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November 2019

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Jazzmeia Horn

Jazzmeia Horn (photograph by Jacon Bickenstaff)

 

In November, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is bringing her music to the UK with three concerts in Scotland. It is the American rising star's first visit to Scotland and she will be singing with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) on Friday 22nd November at Perth Concert Hall ; Saturday 23rd November at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (New Auditorium) and Sunday 24th November at Edinburgh Usher Hall . For those who have not heard of Jazzmeia Horn: 'Jazzmeia has rapidly gained a reputation as an artist of assured maturity and vocal confidence.  In 2018, her debut album  A Social Call was nominated for a Grammy Award as “Best Jazz Vocal Album” and her latest album Love and Liberation has just been released to great acclaim in August.  Winner of the 2015 Thelonius Monk and the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competitions, she won the “Up and Coming Musician of the Year” from the Jazz Journalist Association and has a very bright future'. You can judge for yourself in this video of her singing Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (click here) - a song we feature again by Marvin in the Video Juke Box below.

 

 

 

Wynton Marsalis' Jazz For Kids

Jazz For Kids

 

A new children’s jazz album has been created by Wynton Marsalis and New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. They give a big band treatment to childhood classics and nursery rhymes like Old McDonald, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Wheels on the Bus. The world famous trumpeter says the idea is for the whole family to swing along and to introduce young children to jazz, with sophisticated arrangements to keep the adults entertained too.

In the liner notes, pianist Joe Alterman says: “Jazz for Kids is a perfect representation of another timeless adage: “jazz is life.” There is seriousness in the fun, and there is joy in the seriousness. Music is at its most powerful when it makes one feel connected with the past, and Jazz for Kids breathes new life into songs we think we’ve known forever.”

'Just as it’s never too late to find your inner child, it’s never too early to swing!' The album is out now.

Click here for details : Click here for more information : Click here for a short animated video from Old McDonald Had A Farm.

 

 

New On The BBC

The BBC has unveiled a number of jazz programmes at the launch of this month's EFG London Jazz Festival.

The programmes include a lot of BBC Radio 3 content including a six-hour overnight jazz takeover; a jazz collection on BBC Sounds, and a partnership with Jazz FM which will see BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds broadcast Jazz FM content for the first time and Jazz FM to share key recordings from BBC Radio 3.

There will also be a new jazz programme focussing on the emerging scene presented by Corey Mwamba, and high profile artist portraits on television including a seminal new feature documentary on Miles Davis by Stanley Nelson for BBC Two.

As part of the BBC’s commitment to showcasing the outer fringes of jazz, BBC Radio 3 will be launching a brand new programme, Freeness, a showcase for cutting edge improvised music in all its forms, linking the freedom-oriented roots of jazz to the vibrant underground scenes of the UK and beyond. The programme will be presented by Derby-based vibraphone player and composer Corey Corey MwambaMwamba and will appear on Saturday nights from November 2nd.

Corey Mwamba says: "We'll be playing improvised music of all kinds, but mainly edging towards the totally improvised end. If you'd like to submit tracks to play, please send links to music to the team at freeness@reducedlistening.co.uk It doesn't matter whether you are on a label or not; or what supposed "stature" you have in your scene. We'd love to hear from you."

 

Corey Mwamba

 

BBC Radio 3 will also be joining forces with Bauer Media for the first time in a unique partnership between commercial radio and public service. Shared content will appear on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds, and whilst the two stations have collaborated before with a digital pop-up BBC Music Jazz, this will be the first time BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting content from Jazz FM on the network, with Jazz FM similarly sharing Radio 3 content from recorded concerts with their audiences in a reciprocal deal.

James Purnell, Director of Radio and Education, says: “As a jazz lover myself, I’m very proud of our track record in supporting the jazz scene and we are keen to ensure we are playing our part in its future too through a jazz collection on Sounds and a plethora of new programmes and partnerships. I’m delighted we’ll be working once again with our friends at Jazz FM, and their owner Bauer Media for the first time, to share content this EFG London Jazz festival, ensuring as many people as possible can discover great jazz programming.”

Click here for details of more broadcasts.

 

 

 

We Are Jazz - The EFG London Jazz Festival: 15th - 24th November 2019

Each year, the EFG London Jazz Festival seems to get bigger and bigger. It would be impossible to list all of the gigs, venues and over 2000 musicians here, but you can check them out if you click here. While you will need to book for some events, others are free.

Click here for a short video introduction to this year's Festival.

 

2019 London Jazz Festival

 

John Williamson, Chair of EFG International who sponsor the Festival sums it up well when he says: ' .... we believe that this extraordinary Festival, much like London itself, is distinguished from our other global jazz sponsorships by the exceptional breadth and quality of its rich cultural diversity ...'

In conjunction with their collaborators, Serious, they have created the 'EFG Elements Series' - an eclectic collection of four shows with broad appeal, chosen to reflect some of the core components of the programming - click here. You will also find events such as Jazz For Toddlers; a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus; a Beatboxing Masterclass; and a showing of the new Miles Davis documentary Birth Of The Cool reviewed by Howard Lawes below.

The Festival brings international jazz musicians to the UK but it also provides a platform for many excellent established and emerging musicians from the UK.

 

 

 

Jazz South - Promoters' Network Meetings

Jazz South is inviting anyone promoting or self-promoting jazz and improvised music to networking and information opportunities in the South West and South East. There are two dates: 4th December - 1-5pm at Exeter Phoenix (register) and 5th December - 1-5pm at Brighton Dome (register). What's on the schedule?

Jazz South logo

 

 

Applying for funding - Arts Council England
Network and meet other promoters in your region
Find out about two new schemes - Jazz South Commissions and Jazz South Free Ticket Scheme
See how to put yourself on the Jazz South interactive online Touring Map
Platform South rounds 1 and 2 update
Pitch a new touring, promoting or collaboration project - 5 slots available for each event (email info@jazzsouth.org to request a slot)

 


Travel bursaries are available for those travelling over 50 miles (These will be offered on a first-come-first-serve basis, for anyone working voluntarily or freelance).

 

 

 

 

Video Juke Box

*Click on the Picture to watch the Video

 

 

 

Louis Armstrong with New York Philarmonic

 

 

In this historic video from 1956, Louis Armstrong, Trummy Young and Edmond Hall front the New York Philarmonic Orchestra under Leonard Bernstein to play St Louis Blues. In the audience is the composer W.C. Handy, 83 years old and blind but clearly loving the performance, particularly at the end when Ed, Trummy and Louis play swinging solos.

 

 

 

 

 

Lara Eidi The Turn Of The Wind

 

 

Vocalist Lara Eidi is working on a new album Transition, a fusion of jazz and celtic music. In this video, Lara sings her song The Turn Of The Wind that will appear on the album. She is accompanied by Naadia Sheriff (piano, backing vocals): Dave Manington (double bass) and Dolan Jones (violin).

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Grossi Samba For Toots video

 

 

Brazilian harmonica player Gabriel Grossi has a new album out with his Quintet (see Recent Releases). In this video from 2018 they play one of the tracks on the album Samba Pro Toots (A Samba For Toots) a tribute to harmonicist Toots Thielmans.

 

 

 

 

 

Interchange Donnas secret video

 

 

Issie Barrett's Interchange launched their new album, Donna's Secret, in October. Here's a video introduction to the album.

 

 

 

 

 

Benet McLean homage to John Coltrane video

 

 

Pianist, violinist and bandleader Benet McLean takes to the piano with 26-2 - a stride piano homage to John Coltrane.

 

 

 

 

 

Marvin Gaye video

 

This video of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On was compiled by Savanah Leaf who says: "The point is that this is a historic song for an important moment in history, and what’s beautiful is that it’s message is timeless and universal. It’s about human emotions, human relationships, and a coming together. My hope is that our music video will remind people to continue asking the question Marvin Gaye asked in 1971.” There are more details with the video.

 

 

 

 

 

Ella Fitzgerald video

 

 

Here's Ella Fitzgerald is swinging Sweet Georgia Brown in 1966 at Duke's Place with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. 'It's been said that she knocks 'em dead when she lands in town'.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

The Jazz Centre Celebrates the 100 Club


The Jazz Centre UK has received a Heritage Lottery grant for £94,800 for a project ‘Jazz at the 100 Club: Bringing History to Life’. It runs until February 2021 and will celebrate the Club’s history from its opening in 1942 up to the present. 

Planned activities include interviews with and performances by musicians, exhibitions including ‘voices from the past’ and reminiscences, and community jam sessions combining professionals with newcomers. There will be a ‘Breaking Barriers’ research project, a fashion and jazz exhibition, and dance workshops celebrating the Club’s partnership with the London Swing Dance Society.

 

Digby Fairweather at 100 Club


Digby Fairweather at the 100 Club for the National Jazz Archive’s 30th anniversary concert by the NYJO Nonet. 

The Jazz Centre UK’s CEO Digby Fairweather says: “This is our second HLF grant and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate, to recreate and help set down in history the great venue which, to my certain knowledge, is the oldest jazz club in the world. I was lucky enough to play at the 100 Club hundreds of times from 1971 through until the 1990s when the club was still acknowledged as London’s Home of Traditional Jazz.” 


If you have memories of the 100 Club to share, contact enquiries@thejazzcentreuk.co.uk

 

 

 

Name The Tune

(Click on the picture for the answer)

 

Blue Sun

Click here for our Name The Tune page

 

 

 

The Second Best Drummer

 

Ginger Baker

 

Drummer Ginger Baker passed through the Departure Lounge in October. He will probably be best remembered for his time with Cream and Blind Faith, for being wild and often rude, or for his drug use, but we should not forget the effect jazz had on his background and playing.

Writing in the Sunday Times in October, broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Clarkson wrote: ' ...It's customary, of course, when someone dies to gloss over their shortcomings and concentrate instead on their work for charity and their heroics in the war. But this is nigh on impossible with Baker, who was almost certainly the most unpleasant man ever to grace a stage ... Instead, everyone concentrated on Baker's skills as a musician - but even here people missed the point, because despite what he claimed, he wasn't the best drummer the world has ever seen. Thanks to Mitch Mitchell, who played with Jimi Hendrix, he was the second best ...

Click here for a video of Mitch Mitchell soloing with Jimi Hendrix.

.... Baker, however, could keep perfect time, even when he was full of heroin which is quite an achievement. And he could maintain four different cross rhythms with each of his limbs. This is like rubbing your tummy, patting your head, pumping up a lilo and playing hopscotch all at the same time ..... a drum solo allows the audience to marvel at the technical wizardry of the drummer. It allows us to concentrate on his incredible ability to get a whole arm from one side of the kit to the other faster than it takes a Formula One car to change gear. And to do it in perfect time.'

.... It's been suggested that Ginger Baker invented the drum solo so his band mates could have a moment to go backstage and top up whatever was missing at that moment from their lives. I doubt this, though. He didn't really like other musicians that much.....'

