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September 2019

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Cleo Laine Portrait

Many congratulations to Duncan Shoosmith who has won this year's Sky Art's Portrait Artist of the Year Award. His portrait of Dame Cleo Laine was submitted for the final in June, whilst his other portraits were of Jodie Comer, Laura Linney (in the Final), Courtney Pine, Dame Cleo Laine (Commission for the Final) and a Self Portrait (click here for details). The competition was shown as a series on television on Channel 4 with the final shown in August (click here).

 

 

Moving

Walking through Bath one day in August I came across Seamus, a barista from one of my regular coffee bars. He was handing out cards - 'Bring a friend and get a free (regular size) coffee'. "I don't have any friends," I said. "We're your friends," he replied.

In August we moved to Frome in Somerset where at the end of the month we still have no internet access. I am very lucky to have some very good friends, family and neighbours, and I am grateful to Howard Lawes and Robin Kidson who have contributed their articles again to this issue, but I am particularly grateful this month to Seamus, Josh, Charly, Mary, Chloe, Amy and all those coffee shop 'friends' who start my day with a smile, who offered some respite from the chaos of moving and who let me use their free wi-fi to bring you this month's What's New.

So if I have been slow in replying to your messages over the past month or you notice that the Recent Releases section is a bit thin this time, I apologise - I'll try and catch up next month.

 

 

 

Quincy Jones Mural

Quincy Jones mural

 

Quincy Jones has been honoured with a mural measuring 30ft tall by 40ft wide, painted by the Argentinian street artist Cobre on a wall at Logan Square in Quincy’s hometown of Chicago. Apparently the artist was inspired to depict the jazz legend after seeing the Grammy award winning documentary ‘Keep one Keepin’ on’ last year that told the story of Quincy’s life.

Quincy himself has praised the mural on social media with a picture and the words ‘absolutely beautiful’. Click here for a video that shows a train driver who identified the image from just the eyes...

 

 

Cinclus Cinclus

Cinclus Cinclus is the Latin name of the Norwegian national bird. It is also is the name of a UK/Norway jazz project for children which explores how improvisation can encourage a young audience to be involved with the music and musicians. The result is a highly Cinclus Cinclusimprovised performance of riffs, grooves and tunes coming from the most unexpected places, a child’s breathe, a chair being moved, a stick being broken.

Sometimes chaotic? Yes. Sometimes filled with a floor full of dancing children? Yes. Sometimes so quiet that you can hear a pin drop? Yes. "Cinclus Cinclus is radical in that it enables the children to be heard and seen. It can hold both the restless disruptive actions and the quietest voices. With its lack of verbal language, it somehow captures all of that".

Cinclus cinclus was produced by Vest Norsk Jazz centre and premiered at the Vossa jazz festival in Norway in 2018. It received outstanding reviews. Now, funded by Arts Council England, the project will tour in the UK in autumn 2019 hosted by More Music in Morecambe (click here), and will also perform at the Marsden Jazz Festival.

 

The band presenting the event are: Matt Robinson (clarinet); Maja Bugge (cello) and Terje Isungset (percussion). Click here for a video of the performance.

Introducing children to jazz and music in general is a valuable thing and well worth our support. There are other initiatives taking place, perhaps nearer to you. For example Verona Chard's Musical Balloon Band will be at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon on 21st September and hope to tour more in the future (click here). Please let us know if you come across other jazz introductory events for kids.

 

 

 

Video Juke Box

*Click on the Picture to watch the Video

 

 

 

Earl Hines documentary

 

This 1975 documentary about pianist Earl 'Fatha' Hines runs for about 52 minutes. The film was made at the Blues Alley nightclub in Washington DC for Britain's ITV television channel. The International Herald Tribune called it "The greatest jazz film ever made". In the film, Hines said, "The way I like to play is that ... I'm an explorer, if I might use that expression, I'm looking for something all the time ... almost like I'm trying to talk."

 

 

 

 

Paul Booth Seattle Fall

 

 

Saxophonist Paul Booth plays Seattle Fall from his new album Travel Sketches released on the Ubuntu Music label on 30th August. Paul's Quartet, recorded here at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen, has Steve Hamilton (piano); Sam Lasserson (bass) Andrew Bain (drums) and Paul Booth (tenor sax).

 

 

 

 

Gene Krup video

 

 

This video about drummer Gene Krupa includes an interview with Gene looking back over his career and shares snatches of his playing and clips from the film Drummer Man where Sal Mineo played Krupa.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Nash Tumbleweed

 

 

Keyboards player Rebecca Nash and the band Atlas - Nicholas Malcolm (trumpet); Tom Seminar Ford (guitar); Rebecca Nash (keys); Chris Mapp (bass) and Matt Fisher (drums) - play Tumbleweed live from their album Peaceful King released in August on the Whirlwind Recordings label [See Recent Releases]

 

 

 

 

Jumpin With Symphony Sid video

 

 

In this rare video, DJ Symphony Sid introduces an all star band including Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins playing the tune dedicated to Sid Torin Jumpin With Symphony Sid. The all-stars? Charlie Shavers (trumpet); J C Higginbotham (trombone); Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young (tenor sax); Pee Wee Russell (clarinet); Harry Sheppard (vibraphone); Willie "The Lion" Smith (piano); Dickie Thompson (guitar); Vinnie Burke (acoustic double bass); Sonny Greer (drums).

 

 

 

 

Claire Martin Goin Out Of My Head

 

 

Claire Martin sings and guitarist Jim Mullen plays in this live version of Goin' Out Of My Head from their full-length album "Bumpin’ - Celebrating Wes Montgomery" released on Stunt Records earlier this year.

 

 

 

 

Click here to visit the Video Juke Box choices from the past six months.

 

 

 

The Chosen

With all the argy bargy of parliament and politics it is perhaps reassuring that the Parliamentary Jazz Awards are still taking place this year.

Parliament - the Commons and the Lords - have a number of cross-party and cross-house special interest groups where politicians from all PJA Shieldparties come together to promote particular interests. One of these is for Jazz.

The All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) is jointly chaired by an MP and a member of the House of Lords and members come from all political parties. In the past the group has championed issues such as Copyright and has given opportunities for young musicians to play at Westminster. For some years now, APPJAG with a number of sponsors, has organised an event - the Parliamentary Jazz Awards - to recognise the contribution of jazz musicians in the U.K. No little credit goes to Chris Hodgkins, previously of Jazz UK, who supports APPJAG as facilitator.

Earlier this year, APPJAG asked for nominations for this year's awards. From the nominations sent in, a group of people from the jazz community selected a short list. APPJAG members will then choose the final recipients of the awards to be presented at an event in December sponsored by Pizza Express in London.

 

 

The shortlist was announced in August:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Claire Martin; Georgia Mancio; Cherise Adams-Burnett; Zoe Gilby

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Brian Kellock; Nikki Iles; Jason Rebello; Josephine Davies

Luca manningJazz Album of the Year: Sons Of Kemet (Your Queen Is A Reptile); Adrian Cox (Profoundly Blue); Fergus McCreadie (Turas); Jean Toussaint (Brother Raymond)

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Ezra Collective; London Vocal Project; Gareth Lockrane Big Band;

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Xhosa Cole; Fergus McCreadie; Luca Manning

 

Luca Manning



Jazz Venue of the Year: Marsden Jazz Festival; Bebop Club, Bristol; Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking; Verdict Jazz Club, Brighton

Jazz Media Award: Jazzwise Magazine; Kevin Le Gendre; Ian Mann – Jazzmann

Jazz Education Award: Pete Churchill; Jamil Sheriff; Nikki Iles

Services to Jazz Award: Henry Lowther; John Fordham; Dame Cleo Laine

 

 

 

Chris Barber To Retire

On August 13th, it was reported that trombonist/bandleader Chris Barber has announced his permanent retirement from full-time music after leading his internationally popular band since 1954. His original small group initially played in jazz clubs but by the late 50s became an attraction in large concert halls throughout the UK and Europe. Chris Barber’s Jazz Band first toured the USA in 1959 after having a million-selling hit with Petite Fleur featuring clarinetist Monty Sunshine.

Barber’s passion for Afro-American music brought many American blues and gospel legends to Britain who appeared with his band, including Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Louis Jordan, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Together with Chris Barberhis business partner Harold Pendleton, Chris opened the celebrated Marquee Club in London in 1958 where many British blues performers were first showcased including Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and The Rolling Stones.

 

Chris Barber
Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor

 

Chris Barber’s influence on the European music scene has been extremely significant, ranging from traditional jazz to Chicago blues, always played with great dedication to the music he loved. In fact, Barber led a band for more years than his hero Duke Ellington who achieved a mere half-century! Now that Chris has retired, The Big Chris Barber Band will carry on as a tribute to his rich musical legacy.

Born in Welwyn, Hertfordshire in 1930, Chris became an avid collector of jazz and blues records before buying his first trombone at age 18 Chris Barberand formed a semi-professional band in 1949 when he recorded for the first time. He studied trombone and double-bass at the Guildhall School of Music and assembled his first professional band in 1953, fronted by trumpeter Ken Colyer. Colyer was replaced by Pat Halcox in 1954 who remained with Barber for 54 years. Chris also featured a skiffle group with singer/guitarist Lonnie Donegan, which led to a national craze for the music. The powerful blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who later married Chris, starred with his band for 20 years.

