Five Faces of Vincent Peirani at 2014 Suedtirol Jazz Festival

Vincent Peirani - SuedtirolJazz Festival 2014.
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski - All Rights Reserved

A rising - or, more accurately - risen star of the French scene is brilliant, charismatic, and impossibly tall Nice-born accordionist Vincent Peirani. In the first of our coverage from this year's Suedtirol/ Alto Adige Jazz Festival, writer photographer Ralf Dombrowski has caught him in five different moods. Sebastian first heard him as part of Daniel Humair's quartet in 2012 and we also reviewed a fine first album for ACT, Thrill Box

Vincent Peirani - SuedtirolJazz Festival 2014.
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski - All Rights Reserved

Serena Fisseau, Vincent Peirani - SuedtirolJazz Festival 2014.
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski - All Rights Reserved

Vincent Peirani - SuedtirolJazz Festival 2014.
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski - All Rights Reserved

Vincent Peirani - SuedtirolJazz Festival 2014.
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski - All Rights Reserved


NEWS: Herts Jazz Fest (Sep 12th-14th) - Day Tickets on Sale July 1st

Georgie Fame

The full line-up for the Herts Jazz Festival at the Hawthorne Theatre, Welwyn Garden City on 12-14 September 2014 is announced. Clark Tracey is in charge of the programming, and it is a very strong line-up this year, including Georgie Fame (above) John Taylor, Chris Barber and a Blakey tribute from Jean Toussaint - full listing below.

Weekend tickets are already on sale, at £95 (£85 Herts Jazz members, £30 students) and the Festival is putting day tickets - Saturday £50 (£45 members, £15 students) and Sunday £45 (£40 members, £15 students)on sale tomorrow.


Friday 12th September

8.30-11.00 The Big Chris Barber Band
11.00-12.30 Brian Dee Trio

Saturday 13th September

11.30–12.30 James Pearson Trio – A history of jazz piano
1.00-2.00 Art Themen Quartet
2.00-3.00 Nigel Price solo
3.15-4.30 Ben Castle Quartet
5.00-6.15 Jean Toussaint's Blakey Tribute
6.15-7.30 Michael De Souza duo
7.45-10.15 John Taylor Quartet
10.30-12.00 Leon Greening Trio

Sunday 14th September

11.30-12.30 Herts Youth Jazz Ensemble
1.00-2.00 Clark Tracey Quintet
2.00-3.00 Mike Gorman solo
3.15-4.30 JJ Wheeler Quintet
5.00-6.15 Stickchops (Orphy Robinson/Anthony Kerr/Clark Tracey)
6.15-7.30 Alan Barnes/Dave Newton
7.45-10.15 Alan Skidmore Quartet with special guest Georgie Fame.

Tickets from the Festival website or at the Hawthorne Theatre box office (01707 357117). (pp)


CD REVIEW: Busnoys - Weaving the Spell

Busnoys - Weaving the Spell
(Tall Guy Records TG006. CD review by Mike Collins)

This may be one of the most appropriately titled CDs of the year. As soon as the chiming chords faded of vibes player Martin Pyne’s delicate and fiercely thoughtful rendering of You’ve changed, the one standard on this third recording by Busnoys, the urge to play the quietly gripping CD again was almost irresistible.

The trio of Pyne, bass player Jeff Spencer and drummer Trevor Davies draw the listener in from the first calmly stated three note phrase from the bass. Notes ring, chords hang, space is allowed to do its work. The liner notes tells us the inspiration for many of the pieces come from novels, poems and legends and some pieces do sound like a story. Walking to Himmelvanger, built around that single simple melodic phrase, stated and developed first by the bass, evolves a steady pulse almost imperceptibly, giving way to a vibes solo before an unexpected warm hopeful melody appears at the conclusion. Weaving the Spell, inspired by the legend of Arthur and the enchantment of Merlin, is all whispering atmospherics. Spooky progressions set the scene for a plaintive melody on violin and incantation-like wordless vocals from guest Gina Griffin.

Other compositions are more song like. Making the point has short spiky interjections from the vibes over a walking bass as the theme. Shadow Dance is a slinky swing with an attractive melody slowly unfurling with exquisite understatement. “Shhh… listen” they seem to be saying. The intensity really thickens with Barr Line, named for recording engineer, Get the Blessing’s Jim Barr. An episodic piece full of contrasts and burst of energy, it makes the uplifting melodic simplicity of The Education of Little Tree that follows all the more affecting. Nocturne is a conversational sound poem, rustles and shimmers, chimes, electronic sizzles, thuds and swells from the bass, skitter and clatter from everyone before dissolving into Pyne’s unbearably tense regretful reading of You’ve Changed

This album is a little triumph. A glowing, sometimes austere, occasionally dark beauty emerges as the set unfolds. Martin Pyne, composer of all but that final standard is at the centre of it all, but this is foremost a group performance rewarding close attention and repeated listens.


Review: Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo at the 606 Club

Eddie Parker's Mister Vertigo
(606 Club, Chelsea. 26th June 2014. Review by Joe Stoddart)

Eddie Parker bought his Mister Vertigo project to London last night with a performance at the 606 Club. Joined by Julian Nicholas (Soprano & Tenor saxes), Kit Downes (Piano), John Parricelli (Guitar), Steve Watts (Electric Bass) and Mike Pickering (Drums), the group  demonstrated not only fine musicianship individually and collectively, but also highlighted the quality, appeal and variety of Parker’s compositions.

Parker describes Fat Man Galliard, as being“quite long and it goes all over the place,”. The tune does indeed range widely, from the opening Elizabethan style section with shifting time signatures, to a piano solo underpinned by a sparse groove into a swing section with a fantastic double improvisation from flute and soprano sax. However, the listener never loses the feel of it being one complete piece. After the ethereal Chant, which saw the band members abandon their main instruments for wind chimes and finger cymbals before a haunting melody played on alto flute, the band continued in a more groove based vein before taking things down with beautiful ballad Cortege, dedicated to the late Pete Saberton.

Ishtar was probably the most Loose Tubes-esque tune in the set. Named after the Assyrian goddess of love and war, the tune seemed to embody not only the musical style but also the spirit of the recently revived 80’s phenomenon with solos from Nicholas, Downes and Parker all leading to a building rocky riff before an abrupt finish.

The rock feel continued with Earthman, a homage to John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra. Particularly citing the orchestra’s ability to ‘make odd time signatures sound normal’, the 5/4 groove pounded away while Parricelli channelled his inner McLaughlin with a white hot solo. The band finished with One For Joe, a Black Market tinged tribute to Weather Report frontman Joe Zawinul. The joyful groove built through a crescendo of solos before a final blast of the melody rounding off the night in perfect fashion.


Expression (Coltrane)
Für Elaine
Delius Myth
Fat Man Galliard
Tidenham Chase
No More Mirrors
One For Joe


REVIEW: Close to you – Matt Ford at the Pizza Express Dean Street

Close to you – Matt Ford sings with the James Pearson Quintet & the Tippett Quartet
(Pizza Express, Dean Street, 24th June 2014. Review by Peter Vacher)

Football on the TV, temperatures suggesting summer had arrived, yet this venerable jazz venue was packed to the gunwales. Good news for lovers of quality music, wouldn’t you say? It turns out that drummer Matt Skelton, pianist James Pearson and trombonist-arranger Callum Au had long cherished the idea of re-creating Frank Sinatra’s classic Close To You album, the one where the great man sang a series of fine standards with the Hollywood String Quartet in arrangements penned by Nelson Riddle. No mean feat and signal to it was the choice of the experienced singer Matt Ford, known these days for his appearances with the John Wilson orchestra to carry the necessary vocal responsibility. Oh yes, and the ability to successfully marry the string passages with a jazz backing.

Step forward Au who transcribed the original charts, supplied some of his own and played neat trombone on the bandstand. Add in a sympathetic string quartet and moustachioed harpist Hugh Webb, plus multi-instrumentalist Howard McGill and bassist Calum Gourlay alongside Au, Pearson and Skelton and you have both a formidable array of talents and a substantial ensemble to cram on to the Pizza bandstand for this debut performance.