Jeremy Clarkson chooses Mitch Mitchell over Ginger Baker as 'the best drummer', but at the end of the day it must be a subjective opinion. Others might choose Art Blakey, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich or someone else, it is a matter of taste. It is like saying 'Louis Armstrong is second best to Miles Davis'.

Click here for a video of an early Ginger Baker drum solo - this one goes on for just under ten minutes.

In his article Jeremy Clarkson goes on to write about those who were Ginger Baker's heroes, and perhaps this better reflects the collective influnce that came through his playing and the contribution jazz made to his work with rock bands: 'He really only liked people we've never heard of. Phil Seaman was a hero of his, for example. And Art Blakey ..... Baker was on the stage doing his solos simply so we could hear how he'd fused the jazz music of his heroes with an altogether new and busy way of playing. ..... His solos were often more than 10 minutes long and were mesmerising. And soon drummers everywhere were trying to outdo him .... And now? Well, there was the movie Whiplash, which everyone, apart from me, thought was weird - but on stage? In real life? There's nothing. The drum solo is dead. ....'

...... Luckily, however, we still have the recordings from the days when drumming wasn't just an electronic nn tss nn tss nn tss and I've been listening to a lot of it all week. That's why I ended up revisiting Can't Find My Way Home. You played on that one, Ginger. And now you have.'

Click here to listen to Ginger Baker with Blind Faith (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Rick Grech) and Can't Find My Way Home.

As far as jazz is concerned we might disagree with things in Jeremy Clarkson's article, he doesn't always differentiate betwee Jazz, Rock or Popular music, but he does pay homage to one of the key characters in the story of music.

 

Click here for the full Jeremy Clarkson article.

 

Ginger Baker

 

 

 

Ronnie Scott's Photographic Exhibition at the Barbican

An exhibition of Freddy Warren's photographs of British and American jazz singers and musicians charting the first decade of Ronnie Scott’s Ronnie Scotts ExhibitionJazz Club is open at the Barbican Music Library in London and runs until 4th January. It coincides with publication of the book Ronnie Scott’s 1959–69 published by Reel Arts Press.

Freddy Warren, who was the club’s photographer from its opening night in 1959 in Gerrard Street, documented the construction of the current site in Frith Street in the mid-1960s and the American stars of the day, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Tubby Hayes, Ella Fitzgerald, Zoot Sims and Cleo Laine.

The National Jazz Archive has been credited in the book for its assistance and has loaned a fascinating selection of items from the period for the exhibition. These include three autograph books inscribed with Ronnie’s signature and many of his contemporaries from the late ’40s, early ’50s and mid-’80s. They formed part of the collection of the late Roy Hulbert (1925–2018) who made a generous bequest to the National Jazz Archive.

Freddy’s nephew Simon Whittle said: “My uncle loved working at Ronnie Scott’s for so many years and enjoyed rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the business. If people enjoy viewing his photographs and go away with a sense of how magic was created in the club on those dark and smoky nights, I am sure that Freddy, if he were here today, would have been delighted.”

Click here
for information on opening times.

 

 

 

 

Jazz Quiz

Women Of Jazz

This month we challenge you with fifteen images of women jazz musicians. How many can you identify?

 

Who is this

 

 

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.

 

 

 

 

Birth Of The Cool

Howard Lawes is impressed by the new film about Miles Davis:

Just in time for the EFG London Jazz Festival, Stanley Nelson's film Birth of the Cool is a comprehensive, thought-provoking and entertaining documentary film that celebrates the achievements of Miles Davis, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time while at the Miles Davis Birth Of The Cool moviesame time revealing that great artists are not always great human beings.  The film sticks rigidly to a timeline with each section introduced by a rapid series of pictures and newsreel providing a context for the world in which Miles Davis was living. 

Click here for the trailer for the movie.

We learn that his early life in the 1930s was relatively comfortable, his father being a dentist and his mother a music teacher, although at that time even wealthy African-Americans were subject to discrimination and racial abuse.  He was able to enter music college in New York but found visiting and performing in clubs in 52nd Street more to his liking - which was hardly surprising given that the likes of Davis' heroes Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk were performing. During the 1940s, the era of bebop, Davis played with a variety of musicians and met composer and arranger Gil Evans, he also travelled to Paris where he was greatly impressed by the way he was treated and by the lack of racial discrimination.  During the visit to Paris he had an affair with the singer Juliette Greco but when asked if he might marry Greco, Davis baulked saying that he loved her too much. By this time Davis already had two children. 

Returning to New York, Miles was depressed and became addicted to heroin, he secured some work and recording contracts but the drug was getting the better of him and as shown in the film, it was his father who came to New York and took him home to St Louis where the family now lived.  After several months in a family environment Davis weaned himself off the drugs and then moved to Detroit before returning to New York in 1954.  Then followed the period when Davis began experimenting with a different sound and style of jazz using a trumpet mute that he held very close to the microphone and playing ballads rather than the frenetic bebop.  He became more successful and with the success came a reputation for arrogance and contempt. Following an operation on his larynx he got into an argument which damaged his recovery resulting in the husky voice which was to stay with him for the rest of his life.  In the film Davis' words are spoken by Carl Lumbly who gives a good imitation of the famous voice.

A lovely section in the film is Miles' performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955 showing the audience captivated by his melodies, including Thelonius Monk's Round Midnight evoking nocturnal romance and appealing to an audience which was predominantly white.  The jazz festival was a great shop window for jazz musicians and Davis was duly signed by Columbia Records. In 1957 Miles returned to Paris, re-uniting with Greco, and being hired by film director Louis Malle to provide the soundtrack to the film Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud. This classic of the film noir style stars Jeanne Moreau and in Nelson's film we are shown Moreau walking slowly through the streets with Davis and his mostly French band creating the soundtrack while watching the film, the music is rightly regarded as an absolute classic evoking a sense of loss or loneliness that adds significantly to the images. Click here for a clip from Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud.

The late '50s and early '60s became a purple patch for Davis, he collaborated with Gil Evans on a series of projects such as Miles Ahead, Miles Davis arrested for assualtSketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess but his greatest achievement, in album sales if nothing else, was the recording of Kind of Blue, Davis's seminal, modal jazz phenomenon.  Throughout this period Nelson's film presents interviews with friends and colleagues with the great music in the background; intimate details are presented, not least by Frances Taylor Davis who, by her own estimation had the best legs in town, and was Miles' wife from 1960 to 1968. 

A significant low point of this period was when Davis was injured during an altercation with a couple of white policemen who arrested him as he was smoking a cigarette outside the club where he was performing. The film shows pictures of a blood spattered Davis and inevitably the incident, included in the film, was attributed to racial discrimination. No charges were brought but Davis blamed the experience for a deterioration in his mood and behaviour which ultimately lead to Frances leaving him after he had attacked her.

During the '60s and '70s Miles and his bands were having to compete with new types of music, one of which was the Latin jazz rock fusion band led by Carlos Santana who was a great fan of Davis and speaks extensively during the film.  Another band which Davis himself was very impressed with was Sly and the Family Stone.  Davis reacted with albums such as Bitches Brew and On The Corner that proved successful but as time progressed and his health deteriorated, his relationships soured and he became dependent on alcohol and cocaine.  Miles retreated into himself before making a comeback in the 1980s.  Contributions from Mike Stern, Quincy Jones and Marcus Miller give background to playing with Miles in the '80s while the finale of the film features the 1991 Montreaux Jazz Festival where Davis was given a rapturous reception.  Click here for a video of Miles at the Montreaux Film Festival (about one hour - you need to skip the ads).

Miles Davis died in 1991 of a stroke in the arms of one of the women who loved him, and as Nelson's film ended no-one in the cinema audience moved, but it was a really moving experience.  While the film will probably not provide much new information for the serious jazz fan, for the broader, music-loving public it is ideal.  The music is gorgeous, the story absorbing and hopefully cinema-goers will be inspired to discover more.

Click here for a short video of Stanley Nelson talking about making the film.

 

 

 

 

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

Ethel and Bessie

 

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters

 

Bessie Smith was booked into 91 Decatur Street while I was working there. Bessie was a heavy-set, dark woman and very nice looking. Along with Ma Rainey, she was undisputed tops as a blues singer.

Bessie's shouting brought worship wherever she worked. She was getting fifty to seventy-five dollars a week, big money for our kind of vaudeville. The money thrown to her brought this to a couple of hundred dollars a week. Bessie, like an opera singer, carried her own claque with her. These plants in the audience were paid to throw up coins and bills to get the appreciation money going without delay the moment Bessie Smithshe finished her first number.

Bessie was in a pretty good position to dictate to the managers. She had me put on my act for her and said I was a long goody. But she also told the men who ran No 91 that she didn't want anyone else on the bill to sing the blues.

 

Bessie Smith
Portrait by Carl Van Vechten

 

I agreed to this, I could depend a lot on my shaking, though I never shimmied vulgarly and only to express myself. And when I went on I sang I Want To Be Somebody's Baby Doll So I Can Get My Lovin' All The Time.

But before I could finish this number the people out front started howling, 'Blues! Blues! Come on, Stringbean, we want your blues!'

Before the second show the manager went to Bessie's dressing room and told her he was going to revoke the order forbidding me to sing any blues. He said he couldn't have another such rumpus. There was quite a stormy discussion about this, and you could hear Bessie yelling things about 'these Northern bitches.' Now nobody could have taken the place of Bessie Smith. People everywhere loved her shouting with all their hearts and were loyal to her. But they wanted me too.

When I closed my engagement in that theatre, Miss Bessie called me to her. 'Come here, long goody,' she said. 'You ain't so bad. It's only that I never dreamed that anyone would be able to do this to me in my own territory and with my own people. And you know damn well that you can't sing worth a -----.'

Ethel Waters in Hear Me Talkin' To Ya edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff.

 

Click here for a video of Ethel Waters singing in a brief documentary about her life and style in The Ladies Sings The Blues .

 

Ladies Sing The Blues documentary

 

 

 


Directory of Alternative Musical Definitions

 

Concussion Idiophone

Knockout performance by a drummer beating together two items of percussion.

 

Idiophone

Click on the picture

 

Click here for more Alternative Definitions.

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Guitar Traning
O'Higgins and Luft Play Monk And Trane

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].

 

Rob Luft and Dave O'Higgins

 

A common feature of jazz music education is the inculcation of students with an appreciation and respect for the great musicians of the past and the context in which great jazz was created.  Familiarity with jazz history informs the creative process for young musicians allowing them to dip into a melting pot of technique and style without necessarily modelling themselves on a particular artist.  Rob Luft has benefitted from a great music education spending six years with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) and four at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) and it is entirely logical that he would want to celebrate musicians such as Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane which he does alongside the tenor saxophone of Dave O'Higgins, Scott Flanagan a young organist from Northern Ireland, and drummer Rod Youngs.