Over the years Barber successfully developed his Jazz and Blues Band and, due to his love of Duke Ellington’s music, in recent times he augmented his personnel and renamed it The Big Chris Barber Band featuring many talented young musicians, bringing a new lease of life to his music and touring widely. The band recorded prolifically over the years in its many forms with numerous special guests. Barber was awarded the OBE in 1991. His autobiography Jazz Me Blues, co-written with Alyn Shipton, appeared in 2014. The double album “Memories of My Trip” featuring his career-spanning collaborations with other jazz, blues, skiffle and gospel luminaries is being re-issued in CD format on the 11th October by The Last Music Company.

 

Chris Barber
Photograph from chrisbarber.net

 

 

Tributes to Chris have been many. Blues singer and radio presenter Paul Jones said: From ‘Rock Island Line’ until today, Chris Barber has always been like a father-figure to me; I cherish the times when he invited me to sing and play with his band – and when he returned the compliment by gracing (or, as he liked to put it, ‘infesting’) the stage or recording-studio with The Blues Band. An inspiration and a role-model; thank you, Chris!”

 

Click here for a video reminder of Chris and the band playing at the Wood Green Jazz Club in 1956.

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Jazz As Art

Sonny Rollins - There Are Such Things

from the album Work Time


 

When you listen to music, you sometimes conjure images in your mind. Our Jazz As Art series invites you to listen to a piece of jazz and as it plays, scroll down the page and see which of the pieces of art I have chosen comes closest to the pictures in your mind. Hopefully, this will introduce you to recordings and art works you might not have spent time with before.

 

Arthur Rakham Snow White and Rose red

 

This month we feature Sonny Rollins playing There Are Such Things. This version comes from the Sonny Rollins album Work Time. The 'standard' by Stanley Adams, Abel Baer and George W. Meyer dates back to 1942 when it was originally performed by Tommy Dorsey's orchestra with vocals by Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers.

Work Time was recorded in 1955 with Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Ray Bryant (piano); George Morrow (bass) and Max Roach (drums). It included three Great American Songbook numbers - There's No Business Like Show Business, It's All Right With Me and There Are Such Things. The other two tracks are Billy Strayhorn's Raincheck and Sonny's own Paradox. Opinions on the album vary, but it is one of my favourite albums, accessible, lyrical and inventive.

The lyrics are a song of hope "A heart that's true / There are such things / A dream for two / There are such things ..... So have a little faith / And trust in what tomorrow brings / You'll reach a star / Because there are such things"


The pictures I have chosen interpret the title more widely, but play the tune, scroll down through the paintings and see what you think.

(I think this only really works if you spend time with each painting or scroll through them a few times)

Click here for the Jazz As Art page.

 

 

Sonny Rollins Work Time

 

 

 

Name The Tune

(Click on the picture for the answer)

 

Name the tune

Click here for our Name The Tune page

 

 

 

 

Jazz Quiz

To Put It Another Way ...

This month we give you fifteen questions where we have taken the titles well known jazz tunes and expressed them in a different way. How many tunes can you identify?

 

 

Fog

 

For example, what is this tune?

' I can’t see my hand in front of my face'

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Full Focus

Waltzin' In

from the album Monk Spent Youth by Zac Gvi


 

'Full Focus' is a series where musicians talk about a track from an album in detail. The idea is that you are able to listen to the track that is discussed as you read about it.

[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here (recommended). This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article].

 

Zac Gvi Monk Spent Youth

 

Zachary Gvirtzman (Zac Gvi) is a composer, pianist and reeds player from London whose broad musical palate is balanced by a personal Zac Gvisensitivity that makes itself felt in the varied contexts in which he operates. He is composer in residence with the multi award winning Kandinsky Theatre company. As a performer, he has worked with Evan Parker, Seb Rochford, Kit Downes, Eddie Prevost, Martin Speake, Lore Lixenberg and Jarvis Cocker among others. He studied Music at Oxford University and has performed at the Union Chapel, the Royal Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall, Ronnie Scott's and many other venues in the UK and internationally.

Zac comes from a family of musicians: his father is an amateur classical pianist and taught Zac piano; his stepfather plays blues guitar and is the person who introduced Zac to jazz; his mother played various instruments in a street theatre company in Berlin in the '70s; his grandmother used to sing and play the ukulele and his other grandmother played the cello; his great grandfather had a "jazz" band in Darlington in the '20s!

Zac is a member of the now well-established F-IRE Collective. F-IRE (Fellowship for Integrated Rhythmic Expression) was founded in 1998 and went on to encompass a community of artists whose outlook stretched beyond 'music alone'. Dance, poetry, film and other modes of creative expression were as much a part of their artistic conception as the sound they produced. F-IRE members attempt to cultivate their own directions and transcend categorical boundaries, circus or electronica, free improvisation or classical composition. In an interview with London Jazz News, Zac said: ‘The F-IRE Collective is a family in the sense that we share a lot of the same values about music making – prioritizing creativity, the intention to explore complex forms, the importance of making music in the community. Growing up in London in the ’90s and ’00s, F-IRE, and the music I associated with it, was a really instructive and mind-opening group to be around .....’.

As is clear from his new album, Monk Spent Youth, Thelonious Monk is a major influence, but Zac also draws inspiration from bands like the Paul Motian trio, Ornette Coleman's groups, Keith Jarrett's American quartet and the Lotte Anker trio.

A toy piano opens the Monk Spent Youth album with Bubu's Birthday, and introduces you to the way Zac takes a simple theme and plays with it, and that concept devlops as the album progresses using percussion, discord and broken rhythm (as in Zac's catchy interpretation of Crepuscule With Nellie and where Ben Davis' cello is a significant contributor). The use of the organ on Waltzin' In changes the mood; and Ugly Beauty I is also taken slowly in waltz time and it is interesting to compare it with Ugly Beauty II later at track 12, also taken slowly, but with a completely different approach. I like the way Lunasphere swings slowly, as does Coming On The Hudson. The gospel hymn This Is My Story, This Is My Song is a brief, simple unexpected piano solo played strongly as gospel music would expect, and of course 'Round Midnight is here to close the album taken hauntingly on Zac's bass clarinet. The album Monk Spent Youth is a complete pleasure. Whether you listen to it with reference to Thelonious Monk or just as a recording of improvised music in its own right, it is one of those recordings that promises that you will gain more from each replay.

 

Zac talks about Waltzin' In, one of the tracks from the album (or click here for the separate page).

When I first heard Thelonious Monk’s music I was 14 years old, on a road trip in the United States visiting my mother’s family. Before leaving, my stepfather bought a few CDs to keep us entertained in the car. I had started playing the piano a year before, muddling my way through some of the classical and popular tunes my father played at home - Chopin, Beethoven, the Beatles - but I had no idea what jazz was until the week before when, during our trip, we went out to Yoshi’s Jazz and Sushi club in Oakland to hear Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s trio.

As we made our way north along the west coast bound for Salem, Oregon, the earnest, fiery sounds of the Cuban’s music (which was also on another one of the CDs we brought along) collided with the compilation of Monk’s jagged, unpredictable, now abstract, now absurdist playing on live sides with his quartet. I remember being fascinated by the format of the quartet, the way it started with everyone in and broke down to the drums before at last the theme came in again; the gesture of it. Then there were the solo piano tracks - Ruby, My Dear and ‘Round Midnight - drawn from the Columbia sessions. Monk’s playing on those tracks connected back to my father’s music, the music that I had grown up with, in its intimacy and conventional form, while at the same time painting moods I had never imagined before in music or anywhere. The spell was cast; I was hooked.

Monk’s music is special for many reasons. It has a wicked sense of humour. It has an unceasing sonic direct-ness. It embraces a sometimes frightening depth of introspection. It mobilises specific dissonances in an extremely deliberate way. Above all of these aspects, Zac Gviit is a fulcrum for three major periods of jazz - the traditional, the modern and the free - while existing outside those periods as its own entity. Monk himself was an upstanding, principled man who persisted in the face of adversity and who dedicated himself to perfecting his art.

The album Monk Spent Youth is a celebration of Monk’s music, his life and his spirit. It started out as a monthly night at the old Jamboree in Limehouse, London for over 2 years, during which time the present record was cut. Most of the album features arrangements of Monk’s music by myself and the band; however, I felt that a true tribute to Monk the composer should also include some new music.

Waltzin’ In is one of several tunes I have written as a nod to Monk - drawing on his style, his harmonies and sensibilities without, hopefully, imitating him too closely. The title is inspired by Monk’s Hornin’ In, a feverish bebop tune, although of course to ’waltz in’ is an actual phrase - one my father is fond of! The opening phrase is based loosely on Monk’s recording of the standard All Alone which appears on one of my favourite records, Thelonious Himself, while the overall tone of the tune evokes Monk’s sojourn as a teenager on the touring religious music circuit with its gospel-esque harmonies. The incredible playing of Ben Davis on cello and Fred Thomas on drums bring the tune to life, fleshing out its passages with plenty of wild humour and unexpected poignancy.

 

Zac Gvi

 

Click here for details and samples of the album. Click here for Zac's website.

 

 

 


Directory of Alternative Musical Definitions

 

Sonic Harmonic

Hedgehog with a mouth organ

 

Sonic hedgehog

 

Click here for more Alternative Definitions.

 

 

 

On A Night Like This, The Story Is Told ....

