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Johnny Hunter

Do drummers receive as much attention in the media as other jazz musicians, and if not, why would that be? I realise that it is over three years since Johnny Hunter above joined us for a Tea Break (click here) since when he has been consistently busy playing with both his own bands and with many others. For example, you will find him playing in two bands selected by Jazz North for their current Northern Line sponsorship programme - the John Pope Quintet and Nishla Smith's Quintet - and in 2019, Johnny has been working on a composition for a large ensemble - click here for a sneak preview. Johnny is just one of many excellent drummers on the UK jazz scene. We hope to feature more of them during 2020.




With Very Best Wishes for the New Year


2020 image




Musicians' Passport

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union at the end of this month, we start to establish our future relationship with Musicians Union Passport petitionthe EU. The Musicians’ Union has been promoting a petition calling on Government and Parliament to back a Musicians' Passport for musicians working in the EU post-Brexit.

They argue that 'placing costly and resource heavy barriers could have a severe impact on working and aspiring musicians – as well as the broader UK music industry. Musicians already have experience with difficult visa systems. It can cost thousands to take a band to the United States, and the cost of fast-track visa processing fees have just gone up 15%. Musicians have voiced their fears that something similar might happen with the European Union, to devastating effect.'

The petition asks for a musicians' passport that lasts a minimum of two years; is free or cheap; covers all EU member states; gets rid of the need for carnets (pronounced 'karney' - a passport for goods) and other permits, and covers road crew, technicians and other staff necessary for musicians to do their job.

Click here for more details.





Peter Whittingham Award

Congratulations to saxophonist Sam Healey who with drummer Craig Hanson are the band Skeltr who won the Peter Whittingham Award for 2019 in December. Sam is based in Manchester and spent six years as part of Beats and Pieces Big Band whilst completing a degree Skeltrin Classical Music at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Hosted by Help Musicians UK, the annual Peter Whittingham Award is a £5,000 award for an emerging jazz musician or group to undertake a creative project of their choice that will support their professional development. An expert in survival medicine, Peter Whittingham was also a pianist who enjoyed the music of Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim, Bernstein, Shearing and Peterson. After his death in 1987 his family set up this award in his memory and their connection with the award continues.


Click here for a video of Skeltr playing a session at the Old Granada Studios in 2018. Their self-titled album was released in 2017 (click here).

Other award winners were Leeds-based saxophonist Emma Johnson, who has been a member of the Northern Line initiative from Jazz North, and Highlands-born, Glasgow-based saxophonist Matt Carmichael. They both received Development Awards of £2,500 to fund their debut albums.




The Ivors Composers Awards

Alison Rayner


December has been a month for Award announcements (more are further down the page), but congratulations go to trumpeter Laura Jurd and bass player Alison Rayner for their awards from The Ivors (The Ivor Novello Awards).

Laura won her award for the Jazz Composition for a Large Ensemble with Jumping In (for trumpet, trombone, euphonium, string quartet, banjo, santoor, piano, synth, double bass and two drum kits : Commissioned by Sage Gateshead, Kings Place). Other nominees were Jonny Mansfield for On Marsden Moor and Mark Lockheart for This Much I Know Is True.


Alison Rayner


Alison's award was for Jazz Composition for a Small Ensemble with There Is A Crack In Everything (for saxophone, guitar, piano, double bass and drum kit). Other nominees were Simon Thacker for Quadriga In 5 and Michael J McEvoy for Mother Medusae.






Video Juke Box

*Click on the Picture to watch the Video



Dario Napoli Four



Dario Napoli's Modern Manouche play Four from their 2017 album My Favourite Spot. The band has a new album out, Joie De Vivre, released in December - details are in our Recent Releases section below.





We Knew What We Had documentary video


We Knew What We Had - The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told. This documentary video about Pittsburgh and its jazz musicians runs for just under an hour referencing many famous musicians including Erroll Garner, Mary Lou Williams, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Lena Horne, Billy Eckstine, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Strayhorn, Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Ray Brown ......





Zone B Penumbra Umber



Zone-B play Steve Buckley's Penumbra Umber at The Vortex: Chris Batchelor (trumpet), Steve Buckley (saxophone); Gene Calderazzo (drums); Tom Herbert (bass) and Rob Luft (guitar).





Scott Hamilton Skylark



Here is a beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael's Skylark played by saxophonist Scott Hamilton. This is probably the classic Scott Hamilton Quintet with John Bunch (piano), Phil Flanigan (bass), Christ Flory (guitar) and Chuck Riggs (drums).






Judy Carmichael I Got Rhythm



American stride pianist Judy Carmichael plays I Got Rhythm with clarinettist Dan Block, guitarist James Chirillo and bassist Pat O’Leary. The recording was made at the Steinway Hall in November 2019. Based in New York, Judy has hosted a syndicated radio show Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired since 1993.





Pat Metheny America Undefined



Pat Metheny has a new album coming out in February. The guitarist says that From This Place is an album 'he’s been wanting to make his entire life'. Here is a preview of the opening track America Undefined.





Benny Goodman and Sid Caesar video



This video of Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Charlie Shavers on the Sid Caesar Show in 1954 has an audience reaction that I think is way over the top. Apparently, the audience were all actors. Nevertheless, the video captures what the Goodman Trio (with Gene Krupa and Mel Powell) was like playing After You've Gone, and there is a take of Sing, Sing, Sing with Gene 'doing his thing' and Charlie Shavers taking a trumpet solo before Benny Goodman plays his - and then Sid Caesar steps in on saxophone!.




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





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

Fifty-second Street


'Since the mid-1930s, the living heart of jazz in New York had been two blocks of old brownstones on the West Side - Fifty-second Street, between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. Never, not even in New Orleans at the turn of the century or along brightly lit Chicago Stroll in the 1920s, had so much great jazz been concentrated in so small a space .....'

'..... To a jazz fan like the future impresario George Wein, then a teenager living in Boston, it was an irrestistable magnet. "I was just a kid Fifty-second Streetthirteen or fourteen years old and my brother was three or four years older," he remembered, "and we would come down the West Side Highway and we'd get off at Fifty-second Street, and drive. Before we checked into a hotel, we would drive straight across town down Fifty-second Street ... it was like being in a candied heaven, and the candy was the jazz that you could grab onto ......'

'..... When one club owner complained to Jack Teagarden that his nightly habit of picking up his trombone between sets and ambling up or down Fifty-second Street to play somewhere else was cutting into business, Teagarden said he was "just being neighborly" and kept right on doing it. "It was beautiful because you'd play all kinds of music," the drummer Shelly Manne said. "It was like a history of jazz on one street ... It was really healthy for musicians ... I think that was the most creative time in jazz. If you were a jazz historian, you could have gone down there and seen and heard, with your own ears, the evolution of the music, right there on the street, and it all made sense ....."

'The war years had brought more that musical change to Fifty-second Street. New York was the jumping-off place for thousands of soldiers and sailors about to go overseas, and the Street was a natural gathering place. Music lovers were eventually outnumbered by servicemen and the people who catered to them - strippers, B-girls, pimps.'

'Servicemen about to ship out found Billie Holiday's langourous, melancholy singing perfectly suited to their mood. "I gave so many going-away parties at the Famous Door, I lost count," she said. "It was always the same: three or four young boys would spend the whole night in the joint; we'd lock up, have a final drink, and they'd walk off. A few weeks later, I'd get a letter from some damn island ... Some of the letters would break your heart." '

From Jazz - A History Of America's History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns.


'B-girls' is short for 'bar girls', bar 'hostesses' employed to encourage customers to buy drinks. The name was adopted by a Toronto punk rock band in the 1970s and 1980s. 'The band had a sound that was closer to that of a 1960s Mersey Beat band than the usual loud and fast punk sound of the era which was also shown in their fashions which included go-go boots, tight leggings and matching sweaters.'

A 52nd Street Theme was composed by Thelonious Monk in 1944 initially under the title Nameless - it was also called Bip Bop by Monk, and he claimed that Bip Bop was the origin of the term 'Bebop'. The tune became popular as an opening and closing tune for the 52nd Street clubs where Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were playing and it was first recorded by Dizzy's Sextet in 1946 under the title 52nd Street Theme. (Apparently pianist and journalist Leonard Feather claimed he gave the tune its 52nd Street Theme title).

Click here to listen to Dizzy Gillespie playing 52nd Street Theme.

The tune appears again as a brief concluding track on a new album by pianist Pablo Held, Ascent, to be released in February 2020 (see Recent Releases).



Other Awards - Coming and Made

Since our last issue, various awards to jazz musicians have been made or announced. To try and keep you up to date with who are in the frame here are the nominees and winners. Our congratulations to all of them for receiving the recognition they deserve.


The 2020 GRAMMYs

The 62nd GRAMMY Awards are to be made on January 26th, and the nominations for jazz musicians have been announced. The award Grammy Awardis presented by The Recording Academy to recognise achievements in the music industry. The Grammys are considered one of the four major annual American enertainment awards along with the Academy Awards (film), the Emmy Awards (television), and the Tony Awards (theatre). The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959.

Among the nominees for the 2020 Awards are Gary Clark Jr. who has picked up four nominations for his album ‘This Land’, a politically charged project actively calling out racism in modern America; bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is nominated in the best arrangement category and her album ‘12 Little Spells’ as best jazz vocal album, where she’s alongside Jazzmeia Horn, Catherine Russell, Sara Gazarek and Tierney Sutton.

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and bassist Christian McBride are both nominated for best improvised jazz solo and best jazz instrumental album, they are up against Joey DeFrancesco, Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. Chick Corea is nominated for best Latin Jazz album and Britain’s own Jacob Collier has two nominations for his arrangements on the current Djesse album, and finally ‘Birth of the Cool’ - the recent Miles Davis documentary - is nominated for best music film.



The Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2019

The 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards event was delayed until December because of all the parliamentary activity that had been taking place due to debates about the UK leaving the European Union and the calling of a General Election. The awards were held on Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019 sponsored by Pizza Express Live and awarded by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) - a cross-party special interest group in parliament. You can read more about APPJAG if you click here. Nominations were received from the public earlier in the year, shortlisted, and then selected by members of APPJAG.