Click here for a video of the band playing Like Sonny from the album.

Over the phone Rob Luft talked to me about joining NYJO in 2012, shortly before the retirement of long standing musical director Bill Ashton OBE who was succeeded by Mark Armstrong. Mark introduced new ideas that incorporated the best of the old while encouraging musical diversity as well. Rob describes his time with NYJO as very beneficial and he was often selected for special mention by reviewers such as Jack Massarik who described him as "coolly accurate" in the 2012 BBC Promenade Concerts. During his time at NYJO Rob sometimes played a Fender Telecaster, an electric guitar that was less likely to be overwhelmed by the massed horns of a big band, but generally his instrument of choice is a Gibson jazz guitar, more suited to playing in the intimate surrounds of a typical jazz club.  Dave O'Higgins also learnt his trade with NYJO from 1983-1986 and is now Jazz Pathway Leader at the London College of Contemporary Music.

At the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) Rob Luft's guitar tutors included Mike Outram and Mike Walker, two great guitarists but with different styles and of course he met and played with a whole host of young musicians with different backgrounds. Collaborations included the Deco Ensemble, a tango quintet that has performed in cities throughout Europe, and the Phelan Burgoyne Trio.  The culmination of his time at RAM was winning the Kenny Wheeler prize which is awarded to the graduate demonstrating excellence in both performance and composition. As a result of winning this prize Rob went on to produce the highly acclaimed debut album as band leader, Riser, his band members - Joe Wright (tenor saxophone), Joe Webb (hammond organ, piano and harmonium), Tom McCredie (bass) and Corrie Dick (drums) - being two other graduates of RAM, one of Trinity Laban and one of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  Winning the Rob Luft and Elina Duniprize allowed him to be able to record in the beautiful surroundings of the technically excellent Real World Studios and to have the album distributed by Edition Records.

 

Rob Luft and Elina Duni

 

Rob Luft professes to continually pushing back boundaries and trying new things. He has developed a reputation as a sensitive and tender accompanist of female singers including Brazilian Luna Cohen, Anglo-Polish Alice Zawadzki and Albanian Elina Duni with whom it is hoped a new album will be released next year.  Also on the cards is a new Rob Luft Band album on Edition Records as a follow up to Riser.  In the recent project, Laura Jurd's Stepping Back, Jumping In, Rob found himself playing the unfamiliar, 5 stringed banjo and his playing was described by a Guardian critic as "sounding like a joyous riot in a wild-west saloon bar" and of course O'Higgins and Luft Play Monk and Trane is another diversion.  

 

Click here for a video of Rub Luft and Elina Duni and The Wayfaring Stranger.

 

Dave O'Higgins

 

Dave O'Higgins is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, educator and latterly recording engineer and producer. He has been a popular figure on the UK and international jazz scene for 30 years now, with 20 albums as leader under his belt. O'Higgins recent releases include Tenors of Our Time released on Albore Jazz and It's Always 9:30 in Zog on his own JVG label which was described by John Fordham in the Guardian as "masterful post-bop coolly delivered".

 

Dave O'Higgins

 

 

 

Rob Luft was recently selected to be part of the Take 5 Professional Development Programme run by music producers Serious and supported by the PRS Foundation.  While the purpose of the programme is to develop additional skill and knowledge of the commercial aspects of the music industry it also brings together young musicians who would not otherwise have encountered each other.  During the programme Rob met and hit it off with a young keyboard player from Northern Ireland, Scott Flanagan, and so it transpired that when Luft and O'Higgins were planning a Jazz in the Afternoon gig at the Oval Tavern in Croydon, Flanagan was invited to London, an organ was provided and the rest as they say 'is history'.  Rod Youngs, who Rob plays with in Byron Wallen's Four Corners Band joined the band later and the job of selecting songs for the album began.

O'Higgins and Luft Play Monk and Trane was released in October 2019. There are 11 tracks on the album but only 10 different songs - Locomotive released by Thelonius Monk in 1954 is featured twice, the second time as a short duet without drums and organ, this must be one of the simplest tunes that Monk ever wrote but it certainly evokes the image of a machine.  Some of the tracks are very famous such as O'Higgins and Luft play Monk and TraneJohn Coltrane's beautiful ballad Naima, named after his wife, and featured on the 1960 Giant Steps album; and 'Round Midnight which was written by Monk along with Bernie Hanighen and Cootie Williams and which became one of the most recorded tunes in history with the Miles Davis versions featuring Thelonius Monk at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival and John Coltrane on the 1957 release on the 'Round About Midnight album. 

Click here to listen to Naima from the album.

Rob Luft was able to find a Naima score with Coltrane's hand-written notes which he found quite inspiring while 'Round Midnight has also been recorded by some of his favourite guitarists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell.  Other tracks are much less well known such as Dreamland, composed by Monk and featured on an album by Paul Motian, another of Luft's favourite guitarists, Bill Frisell, and Joe Lovano. Several of the tracks feature on John Coltrane albums during the period 1959 -1961 which was his period with Atlantic Records and was a period of development of his improvisational technique. Dave O'Higgins does a great job of sailing through Coltrane material with apparent ease while Rob Luft's guitar versions of the music of both Monk and Trane are genuinely innovative.

Click here for a video of the band playing Monk's Trinkle-Tinkle from the album.

The style of the album is quite like straight-ahead jazz, that is to say melody followed by solos backed by the rhythm section and concluding by returning to the melody.  While the quality of musicianship on the album is very good it is probable that witnessing a live performance would be even more impressive and to this end Dave O'Higgins and Rob Luft have embarked on a country-wide 40 date tour.  The album and the tour will bring deserved wider attention to musicians outside their local London area and it Rob tells me that there are have already been enthusiastic responses and album sales from the audiences where they have played.

Click here and watch this video of the band playing I'll Wait and Pray and you can see why.

 

Gigs continue through November and details can be found on Rob Luft's website - click here.

Click here for details of the album O'Higgins and Luft Play Monk and Trane.

 

Rob Luft Dave O'Higgins band

Scott Flanagan, Dave O'Higgins, Rod Youngs and Rob Luft

 

 

 

 

My parents discouraged me from any interest in either classical music or jazz ..........

 

Sax and Viloin

 

....... Too much sax and violins!

 

 

 

 

Two Ears Three Eyes

Rosie Turton

As usual, photographer Brian O'Connor took his camera to gigs during October. Here is one of his pictures of trombonist Rosie Turton who was playing with Issie Barratt's Interchange at the Watermill Jazz Club, Betchworth Park Golf Club in Surrey where they launched their album Donna's Secret.

Click here for an introductory video for the album.

Issie Barratt is an award winning British composer known for her work in jazz and jazz education. Amongst her many activities she was responsible for establishing Trinity College of Music’s Jazz Faculty in 1999, which she continued to run until 2006, before holding the position of Senior Jazz Fellow until 2012. As well as directing ensembles from Trinity College of Music, Issie has also co-directed the Conservatoires UK Big Band 2003-2008 performing annually at Leeds College of Music’s International Jazz conference. Issie's Interchange is an exiting new jazz dectet comprising ten of the nation’s most innovative award-winning composers and improvisers. One of them is Rosie Turton.

 

Rosie Turton

 

Rosie started playing the trombone when she was eleven. She grew up listening to a lot of jazz and was encouraged to explore very early on, first by her South African parents, who exposed her to a variety of music genres (her dad got Rosie a Bob Marley album which was a turning point in her musical upbringing), and later on by her first trombone teacher and mentor, John Crouch, who ran the local big band (Jazz Vehicle, Lincoln) and pushed her to get involved and open her horizons. At 16, she met Issie Barrat at a Sound and Music Summer School; Issie was a very influential figure in leading Rosie to explore composition. At the same time, Rosie started playing with Tomorrow's Warriors and there she met some key pillars of London’s burgeoning new jazz scene including Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon-Jones and Sheila Maurice-Grey, amongst others. Like them, she went to Trinity College of Music and started jamming at the Steez night led by Luke Newman, who is now one of her regular collaborators. From that period she became part of the 7-piece band, Nerija, signed to the Domino label. Click here to read more about Rosie.

Writing in The Guardian in January, Ammar Kalie said ' .....With the London jazz scene blooming, it seems fitting that a new generation of trombonists should now come to the fore. On a first listen to Rosie Turton’s debut EP Rosie’s 5ive, however, you might be forgiven for missing the trombone altogether. Opener The Unknown features a beautiful solo from violinist Johanna Burnheart, dancing playfully over the earthy percussion from drummer Jake Long.' (I disagree that you might miss Rosie's trombone on this track - Ed).

Click here to listen to The Unknown from the album.

'This is symptomatic of Turton’s ambition: a composer as much as a musician, she showcases her seven-piece band and myriad influences, weaving Indian raga rhythms into Stolen Ribs, a head-nodding hip-hop beat into a cover of Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly, and spiritual ambience into Orange Moon. It isn’t until the second half that we get to Turton’s playing. “It’s about taking a leap of faith,” she says, “but there is always light on the other side.”

Click here to listen to Orange Moon.

 

Picture © 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).

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

Jazz As Art

Eddie Condon

That's A Plenty


 

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.

 

Des Brophy Dancing Queens

 

 

Eddie Condon

 

In 1942, guitarist and band leader Eddie Condon began staging concerts in New York City, with Carnegie Hall and Town Hall as venues. 'By 1944, the performances were sold out. In 1944, the Blue Network began broadcasting the concerts, which The Directory of the Armed Forces Radio Service Series described as "Jazz music of a high standard". The broadcasts began "about eight performances into the series". The program typically began with a jazz song, after which Condon commented on the song and introduced the band's members. The network described the programs as "the only unrehearsed, free-wheeling, completely barefoot music on the air." Condon was the program's host, with broadcasts featuring what the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings called "many of the era's greatest musicians". Among them was singer Lee Wiley, described in the encyclopedia as "a near-regular" on the show. The broadcasts found Condon "surrounded by the greatest names in jazz — Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Willie “The Lion” Smith and Bob Haggart." '

In this recording (from the Town Hall Concerts 9 & 10 album) the musicians included Max Kaminsky (trumpet); Jonah Jones (trumpet); Ernie Caceres (saxophone); Pee Wee Russell (clarinet); Gene Schroeder (piano); Willie "The Lion" Smith (piano); Bob Haggart (bass); George Wettling (drums); Edmond Hall (clarinet); Bobby Hackett (trumet, cornet) and Benny Morton (trombone).

 

 

Click here for the That's A Plenty page, 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)

 

 

 

 

Jazz Voices

Jessica Radcliffe

 

Jessica Radcliffe

Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor, Images of Jazz.

