FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: 2017 Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Part One – Thurs-Sat)

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
Photo credit: John Watson /  jazzcamera.co.uk

Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
(Thursday 27th-Saturday 29th April 2017. Part One of a two-part Round-Up Review by Jon Turney)

Cheltenham offered the now customary six-day extravaganza of blues and soul stars who can fill a couple of thousand seats, with shrewdly-chosen jazz acts filling out a programme with something for everyone.

Dee Dee Bridgewater on Thursday night had moved herself firmly into the blues and soul category, showcasing a new project woven around songs from Memphis, where she was born (though she conceded the family left town when she was three-and-a-half). Maybe her lack of history in the genre accounted for the town hall being only half full, but she took the songs - from Goin’ Down Slow through I Can’t Stand the Rain to The Thrill is Gone - by the scruff of the neck and made them her own. It was a superb vocal performance, unhampered by having to perform seated because of a recent tour-induced leg injury. If some of us might have preferred to hear her offer a wider-ranging jazz set, Dee Dee as late-blossoming soul diva was pretty convincing.

Friday evening saw the start of programming at the jewel in Cheltenham’s crown, the Parabola Theatre - a superb venue that not only allows you to get out of the April cold and is immune to the poor acoustics (Town Hall) or irritating sound creep from other stages (Jazz Arena) experienced elsewhere but has Tony Dudley-Evans presiding benignly over the music choices.

This produced an immediate jackpot, with Marius Neset delivering a stunning early evening hour in his typical style, storming and lyrical by turns. A new band for the festival featured Dan Nicholls on keys, Joshua Blackmore on drums and Phil Donkin on bass, all facing well-stocked music stands but dealing with Neset’s knottier writing - he has a knack for rhythmically fiendish ostinati - with aplomb. Longer-time associate Jim Hart, like the leader, needed no written music. His rapport with Neset on vibes and marimba is wonderful to behold, and he, Neset and Nicholls turned a new piece, written for New Year celebrations in Cologne and commissioned by the Philharmonie, into a thing of glowing beauty. An exhilarating set, with the leader conveying his customary feeling that he gives 100 per cent with every note he plays because he doesn’t know how to do any less, and a instant candidate for gig of the festival.

Seb Rochford’s later set with US visitor Nicole Mitchell on flutes and Neil Charles on bass was altogether more low-key. Dimmed lighting here went with crepuscular music-making, often involving small gestures and subtle shifts of emphasis. Mitchell has a beautiful sound on all her flutes. Rochford, captivated, laid out entirely on drums for long stretches, with Charles offering mainly gentle thoughts on arco bass. The effect of this unbroken, largely improvised session was a little tentative at times, with a seeming reluctance to change direction when a particular idea had run its course, but it built briefly to a full trio flourish at the close.

Anton Eger at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
Photo credit: John Watson/ jazzcamera.co.uk

Changes of direction, often bracingly abrupt, are piano trio Phronesis’ speciality, and were richly in evidence in the first half of their performance with an eight strong ensemble drawn from the Engines Orchestra on Saturday afternoon (but only just) in the Town Hall. The opening sequence were familiar Phronesis numbers adorned with very brief orchestral intros. Just when you began to wonder why the eager youngsters had come all that way, the point of the occasion became clear, with conductor Phil Meadows returning to the podium to navigate everyone through the premiere of a new composition for trio and orchestra by Dave Maric. The piece, Decade Zero, was an entirely absorbing 35 minute, multi-movement affair, making good use of the combined forces at Maric’s disposal. He has a real feel for Phronesis’ music, and achieved a rare balance between conventionally scored orchestral elements - bassoon and cello contributing especially nicely to the sound - and the trio’s jazz energy. Anton Eger on drums modulated perfectly from subtle orchestral accompanist to his trademark volcanic effusions as the score dictated. The piece will repay repeated listening, which will be on offer at both Manchester and London jazz festivals for this jointly-commissioned work.

Lionel Loueke at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
Photo credit: John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk

Two afternoon sets offered powerful takes on contemporary jazz. Lionel Loueke, whose sound and technique can make you fall in love with electric guitar all over again, brought his power trio to the jazz arena, with long-time cohorts Massimo Biolcati on electric bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums showing the value of shared understanding when it comes to high-energy rhythm.

Logan Richardson at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2017
Photo credit:John Watson/  jazzcamera.co.uk

Alto saxophone exponent Logan Richardson, making a welcome return with his own band after a Cheltenham debut last year with Christian Scott, was another impressive visitor to the Parabola. He floated a stream of ear-catching melodic lines over a band driven by the beats-derived propulsion of most current American music rather than old-fashioned swing. It’s a happy combination of old and new, with the leader steeped in now-classic saxophone styles, from Ornette Coleman to Arthur Blythe, but working to find his own synthesis.

Which just left time to reach a new jazz space, Dean Close school’s Chapel, where Kit Downes - returning to playing after a lay-off from a tendon injury - addressed a magnificent new organ. His duo with Tom Challenger on tenor sax, now christened Vyamanikal, produce a fascinating blend between a horn player tied to one sonority and an organist who can use hands, feet, and stops to produce pretty well any sound he wants. Together, they mused, mourned, and exulted. There was plenty more music to be had back at the Festival site, but this was a perfect way to end a day.


REVIEW: Keith Tippett and Louis Moholo-Moholo Duo at the Vortex

Keith Tippett and Louis Moholo-Moholo
at the Vortex

Keith Tippett and Louis Moholo-Moholo Duo
(Vortex, 28th April 2017. Review by AJ Dehany)

There is a queue stretching outside the Vortex. This is not usual. The reason is this: tonight, playing as a duo for the first time in over three decades, we’re going to hear Keith Tippett and Louis Moholo-Moholo together. It seems important.

Tippett and Moholo embody our notions of freedom in jazz. They’re free players, sure. There’s also that shared and vital personal and political freedom which is the broader spirit and meaning of the music.

The South African drummer Moholo and the Bristolian pianist Tippett recorded as a duo in 1980, at the “Workshop Freie musik” in Berlin an album released in 1982 as No Gossip - which has been recently rereleased by Destination: OUT (link).

Music can in principle be just music, but really? The four selections are called Black and White Unite, Dedicated to Mandela, Biko, Sobukwe, Zimbabwe is Free and All People… God’s People… Don’t Worry!

Listening to No Gossip is a good way to understand what Tippett and Moholo-Moholo have been doing since, musically as well. Moholo you can call a melodic drummer, a confusing appellation that nonetheless captures his ability to work tonally just by sheer technique while never letting go of his achingly subtle but motorific command of the beat, even when playing against different time signatures. Tippett can at times be contrasted as the rhythmically steadier player in this partnership, particularly given the extensive use of prepared objects jammed into the strings of the piano, that enrich the timbre and make us feel like we’re listening more than just two musicians. The clinch is, well, he has a sonorous lyricism, a bleak romanticism and an intuitive understanding of how we use music to help us feel our feelings.

The experience of Tippett and Moholo playing together as a duo is a distillation and crystallisation of everything they’ve every played, everything you’ve ever heard them play, and everything else too. An eager punter beckons to me, and says “He’s playing the Rite of Spring.”

He’s not, of course, though Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is a touchstone for its commanding left-hand hemiolas and right-hand clashing chordalities, both of which are hallmarks of Tippett’s style.

