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May 2019

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Robert Johnson Devil At The Crossroads

Devil At The Crossroads

Released in April, Netflix has made a new documentary about the life of legendary Delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson, whose guitar playing in the 1930s was pioneering. Johnson was said to have made a deal with the Devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi, and the Netflix film Remastered: Devil At The Crossroads explores how people believed that everything he touched was cursed. This film examines more worldly interpretations of these myths and how they might have affected today’s blues stars, including contributors Keb’ Mo’, Keith Richards, Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt. Click here for the trailer.





Ella Fitzgerald - Just One Of Those Things


Ella Just One Of Those Things movie poster


Coming to selected cinemas in May is Just One Of Those Things, a new film about the life and music of Ella Fitzgerald. 'Ella Fitzgerald was a 15 year-old street kid when she won a talent contest in 1934 at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Within months she was a star. Ella: Just One of Those Things follows her extraordinary journey over six decades as her sublime voice transforms the tragedies of her own life and the troubles of her times into joy. The film uses never-before-seen images and unheard interviews to bring Ella Fitzgerald to life and to tell the story of her music; a black woman who makes her career in the face of horrifying racism'.

'Here is an Ella the world never knew – tough, thoughtful, funny, a dazzling musical innovator. The film also uncovers Ella’s commitment to the battle for Civil Rights and it explores the conflicts that always haunted this intensely private woman: the struggle to reconcile her hunger for adoring audiences with her longing for a domestic life with her husband and son. At a time when she was the biggest singing star in the world, her pianist and friend Oscar Peterson said Ella was “the loneliest woman in the world”. But as Jamie Cullum says “her music is one of the reasons it’s worth being on this planet”.

The movie features interviews with: Tony Bennett, Jamie Cullum, Laura Mvula, Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson, Cleo Laine, Andre Previn, Norma Miller, Patti Austin, Izsak Perlman, Margo Jefferson, Will Friedwald and a rare interview with Ella’s son, Ray Brown Jr.

Click here for the trailer - it seems that this film might well be shown at some selected multiplexes as Showcase Cinemas are featuring it.




Protest At BBC Radio 3 Cuts

A letter was written to The Guardian newspaper on 19th March signed by 500 people in protest at the cuts being made by the BBC to some of its programmes on Radio 3, including programmes featuring jazz such as Late Junction and Jazz Now. Four days earlier, journalist Luke Turner had written: ' ... Late Junction, and the similarly threatened Jazz Now, are also vital programmes for the outer reaches of jazz – given that the form is currently in rude health, it seems counter-intuitive to reduce the outlets for it to thrive on the airwaves. Whether the decision to marginalise one of the programmes that, for me, justifies paying the BBC’s licence fee will result in the kind of petition that saved BBC 6 Music in 2010 remains to be seen; the immediate cries of disappointment on social media suggest that the decision is a vastly unpopular one ....'

The letter, which includes signatures from jazz musicians such as Shabaka Hutchings, Tommy Smith, Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss, Dennis Rollins and Claire Martin says: '.... Today, we music lovers, musicians, artists, curators, record label owners, venue owners, festival BBC 3 logoprogrammers and critics are joining together to protest against these cuts as strongly as we can.

'British jazz is experiencing a renaissance. Folk acts are attracting broader audiences. Electronic and experimental music is thriving, and boundaries between genres, media and scenes are being dissolved and swirled into ever more exciting permutations. It is staggering, therefore, that , in the month of its sold-out festival in London, Late Junction is being reduced from three shows a week to one. Jazz Now and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz are being “rested”. Music Planet, Radio 3’s only dedicated programme exploring music from around the world, is having its running time cut by half. We welcome new show Unclassified, but it has only an hour in the schedules. This is not enough.

'Our culture benefits so much from these programmes. Music lovers tune in to make new discoveries and build new creative communities. Music makers rely on these shows as lifelines to support and share their music with enthusiastic audiences, nationally and internationally. New works and unexpected collaborations have happened either directly or indirectly due to these shows. This flourishing cultural ecosystem will be damaged, and musicians’ careers profoundly affected, as opportunities for their work to be experienced by the mainstream will be drastically reduced, at home and abroad.

'We work in the worlds of jazz, folk, classical, experimental, electronic music and beyond, but together we share a common purpose. We urge Radio 3 to think again about the changes they are making, and how they will profoundly affect our broader culture'.




SAM - Special Audiences and Musicians Inc.

In a letter to this month's magazine Jazzwise, Jeff Nussbaum in New York writes about an American project whose '... mission is to provide jazz performances in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-living homes and other institutions in New York and the Tri-State area'.

Sam Baum QuintetJeff says: "What makes SAM unique is that the organisation employs musicians drawn from three under-represented groups: musicians with disabilities, senior musicians and women. The therapeutic, social and emotional benefits gained from live musical performances are well established. Utilising musicians with disabilities, female musicians and senior musicians provides valuable professional performance opportunities to those under-represented musicians who have much to offer in terms of artistic expression.

"The creation of SAM, Inc was inspired by my son, Sam Baum, a jazz musician who has autism, the give-and-take of typical conversation is a challenge for Sam, but jazz is truly his language. SAM, Inc. has given him, along with many other musicians, important performance opportunities. Anyone interested in finding out more about SAM, Inc. can visit our website (click here)".

Click here for a video of the Sam Baum Quintet playing What A Wonderful World. The project raises a number of questions about integration and opportunity and it would be interesting to know readers' thoughts on the initiative.




A Meaningful Vote - Closing Date 31st May

With the turmoil there has been in Parliament over Brexit, it is encouraging to hear that this year's Pariliamentary Jazz Awards are going ahead and that you will be able to vote for those who you think should receive an Award. No small credit should be given to trumpeter, bandleader and London Radio presenter Chris Hodgkins who helps administer arrangements for the Awards - finding sponsors and organising the vote and Awards event is no mean task, and credit too to the Pizza Express Jazz Club who continue to host the Awards event.

In the UK Parliament there are many cross-party sub-groups of MPs who are interested in a wide variety of topics. One of these, the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) has been formed to encourage wider and deeper enjoyment of jazz, to increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of the jazz industry and issues surrounding it, to promote jazz as a musical form and to raise its profile inside and outside Parliament. It is chaired by an MP and a member of the House Of Lords (Lord Colwyn, who is also a jazz trumpeter). Taking into account the current Parliamentary timetable, there will be a gap this year between voting and the results being announced. All the more reason for you to vote as soon as possible - closing date is midnight on 31st May. The Awards will be presented on 3rd December.

The categories for Awards are:

Jazz Album of the Year (released in 2018 by a UK band or musicians)
Services to Jazz Award (to a living person for their outstanding contribution to jazz in the UK).
Jazz Newcomer of the Year (UK-based artist, musician or group with a debut album released in 2018)
Jazz Education Award (to an educator or project for raising the standard of jazz education in the UK)
Jazz Media Award (including broadcasters, journalists, magazines, blogs, listings and books)
Jazz Venue of the Year (including jazz clubs, venues, festivals and promoters)
Jazz Ensemble of the Year (UK-based group who impressed in 2018)
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year (UK-based musician who impressed in 2018)
Jazz Vocalist of the Year (UK-based vocalist who impressed in 2018) 

For more details and to vote click here.





May's Video Juke Box

*Click on the Picture to watch the Video




Martin Freeman Jazz FM


In this video, actor Martin Freeman talks to JazzFM about buying albums from record stores. Together with founder of Acid Jazz Records, Eddie Piller, Martin has compiled a second album following the success of their 2018 ‘Jazz on the Corner’ release that featured the likes of Art Blakey and Lee Morgan. The new album, called ‘Soul on the Corner’, features music from the likes of Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch, Georgie Fame and Betty Wright as well as contemporary signings like Tommy McGee and Laville.The CD and vinyl release will be out on May 3rd.




Shez Raja Epiphany video



Captivating animated video of the track Epiphany from bass guitarist Shez Raja's new album Journey To Shambhala released on 1st June (see Recent Releases). The album is launched on 18th May at Jazz Cafe, London - click here for details of live dates).




Stephane Grappelli I Had To Be You



Stéphane Grappelli plays It Had To Be You at The Grand Opera House, Belfast in April 1986 with Martin Taylor and Louis Stewart on guitars and Jack Sewing on double bass.





Branford Marsalis Cianna video


The Branford Marsalis Quartet plays a live version of Cianna from the album The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul released on 1st March 2019 (see Recent Releases). The Quartet is Branford Marsalis (saxophone), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Justin Faulkner (drums).






Jimmy Dorsey Beebe video



Jimmy Dorsey plays fast saxophone on Beebe in 1940. The tune was also known as Fingerbustin - for obvious reasons. I always pronounced the tune 'Beeb' but the voice over reckons it is pronounced 'Beebee'?





Sonny Rollins Bobo Stenson video



The Sonny Rollins Quartet plays at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway in 1971. This is essentially Sonny Rollins with the Bobo Stenson Trio (Bobo Stenson, piano; Arild Andersen, bass , and Jon Christensen, drums). Bobo Stenson's Trio's 1997 album War Orphans has been re-released this year by ECM records (see Recent Releases).




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



Poetry and Jazz

Full Focus

Burke & Hare

by the Matthew Read Trio


'Full Focus' is a series where musicians talk about a track from an album in detail. The idea is that you are able to listen to the track that is discussed as you read about it. [You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here (recommended). This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article].



Matthew Read and Benedict Wood

Matthew Read and Benedict Wood


Matthew Read Trio Anecdotes II


This month, as his Trio sets out on a UK tour, bassist Matthew Read talks about one of the tracks on their engaging 2018 album Anecdotes II. Matthew is modest in saying little about his own accomplished bass playing, but as he says, the music is a very much the result of his talented and well co-ordinated band with drummer Arthur Newell and guitarist Benedict Wood.

Born in Winchester, Matthew started out early, dancing with his brother to the music of Weather Report. His bass playing began at Alton College in Hampshire where he took double bass lessons from Tom Mason. He was funded with a music scholarship and went on to study Jazz at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He graduated with a first class honours degree in Jazz in 2016 when he was also awarded the prestigious Dankworth Prize for Big Band composition and arranging.

Matthew has played in many prestigious venues and with many bands (click here for his website). His MRT Trio has been playing together since 2015 and from May and June they will be playing 24 dates around the UK from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Southampton via Ronnie Scott's Club in London (click here for the tour dates - catch them when you can).