 

Photographer Brian O'Connor took this picture of vocalist Jessica Radcliffe at the Watermill Jazz Club in Dorking during the launch of Donna's Secret - the new album from Issie Barratt's 'Interchange'. Saxophonist Issie Barratt was responsible for establishing Trinity College of Music’s Jazz Faculty in 1999, which she continued to run until 2006, before holding the position of Senior Jazz Fellow until 2012. As well as directing ensembles from Trinity College of Music, Issie has also co-directed the Conservatoires UK Big Band 2003-2008 performing annually at Leeds College of Music’s International Jazz conference. Issie has also lead various projects at other UK Conservatoires of music. Issie describes Interchange as 'an exiting new jazz dectet comprising ten of the nation’s most innovative award-winning composers and improvisers –  'Pushing at the boundaries and blurring all the edges!' Click here for an introductory video for Donna's Secret.

Jessica Radcliffe was born Jessica Dowdeswell and was originally classically trained as a pianist and clarinettist at Wells Cathedral School, which she attended as a music specialist from the age of eleven. She was first introduced to jazz through big band music, singing as a young teenager with Bristol-based big bands, and playing flute and saxophone with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. She later began Jessica radcliffe Remembrancesinging with the ensemble and was offered a place as a jazz vocalist at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she graduated with First Class Honours in 2014.

Since moving to London in 2010, Jessica has appeared regularly at the capital's jazz clubs and venues, such as Ronnie Scott's Bar, The Spice of Life, The 606 Club and The Vortex, as well as regional and international venues, with a wealth of well-reputed jazz musicians. Recently she performed alongside Jiggs Wigham with the Latvian Radio Big Band and, as a member of the London Vocal Project, travelled to New York to debut Jon Hendricks' fully lyricised "Miles Ahead" to the man himself where she was a featured soloist alongside Michelle Hendricks, Kevin Burke-Fitzgerald and Anita Wardell.

 

Click here for a video of Jessica singing East Of the Sun at the Riga Jazz Festival in 2016.

 

As a composer, Jessica is musical director of The Remembrance Project, which was featured in the London Jazz Festival in 2016. Click here for a video of Jessica talking about the project.

The project is made up of 2 sets of Jessica's original compositions and arrangements based on her in-depth study of the First World War and was released as her debut album in 2018 featuring guest saxophonist Mark Lockheart. In order to fund the recording, Jessica applied to be a contestant on ITV's 'The Chase', and beat chaser Mark "The Beast" Labbett.

Click here for a video of Jessica and her band with Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori from the project.

But for this introduction to Jessica Radcliffe I have chosen a video of her singing That Old Black Magic with the National Jazz Youth Orchestra at The Hideaway in 2013 (click here).

 

Jessica Radcliffe That Old Black Magis

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

A Star Risen
Jon Irabagon's Invisible Horizon

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].

 

Jon Irabagon

 

Jon Irabagon’s career has not been short of the glittering prizes. Born in Chicago in 1979 to parents from the Philippines, his first major triumph was winning the Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition in 2008. Since then, he has topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. His Filipino heritage has led to a Mabuhay Award by the National Association of Filipino-Americans in 2012; and a Philippine Presidential Award in 2014. In 2012, he was New York City Jazz Record’s Musician of the Year.

Irabagon’s career has also not been short of variety. He is one of the most versatile and prolific performers on the international jazz scene, involved in a quite staggering array of projects. These include membership of the splendidly named Mostly Other People Do The Killing, regularly playing in ensembles led by Mary Halvorson and Dave Douglas, and working with some of the jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis and Evan Parker. In 2017, he supported British drummer Andrew Bain on his Whirlwind Records album, Embodied Hope, which was favourably reviewed on this website. He is currently touring in the US with Ralph Alessi.

There is an additional, more populist string to his bow: he was in the UK over the summer, for example, touring as part of Michael Bublé’s backing band; and has played with the likes of Billy Joel and Lou Reed.

Irabagon’s most interesting work, however, is as leader of his own ensembles or playing solo. He has a trio which includes Mark Helias and Barry Altschul; and a quartet with himself on saxophones, Luis Perdomo (piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). For a taste of what the quartet sounds like, click here for them playing live in Buenos Aires in 2016.

This is only a selection of the work he has packed into his career. As if this was not enough, he also has his own record label, 'Irabbagast Records', on which he releases both some of his own work together with that of other US based musicians. One of the label’s outings, Behind The Sky, was reviewed on the Sandy Brown Jazz website – again, favourably - in 2015. On it, Irabagon and his quartet were joined by veteran trumpeter, Tom Harrell. You can hear one of the tracks from the album, The Cost of Modern Living, click here.

Behind The Sky displayed Irabagon’s more lyrical and relatively conventional voice. But he has a whole range of other voices including an innovative free jazz sound which is unlike anything else around in today’s jazz. In 2015, he released a solo record on Irabbagast called Inaction is an Action on which he played sopranino saxophone in a most adventurous and interesting style all his own. Here is Hang Out A Shingle from that album - click here.

And now we have Invisible Horizon, a double album recently released on Irabbagast. The main focus of the first part of the album is a six-Jon Irabagon Invisible Horizonmovement suite for piano and string quartet called Invisible Guests. Composed by Jon Irabagon, it features Matt Mitchell (piano) together with the Mivos Quartet - Olivia de Prato and Lauren Cauley Kalal (violins), Victor Lowrie Tafoya (viola) and Mariel Roberts (cello). The suite is based around the ancient oriental game, mahjong, which Irabagon learned to play as a child growing up in a Filipino community in Chicago. Before writing the suite, he made a video recording of an actual mahjong game he played with his family. “Then,” he says, “while writing, I paid special attention to surprising turns, unexpected moves, and when specific tiles were drawn or thrown. Certain themes in the suite represent musical depictions of completed hands; others are reappearing leitmotifs which describe the apparitions of fate and blessings which conspicuously changed the direction of the game”.

The four members of the string quartet represent the game’s players. The piano represents luck and ill-will – “it twists, turns and whirls through the players’ moves, sometimes helping but more often hindering them”. The movements of the suite all have names like Heaven’s Blessing or The Dreamer  which “evoke the traditional superstitious concepts of karma and virtue so vital to winning”. The final movement, Catching the Fish at the Bottom of the River, is a name given to a particular way of finishing a game.

The mahjong theme provides an intriguing structure for the suite. Of course, one does not have to know all the background context to appreciate the considerable virtues of the music. Much of it is straight ahead contemporary classical with touches of Bartok and Piazzolla tango. The music travels through various moods: wistful, tentative, eerie, jagged, intense, frantic…. There is a jazz feel at times with sections where the musicians are allowed to improvise. This often leads to passages of discordance where instruments are banged and scraped and general chaos ensues. This may not be to everyone’s taste but it never feels out of context and is integrated into the whole in an effective and interesting way.

All in all, Invisible Guests is an impressive piece of work and adds yet another string – contemporary classical music composer - to Jon Irabagon’s already crowded bow.

Invisible Guests is bookended by two tracks. The first is Vignette for Mouthpieceless Sopranino Saxophone and String Quartet. The second is the same vignette but with the mouthpiece in place. Irabagon says enigmatically that the two pieces have a sort of relationship to Invisible Guests: “The sopranino has its say as overseer, beyond divine will and the four human adversaries”. He conjures up all sorts of sounds from the sopranino – whispers, the creaking of a gate, the wind, heavy breathing, the sound the stylus makes when a vinyl record has finished but the turntable is still spinning….. and so on. It is free playing at the very limit but it is strangely beguiling and compelling. And never boring. Again, the Mivos Quartet give enthusiastic support.

The second record of the double album is called Dark Horizon: Live from the Mausoleum. Jon Irabagon plays solo on the very rare Emanuel Vigelund Mausoleummezzo-soprano saxophone. This was an instrument made by the Conn company in the late 1920s. It never caught on and only a few survive, one of which has come into Irabagon’s possession.

Dark Horizon was recorded in August 2017 at the Emanuel Vigelund Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. Vigelund (1875-1948) was a Norwegian artist who built the Mausoleum to house some of his paintings and sculptures – and to be the final resting place for his ashes which are contained in an urn over the entrance door. The building has no windows and therefore little light; and the entrance door is so small and low that you have to bend to get into the place. These features have resulted in a very special sonic space with what Irabagon calls “a pervasive and fascinating thirteen-second reverb, with the echo maxing out at over eighteen seconds at lower frequencies”. Sandy Brown with his acoustic engineer hat on would have been entranced by the place.

All eight tracks bar one on Dark Horizon are Irabagon’s own compositions. The first track is an opening overture which shows off the Mausoleum’s echo in all its glory. Irabagon plays a wistful, haunting theme. The effect is strongly reminiscent of Jan Garbarek’s work, particularly what he did with the Hilliard Ensemble. However, the comparison quickly disappears as Irabagon begins to strain his instrument, forcing it into distortion and discordance whilst still just about hanging on to the tune. The high notes sometimes seem to disappear into the stratosphere. The saxophone revels in the echo and Irabagon skillfully uses that echo almost as another instrument. When the notes come thick and fast, they are played against the echo of previous notes so there is a continuous sound of echo on echo on echo…a whole orchestra of echoes. The effect is mesmerising.

On many of the tracks, Irabagon goes beyond music in any conventional sense and into the realms of pure sound. On Forest and Field, for example, the sounds that Irabagon conjures out of his horn include: a creaking door (spooky), knocks, whales in the ocean, the bleatings of small animals, sucks, kisses, and bird song. The whole sounds at times like a BBC sound effects album. If that sounds frivolous, then it is The Little Rascalsnot meant to be. Irabagon’s intentions are wholly serious and the overall effect is often quite stunning and completely absorbing.

Eternal Rest is another track which uses different sounds in an effective and original way. There are more creaks and squeaks, whispers, and underwater whale sounds. Gradually, with imaginative use of the echoes, a continuous sound of waves and wind is set up. With this sort of music (and it is music), you have to go with it, surrender to it and rid yourself of any previous conceptions of what music might be. And it’s not the sort of music you might hear in a Michael Bublé concert.

The one track not written by Irabagon is a rendering of Good Old Days by Leroy Shield. This was used as a theme tune for the 1950s American television show, The Little Rascals, where it was played on a mezzo soprano saxophone. Irabagon begins by playing the theme fairly conventionally but then gradually introduces improvisation and distortion, bouncing off the echo. The CD ends with a reprise of the opening track which gradually builds to a long sustained note that stops and all we are left with is that long echo. Then silence, and a fitting dramatic end to one of the most compelling records I’ve heard in a long time.

Free jazz can often be a bit of a dog’s breakfast resulting in chaotic, undifferentiated noise. Whilst Jon Irabagon’s free playing doesn’t always come off, it usually delivers something which catches the ear, engages the brain and enthralls the soul. Its adventurousness is to be applauded. And it is never ever boring. Despite all his awards, versatility and virtuosity, he is not as well known, even in the jazz world, as one might expect. For his free jazz work alone, I think he is easily the equal of the likes of John Zorn, Anthony Braxton or Evan Parker. Invisible Horizon shows Jon Irabagon at the height of his powers and marks his arrival not as a rising star but a fully fledged, fully risen one.