I asked him whether he had any particular ballads in mind during the surprising balladic phases that he briefly dipped into towards the end of the first set.

“No. It’s just stream of consciousness.”

It’s not though, is it? Moholo and Tippett were both born in the 1940's (’40 and ‘47 respectively). In his irresistible soundbite before the gig he announced “Between us we’ll be bringing 146 years of music, experience and comradeship to the occasion.”

In a gentler fashion Tippett tells the rapt Vortex that he and Louis met at Ronnie Scott’s old place in “Sixty-seven, maybe… Little was I to know a year later we’d be playing together, and little did we know that fifty years later we’d be playing together… and I love him.”(28 April 2017)

The piano ready for Keith Tippett


CD REVIEW: Jason Rigby's Detroit-Cleveland Trio - One

Jason Rigby’s Detroit-Cleveland Trio – One
(Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-505. CD review by Filipe Freitas)

American saxophonist/composer Jason Rigby has this spontaneous capacity to adapt his way of playing to different styles and moods. He is a shape-shifter whose musical approach is a synonym of consistency regardless if he’s playing in small groups such as the quartets of Mike Baggetta and Mark Guiliana, or large ensembles like the Alan Ferber Big Band.

His work as a leader has been released on the Fresh Sound label and consists of Translucent Space (2006), Sage (2008), and this one, where we can find Rigby spearheading a trio of habitual partners: veteran bassist Cameron Brown and in-demand drummer Gerald Cleaver. The strong rapport built over the years is transferred to the recording, allowing us to indulge in tight trio manoeuvres, solo stretches, dynamic interactions, and stirring improvisations.

The album opener, Dive Bar, is an electrifying sax-drums duet of enormous force and stamina that pushes us to the particular worlds of Coltrane and David S.Ware. Playful and incisive in his phrasing, Rigby, who composed the tune, finds the required ebullience in Cleaver’s inventive drumming and methodical Afro rhythms.

Inspired by the literary work of Oscar Wilde, Dorian Gray is another original that kicks in with an odd-metered bass groove linked to a steady pulse. The solid ground consolidates Rigby’s adventurous verbalizations and figures of speech.

His brittle tenor makes a distinct impact on Rogers & Hart’s You Are Too Beautiful, a sparkling ballad configured with well-resolved bop phrases and delivered with unexpected inner energy. He also digs Embraceable You, another jazz standard. However, this time he does it alone, employing lots of zig-zags and making the tune almost unrecognizable.

Interesting renditions of George Schuller’s Newtoon, which takes an experimental path due to the trio’s unrestricted approach, and Herbie Hancock’s Speak Like a Child, shaped by the agile cascades of notes poured out of Rigby’s soprano sax, are also part of the roster.

Dewey, composed by the bandleader as a tribute to the late saxophonist Dewey Redman, closes the album in the best avant-garde jazz tradition. During the improvisational segment, Rigby throws in exciting rhythmic ideas, and insurgent swoops and slides, but he also caresses distinguishable melodies to balance and regulate the flow.

One is a formidable creation by a rhythmically advanced, intensely focused trio whose expansions and contractions will suit the tastes of modern creative jazz aficionados. Rigby leads with resolve, evincing an outgoing posture, compositional bravura, and a laudable flair for exploration.


CD REVIEW: Tarkovsky Quartet - Nuit Blanche

Tarkovsky Quartet - Nuit Blanche
(ECM 572 9067. CD review by Peter Bacon)

The band of pianist François Couturier, cellist Anja Lechner, soprano saxophonist Jean-Marc Larché and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier takes its name from the Russian film director most famously responsible for Solaris - contender, surely, for most philosophical sci-fi film (up against Kubrick’s 2001...).

The music is as subtly strange and delicately dream-like as Tarkovsky’s films and this disc has brief, fully improvised and especially abstract pieces running through it as well as longer, more formal compositions by Couturier, a bit of Vivaldi and an anonymous piece from the 15th century.

Of the Couturier compositions, the title track unfolds gently and at a stately pace, the four instruments dancing in and around each other with no sense of crowding. Soleil Sous La Pluie is carefully articulated by the composer with Larché high up in flute territory and faint atmospheric knocking in the background as if a distant shutter is banging in the wind. The longest, called Urga, makes the most of Lechner’s keening cello which slowly develops from eerie tones into a plaintive melody uniting cello and accordion.

The group improvs, named Rêve, Dream or Traum, sometimes make more use of the other sounds the instruments can make, whether it is percussive pops from the saxophone, wiry slides from the cello or rattling and wheezing from the accordion. Their unplanned nature makes them even more dreamlike in their unexpected twists and incongruities.

Vivaldi’s Cum Dederit Delectis Suis Somnum and the Anonymous composition Quant Ien Congneu A Ma Pensee sit most comfortably amidst the 21st compositions and improvisations.

Modern cross-genre chamber music of the highest order, and full of mystery which has the listener finding new things with every play of the disc.

LINK: Review of Tarkovsky Quartet CD from 2011


PREVIEW/INTERVIEW: Polly Gibbons (Is It Me... ? album release/launch Pizza Express 16 May)

Polly Gibbons
Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland

"Is It Me... ?" is vocalist POLLY GIBBONS' new album on Resonance Records (RCD-1025). It combines her own compositions, written in partnership with pianist James Pearson, with classics from Ellington and Newley/Bricusse, and sets her powerful voice against a full-blooded horn section. The album reveals her assurance in combining soul, jazz and the blues. The Jazz FM Vocalist Of The Year nominee spoke to LondonJazz News' Editor-At-Large, Peter Bacon.

LondonJazz News: Is it the melody? Or the lyric? Or is it something else more difficult to define? What is it about a song that makes you respond: "I’ve just got to sing that!"?

Polly Gibbons: Often it's a combination of both melody and lyric! And the harmony too, that plays a large part. I've never found it particularly comfortable to sing a lyric which I have no real connection to. Feeling the story of the song is so important and key for me, and then there are some melodies and harmonic journeys which grab you more than others!

LJN: There are three of your own songs on Is It Me…? How do you and James Pearson write? Words first, or tune?

PG: So far mainly James has presented some musical ideas which we develop together and then either an idea I've already had for a lyric might work, or the feel of the piece might prompt one and then we work on that together too.

LJN: Do you feel it’s easier to sing your own tunes than other people’s? Or maybe there is more pressure?<

PG: There’s a challenge to both! There's something even more intimate when you put your own music out there, it's revealing in a different kind of way. I feel there's a pressure, too, in interpreting other people's songs, especially when in the 'jazz' field there have been many iconic recordings already made.

LJN: Some singers feel horns get in the way, but it sounds like you relish a bigger band, and horns to interact with. Is that so?

PG: It is so. I love a variety of different sounds and styles and having horns on this project is very cool. Also the arrangements on Is It Me...? are very good, that can affect greatly the experience, either by enhancing or detracting from a singer. But I think maybe my robust voice is complemented with the strong sound of horns!

"For me live is the best fun." Polly Gibbons on stage at the
Catalina Bar and Grill on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood
Photo credit: Bruce Bisenz

LJN: Live or recording in the studio - do you have a preference? 

PG: I think for me live is the best fun. Studio work is interesting and has a different kind of discipline that I like, but playing for people directly is inspiring.

LJN: And UK audiences compared with U.S. ones - is there a difference?

PG: If an American audience is into what you're doing - you'll hear it!!