The nominees and winners (in bold type) were:

Parliamentary Jazz Award


Jazz Vocalist of the Year - Zoë Gilby: Claire Martin : Georgia Mancio : Cherise Adams-Burnett
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year - Josephine Davies : Brian Kellock : Nikki Iles : Jason Rebello
Jazz Album of the Year - Fergus McCreadie Turas : Sons Of Kemet Your Queen Is A Reptile : Adrian Cox Profoundly Blue : Jean Toussaint Brother Raymond
Jazz Ensemble of the Year - Ezra Collective : London Vocal Project : Gareth Lockrane Big Band
Jazz Newcomer of the Year - Xhosa Cole : Fergus McCreadie : Luca Manning
Jazz Venue of the Year - Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking : Marsden Jazz Festival : Bebop Club, Bristol : Verdict Jazz Club, Brighton
Jazz Media Award - Ian Mann, Jazzman : Jazzwise Magazine : Kevin LeGendre : John Fordham
Jazz Education Award - Nikki Iles : Pete Churchill : Jamil Sheriff
Services To Jazz Award - Dame Cleo Laine : Henry Lowther : John Fordham
Special APPJAG Award - Henry Lowther



The British Jazz Awards

Sponsored by Big Bear Music in Birmingham, the British Jazz Awards were announced on 2nd December, 2019. The British Jazz Awards are the UK’s longest-running awards recognising jazz musicians, bands and album releases. Nominations are chosen by a selected panel of people from across the jazz community, with the final category winners being decided by public vote. This year around 8200 people cast their votes and the results were:

Trumpet - Enrico Tomasso : Ryan Quigley : Bruce Adams : Henry Lowther : Quentin Collins
Trombone - Mark Nightingale : Ian Bateman : Dennis Rollins : Chris Dean : Adrian Fry
Big Bear Music

Clarinet - Julian Marc Stringle : Alan Barnes : Adrian Cox : Pete Long : Mark Crooks
Alto Sax - Alan Barnes : Soweto Kinch : Derek Nash : Paul Towndrow : Alexander Bone
Tenor Sax - Karen Sharp : Robert Fowler : Art Themen : Leo Richardson : Dean Masser
Guitar - Jim Mullen : Nigel Price : Martin Taylor : Dominic Ashworth : Deirdre Cartwright
Piano - David Newton : Nikki Iles : Leon Greening : Fergus McCreadie : Tom Kincaid
Double Bass - Dave Green : Alec Dankworth : Alison Rayner : Andrew Cleyndert : Tom Farmer
Drums - Steve Brown : Clark Tracey : Winston Clifford : James Maddren : Gaz Hughes
Vocals - Sara Dowling : Claire Martin : Georgia Mancio : Ian Shaw : Chris Dean
Miscellaneous Instrument - Courtney Pine (soprano sax) : Jim Hart (vibes) : Ross Stanley (organ) : Theon Cross (tuba) : Ben Holder (violin)
Rising Star - Alex Clarke : Xhosa Cole : Luca Manning : Harrison Dolphin : Flo Moore


Small Group - Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen : Nigel Price Organ Trio : Clark Tracey Quintet : Ezra Collective : Leo Richardson Quartet
Big Band - Echoes of Ellington : Gareth Lockrane Big Band : Scottish National Jazz Orchestra : NYJO : Syd Lawrence Orchestra
Best New Album - Woodville Records for Alan Barnes: Plus Eleven : Stunt Records for Claire Martin and Jim Mullen: Bumpin’ : Diving Duck Recordings for Jim Mullen: Volunteers : ACT Music for Gwylim Simcock: Near and Now : Ubuntu Music for Leo Richardson Quartet: Move
Best Re-issue Album - Rhythm & Blues Records for Soho Scene ’59-60 : ECM Records for John Surman: The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon : Acrobat Music for The Nat Gonella Collection 1930-62 : Decca Records for Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans & Greens : Discus Music for Keith Tippett: The Unlonely Raindancer.




Poetry and Jazz

Remember me, my dear
Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble

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].


Remember me my dear album image


In 1993, Manfred Eicher, founder of ECM Records, had an idea. Why not bring together the saxophone sound of Norwegian jazz musician, Jan Garbarek, with the early classical music performed by British vocal quartet, the Hilliard Ensemble, and see what happens? Both Garbarek and the Hilliards were on ECM’s roster: Garbarek was an adventurous musician, interested in fusing jazz with all sorts of other musical genres; the Hilliard Ensemble, on the other hand, were straight classical singers rarely straying from a repertoire of medieval and renaissance choral music, precisely and beautifully sung.

Bringing the two forces together proved to be a stroke of genius on Eicher’s part. (I suppose that’s why he’s in charge of a successful record label and most of the rest of us aren’t). The sound produced was stunning and was presented to the world in 1994 with the release of Officium which became a best seller reaching an audience far beyond a strict jazz or classical music one. The album’s formula had three elements: first, the Hilliards sang pieces from their usual repertoire absolutely straight; second, Garbarek improvised on saxophone around, above and below the singing. The final element was the resonant space in which the album was recorded, a monastery in Austria. Combined together, the effect was something refreshing and new, much more than just the sum of its parts. As an illustration of the sound produced, click here for a live video performance of Pulcherrima Rosa, one of the tracks from Officium, recorded at Jesus College, Cambridge in 1994.

Over the next 20 years, in between pursuing their own individual careers, Garbarek and the Hilliards kept up their collaboration and toured around the world – it's estimated a thousand concerts in all. ECM released two follow up albums – Mnemosyne in 1999 and Officium Novum in 2010. Whilst nothing on Officium was later than the sixteenth century, subsequent performances and albums introduced more Chiesa della Collegiata dei Santi Pietro e Stefano in Bellinzonamodern pieces together with some of Garbarek’s own compositions.

The Hilliard Ensemble broke up in 2014 and the collaboration with Garbarek ended but not before a farewell tour. And now, ECM has released Remember me, my dear, a live recording of one of the concerts on that tour.

The concert took place in October 2014 in a church in Bellinzona, Switzerland. This is one of those resonant, ecclesiastical spaces so crucial to the success of the whole project. The recording was made in front of a live audience with all of the accompanying stray coughs and shufflings. In a strange way, these extraneous sounds add something to the atmosphere of the album. The only applause is an ovation at the end of the concert. Otherwise, there is silence between the individual pieces. Indeed, some of the pieces run into each other without so much as a pause.

Click here for a brief introductory video.

The album has fourteen tracks and is a sort of live 'greatest hits' compilation with pieces from each of the three previous albums. The Ensemble’s four singers are David James (counter tenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor), Steven Harrold (tenor), and Gordon Jones (baritone). Steven Harrold replaced John Potter (who sang on the original Officium album) in 2001. Jan Garbarek plays soprano saxophone throughout. The only track on which he does not perform is a straight rendition by the Hilliards of Arvo Pärt’s Most Holy Mother of God sung in English.

Hilliards Garbarek Remember me my dear album


Many of the remaining tracks follow the original Officium formula of Garbarek improvising over medieval and renaissance choral music. The usual practice is for Garbarek to wait until the end of a sung line or phrase before playing. His improvisations often act as a sort of punctuation, but not a full stop, more a series of ellipses prolonging the phrase, embellishing it and then turning it into something else, liberating the music from the constraints of the stave. A good example of this punctuation technique is Sanctus, a track on which Garbarek’s improvisations are particularly imaginative with some interesting but sparing dissonance introducing a nice bit of sour to the sweet. Garbarek also plays a long, completely absorbing solo.

Another way in which Garbarek interacts with the ensemble is by blending in with the singing, acting as a fifth voice. Right at the start of the collaboration in 1994, Garbarek said, “I discovered I could blend with their voices and get lost in them, so you can’t tell if I’m actually one of them”. On the track, Dostoino est, for example, there are passages of wordless singing through which the saxophone weaves almost seamlessly as that other, albeit freer, voice. Click here to listen to Dostoino est.


The sax blends particularly well with the counter tenor voice of David James. There are parts of Procendentum sponsum, for example, when the sax merges so imperceptibly with James’s voice that one can’t always tell when one finishes and the other begins.

A number of tracks on the album explore liturgical music from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The opening track, for example, is Ov zarmanali, by the Armenian composer, Komitas (1869-1935); and Litany is by the Russian composer of religious music, Nikolai N. Kedrov (1971-1940). On both of these pieces, Garbarek’s sax takes on a distinctly Middle Eastern, exotic flavour. The instrument wails, sounding at times like the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, taking the music to another religion altogether. Even on an ostensibly “western” piece – O The Hillirads and Jan Garbarekignis spiritus, by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) – Garbarek manages to convey that sense of eastern exoticism. Indeed, the whole piece is turned into something quite disjointed and eerie but in a most appealing way. John Potter once remarked that their music was “saying that something can be old and new at the same time” and O ignis spiritus is a prime example.

Turning something old in to something thrillingly new is what Garbarek and the Hilliards also do to the 13th century Alleluia nativitas. The arrangement is a riposte to those who might say that this sort of music is not jazz (as if this could ever be a clinching argument). The piece is taken at a lively foot tapping lick with Garbarek’s sax sounding very jazzy and bluesy indeed.

Although the Garabrek/Hilliard collaboration was extremely successful, it was not without its critics. One particular beef was that Garbarek’s improvisations had no context and no firm root in the Hilliard’s music – “pointless noodling”. I disagree. Most of the music sung by the Ensemble is religious in nature and Garbarek’s playing is entirely in line with this, heightening the sense of sacredness and spirituality. There is surely nothing so spine-tinglingly thrilling in contemporary music as Garbarek’s sax soaring through a cavernous space, taking the music both literally and metaphorically to the heavens.  This video from eight years agomade during a soundcheck illustrates the point (click here).

The final track on the album is Remember me, my dear, an arrangement of a 16th century folk song which originally appeared on the Mnemosyne album. It is a kind of summary of all the things which made the Garbarek/Hilliard project so compelling: beautiful singing, soaring sax, resonant space. It is a fitting end to a collaboration which will be much missed. Click here for a live video performance of Remember me, my dear recorded in Berlin in 2014


Click here for details and samples of the album. Further details of the recording can be found on the ECM website - click here.