  
Click here for details of how to get hold of Invisible Horizon and to sample the tracks. Click here for more about Jon Irabagon.

 

Jon Irabagon

 

 

 

 

 

Lens America in Portugal

 

Rui Borba

Saxophonist Rui Borba from the Angra Jazz Orchestra

 

Photographer Clara Pereira and journalist Filipe Freitas from JazzTrail in New York were in Terceira Island in the Azores in October for the annual Angra Jazz Festival.

Filipe Freitas says: 'The 21st edition of AngraJazz, the Angra do Heroísmo International Jazz Festival that takes place in Terceira island, Azores, Portugal, was another wonderful opportunity to see highly respected figures from the European and American jazz scenes playing live in a gratifying celebration of the jazz culture in its traditional and modern currents. Not even the flight cancellation to Terceira Island, one day prior to the beginning of the festival due to the passage of hurricane Lorenzo, affected the great spirit that surrounds this already iconic festival. Luckily, the island was found in the same great shape as we know it from the previous years. Hence, in addition to an encouraging festival lineup, those who visited the island were able to fully enjoy the warmth of its local people, amazing food, raw nature, and a relaxed atmosphere so characteristic from this inviting land surrounded by the Atlantic ocean.

The festival kicked in with the local 22-piece big band, AngraJazz Orchestra, whose performance, conducted by Pedro Moreira, had the pianist/composer/conductor Carlos Azevedo, co-leader of Matosinhos Jazz Orchestra, as a special guest. Their performance was followed by Emile Parisien Quintet Sfumato, whose contagious liveliness and improvisatory dynamism conquered the audience, leaving everyone, if not enthralled, at least visibly satisfied. Comprising four saxophonists and two drummers, João Mortagua Axes opened the second day with a curious instrumentation and interesting arrangements, while the quartet led by the American pianist Frank Kimbrough delivered a memorable concert exclusively composed of Monk tunes.

Despite an entertaining yet musically uninspired act by the Allan Harris Band, the last day was marked by the incredible musicianship and refreshing spontaneity of Miguel Zenón Quartet in a flawless demonstration of the saxophonist's unique hybrid style.  Well done AngraJazz!'

Click here for a video of the Miguel Zenon Quartet playing El Negro Bembón earlier this year from their album Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera.

 

Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon

 

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

 

 

 

National Jazz Archive AGM and Rediscovering Jazz 625 - 7th December

 

NJA AGM

 

The National Jazz Archive’s Annual General Meeting will be on Saturday 7th December at the Archive in Loughton Library, Traps Hill, Loughton, Essex  IG10 1HD. It will be followed by refreshments, and the opportunity to thank all their volunteers for their great work over the past year. 

After this, Dr Nic Pillai of Birmingham City University will introduce his project ‘Jazz on BBC-TV 1960–1969’, in which he remade an episode of the programme in a modern digital TV studio as part of the practice-as-research output of his AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship.

This is a free event, but donations to support the work of the Archive are invited. Please register in advance to help them to plan the refreshments. Click here for details.

 

 

 

Forum

 

Hambone Kelly's Jazz Club

Lance Beswick in Canada writes: 'I was looking at your website, and you asked if anyone remembered Hambone Kelly's jazz club in Hampton Court (click here).  That brought back many happy memories!  I'm an old fart now living in western Canada, but back in the '60s I was a bit of a beatnik and was a regular at Hambone Kelly's.  It was a great place.  I remember the Stompers very well.  I also seem to remember that you could buy cider at a makeshift bar which was set up by the doors of the club which was housed in what, I think, was the former stables.  I was a big trad fan in those days.  Sometimes I'd go over to Kingston where there was a trad club housed in a barge moored on a canal or river.  I was also a regular at the 100 Club in Oxford Street and the Marquee on Wardour Street.  And on occasion I'd go to the Station Hotel in Richmond  to see the Rolling Stones in the Crawdaddy Club.  Entrance fee: 2s 6d!  As you can guess, I was rarely at home... Anyway: thanks for bringing back some great memories.'

 

 

Bristol Chinese R&B and Jazz Club

 

Bristol Bridge Inn

 

Ian Thomas sends us these pictures saying: 'I was in the most excellent Bridge Inn, Bristol again the other day, where they have this Bristol Chinese R&B Jazz Club poster displayed. It's a great poster - I'd love to have been there to see Johnny Lee ...... so on my return I had a little search for 'Uncle Bonny' and I came across your site, and the interesting items about  the Chinese R&B Jazz Club (click here). So I hope this is of some interest to you.'

I think the poster is particularly interesting in that it advertised half price admission for nurses, an indication that nurses, mostly women in those days, would be coming to the club. I also wonder what 'crocodile sandwiches were? (Ed)

 

Bristol Chinese RandB Club

 

 

 

Sandy Brown Interview

Robert R. Calder asks: 'Does anybody else remember a maybe 25 minute interview on BBC Scotland near the end of Sandy Brown's too short alloted span, with I think Christopher Milne, a man I met only once, at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival of 1983, when he put me in touch with Mal Collins, and a Sidney Bechet Appreciation Society. Chris Milne was a Bechetfile, I remember, and a broadcaster.... Of course my memory might be letting me down and the interviewer was perhaps a broadcaster and sometime playwright called W. Gordon Smith.  In any event, my young blood was a little chilled by Sandy's observation that he had checked on the average age at which jazz musicians checked out, and it was 45 and he was currently 44  -- actually I might be a year or two out here, but it was about a year before he died. Unfortunately I was away from Scotland when the late Jack Duff, another who should have lived longer, did his Sandy tribute gig(s?).  I did see the band with Al Fairweather and other of his and Sandy's sidemen  (with Brian Shiels wonderful on bass if not I think old enough to have worked with Sandy) in the drinking and eats place which had been the Railway Luggage Office on Waverley Bridge. Ian Armit was on piano. Forrie Cairns played well, but much more out of Bechet than a la Sandy. And there was at one festival, 1995, an afternoon of solo pianists, including Dick Hyman, and some expert might be able to find the name of a composition whose playing Brian Lemon prefaced with references to Sandy, and the information that he had composed the item beginning with a compilation of little things Sandy used to come up with again and again when doodling at the keyboard.'

 

 

Eric Silk

Mike Silk writes: 'I only just saw your profile page on the subject of my late father as I tried to respond to an archivist who contacted me indirectly with a request for information. If you are still interested I will be able to send you some material as in response to the archivist's message I have unearthed an old box full of memorabilia.'

Mike has started to send us material which I shall add to Eric's profile page (click here). This photgraph of Eric Silk's Southern Jazz Band is one:



Eric Silk's Southern Jazz band

Mike says: 'This is a familiar line up to me from the few times I was allowed to see them as a youngster: Alan Dean on trombone, Dennis Field on cornet, Pete Tamplin on piano, (he used to get prints of ragtime pieces for me to play) and Patti Clarke on vocals. Not sure of the bassist, drummer or clarinet player..... maybe Jack Gilbert??????'

 

 

Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook and Mailing List

Thank you to those people who have liked our Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook page and who have commented on posts. I hope that you have found the items there of interest. Using Facebook gives us a chance to share information that arrives between issues of What's New Magazine. If you do visit our Facebook page, please 'Like' us and 'Share' us with your friends. (If you are not on Facebook, please tell your friends about us anyway!). Facebook


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You can join our Mailing List - click here - and I will send you an email each time a new issue of What's New comes out.

 

 

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 m ore about 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.

 

Ginger Baker

 

 

Ginger Baker - The UK born drummer Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker is probably best known for his work with the rock band Cream, but in his early days, having taken lessons from jazz drummer Phil Seamen, his later work incorporated a variety of musical genres, including collaborations with jazz bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Bill Frisell. His lifestyle and personality have been described as 'eccentric' and 'often self destructive' and he was a regular heroin user. Throughout 2013 and 2014, he toured with the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, a quartet comprising Baker, saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth, and percussionist Abass Dodoo. Click here for a video of Ginger Baker with Pee Wee Ellis, Alec Dankworth and Abass Dodoo playing Why in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Willis

 

 

Larry Willis - American pianist born in New York. He began playing regularly with Jackie McLean and went on to play through a wide range of styles including jazz fusion, bebop, Afro-Cuban jazz and avant garde. During his career he played with many jazz musicians including Nat Adderely and Roy Hargrove, and for many years was pianist with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears. He received the Don Redman award in 2011, and the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award at Howard University in 2012. Click here for a video of Larry Willis playing When Its Sleepy Time Down South with Hugh Masekela.

 

 

 

 

 

Ray Santos

 

Ray Santos - American Grammy Award-winning Latin musician born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. He attended the Juilliard School of Music where he studied saxophone. Santos played and arranged for such artists as Noro Morales, Machito, Tito Rodriguez, Eddie Palmieri, and Tito Puente among many others. Raised in East Harlem and The Bronx, Santos went on to teach at the City College of New York for over 20 years, directing the Latin Band. He retired from City College in December 2013 at the age of 84 but continued to stay active in Latin Music. He was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003 and received the Latin Grammy Trustees Award in 2011. Santos served as music consultant and arranger for the soundtrack of the motion picture The Mambo Kings. Click here for a video profile of Ray Santos.

 

 

 

 

Beverly Watkins

 

Beverly Watkins - American blues guitarist born in Atlanta, Georgia. She began playing music in school, and, in high school, she played bass for a band called Billy West Stone and the Down Beats. She was introduced to Piano Red, who had a daily radio show on WAOK, and she subsequently joined Piano Red and the Meter-tones, who played in a number of towns in the Atlanta area, and then Atlanta clubs such as the Magnolia Ballroom and the Casino, before starting to tour throughout the southeast, primarily at colleges. About the time the group renamed itself Piano Red and the Houserockers, they started touring nationally. After the breakup of the band in about 1965, Watkins played with various bands, including the Ink Spots, until the late 1980s. During her career she also played with James Brown, B.B.King and Ray Charles. Click here for a video of Beverly and Sweet Home Chicago with the Rick Fowler Band earlier this year.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 


Some Recent Releases

 

UK

ARQ (Alison Rayner Quintet) - Short Stories

Corey Mwamba - NTH

The Nat Birchall Quartet - The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef

Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet - Live At The Jazz Cafe 091218

Matthew Halsall - Oneness

Electric Lady Big Band - Electric Lady Big Band

Ian Hunter-Randall - 'Ian' : Remembering Ian Hunter-Randall

 

America

Miguel Zenón - Sonero: The Music Of Ismael Rivera

Joshua Redman Quartet - Come What May

Brad Mehldau - Finding Gabriel

Ethan Iverson Quartet - Common Practice

Simon Nabatov Quintet - Last Minute Theory

Rez Abassi and the Silent Ensemble - A Throw Of Dice

 

 

Europe and Elsewhere

Echoes Of Swing - Winter Days At Schloss Elmau

Louis Sclavis - Characters On A Wall

Gabriel Grossi Quintet - #motion Live

Carmen Souza - The Silver Messengers

 

 

Re-Releases

Sidney Bechet - Summertime

Django Reinhardt - Souvenirs

Lee Morgan - Four Classic Albums (Second Set)

 

 

 

 

 

ARQ (Alison Rayner Quintet) - Short Stories
(Blow The Fuse Records) - Released: 25th October 2019

Alison Rayner (double Bass), Diane McLoughlin (saxophones), Deirdre Cartwright (guitar), Steve Lodder (piano), Buster Birch (drums / percussion).