LJN: Three recordings that you couldn’t live without?

PG: Billie Holiday: Lady Sings The Blues; Rachmaninov: 3rd Piano Concerto; D’Angelo: Voodoo.

Polly Gibbons will be launching Is It Me... ? at Pizza Express, Soho, London on 16 May. (pp)

LINKS Polly Gibbons' website
Pizza Express launch


CD REVIEW: Mark Lewandowski, Liam Noble, Paul Clarvis - Waller

Mark Lewandowski - Waller
(Whirlwind. WR4703. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)

Bassist Mark Lewandowski recorded this CD of fourteen tunes associated with Fats Waller with Liam Noble on piano and Paul Clarvis on drums at the Vortex in London, during the daytime, using the venue without an audience as their studio. That connection with a live performance space is a good way to recall Fats Waller's enduring influence - he was after all the complete performer.

Lewandowski tells us that the project grew out of a single gig at Kansas Smitty’s. He remembers being so happy with the results of that first gig when he listened back to a recording of it, he knew wanted to record the music, and keep the project going. (Details of tour dates below.)

The trio concentrate on Waller's composing, with only one vocal track – Jelly Roll Morton's Why, renamed Surprise Ending on this occasion. This was Lewandowski's way of dealing with a wish coming from his fellow band members to represent the fact that Waller was a singer - while not actually having the effrontery to perform one of Waller's own songs. Anyway, with that exception, it does leave the trio to focus on the music, calling on their skill as improvisers to interpret the tunes.

The result is both modern and respectful, placing Waller firmly in the jazz lineage. Hearing tunes most often played in a traditional setting reinterpreted with modern emphasis sheds new light on the compositions.

They are equally at home playing fast or slow, sometimes both within the same piece: mashing together two tunes to create I'll Be Glad When You're Dead... Suzannah!!, it opens with a funereal bass solo from Lewandowski, which gradually speeds up before Noble comes crashing in at double time.
The slow numbers are particularly effective. Jitterbug Waltz has a lyrical bounce to it that makes one want to dance. Fair & Square... In Love, another two tunes mashed together, is taken heartbreakingly slow, becoming a beautiful romantic ballad.

Liam Noble is now established as one of Britain's foremost pianists. His inventive playing on a short Honeysuckle Rose places Waller as a forebear of Monk, his influence extending on to today's improvisers, too. This is shown on Lulu's Back In Town, putting the Waller stride into a modern context.

Lewandowski and Clarvis are exemplary, too. Clarvis, largely using brushes, plays with great subtlety, at times barely hinting at the rhythms. Lewandowski at times also approaches a minimal style: on Fair & Square... In Love he uses as few notes as possible, to maximum effect. His solo rendition of Have A Little Dream On Me shows off his imaginative improvising.

But Waller's compositions are the real stars of this collection, allowing the three musicians to jump off to explore their depths.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

Mark Lewandowski, Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis are touring throughout May, including the album launch at the Vortex on May 19 - DETAILS.


NEWS: Winners at 2017 JazzFM Awards Announced - Including Two Awards for the Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood
receiving the Album of theYear  award
Sebastian writes: 

For a jazz event this was a very star-studded night indeed. Two awards (Blues Album and Album of the Year went to the Rolling Stones, three of whom were there to accept them.

Among the presenters of awards was Sir Van Morrison. Georgie Fame and Laura Mvula performed, as did Donny McCaslin. Gina Miller who took the Conservative government and its "strong leader" to court over Brexit - and won -  also presented an award.

Evan Parker, presenting an award to Charlie Watts, rightly alluded to one of the unsung heroes of the night, bassist Dave Green, whose lifelong friendship with the Stones' drummer (chronicled recently here by The Jazz Podcast) formed the long-view backdrop of much of what we saw.

Jez Nelson presented the event, which was taking place on the centenary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald.

2017 Nominees Complete List - Winners in Bold

Sponsored by Yamaha
– Ashley Henry
– Nubya Garcia
WINNER – Yussef Kamaal

– Brad Mehldau
WINNER – Donny McCaslin
– Robert Glasper

Norma Winstone receiving her Vocalist of the Year award from
Tanita Tikaram

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Sponsored by PRS for Music
– Carleen Anderson
WINNER – Norma Winstone
– Polly Gibbons

WINNER – Nikki Yeoh
– Gwilym Simcock
– Tim Garland

BLUES ARTIST OF THE YEAR Sponsored by The Piano Bar Soho
– Bonnie Raitt
– Eric Bibb
WINNER – The Rolling Stones

– Jordan Rakei
WINNER – Laura Mvula
– William Bell

JAZZ INNOVATION OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Mishcon de Reya
– Darcy James Argue
WINNER – Jaimeo Brown
– Moon Hooch

DIGITAL INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Pollitt & Partners
– Dave Douglas – Greenleaf Music
WINNER – Gilles Peterson – Worldwide FM
– Jaimeo Brown – Transcendence: Work Songs

Shabaka Hutchings receiving his award
from Natalie Williams

ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Public Vote, Sponsored by Arqiva
– Anderson .Paak – Malibu
– Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now
– Gregory Porter – Take Me To The Alley
– Kurt Elling – The Beautiful Day
– Madeleine Peyroux – Secular Hymns
WINNER – The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

UK JAZZ ACT OF THE YEAR  - Public Vote, Sponsored by Grange Hotels
– Dinosaur
WINNER – Shabaka Hutchings
– Soweto Kinch

– Ashley Henry Trio at Jazz Re:Fest, Royal Festival Hall
– Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles at Glee Club Birmingham
– Julian Arguelles with Frankfurt Radio Big Band, Django Bates & Steve Argüelles at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
WINNER – Orphy Robinson All Stars – The Bobby Hutcherson Songbook at St James The Great, London
– Roberto Fonseca Trio at Gateshead International Jazz Festival, Sage Gateshead
– Wayne Shorter Quartet at EFG London Jazz Festival, Barbican

– Recipient: Georgie Fame

IMPACT AWARD (for bringing jazz to wider audiences)
Recipient: Damien Chazelle

– Recipient: Charlie Watts

The Jazz FM Awards 2017 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and is made possible with the support of Mishcon De Reya, PRS For Music, Rathbones, Pollitt & Partners, Oris Watches, Grange Hotels, RCS, Denbies Wine Estate, Arqiva, Fever Tree, Yamaha, The Piano Bar Soho and PPL

LINKS : JazzFM Awards website
2016 Awards Results
2015 Awards Results
2013 Awards Results


NEWS: Montreal Jazz Festival 2017 announces "Programme - Salles" (ticketed concerts, June 28 - July 8)

Montreal Festival 2013
Photo Credit Jean-Francois Leblanc/Montreal Int Jazz Fest

The Montreal International Jazz Festival has just announced its "Programme - Salles" i.e all the ticketed events programme.

What jumps forth at the reader from the list below is the festival's sheer vastness. And even this opulence of talent is -  in a sense -  just a part of the story, since the festival also has a) a huge free programme, and b) incorporates the programme of the city's two delightful small clubs Diese Onze and Upstairs.

We have listed by venue. Some things to flag up are:

-  a substantial British presence
- Bob Dylan
- just about every international and Canadian jazz name you might want to hear! 