Directory of Alternative Musical Definitions


Prima Donna

High quality kebab


Click on the picture


Click here for more Alternative Definitions.






Jazz Remembered

Jazz Behind The Iron Curtain -
East Berlin 1965

by Stu Morrison


[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].


Chris Barber band in East Berlin


Pat Halcox, John Slaughter, Chris Barber and Stu Morrison on the stage of the Friedrichstadt Palast
during their second visit to East Berlin in 1968


Stu Morrison, who joined the Chris Barber Band on banjo and guitar when Eddie Smith left in 1964, looks back on their tour of the DDR in 1965:

It wasn’t as though I hadn’t been or played abroad before. I’d first played a residency in the Netherlands with Cuff Billet and then in West Germany with the Mike Cotton Band. My first gig with Chris Barber was an All-Nighter in Toulouse, but this time was a bit different. We were to tour the DDR, East Germany, the first British Band, the first WESTERN Band to do so!


Stu Morrison


To detail every venue, Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Eisenhüttenstadt, etc would take far too long, so I’m going to just concentrate on the high spot of the trip i.e. East Berlin, where we were to do two concerts on consecutive nights at the Friedrichstadt Palast, right in the centre of the City.

A lot of people think that the East West border was in Berlin but it wasn’t; it was at a place called Marianborn-Helmstadt or, at least, right by it. We arrived there at night and the scene was right out of an old black and white movie. Bright floodlights illuminated a series of barriers in an area patrolled by armed Border Police (Grenz Polizei), young, stony faced men, mostly conscripts, each with a slung light machine gun. Not cozy! Naturally, as we were guests of the Ministry of Culture our papers were all in order but nevertheless, the two Ford Cortina estates and Chris’ Alpha Romeo were thoroughly searched without a hint of a smile.

The drill was, once we were waved through, that we had to drive the 100 plus kilometres to Berlin without stopping! To do so would invite armed patrols with dogs, weapons and God knows what, as I heard later from a West German who’d broken down on one occasion.

We were staying at the Hotel Unter den Linden which was quite modern in an  “Ostelbisch” (Eastern-like) fashion. For instance, all the fittings in my bathroom which normally would be made of metal, taps, towel rails, etc. were of cream coloured plastic. Metal was a precious commodity in the Deutches Democratiche Republik.



As we arrived a sleety snow was being driven by a very cold wind but it didn’t deter the six members of The Tower Jazzband who welcomed us with a spirited rendition of (of course!) The Saints and Chris immediately got his trombone out and joined in. He was good like that, it made their day. During our stay in Berlin we all became good friends.


Tower Jazz Band welcome




Being welcomed by the Tower Jazz Band in freezing conditions outside our hotel.


At the hotel we were met by Karl-Heinz Drechsel who was to be our guide, “manager” and constant presence throughout. (You can hear his voice introducing the Band on the 1968 recording “Chris Barber in East Berlin” made when we returned and which is still selling.) He was from the Ministry, a Party member, immaculate in a suit he did NOT get in the DDR, more like Italy. His English was perfect, he was very smooth and friendly.

It came as a surprise when I went into the hotel bar the following day accompanied by a local girl who stopped dead in her tracks saying “That’s Karl-Heinz Drechsel” and wouldn’t go in!



Concert Night. This was the first show. Both concerts were sold out 4 months in advance as soon as the tickets became available. As I’ve said, his was a State sponsored event and NO black marketeers would have risked trying it on. The theatre was old having survived World War 2 and resplendent in velvet curtains and red and gold paint. It was a nice venue and the atmosphere created by the audience was palpable, which helped us immensely.

People think that being a professional is being a super technician on your instrument. Not necessarily. Firstly you must be capable of producing your best performance night after night ‘on demand’ and as I said, on this night the audience really helped. The band went like a train.

Click here for a video of the band playing that concert at the Friedrichstadtpalast - Chris Barber (trombone); Pat Halcox (trumpet); Ian Wheeler (clarinet, alto sax); Stu Morrison (banjo); John Slaughter (guitar); Micky Ashman (upright bass, replacing Dick Smith). Lu de Lussanet (drums), replacing Graham Burbridge, due to illness at that time. Lu or Louis was a Dutch drummer who played with the Dutch Swing College Band in the sixties.


Chris Barber in East Berlin video


We left East Berlin seen off by the Tower boys and their girls. We didn’t see any overt displays of oppression by a dictatorial government but looking at the Death Strip and The Wall from the Eastern side with its armed guards and barbed wire, didn’t give me a happy feeling about life in the “Workers Paradise”.

We returned in 1968 and were welcomed just as warmly - click here to listen to that album. Sadly, apart from Chris and myself, all the boys from the Barber Band I joined have passed away. On the bright side, the Wall, with it’s guards, mined strip, floodlights and barbed wire, has now gone.


Chris Barber in Berlin album






Jazz Quiz

Just One Cornet-o

This month we challenge you with clues to fourteen trumpet players and one cornet player. How many can you identify?


Trumpet Player by Afremov



Click here for the Jazz Quiz.




Poetry and Jazz

Jazz as Art
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow

by Chris Botti

from the album December


[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].

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


Evgeny Balakshina On The Carnival



Christmas has come and gone, but winter is still here. At the time of writing, weather (sic) we shall have snow remains to be seen. The season has brought us many good jazz tunes - take pianist Jason Rebello and saxophonist Iain Ballamy who, since 2012, have got together to record a set of Christmas music on Soundcloud each year - try their version of John Rutter's Candlelight Carol (click here). One track I really like goes back to 2012 when trumpeter Sue Richardson released her debut album Emergence - click here to listen to the lovely Winter from the album.

But the track I have chosen for this month's Jazz As Art feature is Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! from the album December by another trumpeter, Chris Botti. The band is Chris Botti (trumpet); Billy Childs (piano); David Carpenter (bass); Peter Erskine (drums, percussion).

American trumpeter Chris Botti was born in Oregon, his mother a classically trained pianist and piano teacher. Chris started playing trumpet when he was nine but was hooked at twelve after hearing Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine. He played at Carnegie Hall with the All American High School Jazz band, and at seventeen went to Mount Hood Community College at Gresham so that he could play at clubs in Portland and the college had Larry McVey ‘whose band had come to be a proving ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé Chris Bottiwhen they were looking for new players.

After graduating from high school, Chris went on to Indiana University School of Music and during his senior year played for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich. In 1985, he moved to New York City. In 1990, he began a decade long touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon and performed/recorded with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Scritti Politti, Roger Daltrey and others. While on tour with Simon, he met saxophonist Michael Brecker, which led to Chris co-producing a track on the Brecker Brothers' Out Of The Loop album - Evocations. The album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.


Chris Botti
Photograph by Leann Meueller


Chris established a reputation in 2001 with his recording of  Night Sessions reflecting his ability to fuse jazz and popular music together (video with Sting). Chris went on to record with Verve and Columbia and by 2009 had released 12 solo albums. His first few releases are often classified as ‘smooth jazz’, although critic Alex Henderson argues that Botti's music was a cut above much of the genre; reviewing his 1999 album, Slowing Down the World, Henderson writes "it would be a major mistake to lump it in with... outright elevator muzak ... Botti is capable of a lot more.” He was also nominated in 2008 for his album Italia and received three nominations in 2010 for the live album Chris Botti In Boston. In 2013, he won the Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category  for the album  Impressions. Four of his albums have reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard jazz albums chart.

Chris Botti has a formidable list of gigs lined up for 2020 (click here) and he will be in London on 30th May playing at the Festival Hall – click here -  (tickets are already on sale).



Click here for our Jazz As Art page - play the tune, scroll down through the paintings and see what you think.

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



Name The Tune

(Click on the picture for the answer)


Name The Tune

Click here for our Name The Tune page





Utah Tea Pot

Tea Break


[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].

Chris Ingham

Chris Ingham



Pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and writer Chris Ingham was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne before moving to Suffolk. He played drums in the school punk band, violin in the school orchestra and guitar in the school Dixieland band before going to Warwick University to study Drama, English and Education.

Moving to London he played R&B guitar in the band Locomotives and recorded two albums - From The Finest Rolling Stock (Media Burn 1986) and Bourgeois Voodoo (Big Beat 1987) at the same time as developing his interest in jazz piano.  Returning to Suffolk, Chris began a number of collaborations – with vocalist Jim Irvin he produced the album Mad Scared Dumb And Gorgeous that was listed for the first Mercury Music Prize, and with  ex-Tommy Chase saxophonist Kevin Flanagan as the Flanagan Ingham Quartet, produced two albums  Zanzibar (1995) and Textile Lunch (1999).

[Click here to listen to the Flanagan Ingham Quartet playing Maxine from Donald Fagan's album The Nightfly, taken more slowly than the Steely Dan keyboard player's original - Chris Ingham (piano, vocals); Kevin Flanagan (clarinet); Andrew J. Brown (bass) and Russ Morgan (drums)]

In the 2000’s, Chris has recorded and staged a number of albums and events celebrating jazz musicians including Stan Getz, Dudley Moore and songwriter Hoagy Carmichael as well as albums featuring Jazz At The Movies. He leads the house trio at the monthly ‘Jazz At The Hunter Club’ in Bury St Edmunds, the Diss Jazz Club and the The Apex's Sunday Songbook.

On top of all that, Chris works as a freelance producer and arranger at his home studio and has produced albums for musical theatre star Ruthie Henshall, bossa nova chanteuse Saskia Bruin, and vocalist Joanna Eden. As a composer, in 2017 Chris provided the soundtrack for the six-part documentary series Wartime Crime for Discovery/UKTV and the Tom Odell-directed How The Beatles Changed The World  for Netflix. Recent soundtracks include The Rise of the Superheroes (2018) and Charles Manson: Music from an Unsound Mind (2019). 

Chris has written books on Billie Holiday (2000), The Beatles (2002) and Frank Sinatra (2005) and was Mojo magazine's jazz columnist from 1994 -2017.  He was jazz piano and jazz voice tutor on Anglia Ruskin University's music degree course 1994-2016 and still occasionally teaches privately. He is one of the resident tutors at the recently formed Suffolk Jazz School.