ARQ Short Stories

 

'ARQ release Short Stories – their 3rd album – in October 2019. ‘ARQ’ are a renowned and widely celebrated group with decades of experience at the forefront of the international jazz scene. Their long list of accolades include winning ‘Ensemble Of The Year’ award at the prestigious 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and the People’s Vote for ‘Best Small Group’ at the 2018 British Jazz Awards. Now they return with a brand new album and an extensive series of UK live dates. ARQ’s music combines richly nuanced compositions, rhythmic interplay and folk-tinged melodies. Along with their love of improvisation, this creates a compelling and coherent whole, creating a strong sense of narrative and cinematic quality. ARQ are known for their vibrant, communicative performances, so remaining accessible and appealing to those who appreciate a range of genres. As Rayner says: My music is allegorical and I write songs without words about experiences, places and feelings.Short Stories was inspired by the sudden losses of three young people within close family and friends. Their stories were too short but through my music I want to celebrate the joy they brought to our lives.’ As the co-founder of artist development partnership ‘Blow The Fuse’, Rayner has promoted jazz events and touring, also producing records on Blow the Fuse Records. Blow the Fuse have played a crucial role in promoting women jazz musicians for over 30 years: their critically acclaimed series in recent years Tomorrow the Moon has providing many emerging women jazz artists with the support, space and opportunity to perform. Short Stories is an imaginative and accomplished body of work, destined to be enjoyed by jazz and discerning music lovers alike.' (album notes)

Details and Sample : Listen to Samples :

 

 

 

 

Corey Mwamba - NTH
(Discus Music) - Released: 2nd July 2019

Corey Mwamba (vibraphone, percussion); Laura Cole (piano); Andy Champion (bass); Johnny Hunter (drums, percussion)

Corey Mwamba NTH

 

'The idea for putting together this group, at the time I did, represents a slow movement. This is a group of people that I had wanted to put together for a while; some of the music was written almost fifteen years ago. But then, as it began, we accelerated; we played live four times, the final time coinciding with my last time. Andy, Johnny, and Laura have given so much in performing and dealing with the material. What these musicians and friends have done, to me, reflects a core tradition in jazz -- to deal and commit to the material and make new things, present new ways of listening and expressing: to move beyond the limits of the marks on the page, towards feeling.' (Corey Mwamba). 'Earlier this year the brilliant Derby-based vibraphonist and experimental composer Corey Mwamba announced his retirement from live performance. I've been lucky enough to see Mwamba play several times - he's electrifying to watch - and I'm sad I won't have the opportunity again ....In spite of his retirement from gigging it sounds as though Mwamba still has ideas and energy to burn'. (Thomas Rees in Jazzwise***)

Details and Samples : Video of the band playing at The Lescar earlier this year :

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nat Birchall Quartet - The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef
(Jazzman Records ) - Released: 13th September 2019

Nat Birchall (tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, piano, zuma, arghul, balaphon, mbira, guiro, percussion); Adam Fairhall (piano, harmonium); John Ellis (piano); Michael Bardon (bass); Andy Hay (drums, percussion, berimbau)

Nat Birchall The Storyteller

'When Jazzman Gerald first mentioned to me the idea of doing an album as a tribute to the jazz giant Dr Yusef A. Lateef, my first thought was "Where on earth do I start?" Lateef was such a colossus of music, and his scope so broad, that I couldn't hope to begin to cover his musical universe. He was a master of the tenor saxophone, a master of the flute, a master ballad player, a master blues player. Not to mention his skills as a composer and arranger and of course his exploration and use of musical methodology and instruments from all over the world. I’ve always been a great admirer of Lateef, and the challenge was intriguing, so I decided to give it go. We interpreted some of his own compositions (Brother John, Morning & Ching Miau) as well as some compositions by others that he made his own by careful arrangement and interpretation (Love Theme from Spartacus, Ringo Oiwake). I also wrote some original songs that, while certainly not written in his style, might be said to fall into his very broad approach to music making. I also wanted to utilise as many different instruments as possible, something I hadn't explored too much until this album. So it was a nice opportunity to finally get around to playing some of the many small instruments I've collected over the years; the Turkish zurna, the mbira from Zimbabwe, the balaphon from Mali and the arghul from Egypt. We have also tried to use varied time signatures in the music, so we have songs in 3/4, 5/4 and 7/4 time, as well as the standard 4/4. Ultimately the best music tells a story to the listener and takes them to places they might not have imagined themselves. Yusef Lateef certainly did that, and as such was a master storyteller.' (Nat Birchall). '.... This is a typically thoughtful and empathic tribute to an artist who foresaw a more inclusive musical era before many others did - even if Yusef Lateef's parallel fondness for rugged, hard-driving bop-tenor burn-ups isn't quite on the contemplative Nat Birchall agenda.' (John Fordham in Jazzwise ***).

Details and Samples : Listen to Love Theme From Spartacus : Listen to Brother John :

 

 

 

Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet - Live At The Jazz Cafe 091218
(Lyte Records) - Released: 11th October 2019

Jean Toussaint (saxophone); Byron Wallen (trumpet), Dennis Rollins (trombone), Andrew McCormack (piano), Daniel Casimir (double bass); Shane Forbes (drums)

Jean Toussaint Live At The Jazz Cafe

 

'To mark what would have been Art Blakey's 100th birthday, award-winning saxophonist, composer and jazz educator Jean Toussaint presents Live at the Jazz Cafe. The music was recorded at the end of an extensive tour to promote Brother Raymond, an album nominated for Album of the Year at the 2019 Jazz FM and Parliamentary Jazz Awards and considered one of the best jazz recordings of 2018 in Jazzwise, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Sunday Times. Daily Telegraph journalist Ivan Hewett reviewed the Jazz Cafe concert giving it five stars and remarking, '(Jean Toussaint has) been a genial presence on the UK jazz scene for 30 years, not least as a teacher, and his superb latest album Brother Raymond features more than a dozen of his protegees and colleagues. Last night, only five of them were on stage with him at the Jazz Cafe for a date on the album tour, but what a wonderful sound they made, uproarious, witty and tightly honed, all at once.' (album notes). ' ...Live At The Jazz Café 091218 is a recording of a gig Toussaint gave in London in the last few weeks of 2018. The New Year was coming and the event packed a holiday-season vibe with Toussaint's post-Messengers, present-tense hard bop in fierce form .... Sound quality is immaculate and Live At The Jazz Café 091218 works not only as a memento of a great evening but also as a stand-alone album.' (Chris May in allabout jazz ***½).

Details and Sample : Video of the band playing Major Changes :

 

 

 

 

Matthew Halsall - Oneness
(Gondwana Records ) - Released: 27th September 2019

Matthew Halsall (trumpet); Nat Birchall (saxophone); Stan Ambrose, Rachael Gladwin (harp); Adam Fairhall (piano); Gavin Barras (bass), Gaz Hughes (drums); Mohamed Assam (sitar); Chris Davies (tabla).

Matthew Halsall Oneness'The recordings on Oneness date from Jan, March and September 2008 and were born from a period of experimentation as Halsall first began to explore the music that would provide the inspiration for his spiritual jazz recordings Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One. They also offer an intriguing snapshot into the birth of Halsall’s Gondwana Orchestra and feature many musicians who would go on to become a key part of Halsall’s musical journey, such as harpist Rachel Gladwin, bassist Gavin Barras and saxophonist Nat Birchall. The recordings sat in the Gondwana Records vaults for over a decade before Halsall felt it was the right time to share them. Asked about the recordings Halsall says: “I’ve always treasured these recordings and loved how vulnerable, open and free they are, but I just felt they were too subtle and sensitive to release early on in my career, so I held them back until now. I also feel now is the right time to release these before I begin a fresh journey with a new bunch of musicians.” Remarkably, the beautiful compositions heard here were all built around a simple tanpura drone sound. An instrument Halsall heard on Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ album and then at a later date in a concert featuring Arun Ghosh on clarinet and John Ellis on piano. “I loved the way this instrument created a sort of meditative atmospheric pulse for the musicians to work over and it had this beautiful feeling of togetherness, so after the gig I went out and bought a Raagini Shruti box featuring the tanpura drone and began to practice my trumpet over it and wrote lots of loose themes and melodies”. ...... The album’s title, Oneness, speaks to both Halsall’s conviction that the planet should be shared equally with all of its inhabitants. That no human being or other inhabitant deserves to exist more than the other and that we can achieve far more together than against each other. And also importantly to what Halsall was aiming for musically .....' (album notes). '...... This record is special for the same reason it was unreleasable a decade ago. It eavesdrops on limpidly simple music, as its players feel their way towards a sound' (Nick Hasted in Jazzwise ****)

Details and Samples : Listen to The Traveller : Listen to Stan's Harp :

 

 

 

Electric Lady Big Band - Electric Lady Big Band
(self released) - Released: 1st July 2019

Denny Ilett (guitar/vocal/arranger/producer: Simon Gardner, Noel Langley, Yazz Ahmed, Tom Gardner (trumpet/flugelhorn); Winston Rollins, Ian Bateman, Ashley Slater, Justin Pavey (trombone); Nathaniel Facey, Iain Ballamy, Ben Waghorn, Kevin Figes (saxophone, flute); Dan Moore (Rhodes/Moog); Thad Kelly (bass); Ralph Salmins (drums)

Electric Lady Big Band

 

 

'Jimi Hendrix's 1968 masterpiece Electric Ladyland re-imagined for 16-piece Big Band featuring an all-star band of UK jazz greats.' (album notes). '... to celebrate 50 years since Electric Ladyland blew our minds, Ilett assembled an illustrious big band to reimagine it, track-by-track. Of course its a brave man who embraces such a task ... but Ilett's no mug ... we have the giant joy of this release replete with a Cubanismo, lustrously swinging 'All Along The Watchtower' (Andy Robson in Jazzwise ****).

Details and Samples : Video of the band playing Gypsy Eyes :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Hunter-Randall - 'Ian' Remembering Ian Hunter-Randall
(Rose Cottage Records) - Released: 2019

Ian Hunter-Randall (trumpet) with various musicians.