Today's Press Release states:

Montreal, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 With 150 indoor concerts, 14 themed series presented in 11 concert venues, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal once again proves it is THE musical rendezvous of the summer! The 38th edition of the Festival, presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Rio Tinto from June 28 to July 8, reveals hos wonderfully the Festival wears its years, never ceasing to renew, innovate, enrich, diversify and deepen its offering… And so the curtain rises on a program brimming with jazz, of course, but also blues, folk, rock, pop, electronica and world music, in addition to displaying a new website and new colours thanks to its collaboration with the teams of Bleublancrouge and Baillat for the graphic design of this edition. It’s a high-calibre program, combining the most dazzling stars on today’s scene, artists at the zenith of their art, and streaking young comets to be discovered… 

A musical planet we will never stop exploring! But this is also an edition overflowing with styles and cultures, with over 17 countries represented, from Norway to Brazil, Armenia to New Zealand, including the UK, Cuba, Mali, Nigeria, Japan, South Korea, Argentina and, of course, Canada, from B.C. to Nunavut! Eleven days and nights of discoveries, passion, surprises and celebration! Tickets go on sale this Friday at noon. “What a joy it is to contribute again to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, a world-class event, which brings so many music lovers together. As the Bank of Music, we made a commitment, 14 years ago, to support community programs for young people across Canada by offering, workshops, innovative educational programs and grants, as well as awards and scholarships in the field of music. We also sponsor more than 80 music festivals each year from coast to coast. This 38th edition will certainly be one of the fabulous ways to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montreal”, says Sylvie Demers, Chair, Quebec Market, TD Bank Group.


Centre Bell

Bob Dylan and His Band (June 30, 8 p.m.)

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

- A reunion of the fusion group UZEB
- Pink Martini
- Alfredo Rodríguez
- Buddy Guy | Charlie Musselwhite | Steve Hill and Matt Andersen duo
- LA LA LAND in concert
- Melissa Etheridge | Joss Stone
- The O’Jays | The Four Tops
- Bobby Bazini, Summer Is Gone

Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts

- Robert Glasper Experiment, ArtScience
- Kendrick Scott Oracle
- Harlem Gospel Choir
- The Gipsy Kings
- The Stanley Clarke Band
- Buika
- Arturo Sandoval | Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
- Lisa Simone | Michael Kaeshammer
- The Barr Brothers, Bassekou Kouyaté & Amy Sacko
- Matt Holubowski

Maison symphonique de Montréal

- Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski
- John Scofield | Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
- Tigran Hamasyan, An Ancient Observer
- Colin Stetson
- Montreal Jubilation Choir, Glory Train
- Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Brian Blade
- Danilo Pérez trio featuring Adam Cruz and Ben Street
- Jean-Willy Kunz, L’orgue dans tous ses états
- Battle of the Bands IX: The Cab Calloway Orchestra vs. the Xavier Cugat Orchestra
- Jesse Cook


- Charlotte Cardin
- Serena Ryder
- Caravan Palace
- Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
- Joey Bada$$ (Brooklyn rapper)
- The Strumbellas | Whitehorse (Canadian Folk-Rock)
- Groenland | San Fermin
- Serena Ryder

Club Soda

- Bokanté (Guadeloupe) with Michael League and Malika Tirolien
- Kandace Springs
- Jacob Collier
- Ron Sexsmith
- Flavia Coelho
- Rodrigo Amarante
- Morgan James
- Acid Arab
- Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles
- Squarepusher presents Shobaleader One
- Men Without Hats
- Portico Quartet | Binker & Moses (UK)
- Deluxe (France)
- Acid Arab (Paris)
- KROY, Scavenger | Geoffroy
-Tanya Tagaq
- BROS (Canada)

Salle Ludger-Duvernay, Monument-National

-Tony Allen
- Youn Sun Nah
- Ambrose Akinmusire
- Hiromi & Edmar Castaneda duo
- Christian McBride
- Roberto Fonseca, ABUC
- Gwilym Simock | Phronesis, UK Marathon
- Nicholas Payton
- Laurent Coulondre
- Lizz Wright
- Dave Douglas & Chet Doxas with special guest Carla Bley
- Harry Manx with Quatuor esca
- Tony Allen, Tribute to Art Blakey


- The Bad Plus
- The Bad Plus with Rudresh Mahanthappa
- The Bad Plus with Kurt Rosenwinkel
- John Pizzarelli Quartet with Catherine Russell, Billy & Blue Eyes
- John Pizzarelli Quartet with Jessica Molaskey
- John Pizzarelli Quartet with Daniel Jobim
- Ravi Coltrane duo with David Virelles
- Ravi Coltrane Quartet with Adam Rogers, Yunior Terry, E.J. Strickland
- Ravi Coltrane Quartet welcomes Robin Eubanks and Jason Palmer
- Shabaka & The Ancestors
- Donny McCaslin
- Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet
- Bill Frisell Duo with Thomas Morgan
- Django Festival Allstars with Samson Schmitt, Ludovic Beier & Pierre Blanchard
- The Neil Cowley Trio
- Escalandrum & Elena Roger
- Harold López-Nussa trio
- Lorraine Desmarais trio plays Bill Evans
-L’Orchestre national de jazz with guests John Hollenbeck and Theo Bleckmann

L’Astral (Maison du Festival)

- Daniel Clarke Bouchard
- Christine and Ingrid Jensen with Ben Monder, Infinitude
- Jowee Omicil
- Andrea Lindsay, Entre le jazz et la java
- Hichem Khalfa Quartet
- Lucioles, Collectif Guillaume Martineau
- Misses Satchmo
- Parc X Trio
- Rachel Therrien, Pensamiento : Proyecto Colombia
- Parlor Social with Dessy Di Lauro x Ric’key Pageot (Los Angeles)
- Imany
- Xenia Rubinos
- Knower with Dennis Hamm, Sam Gendel, Sam Wilkes (California)
- Kurt Rosenwinkel, Caipi
- Bria Skonberg
- Aron Ottignon
- Too Many Zooz
- Ariel Pocock
- Shyre (Montreal)

Savoy du Métropolis

- Gabrielle Shonk
- Puma Blue (London UK)
- Harfang
- Siv Jakobsen


REVIEW: Stefan Aeby Trio and Aki Takase /Rudi Mahall Duo at the Vortex (2017 Intakt Festival)

Accepting the applause at the end of Stefan Aeby's London debut as leader
L-R: Stefan Aeby, Andre Pousaz, Michi Stulz 

Stefan Aeby Trio and Aki Takase /Rudi Mahall Duo
(Vortex, 24th April 2017. Ninth night of Intakt Festival. Review by Sebastian Scotney - first half; and Tony Dudley Evans - second half)

This was the ninth night of twelve at the Intakt Festival. The first half presented a London debut as leader for Stefan Aeby, He has already popped up twice in the festival as a loyal member of bands led by Sarah Buechi and Christoph Irniger, but here the attentive Vortex audience was able to hear him on his own terms.

Aeby brings in processed sounds with the piano, he allows bassist Andre Pousaz (impeccable tuning) and drummer Michi Stulz (great sense of colour) to keep him anchored, but Aeby's real self-discipline is in never letting go of a melodic thread. I was reminded in the earlier part of the set by great and unflashy and unfailingly melodic Italian pianists like Rita Marcotulli or Giovanni Mirabassi. Yes, things were to got rockier and more electronic, but the sense of line and balance always remained.