Matthew talks about the background to the track Burke & Hare from their album Anedotes II (click here to listen to the tack) ......


My favourite bands, jazz or otherwise, have always been the ones with a fixed lineup. If you talk about the John Coltrane Quartet, you are talking about John Coltrane but also McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Similarly, the Oscar Peterson Trio not only means OP, but also Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen and Led Zeppelin are Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. These bands have always intrigued me because there is something beyond the music that in turn influences their music. There is a mutual understanding and in turn a group voice. Before starting the trio, it was always my intention for my future band to have this kind of group voice.

When I first played with Arthur and Benedict, I instantly thought that there was something there. I wouldn’t want to listen back to our first couple of months playing together now, but I think that we were all aware that we approached music in a similar way. I started bringing rough sketches of songs to our plays and gradually the band formed, eventually becoming more than simply three people with their instruments. The band may be called 'Matthew Read Trio', but that is more of an acknowledgment of my administrative role in the band. Once we are Burke and Hare Strip Clubplaying, the band is all of ours.

I’ve always written best with a story in mind, hence the whole “Anecdotes” concept. The first album was a collection of stories from my life leading up to forming the trio - a suite devoted to my family, a landscape where we spread my father’s ashes, a friend’s flat, my love/hate relationship with Lewisham, a depressing conversation I had about British weather outside a function in Chelsea Town Hall... The second album however became a collection of our stories as a band and as such we managed to move even closer to the originally sought after group voice and collective experience.

Probably the most controversial subject matter on Anecdotes Volume 2 is the penultimate track. The day after my final recital at Guildhall, I boarded the train to Edinburgh for a good friend’s stag do. As so many of these events do, we ended up at a strip club (I would like to add that this is the one time I’ve set foot in a working strip club and do not intend to return!). The whole experience was summed up for me when Radiohead’s Creep came on over the sound system. I turned to my friend as the lyric “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here” was being sung and he looked at me with a face that perfectly blended middle-class discomfort and confusion.

After we left, the same friend turned to me and explained that the strip club we had just attended was in fact named after two 19th century Edinburgh serial killers. Originally starting out as grave robbers who sold corpses to doctors for medical research, the two graduated to killing when they were told they would make more money if the corpses were fresher. It really tickled me that a strip club was named after two men who made their living dealing in flesh, and so Burke & Hare was written.

I approached the composition with the idea of having a pretty exterior with a dark undercurrent. This materialised in the form of a very singable melody underpinned by a sinister chord progression. During the writing of the album, we were all listening to a lot of Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Bill Frisell. We spent a lot of time working on Bill Stewart and Larry Grenadier’s straight-8s feel from the albums Trio Live and Past Present to give the piece a fluid yet uncomfortable feel and tried to incorporate John Scofield’s heavily blues-inflected sound into Benedict’s playing. I feel that, whilst these were great starting points, we have managed to go beyond them to create a really exciting track that encapsulates my original goal of “a pretty exterior with a dark undercurrent”.

Not on the album, the composition has had an updating since we recorded it. We played Burke & Hare on our last tour and, at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, we were informed afterwards by the bar man of a development in the story that we didn’t originally know about. After their 16th murder, William Hare sold out William Burke to the police to save his own neck. William Burke was hanged, dissected and his skin turned into a notebook that can be seen to this day at Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall Museum, just a short 0.8 mile walk from the aforementioned strip club.

Whilst I couldn’t claim direct influence, we have since added a new ending to the original composition. 15 bars long, getting more and more dissonant and repeating over and over whilst slowing to a grinding halt I feel that this ending perfectly illustrates its namesakes’ sticky end.


Burke and Hare

Burke and Hare picture by James E McConnell


Click here for a video of the band playing Burke & Hare live at the Bull's Head in Barnes in 2016.


Matthew Read Trio Tour Poster





Directory of Alternative Musical Definitions



Way of telling whether the audience is still awake / alive


Sleeping Audience


Click here for more Alternative Definitions.





The Mobster's Lament

For those of us who have enjoyed Ray Celestin's previous novels - The Axeman's Jazz and Dead Man's Blues (click here for our page on Jazz Fiction) - there is good news that the third book in the quartet came to shops in March. I have not read it yet, but here is the synopsis:

Ray Celestin Mobsters Lament


‘This whole thing has got police cover-up written all over it,’ Ida said, rising.
‘Yup,’ said Michael. ‘That’s who we’re up against.’

Fall, 1947. New York City.

Private Investigator Ida Davis has been called to New York by her old partner, Michael Talbot, to investigate a brutal killing spree in a Harlem flophouse that has left four people dead. But as they delve deeper into the case, Ida and Michael realize the murders are part of a larger conspiracy that stretches further than they ever could have imagined.

Meanwhile, Ida’s childhood friend, Louis Armstrong, is at his lowest ebb. His big band is bankrupt, he’s playing to empty venues, and he’s in danger of becoming a has-been, until a promoter approaches him with a strange offer to reignite his career . . .

And across the city, nightclub manager and Mob fixer Gabriel Leveson’s plans to flee New York are upset when he’s called in for a meeting with the ‘boss of all bosses’, Frank Costello. Tasked with tracking down stolen Mob money, Gabriel must embark on a journey through New York’s seedy underbelly, forcing him to confront demons from his own past, all while the clock is ticking on his evermore precarious escape plans.

Ray Celestin’s third instalment in his multi-award winning City Blues Quartet is both a gripping neo-noir crime novel and a vivid, panoramic portrait of New York – from its tenements to its luxury hotels, from its bebop clubs to the bustling wharves of the Brooklyn waterfront – all set as the Mob is rising to the height of its powers, and Senator Joe McCarthy begins to plot his own reign of terror . . .


Click here for details and to listen to an extract.




Book Crossing

In April, a friend offered me a copy of Esi Edugyan's excellent novel Half Blood Blues (see our page on Jazz Fiction). It had been passed Half Blood Bluesto him by his sister-in-law through an arrangement called 'Book Crossing'. The idea is that when you have finished with a book, you pass it on to someone else to read, either directly or by leaving it somewhere. By logging in to the BookCrossing website and entering the details, you can download bookplates and labels to go with the book, then track where you left it and / or where the book has travelled.

The website says: 'BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books "into the wild" for a stranger to find, or via "controlled release" to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world. Our community of 1,942,040 passionate, generous book-lovers is changing the world and touching lives, one traveling book at a time'.

Viv Groskop in The Observer said: 'Bookcrossing is a literary treasure hunt that starts and finishes online. Someone leaves a book they love for others to find and see whether they love it too. And its top 50 reveals some surprise choices ..... These abandoned books are lying in wait ..... Its most ardent fans describe it as a way to exert your intellectual influence on the world and feel you're doing a good turn. In these jittery times, books are perhaps the one thing you can safely leave on a train or bus ...'

As I had read the book, my friend left it, with their agreement, in the cafe where we met. Hopefully someone picked it up - perhaps a tourist who thought it might be a good read for their plane journey home to who knows where?

Click here for more details.






Poetry and Jazz

Tracks Unwrapped

Hittin' The Jug


[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].


Drinking Moonshine


Hittin’ The Jug is a composition by tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons. It appeared on his historic 1960 album Boss Tenor. The Quintet on that album were: Gene Ammons (tenor sax); Tommy Flanagan (piano); Doug Watkins (bass); Art Taylor (drums) and Ray Barretto (conga).

Click here to listen to the track. One comment on YouTube says: 'One of the swing-ingest, slow pokey blues by Gene and Ray Barretta on those probing congas! Mr Gene Ammons was the best of the best. This is great stuff and very sadly not played anymore. I can listen to this till the cows come home!'

You can be forgiven for thinking that ‘Hittin’ The Jug’ refers to drinking booze. After all, many years previously in 1936, Stuff Smith and His Onyx Club Boys had recorded Old Joe’s Hittin’ The Jug - click here.
Stuff Smith at the Onyx Club


The website tells us: ‘.... Stuff Smith was undoubtedly one of the three great swing violinists of the early 20th century. He was an African-American, born Hezekiah Leroy Smith, in Ohio; his nickname came from his habit of referring to other people whose name he couldn't remember as "Stuff". His first notable work was with the Alphonso Trent Orchestra in the 1920's; at the time it was not uncommon for dance bands to have a violionist who could contribute occasional swing solos. It was not until 1936 that he got his major break; he formed a band with his lifelong friend, trumpeter Jonah Jones and as a sextet they took a residency at New York's Onyx club, where their driving rhythm, exciting performance and good humour made them a hit with audiences and critics. Two of their most successful recordings of the time were I'se a Muggin and You'se a Viper. ... he continued to find work with a variety of line-ups, including recording sessions with Dizzie Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and even Sun Ra ...’


With these tunes referring to drugs (‘Muggin’ and ‘Viper’) it is easy to see how Old Joe could also be into alcohol, unfortunately there do not appear to be lyrics to help us, but there is another reference that could be involved. On the website there is a debate about the term ‘Bussin Juugs’ from a song by rapper Gucci Mane (click here to listen).

'bussin should be interpreted as busting (it's written as "bustin" on Gucci Mane's t-shirt in the official video of the song). juugs is also Gucci Manesometimes spelled joogs. I believe it derives from the word "drug". As a noun, it seems to mean something like a small-time drug dealer, or the act of selling a small quantity of drugs. It can also be used as a verb which means to engage in the activities of a small-time drug dealer (for example, when Gucci says "I juug so good").

It is used in all of these ways in the song:

  • You're just another juug [small-time dealer].
  • I juug [sell small quantities of drugs] so good.
  • When I came back to the city bussin juugs [committing small-time drug deals]

In the song, Gucci Mane seems to be describing his life as a small-time drug dealer. In the chorus, his girlfriend says to him that he's "just another damn juug," to which Gucci responds that he's more like a plug, a higher-up drug dealer or supplier.

I have not been able to find online a reason why the word 'jug' should be used in relation to drugs. The nearest I have found is a reference to intravenous injection of drugs into a person's jugular vein - but that sounds a bit much. The link between 'jug' and a jug of alcohol seems far more straightforward. Perhaps someone knows more?

But returning to Gene Ammons’ composition, perhaps we have something of a play on words here. Gene Ammons was nicknamed ‘The Boss’ but also carried the nickname ‘Jug’.