As one observer put it, where else would you hear such distinctive, timeless music, tailored with such care yet still sounding so fresh? And that’s a tribute not only to the inspiration behind the original album but to the talents of those on view here. Ford knows and feels these sings, letting them breathe, making the dynamics work, good on ballads and hip on the swingers, not seeking to ape Sinatra but faithful to the idiom, while the integration of strings and jazzers appeared seamless. All the guys soloed, Au’s backing bits and pieces were spot-on and it was a stroke of genius to incorporate Webb’s harp glissandi and lush counterpoint.

All in all, a very classy production and one that clearly has potential in an age when a yearning for the safe ground of recognisable melody is ever more evident. Is it just nostalgia? Maybe, but this audience didn’t wait to be asked, whooping, hollering and cheering every song. My favourite among many was the swinging version of I Won’t Dance inspired by the Basie-Sinatra collaboration, then again there was Pearson’s keyboard tribute to Oscar Peterson’s Sinatra album with ‘Witchcraft’ and McGill’s heated alto on an all-instrumental version of Just Friends borrowed from Bird with Strings. So plenty to enjoy here, and yes, to revive Close to You was eminently worthwhile, made more so by the artistry of all concerned and the inherent quality of the original source material.


CD Review: Robbie Harvey - Blowin' That Old Tin Can

CD Review: Robbie Harvey - Blowin' That Old Tin Can
Diving Duck Recordings DDRCD020. CD Review by Adrian Pallant.

A splendidly straight-down-the middle album from trombonist Robbie Harvey, Blowin' That Old Tin Can celebrates the less-frequent jazz leadership of a particularly lyrical and exciting instrument. With an impressive background – including tutelage by Denis Wick and lead trombonist with NYJO, as well as numerous international awards and high-profile big band appearances – Ronnie Scott's regular Harvey now releases this fine debut recording. Joining him on an eight-track outing of standards and originals is the wonderfully buoyant team of Alex Garnett (tenor sax), Leon Greening (piano), Tom Farmer or Giorgos Antoniou (double bass), and Steve Brown (drums).

Particularly impressive are the two opening numbers, both penned by Harvey, which suggest a distinctive and promising compositional talent. Blowin' That Old Tin Can presents a classic, pacy big band-style swing, the trombonist sharing lead duties with tenorist Alex Garnett. With slick soloing throughout and structured punctuation of the relentless drive maintained by bassist Giorgos Antoniou, this is a title track of considerable animation and verve. Following this, smooth ballad You'll Ask Why glides to the sumptuous-yet-lithe legato of Harvey's trombone, all upheld by assured piano/bass/drums momentum, Garnett turning in his own sublime improvisation.

Soon due its centenary, Raymond Hubbell's popular standard, Poor Butterfly, is given a bravely up-tempo feel thanks to the solid bluesy piano work of Leon Greening and shimmering with the joyful, metronomic ride rhythm that Steve Brown delivers with customary panache. Carn Galva iridesces with Brown's soft cymbals/toms and Greening's precise high-end keys; muted trombone and low tenor sax providing the rich, smoky extemporisations – a true delight! Cranking up the 'old tin can' again, Harvey's trombone bristles energetically in Alex Garnett's brisk Delusions of Grandma which almost tumbles over itself in unbridled vivacity. The high jinks of the quintet is palpable here, and credit to Garnett for this rollercoaster winner of a number.

Opening with strong unison lines, much-covered standard I Should Care relaxes into a pleasingly mid-tempo arrangement, Harvey confirming his aptitude for bright, lissome soloing. In contrast, Ellington's Tonight I Shall Sleep reveals an exquisite late-nighter, Greening's pianistic delicacy matching Harvey's impeccably mellow tone and deftly-mobile technique. Closing with the familiar melody of Baubles, Bangles and Beads (from the musical Kismet), Garnett and Harvey converse concisely over Brown's bubbling rhythm, Tom Farmer adding solo bass clarity to this chipper curtain call.

For a consummate, feel-good programme of jazz quintet arrangements, fronted by a young trombonist with impassioned feeling for his genre and a glimpse of further compositional delights to come, Blowin' That Old Tin Can is certainly worth tracking down.


Interview/Preview: Eddie Parker's Mister Vertigo at 606 Club (Thurs June 26th) Part 2

Eddie Parker performs with his band Eddie Parker's Mister Vertigo at the 606 Club on 26th June. Josef Stout continued our email interview. Read Part 1 HERE :

LondonJazz News: Your compositions for Loose Tubes are all remarkably different; from the Dolphy-esque freeness of 'Sosbun Brakk' to the subtle funk of 'Children's Game', plus nods towards Ska and Brazilian to name a few. Did you always aim to be as contrasting to your last piece as possible?

Eddie Parker: It's not that I try to make each composition different from the last one: I'm not like Karlheinz Stockhausen in that respect! It's just what comes out, given that I have eclectic interests. We live in a time when it is possible to be exposed to very widely different musics, I mean other than those we are brought up in: I've spoken elsewhere about the records our family possessed when I was a kid - Stevie Wonder, Alban Berg, Bartok etc; that was already rather wide-ranging! But once I was a teenager and pursuing my own interests, I truffled out all kinds of stuff. And some of it went in, and some of it didn't. My composing career has been a working out, in some respects, of all those jostling influences; I'm trying to be true to myself in doing this rather than saying to myself "right, it's just salsa music from now on" (much as I like salsa!). It would be like saying "right, no more C sharps from now on!".

LJ: Were there any stumbling blocks regarding arranging for so many musicians; ie, making sure each player has something interesting to play without 'over doing' ones voicings etc ?

EP: There always are challenges in arranging for so many musicians but I had a good training in it 25 years ago when Loose Tubes rehearsed every week. I got to understand what 5 saxes, 4 trombones and tuba and 4 trumpets can do. Sometimes the biggest challenge is working out exactly what the rhythm section need to have in their parts for them to know what to do: rehearsal time is often limited, so the more clues you can give, the better.

LJ: Where did you learn to arrange for large ensemble? Did you have a formal training?

EP: I had a formal training in music (York University) but not in Jazz and certainly not in arranging. I listened a lot, observed what my colleagues were doing and made the rest up for myself! Certain music inspired me: Gil Evans, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stravinsky, Bartok, Debussy. All of these gave me inspiration in matters of hearing textures, harmonies and colours. Like, for example, how Gil combines harmon mute trumpets and alto flutes: that's in Porgy and Bess; certain keyboard voicings work well translated onto saxes or brass - that's in Weather Report and Mahavishnu stuff. Bartok was a wonderful orchestrator; he and Stravinsky and Debussy had a nice line in making 'out' harmonies work - bitonal combinations etc. And Debussy has this 'event horizon' where sonority and harmony turn into each other. Then there are the wonderful avant-garde composers like Luciano Berio and Ligeti. So all of this helps me as an arranger/orchestrator.

Tickets for Eddie Parer's Mister Vertigo are available via the 606 website.


NEWS: Jonathan Silk Wins Scottish Young Jazz Musician 2014

Jonathan Silk

Drummer, composer and bandleader Jonathan Silk won the title Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 2014 at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow last night. He is 23, originally from Dollar in Clackmannanshire and has been a student at Birmingham Conservatoire. The other finalists were John Lowrie, Drums, age 22 from Dumfries, Helena Kay, Alto Saxophone, age 20 from Perth, Sean Gibbs, Trumpet, age 20 from Edinburgh, and Fergus McCreadie, piano, age 16 from Dollar. Fergus McCreadie won a special Under 17 award - for the second year in a row. More from the Scottish Jazz Federation.


Preview/ Interview: Jo Lawry at Pizza Express (July 1st)

Jo Lawry

Nicky Schrire spoke today to Australian/New York-based singer Jo Lawry, ahead of her London debut as a leader at Pizza Express on Tuesday 1st July. Jo received a Masters Degree in Jazz from Purchase College in New York, and is working on a Doctorate from the New England Conservatory in Boston. Jo married saxophonist Will Vinson last weekend.

LondonJazz News: You're from Australia, you've adopted New York as home. What's the story?