It was a very well shaped set indeed. One might construct a theory - that Swiss artists will always know where the peaks are (like Paul Klee or Hodler drawing the Niesen). Whatever. Aeby's  intensity builds were incredibly  well judged, with all three trio members feeling them remarkably in synch and in balance, but rather than going out in a blaze of glory, this trio has a way of enjoying the view once they get to the top. the climaxes were followed by long, measured, thoughtful exhales.

Control, purpose, collegiality, respect, deep sense of civilisation. We might be describing the spirit of the Intakt Festival. But all of those were encapsulated in Aeby's end-of-set acknowledgements: before he got round to thanking his trio colleagues he made a point of singling out Ally who does the Vortex's sound.

Tony Dudley-Evans writes about the second set: 

The second set presented a most enjoyable duo performance with Aki Takase on piano and Rudi Mahall on clarinet and bass clarinet. They have played together for twenty years and the resulting ease with which they move from one mood to another is apparent. Each section moved from a tune through extensive free improvisation and back to the head, and tunes ranged from Moonglow, a medley of Dolphy tunes,

Green Dolphin Street and quirky originals from Aki or Rudi, often with similarly quirky titles in German which Rudi struggled to explain in English. Most striking was the way they added in a lot of humour, both in the music and in the whole presentation of the set. It thus combined tremendous playing from both performers with a lot of fun.


CASSETTE REVIEW: Lucia Cadotsch - Speak Low Renditions

Lucia Cadotsch  - Speak Low Renditions
( www.luciacadotsch.bandcamp.com/yum and on cassette. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

Lucia Cadotsch is a Swiss vocalist based in Berlin whose album Speak Low with bass player Petter Eldh and saxophonist Otis Sandsjo, devoted to well-known songs such as Moon River, Don't Explain and Strange Fruit, had a rare straightforward beauty. The trio played two UK dates at the Vortex London and mac Birmingham (TDE Promotions) (REVIEW).

Cadotsch has followed it up with a new recording featuring a series of remixes.

The artists making the remixes come from quite different backgrounds: Trummerschlunk, Marc Neyen and Don Philippe mostly inhabit the dance floor world in Berlin; Julian Sartorius and Marc Lohr are drummers; Evelinn Trouble and Joy Fremong are singers; and Colin Vallon, Dan Nicholls and Petter Eldh, a member of the Speak Low trio who has two remixes under the name of Frans Petter, come from the contemporary jazz world.

The remixes add to the beauty and eery nature of the original tracks. Some take the music quite some away from the original, while others keep Lucia's voice and the instrumental passages more or less as they were, but add keyboard, drum, vocal or other sounds, The latter work particularly well.

Julian Sartorius' simple repetitive drum rhythm adds to the moving nature of Lucia's version of Don't Explain. Marc Lohr's remix of Strange Fruit with electronic backing strengthens Lucia's atmospheric rendition. Perhaps my favourite track has Evelinn Trouble adding a stunning vocal backing to Slow Hot Wind that draws on Evelinn's world of psychedelic rock. Marc Neyen's version of Moon River transforms the saxophone and bass sounds into a kind of ambient drone and adds drum and guitar to create atmospheric backing for Lucia's unaltered voice. Peter Eldh's version of Speak Low adds a very busy drum rhythm from Julian Sartorius.

The other approach is to make radical changes to the original versions thereby creating effectively a new piece of music. Trummerschlunk's version of Ain't Got No hardly makes use of the original for a long quirky and minimalist track with the voice very much in the background. Dan Nicholls' remix of Deep Song leaps about in a way that reminds of his Strobes group. Petter Eldh's other remix, Some Other Spring, is a much funkier track with the addition of drums and keys. Don Philippe adds a gentle hip hop rhythm to Moon River that works surprisingly well. Another favourite of mine is that by Joy Fremong who loops the voice in several layers that reminds of the Tuneyards group.

Colin Vallon takes a different approach from all the others by leaving unprocessed parts of Lucia's original recording of Don 't Explain, but interspersing other instrumental passages that build up the intensity of the song.

Overall, this album is sufficiently faithful to the original but brings something fresh to it.


NEWS: German ECHO JAZZ Award Winners Announced

Eva Kruse
Photo credit: Bibbie Friman

The winners of the 2017 ECHO JAZZ Awards have just been announced: 

German Awards

Ensemble: Joachim Kühn New Trio
Singer: Lucia Cadotsch
Bass/ Bass Guitar: Eva Kruse
Brass instrument: Frederik Köster
Sax / Woodwinds: Daniel Erdmann
Drums Percussion: Diego Piñera
Piano/Keyboards: Michael Wollny
Guitar : Arne Jansen
Newcomer: Anna-Lena Schnabel

International Awards

Singer: Norah Jones
Ensemble: Branford Marsalis Quartet
Drums / Percussion: Antonio Sanchez
Saxophone/ Woodwind: Émile Parisien
Piano/ Keyboards Kenny Barron
Bass: Lars Danielsson
Brass instrument: Cuong Vu
Guitar: Charlie Hunter
Other instrument: Vincent Peirani
Large Ensemble: Marius Neset & London Sinfonietta
Bestseller: Gregory Porter

Special Prizes

American Jazz Heroes
E.S.T. Symphony

Further information and full details of the albums -  www.echojazz.de

The awards ceremony will be on 1st June 2017 at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg.

ECHO JAZZ is a joint production by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie, and the Kulturinstitut des Bundesverbandes Musikindustrie (BVMI)

LINKS: Our first mention of Anna-Lena Schnabel as a member of BuJazzO in 2012

CD Review of Frederik Koester Die Verwandlung


REVIEW: Jazz Repertory Co. - The Golden Age of British Big Bands at Cadogan Hall,

The Golden Age Big Band
Photo credit: Paul Wood

Jazz Repertory Co. - The Golden Age of British Big Bands
(Cadogan Hall, 23 April 2017. Review by Peter Vacher)

Deep in the Leytonstone think-tank where the Jazz Repertory Company draw up their plans, great minds work tirelessly to devise new enterprises and projects, or as we know them, to create themed concerts designed to tickle the fancy of the Cadogan Hall’s happy band of faithful followers.

The skills and ingenuity of team leaders Richard Pite and Pete Long are crucial to these endeavours, each concert like a new book whose pages have yet to be turned. That these two musical magpies continue to come up with cleverly devised, thoughtful programmes may well be one of the small wonders of the age. And that of course brings us to their latest outpouring devoted to British big bands which debuted last Sunday.

Pete Long
Photo credit: Paul Wood

In a concert that lived up to the cliché of a game of two halves, the first took the largely populist route with the accent on vocal recollections, with everything from a George Formby favourite warbled by Spats Langham with ukulele accompaniment to a pair of duet s between the sweet-voiced Janice Day [who also had a neat solo turn on That Lovely Weekend] and Langham. All nicely done; even if the outstanding Pete Long orchestra was confined to playing second fiddle. No such caveat for Alex Garnett who took on the tenor role in the Coleman Hawkins/Jack Hylton version of Melancholy Baby with his usual creative tenacity, the band writing cleverly devised. Along the way, Fred Elizalde’s spirited 1928 chart for Crazy Rhythm had aged beautifully, with Jay Craig emulating Adrian Rollini on bass saxophone, followed by a rousing Harry Roy piece and then the climactic Bakerloo Non-Stop, from the days of Ted Heath, all brass and belligerence, with lead trumpeter Nathan Bray triumphant in the spotlight.