As 2020 starts, Chris is about to stage a number of concerts at the Crazy Coqs in London featuring his celebrations of jazz musicians – five shows over five consecutive weeks.

He needed a tea break:


Hi, Chris. Happy New Year! Come on in, it’s a bit chilly out there.

Thank you Ian. Do you mind if I divest myself of my thermal underwear?

No problem. Winter draw(er)s on. Let me get you something warm - tea or coffee?

Do you have any Lemsip?


Yes, always keep some handy. Do you like honey in it?

Just neat, thank you.

I seem to remember you recorded a solo album in 2016 called Baby, It’s Cold Outside. It was subtitled Relaxing Piano Music For A Winter Day, but you didn’t actually include the title song? Was it a cold day like this that led you to make the album?

Ah, this is a repackage of some generic Piano Moods tracks I was commissioned to record about a decade ago. They don’t represent what I do AT ALL, and were meant to be anonymous. Apparently they aren’t. Oh well. They paid for a couple of bathrooms!
Not to be sniffed at, then! Sorry - bad joke - here's a tissue.


Chris Ingham Dudley album


You have really established a reputation for honouring some great past musicians – Hoagy Carmichael, Stan Getz, Dudley Moore .... I really enjoy the Dudley Moore album and I have found through my website that there are people who have fond memories of his piano playing so I featured a page on my website about him. What caused you to pick Dudley as a subject for an album?

I take the idea of Repertoire quite seriously and I’ve always enjoyed the framing of it in neat presentations. I can trace that enthusiasm back to the Benny Green songwriter shows on Sunday afternoons on Radio 2, and the Ella Fitzgerald Songbook series of albums. As for Dudley, it’s simply that he is an undervalued British musician whose work in the 1960s, as a player and composer, was essentially whitewashed from history as his fame in other areas grew. Our Dudley album and live shows are heartfelt efforts to help address this historical imbalance. I was reading Alan Bennett’s Diaries and he remarked, in his entry soon after Dud passed in 2002, at how little had been said about his prowess as a musician. Everyone who was lucky enough to encounter it first-hand was dazzled.


As for Hoagy Carmichael, Skylark is one of my favourite tunes – is there a jazz version you particularly like?

Bill Charlap’s solo piano version, on his Hoagy collection from 2002. He does his usual job of striking a satisfying balance between respecting the source material and remoulding it for his own expressive purposes. The gorgeous melody rings reliably through some radical but sensitive reharmonisation.

[Click here to listen to Bill Charlap playing Skylark]


That's a nice version. There are so many wonderful interpretations of Skylark - check out Scott Hamilton playing it in Tokyo in 1983 when you have a moment [click here]. I neglected to offer you a biscuit or something, sorry! Let’s see what there is in the tin – OK, there are Hob Nobs, chocolate digestives and ginger nuts. There are one or two Bourbon biscuits but I think they are a bit stale. Oh, and there’s a bit of Christmas cake left I think?

Hob Nobs with chunks of Galaxy chocolate are my favourite comfort treat. But not today thank you. I can’t taste anything.

Fair enough. We have to get you better ASAP as now you are about to undertake a series of concerts at Crazy Coqs in Soho through February and March celebrating not only Hoagy, Stan and Dudley but Johnny Mercer and Richard Rodgers too! Can we expect albums for Johnny Mercer and Richard Rodgers in the future?

Hmm. Too soon to say, it depends how far we take the projects.


I don’t know Crazy Coqs – where is the venue and what is it like?

It’s in the basement of Brasserie Zedel, just off Piccadilly. It’s a classy, intimate cabaret-style room with a great atmosphere, a perfect place for focussed listening. Holds about 90.

Sounds really nice. Are you playing with the same group of musicians at each event – and can we expect some chat from you about the musicians you are celebrating?

It's a piano trio for Dudley (with Geoff Gascoyne on bass and George Double on drums); piano, bass and trumpet for Hoagy (with Joe Pettitt Crazy Coqs venueand Paul Higgs) and a full quartet for Getz (with Mark Crooks – tenor, Arnie Somogyi – bass and Sebastiaan De Krom – drums). I’m trying the piano-guitar-bass combo for the Mercer for a change; I love the bounce in Dominic Ashworth’s four-in-the-bar rhythm playing. The Rodgers set is an excuse to ruminate on perhaps the richest of all 20th Century songbooks in a duo setting with the amazing saxophonist and clarinettist Mark Crooks.

And yes, there is always plenty of chat about the subjects (Benny Green influence again). I’ve been thanked for it often enough to understand it’s central to the appeal of the shows I lead.


Your REBOP band has also celebrated the music of Miles Davis and Horace Silver, if you could invite one of them to join you for one of the gigs, who would you choose and which of the tunes they recorded would you ask them to play?

I’d be happy to relinquish the piano stool to stand at the shoulder of Horace and watch him play Safari, a great track from his early trio days.

[Click here to listen to Horace Silver playing Safari]


They really take that at a cracking pace and the end comes as quite a surprise! And over a tea break, what would you ask him?

I’d ask him if he really asked Mike and Randy Brecker to “play shorter solos, and play better solos”.

Have you other plans for REBOP gigs?

Nothing in the diary at the moment, but 'one never knows, do one?'


Yes, Fats Waller had a way with words! I like how he said, 'I was playing organ at a silent movie house at Harlem and they'd be showing some death scene on the screen. Likely as not, I'd grab a bottle and start swingin' out on 'Squeeze Me' or 'Royal Garden Blues'. The managers complained but, heck, they couldn't stop me!'

Piano players, eh! There are many fine jazz pianists playing in the UK at the moment, who should we listen out for?

Of the contemporary creatives Gwilym Simcock knocks me out, as does Ivo Neame. Nikki Iles is always inspiring, Tom Cawley has his own thing. And the daddy of the straight-ahead style, for me, remains Dave Newton.

Atila Hussein



Obviously you are focussed on the upcoming concerts but do you have other plans in mind for the coming year?

I continue to curate jazz clubs in Bury St Edmunds and Diss; I have a couple of interesting duo gigs in May with singer Atila (The Connoisseur’s Sinatra) and Alan Barnes (Billy Strayhorn) as part of the Bury St Edmunds Festival. However, much as I love the repertoire projects, 2020 will definitely be a composing year for me. Don’t know what yet, we’ll see.

How is it that I hadn't come across Atila Huseyin?! He is great! Here's a video of him singing I Wish You Love [click here]. This is from his EP Yours Tonight and whoever has mixed it has done a super job as it seems the various band sections were recorded separately. That should be a nice gig in May.






How about a tea or coffee now? Tell, you what – I’ll put the kettle on and we can listen to the lovely Dudley Moore tune from that gig you played in Nottingham a year ago with the trumpet of Paul Higgs, Marianne Windham’s double bass and George Double at the drums – only thing is, I can’t remember the name of the tune?

Ah yes, that’s Sad One For George. Gorgeous.

[Click here for the video of the band playing Sad One For George]

Apparently Voltaire once wrote 'The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease', so, play lots of good music and get rid of that cold of yours, Chris. The Crazy Coqs awaits ...



Chris Ingham


JBGB Events present Chris Ingham Celebrates The All Time Greats at the Crazy Coqs - click here for details


Click here for Chris Ingham's website.


Utah Tea Pot





Poetry and Jazz

The Brubecks Play Live In Poland

by Howard Lawes


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

In 2008 Dave Brubeck was awarded the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy by the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice thanking the jazz musician for his "patriotic attitude, leadership in representing America, bringing the language, sounds and spirit of jazz to new generations around the world". The award was made close to the 50th anniversary of a tour during which the Dave Brubeck Quartet performed in countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Poland. Dave Brubeck recalled that "jazz was and is a voice of freedom. People in the former satellite countries of the USSR longed for freedom and took great risks playing this music". Then he sat down at the piano and played Dziękuję (meaning Thank You in Polish and pronouced 'jen-KOO-yeh') an improvised piece composed 50 years ago at the end of the tour in Poland, dedicated to his mother who loved the music of Fryderyk Chopin.

Click here for a video from 2010 in which Dave Brubeck introduces and plays Dziękuję.

Dave Brubeck's son Darius revisited Poland (he was on the original tour in 1958 aged 10) three times in 2018 and his recent release Live In Poland by the Darius Brubeck Quartet - Darius Brubeck (piano), Dave O'Higgins (tenor sax), Matt Ridley (bass) and Wesley Gibbens (drums), commemorates his father's ground-breaking tour, one of several tours by American jazz musicians, sponsored by the US government during the period of international tension called the 'Cold War' that followed World War 2.

After WW2 the world was dominated by two superpowers, the USA and its allies in western Europe who advocated free markets, democracy and personal freedom and the Soviet Union with its Eastern Bloc republics together with China who espoused the revolutionary ideas proposed by Marx and Lenin in the Communist Manifesto such as public ownership, state control and revolution. Communism was of Willis Conovercourse renounced by western governments but racial discrimination and the treatment of African Americans in the USA provided the Eastern Bloc with a powerful weapon with which to criticise Western society. 

As has been mentioned during the 80th anniversary commemorations of the Blue Note Record label it took two expatriate Germans to properly support African American jazz musicians who had been suffering blatant discrimination and segregation.  To counter criticism about race relations and also to expose the inhabitants of countries dominated by the Soviet Union to Western culture it was decided to embark on a propaganda war using radio stations such as 'Voice of America' to broadcast news and entertainment into the Eastern Bloc. Willis Conover was one of the broadcasters on 'Voice of America' whose programme Music USA began in 1956 and provided listeners with some of the best of American jazz music - if they were able to receive it despite the jamming of radio signals by communist authorities.


Willis Conover


Jazz had a following in Poland from the 1920s,  the Karasiński and Kataszek Jazz - Tango Orchestra became Warsaw's most popular dance orchestra and even toured Europe and the Middle East in the 1930s. Another very popular band during what could be called Poland's Jazz Age was the Petersburski and Gold Orchestra. In the middle 1930s, among the many Jewish immigrants that arrived from Germany during the rise of the Nazis, were several established jazz musicians such as trumpeter Ady Rosner who further strengthened the reach and appeal of jazz music in Polish cities.  However everything changed after the invasion of Poland by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939 leading to years of brutal repression and then more conflict as Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The Polish state was re-established in 1945 but under Soviet domination after the Nazis were expelled by combined Soviet and Polish military action.  