The saxophonist was the son of boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons. One biography describes how ‘Ammons was born on April 14, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois. His father was Albert Ammons, generally considered one of the top players of jazz boogie-woogie piano. The elder Ammons introduced boogie-woogie to an audience at New York City's Carnegie Hall as well as playing at President Harry Truman's inauguration in 1949. His son, however, chose to play the tenor saxophone rather than piano after hearing Lester Young play. Gene Ammons studied music with instructor Captain Walter Dyett at Du Sable High School in Chicago. While still in high school, Ammons Gene Ammonsperformed and recorded with his famous father and later did a cross-country tour with King Kolax. With Ammons, the King Kolax Band played such important jazz venues of the 1940s as the Savoy Ballroom in New York City.

'When he was 19, he joined the Billy Eckstine band, where he played alongside Charlie Parker and, later, Dexter Gordon. Considered by many jazz historians and critics as the first bebop big band, Eckstine's group was the training ground for some of the most important and progressive jazz musicians of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, including Ammons, Parker, and Gordon, as well as Fats Navarro, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Howard McGhee, and vocalist Sarah Vaughan ....

' ..... Despite an ongoing dependency on heroin beginning in the mid-1950s and several subsequent arrests and two prison sentences that together totaled nearly ten years, Ammons was a tremendously prolific recording and touring artist, a fact worth noting because many of his recordings remain in print or were remastered and reissued decades after his death ... Ammons appeared with the Eckstine band in the 1946 film Rhythm in a Riff. During this period, Ammons acquired the nickname "Jug" from Eckstine, who, according to American National Biography, told Ammons, "'You have a head like a jug,'" when straw hats ordered for the band did not fit Ammons. Eckstine disbanded the group in 1947, and Ammons then led a group, including Miles Davis and Sonny Stitt, that performed at Chicago's Jumptown Club ....’


Click here for a clip from the movie Rhythm In A Riff.


Whether in Hittin’ The Jug the reference is to drugs, Ammons himself, or both, we might never know.

Eugene ‘Jug’ Ammons died from cancer on 6th August 1974 at the age of 49. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery, Illinois where his headstone reads ‘Eugene ‘Jug’ Ammons - The Song Is Ended ... But The Melody Lingers On ...’

Vocalist King Pleasure recorded Ammons’ Hittin The Jug retitled as the vocalese song Swan Blues in 1962 - click here. The lyrics seem a long way from the original title:

You know I hate to leave you baby but I'm leavin' anyway --  So long
You knew I'd have to leave you baby when you treated me this way -- Don't cry
And if it's written for us baby maybe some old rainy day -- I'm gone
Perhaps you'll understand the reasons why you're drivin' me away -- Farewell
Then maybe we could be together in the same old crazy way ...

Gave you money, comfort too
loved you only, only you dear
But you didn't care a thing about me
All you wanted was to have your fun without me
Oh My darling, how could you hurt me so
Baby when all I did was love you
Oh, what a terrible, terrible feeling

Now baby I’m going away
Dry your eyes and don’t you cry because your tears won’t make me stay ...

(Full lyrics here)

King Pleasure’s lyrics begin with “Goodbye.....” In an Allmusic review of Gene Ammons' final recording, they stated "It is ironic that on tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons' final recording date, the last song he performed was the standard "Goodbye." That emotional rendition is the high point of this session... It's a fine ending to a colorful career". Click here to listen to Gene Ammons' Goodbye.

Wikipedia says of Gene Ammons: ‘Gene Ammons is remembered for his accessible music, steeped in soul and R&B’.


Gene Ammons


Gene Ammons




Jazz Quiz

Bands By Numbers

This month we give you the names of fifteen jazz bands / ensembles but with the letters replaced by random numbers. Can you work them out? It might look difficult, but if you can work out the name of one band, the others should be easier.

Here's a hint: 26 = V


Scattered numbers


Click here for the Jazz Quiz.






Poetry and Jazz

Laurence Hobgood's tesseterra
When Jazz Meets Classical

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].

Right from the beginnings of jazz, musicians and composers have been drawn to the intriguing possibilities of jazz being brought together in some way with traditional classical music. Straight classical composers such as Bartók, Stravinsky and Ravel used jazz elements in their work and sometimes wrote specifically for jazz ensembles – Stravinsky, for example, wrote his Ebony Concerto for Woody Herman; and Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by Benny Goodman. Composers such as George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein were equally comfortable in both classical and jazz settings and were adept at blurring the boundaries between the two worlds. Gunther Schuller and A B SpellmanFrom the jazz point of view, the likes of Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and George Russell all experimented with classical music forms; and many musicians have performed jazz versions of classical music pieces – Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain being one of the more obvious examples.  

Whilst producing some wonderful music, many of these jazz-classical collaborations often ended up with one of the forms predominating over the other. However, in the late fifties and early sixties, a more complete fusion was attempted by Gunther Schuller in music which he labelled “Third Stream”. Other composers jumped into the stream but the music never really caught on. For a taste of what it sounded like, click here for a relatively recent live performance of Schuller’s 1957 Third Stream composition, Transformation.


Gunther Schuller receiving the NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy in 2008, alongside poet and critic A. B. Spellman.


Jazz and classical worlds have continued to mix. Indeed, most of the musical and cultural barriers between the two forms fell long ago. Even so, whenever the two meet, there is still that sense of one or the other taking precedence. Which brings us to a recent release on the excellent Ubuntu label from American pianist, Laurence Hobgood. The album is called tesseterra and features a conventional jazz trio (Hobgood - piano, Jared Schonig - drums and Matthew Clohesy - bass) playing alongside the ETHEL string quartet (Ralph Farris - viola, Dorothy Lawson - cello and Kip Jones and Corin Lee - violins).

The word tesseterra is Hobgood’s invention. It is an amalgam of terra, the Latin for 'earth', and tessitura, meaning 'texture' in Italian but it is also a technical musical term for the range of a voice or instrument. The publicity notes for the album suggest two possible meanings for the Laurence Hobgoodcomposite word: “the sonic fabric of the world” or “the world’s most pleasing musical textures”. In a nod to Gunther Schuller, Hobgood also calls the music of tesseterra, “third stream nouveau”.

Hobgood is no stranger to hybridising jazz with other art forms. In 2012, for example, he released the album, POEMJAZZ, with the poet Robert Pinsky (who has written some of the liner notes for tesseterra). However, Hobgood is probably best known for his association with singer, Kurt Elling, for whom he acted as music director, accompanist, composer/arranger and record producer for almost 20 years. In 2009, Hobgood won a Grammy for his work as producer on Elling’s Dedicated To You album. He has also collaborated with a host of other musicians including Charlie Haden, Ernie Watts, Larry Coryell and Regina Carter.


Laurence Hobgood


On tesseterra, Hobgood gives seven modern standards a classical-jazz fusion treatment. There is a fundamental difference between classical music and jazz which any synthesis of the two forms has to take into account. In classical music, the creative emphasis is on the composition and the composer; the performer is expected to perform the composition as it was written. There is room for individual interpretation but only within very strict constraints. So, at the highest professional level, to the untrained ear, one performance of, say, Beethoven’s Fifth sounds very much like another. Jazz, on the other hand, is a performer’s art. The essential creative act is the performance with the composition acting as a secondary element which the performer interprets in any way he or she wishes using the skills of improvisation.

Jazz has long used a sort of library of standard compositions – mainly from popular commercial music – on which to hang creative improvisations often making on the way completely new works of art far removed from the original. So, for example, John Coltrane took the rather sugary My Favourite Things and turned it into something original and utterly compelling - you can listen to it if you click here. By doing so, he also incidentally threw a new light on the original, showing what a clever piece of music My Favourite Things is.

On tesseterra, Laurence Hobgood successfully weaves written arrangements for the string quartet with improvisations from the piano trio. To the listener, it is often difficult to work out where improvisation ends and written orchestration starts, but it doesn’t really matter since all the pieces are thoroughly enjoyable pieces of music in their own right.

Many of the “standards” which Hobgood utilises come from a more contemporary pop or rock scene than the traditional repertoire of The Great American Songbook. The first track, for example, is a treatment of the Jimmy Webb song, Wichita Lineman. Hobgood turns this into an extended 12 minute symphony full of different moods and styles from easy listening to a foot-tapping, gentle swing driven by some crisp drumming from Jared Schonig. Hobgood shows what a virtuosic pianist he is and takes a solo which grows increasingly adventurous and imaginative. The string quartet’s interventions never sound like a classical add-on but are integral to the whole feel of the piece. However, the arrangement is unmistakably a jazz one – as Hobgood says in the sleeve notes, tesseterra “is, at its heart, a jazz trio album. It just so happens that this particular jazz music has assimilated harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements from classical music and modern popular and spiritual song”.

Like Coltrane with My Favourite Things, Hobgood’s treatment of Wichita Lineman should be enough to convince anyone of the considerable virtues of Jimmy Webb’s original tune.  Click here for Hobgood with his trio (minus the strings) playing Wichita Lineman live at Pizza Express in 2018.

The second track is Paul McCartney’s lovely song, Blackbird. This is well on its way into the jazz standard repertoire with Brad Mehldau, Ramsey Lewis, Jaco Pastorius and Bobby McFerrin all performing versions. Hobgood begins his interpretation with the string quartet Laurence Hobgood Trioplaying an extended piece of something akin to Béla Bartók. When the jazz trio comes in, the contrast with what has gone before is striking. Hobgood plays appealingly with the tune, never seeming to render it straight, always teasing the listener with an approximation. Georgia on My Mind is a more traditional standard but I doubt it has ever been played in the way Laurence Hobgood plays it. The string quartet takes the first few minutes in a Vaughan Williams pastoral style before the mood changes with some evocative blues from the trio. Hobgood’s piano hits a groove and takes off into a note-filled, liquid improvisation. The weaving in and out between the trio and the quartet is particularly effective.


Laurence Hobgood Trio


It is back to contemporary rock with the fourth track, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Stephen Stills. As with Blackbird, Hobgood comes at the tune obliquely and there are sudden changes in mood and style with some fast jazz driven by Clohesy’s eloquent bass, interludes of drum-led rock, and absorbing interplay between piano and string quartet. Hobgood’s version of We Shall Overcome is a good example of how a jazz interpretation of a standard can both reveal new subtleties in a familiar tune but also change the piece into something else entirely. The musicians play the tune in different and intriguing ways: sometimes it sounds like a dirge suggesting our need to overcome is only half-hearted. This is countered by some intense and passionate playing – yes, we do really want to overcome! Then there are some highly effective, slightly discordant passages suggesting that we may never actually overcome and even if we did, it may not be what we expected.