With Heath’s Hot Toddy’/’Swinging Shepherd Blues post-interval again exploring the popular, Stan Tracey’s Afro Charlie Meets The White Rabbit then offered a bracing-eye’s view of the jazz uplands with Garnett heard at length and in supreme form, every nuance explored, each short phrase cooked to perfection. Tracey’s unlikely collaboration with Acker Bilk came good with Long’s mellifluous clarinet rendering of Stranger on the Shore before we again reverted to the hit parade with trombonist Chris Dean’s pair of truly show-stopping vocals recalling the heyday of Matt Monro. Jazz-free but superbly done. Back into the premiership with two pieces culled from the Tubby Hayes big band pad; Parisian Thoroughfare giving trumpeter Freddie Gavita his chance to unwind a long, looping improvisation that had boppish élan as its trademark, before trumpeter Mark Armstrong [NYJO’s Musical Director] combined with Garnett on Suddenly Last Tuesday to provide the kind of heartening evidence that all was well on the jazz front. Brilliant chart, superbly executed, tremendous soloists.

Alec Dankworth
Photo credit: Paul Wood

Good, too to celebrate John Dankworth, especially since son Alec Dankworth was on bass, with the very catchy African Waltz and the cleverly-constructed Tomorrow’s World theme, this before a roaring tribute to NYJO itself with Bill Charleson’s demanding arrangement of My Old Man this allowing trombonist Callum Au to do some solo muscle flexing. Fast and furious, for sure.

So, a night of mixed endeavours and outcomes, straddling the twin peaks of chart success and jazz prowess. Might there have been room , say, for something of Lew Stone, Spike Hughes, Ambrose and Tommy Sampson, not to mention Vic Lewis? Perhaps another time.

The Golden Age Big Band
Photo credit: Paul Wood


Pete Long [MD, cl, as]; Janice Day [voc]; Thomas Langham [voc/g]; Martin Litton [p]
Freddie Gavita, Nathan Bray, James Davison, Mark Armstrong [t, fgh];
Chris Dean [tb/voc]; Andy Flaxman, Callum Au [tb]; Mark Frost [b-tb];
Bob Sydor [ts, cl, f]; Alex Garnett [ts, cl, f]; Colin Skinner [as, cl, f, picc, sop]; Simon Marsh [as, cl, f]; Jay Craig [bs, cl, b-cl, bass-sax]
Alec Dankworth [b]; Richard Pite [d].


NEWS: Durham BRASS Festival (9-16th July) / applications invited for Big Band Summer School

BBC Big Band
Photo courtesy of BRASS Festival

Durham’s BRASS Festival is in its eleventh year, but this year has a new addition:

For the first time, a Big Band Summer School run alongside the festival from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 July.

There will  be three bands: youth (up to 22 years), intermediate, and advanced, and applications are welcome from players of big band instruments of Grade 6 standard and above - there is no official closing date in the documentation but the organizers are recommending early application.

According to the press release, "the festival sets out to change perceptions about brass music and develop new audiences through a focus on new commissions and collaborative work, bringing together brass musicians, actors, theater makers, dancers, and technology."

This year's program includes a concert by the BBC Big Band dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie and the great big band leaders on, 13th July. The concerts are focused on the Gala Theatre and Durham Cathedral.

Led by American jazz trombonist Jiggs Whigham and members of the BBC Big Band, this summer school will focus on the music of the great brass big band leaders and is open to players of all ages and stages. The Summer School will provide musicians with the opportunity to work with director and trombonist Jiggs Whigham, lead trumpet Martin Shaw plus the rhythm section of Robin Aspland (piano), Jeremy Brown (bass) and Tom Gordon (drums).

In addition to the big band workshops, there will also be an opportunity to join the rhythm section, other course members, and visiting musicians, in two Big BRASS Jams as part of the Festival Fringe.

Durham BRASS Festival is presented by Durham County Council and Arts Council England

LINK: Big Band Summer School Applications
LINK: BRASS Festival Events


FEATURE: Monika S. Jakubowska Jazz Photographer (Newsletter Prize Draw)

Photo credit: Monika S. Jakubowska/ msjphotos.co.uk

Sebastian writes 

Slowly but surely, the word about good people does get out. Photographer and graphic designer Monika S. Jakubowska works in a quiet and low-key way, but her work with jazz musicians is becoming better known.

She has done work for Alice Zawadzki, Asaf Sirkis, Shez Raja, Mark Fletcher and Fletch’s Brew (the album 39 & 47), Julian Arguelles (Tetra). “So far, all of my assignments have come via word of mouth and recommendations,” she says.

Monika is originally from Suwalki in North-Eastern Poland and has lived in the UK since 2006, moving here when she was around thirty.

When did the photography start? “My father is a musician and an amateur photographer..I started taking photos at the age of three!” LJN first came across some particularly uplifting work she produced of the skies over West London which we included in our International Womens Day supplement in 2015. (LINK)

Alice Zawadzki
Photo credit: Monika S.Jakubowska/ msjphotos.co.uk

The word-of-mouth recommendations of Jakubowska come with the sense of a person of integrity and seriousness. As Alice Zawadzki says about her: “For her, taking pictures seems natural as breathing, She takes photos most days. It is something she has to do .”

Shez Raja says: "Monika has taken some incredible photos at my live shows. She has an amazing talent for capturing the atmosphere, energy and human emotion in her images. I call her 'the photo ninja' because I rarely actually see her taking the photos whilst I'm playing!"

Shez Raja
Photo credit: Monika S. Jakubowska /msjphotos.co.uk

Jakubowska describes how she likes to work: “With my photographs I can put emotions into images just as writing puts emotions into words. I see stories in people,” she says. And when she describes the purpose, one senses a lack of ego: “ I like being of service to artists - giving back through photography.”

As she demonstrated when working for us recently at a gig by the Skelton Skinner septet – LINK - she is very good at capturing the moment, the musicians in action Alice Zawadzki has also described this:

“She is easy to work with, extremely professional, and she always brings a consistent energy, and pride in doing a good job. Never intimidating or judgmental.”

Artwork for the Julian Arguelles'album Tetra

DETAILS OF PRIZE DRAW: This week's newsletter prize draw is from Monika S Jakubowska and consists of a photo shoot: portrait/family portrait at a mutually agreed time within London,  and if the winner is a musician, a promo shoot of an artist/band or gig shoot .  (pp)

LINK / CONTACT: msjphotos.co.uk


PREVIEW: Billy Marrows Octet/Sam Braysher Trio (Jazz Nursery at Iklektic, April 27th)

Photo: Steven Cropper/Transient Life

Winner of the Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition in 2016,  Billy Marrows will be leading his octet in  music from his gamelan-influenced Gamelancaster suite alongside new original works in a double bill with Sam Braysher’s trio at Jazz Nursery

Billy was inspired by hearing gamelan on a trip to Java in summer 2016, and wrote a suite exploring concepts from gamelan.  The suite was written to fulfil a commission  from Lancaster Youth Jazz, and premiered  at the 2016 Lancaster Jazz Festival.

Since then, the music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Now via BBC Introducing.

The octet is in a  double bill with alto saxophonist Sam Braysher’s trio will also include the premiere of a new work for octet experimenting with counterpoint and canonic writing, entitled Scenes from the Underground.