 

Concorde Club

 

The Concorde Club in Eastleigh, Southampton, was launched in 1957 by former jazz drummer, Cole Mathieson. It is the oldest jazz club under the same management in the United Kingdom - Cole started the Concorde in a converted restaurant at the back of the Bassett Hotel pub in Southampton in 1957, two years before Ronnie Scott launched his club in London. In 1970 the Concorde had to find a new home and Cole moved the club to a run-down Victorian-age schoolhouse in North Stoneham, near Eastleigh, Hampshire. During the following 30-plus years he slowly developed the Concorde into an all-round entertainment centre. The old schoolhouse has been enlarged to take in a restaurant, a wine bar (the Moldy Fig), a 300-seat concert venue and a 35-room hotel called the Ellington Lodge, with each room named after a jazzman who has featured at the club. Since then it has featured countless international musicians. In 2008. Cole published a book looking back over the story of the club with reminiscences from many of the people who had been involved. Here is one of them:

 

Brian Peerless is one of the hidden aces of the Concorde Club. He is a manager, promoter and agent and makes life so much easier by helping to bring in the world’s greatest jazz musicians to light up our little corner of Hampshire ...

‘My first trip to the Concorde Club was on 3rd October 1975 with the World’s Greatest Jazz Band of Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart. The previous night had been a good one in Eastbourne, but the Concorde night was made more memorable, not just because of the great Yank Lawsonmusic, but because of a misunderstanding within the band. Towards the end of the second set Yank called a tune, but the band started by playing quite a different number to that indicated. As the nine-piece band was spread out in a line across what was at that time the far end of the club, with pianist Ralph Sutton playing an upright facing the wall, it was something that was perhaps inevitable – particularly towards the end of the day after a fair amount of alcoholic refreshment had been taken by many. The result was that at the end of the number Yank retreated up the spiral staircase, packed his trumpet and stated his intention to return home.

I was left with the job of trying to convince him to change his mind while the band played what turned out to be a very long version of Caravan featuring the trombones of George Masso and Sonny Russo and the bongo playing of Bobby Rosengarden. I pleaded my heart out with Yank to return, as a favour to me even if only to say good night to the audience. I’m not sure how many trips I made up and down that staircase trying to sort things out and reporting back to my on-stage band contact, Peanuts Hucko, on any progress. In the meantime the number had finished, and Sonny declared that if the leader was going home, so was he, and went off to sit in the bus.

After some more pleading, Yank agreed, as he put it because we were pals, and returned to the stage to lead a third set into the early hours with the full band, which also included Billy Butterfield, Al Klink and Maxine Sullivan on vocals.

Later, at the hotel I called in on Yank and Billy, who were rooming together. Both were in their beds sharing a drink, with Yank asking Billy, “We’re friends aren’t we, Billy? You wouldn’t take my band, would you?” To which Billy replied, “What would I do with it?” and gave me a Butterfield raised eyebrow look, I rejected their offer of a drink, left them reminiscing and took to my bed. Next morning Yank was almost first to breakfast, with not a hint of what had gone before. I also remember that the night before Yank had introduced George and Sonny to the audience as part-time musicians, and that they were actually Masso & Russo, funeral directors. Years later when I was with Yank down at the club, a guy came up and asked how Sonny and George were getting along with their undertakers business!'

From The Concorde Club: The First 50 Years by Cole Mathieson.

 

Click here for a video of the World's Greatest Jazz band playing Basin Street Blues in 1978. The picture is not clear but it introduces us to the musicians.

 

World's Greatest Jazz Band

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Jazz Voices

Janice Borla

 

Janice Borla

 

We step outside the UK and cross The Pond for this month's Jazz Voice to listen to someone who is perhaps not as well known here as she should be. Janice Borla was born in Chicago. She started learning piano when she was eight and vocal training at twelve. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music from Barat College (Lake Forest, Illinois) and went on for further vocal training at Northwestern University.  

While at college she was a member of the Ineluctable Modality, a touring chamber ensemble that performed experimental "new music", and since then she has performed with such jazz musicians as Clark Terry, Terry Gibbs, Bobby Shew, Scott Robinson, Art Davis, and many others.  Just a few of her past performances include Chicago’s Jazz Showcase, The Iridium (NYC), the Women in Jazz Festival (Fort Bragg, CA), the IAJE Conference (NYC) and the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Her voice appears on recordings by various jazz musicians, and her own recordings go back to 1986. Click here to listen to the standard You Don't Know What Love Is from the 2014 album Promises To Burn. Her most recent album, Three Story Sandbox from 2016 is rather different - click here to listen to Circe's Lament from the album.

Janice has been mentoring aspiring vocalists for many years. She is a recognised pioneer in vocal jazz education. In 1986 she founded the vocal jazz camp at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, and in 1989 brought it to the U.S. as the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp and Hot Jazz – 6 Cool Nites Concert Series.  The annual event, cited by Jazziz Magazine as “one of the most innovative and dynamic summer jazz educational programs in the country,” enjoyed a 26-year run.  The annual concert series afforded her the opportunity to perform with a veritable “who’s who” of vocal jazz. Since 1996 Janice has been Director of Vocal Jazz with the Jazz Studies Program at North Central College (Napervillel Illinois).  She previously served on the jazz faculties at Benedictine University, Northeastern Illinois University and College of DuPage.  As a guest artist and clinician she has performed at high schools, colleges and festivals in the U.S. Canada, Europe and Japan. 

Also in 2016 Janice and her husband, drummer Jack Mouse launched the non-profit organization Flashpoint Creative Arts, whose mission is to promote greater understanding and participation in the art of improvisation. She has published a number of papers including this one Instrumental Transcriptions For The Solo Vocalist that other vocalists migh find of interest - click here.

The video I have chosen comes from 2010 with Janice performing Frank Foster's Simone live in concert at the 22nd annual Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp, with Art Davis (trumpet), John McLean (guitar), Dan Haerle (piano), Bob Bowman (bass) and Jack Mouse (drums) - click here.

Click here for Janice's website. Click here for our Jazz Voices page.

 

Janice Borla

 

 

 

 

Preview - The Music of Miles Davis and Gil Evans - Porgy And Bess

Miles Davis Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess has been described as "possibly the best of the collaborations between Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Evans is justly regarded as the master of modern orchestration and  Porgy and Bess shows him at his best". 

However it is a demanding piece and rarely performed live but JBGB Events will be presenting The Music Of Gil Evans with the complete, authentic, original Gil Evans arrangements of Porgy and Bess at 7.30pm in the 500+ seater, St Johns Smith Square, Westminster, London on Sunday November 24th as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

 

Howard Lawes spoke to the conductor - the current Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music - Nick Smart, and previews the event:

 

 

To replicate Miles and Gil's Porgy And Bess requires a large ensemble and leader Tom Green has brought together an orchestra made up entirely of Royal Academy of Music alumni:

  • Trumpet soloists: Henry Lowther, Freddie Gavita, Steve Fishwick, Martin Shaw
  • Alto saxophone: Matthew Herd
  • Flutes: Harry Winstanley, Helena Gourd
  • Clarinets: James Allsopp, Sam Rapley, Rob Cope
  • Horn: Alexei Watkins, Francisco Ruiz, Robyn Blair
  • Lead Trumpet: George Hogg
  • Trombone: Tom Green, Mike Feltham, Harry Brown
  • Bass Trombone: Dan West
  • Tuba: Sasha Koushk-jalali
  • Bass: Jeremy Brown
  • Drums: Matt Skelton

Porgy And Bess was the second of three collaborations between Miles Davis and Gil Evans released as a studio recording in 1959, the others being Miles Ahead (1957) and Sketches of Spain (1960), which are the most famous and successful examples of a music genre called 'Third Stream' which combined jazz and classical music. While the original Gershwin folk opera Porgy And Bess included sung dialogue between each of the songs, the Miles Davis version arranged by Gil Evans has only the song tunes, and as Davis has said "When Gil wrote the arrangement of I Loves You, Porgy, he only wrote a scale for me; no chords ... gives you a lot more freedom and space to hear things... there will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them. Classical composers have been writing this way for years, but jazz musicians seldom have". 

Nick Smart

However for this new performance the trumpet soloists will take it in turns to play which will provide added variety and interest through their own ideas and technique. Behind each soloist will be an ensemble of brass, a trio of clarinets and one saxophone providing what Nick Smart describes as a nuanced but luscious harmonic landscape with a small but vital rhythm section of just bass and drums. 

Nick Smart

This year is the 60th anniversary of "the year that changed jazz" and Porgy and Bess is an important example of both Third Stream and modal jazz, two aspects that characterised a very exciting time in jazz.  It seems particularly appropriate to present this new performance of Porgy and Bess with RAM musicians, some of whom such as Henry Lowther actually played with Gil Evans while others are just starting out in what is currently, another particularly exhilarating time.

For Nick Smart it is a privilege to be part of this performance and through JBJG Events to be able to provide such an opportunity for both audience and the exciting young musicians helping to grow the thriving London jazz scene.

This concluding concert for the 2019 EFG London Jazz Festival on November 24th will be in two halves. The first half will feature Chris Ingham with his 6-piece REBOP, playing their arrangements from the Miles Ahead album. This will be followed by the rare UK performance of the outstanding, complete and original  Gil Evans arrangements of George Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess.

Click here for details.

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Jazzing It Up
David Helbock Plays John Williams

by Robin Kidson

 

[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here (recommended). This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].