Poland became a Communist Peoples' Republic with a Stalinist leader and as such art and culture were restricted to what was acceptable to the government; those who strayed from the party line risked severe sanctions if discovered. Despite the dangers, an underground Polish jazz scene became established and in one article, it was written about how from 1947 the movement was led by a band called 'Melomani' Melomani(The Music Aficionados) that included  'The Founding Fathers of Polish Jazz': Jerzy 'Duduś Matuszkiewicz (leader, saxophones, and clarinet), Andrzej Trzaskowski (piano), and Krzysztof Komeda (piano).


Click here for a video of the Melomani band playing (date not given).



In 1948 a jazz club was formed at the YMCA in Krakow and in 1954, on the only day when they were all available – 2nd November – Polish jazz musicians gathered in the gym of the primary school at Królowej Jadwigi Street; their jam session gave rise to the Kraków All Souls “Zaduszki” Jazz Festival. Slowly and carefully jazz music re-established itself in Poland, factors such as the death of Stalin in 1953 (leading to a re-appraisal of communist ideology) and protests and rioting in Poznan in 1956 and elsewhere against the communist government, resulted in a more liberal, although still communist regime which was led by Wladislaw Gomulka; and Willis Conover's Voice of America jazz programmes from 1956 had a very significant impact.

By the time Dave Brubeck arrived in Poland in 1958 the Krakow Jazz Club was flourishing having organised its 4th All Souls “Zaduszki” Jazz Festival.  The response to Brubeck’s first concert, performed in Szczecin on the border between Poland and East Germany, was rapturous. “It was uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time,” recalls Darius Brubeck in an interview with TIME magazine,  “Our whole era of propaganda and demonization just evaporated in seconds.”  The Dave Brubeck Quartet played 12 concerts throughout Poland and received rapturous applause wherever he went - he is quoted as saying "No dictatorship can tolerate jazz, it is the first sign of a return to freedom".  The last concert in Poznan, where up to 100 people had died during the anti-government protests less than 2 years previously, was applauded wildly by thousands after Brubeck played that specially composed piece, inspired both by Chopin and the loss of life entitled Dziękuję -'Thank You'. 

A film on YouTube gives a brief but revealing description of the tour - click here -    and there is a great deal more background here which makes fascinating reading. 

The "Cultural" Cold War had begun in 1954 when President Eisenhower arranged for US orchestras and performers to travel overseas as part of a diplomacy programme, the Soviets responded with the Bolshoi Ballet.  It was an African-American congressman, Adam Powell, who first suggested that mixed-race jazz bands would be particularly effective emissaries and Powell's friend Dizzy Gillespie was the first to Brubecks in Poland 1958tour countries thought to be at risk from Soviet expansion in 1956.  Brubeck and other jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong travelled the world to promote their country and show that racially-integrated bands existed within American culture. The irony of the situation, particularly in the light of events such as Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 when nine black students were physically prevented from attending a high school by the National Guard was not lost on these musicians. Louis Armstrong, in response to Little Rock incident cancelled a trip to Russia which some believe influenced Eisenhower to overrule the Arkansas governor and allow the black students to study where they wished.  Dave Brubeck, with his wife Iola composed a musical production called "The Real Ambassadors" in the hope that the production would be performed on Broadway; this was not to be but excerpts were performed at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival starring Louis Armstrong, Carmen McCrae, Dave Brubeck, Lambert, Hendricks and Yolande trio with Iola Brubeck narrating.

Dave, Iola, Darius and Michael in Poland
Picture attributed to the University of California.



Dave Brubeck tour programme cover



The production's lofty ideals are described in the festival programme: "The theme of The Real Ambassadors is contained in the title. Louis Armstrong, Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie - all of whom have made extensive and highly acclaimed overseas tours under the auspices of the U. S. Department of State - are the "real ambassadors" representing America to foreign peoples. And since jazz has become an international language and a force for world understanding, it may well be that the very phrase "foreign peoples" will one day become happily archaic."


Festival programme cover


The Darius Brubeck Quartet's commemorative album was recorded at 'Blue Note' in Poznan during a tour of the same seven cities where Dave Brubeck had performed in 1958.  In Szczecin, Darius Brubeck was deeply moved to find a section of the Polish National Museum dealing with the history of popular uprisings associated his father's tour and the beginning of the movement that liberated Poland from Soviet domination and that led to Polish independence in 1989.  One of the documents in the museum at Szczecin describes a reaction to Dave Brubeck's performance - "It was associated with another, free, better world and, like any forbidden fruit, tasted extraordinary. It was not just music but a lifestyle. Jazz was a promise of something different, more colorful and free than the cardinal reality of the People's Republic of Poland." Darius Brubeck says of his 2018 tour "Suffused with political meaning for the audience and my boyhood memories of witnessing the devastation left by war with my late brother Michael and my parents, this was no ordinary tour".  

And of course Live In Poland is no ordinary album, Darius Brubeck plays two of his father's compositions, In Your Own Sweet Way and Dziękuję, certainly not imitating them and with Dave O'Higgins on tenor saxophone as opposed to the alto saxophone of Paul Desmond in the Dave Brubeck Quartet there is quite a distinctive difference both in sound and improvisational approach. 

Click here to listen to In Your Own Sweet Way.

The arrangement of Paul Desmond's Take 5 on the album certainly departs from the very famous original and quite apart from the saxophone, Wesley Gibbens creates a drum solo that is also very different but nevertheless very impressive.

Click here to listen to that version of Take 5.

The album includes a great track credited to Hugh Masekela called Nomali; Masekela fled South Africa in 1960 when his activities against apartheid put him in danger from the authorities. Darius Brubeck taught jazz in South Africa and formed the first mixed race student band from a South African university continuing the family tradition of promoting human rights.  Other tracks on the album are composed by Darius Brubeck - Earthrise, Matt the Cat and the very evocative Sea of Troubles in which Brubeck thoughtfully uses dynamics, melody, interplay and crescendo to create a really great original sound.

There must be very few jazz albums with a more compelling backstory than Live in Poland. Darius Brubeck is following in the footsteps of "The Real Ambassadors" continuing his father's drive to make jazz an international language and a force for world understanding and he is also playing great jazz.


Click here to listen to Darius Brubeck's version of Dziękuję from the album. Click here for details and samples of the album.


Darius Brubeck Quartet Live In Poland album



Two Ears Three Eyes

Steve Buckley

As usual, photographer Brian O'Connor took his camera to gigs during December. Here is one of his pictures of Steve Buckley from the band Zone-B taken at The Verdict in Brighton, East Sussex. Zone-B are Chris Batchelor (trumpet), Steve Buckley (saxophone); Gene Calderazzo (drums); Tom Herbert (bass) and Rob Luft (guitar).


Steve Buckley


Steve Buckley began studying the clarinet when he was 10. He was a member of the Bromley Symphony Orchestra from ages 14 to 18 but took up the saxophone at 16 with a pile of Charlie Parker 78’s as his main guide and inspiration. Steve was a key member of Loose Tubes and was also closely associated with the London African and Latin American scenes. His own projects included Orchestra Rafiki and the Pigs Head Sons. He toured and recorded with Ashley Slater’s Microgroove, Norman Cook’s Beats International and the contemporary classical ensemble Jeremy Peyton-Jones’ Regular Music.

Click here for a video of Zone-B playing Steve Buckley's composition Penumbra Umber.

Steve has played and recorded with several Django Bates’ projects and his continued connections with African music led him to travel to Ghana to work with The Pan African Orchestra and with Kakatsitsi in the UK. His main area of work has always been within the contemporary jazz scene, playing and recording with artists such as John Taylor, Julian Argüelles, Iain Ballamy, Christine Tobin, Phil Robson, Mark Lockheart, Mike Outram, Kit Downes and others. As well as Zone-B, Steve’s close association with Chris Batchelor has continued with projects such as the internationally acclaimed Big Air, featuring Myra Melford, Jim Black and Oren Marshall. In 2006 Steve and Chris received the BBC Jazz on 3 award for best new work with “Ten Tall Tales”. More recently he has played and recorded with the legendary South African pianist Tete Mbambisa and also with a re-united Loose Tubes.

Click here for Steve Buckley's website.

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



Full Focus

Dario Napoli's Modern Manouche


From the album Joie de Vivre


'Full Focus' is a series where musicians and others discuss a jazz track or tracks 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 below].


Dario Napoli

Dario Napoli


While his path in jazz began in New Orleans and his musical upbringing is rooted in blues, rock and modern jazz, over the last decade, Italian guitarist and composer Dario Napoli has built an international reputation in the world of gypsy jazz. He has presented his ModernDario Napoli camp Manouche project at some of the world’s most renowned festivals, at both straight ‘jazz’ events as well as many of those built around the legacy of Django Reinhardt (Django Amsterdam, Django Legacy at Liverpool Philarmonic, Djangofolllies, Django in June, Cully Jazz Fest, Pisa Jazz ....).

Born in Sicily and now based in Milan (not Naples as his name suggests!) his music has been described as ‘hot, electric, funky, semi acoustic swing’ and ‘an unpredictable and exuberant sound, which steals from various musical eras leading you through a rich and vibrant sonic experience, without ever totally abandoning the gypsy imprint of Django.’

Each year, Dario hosts 'Under The Tuscan Sun', a residential Gypsy Guitar Camp with tutorials and jamming (click here for video or Dario's website for details). The 2020 Camp dates are from 23rd to 26th June.

Dario’s 4th album Joie de Vivre was released in December, 2019. His ‘Modern Manouche Project’ features electric bassist Tonino De Sensi and Tommaso Papini on rhythm guitar.


