line supported by pounding repetitive rhythms, synthesised strings,  and soaring vocals juxtaposed by cool flute and Rhodes solos.

His fame dissipated slightly during the mid to late eighties but I'm thrilled that he's made a comeback and is playing at the Jazz Café Camden on Saturday night.
Tickets HERE


Review: Tribute to Jaco Pastorius by Gwilym Simcock at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Laurence Cottle, Gwilym Simcock, James Maddren. Pizza Express, 19th Aug 2013

Gwilym Simcock – Tribute to Jaco Pastorius 
(Pizza Express Soho, 19th August 2013. Review by Matt Phillips) 

It’s a sobering thought that bass master Jaco Pastorius would have turned 62 this December had he not died so tragically, from the injuries he sustained in a fight in a nightclub, in 1987. Whilst he has since been rightfully acknowledged as the Charlie Parker of electric bass, his compositions have arguably never really been given enough recognition, partly due to his ‘sideman’ roles with some of the biggest names in the business (Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny), partly due to his tragically short life, and possibly partly because he used so many different formats on his three solo albums (big band, orchestra, solo bass, steel pans, fusion quartet/quintet).

Many commentators believe that had he lived longer, Jaco may have produced a body of work comparable to Mingus, a bold claim but certainly no long-shot when one hears ‘Punk Jazz’, ‘City Of Angels’, ‘Teen Town’, ‘Three Views Of A Secret’ or ‘John and Mary’.

So it was a real treat to see this gig appearing in the Pizza Express schedule, and a nice surprise for a pianist – and one as open-minded and generous as Gwilym Simcock – to celebrate Jaco’s influence rather than a bassist or guitarist. For, as Herbie Hancock acknowledged in his liner notes to Jaco’s stunning debut album, Pastorius had the harmony, chords and single-note lead playing covered. He could groove as well as anyone but also made the instrument fly – it’s no surprise two of his heroes were James Brown and Stravinsky.

And there was no one more qualified than Laurence Cottle to hold down the bass role in this trio – he knew Jaco (see 2012 LondonJazz interview) , and his lithe, propulsive playing on fretless five-string was a superb tribute. Simcock began the gig with a lengthy spoken introduction about Jaco, touching on his mental illness, career highpoints and shocking death. His enthusiasm for Jaco’s music was infectious and he littered the gig with anecdotes and heartfelt recommendations which will hopefully provoke a spike in Amazon’s sales figures today.

‘Liberty City’ seemed a very apt opener and worked brilliantly in trio format with drummer James Maddren admirably underplaying. Although Wayne Shorter’s ‘Elegant People’, in its original form, didn’t feature Jaco on bass, he did cover it on the hard-to-find "Holiday For Pans" album. Though a bit too brisk, its harmonies brought tingles to the spine. Zawinul’s ‘Young and Fine’ was a great choice – I’ve always wondered why it isn’t covered more. Slightly disappointing though was its regimented ‘post-disco’ groove taken from the original - it might have been nice to have played this in a swing style. Maddren struggled to get out of second gear during Metheny’s ‘Bright Size Life’, but Joni Mitchell’s ‘Jericho’ was graced with a brilliant intro by Simcock, summarising and juggling the tune’s themes, while Cottle produced a beautifully judged solo over tricky, non-linear changes. ‘Kuru/Speak Like A Child’ slightly lacked forward motion but Simcock’s elegance (and occasional quoting of Herbie’s sublime solo on the original) shone through.

The ‘Continuum/Blackbird/Reza’ medley was rough and ready (and again a little too fast) but good fun. ‘Three Views’ was very moving despite Maddren’s rather rigid blues/R’n’B feel, but he finally woke up on a blistering medley of Ornette’s ‘Round Trip/Broadway Blues’, putting some welly into his kick drum. The beauty and innocence of Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated Lady’ touchingly brought to life the gentle, tender side of Jaco’s soundworld (and personality), while the closing ‘Used To Be a Cha-Cha’ was simply world-class, a superb, dynamic performance.

So no ‘Teen Town’, ‘Havona’ or ‘City Of Angels’ – but no matter. An uplifting, sometimes moving night of music and memories.

Gwilym Simcock – piano
Laurence Cottle – electric bass
James Maddren – drums


Liberty City

Elegant People

Young and Fine

Bright Size Life


Kuru/Speak Like A Child


Three Views of a Secret

Road Trip/Broadway Blues

Sophisticated Lady

Used To Be a Cha-Cha

Theis tribute to Jaco Pastorius was part of a series curated  by Shades of Soul