Jo Lawry: I grew up on an almond farm in South Australia, and lived in Adelaide until moving straight to New York. So, as you can imagine, it was a pretty big change! Those first few years were really tough at times, but at the same time there were so many wonderful musicians who extended friendship and opportunities that kept me going-Fred Hersch, Kate McGarry, and Jon Faddis to name a few. I think it surprises most of us transplants just how welcoming and open the New York music scene is. We arrive here expecting something incredibly cutthroat and tough, but in fact I have found the New York music scene to be something of an oasis, where one is constantly encouraged and supported to keep trying to create new and creative music.

LJN: You've worked with artsits like Fred Hersch, but been working for nearly five years as backing vocalist with Sting?

JL: My first gig with Sting was for a DVD filming of his 2009 project, "If...On a Winter's Night" at Durham Cathedral. I've listened so much to Sting my whole life (luckily my older siblings didn't give me a choice, he was the most prevalent voice heard on our record player!) and right from the beginning we managed to achieve a really special blend together. It's exhilarating when a blend can become so close that it sounds like two pitches being sung by one voice, and that's what we are going for. Apparently Sting liked it enough to invite me to join him for his orchestral tour, "Symphonicities" and we travelled around the world - a couple of times - with that fantastic project. Since then I have been lucky to have been a part, in ways big and small, of the projects he's done; the "Back to Bass" tour, as well as working on the new musical "The Last Ship" (which opens in Chicago tonight). It's just such a joy and privilege to work with Sting. He is always pushing himself to create something new, and is such a perfectionist himself that he inspires you to live up to his example. It's a wild and wonderful ride.

LJN. Has your foundation/education as a jazz musician helped (or hindered) your working with Sting? In what ways does it influence your musical choices and approach?

JL: Sting's songs are far from the three-chord variety. Those bridges! He is one of the artists who can take the most credit for introducing complex harmonies, odd-time signatures and more into pop and rock music. So when a sharp nine or flat thirteen is the next most interesting note under or over Sting's vocal melody, it's pretty handy to know what those notes are and how to use them. Not being thrown by a song that jumps between several time signatures is also handy too, especially when you are trying to play tambourine next to Vinnie Colaiuta! It's also good to be comfortable with improvisation, as you never quite know what's going to happen next... which is great, because it keeps things fresh, night after night for a hundred shows or more!

LJN: The few tunes I've heard on radio from your new album 'Taking Pictures' are gorgeous-beautifully crafted with keen attention to lyrics and orchestration. Can you tell us more about the upcoming release?

JL: This is my first album composed entirely of original songs, so it's very close to my heart (that's probably why it's taken me almost two years to get it to the point I think it's ready to release!!!). But we are looking at a late October release, with a few sneak-peeks in September. The songs are inspired by lots of things-breakups, of course, and falling in love too. And other less common subjects, perhaps - for instance, a tale about the failed Minnesotan gold rush of 1865-1867. Something for everyone, I hope.

What is important to me in each song is that there is a story that people can connect with - a snapshot of those pivotal life moments to which everyone can relate. A fork in the road, an opening - or closing - door. That's what I hear in my favorite songwriters - Sting, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, and what I am trying, in my own little way, to do too.

The personnel on the record are an embarrassment of riches! Dan Rieser on drums, Matt Aronoff on bass, Jesse Lewis on guitar and Will Vinson form the core band. There are guest appearances from Theo Bleckmann and Alan Hampton, Julian Sutton (melodeon), Brian Charette (organ), Mariel Roberts (cello), Marcus Rojas, John Ellis, Ryan Keberle and Matt Jodrell on horns. It’s such a treat to be able to make a record with so many of my beautiful friends!

LJN: Tell us about the musical company you're keeping on July 1st at Pizza Express.

JL: I'll be playing with Will Vinson (whom I married this past weekend!) on piano, Chris Higginbottom on drums and Tom Herbert on bass.

LJN: What repertoire can audiences expect to hear?

JL: Original songs to hopefully make you smile and cry, as well as some jazz favorites, maybe even a vocalese or two. But definitely not "Summertime"...

LondonJazz News: And your favourite British culinary treats are.... 

Jo Lawry: It's a showdown between Shepherd's Pie and Banoffee Pie. But always Pie!

Jo Lawry performs at Pizza Express, Soho on Tuesday July 1st. Doors open at 7pm, show at 8:30pm. TICKETS.


CD REVIEW: Noel Langley - Edentide

Noel Langley - Edentide
(Suntara Records SUN7422002. CD Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

When I first saw Noel Langley in 1988, he had not long graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and was just starting an amazing career in which he was to become one of the most ubiquitous trumpeters on the scene. He must be the only person to have worked with David Murray, Mark Ronson and Bob Monkhouse.

You know exactly what many albums are going to be like before you hear the first note, but the instrumentation of Edentide - Langley’s long-awaited début as a leader - really makes you wonder what’s in store. Among the horn, string and rhythm sections, which contain well-known jazzmen like Phil Todd and Asaf Sirkis, are waterphone, zabumba and kitchen utensils; and less familiar players including Kenny Dickenson on keyboards and percussionist Keith Fairbairn. And there is an important role for Ruth Wall’s harps.

Any thoughts of “where did that strange noise come from?” are overtaken by the arresting and absorbing sounds from the beginning of For The Uncommon Man. A low growl, percussion and desolate trumpet create brooding anticipation, and a brassy fanfare breaks through before a lovely melody for trumpet and harp emerges.

A lot happens on this session. It’s as if jazz, pop, commercial and classical music have suddenly collided with the ideas that Langley has been assimilating in his head for decades. Michael Gibbs, Neil Ardley and Gil Evans are all in is trumpeter Uan Rasey (named-checked on the sleeve) who is reputed to have been heard on almost every MGM film between 1949 and 1974. But - far from being derivative - this stunning outlet for Langley’s intellect and imagination results in head-shaking delight.

Sven’s Island has a restless introduction by harp, piano, woodwinds and marimba, and The Stealth Horns (a dectet including Ashley Slater and Yazz Ahmed) rampage through a fabulous assymetric episode that you want to go on for ever. With On Haast Beach, another off-kilter dance is washed up, followed by some beautiful trumpet work. A bigger group is also used for Minami, which Langley somehow conceived in 20 minutes. This is lyrical, splendidly orchestrated and has fine solos by its composer and the pianist Alcyona Mick. Apart from the rhythm programming towards the end, it’s the kind of thing that Kenny Wheeler might have crafted. Wheeler himself is the writer of Four For One, a trumpet quartet where Langley plays all the (overdubbed) parts.

Some selections are more reflective. The Turning House is a calm, spontaneous duet for trumpet and mediaeval bray harp. Cornish composer Graham Fitkin contributes a substantial tune, Glass, which has a pastoral simplicity, rhapsodic piano, and an unexpected bit of oom-pah.

Despite the mixing bowls, rolling pin, bunch of keys and ultimately “The Lord is My Shepherd”, I found the title track that closes the album disappointing. But that’s a minor quibble when the rest of the CD is so very good.

Edentide contains enormous slabs of brilliantly recorded music, and Langley’s singular conception will entertain, satisfy and move you.


CD Review: Melissa Aldana - Crash Trio

Melissa Aldana - Crash Trio
(Concord Jazz. CJA35228102. CD Review by Mike Collins)

Chilean born tenor player Melissa Aldana made New York her home after graduating from Berklee College in 2009 and has quickly forged a formidable reputation. Still only twenty-six, she won the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition last year. A recording contract with Concord Jazz was part of the prize and this self-titled album is its first fruit, a trio recording with her regular collaborators fellow Chilean Pablo Menares on bass and the formidable Cuban drummer Franciso Mela.

The leader’s immersion in the breadth of the tenor tradition is evident with the influence of mentors and inspirations (from Joe Lovano and Mark Turner to Sonny Rollins) sometimes overtly acknowledged with knowing quotes and phrases. There’s also a distinct personality with a diverse cultural and musical heritage woven into to the set of mainly originals.

M&M is an arresting opener, launching with an off-kilter clattering groove from bass and drums and short punchy tenor phrases, every bit the hip New York trio before suddenly out pops a perky little swing theme over a springy two feel. There are plenty of teasing swerves and feints like this. Turning starts with an understated latin groove and floating abstract theme before switching to boldly stated rhythmic phrases. Bring him Home spools out long, attractive melodic lines before urgent, interlocking patterns break up the flow.