All of You is the old Cole Porter standard and Hobgood takes it almost conventionally although there is once again that oblique approach to the tune and sudden changes in mood. Clohesy takes an extended and absorbing solo, and an interlude of call and response between the various instruments is particularly striking. The final track is Sting’s Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic where a relatively simple tune is given a quite complex arrangement with sudden shifts of gear, mood and tempo. A whole set of different styles are successfully integrated: modern classical, rock, and, yes, jazz. Click here to listen to Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic from the album.

With tesseterra, Laurence Hobgood has managed that rather rare beast, a successful integration of classical and jazz styles of music. But there is something more important: in an introductory video to the album (click here), Hobgood quotes Duke Ellington saying that there are only two categories of music, good and bad. In the end, these are the only two categories that matter; and tesseterra is undoubtedly good music.

tesseterra was released on 26th April - click here for details and to listen to samples. Click here for more information about Laurence Hobgood on his website.


Laurence Hobgood tesseterra album






Poetry and Jazz

Jazz Voices

Germana Stella La Sorsa


Germana La Sorsa

Germana La Sorsa photographed by Brian O'Connor at Ashtead Jazz Club in April 2019


Now based in the UK, Germana Stella La Sorsa was born in Taranto (Italy). She began her musical training attending classical and jazz piano and music theory lessons and quickly developed a particular interest in the art of jazz vocals. She attended various workshops, clinics (such as Berklee College at Umbria Jazz Clinics) and masterclasses held by international artists, such as Bob Stoloff, Michelle Hendricks and Anita Wardell.

She started performing in Italy at an early age and worked throughout the Italian Jazz scene going on to graduate from the University of Salento in Lecce with a Bachelor’s degree in Sciences of Music and Performing Arts and a First-level Professional Masters Programme in Music and Audiovisual Communication, and from the Conservatoire “Niccolo Piccini” in Bari, a Masters in Jazz Music with the highest marks and special honours.​

Germana completed her training as a singing teacher before moving to the UK in 2017 where she started performing regularly around London. She currently teaches singing technique and jazz singing both privately and at North Bridge House Senior School (Hampstead) and Morley College (London).

She  has recently been developing her own project, JiC - Jazz in Cinema, alongside the double bass player Joe Boyle, and it is a video from a JiC performance of ‘Round Midnight at the 606 Club in London last November that I have chosen this month (click here). With her, she has Joe Boyle (double bass); Sam Leak (piano) and Dave Storey (drums). I find the sound is a little bass-heavy, presumably from the placement of the video camera, but the performance is worth checking out.

 Click here for Germana’s website and forthcoming gig dates.

Click here for our Jazz Voices page.





Jazz FM Awards 2019

Jazz FM logo


Once again, the Jazz FM Awards have been held at Shoreditch Town Hall. The spectacular event which took place on 30th April was as usual, an international affair. Complete silence fell over the audience for a moving performance by two musicians who would later receive awards - Eric Bibb and Cherise Adams-Burnett, and other performances from Jacob Collier and Steam Down with drummer Makaya McCraven also emphasised what high-quality music is represented at this event.

This year's Lifetime Achievment Award, sponsored by PPL, went to Don Was and Blue Note Records. Celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2019, Blue Note has been synonymous with legendary jazz artists and landmark recordings since its inception, producing works which now Don Wasrepresent the pillars of jazz history from the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley and Art Blakey amongst countless others, and Blue Note remains widely regarded today as the most important jazz label in history. 


Don Was


The label’s President - Detroit-born multi-Grammy-winning US musician, record producer and record executive Don Was  rose to fame in the 1980s with powerhouse pop/rock outfit 'Was (Not Was)', before going on to become a prolific record producer for international superstars such as The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Bonnie Raitt, Brian Wilson, and more. Since taking the helm as Blue Note CEO in 2012, the label has gone from strength to strength enjoying global success with numerous signings including Gregory Porter, Trombone Shorty, and GoGo Penguin, as well as continuing to break the mould with genre-defying artists like Robert Glasper sitting alongside revered elder statesmen such as Dr. Lonnie Smith, keeping the balance of tradition and innovation very much alive.  

Don Was said: “I’m incredibly grateful to Jazz FM for recognizing me and Blue Note Records with its Lifetime Achievement Award.  Jazz is what inspired me to become a musician many years ago, and it is incredibly rewarding and humbling to serve as the caretaker for this historic and hugely important label.  It’s a responsibility I welcome and one that I take very seriously.  This honour is especially meaningful Beverley Knightcoming from Jazz FM, who not only keeps the jazz legacy alive but carries the torch forward by recognizing and supporting the great jazz that is being created today .”

The event also featured a one-off tribute performance of You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman by UK soul singer Beverley Knight celebrating the undisputed Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who passed away in August 2018, seen as one of the most influential soul vocalists of her generation.


Beverley Knight




Nominees and Winners (Award Winners are shown in blue)

Breakthrough Act of the Year - Cassie Kinoshi : Emma Jean-Thackray : Sarah Tandy
The Digital Award - Blue Lab Beats : Louis Cole : Moses Boyd : 1Xtra Residency
The Innovation Award - Orphy Robinson : Freedom Sessions at Vortex Jazz Club : Steam Down : Tomorrow’s Warriors
Instrumentalist of the Year - Camilla George : Jean Toussaint : Rob Luft
International Jazz Act of the Year - Jaimie Branch : Makaya McCraven : Wayne Shorter
Soul Act of the Year - José James : Leon Bridges : Poppy Ajudha
Blues Act of the Year - Eric Bibb : Errol Linton : Roosevelt Collier
Vocalist of the Year - Cherise Adams-Burnett : Ian Shaw : Judi Jackson
UK Jazz Act of the Year - Jason Yarde : Joe Armon-Jones : Nubya Garcia
Album of the Year - Charles Lloyd and The Marvels + Lucinda Williams (Vanished Gardens) : Jean Toussaint Allstar 6Tet (Brother Raymond) : John Coltrane (Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album) : Sons of Kemet (Your Queen Is A Reptile) : Various (We Out Here) : Wayne Shorter (Emanon)
Live Experience of the Year - Jason Moran (The Harlem Hellfighters Tour) : Jazz Re:Fest 2018 (Brighton Edition) : Makaya McCraven and Nubya Garcia (EFG London Jazz Festival) : Orphy Robinson presents Astral Weeks (Tour) : Steam Down (Featuring Kamasi Washington : The Cookers (Church of Sound)
PPL Lifetime Achievement Award - Don Was and Blue Note Records
PRS for Music Gold Award - Jacob Collier


Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier




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

Nina Simone in Montgomery


Selma to Montgomery March


'On March 16 (1965), she started another run of dates at the Village Gate, this time for a full three weeks. But in the middle of the engagement, on March 25, Martin Luther King led the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march in Alabama, and the Gate's owner, Art D'Lugoff, agreed with Nina that this event was too significant for her to miss. He allowed her, Andy (Stroud*), and (guitarist) Al Schackman to fly down and appear at the all-star concert that would greet the marchers at the event's conclusion in Montgomery.

As if the situation they were entering wasn't tense enough, they encountered further hazards during their trip south. They took a commercial flight to Montgomery, but as the plane was approaching the airport the pilot discovered that the runway was filled with trucks, blocking anyone Nina Simone in Montgomeryheaded to the march from landing. The plane was redirected to Jackson, Mississippi, where Stroud hired a tiny, four-seat private plane to get them to Montgomery.

Andy and Nina sat in the back, with Stroud holding Schackman's amp, while the guitarist sat, with his instrument in his lap, next to the pilot. As they took their seats, the weight in the rear was apparently more than the plane could take, and it tipped back, pointing its nose in the air. The pilot said, "Well, I don't think we can take off this way," so Andy and Shackman switched seats, moving the amp to the forward seat, and the aircraft's weight was balanced enough for takeoff.

The concert was held on a big athletic field, where rain had made everything muddy and messy. The stage was a huge platform with a scrim around the bottom. Schackman went to set up and asked Ralph MacDonald, Harry Belafonte's percussionist, where he could plug in his amp.

MacDonald told him to lift up the surtain, that the outlets were under the stage. Taking a step back, he kept an eye on Schackman. When the guitarist picked up the curtain, he felt a chill when he saw that the stage had been built on coffins, donated by the local black funeral parlors.

The duo performed alongside such other artists as Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett. But nobody brought the fire that Nina Simone did. "She sang 'Mississippi Goddam' ", said Stroud. "And seated in front of the stage, facing the audience, was Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunche from the UN, and a lot of other worldwide dignatories. And when she screamed out 'Mississippi Goddam!' the whole front row turned around and looked at her in amazement." '

Click here for a video of Nina at the event.

*Andy Stroud was a Harlem based detective who dated and then married Nina Simone in 1961. According to Nina and Andy's daughter, Lisa, 'It was said that he was so feared on the streets near his precinct that when he stepped out of his squad car everyone would scatter ... And that's what attracted my mom to him, because she had this love affair with fire ..." '

From What Happened Miss Simone? A Biography by Alan Light






Name The Tune

(Click on the picture for the answer)




Click here for our Name The Tune page







Lens America

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was at the Harlem Stage in New York City in April with the Steve Turre Quintet when he was photographed by JazzTrail photographer Clara Pereira. Christian had previously played at Ronnie Scott's Club in March. The twice Edison Award winner and Grammy nominated trumpeter, composer and designer of innovative instruments released three albums in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the very first jazz recordings in 1917. Click here for a videod programme of Christian talking about and performing songs from the Centennial Trilogy.


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah


Filipe Freitas at JazzTrail writes of the New York gig: ' .... After the incredible musical moments, the audience could hear (trombonist Steve Turre) in conversation with trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah in the context of Jazz Then and Now, a conversation series presented as part of the Stretch Music Residency. The trombonist elucidated on how he started to play his main instrument and how he got into these ancient and very musical seashells, which he plays so magnificently. Other topics addressed included the strong musical bond with saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the generational differences in jazz music and the possible evolution/decline of the genre, and the influence of Latin sounds in his music. ..... The awesome space, inspiring music, and engaging conversation helped to make the night feel like an exceptional lesson in jazz'.


Steve Turre

Steve Turre

Click here for the full JazzTrail review and other photographs of the gig.




Do You Have A Birthday In May?