Remembering Ian Hunter Randall'The great British trumpeter Ian Hunter-Randall began his career with Len Barton's 'Alexander's Jazzmen' in 1962 but his first extended musical tenure came with clarinettist Monty Sunshine from 1964-7 before his longest partnership of all: with Terry Lightfoot's bill-topping Jazzmen. With Lightfoot, he would tour, record prolifically and broadcast on radio and TV from 1967 to 1990 when Lightfoot retired. Thereafter he freelanced with clarinettist Pete Allen (as well as forming his own band shortly after); then joined drummer Laurie Chescoe's Good Time Jazz Band from 1995. It was a shock to the British Traditional jazz scene when a fatal heart attack ended his life in 1999. As a fellow-trumpeter, I first became aware of Ian's formidable talents on broadcasts in the mid-1960s and in 1971 heard him live for the first time at London's 100 Club with Lightfoot. His ability to produce anything from lyrically reflective solos to-boiling hot up-tempo trumpet lead and solo outings (listen to 'Undecided' here/track 1!) was matched by his formidable technique which, at its peak, separated him from all but a very few Traditional jazz trumpeters in (and no doubt beyond) the UK. This twentieth anniversary is the perfect opportunity to recall the outstanding talents of Ian Hunter-Randall. A modest, charming (and very handsome!) man, this collection is an overdue reminder of his formidable solo talents.' (Digby Fairweather). 'Ian was undoubtedly one of the most technically accomplished and expressive trumpeters in the British traditional jazz scene of his day. His crisp, precise phrasing, mobile and fiery, could soar into high register, and dart about with easy confidence. The album starts with a selection from a live session (probably at the Dancing Slipper in Nottingham) during his 1964-7 spell with Monty Sunshine. Undecided is an impressive solo showcase for his fluency and drive, whilst his inspired interpretation of the standard trumpet breaks in Snag It is audacious and compelling ..... Digby Fairweather has assisted Ian’s widow Jane (actively pro-jazz in the 20 years since his untimely death) with the production of this memorial tribute album to a talented and very underrated British jazz musician.' (Hugh Rainey in Jazz Journal)

Details : Jazz Journal Review (but follow our 'Details' link for availability) :

 

 

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.

 

 

Miguel Zenón - Sonero: The Music Of Ismael Rivera
(Miel Music) - Released: 30th August 2019

Miguel Zenón (alto saxophone); Luis Perdomo (piano); Hans Glawischnig (bass); Henry Cole (drums).

Miguel Zenon Sonero

 

'Phenomenal saxophonist Miguel Zenón has proved to be a master in synthesizing his Puerto Rican musical heritage - mainly represented by currents like Plena, Bomba, and Jibaro music - into an organic, personal sound grounded in contemporary jazz. For his new outing, Sonero, he gathered the long-standing international quartet that gives shape to his music - Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Henry Cole on drums. Collectively, they apply their potent chemistry to explore 11 salsa songs made popular by Afro-Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera. Zenón pushes the envelope through bold arrangements, creating an unrivaled hybrid sonority that makes his musical personality shine through. And guess what? The result is fresher than ever.........Surpassing Yo Soy La Tradición, its preceding album, Sonero is enlivened by the group’s immense sound and top quality. The rhythmic and textural diversity presented throughout never put the album’s wholeness in question, with each member contributing a little of themselves to create something meaningful and special. (JazzTrail).

Details and samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Introductory Video : Video of El Negro Bembón :


 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua Redman Quartet - Come What May
(Nonesuch) - Released: 14th June 2019

Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone); Aaron Goldberg (piano); Reuben Rogers (bass); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).

Joshua Redman Come What May

 

'Renowned American saxophonist Joshua Redman certainly knows how to make a quartet sound great. And he currently leads more than one. The recently formed Still Dreaming group - with cornetist Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade - made its debut last year with satisfying results, but what we have in hands now is the third outing (the first in nearly two decades) from his older quartet. Besides Redman, Come What May features Aaron Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. It’s hard to say which of the quartets sounds better, but it’s not so difficult to conclude that none of them is a redundant entry in the saxophonist’s impressive discography......Both the title track and the closing number, “Vast”, are ballads of different nature. Whereas the former is a typical brushed waltz, the latter uses the curved shape of its melody and arpeggiated piano texture to immerse us in a sublime spiritual mood. Redman’s piercing notes yields a musical epiphany to be revisited.This formidable body of work not only shows how mature this quartet grew throughout the years, but also how Redman strengthened and deepened his sound and style. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to the title track Come What May : Listen to I'll Go Mine :

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Mehldau - Finding Gabriel
(Nonesuch) - Released: 12th September 2019

Brad Mehldau (piano, synthesizers, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3 organ, Musser Ampli-Celeste, Morfbeats gamelan strips, xylophone, mellotron, drums, percussion, vocals); Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone); Chris Cheek (baritone sax, tenor sax); Charles Pillow (baritone sax, alto sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet); Michael Thomas (alto sax, flute); Sara Caswell (violin); Mark Guiliana (drums); Kurt Elling, Becca Stevens, Gabriel Kahane (vocals); and more.

Brad Mehldau Finding Gabriel

 

'This 2019 album by the jazz artist features performances by Mehldau on piano, synthesisers, percussion, and Fender Rhodes, as well as vocals. Guest musicians include Ambrose Akinmusire, Sara Caswell, Kurt Elling, Joel Frahm, Mark Guiliana, Gabriel Kahane, and Becca Stevens. 'A soundtrack for our times, this is music beyond category', says the AP's Steven Wine. 'The intricate arrangements of wordless vocals are fascinating, and among the singers is Mehldau, who happens to have a lovely voice. Fetching melodies abound' (album notes). 'One of the most popular stylists in contemporary jazz, pianist Brad Mehldau, releases a challenging record, stepping away from conventional jazz paths as he explores new directions, deliberately looking for something new. Expanding vistas into multiple musical arenas that not merely jazz and classical, Mehldau creates a hypnotic concoction where he explores alternative textures and sounds with sometimes-crawling, sometimes-kinetic modernistic beats, multi-layered vocalizations, and an artsy fusion of electronica-induced vibes and modern creative fervor. Motivated by the Holy Scriptures and today’s political destabilization, the pianist brings to light 10 new compositions recorded over an 18-month period, some of them featuring illustrious guests such as drummer Mark Guiliana, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Joel Frahm, violinist Sara Caswell, and vocalists Kurt Elling and Becca Stevens, among others.....Roll up your sleeves and strap in for this unprecedented work by Mehldau, likely his most conceptually knotty and meticulously composed yet.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to Finding Gabriel : Animated Video for The Garden :

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan Iverson Quartet - Common Practice
(ECM Records) - Released: 16th September 2019

Tom Harrell (trumpet); Ethan Iverson (piano); Ben Street (bass); Eric McPherson (drums).

Ethan Iverson Common Practice

 

'Leading a simpatico new quartet, pianist/composer Ethan Iversen channels energies to a set of charming renditions of Great American Songbook cornerstones alongside two originals, whose bluesy nature goes perfectly well with the rest of the material. While teaming up with bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson in the rhythm section, the pianist didn’t hide his appreciation for having ace trumpeter Tom Harrell spearheading the melodic department. Common Practice is a heartfelt tribute to New York's straight-ahead jazz. Iversen and his peers stroll through the polished surfaces of jazz standards, combining the mastery of fundamentals with an openness to embrace new textures and harmonic directions. Recorded at the mythical The Village Vanguard (in 2017), the album is dedicated to that venue’s former guardian, Lorraine Gordon, who died last year at the age of 95.......To better clarify our readers, what he have here is more than simply straight-ahead readings of popular songs and blues. There are old pieces sounding new again. Thus, with an obvious bind with tradition, the album is never less than stirring and satisfying.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Introductory Video : Listen to The Man I Love :

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Nabatov Quintet - Last Minute Theory
(Clean Feed) - Released: 19th July 2019

Simon Nabatov (piano); Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone); Brandon Seabrook (guitar); Michael Formanek (bass); Gerald Cleaver (drums).

Simon Nabatov Quintet Last Minute Theory

 

'60-year-old Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov, a champion of multiple collaborations in small-group formats, has been a widely explorative voice within the canons of leading-edge jazz. His first record as a leader on the Lisbon-based label Clean Feed is called Last Minute Theory, in which he leads an extraordinary lineup of New York players such as saxophonist Tony Malaby, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The album features seven Nabatov originals and presents less ambiguity than it was expected, reshaping musical traditions to create new ones. Still, even providing accessible rides, a strong improvisatory mindset prevails throughout. That fact can be immediately confirmed on “Old Fashioned”, an uncompromisingly swinging piece that, despite perfectly structured with a Mengelberg-like theme and well-defined melodies, embraces a provocative disposition. That sense of freedom is perfectly illustrated by Malaby’s searing impressions and Nabatov’s strong melodic figures and neo-noir chordal movements. On top of this, there’s the tense, dissonant, and always interesting comping from Seabrook, who also delivers an unconventional electronics-drenched solo. At the tail end of this trip, a vamp displays the supple rhythm section producing some steam.....Nabatov’s consistently evolving musical vision has here a great outcome. The group operates with a steady hand when necessary, but also emancipates itself through an astonishing mobility. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to Old Fashioned : Listen to Marching Right Along :

 

 

 

 

 

Rez Abbasi and The Silent Ensemble - A Throw Of Dice
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 8th November 2019

Rez Abbasi (guitars, electric sitar-guitar); Pawan Benjamin (saxophones, western flute, bansuri); Jennifer Vincent (cello, bass); Rohan Khrisnamurthy (mridangam, ghatam, khanjira); Jake Goldblas (drum set).