Aldana’s soloing is full of contrasts. Meditative melodic fragments are interspersed with flurries of patterns, honks or earthily swinging interludes. The interplay within the trio is electric. Occasionally improvised passages sound almost composed so quick and instinctive is the hook up between tenor and bass or drums. Menares and Mela get solo spots to introduce their own distinctive compositions. Mela’s For Joe (presumably Lovano in whose band Us Five we’ve seen Mela in UK) provides a highlight. A groove somewhere between latin and calypso and a theme of hooky melodic phrases launch an Aldana solo worthy of the master replete with a sideways Sonny Rollins quote and phrases somehow lazily draped across the harmony and propulsive at the same time.

This assured debut on Concord for Melissa Aldana has a thoughtful, intense, understated air even when the trio are digging into a crackling groove or are working out on an angular harmonic progression. A distinctive and appealing voice, we are sure to hear more of her.


Cecile McLorin Salvant four-time winner in 2014 Downbeat Critics' Poll

The 2014 Downbeat Critics Poll results announced. Singer Cecile McLorin Salvant has won four awards, including album of the year (new issue) for Woman Child.



FESTIVAL: Round-Up Of Inntoene (Austria) 2014 - Raul Midon. Sun Ra Arkestra, Jazzmeia Horn, Pablo Held Trio

Sun Ra Arkestra at Inntoene 2014
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski. All Rights Reserved

Inntöne Festival 
(Diersbach, Austria, 6-8 June 2014. Round-up review by Oliver Weindling)

Inntöne in Austria remains a go-to festival for the Whitsun weekend. Taking place on Paul Zauner's organic farm near the river Inn in Upper Austria, audience numbers have grown in the 12 years since it moved there, to 1,200 visitors a day. They were treated to glorious weather and an equally intriguing variety of music. It takes a matter of seconds to move from the tables for drinking and eating in the farmyard to hearing the music on the single stage in the 800-seater barn.

The range of music at the festival is impressive and appeals as much to the local as it does to the visitors from further afield. Zauner, not just a farmer but also the artistic director, trombonist and owner of the PAO label, has been able to discover a range of artists, on regular trips to Chicago and New York, and through extending his strong connections among his Austrian fellow musicians.

Gregory Porter did his first concerts in Europe here six years ago, through his mentor Mansur Scott. The resultant album on Zauner's PAO label, Great Voices of Harlem, also includes pianist Donald Smith, and has just been released. Mansur himself, a recent visitor to the Vortex to promote the album, was at the festival, sitting and overseeing events in a dignified and avuncular manner.

This year's new vocal discovery was again from New York - Jazzmeia Horn. Young and dynamic at an age of just 22, she scats beautifully. Providing gold-plated accompaniment was Kirk Lightsey.

The initial pair of gigs on Saturday showed two routes through the contemporary jazz scene. A quintet jointly led by saxophonist Jure Puckl (originally from Slovakia but now based in New York, and who played the Vortex a while ago with Michael Janisch) and trumpeter Robert Nösing. They presented some imaginative melodic heads, Puckl's confident virtuosity balanced by Nösing's greater lyricism. This gave space to allow extensive soloing by rest of the band.

The Pablo Held Trio from Cologne has really to be viewed as an organic whole, Pablo's piano playing totally empathising with Robert Landfermann's bass and Jonas Burgwinkel's drumming. Whereas the trio nominally has Pablo's name and he takes the lead in making the announcements, there is an integrated interplay with all able to express themselves. A sonic awareness exists between them and they seem to know the "right" moment for the full trio to reduce to a duo or solo section. Musically, they let the music breathe together. Whereas the set evolved as a continuous whole, the one non-original was a version of Manuel de Falla's Elders as an encore. It is intriguing how more of the new generation of musicians are able to build bridges between apparently more complex 20th century classical music - Bruno Heinen's take on Stockhausen's Tierkreis or Tin Men and The Telephone's arrangement of Messaien come to mind. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the trio has forged a great bond with Kit Downes' Trio and have exchanged dates and even personnel at times. This is a band that is reaching greater heights every time that I hear them.

 Raul Midon at Inntoene 2014
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski. All Rights Reserved

Amongst other highlights of the weekend, we were able to enjoy the personality of Raul Midon, (who has ben brought to London by Georgia Mancio - feature by Sara Mitra here) which came through so clearly in his solo performance. His guitar playing has a uniqueness of being able to balance melody and rhythm. His 'trumpet' soloing too also makes the whole set absorbing. Totally at ease in talking and joking about his blindness, he had us all in the palm of his hand. Musically his set was mainly one of originals, both written himself alone or with Bill Withers, and a striking cover of The Who's I Can See For Miles.

 Carlton Homes at Inntoene 2014
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski. All Rights Reserved

On the Sunday, Raul Midon had followed Carlton Holmes' piano solo set. Holmes has been seen at Inntöne before as a member of Mansur Scott's band. The music was generally relatively ethereal and thoughtful, veering at times towards the New Age.

 Later that evening a landing strip on the fields around the festival was cleared to allow the arrival from the Sun Ra Arkestra space ship from Saturn. It was good to hear them in a more focussed environment to contrast with the greater openness that we hear when they appear at Cafe Oto. Overseen by the presence of Marshall Allen ensures a balance of big band riffs with freedom of expression. His energy alone is boundless. Perhaps because the journey here had been long, it took a few tunes for the band to get into its stride, but when it did, there were smiles and dancing all round the venue as we all travelled the spaceways together.

Ending the night was Hazmat Modine. I was pleased to hear them as I had missed their show in Coutances the previous week. Hard to pin down. Having that "devil may care" abandon of New York, I also detected the New Orleans irony of Randy Newman, perhaps helped by the use of tuba, banjo and melodica. The band wears its heart well and truly on its sleeve.

On Friday night, I was happy to catch Billy Boy Arnold in a storming band echoing the history of Chicago blues. We could have been in a club on Chicago's South Side. Also to be noted, Nino Josele on Sunday, one of the great flamenco guitarists, showed how jazz standards are fused so easily into the flamenco style; and Lorenz Raab leading a band including phenomenal tuba (and serpent) player Michel Godard.

 Michel Godard at Inntoene 2014
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski. All Rights Reserved

And finally: an incredibly broad CD stand, where it was possible to find many of the latest releases from the likes of Delmark, Intakt, Pi and Aum Fidelity and talk with a man who knew every album in his rack intimately. Almost worth the trip on its own!

 Some practical details: Schärding, an attractive small town on the river Inn, just recovered from the worst floods for 500 years, is a great place to stay. From there you can get an hourly shuttle to the festival,taking 15 minutes and costing just €2. Passau is another good alternative, also similarly connected to the festival by shuttle. Trains run regularly from Munich or Linz, two possibilities if you are flying, though I met a Vortex regular who had done the journey by train via Paris! She found the camping facilities exemplary.


REVIEW: Grand Futurist Concert Of Noises at Cafe Oto,

Ed Baxter
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved
Grand Futurist Concert Of Noises
(Cafe Oto, 20 June 2014; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

'Audience Rival Weird Instruments?' was the quizzical 1914 headline for a review of the Italian Futurists' concert at the 1000-seater London Coliseum. The article's text, which went on to describe and to establish the evidence for the aforementioned weirdness, has been reproduced in full as part of the Art of Noises Centenary Souvenir newspaper, authoritatively compiled by the prime movers behind the 2014 Grand Futurist Concert Of Noises, Dan Wilson and Resonance FM's Ed Baxter.

The 1914 review reports on the audience reaction with amusement: '... it was obvious that a great city could produce quite a lot of noises that [F. T. Marinetti, the Futurists' figurehead and Luigi Russolo, the 'inventor of Futurist music'] had not reckoned with at all - the noises of an angry gallery for one ...' and went on to describe 'a tornado of farmyard imitations from the gallery... which would have done credit to the Royal Show.'