Your Horoscope

for May Birthdays

by 'Marable'




Taurus (The Bull)

21st April - 20th May

Although your spiritual house was strong last month, things could change somewhat during May. Mars changed direction on April 21st and as a result, you might at times find yourself outside your usual comfort zone.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. Be prepared for it. Sometimes the answers you are looking for might not be where you usually find them. It can sometimes take courage to venture into new areas to go looking outside your usual sphere.

Your financial planet, Mercury, enters your sign on the 6th and stays there until the 21st. On the 21st, Mercury joins the Sun in your money house. Mercury in his own sign and in his own house is a strong positive, so use the confidence this can bring you to try and build from the situation. If a new work opportunity presents itself, consider it seriously.

As last month, with the exception of the moon, and then only occasionally, there are no planets in stressful aspects with you. So have confidence in yourself and in your judgement.

For you, here is a video of Herb Ellis playing Detour Ahead - click here.


Herb Ellis Detour Ahead





Gemini (The Twins)

21st May - 20th June

As Taurus (above) will have noticed, Mars changed its course on April 21st and for your horoscope it remains so for the rest of May. The essence of this is to take you outside of your normal way of things - you meet new people away from your usual environment and they can introduce you to new ideas, new ways of doing things. This can, of course, be unsettling, but can also be an exciting, constructive thing if you stay steady and look for the opportunities and possibilities that arise.

Mars entered your sign in April and stays there until the 26th; it brought a period of personal independence for you - if you choose to take it, and that seems to be around for you for the rest of May and into June as well. Taking advantage of it is up to you, not to others, so when it feels right, be confident in yourself and move ahead with those plans and ideas that you have been considering.

When you feel the energy, the drive, use it positively. Avoid haste and use the energy mindfully, not recklessly. That might feel frustrating when the energy is bubbling, but it will pay off in the end.

For you, here is a video of Jane Monheit singing How About You? with Michael Kanan (piano), Neal Miner (bass) and Rick Montalbano (drums) - click here.


Jane Monheit How About You








Poetry and Jazz

Trish Clowes
Ninety Degrees Gravity

by Howard Lawes


[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article 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].


Arrival poster


The title of Trish Clowes' new album, Ninety Degrees Gravity, relates to scenes in the Denis Villeneuve 2016 film Arrival where humans who enter an alien space craft find themselves in the company of aliens with a different language. In the movie, Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguist, who with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Rinner) begins researching the aliens' written language of symbols. After misunderstandings where interpretation of the symbols is misread as a threat, Donnelly and Banks discover the true message and avert the impending conflict (click here for more about the movie). In an interview with Kevin Le Gendre for Jazzwise magazine Trish Clowes described her views about the important role of music in films and how Arrival with its themes of language, translation and dialogue fired her imagination to compose some of the tracks on her new album.

Click here for a clip from the movie.

The word language is used a lot in the arts in general and jazz in particular. Stevie Wonder in the song Sir Duke (i.e. Duke Ellington) sang "music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand", echoing the quote from the poet and Harvard Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who famously said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”  A recent study (Form and Function in Human Song, Mehr et al, Current Biology Vol 25,3) seems to confirm that ideas conveyed by song are widely understood so that a love song, lullaby, healing song and dance are songs with which people all across the world can identify.  It seems likely, although no one has done this research, that if the Trish Clowessame techniques were used in a jazz context, i.e. snippets of music were played, then few apart from serious jazz fans would be able to identify the mood of the piece let alone the musician.  For the uninitiated jazz sometimes seems like a foreign language without an easy to use phrasebook and yet as Clowes implies it can be a highly effective way of creating a mood, particularly in films of the "noir" genre such as Round Midnight and Ascenseur Pour L’échafaud.  Less successful perhaps have been more recent films explicitly about jazz musicians.

Jazz musicians often talk of musical conversation, exchanging ideas and feeding off each other for inspiration, this is a language which takes a long time to learn.  In a similar way to spoken language the language of jazz reflects the culture from which it emerged and for Clowes one of her greatest influences was tenor saxophonist, Wayne Shorter.  Shorter was a member of bands such as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, famed for their hard bop style; also the Miles Davis Quintet during Davis's modal period and Joe Zawinul, the leader of the great fusion band Weather Report.  One of the tracks on Ninety Degrees Gravity is Eric's Tune dedicated to the Weather Report drummer Eric Gravatt.


Trish Clowes


Another language concept relates to the rapport between long-standing members of a band.   Trish Clowes' band, My Iris, is Trish Clowes (tenor saxophone and vocals), Ross Stanley (piano, organ), Chris Montague (guitar) and James Maddren (drums).  Montague and Maddren have been playing with Clowes since the 2010 release of her first album Tangent, while Stanley joined the band for the 2017 release My Iris, which like all Clowes' albums has been released on Basho Records.  Such an experienced group provides mutual confidence allowing individuals to experiment and shine, another track on the album called Lightning Les highlights the talents of Ross Stanley on Hammond Organ with a Leslie Tremolo Unit attached.

Perhaps to emphasise the fact that language occurs in many forms the track I.F., which celebrates the birth of children to two of the band members, includes the babies' voices and it may just be a coincidence but one of the most popular poems in the English language is called My IrisIf by Rudyard Kipling. 


Click here to listen to I.F.


Clowes adds another element of language to her album by singing on part of track Free To Fall, a title which again emphasises her admiration of Wayne Shorter whose 2013 Blue Note album was called Without A Net.

While the film Arrival inspired the album title there is only one track, Abbott And Costello, that is directly inspired by the film, and this track has in its turn inspired a short film of its own.  In Arrival the humans are confronted by alien creatures with whom they try to communicate and with typical Hollywood style, the aliens are named 'Abbott' and 'Costello' (while in the book on which the film is based (Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang) the aliens were named 'Flappe' and 'Raspberry'). 


My Iris



This is not the only difference between book and film but the essential question "if you know the future can you keep it from happening" is common to both.  The process of altering the future of a piece of music must surely have endless fascination for an improvising musician and Trish Clowes and her band clearly revel in playing with textures, dynamics and sounds to produce their widely praised performances.  Abbott And Costello is a beautiful, atmospheric duet between Clowes on tenor saxophone and Stanley on piano with Maddren's drums providing the rhythmic foundation for sublime melody.

Click here to listen to Abbott And Costello.

All the tracks on the album are composed by Trish Clowes and her music provides plenty of variety with some lovely melody interspersed with robust improvisation. Trish Clowes clearly gives a lot of thought to her music and is very conscious of its place in the wider world, her band, My Iris, provide great support for her and are also given plenty of scope to shine individually.

Click here for details and samples of the album. Click here for Trish Clowes' website.


Trish Clowes Ninety Degrees Gravity





Two Ears Three Eyes

Photographer Brian O'Connor took his camera to gigs recently. Here are some of his images from a gig with the Nat Steele Quintet at the Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking, Surrey on 16th April 2019:


Nat Steele Quintet

Nat Steele (vibraphone); Leon Greening (piano); Colin Oxley (guitar); Adam King (bass); Mark Taylor (drums)

Nat Steele



Nat Steele


Graham Thomas, who was at the gig with Brian, writes:

The Nat Steele Quintet performed a tribute to saxophonist Harold Land by playing a number of tunes from his album West Coast Blues. They started with the Charlie Parker tune Klactoveedsedstene.

Nat mentioned the various possible explanations of the title but concluded that nobody really knows what it means! On vibes Nat showed his fluent technique at all tempos. The quintet also played a couple of tunes by Wes Montgomery (who was also on the Harold Land album), West Coast Blues and Twisted Blues, allowing guitarist Colin Oxley to demonstrate his prowess with flowing solos and Wes-like octaves.

Colin also had a chance to show his skill with intricate chordal harmonies on a ballad feature, I Thought About You.


Adam King






The group played several of Harold Land’s unusual, serpentine tunes, Ursula, Terrain, and Compulsion. Pianist Leon Greening and bassist Adam King contributed powerful solos.

The final tune, Sam’s Sack gave Adam King and drummer Mark Taylor (on a brief visit from New York) a chance to shine with lengthy solos.

The concert was a welcome opportunity to hear some of Harold Land’s rarely-heard compositions played by an unusual line-up featuring vibes and guitar.



Adam King






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






Albert Hall

John Tobin writes recalling trumpeter Albert Hall who we have featured here.

In '67/68, I was a student and during vacation worked as barman at the Litten Hotel in Greenfield. It was a small 12 bed hotel and opened as a pub in '66. Albert lived nearby and would often call in returning from London, having walked from the local tube station, in the early afternoon. The bar closed at 3.00, but Albert would stay on drinking. He told me of his drinking days in London, in earlier times, when his favourite tipple was a large vodka and Dr. Collis Browne. The latter being a cough mixture containing morphine. He played with Judy Garland in the early '50s and remembered her husband, Sid Luft, having a loaded gun in a shoulder holster. Albert was a very pleasant, entertaining man.

[Ed: I had not heard of Dr Collis Browne. Wikipedia tells us: 'Dr. John Collis Browne MRCS (1819–1884) was a British Army officer, inventor of items for yachts and the originator of the medicine Chlorodyne. Browne first used the remedy in India in 1848, when there was an outbreak of Dr Collis Brownes Chlorodynecholera, whilst he was serving with the 98th Regiment of Foot as their surgeon. In 1856 he left the army and went into partnership with John Thistlewood Davenport, a chemist, then at 33 Great Russell Street, to whom he assigned the sole right to manufacture and market Chlorodyne which, since the Medicines Act of 1968 has been known as 'J. Collis Browne's Compound'. It was still marketed by J.T. Davenport & Sons - the same family - up until the 1960s. Dr Browne died at Mount Albion House, Ramsgate, on 30 August 1884. He is buried in St Laurence-in-Thanet churchyard, Ramsgate'. It seems that something of the same name is still available online, which raises questions if Davenport's stopped marketing it in the 1960s. The website gives a lot more information about it and its current marketing company - but check out Paragraph 4.3 onwards regarding possible problems!]

[Ed: As far as Sid Luft is concerned, the Daily Mail carried a news item in 2017 (click here) in which 'The former husband of screen legend Judy Garland (Sid Luft) claims that the actress was molested by some of the 'munchkins' on the set of her classic film The Wizard of Oz. They thought they could get away with anything because they were so small,' wrote Luft according to The Sun'. 'Luft and Garland were married in 1952 and had a daughter Lorna and son Joey before divorcing 13 years later in 1965, with Garland claiming at the time that Luft was a drunk and abusive'.