Jazz often works by taking the music of another genre and then, for want of a better term, “jazzing it up” by applying some of its characteristic techniques: elaborations on the theme, improvisation, a syncopated beat. Jacques Loussier did it with the music of Bach; John Coltrane did it with Rodgers and Hammerstein (My Favourite Things); Charlie Parker did it with any number of popular Tin Pan Alley tunes…the list can go on and on.

“Jazzing it up” is rather a frivolous way of talking about a process which requires technical skill and musicality. It can also be a supremely creative act resulting in art of the highest quality. Indeed, what is produced sometimes arguably outclasses the original. It is whispered in some circles, for example, that the jazz treatment given to Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez by Gil Evans and Miles Davis on Sketches of Spain is a much more interesting piece of music than the original. (Needless to say, such comparisons did not go down well with Rodrigo but, as Evans said, it earned him “a lot of money”).

And now along comes the Austrian jazz pianist, David Helbock, who has recently released an album on the German ACT label which gives a jazz workout to the film music of John Williams. Williams is renowned for great sweeping symphonic scores which, at first sight, do notDavid helbock playing john williams readily lend themselves to a jazz treatment. However, it’s worth noting that he is actually a musician steeped in the jazz tradition. His father was Johnny Williams, a well-known American jazz drummer of the 1930s and 40s. John Williams studied music at a number of institutions including the Juilliard School in New York, supplementing his studies by working as a jazz pianist in clubs. Eventually, he ended up on the West Coast working as a session musician, then as an orchestrator and pianist in film studios. He was the music arranger and band leader on a number of Frankie Laine albums. He began composing music for films, forming an early and fruitful relationship with Steven Spielberg. John Williams went on to compose the music for many of the great blockbusters of the last forty years, winning on the way numerous Oscars and Grammys, and creating some of the most recognisable tunes of our times.

David Helbock has long been a fan of film and film music, particularly the film music of John Williams. “He’s been with me just about all my life”, he says. “I can still remember clearly how as a child I saw E.T. countless times and was excited about the extra-terrestrial being and his human friends. Or Jurassic Park. That was the first time I went to the cinema without my parents. And I won’t forget how my feelings would flicker between fascination and fear when I first saw the shark in Jaws. These were all deeply emotional and formative experiences for me, and it was always the soundtrack to the films that was at the root of them.”

Born in 1984 in a small village in Austria, David Helbock studied both classical and jazz piano. He has steadily built an international reputation playing both solo and with a trio. He also leads a group called Random/Control. Collaborations with the likes of Peter Madsen and Michael Mantler are another feature of his CV. In 2011, he received an Outstanding Artist Award from the Austrian government.

Helbock has developed a formidable piano technique. For an illustration (from his 2012 album, Purple), click here for him giving Kiss by Prince a right old seeing-to.

David Helbock playing john williams is his latest album. He plays solo throughout 16 tracks which range far and wide over Williams’ illustrious career including the biggies like Jaws, Superman, Star Wars, and E.T. Most of the tracks are relatively short – the whole album lasts less than an hour.

The Kiss video shows how Helbock doesn’t just take a tune and “jazz it up” by a bit of improvisation here or the addition of a syncopated beat there – he takes the tune completely apart and virtually re-engineers it. This is what he’s done with the music of John Williams. “I’ve re-harmonised it”, he says, “I’ve used different time signatures and much more, so that my own voice can flow naturally into it. But despite all the alterations, the melody always stays the same and remains recognisable. Much of the process of adaptation was done intuitively, driven by the emotions that the films sparked in me. So I wrote down the main melodies, I watched the films, before finally developing my improvised versions on the piano and slowly extending them”.

This process can be seen at work in his treatment of the theme from Jaws, for example. The familiar ominous bass motif is still there together with the dramatic mood. But Helbock ever so slightly adds a jazz feel to the rhythm together with some underwater sound effects. David HelbockThe whole piece has an urgent feel and keeps building up to little sub-climaxes. It is short but completely riveting, keeping much of the original but, at the same time, bringing something new out of it.

There is more jazz in Helbock’s treatment of the Superman theme. The original was a sweeping triumphal march. Helbock turns it into something altogether more spiky with little hints of discordance – a robotic Superman, perhaps? Again, his virtuosic technique is on display – he is adept at setting up a complex, fiendishly fast riff with his left hand and then improvising on top of that with his right.

Another feature of Helbock’s playing is the way he conjures various unconventional sound effects from his instrument. “…for me”, he says, “the piano itself is an entire orchestra with a panoply of possibilities in sound. Even more so when I use various techniques of going inside the piano, i.e. damping strings with my hand, playing chords directly with my fingers on the strings, or using the piano frame as a percussion instrument”.

An example of how he uses these techniques can be heard on his treatment of the Theme From Schindler’s List. He plays the main sombre melody fairly straight (and movingly) but punctuates this with little interludes of discordance where his hand reaches into the piano’s inner workings. The sound that comes out is of the ominous ticking of a clock which fits right in with the mood of the piece. It is a small but effective device of which one suspects John Williams himself might approve. Click here to listen to Theme From Schindler’s List.

Helbock uses these unconventional sound effects sparingly. They are never put in for their own sake and always enhance the mood he is trying to create. For instance, several tracks running through the album are treatments of Williams’ Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter films. Helbock plays the theme in different ways with different rhythms creating very different moods: other-worldly, quirky, sinister, romantic. The final treatment is jazzy and upbeat with traces of ragtime and boogie-woogie. These moods are helped by the judicious use of Helbock’s repertoire of unconventional playing methods. Click here for a short video of Helbock playing one of his treatments of Hedwig’s Theme.

David Helbock playing john williams, then, is a most superior piece of “jazzing up”. Helbock clearly has the greatest respect for Williams’ work, never trying to upstage it. It would, of course, be difficult to upstage such a brilliant master of a tune. “Deep down”, says Helbock, "Williams is a great writer of melodies. They touch the heart profoundly, they release emotions….Rather than relying on sound effects or sonic ostentation, Williams puts his trust in the power of melody”.

An album of solo piano music can be a difficult trick to pull off. It says much for both Helbock’s technique and his imaginative powers that he keeps the listener’s attention throughout and does something which all the best adaptations do: make you go back to the originals with new ears and new respect. Helbock has brought things out of John Williams that you never guessed were there.

Click here for more information about David Helbock on his website. Click here for details and samples of the album.


David Helbock is playing at Pizza Express in London on 18th November 2019 as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

 

David Helbock

 

 

 

Georgia Mancio's Hang

Three evenings at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London featuring the voice of Georgia Mancio in different settings

Click here for details

Georgia Mancios Hang

 

 

 

 

Lens America

John Hébert

 

John Hebert

 

Clara Pereira from JazzTrail in New York took this picture of bass player John Hébert at the Village Vanguard in New York City on 25th July. John was playing with Fred Hersch's Trio (Fred Hersch, piano and Eric McPherson, drums) who had a week's residency at the club.

Filipe Freitas from JazzTrail says: 'The trio took us to nice, soft, and comfortable places with renditions of popular songs such as Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners”, buoyantly delivered at a fast 3/4 tempo and immersed in a groovy graciousness, and Harry Warren’s “You’re My Everything”, marked by a piano solo upfront. Hersch’s single-note contours, manifestly alluding to the beautiful melody, were occasionally split into two distinct harmonious lines separated by pitch contrast.......'

Click here for a video of the Trio playing Some Other Time at the Funchal Jazz Festival in 2016 where John Hébert's bass is nicely produced - as Filipe says, they take us to 'nice, soft, and comfortable places ....'

Click here for Filipe Freitas' full review of the gig and for other pictures by Clara.

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Hard Bop

and
The Leo Richardson Quartet Move

by Howard Lawes

 

[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here (recommended). This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].

 

Leo Richardson Quartet Move

 

Saxophonist Leo Richardson has a new Quartet album out on the Ubuntu Music label entitled Move. The publicity notes say: 'Over the last couple of years the saxophonist has been honing his craft, and if the music presented here is is a direct descendent of the hard bop tradition, Richardson and his men are always looking forward, and deliver their music with a straight ahead no nonsense approach that is as contemporary as anything else out there'. So what are we talking about? What is 'hard bop'?

Click here for Leo and the Quartet playing the title tune from the album - Move.

Leo Richardson's first album, The Chase, was released on Ubuntu Records in 2017 to wide acclaim.  Several of the tracks on that album paid homage to some of the great jazz musicians who influenced Richardson during his formative years at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London including John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, Horace Silver and Art Blakey. A common thread connecting these giants of jazz is a genre called 'hard bop' which first became popular in the 1950s and it is worth giving some thought as to how this style of jazz music developed.

Following the end of World War 1 the music and culture of the time was variously described as "The Jazz Age", "The Roaring 20s" and a Jack Hylton and his Orchestralittle later "The Swing Era".  In the USA it was all about having a good time while in the UK and Europe recovery from wartime devastation was going to take a while. As an antidote to the horror of war, dance halls became extremely popular. One of the first British dance bands was led by Jack Hylton, one of the most popular was Ambrose and his Orchestra, and then came the mighty American swing bands of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington who first visited the UK in 1930 and 1933 respectively.  Swing was great entertainment providing plentiful opportunities for dancing while the music of the Great American Songbook must have encouraged many a romance as the inhibitions of earlier times were swept away.

In Europe the misery of war had encouraged new idealistic, artistic and philosophical movements to take root such as Dada and Surrealism; Art-Deco style was very popular and Bauhaus even had its own jazz band. New movements and culture needed new music and jazz bands from America were welcomed although later on, the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany forced jazz and other creative artists to go underground or to emigrate. Many artists moved to New York which replaced Paris as a centre of creative art and where Abstract Expressionism developed after the war. Among those fleeing Nazi Germany was Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff who went on to found Blue Note Records.