We, the 2014 audience clearly weren't behaving badly enough. Had we raised our fists, smashed furniture, hurled objects through Cafe Oto's plate glass windows, rained down abuse on the performers or mocked them we might have been playing our part in a reconstruction of the original event - but things have moved on. Shock value is time and culture specific and the element of surprise can manifest itself in different ways.

Ed Baxter, directing the Luigi Russolo Memorial Ensemble, performing on intonarumori or 'Noise Intoners', the machines painstakingly constructed by Peter McKerrow and David Baldwin in the spirit of Luigi Russolo's originals, declared that he couldn't stand restaging historic events. Even today 'The 'mild and murmurous tone that issued from the funnels [of the machines] was rather a surprise', as another reviewer from 1914 had put it. The only difference was the quietly reverential reception of the Cafe Oto audience, in contrast to 'the gallery's tones of disapproval' directly received by the Italians.

The half dozen wind-up strings and levers contraptions, encased in perspex so that today's listeners could observe their workings, gave rise to a variety of low key emanations and vibrations as The Awakening of a Great City was evoked, more a chilly breeze finding its route through grey, deserted streets than the cacophonous din that might have been anticipated. But this restraint was authentic and very much as Russolo had decreed, in his dedication to introducing new sounds to music.

The introduction of Sarah Angliss's theramin and Adam Bushell's snare and vibraphone expanded the ensemble's palette to bring dashes of bright luminosity to the earnest, yet delicate, rumblings and grumblings of the intonarumori, and in A Meeting of Motor Cars and Aeroplanes, the honkings of rubber bulb horns and a siren found their places in the mix.

Despite the associations with the political right wing - incidentally, rejected by Russolo - the Futurist's had a strongly anarchic streak, which lies at the root of their appeal today and was encapsulated in the evening's declamatory episodes, acted out in sound poems, in Jerzy Bielski's recitation of Marinetti's first manifesto and, to end, by the combined ranks of the intonarumori and the vocalists, dispersed around the auditorium, instructed by Baxter to 'make as much racket as you can, till I say stop!'

It is hoped that further Futurist-inspired intonarumori concerts will be on the cards - maybe a tour - rather than seeing these specially constructed sound machines following their forbears to obsolescence and silence.

The concert was presented by Resonance104.4FM


CD REVIEW: Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Last Dance

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Last Dance 
(ECM 2399. Review by Peter Marsh)

Back in 2007 pianist Jarrett and bassist Haden recorded Jasmine, an album of duets that marked their first meeting since the dissolution of Jarrett's American Quartet in the late 1970s. Last Dance was recorded at the same sessions and feels like a bonus disc to Jasmine (it features alternate takes of two tunes from the earlier album for a start).

There's an old musicians' joke which asks how many bass players it takes to change a lightbulb. The answer is none – the pianist can do it with their left hand. Boom boom. There's some truth in this of course, and it's certainly true that bass and piano duets are pretty rare; even when listening to Duke Ellington and Ray Brown's Jimmy Blanton tribute, it's hard to escape the feeling that it's just something they did while they were waiting for the drummer to turn up. Haden clearly doesn't share that opinion, having previously recorded duets with pianists Hank Jones, Paul Bley, Denny Zeitlin, John Taylor and Chris Anderson to name but a few. Jarrett's very few forays into the form have included a previous session with Haden for 1976's Closeness; other than that he's been heard almost exclusively solo or with his Standards Trio for the last three decades or so.

As with Jasmine, the material is drawn from a mix of classics and standards. The pace is mostly gentle, the mood is introspective. The exception is a sprightly nip through Dance of The Infidels, where Jarrett gets a chance to channel the glorious energy of Bud Powell's quicksilver runs while Haden holds things down with metronomic precision. Despite his credentials as a free jazz player, Haden's playing on standards is as 'inside' as you can get. He rarely strays from the lower range of the instrument, concentrating on putting the right note in the right place at the right time; likewise his solos are graceful ruminations on the prevailing harmony. 'Stately' might be the best adjective.

Meanwhile Jarrett seems energised (if that's the right word) by Haden's presence. He manages to wring something new out of a hoary old chestnut like Round Midnight and even uncovers a delicate lyricism in the banal, rinky tink melody of Everything Happens To Me. Similarly the luxurious swirl of My Old Flame (a Jarrett favourite) is luminously beautiful.

The album title and indeed some of the choices of material (Goodbye and Everytime We Say Goodbye) give the proceedings a valedictory feel. Though sadly Haden's been quite ill of late and often unable to play, I hope it's not the last we'll hear from the duo (though I'd be keen on them adding a drummer if there's a next time round...)


PREVIEW: Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2014 (June 27- July 6)

Alison Bentley looks forward to the Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2014

London has many great jazz venues but none with mountain views. ‘New Sounds, Beautiful Views’ is the slogan of the Suedtirol Jazz Festival. It sounds like a long way away, but a flight to Verona brings you very close. The train ride into the mountains is an experience all by itself, as increasingly lofty ancient rocky crags appear round every turn. (Plentiful, efficient Italian trains.)

10 days with 60-ish gigs in 42 locations. You can think of it in different ways- just go to the devastatingly beautiful area of Suedtirol (South Tyrol), straddling the borders of Austria and Italy, and travel to the different venues on different days. Some bands have various dates in several places. Or you can just pick one centre and go to everything there. There are lots of daytime and early evening gigs, many of which are completely free. There are some special reductions for the larger, later gigs with an entry fee.

BOLZANO. The lovely old city of Bolzano (known in German as Bozen) hosts 26 of the gigs. This year’s Festival theme is France, and Nice-born, multiple-prize-winning accordionist Vincent Peirani opens the Festival in Bolzano on Jun. 27th, with a hand-picked band of eight French (or France-based) musicians- Une Nuit Française. Classically-trained on accordion, Peirani’s music can be ethereally beautiful, jazzy, folk-edged or rocky. He’s featured in dfferent incarnations in several bands throughout the ten days. Some of his musicians appear in other bands during the festival. Trumpeter Airelle Besson, for example, can be heard the following morning, in Bolzano’s museum in duet with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras.

French sextet Les Faux Frères play two outdoor venues with their rumbustious mix of folk and jazz. If you miss them in Bolzano, you can catch them throughout the festival in five other places, even over the border in Innsbruck.

Jazz improvisation is often described as risk-taking. It’s elevated to an extreme sport at the 1000-metre high rock face of the Saslonch/Lagkofel on Jun. 29, when improvising musicians, some playing inside the rock, accompany acrobatic rock-climbing.

MERANO The Festival has spread out from the regional capital of Bolzano in the last 10 years. Merano (Meran), closer to the Austrian border, has Vincent Peirani, solo in a mountain resort on Jun. 28, and with sax-player Emile Parisien and Indonesian-French singer Serena Fisseau on Jul. 1. The town also hosts percussive duo Alchemia, anarchic French jazz-folk band Papanosh and intriguing improvising singer Leila Martial on other days.

BRUNICO. Brunico (Bruneck) has a number of gigs by ‘street jazz big band’ Fischermann’s Tauchgang, with their African-Balkan-Latin influences, in various permutations.

The UK’s excellent Kit Downes plays organ with French drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and guitarist Julien Desprez, while Oliver Py’s Birds of Paradise follows Messiaen in basing their contemporary jazz pieces on birdsong.

BRESSANONE. Bressanone (Brixen) has Peirani’s Living Being Quartet, with its 70s jazz-rock and hip-hop influences.

About half the musicians in the Festival are women, and many of them lead their own bands. London-based bassist Ruth Goller (of Acoustic Ladyland) was born in Brixen, and her UK band Let Spin plays here as well as two other locations.

Legendary pianist Chick Corea with his Return to Forever bassist Stanley Clarke conclude the Festival on Jul. 6 in the Vipiteno Produktionshalle Pistenfahrzeuge.

Mountains of information, and so much I’ve had to miss out.

Festival website


Preview/Interview: Lalah Hathaway: Love Supreme Festival, 5th July and Jazz Cafe, 9th & 10th July

Singer Lalah Hathaway talked to Alison Bentley about singing, her collaborations with Snarky Puppy, Joe Sample, Robert Glasper and Marcus Miller, and other current projects:

Alison Bentley: I heard you a couple of years ago at the Jazz Café in London. You created such a great atmosphere with your voice - is that something that you set out to do?