Jay Wilbur and Others

Alan Bond writes: 'I thought you might be interested in this personnel listing for the Jay Wilbur Band of 1928 (I'd Rather Cry Over You recording) mentined in your article about Jay Wilbur. (click here) :-

JAY WILBUR AND HIS ORCHESTRA : Jay Wilbur (director); Max Goldberg, Bill Shakespeare (trumpet); Tony Thorpe (trombone); Laurie Payne, Jimmy Gordon (clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax); George Clarkson (clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax); Norman Cole (violin); Billy Thorburn (piano); Dave Thomas or Bert Thomas (banjo, guitar); Harry Evans (brass bass, string bass); Jack Kosky (drums); Tom Barratt, Eddie Grossbart, Jack Hart, Cavan O'Connor (vocals).

Sometime during 1928, Ted Heath was in the band on trombone. Among others in the band in 1930 was George Melachrino and pianist Pat Danny PoloDodd, who worked latterly with Danny Polo and George Chisholm. My late grandmother was a great fan of Cavan O'Connor and had a number of records by him with Jay Wilbur.

As you probably know, Danny Polo was resident over here for some years before World War two and he did some superb small band recordings with George Chisholm. Back in the 1970s and 1980s myself and a old mate used to be regular visitors at Trevor Benwell's place at Dollis Hill to sample his record collection, virtually all of which consisted of thousands of 78s. He often had other guests staying with him and we had a very pleasant evening with Yank Lawson who was over here with the World's Greatest Jazz Band. Trevor played a couple of those Danny Polo sides and Yank was very effusive in his praise of George Chisholm's trombone work as well as that of Tommy McQuater. He mentioned that he had heard about George from Danny Polo many years before but this was the first time that he had heard any of the sides with Chis. Now Danny Polo died in 1949 so George's fame was spread around in the US quite early on.


Danny Polo


Another of Trevor's guests was Eva Taylor, who was on passage to Sweden to do some gigs with Maggie's Blue Five. She was a very pleasant and gentle lady who was kind enough to give us a few anecdotes about her days with Clarence Williams who was, of course, her husband for many years. Trevor played one of the Blue Five sides with Louis and Sidney Bechet and she told us how there was a battle royal between the two of them to see who could blow the other out of the studio first and poor old Charlie Irvis on trombone was absolutely overwhelmed. We started calling her Eva but she corrected us in no uncertain terms to tell that that was only her stage name and we should call her Irene, her real name being Irene Williams nee Gibbons. We were spell bound with her anecdotes and that was one very late night. With Trevor living at Dollis Hill and my mate living (and still does) in Watford and myself living in Slough at the time, I think I got in at about 3.30 am but at least the M25 was quiet on the way home.

On the odd occasion Vic Lewis would drop in as Trevor knew him through contacts in the record industry when VJM Records was a going concern. Vic was always entertaining company and would regale us with stories of his agency whose clients included the Beatles until he sold the business to Brian Epstein. He always referred to the Beatles as the 'three chord wonders' and hadn't a good word to say about them. I asked why he took them on as clients and he said "ten per cent mate, ten per cent."



Mick Clift, Ken Ingram, Ben Cohen and Pam White

Dave Dwinell in America writes: 'I just finished reading your article on Mick Clift (click here). I was fortunate enough to have met and become friends with Mick at the Keswick Festival in 1998. How I came to meet Mick and the rest of the Ben Cohen group is quite amazing.

'Someone back in the '70s or '80s gave me a second hand copy of Ken Ingram's Society's Syncopators and I actually thought it was a 1920s band that had been cleaned up. It blew me away. I had been interested in Trad jazz since High School and in the 1980s while living outside NYC set up a jazz society and featured Turk Murphy's band as well as the Salty Dogs and the Red Onions of NYC in concerts. I then set up the Great Ben CohenAtlantic Jazz Band with Charlie Sonnanstine as leader and Bob Greene on piano. Charlie told me while living in Europe years before he played with Sandy Brown. Charlie was the last trombonist with Lu Watters but never recorded with the band.

'Back to Ken Ingram. I eventually found a real cassette of the band and it listed the producer and an address on the cassette. I wrote to the gentleman and asked if there were any more releases of this band or even outtakes. I never received a response. Three years later I received a letter from Ken who said the producer had just given him my letter. He also included a second session live of the band. We became fast friends and exchanged cassettes, etc.'


Ben Cohen


He introduced me to the Cohen Hot 5 and 7 and I was convinced I had to go to Keswick to hear these two bands live. I became friends with the band members and stayed at Geoff Over's house for a week after the festival and was able to hear Geoff with Bob Dwyer’s group and Mike Daniels band. On my second trip to Geoff’s years later I was thrilled to attend a Steve Lane reunion and heard two female vocalists live that had recorded with Steve. So sorry to hear of Geoff's accident.

I corresponded with Geoff and Mick and Ben for a number of years. I also contacted Steve Lane and received quite a few recordings from him that were not in my collection. I was the fellow who did the show for Okom on Ken Ingram and I also did one on Ben Cohen's Hot 5 and 7. I received permission from the cassette producer and Mrs Ingram to release a CD with Trad jazz whom I have worked with on a number of releases.

Ken actually visited us in NYC and I had him play a few songs with two bands while here, He said it was one of the highlights of his life. Sorry to go on for so long but I will always cherish the times I spent with these wonderful gentlemen. It was a great article you had and brought back some nice memories.

One last thing - I really love the vocal work of Pam White. I have all the Lane's released including the recent CD. Do you know of any other cuts by this really fine vocalist?

[Ed: I have suggested that Dave checks out the albums Remembering Steve Lane (Lake Records) and Steve Lane's Famous Southern Stompers (VJM). Pam can also be heard on YouTube with Steve Lane (click here). Please contact us if you have any other suggestions].




Silver Bell, Kennet Valley and Ray River Jazz Bands

Eddie Sammons in Spain is writing an autobiography of his 'bachelor years'. Eddie wonders if anyone can help with details of: The Silver Bell Jazz Band – Reading. 'Usual venue was the old Liberal Club in Reading with sessions on Wednesday evenings. I’m talking about the late 1950s. Neville Bedding (clarinet) was the leader and I can recall Alan (John) Turner on cornet, a fine player who, although disabled, travelled around lecturing on jazz. His successor was a trumpeter called, I think, Cyril. Does anyone have details of the other players or photos? The Kennet Valley Jazz Band from the Newbury area. Though from my home town, I saw the band only once. I know the names of the players as you might expect. I was at school with two of them – Mick Druce (trombone) and Jeremy Taylor (clarinet). Jeremy found international success in satirical shows on stage and television. Does anyone have pictures of the band? The Ray River Jazz Band – a group from Swindon which I saw frequently mainly because the clarinet player David Loader was a pal back in the early 1960s. I know the full line up but does anyone have a picture of the band?'

Eddie says: 'I cannot help but wonder just how many amateur bands there were around back then. Few found commercial success probably because there were so many. How many didn’t seek fame or fortune but simply enjoyed playing? I have great recollections of all the British big bands of the 1950s: I saw all the main ones, ditto most of the Trad groups. Met many of the visiting Americans and have a cherished picture of Louis Armstrong taken on my old Brownie camera. This request is purely for personal motives. I have pictures of Dave Loader (Ray River Band) and Jeremy Taylor (saw Wait a Minim twice in London) and we were in touch recently The Silver Bell is the real frustration - it was a very good band'.

Please contact us if you can help.



Jazz In Kingston-on-Thames

Graham Hodgson in Plymouth writes: 'I went quite regularly to the Commodore Club in Kingston, a delightfully intimate venue in the late 1950s. I particularly liked it because the band had a tuba which always raised the spirits. Incidentally there was also there regularly a girl who 'shimmied' like no other I ever saw. It contrasted well with Friday nights at the Marquee Club at the Thames Hotel, Hampton Wick'. (Click here for our page on Kingston Jazz)



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Philip Clouts Quartet On Tour


Philip Clouts


Pianist Philip Clouts tours with a new-look quartet this month, playing concerts in London, Davenham, Penrith, Edinburgh, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Clouts has brought in bassist Tim Fairhall, who has worked extensively with Ladino singer Yasmin Levy, and drummer Kiran Bhatt, who has played with London Afrobeat band Nomad Soul Collective and alt-folk group Red River Dialect, alongside regular saxophonist Samuel Eagles. Clouts’ music has always drawn heavily on his South African roots. He was born in Cape Town but moved to London as a child and grew up hearing the records his parents brought over with them. More recently, though, he has added influences from other countries including Italy and India. He has also listened to a lot of Gnawa music, the ancient African Islamic spiritual and religious songs from Morocco and Algeria, and has worked this into his own compositions while still retaining the essence of his jazz piano heroes including Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett.

The two crucial elements in music for me are strong melodies and rhythms that draw people in so that they stay with you as you improvise,” he says. “They’re what attract me when I’m listening. They don’t necessarily have to be happening simultaneously – one or the other can grab the attention initially – but if you have both going on in the music, that makes it all the stronger and that’s what we strive to achieve.”

Click here for a video of Philip Clout's previous Quartet playing Umoya. The band on this occasion were: Philip Clouts (keyboards); Samuel Eagles (saxophone); Chris Nickolls (drums); Alex Keen (bass).

Tour dates:

Saturday 4 May: The Archduke, London SE1
Thursday 16 May: Davenham Jazz
Friday 17 May: Upfront Gallery, Penrith
Saturday 18 May: Jazz at St James, Leith, Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May: The Globe, Newcastle





The 21st edition of the AngraJazz takes place from October 3 to 5 and, as per usual, will include both national and international artists. If you fancy taking autumn in Portugal, now could be the time to book. Filipe Freitas from JazzTrail writes: ' There are so many reasons to visit the beautiful island of Terceira in the Azores archipelago, Portugal. Besides the natural beauty of the island (its historical capital Angra do Frank KimbroughHeroísmo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), amazing food, and friendly people, there’s AngraJazz, a jazz festival that has been around consistently for 21 years, always marked by a programme of great quality and an extraordinary organizational structure.