The advent of World War 2 and the occupation of Europe by the Nazis put a halt to dance bands on the continent but in London it is widely reported that the music and dancing continued with renewed intensity, particularly as American servicemen arrived, and it was seen as a great morale booster and a way of unifying the community.

Meanwhile back in the USA the swing era seemed to have run its course, the tempo was designed for dancing but the format provided limited scope for improvisation and solos, and jazz audiences were increasingly buying records and listening to the radio. A group of mainly Charlie Parkerblack musicians was concentrating on a new style of jazz which came to be known as 'bebop'. The culture of bebop was very different to that of swing, the music was listened to in clubs, primarily in New York, (not least because from 1942-1944 there was a recording ban imposed by the Musicians Union in the USA seeking fair royalty payments). It demanded attention from the audience as the virtuoso musicians playing it experimented with chords, harmony, syncopation and they often played at high speed. The bands were typically formed of trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass and drums giving the rhythm section a much larger role than they had in big bands.  Famous exponents of bebop included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Art Blakey. 

 

Charlie Parker

 

As Europe recovered from the devastation of World War 2, American jazz musicians were welcomed much as they were during the aftermath of World War 1.  Dizzy Gillespie for one enjoyed great popularity  playing bebop in France during a visit in 1948. In London, Club 11 featured British musicians such as John Dankworth and Ronnie Scott playing bebop as apparently American musicians were prevented from visiting the UK due to disagreements between unions. Some time later the British bebop saxophonist Tubby Hayes worked in the USA via a swapping arrangement whereby US musicians could work in the UK and vice versa.

However bebop wasn't for everyone, while some musicians such as Thelonious Monk were developing an art form that wasn't fully appreciated for many years, others, perhaps encouraged by record labels keen to sell records, focused on more accessible, funky jazz which came to be known as 'hard bop'. Some re-visited inspirations from the past, such as the blues, and an American drummer called Art Blakey returned to Africa and immersed himself in the roots of jazz. Art Blakey joined the Blue Note label and his band, The Jazz Messengers, was known as the "Hard Bop Academy" as many young musicians who went on the popularise hard bop and then the later 'soul jazz' styles passed through its ranks. However it was another originator of the hard bop style, pianist Horace Silver, who with the Jazz Hard Bop FunkyMessengers released a classic album called Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers in 1956.

 

Click here to listen to the well-known tune The Preacher by Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers.

 

When it comes to hard bop horn players one of the best was Hank Mobley who recorded with Blue Note and produced 26 albums during a 15 year stint with the label. His style owed a lot to the blues and he became a leading exponent of soul jazz style in the 1960s. Another tenor saxophonist was Joe Henderson who played with Horace Silver and performed in many Blue Note albums.  Other alternatives to bebop include versions of 'cool jazz' such as that developed in the West Coast jazz style epitomised by Miles Davis, Chet Baker and Dave Brubeck.

 

 

 

There are a number of videos on YouTube describing hard bop. This one - click here - gives a good summary (14 minutes).

 

While the Blue Note label came to be synonymous with the hard bop style the label included a broad spectrum of jazz music, it famously paid musicians for rehearsals, which other labels did not and with the invention of the long-playing record (LP) in 1948, the quality of recorded music improved significantly and it became possible to record longer pieces of music.  Another feature of Blue Note releases were the iconic album covers, enclosing the record and designed by Reid Miles.  In time, as Alfred Lion, the founder of Blue Note, neared retirement, the label was sold to Liberty records in 1965 and some of the impetus for hard bop was lost. However it has never died, hard bop has continued to attract audiences as well as continually re-surfacing as a significant component or influence for other styles such as 'post bop' and 'neo-bop' providing inspiration for the likes of musicians such as Roy Hargrove and the sometimes controversial Wynton Marsalis.

Click here for a video of the Leo Richardson Quartet playing The Demise from the album live at the Spice Of Life in London.

Much has been made by commentators of Leo Richardson's hard bop credentials which seemed obvious given the music he played on his first album, The Chase, where there were several references to some of the great hard bop pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s who mostly signed to the Blue Note label.  Many jazz musicians these days are probably a little more eclectic, borrowing or citing influence from a range of styles and given the educational experience many of today's young musicians, it seems likely that they will have acquired a respect and Leo Richardsonadmiration for a whole spectrum of great musicians from the past.  While it may be daunting at first, given time, most young jazz musicians are surely going to listen to and play a huge range of music before composing their own songs and launching into what they hope will be a successful career.

One suspects that this is what is happening with Leo Richardson. Having graduated from Trinity College of Music in London with 1st class honours for jazz performance, and having released a highly acclaimed first album, the time is now right to establish some individuality and his second album, Move, is doing just that. 

 

Leo Richardson

 

All the tracks on the album are composed by Richardson (tenor saxophone), other band members are Rick Simpson (piano), Tim Thornton (bass), Ed Richardson (drums) and Alex Garnett (tenor saxophone) on track eight only. Richardson's rapport with Rick Simpson is a joy to behold, but Move demonstrates the huge talents of all members of the band and on the final track the saxophone duo of Richardson and Garnett certainly adds an extra dimension, which seems to be pretty much pure bebop and that really hits the spot. Some of the stand out tracks on Move are E.F.G. which is a ballad dedicated to Richardson's wife and Peace which is lovely swinging celebration of modern jazz - but all the tracks are excellent. 

Click here to listen to E.F.G.

 

Whether Move is hard bop, bebop or some other kind of bop is really immaterial, this is just great modern jazz that establishes Leo Richardson as a jazz musician of the highest order and is a fitting tribute to the great musicians that have been his inspiration.

 

Leo Richardson Quartet

 

Click here for details and samples of the album. Click here for Leo Richardson's website.

 

 

 

Thank You Bill Brunskill

by Ray Root

 

Bill Brunskill

 

Ray Root responded to our news item last month about the re-development of The Lord Napier in Thornton Heath: "How sad! My parents had a shop just opposite the Napier and of a Sunday Lunchtime it was an absolute Mecca for Jazz enthusiasts. I was sad to hear a few years ago now that trumpeter Bill Brunskill had died and was moved to write the attached bit of text. A friend of mine did indeed have a wheel stolen one Wednesday night whilst parked outside the pub - it was a pretty rough area back then and probably still is!"

The words Ray writes about Bill Brunskill could well be applied to many past jazz musicians:

Thank You Bill Brunskill
Goodbye Bill Brunskill and thank you!
For those memorable Sunday lunchtime sessions
In shabby, seventies’ Beulah Road
Dwarfed by that famous Napier mural -
In your hallmark braces and baggy trousers
You blew a mean Cornet, Bill!

Across London - by clapped out, rusty Datsun
A to Z in hand
We’d travel far to hear you.
And once outside that famous pub
Before we’d even cut the engine
We’d catch your golden tones.

Sometimes, we’d even bring the kids!
Stuff them with crisps and lemonade
Hoped to keep ‘em quiet
Whilst you played the blues!
Now thirty-somethings looking back -
They, too, remember your music with affection, Bill.

As nearby homesteads, oblivious,
Sat down with the wireless and Sunday Roast
We disciples tucked into your jazz
Supped our pint or two of Youngs and listened intently.
You blew away our workaday worries.

We’d bag a beer stained table by the band
Chat to strangers – make new friends
and relish that happy fellowship
A common interest shared -
That you and your jazz inspired.

But all good things come to an end!
Last orders! One more number!
Reluctantly we’d leave that smoke filled pub.
(Ugh, bright sunlight!)
Check the Datsun still has wheels!
Homeward bound, we hummed your tunes.

Thank you, Bill

(Bill Brunskill passed through the Departure Lounge in November 2002)

Click here for a video of Bill Brunskill's band at the Lord Napier in 1999 playing Mama's back In Town.

 

Bill Brunskill Band

The Bill Brunskill Band outside the Fighting Cocks in Kingston in 1964
Ron Drakeford (bass), Tony ? (clarinet), Bill Brunskill (trumpet), Bob Parr (drums), John 'Pedlar' White (trombone), Bill Skinner (banjo).

Photograph courtesy of Ron Drakeford

 

 

 

Two Ears Three Eyes

As usual, photographer Brian O'Connor took his camera to gigs during August. Here is one of his images taken of vocalist Josephine Warren who was singing at The Bolney Estate, Bolney, Sussex on Friday 1st August 2019 with Terry Pack (bass) and and Max Wilson (guitar).

 

Josephine Warren

 

Josephine Warren

 

Click here for a video of Josephine singing extracts of The Nearness Of You and Almost Like Being In Love.

 

An exhibition of Brian O'Connor's Images Of Jazz photographs will be staged at the Hawth, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 6YZ from Tuesday 3rd September - Thursday 19th September 2019. The exhibition celebrates 50 years of Brian taking pictures of jazz musicians (entrance is free). Click here for details.

Pictures © Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz. Brian O'Connor's hard back book, packed with hundreds of photographs is now available. It can be obtained from Brian at: Brian O’Connor, 48 Sarel Way, Horley, Surrey RH6 8EW. Tel: 01293 774171. Email: info@imagesofjazz.com. The book is priced at £25 plus £4.95 post and packing (UK).