If you like the music of Django Reinhardt, this is for you. But it would be a mistake to say this is an imitation of the master guitarist of the Quintette du Hot Club de France as Dario Napoli brings his own touch to the music. The opening track, You, shows us that he is his own master of the instrument. The rhythm section of Tommaso’s Mauro Freschi guitar and Tinino’s Jacaranda bass lays down a steady background with Tonino’s bass rising for a solo. Masks, the second of Dario’s compositions, is taken faultlessly fast and then we have the first of four varied compositions by others – Johnny Mandel’s The Shadow Of Your Smile is a beautiful interpretation – I am reminded again of a comment someone made that they like to hear ‘standards’ included on an album to see what the musicians can do with them, and this is a good example.

Tribute is paid directly to the Belgian-born Django Reinhardt with his Place de Brouckere, a hip tune named after an historic square in the centre of Brussels. And then comes Charlie Haden’s Our Spanish Love Song, romantic and rhythmic, with some well placed bass by Tonino and a pause before Gershwin’s Embraceable You is played at a faster pace than I was expecting, but none the worse for that as there is some fine improvisation by the guitarists. The final three tracks are compositions by Dario, starting with the title track Joie de Vivre that lives up to the ‘joy of life’ intention and again Tonino comes in with a bass solo. No Regrets is not the Edith Piaf song, but Dario’s sentiment going into fade before the final track Simple Pleasure has an unexpected surprise outro and suitably wraps up an album that is a pleasure to listen to and relax with.

Dario Napoli might not be a well-known name in the UK, but this is a nice introduction. In this Full Focus article, Dario talks about the track Masks. Click here to play the music.


As many gypsy jazz fans and enthusiasts, I've always wondered what Django would have done had he not passed away in untimely manner in 1953 at only 43 years of age...

I mean, for anyone who took the time to listen to him throughout his brief but intense and immensely prolific career, from banging chords on a banjo in Paris big bands as a kid, all the way to touring with Duke Ellington's orchestra while playing as a soloist on an archtop guitar, it Dario Napoliseems Django was constantly looking for the next thing, constantly experimenting and evolving, both technically on his instrument, as well as a composer and band leader. I'm convinced, had he lived long enough, that would have probably played with the likes of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and that he would have transitioned to the electric guitar permanently, and possibly teamed up with the likes of Jaco Pastorius and other jazz-fusion legends...or so I like to think.

This is why, despite the difficulties in finding the right electric bass player (Tonino joined the band a little less than a year ago), I always had in mind a gypsy jazz project that featured an electric bass as opposed to the standard upright bass, so gorgeous in it's appearance but often a bit limited in its musical colours. Running the risk of upsetting the purists was a brief afterthought, but I felt it was more important to have the music reflect me, my upbringing and my influences, (as well as those of Tommaso Papini, rhythm guitarist extraordinaire and recently acquired bassist Tonino De Sensi) as strongly rooted in Django, as much as in Weather Report, Frank Gambale, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, The Police and Sting, and all the pioneers of jazz influenced rock of the '70s, '80s and '90s.

As a result, the standard gypsy jazz trio, in reality becomes more like a quartet, as Tonino on bass can carry the swing like an upright player needs to when the tune (or the section of the tune) requires so, but also becomes a soloist when required, being that off voice protagonist, no less than what a violin or clarinet would other tune on our 4th album Joie de Vivre reflects this better than my composition Masks, in essence a unison fugue, inspired to some degree by compositions such as Got A Match from Chick Corea, where jazz and classical phrasing collide.

The concept of the tune stems from a doubt I've had my whole life: to what degree is our personality a choice and to what degree is it inevitable and predetermined? Either way, in every facet of life and in every social context, either because of the expectation we have of ourselves or externally induced, we learn to project an image that we believe consciously or unconsciously better suits the situation ...which always begged the question in my mind, so who are we really ..? Which mask will you be wearing today ..? 


Click here for Dario's website. Click here for a video trailer for the album Joie de Vivre. Click here for details of the album.


Dario Napoli Modern Manouche Trio






Lens America

Joel Ross


Joel Ross


Photographer Clara Pereira and journalist Filipe Freitas from JazzTrail in New York were at the Jazz Standard in December where vibraphone player Joel Ross was with Harish Raghavan for the launch of bassist 's album Calls For Action.

Filipe writes: 'In-demand New York-based bassist/composer Harish Raghavan gathered his group of proficient young talents - Immanuel Wilkins on alto sax, Joel Ross on vibraphone, Micah Thomas on piano, and Kweku Sumbry on drums - to perform music from his debut album, Calls For Action, recently out on Whirlwind Recordings. The CD release party took place at Jazz Standard, a venue whose sound and ambience never disappoints.... Raghavan’s music produces such an indomitable energy. None of it was wasted live.’

Click here for Filipe's full review and more of Clara's pictures.

Blue Note recording artist Joel Ross was born in Chicago. In his website biography it reads: 'Ross grew up in a harmonious home with three older sisters and police officers for parents in a quiet South Side neighborhood. By 3, he and his twin had spent enough time beating on things around the house that it was deemed wisest to buy them separate toddler-sized drum sets. Before long they were taking turns sitting in at church, where dad was choir director at one point. They joined the school band as soon as they could, age 10, and since Joel was the younger twin, he was consigned to xylophone while his brother hit skins ......'.

With some of the same musicians, click here for a video of Joel Ross with his Good Vibes quintet playing at Small's Jazz Club two years ago. Joel's album Kingmaker was released in May 2019 - click here for details and samples.


Joel Ross Good Vibes


Details of Harish Raghavan's album Calls For Action can be found in this month's Recent Releases section.






The Six Bells, Chelsea

Simon Redgewell writes: 'I just found this site from a link on the Sandy Brown Six Bells Chelsea site (click here) - a pub of special interest to me as it is the place where my parents first met, so in some ways I owe my existence to it! My dad was at Chelsea College of Art where he was studying photography in the late 50s and was a big jazz fan. He had posters of Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, and also loved Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Cleo Laine, Julie London and Nina Simone, though some of these may have been later. My dad's name was George Redgewell. Other friends in his circle were Tom Hugo, Chris Finch, John Davis and Mike Parrott. There was also a guy called Dan. It would be great to hear from anyone who recognises any of those names and remembers those days, as sadly my dad passed away recently. Here's hoping!'



Searching For Stu's Banjo

Stu Morrison


Stu Morrison, who has contributed our 'Jazz Remembered' article this month asks: 'The picture of me soloing in the ‘Jazz Remembered’ article was taken, I think in Prague. There’s some YouTube footage to be found under “Chris Barber in Prague / Praha”. As you can see there was seating behind the band not used despite the concert being a sell out plus. The empty area was a tangle of cables, cameras, technicians, etc. so...not used. The banjo I’m playing in the picture was one of two Cammeyer Tenor banjos that I used all the time I was with Chris. They were rare; Cammeyer didn’t make many tenor banjos and this one shows the new fingerboard fitted by Luthier Andreas in Turnpike Lane, North London. It’s is so distinctive with its square mother of pearl inlays as to be unique.

Some years later I gave the banjo to a really good friend, the late Ashley Keating of Melbourne, Australia, leader of The Louisiana Shakers . He was living in London at the time and playing with The Gothic Jazzband. On his return to Oz he took it with him. One evening, he went to a party and upon arriving popped inside to see if this was the right place. It was, but on returning to his (unlocked!) car, he found the instrument missing. That all happened a long time ago. Ashley sadly died of motor neurone disease and I, among lots of others, miss him. If there’s anyone out there who has even half a heart, as well as the banjo, then I’d dearly like it back. There won’t be any recriminations etc and I would recompense the sender for their trouble. It’s a bit of a forlorn hope I know but one never knows.

Please contact us if you can help, and also whether you remember Ashley Keating – the ‘Gothic Jazzband’ sounds intriguing!



Chauncey Moorhouse

Last month, we featured drummer Chauncey Moorhouse in a 'Jazz Remembered' article (click here). Susan Atherton has written saying: 'Thank you so much for writing about Chauncey Morehouse!! He is my grandfather. I was so blessed to know him. He was such an awesome person. Let me know if you have questions on him. There are a few grandkids like me who are super proud of him.'

I hope that we can revisit the article on Chauncey with more information - and if anyone has any questions about him that we can ask Susan, please contact us.



Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook and Mailing List

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

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The National Jazz Archive Celebrates Tubby Hayes - February 2020


NJA Concert


The Simon Spillett Quartet – with Rob Barron on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums – play a fundraising concert for the National Jazz Archive on Saturday 15 February. It will be a tribute to the music of the wonderful British jazz musician Tubby Hayes. Simon Spillett is a highly respected tenor saxophonist who plays in a wide range of groups, and leads his own quartet. He has researched and written extensively about the great British tenor sax player Tubby Hayes, including a widely praised biography The Long Shadow of the Little Giant. He received the British Jazz Award for Services to British Jazz in 2016.

The concert is at Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB, and begins at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £17.50 - click here for more details.




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 more about them.

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



John Howlett


John Howlett - Mark of Ealing tells us of the passing of John Howlett UK trombonist who formed his own traditional band in the 1950s and joined the Clyde Valley Stompers in the early 1960s before playing with The Leathertown Jazz Band in Germany. For twenty five years John dropped out of the jazz scene but took up his trombone again in 1993 and went on to play with the Sussex Jazz Kings and the Great Northern Jazz Band. Click here for a video of John playing and singing Corin, Corina in 1998 with Fred 'Bismark' Shaw (trumpet), Bill Parslow (clarinet) and Alan Ritchie (banjo). (We do not have an obituary for John).




Nick Singer



Nick Singer - Mark of Ealing also tells that UK banjo and guitar player Nick Singer has passed through the Departure Lounge. Colchester Jazz Club says 'Nick has probably played in every traditional jazz band that has existed in London over the last fifty years. He combines his strumming with the odd unique vocal. Nick and Bob Dwyer first met playing in the Kenny Robinson band in 1960. He joined Bob Dwyer’s Hot Seven in September 2005. Nick also played in the Frog Island Jazz Band, the Yerba Buena Celebration Band and Doolally Tap. Nick was also a retired director of Shadow Robot Company 'one of the longest running robotics companies in the UK, developing dexterous robotics manipulation technologies (‘hands for robots’) and using them to solve real world problems. We have produced the world’s finest anthropomorphic dexterous robotic hand...'. Click here for a video of Nick playing Over The Rainbow with Doolally Tap.




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.