Rez Abassi A Throw Of Dice

 

'Comprehending the vastness of music’s evolution over almost a century, even in terms of jazz and world music alone, can be pretty mind-blowing – yet New York-based guitarist/composer Rez Abbasi spans that arc with an original release of quintet music based on ‘A Throw of Dice (A Romance of India)’, a vintage black-and-white Indian-German silent film from 1929. A Throw of Dice is Abbasi’s 13th release and his first film score......The project was commissioned in 2017 by David Spelman, curator of the celebrated New York Guitar Festival. Following an Abbasi trio performance at WNYC’s Green Space, hosted by veteran radio DJ John Schaefer, Spelman quickly recognised the eclecticism and power in Abbasi’s music and what his broad musical range could bring to a larger concept. “The idea was to write a new score for the historic 74-minute film – A Throw of Dice, and to perform it live at Brookfield Place in Manhattan and The Krannert Center in Illinois”, explains Rez, “The film is simply amazing – the last and widely regarded as the best in a trilogy made by German director Frank Osten – shot in dramatic locations within Rajasthan with ‘jungle’ animals and a cast of thousands.” The tale is based on an episode from The Mahābhārata, one of two epic Sanskrit tales of India from 8th century B.C.E.; a moral and philosophical story of love and manipulation, played out in a very human fashion where (just as relevant in our times) greed ultimately can never win...... (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video Introduction : Listen to Wedding Preparation : More Details from Whirlwind :

 

 

 

 

Europe and Elsewhere

 

Echoes Of Swing - Winter Days At Schloss Elmau
(ACT) - Released: 25th October 2019

Bernd Lhotzky (piano and musical director); Colin T. Dawson (trumpet); Chris Hopkins (alto saxophone); Oliver Mewes (drums); Rebecca Kilgore (vocals); Henning Galing (bass); Rolf Marx (guitar on some tracks)

Echoes Of Swing Winter Days at Schloss Elmau

 

 

'Echoes of Swing have been an essential go-to band for lovers of classic jazz. They show quite how many sides there are to it and do so in a way that is always consummately fresh. The quartet of Bernd Lhotzky (piano), Colin T. Dawson (trumpet), Chris Hopkins (alto saxophone) and Oliver Mewes (drums) breathe new life into the canon of the jazz age with their skill as players, their fine arrangements - and with a lot of humour. Taken together, here are thirteen consistently delightful musical winter greetings. They chime particularly sweetly with the ethos of the season. Echoes of Swing are respectful of tradition but have a verve and an energy which make it completely new. This band's taste is impeccable, their ingenuity is inexhaustible and their musicality is outstanding. This may be music inspired by a specific season and by a long-gone era of jazz, yet it is precious and timeless.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Further Details and Samples : Listen to Looks Like December : Listen to I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Sclavis - Characters On A Wall
(ECM Records) - Released: 27th September 2019

Louis Sclavis (clarinet, bass clarinet); Benjamin Moussay (piano); Sarah Murcia (double bass); Christophe Lavergne (drums).

 

Louis Sclavis Characters On A Wall'Louis Sclavis's 13th ECM recording finds the French clarinetist drawing inspiration from two sources – the street art of Ernest Pignon-Ernest, and the interpretive originality of a splendid new quartet. Pignon-Ernest's works were previously the subject of Sclavis's highly acclaimed 2002 recording Napoli's Walls. This time Sclavis looks at a broader range of the artist's in situ collages from Ramallah to Rome, in search of "a dynamic, a movement that will give birth to a rhythm, an emotion, a song." In the Sclavis group, gifted bassist Sarah Murcia and expressive drummer Christophe Lavergne join inventive pianist Benjamjn Moussay (a key collaborator on Sources and Salt and Silk Melodies) making this the first time Sclavis has explored – in characteristically individual fashion - the classic jazz format of reeds, piano, bass and drums on an ECM disc. Recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France and produced by Manfred Eicher, Characters on a Wall is issued in vinyl and CD formats.' (album notes). '15 years after Napoli’s Walls (ECM, 2004), French clarinetist Louis Sclavis revisits the street art of Ernest Pignon-Ernest, using it as an inspiration for his musical journeys. At odds with that first chapter - shaped with reeds, cello, electronics, vocals, guitar, and brass - this more comprehensive new work, titled Characters On a Wall, features the clarinetist leading an acoustic quartet whose musical richness is exalted by pianist Benjamin Moussay, a frequent collaborator, and two younger talents, bassist Sarah Murcia and drummer Christophe Lavergne. The ensemble is found at its most lyrical on Sclavis’ “L’Heure Pasolini”, using their instrumental sensitivity to describe interesting sceneries. In fact, the four instruments are felt as one, such is the integrity and intimacy revealed in their playing. This first track is the longest piece on the album and encapsulates a rubato intro before adjusting to a melancholic 4/4 chamber pop cycle that transfigures into a brighter waltz during its last quarter.......Sclavis’ new angle of approach is a triumph. By turns, the music enraptures, grooves, and soars, disseminating a commendable energy that fulfills even in moments of contemplative reserve or ambiguous exploration.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Introductory Video : Listen to Extases :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Grossi Quintet - #motion Live
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 23rd August 2019

Gabriel Grossi (harmonica); Sergio Coelho (trombone); Eduardo Farias (piano); André Vasconcellos (bass), Rafael Barata (drums). Guests multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal and Mauricio Einhorn (harmonica).

Gabriel Grossi Quintet motion Live

 

'Brazilian harmonicist Gabriel Grossi releases his first live album, '#motion', on Whirlwind - a joyous celebration of his career to date, dedicated to those he loves, featuring his latest quintet: trombonist Sergio Coelho, pianist Eduardo Farias, bassist André Vasconcellos and drummer Rafael Barata. Guest appearances including celebrated fellow countryman Hermeto Pascoal. The passion and energy in the performances are as crystal clear as the sounds and atmospheres he produces from one of the smallest yet evocative instruments on the bandstand. Described by legendary Toots Thielemans as his successor, Grossi's many collaborations have included Chico Buarque, Ivan Lins, Guinga and Snarky Puppy. Captured in Brazil over two nights, Grossi describes this as a resumé of around twenty years of icons and influencers who have been so important to him. "Each number pays tribute to a big name from my life story." The songs include the breezy "A Samba for Toots", written and recorded for Thielemans when he was 92, was greatly appreciated by the great man and Hermeto Pascoal joins the quintet for his own "Latin Brothers", full of characteristic unpredictability. As a teenager, Grossi would take a weekly 18-hour round trip to be tutored by 'second father' Mauricio Einhorn, and his warm 'Embracing Einhorn' ("even your saddest notes would make me smile") brings another moment of repose. Other tracks include "A Tribute to Bituca" for good friend Milton Nascimento ("the most beautiful voice I've ever heard"). (album notes).

Details : More Details from Whirlwind : Listen to the track #motion : Video of Carinhoso featuring Mauricio Einhorn:

 

 

 

 

Carmen Souza - The Silver Messengers
(Galileo Music Communication) - Released: 25th October 2019

Carmen Souza (vocals, piano and guitar); Theo Pascal (bass and double bass); Elias Kacomanolis (drums); Ben Burrell (piano) with guests Zoe Pascal (drums); Jonathan Idiagbonya (piano); Sebastian Sheriff (percussion)

Carmen Souza The Silver Messengers

'Carmen Souza award-winning singer-songwriter and instrumentalist is a reference in the Cape-Verdean music and a female pioneer creating a new body of timeless Creole Jazz that undoubtedly will inspire future generations. With a critically acclaimed solid career, in both the World Music and Jazz scenes, spanning over more than a decade, several tours around the world and 8 CDs, Souza, together with her longtime musical partner, Theo Pascal, have managed to imprint ethnicity to Jazz in their signature ‘World Jazz’ and get it closer to its African roots. The new CD, ‘The Silver Messengers’, is a tribute to Horace Silver, someone who has been credited, more than once, as a big influence in Souza’s career. Silver left us 5 years ago and Souza’s connection to the emblematic and pioneer hard bop pianist go beyond just the artistic identification. “Growing up, I listened a lot to my father’s records, which was mainly instrumental cape Verdean music, because he was a guitar player as well and was very much into that. When I first listen to Horace Silver, I could hear the same vibe, the same swing, intention, harmonically and melodically, familiar movements, cadences, chord changes, somehow I could hear the sound of my childhood, but with a different texture and aroma, in other words – Jazz.” (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video of Soul Searching : Video of The Jody Grind :

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Releases

 

Sidney Bechet - Summertime
(Dreyfus) - Released: 19th April 2019 (Remastered)

Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax) and various personnel.

Sidney Bechet Summertime

 

'Compilation from Francis Dreyfus' 'Jazz Reference' series. Dreyfus himself describes the compilations as 'a collection of the most beautiful tracks ever recorded before 1960 by the biggest and most renowned creators of the lively and flawless language of jazz'. (album notes). 'Compared to some of the Bechet releases reviewed ... recently that focus on the maestro's Paris days, this is a first-rate and intelligent cross-section of his later US and very early French dates. An excellent inrtroduction to his work.' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise ****). '....Pianists apart, not many of Bechet’s sidemen are allowed much space, Charlie Shavers (on What Is This Thing Called Love) and Rex Stewart (Stompy Jones) being exceptions. In passing, Bechet plays clarinet on only two tracks: Blues In Thirds and High Society. As is to be expected, this reissue is a succession of showpieces for a remarkably good jazzman who in his day was unchallenged on his instrument..... (Bruce Crowther in Jazz Journal).

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Django Reinhardt - Souvenirs
(Dreyfus) - Released: 10th May 2019

Django Reinhardt (guitar) with various personnel.

Django Reinhardt Souvenirs

 

'Compilation from Francis Dreyfus' 'Jazz Reference' series. Dreyfus himself describes the compilations as 'a collection of the most beautiful tracks ever recorded before 1960 by the biggest and most renowned creators of the lively and flawless language of jazz'. (album notes). 'A good cross-section of Reinhardt's work with the QHCF (Quintet of the Hot Club of France) both with and without Stephane Grappelli solos. Late Parisian recordings with Raymond Fol and his US sides with Duke Ellington' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise ***). '....This compilation of 22 remastered tracks offers a rounded summary of the Belgian Romani guitarist’s career, the tracks cleaned up without losing warmth. While they’re not in chronological order, the earliest is from 1935, when Django, a journeyman of the Parisian musette scene, had just formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France with his brother Joseph and Stéphane Grappelli. The last is from 1951, when Reinhardt was playing modern electric jazz, without ever fully embracing bebop...... (Wif Stenger in Jazz Journal).

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Lee Morgan - Four Classic Albums (Second Set)
(Avid) - Released: 6th September 2019 [2 CDs]

Lee Morgan (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Clarence Sharpe (alto sax); George Coleman (alto and tenor sax); Pepper Adams (baritone sax); Horace Silver, Ray Bryant, Bobby Timmons, Sonny Clarke (piano), Wilbur Ware,Paul Chambers (bass); Philly Joe Jones, Art Taylor (drums).

Lee Morgan Four Classic Albums Second Set

 

 

'AVID Jazz continues with its Four Classic Albums plus series with a re-mastered 2CD second set release from Lee Morgan complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details 'Candy', 'City Lights', 'Indeed!' and 'The Cooker' For someone who died in such horrific circumstances and at such a tragically young age of 33, trumpeter Lee Morgan had an astonishingly prolific career! Most of his musical recording life was spent at Blue Note Records where he made 25 albums under his own name and played countless sessions as a sideman for just about anyone you could think of who passed through the Blue Note studios in the 1950s and 60s. Here's just a few... John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner. For our Second Set from the dynamic young horn-man we have selected four more albums for you to enjoy as we again pay tribute to this fine jazz giant, gone much too early. Jazz greats heard on these four selections include, Sonny Clark, Art Taylor, Doug Watkins, Ray Bryant, Curtis Fuller, Paul Chambers, Pepper Adams, Horace Silver and 'Philly' Joe Jones.' (album notes). 'Hurrah! Here's an Avid that makes as much sense programmatically as it doescommercially! Focusing on four of Morgan's 1956-57 sessions for Blue Note ...it plays like the ultimate audio calling card for his brilliance .....Most highly recommended. And just check out those rhythm sections! (Simon Spillett in Jazzwise ****)

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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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