Lalah Hathaway: It is - we definitely want to create a vibe. We want to give the people an experience - create the sort of atmosphere they can get lost in and be transported in, wherever they need to go at that time. We know that music is such a great transporter! Be open to the experience, and make a space for people to fall softly into, wherever it is that they are going.

AB: And it seemed like such a democratic band?

LH: Yeah, we definitely have that. It’s definitely an experience that I want the band to participate in actively. I really think of it as a conversation. It’s important that everybody is having the conversation.

AB: I wondered if you play any instruments?

LH: I do, I play keys. I want to really start doing it more. It’s definitely on my agenda to practise and get better at it - I do for sure.

AB: Since that Jazz Café gig you’ve won a Grammy [For best R&B Performance with Snarky Puppy 2014] - congratulations!

LH: Thank you!

AB: There was a real buzz about that in the UK - people were saying, ‘Have you seen that video with Lalah Hathaway and Snarky Puppy?’ How did that come about?

LH: Snarky Puppy - actually someone told me about them. I guess it’s been a couple of years now. The person that I know from the band is Sput, whose real name is Robert Searight. I know him as a keyboard player but he’s actually the drummer for the band and he said, ‘You need to come and sit in with my band. I’m in this band called Snarky Puppy. You should come check us out.’ It really just happened quite organically. He called and said, ‘You know, we’re doing a record, we’re going to have some singers come. Bring some songs that you know, or that you’ve recorded before that you’ve written, and we’ll do some arrangements and see what works.’ He came up with this arrangement of Something, which was a song that I had recorded for my first record in 1990. And it just kind of worked out from there.

AB: The way you sing several notes at once is amazing. And you improvise and use your voice as an instrument. Is that something you do a lot?

LH: I really love the art of improvisation. I’ve listened to a lot of jazz and came up with that kind of ethic of trying to create on the spot- spontaneous music. That for me is probably the most fun to do- to create it right there so every audience has their own show. Every audience hears really, in essence, different music every time, because it’s all fresh every time.

AB: Did you study jazz improvisation at Berklee?

LH: I did, I studied a lot of jazz music. I studied a lot of the great improvisers. I grew up in a time as well where the landscape of music was- the colours were so vivid and so lush. I have a lot of information to pull from to do that.

AB: You’ve worked with so many great jazz musicians. For example, the album you made with Joe Sample and Kirk Whalum.

LH: Joe Sample is someone that I’ve known for many, many years. I met him first with Marcus Miller, and we had been on the road and been touring, and been in Japan. He said, ‘You know what? We should make a record.’ Again, you know, it’s one of those things that happened really quite organically. We just decided to make a record, and we took a week and made that record. Kirk Whalum is also someone I met through Marcus- a lot of these people I’ve met onstage or in bands with Marcus Miller. I’ve been working with Kirk off and on and Kirk is actually the saxophone player on the Joe Sample album. So it was great to work with him- we tour, and every year at some point we do dates together. I’m such a lucky, lucky person, a lucky musician particularly as a singer- a lot of singers don’t get the opportunity to stretch as far as I have been given the opportunity to stretch.

AB: And Robert Glasper?

LH: You know, he's another person who I met just really by chance. One of the former keyboard players in my band actually knew Robert, and he said, ‘You've got to check him out. You’ve got to go sit in with his band- you would love him.’ And he came to a show in New York and he said, ‘I'm working on a record, I would love for you to be involved with it,’ and we really just went on from there.

AB: You sing R&B as well as jazz, but it always sounds like you. How do you keep that sense of yourself?

LH: I think that the thread is me, you know - growing up listening to Chaka Khan, where it didn’t matter if she was singing the Bebop Medley or singing in a duet with Rick James, or if she was singing a Beatles cover. It was always Chaka. The music around her did not dictate who she was. She really gave you what you were listening to. The thing is just to stay who you are and float over the top of those different styles of music.

AB: Did you always know that you would be a singer?

LH: I think so. I always knew that I would be a musician, a creative of some sort. I never had a time when I decided, ‘Okay, I’ll be a singer!’ As a child of two music educators and musicians it was an extremely natural decision for me. It never occurred to me that there were other things I would want to do instead. There have been times when I've wanted to be an actor or a dancer or a magician. They were always creative things, but music was always my passion, as far back as I can remember.

AB: You once said that if you weren't a singer you'd like to be a comedian. Do you find that you use humour a lot in your singing and performing?

LH: I do! You know, whether it’s on the surface or not, that is absolutely one of my favourite things. Creating laughter for people and creating music for people are very, very similar and give you the same effect. That's why you see a lot of comedians singing and a lot of singers making people laugh!

AB: You've talked about how important it is to be on your own path. Are there any particular people who have guided you on that path?

LH: I can't overstate the importance of having someone like Marcus Miller in my life - for the, last 25 years, almost. And my dad [Donny Hathaway] who has really illustrated how to get on your path and stay on your path. I have worked with so many great people that have mentored me, even before I met them- just listening to the records, and listening to their words- like Anita Baker and Chaka Khan.

AB: How important is it to pass your legacy on to the next generation?

LH: It’s super important- to hear the stories there are to tell, that are like history lessons. So it’s really important to keep the tradition of it, to teach the respect for it, to teach the love for the craft. And so I do a lot of clinics, I talk to a lot of students, we do workshops- and it’s really important for me in the same way that people gave it to me, for me to give it back.

AB: It seems like you’re constantly touring. How do you look after your voice when you’re travelling so much?

LH: Well, I have a really easy instrument, I have a really gentle instrument. I generally try to listen to it and be gentle with it, and I don’t smoke and don’t drink too much- just try to take care of it. It’s just a muscle, and so I try to treat it accordingly. One of my singers, Jason Morales, and my other singer, Dennis Clark- we go through warm-ups before a show. Generally, I find that talking all day for me is enough of a warm-up! I don’t like to stress my instrument out too much.

AB: You have a new project at the moment with [singer] Ruben Studdard?

LH: Yes - and I’m actually on just one song on his record. We’re finishing up our tour this weekend in New Jersey- it started at the end of May.

AB: And your new single Shine? [With London duo DivaGeek: singer Vula Malinga and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ben Jones]

LH: DivaGeek is going to be with me, with the band, at the Jazz Café, and I’m really excited about that. I’m looking forward to getting back there.

Lalah Hathaway appears at Love Supreme Festival on 5th July and at The Jazz Cafe on 9th & 10th July.


REVIEW: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Cambridge Corn Exchange

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
(Corn Exchange, Cambridge. 21st June 2014. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's programme for its current UK tour - dates below -  presents as its unifying theme arrangements of tunes from Blue Note albums, using the pretext of the Blue Note 75th to re-visit and re-imagine a part of the label's heritage, in a similar way to that which classical music uses anniversaries to drive programming.

Most of the arrangements are by eight current band members, of the fifteen who are touring. The tour repertoire is selected from a total of thirty tunes. New arrangements are also being added all the time - tonight there was a wholly new arrangement of Dexter Gordon's ballad Ernie's Tune by Sherman Irby, a feature for JLCO's pair of wonderfully full-toned and well contrasted tenor saxophonists Victor Goines and Walter Blanding.

There are also charts from the early days of JLCO (1988-1994) when David Berger was writing for and conducting the band. Berger's arrangement of Peace from Blowin' The Blues Away was played as a poignant tribute to Horace Silver. It has gorgeously lush textures. Trumpeter Ryan Kisor stated each iteration of the opening of the theme with phrasing to die for; this performance was a definite high-point of the evening. Marsalis told of a fond memory of working with Horace Silver. Silver had come in as an examiner in the nationwide Essentially Ellington high school band competition. The much-missed pianist and composer maintains the distinction of having been the harshest marker. Ever.

I also enjoyed Ted Nash's re-imagining of Wayne Shorter's Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, gloriously revelling in the sound of the full band, giving the masterful drummer Ali Jackson plenty of opportunity to challenge and spur on the soloists, and leaving room for subtle and sinuous trombone counter-melodies. Great piece.