Peter Lemer Quintet - Son Of Local Colour (Live at Pizza Express)
(ESP DISK ) - Released: 22nd November 2019

John Surman (baritone and soprano saxophones); Alan Skidmore (tenor saxophone); Peter Lemer (piano); Tony Reeves (bass); Jon Hiseman (drums).

Peter Lemer Quintet Son Of Local Colour


'The core of this group - four of the five musicians listed above - recorded an LP for ESP Disk in 1966. The plan, conceived the year after the 50th anniversary of the recording session, was to reunite the original quintet, which had existed for six months back in '66, but unfortunately Nisar Ahmad (George) Khan, tenor saxophonist on the original album, came down with something and couldn't appear. Alan Skidmore (Lemer bandmate in SOS) was deputized and, as all familiar with his career would expect and you will hear, came through with flying local colours at the concert on February 20, 2018 at noted London jazz club Pizza Express' (album notes). 'British pianist Peter Lemer reconvenes his old quintet and draws a potent portrait of his music, which thrives with an energy that can easily keep listeners engaged. The idea consisted in restoring the ensemble led by Lemer in 1966 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the album Local Colour, released on the ESP Disk imprint (the year of the release was 1968). Just like in the old times, the pianist has teamed up with bassist Tony Reeves and drummer Jon Hiseman in the rhythm section, while the frontline is shared by experienced reed players like John Surman, who alternates between the baritone and the soprano saxophones, and Alan Skidmore, here replacing the unavailable Nisar Ahmad Khan on tenor. Sadly, Hiseman is not among us anymore given that he passed away four months after this live session has been recorded at London’s Pizza Express. The diversity won’t make you bored, and the opener, “Ciudad Enahenado”, certifies what I’m saying ..... This live session might not sound revolutionary anymore, but its adventurous moments are nonetheless inviting.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Interview with Peter Lemer : Listen to Big Dick : Listen to In The Out :





Abdullah Ibrahim - The Balance
(Gearbox Records) - Released: 1st January 2020

Abdullah Ibrahim (piano); Lance Bryant (tenor saxophone); Cleave Guyton Jr. (alto saxophone, flute, piccolo); Marshall McDonald (baritone saxophone); Andrae Murchison (trombone); Adam Glasser (harmonica); Noah Jackson (double bass, cello); Alec Dankworth (double bass); Will Terrill (drums).

Abdullah Ibrahim The Balance"People don't like Abdullah Ibrahim, they adore him, bestowing on him the devotion normally reserved for Nina Simone. When he plays, melodies tumble out effortlessly, as he slides from theme to theme like a laid-back South African reincarnation of Thelonious Monk." - THE GUARDIAN Abdullah Ibrahim (who has also recorded as Dollar Brand) is one of South Africa's most famous musicians. His music is often referred to as representing freedom. His major anti-apartheid anthem "Mannenberg" (released as "Capetown Fringe" in the US) thas come to be regarded as an unofficial national anthem in South Africa. He even performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration, where Mandela referred to him as "our Mozart". He's played with everyone from Duke Ellington to Max Roach, John Coltrane to Ornette Coleman, and is the father of underground rapper Jean Grae.Encompassing Township-Jazz, solo piano, Highlife and plentiful modern jazz styles, this brand new studio album (recorded with his band Ekaya at RAK Studios in London,) is a major return for a genuine living Jazz legend.On April 15th 2019 Abdullah will be received into the NEA Jazz Masters fellowship, the highest honour the Unted States bestows upon jazz musicians."There are few musicians in jazz that can make you feel that all is right in the world like Ibrahim" THE TIMES"Wordless expressions of freedom and defiance" THE GUARDIAN UPDATE: No.1 in Germany JPC charts No.3 in US Billboard Jazz charts No.4 in UK official Jazz charts.' (album notes). 'After a four-year hiatus, the legendary South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim returns with a wonderful album, continuing a trailblazing work of pure instinct and eclectic refinement started in 1960. For this new work, aptly titled The Balance, the 84 year-old artist balances solo and collective efforts, high energy and melancholia, elation and forlornness, celebration and restraint, as well as spontaneous rides and thoroughly written parts. So, balance is the key, and the music, an incredible blend of township folk and sophisticated jazz, provides that compelling emotional depth that we found in previous masterpieces such as Water From an Ancient Well (1985) and Ekaya (1983).......There’s an unfluctuating state of grace that lingers long after the harmonica-tinged title track brings the album to a conclusion. Ibrahim continues true to himself and the magic of his individual expression is well alive. The Balance is one of his best records in many years.' (JazzTrail).

Details : Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to the Title Track :





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.



Colin Hinton - Simulacra
(Panoramic Recordings) - Released: 8th November 2019

Anna Webber (tenor saxophone, flutes); Yuma Uesaka: tenor saxophone, clarinets); Edward Gavitt (electric and acoustic guitars); Shawn Lovato (bass); Colin Hinton (drums, percussion, glockenspiel, gongs).

Colin Hinton Simulacra



'Brooklyn-based drummer and composer Colin Hinton blossoms as a serious modernist and avant-gardist with this sophomore full length album as a leader, Simulacra, a collection of six unpredictable cuts composed with specific musicians in mind. Although inspired by the talents of Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Messiaen, and Scriabin, and with the compositional influence of former mentors (Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, Eric Wubbels) pulsating through the record, Hinton reveals a distinctive, forward-thinking sound of his own, delivering pieces that burst with invention. That could be done thanks to the great quintet he put together: woodwind players Anna Webber and Yuma Uesaka share duties in the frontline, Edward Gavitt brings solid textural development and harmonic spice to the setting, and bassist Shawn Lovato joins the drummer, composing a rhythm section made of both malleable and sturdy properties. ....... Hinton reaches higher levels with this work, positioning himself as an able and assured composer within the left side of the contemporary jazz scene.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Video of the band playing Obversify and Synesthopy : Listen to What Was : Full Jazztrail Review :






Harish Raghavan - Calls For Action
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 8th November 2019

Harish Raghavan (double bass); Joel Ross (vibraphone); Immanuel Wilkins (alto saxophone); Micah Thomas (piano); Kweku Sumbry (drums)

Harish Raghavan Calls To Action


'Double bassist Harish Raghavan's debut album as leader, 'Calls for Action', delivers the fundamental essence of jazz as a progressive, evolutionary art form. His markedly lithe quintet features a band of bright new stars, including alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Micah Thomas, vibraphonist Joel Ross and drummer Kweku Sumbry. Since arriving to New York from Illinois by way of California in 2007, Raghavan has recorded and toured with numerous artists including Ambrose Akinmusire, Kurt Elling, Taylor Eigsti, Vijay Iyer, Charles Lloyd, Walter Smith III, Logan Richardson and Eric Harland. The group's connection on 'Calls For Action' is tangible across this program of originals. "Once tunes became second nature, we could deconstruct them. Much of the music comes from my own improvisations on bass, expanded to a quintet format. The album title alludes to that evolution: a wake up call. Like a tune where each section changes and dramatically shifts the energy of the piece. In recording, I wanted to capture the energy of the band playing live." Following his bass intro, Raghavan's first four tracks represent a suite unto itself, and the earliest material written for the quintet. Feel the pulsating momentum of "Newe", where shared alto saxophone and vibraphone lines sparkle over the leader's bass-led melody and relish "Sangeet", conjuring the euphoria of his recent wedding. 'Los Angeles' evokes a cityscape's afterglow with elegant, sustained phrases and percussive flair; and the other tracks include the yearning "I'll Go and Come Back" (a loose translation of 'Goodbye' from Raghavan's parents' mother tongue of Tamil) references his thoughts on an older generation moving on. "I tried to create pieces that would allow the band to explore as a whole but also allow the members total freedom to interpret," explains Raghavan. The vitality of 'Calls for Action' is unquestionably testament to all that.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to Seaminer : Listen to Los Angeles : Video of the band playing Anjou (not on the album) :





Chris Speed Trio - Respect For Your Toughness
(Intakt Records) - Released: 15th November 2019

Chris Speed (tenor sax); Chris Tordini (bass); Dave King (drums).

Chris Speed Trio Respect For Your Toughness


'Since arriving in New York in the early 1990s, Chris Speed has become one of the most vital improvising musicians on the scene through work that has always varied widely, moving from a jazz base out through various forms of folk, classical and rock music. Over the last six years the reedist has been sorting through the varied strands of his circuitous, decades-long career, using his versatile trio with bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dave King to transform numerous curiosity-led excursions past the porous boundaries of jazz into a meticulously focused sound that ties it all together with his foundational immersion in the tradition. In his various bands and collectives, he has explored plenty of rigorous hybrids situating his buoyant, increasingly aerated sound on tunes deftly adapting ideas from Eastern European folk, electronic dance music, and rock, but with this trio he?s embraced the inspirations that set him on that twisting path without letting go of the knowledge he?s gleaned along the way. The group has reached a new apotheosis of those ideas on Respect for Your Toughness. As with the trio?s previous two albums, there?s a standard sprinkled within indelible originals. Speed seems to have found a powerful sweet spot with his trio, achieving that preternatural ease where technique, study, and consciousness fall away and the spirit takes over.' (album notes). 'Respect For Your Toughness, the third outing for the trio of saxophonist Chris Speed, possesses a distinctive blend of energy and perspicuity, being a winning collection of nine well-written and deftly played originals (all by Speed) plus a low-key rendition of Kay Swift’s standard “Can This Be Love?”. It’s precisely this latter piece, delicately shrouded in Speed’s relaxed tone, that opens up the album. A sense of flimsiness is brought by sequences of notes peacefully aligned with enough air circulating between them to let us have a virtual perception of space. Also sharing this frame of mind, “Faint Tune” languishes in a graceful fragility with the coruscant brushwork of The Bad Plus’ drummer Dave King keeping the torch permanently lit ..... Speed, Tordini and King are formidable together. Their excellent, disciplined teamwork spawned another record with consistent high quality.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Listen to the Title Track : Listen to Can This Be Love? :




Europe and Elsewhere


Mark Pringle - Book Of Haikus
( - Released: 15th December 2019

Jonas Engel (alto Saxophone); Arne Braun (guitar); Mark Pringle (piano / Fender Rhodes); James Banner (double bass); Tristan Renfrow (drums / objects)