 

 

 

 

 

Forum

 

 

Teaching Adults How To Make It Up

Saxophonist and bandleader Frank Griffith in Liverpool has started to send us some of his thoughts and we hope to include more in the future. If you find that they trigger thoughts for you, please get in touch (contact us):

Liverpool hosts a rich trove of adult musicians seeking to attain skills in jazz and improvisation. While only a few of them aspire to perform in Elm Hall Methodist Churchpublic or become professional they devote themsleves religiously to private lessons as well as attending classes, workshops etc.

A good example of this is the weekly Penny Lane Jazz Workshop that I lead. It is held at the  Elm Hall Methodist Church in Liverpool and meets on Thursdays at 7-9PM. More information on this can be found at frankgriffithjazz on Facebook. The sessions can involve anywhere from 10-20 people, comprising mostly of saxophonists, guitarists, pianists, and a bassist and drummer. We readily welcome more brass players and vocalists as well. For that matter, any and all instruments are welcome.

Having taught improvisation at Brunel University for twenty years as well as a few years at City College of New York before then, I feel reasonably well qualified to tackle what is a difficult disciplne to "teach" as like other creative pursuits (writing, visual art, acting,etc) our role is to more facilitate and guide the student towards finding their creative voice from within themselves. "Teaching without instructiuon" as it's known, which involves issuing challenges to the player that "teach them to Frank Griffithteach themselves" sort of approach. The distinguished novelist, Fay Weldon, was a colleague of mine at  Brunel for many years said the following about teaching writing. "I don't so much teach writing but attempt to encourage them to get so many ideas exploding in their head that they have no choice to but to explore them".

The one area that might be an exception to the above approach is to regularly emphasise that  the student masters their instrument. This, of course, is applicable to any style of music  whether improvisation is utilised or not. There remains a widely held myth that improvisation is solely based on "playing what you feel" while making one's foray into a creative space expressing what's "in their heart". Well,.....here's the problem. If one possesses few technical skills and cannot maintain a reasonable tone and tuning on their instrument or voice their attempts to create will  be severly compromised. It's like expecting someone with a brilliant mind to give a talk with no oratory skills or write an article with sub-par writing ablities - mispellings, poor syntax and jumbled overlong and misleading sentences - communication is about half of the process.

Finally, it has been said by Derek Bailey (1930-2005) the legendary Brtish  guitarist, composer and teacher that "improvisation is the the most widely practiced, yet least understood musical activity worldwide". Wow. So where does this leave us? No matter, get practising and creating and if you are based in the Liverpool area come along and give the Penny Lane Jazz Workshop a whirl.

 

 

 

Vic Lewis

Alan Bond writes: 'I caught the note about Vic Lewis last month and I remember a couple of occasions when we caught up with him at Trevor Benwell's at Dollis Hill in the 1970s & 1980s. Trevor would invite friends round and give a recital with some of his vast collection of Vic Lewis78s. Among others who were his guests were Irene Gibbons (better known of course as Eva Taylor) formerly Mrs Clarence Williams and Yank Lawson, formerly trumpet player with the Ben Pollack & Bob Crosby bands and letterly with The World's Greatest Jazz Band (always referred to by Ralph Sutton as 'the world's LOUDEST jazz band'. Vic was quite outspoken about music and referred to the world of 'pop' as 'the three chord wonders of the world'. He was the Beatles' agent for a long time and he was very complimentary about Brian Epstein as their manager and classed him as a genius. When asked why, he would reply that only a genius could turn four mediocre musicians into a multi million pound international business.

Vic wasn't the greatest guitar player in the world, as he himself admitted, and he always maintained that he was a rhythm section man. His organisational skills were best at arranging and as an agent and The Vic Lewis Big Band is a treat to listen to IF you can get hold of any of their recordings. I only have a couple of sides in my collection, both off the original Parlophone 78s. There needs to be a re-issue of some of their stuff. There are, of course, the sides by the Vic Lewis/Jack Parnell Jazzmen but, sadly very few of those seem to have been re-issued. Vic knew where the real talent lay and he got it on to disc with the help of Jack. Both were giants of the music business and Vic was a mine of information.

I only met Jack Parnell once and that was when he turned up at the Woodside Musicians Association Sunday jam session at the Green Dragon in Borehamwood. The sessions were run by, among others, Jimmy Skidmore and Allan Ganley and were primarily for younger musicians to hone their talents by playing with and learning from the professionals. Didn't do me a lot of good I'm afraid as my trombone playing never really rose above the ordinary, enjoyable though the experience was.'

 

 

 

 

 

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Profoundly Blue at the National Jazz Archive

Adrian Cox plays a fundraising concert for the National Jazz Archive featuring the music of clarinettist Edmond Hall, on Saturday 28 September, in Loughton, Essex.

'Profoundly Blue' is a concert celebrating the music of Louisiana-born clarinettist Edmond Hall. The show features leading UK clarinet star Adrian Cox and his fine band with Joe Webb, piano, Simon Read, bass, and Gethin Jones, drums.  “Adrian Cox presents ‘Profoundly Blue’” has completed three extensive UK tours, as well as being invited to festivals around Europe and to play in New York in July 2019. The band Adrian Coxhave produced two albums and sold over 2000 CDs.‘Profoundly Blue’ has been nominated in the Best Album category in the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

The title ‘Profoundly Blue’ comes from the 1941 hit album which featured Edmond Hall with Meade Lux Lewis and Charlie Christian. Adrian leads the quartet with this as a starting point and continues through a program of lesser known tunes from the albums ‘Rumpus on Rampart’ and ‘Petite Fleur’. Adrian Cox started playing music aged 6 and turned professional at the age of 15. He has toured Europe extensively over the past 19 years and was runner-up in the clarinet category of the 2018 British Jazz Awards. He is a member of UK jazz act Kansas Smitty’s House Band, where his distinctive sound and songwriting accomplishments are invaluable to the group.

The concert is at Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB, close to the Archive’s home in Loughton Library, where extensive parking is available. The Church is 15 minutes’ walk from Loughton Central Line Station, and close to numerous bus routes. Click here for details and to book tickets or phone 020 8502 4701.

 

 

 

Departure Lounge

 

Information has arrived about the following musicians or people connected to jazz who have passed through the 'Departure Lounge' since our last update. Click on their names to read their obituaries where we have them.

When this page first started, links to newspaper obituaries were free. Then increasingly advertisements were added and now many newspapers ask for a subscription to read a full obituary. This means that some links to names that we included in the early days might no longer work. Where possible now, we might link to a Wikipedia page which is still free of charge.

 

 

Bob Wilber

 

Bob Wilber - American clarinetist, saxophonist, and band leader. Wilber was a dedicated advocate of classic styles, working throughout his career to present traditional jazz pieces in a contemporary manner. He played with many distinguished jazz leaders in the 1950s and 1960s, including Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, Sidney Bechet, Jack Teagarden and Eddie Condon. In the late 1960s, he was an original member of the World's Greatest Jazz Band, and in the early 70s of Soprano Summit, a band which gained wide attention. In the late 1970s, he formed the Bechet Legacy Band. Bob was active in jazz education, including working as director of the Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble. He wrote for films, including The Cotton Club. In his autobiography, Music Was Not Enough, he recounts his childhood, meeting his mentor Sidney Bechet, in 1946, and his struggles as a musician in the 1950s and 1960s. Born in New York City, Bob passed away in the UK at Chipping Campden. Click here for a video of Bob Wilber and Glenn Zottola playing Polka Dot Stomp.

 

 

 

 

Jim Cullum Jr

 

 

Jim Cullum Jr - American jazz cornetist known for his contributions to Dixieland jazz. His father was Jim Cullum Sr., a clarinetist who led the Happy Jazz Band until 1973. Jim Cullum Jr. led the Jim Cullum Jazz Band as its successor. His band mates included Evan Christopher, Allan Vaché, and John Sheridan. Cullum performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and Austin City Limits. He recorded for the Jazzology, Columbia, Audiophile and Stomp Off labels as well as his own label, Riverwalk. From 1993 until 2005, Cullum and his band were on the faculty of the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University in California. In 2011, Stanford University Libraries acquired Cullum's "Riverwalk Jazz" archives, comprising over 400 radio show programs. In January 2013, Stanford's Archive of Recorded Sound made the recordings available to listen to on its web site. He remained active even after the radio show and his longstanding residency at The Landing ended in 2012. In his final years, he appeared in weekly performances at the Cookhouse Restaurant in San Antonio and scheduled many other appearances with his band. His last public performance was just two days before his death. Click here for a video of Jim with the TJF Clinicians playing Alexander's Ragtime Band earlier this year.

 

 

 

 

Dick Williams

 

Richard 'Dick' Williams - Jamie Evans writes: 'Sad to hear of Richard Williams’ passing last week (16th August)at the good old age of 86. Dick was, of course, a giant in the film animation field, an original who was garlanded with many awards including several Oscars for his work. Most of the obits understandably don’t mention the fact that he was a keen jazz trumpeter and led various combos in London in the late ‘50s onwards. I can’t quite quite remember how, but I think piano player Ron Rubin left his band around 1960 and recommended me to follow him. I was only 18 and was absolutely over the proverbial to join his band which included some fine musicians like Peter Shade (vibraphone), John Ritchie (trombone), Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxes) and Mal Cutlan (drums). We had a residency at a club called the Cafe Des Artistes in Kensington on Friday nights. It was a late-night job and I couldn’t get any transport home and would always stay over at his Chiswick flat. I was interested in working as a film editor and he did his best to help me into a role in that scene but it never happened. I rarely encountered him after I moved on from his band but would often proudly read of his growing status in the film animation world. I’ll always remember his kindness to this young piano player and we would listen to some great music on his LP collection before I made my way home on a Saturday.'