Carlos Henriquez' arrangement of Horace Silver's Senor Blues was this evening's closer - it had opened the tour in Harrogate. It gave pianist Dan Nimmer a chance to shine. It also showed the superb way in which Ali Jackson manoeuvres the band seamlessly from one tempo to another. At one point Marsalis talked about the "Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, conducted by Ali Jackson." It is a very smart remark with a sort of Nietzschen rather than a literal truth about it.

Others will disagree, but I did feel that there was unevenness in the quality of the arrangements. It brought me back to thoughts of the best big band album I have heard this year, the SNJO album American Adventure reviewed here . The arrangements on that album, by the likes of Fred Sturm and Geoffrey Keezer simply have more substance and more oomph than some of what I was hearing tonight.

That said, a virtually full 1,100-capacity Corn Exchange on the day Cambridge is also in thrall to its Midsummer Fair is very impressive - the whole downstairs section gave a standing ovation...That and Marcus Printup's unbelievably powerful, and powerfully constructed solo on Free For All - these are the memories to keep from a very fine gig.

First Set

Appointment in Ghana - Jackie McLean Arr. WyntonMarsalis
Fee Fi Fo Fum - Wayne Shorter Arr. Ted Nash
The Moontrane - Woody Shaw Arr. Victor Goines
Peace - Horace Silver Arr. David Berger
Free For All - Wayne Shorter Arr. WyntonMarsalis

Second Set

The Thespian - Freddie Redd Arr. Vincent Gardner
Search for Peace - McCoy Tyner Arr. ChrisCrenshaw
Riot - Herbie Hancock Arr. Sherman Irby
Ernie's Tune - Dexter Gordon Arr. Sherman Irby
Senor Blues - Horace Silver Arr. Carlos Henriquez


Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, Ryan Kisor - Trumpets
Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner, Elliot Mason - Trombones
Victor Goines, Ted Nash, Walter Blanding, Sherman Irby, Paul Nedzela - Saxophones
Carlos Henriquez - Bass
Ali Jackson - Drums
Dan Nimmer - piano

Remaining Tour Dates


Sunday 22 June | 7:30PM / BASINGSTOKE The Anvil

Monday 23 June | 7:30PM / MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall

Tuesday 24 June | 7:30PM BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall

Thursday 26 June | 7:30PM / BRISTOL Colston Hall

Friday 27 June | 7:30PM / EDINBURGH Usher Hall


Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis & Sachal Jazz Ensemble
Music from Pakistan
Monday 30 June 2014 / 20:00, Barbican Hall / Tickets £20-35 Find out more

Jazz Inspirations: Wynton Marsalis in Converstion / With Young Jazz East Big Band 
Tuesday 1 July 2014 / 18:30, Barbican Hall /Tickets £5 /Find out more

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and special guests
The Best of Blue Note Records
Wednesday 2 July / 19:30, Barbican Hall / Tickets £20-35  / Find out more


LJN abroad: Top Ten things about Lübeck, including a first-ever jazz festival (September 4-7)

Sebastian writes:

I've been at the 24th meeting of the German Radio Jazz Research group, a regular meeting point for people active in the German jazz community. At the seminar, eight good papers in German on the theme of Jazz and Identity were given (more about that later.) For me it was a first visit to Lübeck. I was bowled over by the place, we were guests of the city, so here is a VERY subjective Top Ten:

1) MARZIPAN. The first thing most people know about Lübeck is that is the base of the Niedereregger Marzipan company. At a gathering like RJR you expect people to have an insider tip. Those in the know were recommending Mest as well/ instead.

2) HANSESTADT. It is town of 211,000 inhabitants, the second-largest in Schleswig-Holstein. But the Hanseatic City of Lübeck has always punched above its weight, with periods in its past of being free and autonomously governed. The other Hanseatic ports such as Bremen and Hamburg are German federal states (Bundesländer) in their own right.

3) THOMAS MANN. The great German Mann of letters (1875-1955) and his brother Heinrich grew up there, and the classic novel Buddenbrooks is based in the town. Thomas Mann moved south to Munich as a student in 1891, and stayed there, but right in the centre of Lübeck has a Buddenbrook House (above), which is a literary museum.

4) ERNEST KARL FRAHM (1913-1992) . A politician who was born with that name grew up in Lübeck. He was rather better known in politics as Willy Brandt

5) GÜNTER GRASS. Another significant German man of letters moved to Lübeck and stayed there. He and Brandt were close and  their voluminous correspondence was published last year. One to build the biceps with: there are 1230 pages of it

6) AN ISLAND WITH TWELVE BRIDGES. The preserved town centre is entirely surrounded by water, branches of the river Trave since you asked. I put on some jogging clothes and went rather slowly around the edge of it keeping the Marienkirche on my left and the water on my right. Satnav/map not required, you can't get lost, count to twelve bridges and you're back where you started.

7) TWIN SPIRES x 2. You can take your choice. The tourist literature bigs up the symbolism of the Holstentor / Holsten Gate. "Beside the Brandenburg Gate, Cologne Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady in Munich, the Holsten Gate in Lübeck is the most famous German building in the world." I have the tall twin spires of the Marienkirche somehow more in mind, not least because they inspired (boom tish) between seventy and a hunded other cities in the Baltic region to build copies. It was also the church where seventeenth-century composer and organist Dietrich Buxtehude worked for at least 35 years.

8) KULTURGUT. Annette Borns, who is Lübeck city council's senator for culture, made the case for how strong the cultural offering – museums, theatres etc – is, but also how deep culture sits in the mentality of city-dwellers surrounded by such a richness of historical buildings in every side street, and heritage. Lübeck has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.

 9) ACCESSIBILITY. Ryanair used to run flights direct to Lübeck but no longer. It doesn't matter, conections are easy. From Hamburg airport it's a quick S-Bahn and train ride, about an hour and a quarter top whack. And yes the trains really do run on time.

 10) JAZZ FESTIVAL. For the first time in its illustrious history, Lübeck is about to get a jazz festival. Trave Jazz will run from from September 4th to 7th ( It is centred around six venues including the LiveCV club at the CVJM (in English YMCA) which hosted our gathering, a friendly little club which has hosted jazz for 15 years. This festival looks like a first careful testing of the water, without real star names. On the bill are highly regarded German trumpeter Nils Wülker (ECHO Prize winner 2013) and Polish violin legend Michael Urbaniak (see Rob Edgar's report of a recent visit to London).


CD Review: David Weiss - When Words Fail

David Weiss - When Words Fail
(Motéma Music 233849. CD Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

David Weiss is a trumpeter whose impact is not immediate, but he makes his presence felt. On the first occasions I saw him – in London and New York - he stood alongside Freddie Hubbard, and calmly played the parts that the ailing master could no longer manage. Amongst other groups, he also offers a benignly guiding hand to The Cookers, the seven-piece supergroup that he organised shortly before Hubbard’s death.

Weiss is most distinctive at the head of an ensemble in which his own intelligent, complex tunes are interpreted, and When Words Fail reconvenes five of the musicians who were on his first sextet CD as a leader 12 years ago. This new recording comes after a period of great loss for Weiss. His overwhelming sadness is clear, yet the music also carries the seeds of optimism and is cautiously exuberant in places.

The father of Jana Herzen, the founder of Motéma Music, recently died, and Loss is for her. There is a measured contribution from the leader, but the solo by alto saxophonist Myron Walden is particularly striking. He’s the most outstanding instrumentalist on this album and his keening, squeezed, twisted howl is prominently featured.

Passage into Eternity is for the family of six-year-old Ana Grace Márquez-Greene – the daughter of saxophonist Jimmy Greene – who was tragically killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The track contains passionate solos by Weiss and Marcus Strickland on tenor sax.

Pianist Xavier Davis and bass player Dwayne Burno work together closely on this recording, and the moody title track is bookended by a vamp by them. Burno’s death at 43 - just three weeks after this session – came as a shock to the band, and Weiss’s sleevenote reveals a particular fondness for a colleague that he knew from the beginning of his career.

The Intrepid Hub - a reference to Hubbard’s The Intrepid Fox – uses a couple of compositional devices by Weiss’s old sparring partner. Its fiery, bustling urgency is appropriate, and drummer E.J.Strickland is in his element in this setting.