Mark Pringle Book Of Haikus


'This album marks the end of two years studying around Europe between 2015 and 2017. It was a highly formative time, filled with important experiences and encounters with many extraordinary people. It went on to shape the course of my life in an unprecedented and positive way, for which I am grateful. The project was born of a desire to bring together all my favourite musicians from each of the cities I had lived in. Jonas Engel (saxophone) from Copenhagen, Tristan Renfrow (drums) from Amsterdam, Arne Braun (guitar) and James Banner (double bass) from Berlin. Over one weekend in 2017 we met and intensively rehearsed the music, performed and recorded, mostly in single takes. This put us on our toes, and I think the music comes across the better for that. Some spontaneous reactions to unplanned musical events are my personal highlights of the album, and I listen back remembering the joy of making music with four individuals playing with such freedom, creativity and togetherness. The compositions took inspiration from haiku poems by American author Jack Kerouac. I felt drawn to their freedom of form (they do not follow fixed syllable patterns) and the imagery they depicted. I began seeing numerous parallels between the idea of a musical sketch and a haiku, most notably an intent to communicate a meaning greater than the concise amount of material on the page. With this in mind I began writing musical sketches, coming up with seeds for composition that sometimes grew into longer forms, and othertimes stayed as minimal sketches which eventually served as jumping off points for improvisation.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to Raining / Tea :





Pablo Held - Ascent
(Edition Records) - Released: 7th February 2020

Pablo Held (piano); Robert Landfermann (bass); Jonas Burgwinkel (drums); Nelson Veras (guitar); Veronika Morscher (voice on Forest Spirits & Ascent); Jeremy Viner (clarinets on Forest Spirits & 52nd Street Theme)

Pablo Held Ascent



'Pablo Held’s new album, Ascent, his second for Edition Records, is a collaboration between his long-running trio (with bassist, Robert Landfermann and drummer, Jonas Burgwinkel) and the great Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras. Regarded as one of the most talented and adventurous pianists and improvisors in Europe, Pablo Held is building a formidable reputation, not only as a pianist of outstanding ability but also for his considerable musicality, energy and risk-taking. Ascent is highly anticipated new album, following their 10th album Investigations, praised internationally for its remarkable quality, deep communication and lyrical elegance, prompting All About Jazz to describe the group as “a world-class trio of exceptional talent”. The new album is a deeply satisfying fusion of the powerful and expressive music associated with Pablo Held’s trio and the fluid invention of Nelson Veras’s guitar stylings.' (album notes).

Details and Sample : Listen to the Title Track :







Dario Napoli - Joie De Vivre
(Dario Napoli) - Released: 13th December 2019

Dario Napoli (guitar); Tonino De Sensi (electric bass); Tommaso Papini (rhythm guitar).

Dario Napoli Joie De Vivre



'Although sinti guitarist Django Reinhardt is the main inspiration behind the album, in “Joie de Vivre”, Dario Napoli looks to include more contemporary influences in his version of gypsy swing, introducing elements of more modern musical styles such as bebop, funk and modern jazz. The result is an unpredictable and exuberant sound, which steals from various musical eras leading you you through a rich and vibrant sonic experience, without ever totally abandoning the gypsy imprint of Django.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Click here for our Full Focus article : Introductory Video :








Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble - Remember me, my dear
(ECM New Series) - Released: 18th October 2019

Jan Garbarek (soprano saxophone); The Hilliard Ensemble: David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor), Steven Harrold (tenor), Gordon Jones (baritone)

Jan Garbarek Hilliard Ensemble Remember me my dear



'25 years on from the release of Officium, the groundbreaking alliance of Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble, comes Remember me, my dear, recorded during the final tour the group made in October 2014. Named for the Scottish ballad which concludes it, the programme is emblematic of the range of repertoire the Norwegian saxophonist and British vocal quartet explored together – from Pérotin, Hildegard von Bingen, Guillaume le Rouge, Antoine Brumel to Komitas, Arvo Pärt and more. It could be said that the Hilliard/Garbarek combination, in concert, transcended its source materials, with early music, contemporary composition and improvisation interfused in the responsive acoustics of sacred spaces. And this final album reminds us that this unique grouping, and its unprecedented exploration of sound, was consistently breathtaking. They were first brought together by producer Manfred Eicher in 1993. Officium, the debut album made the following year, touched a large international audience. A million copies of Officium were sold swiftly, and a thousand concerts - many in cathedrals, churches and other sacred spaces - followed over a 20-year period.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Click here for our article on this album :








Erroll Garner - Closeup In Swing
(Mack Avenue) - Released: 27th September 2019

Erroll Garner (piano); Eddie Calhoun (bass); Kelly Martin (drums)

Erroll Garner Closeup In Swing


'The Octave Reissue Series represents the heart of Erroll Garner's recorded catalog. Spanning 12 albums and last 18 years of Garner's career, this collection of music is among the most important in the history of jazz. It represents an artist in his prime, with full creative and commercial control of his output following his break with Columbia Records. Over 20 years ago these albums were bundled on to double album CDs and released by Telarc in a 6 CD box set. While this was appropriate for the era, this repackaging of Garner's discography caused some material to be cut for time. It is now time to untangle his discography and restore each of these 12 records to their original artistic statement. The series will include newly restored and mastered transfers of the original analog master tapes by our GRAMMY winning team of producers and Engineers, and the original artwork restored by our award winning design partners. In addition, EGJP will curate and include newly discovered bonus material from the Garner catalog in each release. The second product of Garner's Octave Records, this album features Erroll and his classic trio like they've never been heard before, restored and remastered from the original master tapes. Marking the beginning of one of the most prolific periods in his life, this new presentation includes the propulsive, never-before-heard Garner composition, "Octave 103".' (album notes). '.... An erudite but, above all, very witty man, he showed through his talent and sheer creativity that joy and happiness have an equal right to be expressed in jazz.' (Stuart Nicholson in Jazzwise ****)

Details and Samples :





The Fred Hersch Trio - Ten Years
(Palmetto Records) - Released: 18th October 2019 [6 CD Box Set]

Fred Hersch (piano); John Hébert (bass); Eric McPherson (drums)

Fred Hersch Trio Ten Years



'Six-disc set includes five critically acclaimed Palmetto Records releases featuring Hersch, bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson - a band named Best Jazz Group in the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll. One of the most influential improvising musicians currently performing - a "living legend," per the New Yorker - the pianist and composer Fred Hersch has made groundbreaking contributions in a staggering range of creative formats. DownBeat called his unprecedented cross-disciplinary theatre piece My Coma Dreams "a brave work of art that deserves to be seen and heard." In the New York Times, the critic Nate Chinen wrote that "solo piano playing is one of the things that Mr. Hersch does best," before explaining how he "combines the rigors of classical training with the disciplined freedom of improvisation and explores a richly varied repertory." Hersch has also ranked among jazz's most renowned accompanists of singers, and his latest release, 2019's Begin Again, is an acclaimed collaboration with the WDR Big Band under conductor-arranger Vince Mendoza. Even Hersch's 2017 autobiography, Good Things Happen Slowly (Crown Archetype/Random House), has been uniquely vaunted, garnering rare mainstream praise for a jazz-related book by being named one of the year's best memoirs in both the Washington Post and the New York Times.' (album notes).

Details : allaboutjazz Review ****½ :






Don Elliott and Bob Corwin - The Don Elliott & Bob Corwin Quartet
(Fresh Sound Records) - Released: 13th December 2019

Bob Corwin (piano); Don Elliott (trumpet); Ernie Furtado (bass); Jimmy Campbell (drums)

Don Elliott Bob Corwin Quartet


'Pianist Corwin was 23, when he made his recording debut as a leader with this NY studio session from June 1956 (#1-10). He was backed by bassist Ernie Furtado, drummer Jimmy Campbell, and had Don Elliott playing trumpet in all but two trio numbers. And although he was credited as a sideman in the album, the featured quartet was actually Elliott s own unit, which he had been leading in clubs since mid-1955, and which can also be heard on the sides recorded live at Chicago s Modern Jazz Room in July 1956, a mere month later (#11-17). Elliott s collaboration with Corwin was considered the East coast answer to the famous Chet Baker-Russ Freeman quartet. Elliott was best known for his work as vibraphonist and as mellophone player, but in these recordings we find him on trumpet, which he played with lyric warmth, authority and his usual sense of humor. You will also hear him on vibes in three of the numbers, and bongos and vocals on two one each. At his side, Corwin plays with drive, fertile imagination, and generally interesting if eclectic conception; Campbell is crisp and steady, particularly his brushes, which are full of jumping strength; and they have a strong asset in Furtado, who plays tastefully throughout. As is, there s a wealth of musical satisfaction coming from both sessions, in good part because this quartet format allowed Elliott more freedom as a soloist, and proved to be the best framework for him to fully develop his talents as instrumentalist and singer.' (album notes).

Details : Samples :






Julie London - Five Classic Albums
(Avid Jazz) - Released: 1st November 2019

Julie London (vocals) with various personnel [2 CDs]

Julie London Five Classic Albums



'AVID Jazz continues with its Five Classic Album series with a re-mastered 2CD release from Julie London, complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details 'Julie Is Her Name'; 'Julie Is Her Name Vol 2'; 'About The Blues'; 'Julie... At Home' and 'Around Midnight' Was she pop, or was she easy listening? In the days when our latest recruit to the AVID Jazz vocalist hall of fame was singing, genres or pigeon holes didn't quite seem so important. She was just a great singer! We think our lady could sing even the proverbial telephone directory and it would sound wonderful. For this release, however, we have chosen five of Julie London's more jazz influenced albums to highlight her prodigious talents. Just a look at some of the fine jazz musicians on board for these recordings will tell you that Julie London was considered a serious singer in the jazz world. On our five fine favourites you will hear the likes of Barney Kessel, Red Mitchell, Howard Roberts, Russ Garcia, Jimmy Rowles, Al Viola, Bob Flanigan, Don Bagley and Earl Palmer.' (album notes).

Details :







Some Other Pages on this Website:

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

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

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

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



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