Frank Kimbrough

'The local big band, AngraJazz Orchestra, opens the agenda with pianist/composer Carlos Azevedo (co-director of the OJM - Orquestra de Jazz de Matosinhos) as a guest. The second offer of the night consists in The Quintet Sfumato, group led by French saxophonist Emile Parisien, who takes with him the classical/avant-garde saxophonist/clarinetist Michel Portal. On Wednesday, October 4th, we have one of the most respected new voices of the Portuguese jazz scene: João Mortagua. His project Axes, composed of four saxophonists and two drummers, caused a sensation in 2017 with the release of the band's eponymous album. A couple of hours later, the audience will indulge in Miguel Zenonthe music of American pianist Frank Kimbrough, who is going to play the beautiful compositions of Thelonious Monk. Joining him on the bandstand is the experienced musicians that contributed to the 6-CD box set Monk’s Dreams: The Complete Compositions Of Thelonious Sphere Monk, released last November on Sunnyside Records. They are multi-reedist Scott Robinson, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Billy Drummond.

'By the same token, two concerts are scheduled for the last night, starting with the Allan Harris Band. The guitarist/vocalist is known for both swinging and romantic interpretations of standards and boasts an easy listening style that, in addition to jazz, can incorporate funk, soul, and traditional pop. The honour of closing out this year's edition of AngraJazz is conceded to Puerto Rican Miguel Zenon, a first-rate alto saxophonist, composer and bandleader as well as a member of the prestigious SF Jazz Collective. For this quartet performance, he will have his longtime rhythm section next to him: pianist Luis Perdomo, double bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole.

Miguel Zenon


'Aside from the main program, there’s also Jazz na Rua, which translates as 'Jazz on the Street', an associated act of the main event with concerts throughout the city between September 27 and October 5. For further information, please visit:'






Departure Lounge


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


Dave Samuels



Dave Samuels - American vibraphone and marimba player. He taught percussion at Berklee before moving to New York City in 1974. Soon he was recording and performing with Gerry Mulligan, Carla Bley, and Gerry Niewood. He played in a vibe/marimba duo with David Friedman before joining the contemporary jazz group Spyro Gyra. His recordings and live performances during that period also reflect his prowess on the steelpan. Click here for a video of Dave playing Bemsha Swing in 2009.




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.







Tom Cawley - Catenaccio
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 10th May 2019

Tom Cawley (keyboards); Gareth Lockrane (flutes); Fini Bearman (voice); Robin Mullarley (bass); Chris Higginbottom (drums)

Tom Cawley Catenaccio



'Tom Cawley is one of the UK’s leading jazz pianists. He has performed worldwide - in major clubs, venues and festivals – with some of the country’s leading artists, most notably Peter Gabriel, with whom he has also recorded two albums and a live DVD. As an artist in his own right he has performed, recorded and broadcast extensively over the last ten years. As well as an award-winning pianist, Cawley is also a composer, bandleader and educator. His group, Curios, won Best Band at the 2008 BBC Jazz Awards, and their three albums have been hugely critically acclaimed – described as “extraordianary” in MOJO, “spellbinding” in The Independent, “fantastic” in Time Out and “a shining light for British jazz” in Musician magazine. They have performed at the Barbican, the Royal Festival Hall, Ronnie Scott’s and at all of the UK’s major jazz festivals, as well as in Europe (most notably at North Sea Jazz). As a freelance jazz piano player, Tom regularly leads the house band at Ronnie Scott's club, and he is also a professor of jazz piano at the Royal Academy of Music. ‘Catenaccio’, Tom’s latest album, will be released on Ubuntu Music in May 2019' (Ubuntu Music).

Details and Samples : Listen to The Ungainlies : Roger Farbey Review ****







Shez Raja - Journey To Shamhala
(Raja Records) - Released: 1st June 2019

Shez Raja (bass guitar); Trilok Gurtu (Tabla, konnakoi, djembe, cajon); Wayne Krantz (electric guitar); Monika Lidke (voice); Chris Nickolls (drums); Pascal Roggen (violin)

Shez Raja Journey To Shambhala


'Virtuoso British-Asian bass player Shez Raja formed his London-based group with the vision of creating exciting and evocative music - a sonic kaleidoscope of Indojazzfunk, tuneful ragas and euphoric grooves. The band's live show is an eclectic headcharge of raw energy, always leaving audiences uplifted, inspired and asking for more! Following spectacular performances at top UK venues and major international jazz festivals from Russia to New Zealand, they have amassed a devoted following and forged a reputation as one of the most entertaining live acts on the scene today. 2019 sees the release of Shez's highly anticipated new album Journey to ShambhalaJourney to Shambhala is inspired by Raja’s self-composed tale of a young man who embarks on an adventure to discover the mystical city of Shambhala. He has a wild experience of excitement, danger, friendships, love and deceit - told through a musical voyage of soundscapes from exhilarating Indojazzfunk to enchanting ballads. The search for happiness is something we can all relate to and this concept album holds the message that, as in life, the journey often holds as much wonder as the destination. The CD includes a story booklet that reveals how each scene inspired the compositions on the album. The album recording sees award-winning Indian percussion guru Trilok Gurtu and the legendary US guitarist Wayne Krantz joining Shez on his journey, alongside the UK’s fast-rising DJ and remixer Happy Cat Jay who reworks key tracks in a style that is all his own. Two of the single releases are accompanied by innovative animated video (website/album notes).  

Details and Samples : Listen to the track Shambala : Animated video of the track Epiphany : Details of album launch and live dates.






Alvin Roy and Digby Fairweather - Alvin Meets Digby
(Oxford Jazz Label) - Released: 11th April 2019

Alvin Roy (clarinet and soprano sax); Digby Fairweather (trumpet); Tony Milliner (trombone); George Oag (guitar); Danny Padmore (bass); Roger Marsden (piano); Alan Rushton (drums)

Alvin Meets Digby



'On March 3rd 1980, the Alvin Roy Band and guest trumpeter, Digby Fairweather met in a recording studio in Wood Green, North London to play some jazz together and to record the music just for their own pleasure. With no rehearsal and just head arrangements, the result of that session can now be heard on this CD. It has taken nearly 30 years to release this music because the tapes were put away and forgotten until a clearing out of Alvin's cupboard revealed their existence. Sadly Tony and George are no longer with us and this album is dedicated to their memory' (album notes). Tracks include: Ode To Billy Joe, Portrait Of Willie Best, Gone With The Wind, Like Someone In Love, I Can't Get Started, Funky Carp, I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face, Now You're Here, Tengo Tango and Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You.

Details : Listen to Ode To Billy Joe :








Ben Crosland Quintet - The Ray Davies Songbook Vol II
(Jazz Cat Records) - Released: 12th April 2019

Ben Crosland (bass); Dave O'Higgins (tenor and soprano sax); John Etheridge (guitar); Steve Lodder (piano and keyboards); Sebastiann de Krom (drums)

Ben Crosland Ray Davies Songbook II



'Ray Davies was every bit the songwriting genius that Lennon and McCartney were. Even without the lyrics, the music still stands on its own two feet.The Ray Davies Songbook Volume II arrives almost three years on from the release of the first volume, and effortlessly reinforces that opinion.Saxophonist Dave O'Higgins is at his finest on both B flat horns, John Etheridge reinforces his position in the top echelon of jazz guitarists goosed along by a rhythm section that's just Dandy! Not all of the tracks are numbers that hit the top twenty, several were B-sides which, in retrospect, had they been given the same amount of airplay that the A-sides received back in the day when pop fans studied the MM/NME charts as avidly as stockbrokers consulted the Financial Times then some of these gems would have had the recognition they deserved. They certainly get that here. Think of it as a hardbop blast. Who cares that the songs are not originals written by a Guildhall graduate or standards played at every jam east of Birdland? Ray Davies' songs and the Postmodern Jukebox has proved that there's still plenty of material out there to blow on and these guys certainly do that' (album notes).

Details : Introductory Video by Ben Crosland :







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.



Branford Marsalis Quartet - The Secret Between The Shadow And The Soul
(Sony Music Classical / Okeh / Marsalis Music) - Released: 1st March 2019

Branford Marsalis (soprano and tenor saxophones); Joey Calderazzo (piano); Eric Revis (bass); Justin Faulkner (drums)

Branford Marsalis Quartet The Sectret Between The Shadon And The Soul



'After the success of their previous album, 'Upward Spiral', the internationally acclaimed Branford Marsalis Quartet return with their sensational new album 'The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul'. The Branford Marsalis Quartet has been one of the most prominent jazz ensembles over the past three decades. The album features compositions from the veteran members of the group' (album notes). 'If this isn't a candidate for record of the year from many reviewers, I'll be very surprised. It's an object lesson in how an established group can dig deeper into musical and emotional resources than many a short-lived ensemble, however starry the personnel .... this is one of the most compelling live bands on the planet' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise *****)

Details and Samples : Introductory Video : Listen to Snake Hip Waltz : Video of Cianna played live :







James Brandon Lewis - An Unruly Manifesto
(Relative Pitch Records) - Released: 1st February 2019

James Brandon Lewis (tenor saxophone); Jamie Branch (trumpet); Anthony Pirog (guitar); Luke Stewart (electric bass); Warren Trae Crudup III (drums).

James Brandon Lewis An Unruly Manifesto


'An UnRuly Manifesto, the new album by well-versed saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, is a call into action dedicated to Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman and Surrealism. With a quintet configuration in mind, he convened electrifying musicians to be part of the project, namely, trumpeter Jamie Branch, guitarist Anthony Pirog, and the members of his soulful trio, bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren Trae Crudup III. After the amiable unison melody of “Year 59: Insurgent Imagination”, the opening one-minute prelude, the title track erupts confidently with a continual static groove in six underpinning short meet-and-greet sentences from trumpet and tenor. Smeary unison lines precede an infectious solo by Lewis, who, blowing with the force of a tornado, conveys a mix of vehement protest, inspirational spirituality, and fervid urbanity. His remarkably fiery tone calls up Pharaoh Sanders and Archie Shepp, while his language is cathartic and sharp-edged as John Coltrane and Marion Brown. Branch follows him, throwing in ideas that perfectly match the context, and the tune doesn’t finalize without the horns merging together in pure ecstasy ..... Wrapping up the session is “Haden is Beauty” (for the late bassist Charlie Haden), which allows you to sail in tranquil folk waters, gaining collateral jazz and rock intensity as it progresses. This thoroughly engaging album integrates horn-driven articulations and timbres with a supple rhythmic section. You will feel the groove!' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to the Title Track : Listen to The Eleventh Hour :






Laurence Hobgood - tesseterra
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 26th April 2019

Laurence Hobgood (piano); Jared Schonig (drums); Matthew Clohesy (bass) with the ETHEL string quartet Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello); Kip Jones, Corin Lee (violins).