The two contrasting pieces that are not from Weiss’s pen are by Britons. John Taylor’s White Magic, based on Herbie Hancock’s Riot, is a thrilling roller-coaster ride, and Lullaby for a Lonely Child an affecting ballad by Karl Jenkins.

The ebb and flow of MJ is notable for the shining entry of the young Australian guitarist Ben Eunson, who appears on only one other track (and whose name is unfortunately mis-spelt on the cover). Wayward – the main theme of a much larger work by Weiss - starts with a gentle fanfare, builds in intensity and has another arresting passage by Walden.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote “Where Words Fail, Music Speaks”. As Weiss approaches his 50th birthday, his words certainly do not fail him. He talks of pain and desolation, but explains also that the music is “about rebirth, hope and finding your way back”. The beautiful sounds on this album eloquently convey that healing power.


Review: Frank Griffith Quintet at the Bull's Head

Frank Griffith Quintet with Tina May
(The Bull’s Head, June 19th 2014. Review by Andrew Cartmel)

Frank Griffith, whom I’ve mostly heard in a big band context, also has a tight and joyful quintet with Frank on tenor and clarinet, Mick Hutton on bass, Bobby Worth on drums, Robin Aspland on piano and Henry Lowther on trumpet. Featuring special guest vocalist Tina May, they put up a valiant fight against the World Cup football to claim the attention of the people at the Bull's Head in Barnes on a summer night.

On Andy Razaf’s Christopher Columbus Frank’s playing is soulful and assertive with feathery phrasing and great breath control, a bebop butterfly beginning to unfurl in its swing chrysalis. Henry Lowther offers his own commentary on the theme in long lucid phrases and Mick Hutton chases the tune down a well with his nimble, reverberant bass, then re-energising the combo with some slaps and scat. Bobby Worth plays taut, rock solid drums with cascading cymbal cadences.

Fuji Mama by Blue Mitchell changes the mood in a heartbeat to clipped calypso. Bobby Worth really blossoms on the drum kit, playing in counterpoint to himself as Henry Lowther offers sharp Caribbean sketches, effortlessly exploring a new sound world. Jamaican jauntiness pervades Robin Aspland’s raucously good-humoured piano — his spiky intricacies are infectious and toe-tapping. Frank Griffith’s plump and flavourful tenor pushes big slabs of music over the choppy rhythms of the drums. The unison sax and trumpet is a delight.

Dexter Gordon’s Soy Califa, played in honour of a recent review here begins with fanning flashes of sound and tight ensemble work before Frank emerges from the pack with a dark virile tenor solo, pumping and punching out rhythmic utterances, attenuating into a melancholy ballad statement. Henry Lowther is thoughtful and pungently wistful. Robin Aspland plays raw, caressing, fluid runs — a statement in cool excitement.

Song for My Father was dedicated to its recently deceased composer, Horace Silver. Aspland paraphrases the famous opening statement, immortalised by Steely Dan in their quotation on Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, and Frank plays a trance-like intro. The whole band glides through the tune like a speedboat skimming on the water, before Henry Lowther lifts off like a seabird taking flight. Frank Griffith rises in reply with a rich, rolling solo that never seems to run out of steam. Bobby Worth is percussive and powerful, Robin Aspland rebuilds the melody and Mick Hutton provides the thumping, slapping, beating heart of the piece. Horace Silver is dead, but his music is undeniably alive.

Let’s Get Lost introduces singer Tina May at a strolling, striding tempo. Her vocals go floating into the stratosphere, creating an ethereal dreamscape, soft as cumulonimbus. Henry Lowther’s trumpet breaks through the clouds like a shaft of sunlight. Mick Hutton’s bass sustains the dreamy mood by making his strings sing. Robin Aspland creates lots of space in the music and Bobby Worth is a soft touch on the brushes. Tina May scats in duet with Henry Lowther before she lovingly explores the spacey contours of the lyrics.

Tea for Two rolls in as a rich sea mist of vocals with gleaming glimpses of piano. Then the tempo accelerates with Bobby Worth coming in on brushes and Frank Griffith insinuating himself on clarinet with sonorous, playful clarity, scooting and skating through the melody — throwing in a quotation from Baubles, Bangles and Beads without missing a beat. Tina May and Frank duet so seamlessly that it becomes clear that tea isn’t the only thing ideally suited for two.

On Lazy Afternoon Robin Aspland conjures a sound picture underpinned by Mick Hutton’s bass, Worth’s rolling, splaying brushes and completed by Tina May savouring and flavouring the lyrics with her own distinctive, tasteful emphasis. Her lazy phrasing draws out the meaning of the song’s pastoral pastels. Mick Hutton plays a dancing, tuneful solo that buzzes around the room, vibrant and precise. Along with Bobby Worth, Hutton provides a dreamy, misty edge, like a summer haze blurring to infinity, and Robin Aspland plays a chiming coda to Tina May’s lingering vocals.

English football may have been losing on the television screens next door, but here in the back room at the Bull's Head, British jazz was heading for a decisive victory.


CD Review: Janette Mason - D’Ranged

Janette Mason - D’Ranged
(Fireball Records. FMJP 10004. CD review by Mike Collins)

As the rocket fuelled gospelly soul groove fades out, with the horn section still going full throttle and Basement Jaxx vocalist Vula Malinga gliding effortlessly over the top, I settle back into my chair to pen this review with a grin on my face. Janette Mason’s arrangement of the Burt Bacharach classic I say a little prayer is a great end to this set, a series of arrangements of an eclectic mix of classic soul songs, 70’s disco and 80’s pop tunes. They’re all given a distinctive twist by arranger and pianist Mason, and performed by a stellar cast of collaborators from her wide ranging career: Claire Martin, Gwyneth Herbert, David McAlmont, Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield all contribute. They must have had great fun making this album. Sitting down at the launch party may not be an option.

After 2010’s Parliamentary Jazz Award nominated Alien Left Hand, a more overtly jazz orientated album, D’ranged marks something of a departure for the leader’s own releases. There are varied moods within the collection with the spirit of the originals sustained whilst being reshaped in Mason’s skilful hands. I wish bursts out of the speakers with a snappy left hand riff before Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield unfolds Stevie Wonder’s lyric over a rolling groove that hints at a jazzy modal feel, before switching to a more gospel like 4/4 for the hook. Blue Moon gets a repeating, haunting motif under Claire Martin’s wistful delivery that utterly transforms the Rodgers and Hammerstein standard, a standout track. Cheryl Lynn’s 70’s disco classic Got to be Real becomes a sensual, funky soul work out for Vula Malinga whilst the treatment Paul Weller’s You do Something To Me for Gwyneth Herbert, accompanied only by Mason’s piano is a haunting and affecting performance. There’s an instrumental, a take on Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes and the Bee Gees classic How Deep is your Love is a swooning ballad. After the dim the lights moments an infectious groove and a heart fluttering punchy backing vocal are never far away.

This is a set of covers, arranged (or "D'ranged") lovingly by Mason and oozing class in their delivery.


News: Misha Mullov-Abbado wins Royal Academy of Music Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize

Bassist / composer / horn player Misha Mullov-Abbado has become the fourth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music's annual Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize. The previous winners have been saxophonist Josh Arcoleo in 2011, trumpeter Reuben Fowler in 2012 and vocalist Lauren Kinsella in 2013. We reviewed a concert of Misha Mullov-Abbado's compositions performed by his quintet in March 2014.

The judges were Evan Parker (a lifelong collaborator and friend of Wheeler's), Nick Smart (head of jazz at the RAM), and Dave Stapleton (head of Edition Records). Part of the prize is a recording which will be issued on the Edition label.

Evan Parker said:

“...Misha's writing and playing, along with his sense of overall form meant that there was a maturity that communicated very powerfully. His range of musical reference points means that he can go anywhere from here and it will be exciting to follow what is clearly the beginning of a journey of an outstanding individual.


NEWS: BBC Big Band Now Has Own Website

The BBC Big Band now has its own website at, and a Twitter handle: @BBCBigBand.

Bob McDowell said: “the band is in great shape and looking forward to next month’s trip to Glasgow with funk legend Maceo Parker for Radio 3’s Jazz Line Up – as well as a number of other concerts all over the UK during July and August.