Billy Marrows - guitar
Will Barry - piano
Will Harris - bass
Luke Tomlinson - drums
James Copus - trumpet
Tom Smith  - alto saxophone
Tom Barford  - tenor and soprano saxophones
 Olli Martin -trombone

LINK: Billy Marrows Octet/Sam Braysher Trio Tickets


NEWS: 2017 EJN Adventurous Programming Award goes to Tampere Jazz Happening

The Europe Jazz Network has just announced that The EJN Award For Adventurous Programming 2017 will go to Tampere Jazz Happening.

The award will be officially made this Friday, 28th April, at jazzahead! in Bremen.

The jury's citation was:

“Tampere Jazz Happening for over 35 years now presents a strong programming with a sharp and adventurous profile. Maintaining a familiar approach and strong links with the local community, it established itself as a world-class event and one of the most edgy jazz festivals around. New projects and collaborations are established in every edition, often in the form of inter-generational and inter-gender dialogues. Young Finnish musicians have the opportunity to develop new ideas together with jazz legends and receive wide international exposure. The Festival has broad horizons, framed together in a coherent programme by one of the most characteristic promoters in Europe. All these reasons make Tampere Jazz Happening the perfect choice for the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming 2017!“

The EJN Award Jury 2017 consisted of:  Anne Erm (Artistic Director, Jazzkaar Festivals, Tallinn Estonia), Tina Heine (Artistic Director, Jazz & The City Salzburg, Austria), Martyna Markowska (Artistic Director, JazzArt Festival Katowice, Poland), Yahvé M. de la Cavada (music journalist, Spain), Reiner Michalke (Artistic Director, Stadtgarten Cologne, Germany)

Previous winners of the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming have been: Manchester Jazz Festival, UK (2016), Moers Festival, Germany (2015), Jazz em Agosto, Portugal (2014), Bimhuis,  Netherlands (2013) and 12 Points Festival, Ireland (2012).

LINK: Round-up review of Tampere Jazz Happening 2015


UPDATE: Summer Season at Crazy Coqs

The Live at Zedel summer season brochure
Clockwise from top left: Joe Stilgoe, Amy Gwilliam(Mummy) ,
Steve Furst (Lenny Beige), Kerry Ellis, Jay Rayner

Sebastian writes:

This was my first visit to the new offices of Fane Productions. This young, rapidly changing company is now an independent company having spun off from United Agents. Since things have a habit of changing extremely fast, it was interesting to get an update of new developments:


Fane Productions has been now programming at Brasserie Zedel and Crazy Coqs since September 2016. Their objectives when they took over the programming were to broaden the programme, to increase the audience numbers, and to reach a younger audience.

On all three counts they appear to headed in the right direction: They are “well on track for 800 shows in the Crazy Coqs room this year.” The best attendances were a period of 25 days in March this year when both shows sold out every day, and when attendance year on year 60 % up year on year the highest ever numbers for any time since the venue opened in 2012.

The attempt to change the demographic has also been working. Whereas the typical audience member a year ago was in the 50 and 65 ahe bracket, there has been a big influx of people in the 30 to 45 age range The challenges they face? “To find ways to lure bigger names to an 80 seat venue.”


The Live at Zedel label will launch shortly. Label manager James O'Driscoll recently joined the company. There is a 32 digital channel desk installed at the venue. The first release will be an EP and then an album by the Jay Rayner trio - album likely in September. The company see all kinds of potential..... More detail to follow,


Fane Productions and Michael Parkinson's son are producing a show at Ronnie Scott's,  Parky the Man and His Music - June 11 which will have never previously seen video of musicians from the show. Parkinson was able to bring his own musical enthusiasms - notably jazz -  into the show and foster genuine live performance in a way that talk shows now mostly mimic with pre-recorded segments


Judy Carmichael - April 25-29
Hailey Tuck - May 5, 12, 19, 26
Smittys Big Four - May 6, June 13, 20, July 20
Lucy Dixon - May 16, June 26, July 18, August 24
Joe Stilgoe and Friends - May 29 - June 04
(With Claire Martin, May 29, Natalie Williams, June 02)
Ian Shaw - June 14, July 15
Alice Zawadzki with Jamie Safir - June 24
Alison Jiear - July 9, 21 
(Alison Jiear - pronounced to rhyme with 'fire' is bringing an Ella Fitzgerald show. She has won an award for her role in Jerry Springer the Opera and is a regular with the touring Strictly band)
Beige Sings Diamond - August 03, 04
(Steve Furst is accompanied by the Malcolm Edmonstone Trio)

Link to the full program HERE


We talked about their classical music strand . The biggest date so far was the orchestral concert which I reviewed for Tom Mcneill’s site The Prickle (LINK) . The next full orchestra date will be in July - details to follow.



NEWS/PREVIEW: The Warwickshire jazz scene gets lively (Winstone at Leamington 1 May; Garland at Kenilworth 19 May)

Jazz is still predominantly the music of the city, but some English shires have more to offer than others for the rural jazz fan looking longingly at the London listings but dreading that drive down the M1. Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon looks at what's coming up in the Shakespeare county.

The little, local, volunteer-run jazz club is alive and well in Warwickshire, where there are regular gatherings in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa, as well as a refreshed jazz programme in the county's prinicipal city, courtesy of Jazz Coventry.
There are big-name visitors next month in the form of vocalist Norma Winstone and saxophonist Tim Garland. And the summer 2017 gig list for Stratford is looking particularly impressive.

Norma Winstone will be the guest of Warwickshire regulars Interplay, led by bassist Adrian Litvinoff. The group play on International Jazz Day which is also Bank Holiday Monday - 1 May at 7.30pm at The Restaurant In The Park in Leamington Spa's Jephson Gardens.

In addition to the Norma Winstone concert, there is a free public talk before the concert: Dr Roger Fagge, Associate Professor in Comparative American Studies, will be exploring Miles Daves and Doo Bop: Jazz meets Hip Hop at 5pm in The Studio in Jephson Gardens Glasshouse (no stone throwing, please!).

Tim Garland

Meanwhile, just down the road on Friday 19 May, the Kenilworth Jazz Club (KJC) will be presenting the Tim Garland Electric Quartet. This concert is given in association with Kenilworth Arts Festival and will be the first jazz gig in the newly refurbished St John's Parish Church in the town. KJC's David Logan says the church has had major modernisation with new seating, flooring, sound and lighting system - it might be a modest parish church but "it is a credible venue".

Later in 2017 Kenilworth Jazz Club will be presenting a solo concert by Gwilym Simcock during the the main Kenilworth Arts Festival week.

The Stratford Jazz Club celebrated its 30th birthday last year and is currently well ensconsed within Stratford ArtsHouse, though this year is expanding to include Riverside a little way along the Avon in Tiddington.

On the horizon in their fortnightly Wednesday evening gigs are: Alison Rayner Quintet (26 April), Jean Toussaint (10 May), Laura Jurd's Dinosaur (24 May), Kieran Garrett feat. Dave O'Higgins (14 June) and Jay Phelps (28 June).

At Jazz Coventry, which has said a sad farewell to one of its founders, William Shaw, who died earlier this month, the upcoming Thursday programme at its regular venue The Albany Club includes: the Dave Newton Trio with guest Nat Steel (29 April), the Annie Whitehead Quartet (25 May), and the John Etheridge Blue Spirit Trio (19 October).