 

 

Not all jazz musicians who pass through the Departure Lounge are reported in the national press, so if you know of anyone's passing that we should mention, please contact us with a few words about them, or a local obituary if one is available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Nash / Atlas - Peaceful King
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 16th August 2019

Rebecca Nash (keyboards); Nick Malcolm (trumpet); Matt Fisher (drums); Thomas Seminar Ford (electric guitar); Chris Mapp (electric bass, electronics); Sara Colman (vocals).

Rebecca Nash Peaceful King

 

'In her first major recording as leader, keyboardist and composer Rebecca Nash presents her Atlas group on 'Peaceful King', which interlaces a panoply of strands - rock, drum-and-bass, '70s fusion, soul-jazz and electronica, alongside singer-songwriter influences - into a widening landscape of beauty of wonder. The regular line-up of longtime associates Nick Malcolm (trumpet) and Matt Fisher (drums) plus Thomas Seminar Ford (electric guitar) and Chris Mapp (electric bass, electronics) is augmented here on three numbers by the rich, intuitive vocals of Sara Colman. The exciting cross-pollination of music, especially discernible around the sphere of contemporary instrumental and vocal jazz, has become a strong, progressive feature of today's fresh, creative outputs. Rebecca Nash is becoming increasingly visible in this area of the British scene; a major player in Entropi, Paradox Ensemble and Sara Colman's band, as well as an educator with the National Youth Jazz Collective, Cheltenham Festivals, Birmingham Jazzlines and Birmingham Conservatoire. Illustrator/musician Ning-ning Li has incorporated impressions of Nash's eight tracks into the album's sumptuous cover art. A distinctive electric piano figure announces title track 'Peaceful King', whose electronic effects (by Paradox's Nick Walters) maintain a positivity explained as a reaction to the current state of the world, while free-flowing 'Tumbleweed' buzzes and bleeps with a redolence of the Pat Metheny Group. The remaining tracks include 'Dreamer' that continues Nash's penchant for interlocking chord structures and references the cyclic patterns of the late, great John Taylor.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to the title track : Video of Tumbleweed played live : Rebecca Nash's website :

 

 

 

 

Quentin Collins Sextet - Road Warrior
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 13th September

Quentin Collins (trumpet); Leo Richardson (tenor saxophone); Meilana Gillard (alto saxophone); Dan Nimmer (piano); Joe Sanders (bass); Willie Jones III (drums); special guest - Jean Toussaint (saxophone)

Quentin Collins Road Warrior

 

'Internationally renowned trumpeter, composer and bandleader Quentin Collins will be releasing Road Warrior on Ubuntu Music this autumn.  The new album continues Collins’ compositional journey following on from his 2007 debut If Not Now, Then When? and albums with Brandon Allen (What’s It Gonna Be? and Beauty in Quiet Places).  Co-written with leading British saxophonist Tom Harrison, Road Warrior is a musical depiction of life as a touring musician. Collins assembled world-class musicians to be involved in the project.  “New York based pianist Dan Nimmer is soaked in the history of jazz piano, in one moment evoking Erroll Garner, in the next, McCoy Tyner.  Bassist Joe Sanders’ sound is a major driving force, while Willie Jones III pumps relentless energy into the music,” explains Collins.  Tenor saxophonist Leo Richardson and Meilana Gillard (who was drafted in to play alto on four days’ notice, when injury left Tom Harrison unable to make the recording) make up the band.  Road Warrior was mixed by Troy Miller and produced by Jean Toussaint, who also played on two tracks. Three tunes stand out among the eight original compositions and are set to be released ahead of the album - ‘Look Ahead (What Do you See?), ‘The Hill and ‘Road Warrior’.  The former was inspired by a beautiful conversation Collins had with his 10-year-old son, asking him to project years into the future and dream of an outcome of his imagining.  Harrison wrote ‘The Hill’ for Dan Nimmer as a tribute to both Art Blakey and a memory of a life changing performance at the site of Blakey’s childhood home in Pittsburgh.  “The title track is dedicated to Road Warriors the world over, who spend a large percentage of their lives travelling and plying their trade and the rest of their time trying to hold everything else together!” concludes Collins.' (album notes).

Details and Samples when available : Video :

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Martin and Jim Mullen - Bumpin' : Celebrating Wes Montgomery
(Stunt Records) - Released: 15th February 2019

Claire Martin (vocals); Jim Mullen (guitar)

Claire Martin and Jim Mullen Bumpin

 

 

'Claire Martin, who currently lives in Brighton, has performed all over the world over the last 30 years and has been called one of the top four jazz singers on the planet by Jazz Times magazine. She has been performing professionally since she was 19 years old, and just two years later she achieved her dream of singing at Ronnie Scott's legendary jazz club. Since then, she has released 18 albums including collaborations with prominent musicians such as Martin Taylor, Bill Charlap, and Kenny Barron, as well as having been part of an intimate and celebrated duo with the famed composer and pianist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett up until his passing in 2012. Claire has also been a featured soloist with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Big Band, and the BBC Concert Orchestra. She has received seven British Jazz Awards, including two Best Vocalist prizes in 2009 and 2010, and another for 2012's Best Jazz Release: 'Too Much In Love To Care', a collaboration with Kenny Barron which received universal acclaim and for which Jazz Journal called her 'one of the finest jazz vocalists in the world today.' Claire Martin has worked with legendary Scottish guitarist Jim Mullen for 30 years. He has also been recognized with several British Music Awards, including Best Guitarist in 1994, 1996, and 2000. The 74-year-old Glasgow native has never sounded better with his own distinctive style inspired, among others, by Wes Montgomery. His career got off to a flying start with Pete Brown & Piblokto!, then as a member of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, and later with the Average White Band. In the mid-1970s he met the tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey and formed the jazz-funk band Morrissey-Mullen. Jim has played and recorded with Mose Allison, Mike Carr, Jimmy Witherspoon, Georgie Fame, Tam White, and countless others throughout a long and glorious career' (album notes).

Details and Sample : Video of Goin' Out Of My Head live :

 

 

 

 

 

Sloth Racket - Dismantle Yourself
(Luminous Label) - Released: 2nd September, 2019

Cath Roberts - (baritone saxophone, compositions); Sam Andreae (alto saxophone); Anton Hunter (guitar); Seth Bennett (double bass); Johnny Hunter (drums).

Sloth Racket Dismantle Yourself

'Dismantle Yourself is the fourth studio album from Sloth Racket, the quintet of UK improvisers led by baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts. The album was recorded in early February 2019, over two snowy days at The Chairworks studio in Castleford, Yorkshire. After three albums made in single day sessions, the aim was to have more time to work on the music in the relaxed setting of a residential studio. The band hadn't seen the new compositions in advance of the session, in contrast to previous albums which were recorded at the end of tours. With more time for experimentation, the focus of the recording was the exploration and development of the new material, collectively improvising the composed starting points into finished pieces. It was a glimpse into the world of multi-day recordings and a fresh approach for the group, who now look forward to taking the new music on the road and completely deconstructing anything that may have been settled upon back in that cosy winter studio. Sloth Racket formed in 2015 when Jazz North East invited Cath Roberts to present a new project at Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Since then they have toured in the UK at least once every year as well as appearing at London Jazz Festival, Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival and LUME Festival. They have released three studio albums on the Luminous label, a live album on Tombed Visions, and one studio album as extended lineup Favourite Animals ‒ which toured in a large ensemble double bill with Anton Hunter’s Article XI in 2017. Pre-Sloth Racket, the five musicians in the band had been playing together for several years in different combinations. Anton Hunter and Sam Andreae's collaboration dates back to 2008 and their quartet HAQ. Hunter brothers Johnny and Anton have been playing music together since childhood, current examples being Beck Hunters with Mick Beck and the quintet Spirit Farm. Seth Bennett and Johnny Hunter are two thirds of Fragments with Adam Fairhall as well as playing together in many other settings. Cath Roberts and Anton Hunter have been performing as the duo Ripsaw Catfish since 2013. 'Dismantle Yourself' will be available to pre-order from slothracket.bandcamp.com from 12 August, and is released on 2 September as a CD and digital download, plus streaming via the Bandcamp app. A risograph-printed zine will be available as a companion to the album, containing words and graphics by Cath Roberts and printed by Footprint Workers Co-op in Leeds. The zine will be on sale in a bundle with the digital album, and there will be an option to purchase the CD, zine and digital album together. Sloth Racket are touring to support the release, with dates in Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester, Lancaster, Todmorden, London, Ramsgate, Norwich and Cambridge. The tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and the album recording session was supported by the Fenton Arts Trust and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Click here for the Sloth Racket website : Click here for the tour details :

 

 

 

 

 

Loz Speyer's Time Zone - Clave Sin Embargo
(Spherical Records) - Released: 2nd October 2019

Loz Speyer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Martin Hathaway (alto sax, bass clarinet); Stuart Hall (guitar); Dave Manington (double bass); Maurizio Ravalico (congas); Andy Ball (drums).