Laurence Hobgood tesseterra


'Pianist/composer/arranger extraordinaire Laurence Hobgood was Kurt Elling's music partner for nearly two decades. Now, as leader, Tesseterra is Laurence's new program of standards re-woven for jazz trio and string quartet - innovative arrangements of iconic selections by Cole Porter, Sting, Jimmy Webb, Hoagy Carmichael, Stevie Wonder and more' (album notes). 'The word tesseterra is Hobgood’s invention. It is an amalgam of terra, the Latin for 'earth', and tessitura, meaning 'texture' in Italian but it is also a technical musical term for the range of a voice or instrument. The publicity notes for the album suggest two possible meanings for the composite word: “the sonic fabric of the world” or “the world’s most pleasing musical textures”. In a nod to Gunther Schuller, Hobgood also calls the music of tesseterra, “third stream nouveau” …… On tesseterra, Laurence Hobgood successfully weaves written arrangements for the string quartet with improvisations from the piano trio. To the listener, it is often difficult to work out where improvisation ends and written orchestration starts but it doesn’t really matter since all the pieces are thoroughly enjoyable pieces of music in their own right ….. With tesseterra, Laurence Hobgood has managed that rather rare beast, a successful integration of classical and jazz styles of music. But there is something more important: in an introductory video to the album, Hobgood quotes Duke Ellingtonin saying that there are only two categories of music, good and bad. In the end, these are the only two categories that matter; and tesseterra is undoubtedly good music’ (Robin Kidson).

Details and Samples : Full Robin Kidson Review Article :






Matt Brewer - Ganymede
(Criss Cross Jazz) - Released: 8th February 2019

Mark Shim (tenor saxophone); Matt Brewer (bass); Damion Reid (drums).

Matt Brewer Ganymede



'First-call bassist Matt Brewer has a new outing on the Criss Cross label as a leader. It’s called Ganymede and features ten compositions, four of which he penned with an insightful perspective. On his former releases, he approached the sextet and quintet formats, but now he convenes a robust trio with Mark Shim on tenor saxophone and Damion Reid on drums. As mentioned above, Brewer’s originals are extremely interesting with the elegant title track opening the album in a quiet mode and then transitioning to a rhythmically daring strut. The bassist’s agility is impressive ....... An additional array of inspirations ended up in rapturous renditions of post-bop and avant-garde tunes, including Ron Carter’s “R.J.”, which was popularized by Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis and here burns in a fervent swinging motion, Ornette Coleman’s elated “Eos”, a showcase for the bandleader, and Dewey Redman-penned “Willisee”, a hell-bent free-bop that ramps up the temperature with some blazing Mark Shim on tenor. After the storm, nothing better than a gentle standard to appease the rugged textures and the haunting melody of “When Sunny Gets Blue” vouches for that. You’ll find a lot of provocative sounds here. Whether if the trio is swinging or rocking, they act completely natural in these environments' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to R J : Listen to When Sunny Gets Blue :






Europe and Elsewhere


Q4 - Uphill Struggle
(Hey!jazz) - Released: 15th January 2019

Tini Thomsen (baritone saxophone); Nigel Hitchcock (alto saxophone); Fiete Felsch (alto and soprano saxophone); Björn Berger (tenor saxophone)

Q4 Uphill Struggle



'The saxophone quartet is a rarity in the world of jazz music. The World Saxophone Quartet, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, the Rova Saxophone Quartet and the Kölner Saxofon Mafia are among the few notable exceptions. The common theme connecting the bands mentioned above is that their music has a somewhat intellectual element to it and can often be said to have greater appeal to the brain than to the heart of the listener. What a treat therefore, that with Q4 a Saxophone Quartet has burst on to the scene that touches the listener’s soul and intellect equally with its phenomenal music. Founded nearly two years ago, four reed players combine their stupendous virtuosic skills, their artistic expertise honed over long years of playing and their powerful creativity to produce an idiosyncratic sound that can't be compared to any other group working on the circuit today' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Brife Introductory Video : Listen To Never Again : Listen to Panda Gets Funky :








Fat John Sextet - Honesty : The Unreleased 1963 Studio Session
(Turtle Records) - Released: 22nd February 2019

Fat John Cox (drums); John Pritchard (trumpet); Ray Warleigh (alto sax, flute); Dave Castle (alto sax, tenor sax, clrinet); Tony Roberts (tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet); John Mumford, Chris Pyne (trombone); Bix Duff, Pete lemer (piano); Vernon Brown, Danny Thompson (bass); Andy Azaria (percussion).

Fat John Sextet Honesty


'Continuing Turtle Records exploration into previously un-released historic British Jazz..The unsung band leader and drummer (Fat) John Cox led several modern jazz line ups through the 1960s, and rather like Alexis Korner in the Blues and John Mayall in R&B, his bands were incubators of young and talented English musical performers. With the likes of Alan Skidmore, Art Themen, Harry Beckett, Dave Castle, John Mumford, Ron Mathewson going through the ranks....Inspired by the Afro Cubists led by Kenny Graham whom Cox would watch regularly in native Bristol, and the BeBop movement in general, John Cox eventually set up his first band in 1962. The bonus tracks on disc two were recorded by one of the early line ups in mid-1962, at this time playing mainstream compositions by Miles Davis, Ray Bryant and Ernie Wilkins, on the cusp of finding their own sound, these three tracks being the only recordings of a Fat John Cox band that ever got released. By the end of 1963 Cox had shaped his group into a sextet with a mainstream sound. The line-up of Chris Pyne: trombone, Ray Warleigh: alto sax, flute, Tony Roberts: tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet, Peter Lemer: piano, Danny Thompson: bass, John Cox: drums. In December 1963, this sextet were invited to PYE Studios to make a demonstration recording, testing the studio and its equipment, not the band. The results, which turned out to be over 90 minutes of capture-the-moment-or-you'll-miss-it early British mainstream jazz, subsequently lay in a dusty attic for 55 years until now. The session includes two compositions, 'Fictive' written by Pete Lemer and 'Blues For Snorty' written by Tony Roberts which are heard here for the first time. With the help of Peter Lemer and Tony Roberts, both of whom at the time were on the cusp of notable careers in music, augmented by a definitive contextual essay by Simon Spillett, and photographs by Henk Visser, we have reconstructed that snap shot in time' (album notes). '....the booklet affords enough space to give the full background to what is a fascinating discovery. Not a world beating album, but a truly engaging signpost of British jazz development après-Tubbs and co.......' (Simon Spillett in Jazzwise ***)

Details :





The Dudley Moore Trio - Have Some Moore!
(Harkit) - Released: 8th March 2019 [2 CDs]

Dudley Moore (piano); Pete McGurk, Jeff Clyne (bass); Chris Karan (drums)

Dudley Moore Trio Have Some Moore


'Much loved as half of the Peter Cook & Dudley Moore television comedy duo, Dudley was before the call of Hollywood one of British piano jazz's most popular exponents. This anthology takes a serious look at his back catalogue much of which has been unavailable for many years - in a sparkling newly remastered collection. With a new and comprehensive appreciation and insights by noted jazz writer Simon Spillett, this wonderful DOUBLE CD collection features hand-picked tracks that amply show off Dudley's all-too-brief career as ... ...masterful pianist, composer and arranger, playing several standards as well as some of his own compositions. A spirited rendition of Jimmy Cahn's 'I Should Care' in front of a highly appreciative audience rounds off the twenty-two tracks in a live performance that has never previously been released. Great stuff!' (album notes). 'This 2 CD special edition culls material ranging from Moore's first 1961 EP to a previously unissued track from a 1977 session. Mostly, however, it focuses on the trio's heyday in the early to mid-1960s ......This anthology gives a very clear idea of why Moore's work was so popular even with a non-jazz audience. Standards are presented with an approachable melodic statement, before the inexorably logical and hard swinging choruses that follow ....' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise ****)

Details and Samples : Our page on Dudley Moore :





Clifford Jordan - Four Classic Albums
(Avid Jazz) - Released: 1st February 2019 [Remastered]

Clifford Jordan (tenor sax); Lee Morgan (trumpet); John Jenkins (alto sax); John Gilmore (tenor sax); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Ray Bryant, Sonny Clark, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton (piano); Paul Chambers, Curly Russell, Teddy Smith, George Tucker (bass); Art Blakey, Louis Hayes, J.C. Moses, Art Taylor (drums).

Clifford Jordan Four Classic Albums



'AVID Jazz continues its Four Classic Album series with a re-mastered 2CD release from Clifford Jordan, complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details. 'Cliff Jordan'; 'Blowing In From Chicago'; 'Cliff Craft' and 'Bearcat' What a great place for a jazzman to be born, Chicago, Illinois! That's where our under-rated tenor saxophonist Cliff, later Clifford Jordan was born in 1931. We feature all three of his Blue Note recordings and add the classic Bearcat from 1962. Jordan followed a well-worn path for many jazz men gigging with players who would go on to become legendary figures in jazz. Men like Horace Silver, Max Roach, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy to name but a few. For the 'Blowing' session he is joined by future Sun Ra regular John Gilmore also on tenor sax, you really need to hear this fine blowing set!' (album notes). '..... The real gem, however, is the saxophonist's 1962 set for Jazzland, Bearcat, the only quartet session heard here, which shows how Jordan was determined to stamp his own identity that was elsewhere becoming the property of one J. Coltrane ..... (Simon Spillett in Jazzwise ****)

Details :







Bobo Stenson Trio - War Orphans
(ECM) - Released: 18th January 2019

Bobo Stenson (piano); Anders Jormin (bass); Jon Christensen (drums)

Bobo Stenson War Orphans



'Characteristically broad in its stylistic range, this 1997 recording begins with a tune by Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez and ends with Duke Ellington's "Melancholia". In between are original contributions by Anders Jormin and Bobo Stenson and two pieces by Ornette Coleman, including the deeply-felt title track. "There is great freedom in Ornette's melodies," says Swedish pianist Stenson, a masterful player who subtly explores the emotional atmosphere of every tune. "In all tempos, in all keys, in all musical situations, his notes hang in the air like existential moments of coming into being." Jazz Times' (album notes). '... number(s) among the finest of all Scandanavian jazz recordings ..... Like Jan Garbarek, with whom he shared a close musical relationship in the 1970s, Stenson draws inspiration from a wide range of influences but they ultimately become subordinate to each musician's overall style....' (Stuart Nicholson in Jazzwise *****)

Details : Samples from an original release :







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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Archie Shepp


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