To find out more about all these jazz clubs follow the links below:


Leam Jazz

Kenilworth Jazz Club

Stratford Jazz

Jazz Coventry


CD REVIEW: Tina May with the Andy Lutter Trio sings Mark Murphy - Café Paranoia

Tina May with the Andy Lutter Trio sings Mark Murphy -  Café Paranoia
(33 Records 256. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Five people were essential to the creation of this album, of whom one is the late Mark Murphy. Famously a disciple of Jack Kerouac, Murphy took up the latter’s concept of the Western haiku: not quite the same as the strict 17-syllable Japanese verse form, but a looser jazz version of it, in which an idea could be briefly expressed in English, and riffed upon.

Murphy came to know and work with the Munich-based German pianist Andy Lutter during the 1990s, and the two began sharing their mutual interest in jazz haiku, Murphy later faxing through his texts as a basis for some future music. The years passed, and nothing happened. Or at least, very little.

Thankfully, however, that future music is here on this album, sung instead by our very own Tina May, backed by Lutter’s trio. They recorded it in Munich, and received the great man’s blessing for its release shortly before his death in 2015.

And it needs to be said straight away that it’s been worth the wait. Café Paranoia is a complete delight, stuffed with great playing and gorgeous melodies from Lutter, with admirable support from Thomas Hauser on bass and Sunk Poschl on drums. Some of the material is tricky, yet May carries it off in a light, hip, effortless style, putting over Murphy’s quirky wit and wisdom with terrific panache. There’s delicacy and vulnerability here too. I have never heard her sing better.

Age only matters if one is a cheese, begins one of the haikus. It was a one-liner Murphy enjoyed telling at gigs later in his career. Sleepy people don’t declare world wars, begins another. Some of the lyrics are splendidly anarchic, making poetic sense but no other kind: Alas awaste-but keep all that in / the devastated street speed, thanks a lot.

There are many tracks, too many to count. Eight of them are haikus, often less than a minute long. Others, such as Less And Less (I remember less and less/ - except you baby) are fully-fledged songs, this one Murphy’s lament for his gradually dimming faculties. Two tunes, the extended Dance Slowly and Formerly Known As Moon, were recorded live. May and Lutter have also contributed a couple of their own Murphy-influenced numbers. And in a fabulous ‘they think it’s all over’ moment right at the end… but I’ll let you find out for yourself.

Peter Jones’s "This Is Hip: The Life Of Mark Murphy" will be published by Equinox in 2018.


NEWS: Plaque to commemorate George Shearing unveiled at his former school

The new plaque unveiled yesterday - Photo credit: Paul Wood

A commemorative plaque to Sir George Shearing, instigated and organized by The Battersea Society was unveiled yesterday, Saturday 22nd April at Northcote Lodge School (26 Bolingbroke Grove, London, SW11 6EL), formerly Linden Lodge school for the blind, the school that George Shearing attended,- it moved from the site in 1964 to Wimbledon - writes Paul Wood.

The unveiling was made by Alyn Shipton with written tributes from Brian Kay, formerly of the Kings singers, Lady Ellie Shearing and Charlotte Kirwan , an ex-pupil of Linden Lodge, who shared her memories of playing a duet with George when he visited the school in 1962. The event was attended by a large number of George's family and relations -there was also music from pupils at Northcote Lodge School.

Jane Ellison MP‏, Jeanne Rathbone from the Battersea Society
and Alyn Shipton at the unveiling

The following is an extract from Alyn Shipton's speech at the unveiling, reproduced by by kind permission of the author:

"George Shearing - a pianist, jazz musician, bandleader, composer, and as all who knew him will testify, a great wit as well - is being commemorated today, not least because he was the first British instrumentalist to become a household name in the United States - the birthplace of jazz. That’s an achievement in itself, but particularly so as George was blind from birth, and learned many of his skills as a pianist here in this very building in the 1920s and early ‘30s, when it was the Linden Lodge School for the Blind.

It was a privilege to know George and to work with him on his autobiography, but it all began when we met in 1998 in the now long-vanished BBC music studio at Pebble Mill. The piano tuner had had a good lunch - so much so that it had somewhat affected his work. George said, “We’ll begin when the tuner has been to sort out this piano.” A sleepy voice from the corner said, “I have done!” George was by no means happy, and borrowed the tuner’s toolkit to get the central octaves properly in tune. And then we began. The idea was for George to play pieces from across his long career, but as he began with “Mighty Like the Blues”, the first piece he had ever played on the BBC 60 years earlier, it quickly became apparent that he was going to tell me his life story in music. And so he did, with pieces from his days with Claude Bampton’s All-Blind Orchestra, and from the time in World War 2 when George was playing alongside Stephane Grappelli. One piece I particularly remember was George’s solo “Delayed Action”, a musical portrait of the terrifying time-delay bombs that had fallen on London during the blitz, with a seemingly impossibly endless pause leading to a furious explosion of stride. I suggested it was a reworking of Fats Waller’s “Alligator Crawl”, and George laughed, eased into “Keeping out of Mischief Now” and then said, “Fats! I met him in London in 1938. He had hands like a bunch of bananas. When I shook hands with him I felt his fingers and they just kept going on and on…He could stretch a 13th!”

The programme was recorded, and afterwards George and his wife Ellie took me aside and said, this has been so much fun, how would you like to come over and turn these conversations into a book? And so for the next three summers, when George was at his UK home in Stow on the Wold, I’d pop over between his beloved radio broadcasts of test matches (which could not be interrupted) or his occasional concert dates in Britain, to carry on working on the book.

I learned of his life with Stephane Grappelli’s quintet during the war, and his subsequent move to the USA. Of the clubs of 52nd Street, of the particular kindness and generosity of Charlie Parker, the encouragement of Lennie Tristano and the harmonic adventures of Monk and Powell. And of the formation of his famous quintet, whose record of “September in the Rain”, George told me, had sold “upwards of 900,000 copies”. Of course by the time we met, it had passed the million, but he was always too modest to say so directly.The band was a landmark in so many ways, not just for its popular success, but for featuring a female instrumentalist, Marjorie Hyams, and a racially integrated line-up with John Levy and Denzil Best, both African-American, joining the rhythm section. George always said he was colour and gender blind when it came to jazz - and as his line-ups over the years suggest, he always just chose the finest players, including Gary Burton, Toots Thielemans, Al McKibbon, Louis Stewart, and a host more. And in his long and dazzling recording career, there were some great highlights, including work with Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Joe Williams, the Montgomery Brothers, the Kings’ Singers (remembering George’s abiding love of classical music) and - above all Mel Tormé, whom George always said was the other half of his musical brain.

It is great to see so many people here today, including members of the Shearing family, and his many friends from the music world, including the most wonderful singer Ian Partridge, who, like George has given so many of us so much pleasure through the power of music. And so now it is my most pleasant duty to unveil this blue plaque to remember one of the most distinguished musicians this country has ever produced."

Northcote Lodge School. Photo credit: Paul Wood

LINKS:  Lullaby of Birdland, George Shearing's autobiography (with Alyn Shipton) at Bloomsbury Books
Guardian obituary of George Shearing by Peter Vacher 
Jon Carvell's 2015 feature remembering George Shearing
BBC Radio 3's Jazz Record Requests of 22nd April also featured requests for George Shearing