Loz Speyer Time Zone Clave Sin Embargo

 

'The third Time Zone album, “Clave Sin Embargo” is a deep fusion of Cuban music and Jazz – soulful, catchy and rhythmically provocative. Speyer’s particular Cuban-Jazz crossover grew out of the collision of Cuban culture with his own when between 2000 and 2009, the London based trumpeter spent a total of over a year in Santiago de Cuba, studying Afro-Cuban music, working with local Son bands, collaborating with Cuban musicians – and starting his own Anglo-Cuban family. His compositions took a similarly unexpected turn, and back in the UK he began touring and recording them with Time Zone. The present incarnation of Time Zone came together for a UK tour in 2012, and features maverick guitarist Stuart Hall, ebullient saxophonist Martin Hathaway, conga maestro Maurizio Ravalico, bassist Dave Manington and drummer Andy Ball. Their interaction is the key to this joyful and highly rhythmic music, drawing collective on a range of experience that includes work with Mike Westbrook, Django Bates, Jesus Alemani, Hermeto Pascoal, Clifford Jarvis, Gwilym Simcock, Iain Ballamy, Roberto Pla, Kenny Wheeler, Jamiroquai, Radiohead, Yann Tiersen and Tim Berne…(Vortex notes). 'Speyer’s ear for the exultant horn harmonies of traditional Cuban dance music informs a probing crossover composer’s intelligence, in which time signatures are shuffled and idioms overlaid… Nobody writes world music quite like Loz Speyer, and he’s long deserved a bigger stage, and the resources to match'. (John Fordham, the Guardian).

Details and Samples : Live video of Mood Swings from the album : Brief video taster of Guarapachanguero from the album :

 

 

 

 

America

We are indebted to Filipe Freitas for details of many American and some other releases. Filipe and photographer Clara Pereira (see the 'Lens America' article in What's New) run JazzTrail in New York City. They feature album and concert coverage, press releases and press kits, album covers and biographies. They are valued contacts for Sandy Brown Jazz in the United States. You can read more about Filipe and Clara in their 'Tea Break' item with us if you click here.

 

Rich Halley - Terra Incognita
(Pine Eagle Records /CD Baby) - Released: 1st June 2019

Rich Halley (tenor saxophone); Matthew Shipp (piano); Michael Bisio (bass); Newman Taylor Baker (drums)

Rich Halley Terra Incognita

 

'Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley explores new music with a gutsy new quartet on his most recent outing, Terra Incognita. For this experience, he recruits the Matthew Shipp Trio to support him, which, besides the formidable pianist, includes bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. From the bravura call-and-response of the opening track (“Opening”) to the rhythmically loose-limbed conclusion (“The Journey”), erratically expressed with obscure piano voicings and bop accents, one can’t help being engulfed by the album's high concentrations of energy. Attempting to find common parallels , the quartet creates without bounds, embarking on atonal spiritual quests, fast swinging rallies, and circumspect interactions.They take us to both recondite and familiar places' ....(JazzTrail). 'The first impression of an initial spin of the disc says: Halley hasn't changed. He still comes right at you, at times with the force of a hurricane that will—usually unexpectedly—give way to a gentle breeze that sets the low branches (and the windchime of Shipp's piano) into a calming rhythmic reverie.  It is Halley's meeting with a pianist that makes this recording so special ...... Between "The Opening" and "The Journey," the sound remains the same. Powerful free jazz from a cohesive quartet that walks a line between the raucous and the sublime ...' (Dan McClenaghan in allaboutjazz ****). 

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Full Dan McClenaghan Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Bedal - In Reverse
(Bace Records) - Released: 7th June 2019

Nick Mazzarella (saxophone); Paul Bedal (piano); Matt Ulery (bass); Charles Rumback (drums).

Paul Bedal In Reverse

 

'For his third album as a leader, pianist Paul Bedal gathered pretty active members from the Chicago scene: alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, bassist Matt Ulery, and drummer Charles Rumback. Although the latter two musicians had been part of his first recording project, Chatter (Bace Records, 2014), the brand new In Reverse marks the debut of this quartet, featuring eight properly structured originals peppered with improvisation.The title cut, “In Reverse”, a catchy post-bop number coated with the modal spirituality of Coltrane, makes a great opening, detaching from the rest of the program as a consequence of its majestic depth and pulsation. The awakening sounds fuel great solos by Mozzarella and Bedal, and both take the opportunity to stretch out a bit more on the final vamp worked out by Ulery and Rumback. The strong teamwork behind the soloists occurs effortlessly, and “Janssen Ave” is another example of coordination and precise accentuation in a sort of unassumed swinging environment. In this case, Mazzarella goes bluesier, throwing in melodies that satisfy the ear, while Bedal, exploring with more atonal drive, navigates inside and outside with logic .....Composition-wise, Bedal shows a gracefulness that may be used in the future to expand textures and moods even more. But for now, you should give In Reverse a chance' (JazzTrail). '.....There is plenty of passion on the album, particularly on the expansive “Janssen Ave.” Mazzarella’s bluesy and muscular sax spars with the loosely swinging rhythm trio. Bedal’s keys cascade with fervor and earthy intensity. The spirited vamps interlace and form a stimulating and dense sonic tapestry ......'  (Hrayr Attarian in Chicago Jazz Magazine).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Full Hrayr Attarian Review : Listen to Janssen Avenue :

 

 

 

 

Europe and Elsewhere

 

Billy Prim - Thalassa
(Blahonoiz Records) - Released: 16th September 2019

Attila Blaho (piano); Andor Horváth (double bass, 2,5); Júlia Csillag (voice, 4); Áron Turcsányi (electric bass, 3); Billy Prim (drums)

Billy Prim Thalassa

 

 

Billy Prim is a Greek drummer now based in Hungary. 'In many ways I see myself as a storyteller. Each one of these melodies is like a little tale, a way for me to take all these feelings, arrange them as sound in time, and present them to you in a song . It's me, opening up to you, sharing what I feel and how I understand the world and hopefully giving you what you feel a name, a sound , a melody' (Billy Prim)

Details : Video of Waves of Emotion played live : Video of Midnight Sea :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Releases

 

Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson - Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
(Jazz Images CS) - Released: 27th May 2019

Louis Armstrong (trumpet); Oscar Peterson (piano) with Ray Brown (bass), Herb Ellis (guitar) and Louis Bellson (drums)

Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson

 

'The late fifties must have been an exciting time at Verve records. Louis Armstrong was recording his classic albums with Ella Fitzgerald, and Ella was starting out on her song book series. And always in the background, making a major contribution to Ella's Duke Ellington songbook, and Louis and Ella's recordings was another great jazz figure, the inestimable Oscar Peterson. And then the news came out that Luis and Oscar were to record an album together. This was a big deal. Louis had, 30 years previously, singlehandedly revolutionised jazz and was at the forefront of recent trad revival. Peterson was one of the major figures of what was known, at the time, as `modern jazz'. Peterson fans were of the opinion the Louis' best days were behind him (with a wealth of supporting evidence from his entertaining but not very innovative recordings with Decca in the preceding decade). They were afraid that Peterson, the new innovator, was taking a step back. And Louis fans, with their disdain for modern jazz were concerned that their hero would not fit in with the new complex rhythms of Peterson's piano playing. No one should have worried. What resulted from this meeting of the two great innovators old and new was some of the best music of both their careers....... (Amazon Review). 'Louis with the Peterson quartet in 1957 was quite a contrast to what, by then, had been his regular setting for 10 years in the All Stars. He rises to the occasion with some definitive versions of songs that only pop up occasionally elsewhere in his repertoire (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise ****)

Details : Review and Samples from an earlier release :

 

 

 

 

 

June Christy and Stan Kenton - The June Christy / Stan Kenton Collection 1945 - 1955
(Acrobat) - Released: 3rd March 2019 [2 CDs]

June Christy (vocals) with the Stan Kenton Orchestra (various personnel)

June Christy Stan Kenton Collection

 

'June Christy was one of elite coterie of singers during the post-war decade who readily spanned the big band, cool jazz, and sophisticated pop genres, becoming one of the most popular and admired female vocalists of the era, outshone only by the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. Having sung with Boyd Raeburns band in the early 1940s, she took over from Anita ODay with Stan Kentons ground-breaking orchestra in 1945, over the next five years was named by Down Beat magazine as the best female vocalist with a big band in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950. This great-value 49-track 2-CD set comprises a significant proportion of the studio and live recordings she made with Kentons orchestra through until 1950, by which time she had embarked on a successful solo career, and also includes some of the duet recordings she did with Kenton accompanying her on piano in 1955. It includes their 1945 No. 2 hit with Tampico along with the Top 10 hits It's Been A Long Long Time and Shoo Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy and five other Billboard chart entries. Its a substantial overview of her work with Stan Kenton, and a great showcase for her distinctive talent' (album notes). 'The core of this collection is the five years Christy spent as Kenton's main vocalist from 1945-50, including the majority of her Billboard chart successes (even with songs that had been better recorded by others), and rounded off with some later (and rather attractive) duets with Kenton at the piano' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise ***)

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Some Other Pages on this Website:

Jazz As Art : Listen to a track while looking at a range of paintings we have chosen to go with the music.

The Tea Break : A musician or someone in the Jazz world generally takes time out to chat over a cuppa.

Jazz Venues Near You: Venues hosting live jazz in the UK. Please let us know of other venues together with their website addresses, or please also let us know if you discover any of the links on the page don't work.

Jazz Talks : People willing to give talks about Jazz to community groups. The geographical areas covered include Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Norwich.

 

 

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