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DECEMBER 2019

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Keith Jarrett

November saw the release of a new solo album by pianist Keith Jarrett on the ECM label. Recorded at Munich’s Philharmonie on July 16, 2016, on the last night of a European tour, the release covers 2 CDs (and is also available on vinyl). No doubt many soloists will identify with Keith's comment: “The solo concert is like another world that has its own rules that I didn’t make up.” Details of the recording are in this month's Recent Releases section.

 

 

 

Joe Gardner's Soul

Soul movie poster

 

 

Disney Pixar have unveiled the first trailer for their new animated movie ‘Soul’, which tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz, and who sets out on a journey to follow his dreams. The movie is set in the modern day jazz clubs of New York City and stars Jamie Foxx as the lead along with Tina Fey and Questlove from the band The Roots. The film score is being put together by British producer Atticus Ross with jazz contributions from the Grammy nominated New Orleans pianist Jon Batiste.

Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher, has long dreamed of performing jazz music onstage, and finally gets a chance after impressing other jazz musicians during an opening act at the Half Note Club. However, an accident causes Gardner's soul to be separated from his body and transported to the "You Seminar", a centre in which souls develop and gain passions before being transported to a newborn child, and Gardner must work with souls in training, such as 22, a soul with a dim view on life after being trapped for years at the You Seminar, in order to return to Earth before it's too late.

Disney’s ‘Soul’ is due for release in June next year, but the first trailer available to view - click here. "What would you want to be known for on Earth?"

 

 

 

 

Eel Pie Island Museum Award

British Guild of Travel Writers logo

Many readers will remember the iconic music venue at Eel Pie Island in the river Thames at Twickenham - a video about it - Clinging To A Mudflat - is on our page about Jazz on Eel Pie Island (click here). In 2018 a museum about the island was opened in the centre of Twickenham.

Each year, the British Guild of Travel Writers presents its own special awards for new tourism initiatives and the Eel Pie Island Museum, nominated by travel writer Paul Wade, has won a MERIT Award, which confirms that this is one of the top new tourism projects in the UK & Ireland category in 2019. In his presentation, Paul Wade wrote: “… this museum is all about wallowing in nostalgia. Put a classic vinyl LP on the record player for everyone to enjoy; watch films; chat to Michele, who’ll offer you a cuppa. Many tourism initiatives are created with lottery funding and big bucks: this is one person’s dream, supported by dynamic locals such as wind-up radio inventor Trevor Baylis. It’s the best of British.”

The BGTW has some 300 members, from writers and editors to photographers and broadcasters. As they travel the world, they see new tourism projects. Some cost millions and are well-publicised; others are simpler – but these may have an even larger impact on their community.

Click here for our page about Eel Pie Island hotel in the river Thames at Twickenham that was a musical mecca in the 1950s and 1960s. The page also has details of the Museum which, as you can see from the Award, is worth a visit.

 

 

 

UCLA Award For Wadada Leo Smith

In November, composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith received the UCLA Medal - the University of California, Los Angeles’ highest honour. The UCLA Medal is bestowed upon individuals of exceptional achievement whose bodies of work and contributions to society illustrate the highest ideals of the university.  Recipients include artists Herb Alpert, Plácido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald and Quincy Jones; Civil rights activists James M. Lawson, Jr. Loretta Jones and Georgia Representative John Lewis; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Presidents Jimmy Wadada Leo Smith portraitCarter and Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretaries Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said: “There’s an oft-quoted saying that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture. If that’s true, then giving a speech about Wadada Leo Smith is like swimming about astronomy. When your work has been described as a ‘cosmology’ and a ‘spiritual meditation about creation in the grand intergalactic sense,’ then the simple words ‘musician’ and ‘composer’ somehow seem far too limiting. Smith is a category-defying artist, both working within and transcending genres such as blues, jazz, experimental and classical.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways. Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking body of work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience." In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion. He regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. In 2017 he topped three categories: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer.

Click here for a video introducing Wadada and Vijay's ECM album A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke.

 

 

Video Juke Box

*Click on the Picture to watch the Video

 

 

Red Nichols and his Five Pennies 1929

 

It's the end of the 1920s and here are Red Nichols and his 'Five' Pennies playing a set that includes Ida, Whispering, Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, Who Cares and China Boy all within around 7 minutes. It is a classic video that gives us a taste of how the music was presented at the time as well as our being able to see Red Nichols, Eddie Condon (who also takes the vocals) and Pee Wee Russell in action alongside trombonist Herb Taylor, pianist Irving Brodsky, drummer George Beebe, and trumpeters Tommy Thune and John Egan added on Whispering.

 

 

 

 

Calum Gourlay Quartet video

 

The Calum Gourlay Quartet (Calum Gourlay: bass; Helena Kay : saxophone; Keiran McLeod : trombone; James Maddren : drums) play Blue Fugates a number you will find on their album New Ears released in December on the Ubuntu Music label - see Recent Releases)

 

 

 

 

 

New York All Stars Incazzato

 

 

The New York All-Stars featuring Eric Alexander, Seamus Blake and Mike LeDonne playing Incazzato from the Live Encounter album released in October on Ubuntu Music. The set was recorded live in London.

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Costley White Just One Of Those Things

 

 

Guitarist Nick Costley-White plays It Was Just One Of Those Things with Matt Robinson (piano); Conor Chaplin (Bass) and Dave Hamblett (drums).

 

 

 

 

 

Art Farmer petite Belle video

 

 

The Art Farmer - Jim Hall Quartet (with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca) play Petite Belle in a BBC television show from 1964. Art Farmer is on flugelhorn here and there are other videos from this set on YouTube that are worth playing. Art Farmer and Jim Hall also made a record, Interaction, in 1963 but with drummer Walter Perkins. The album is still available - click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Kit Downes Dreamlife Of Debris video

 

Introductory video to pianist / organist Kit Downes' new album Dreamlife Of Debris in which he invites previous collaborators Tom Challenger, Lucy Railton and Seb Rochford plus Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus to explore a situation 'where the musicians arrived to variously interact with Downes'. The instrumentalists meet, as Kit puts it ,"in a space with no singular character", with a dream-like ambience being created through overdubs and collage. Although the players do not come together as an ensemble, their appearance as individuals in changing constellations influences the direction of the shape-shifting music.'

 

 

 

 

Bing Crosby Rhythm On The River video

 

Trumpeter Wingy Manone and his band join Bing Crosby in a number from the 1940 film Rhythm On The River. In the early 1920s Bing also played drums and here he picks up the sticks again. 'Wingy' lost his right arm in a car accident when he was ten. As we can see here, he used a prosthesis so that his disability was not apparent to the public.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Name The Tune

(Click on the picture for the answer)

 

Name the tune

Click here for our Name The Tune page

 

 

 

Jazz Guitar Essentials: Improvising Over ii-V-I Chord Changes

Earlier this year, Cassie McVey wrote an article for us - A New Jazz Musician's Guide To Finding Gigs (click here). The article was picked up in New Zealand by the website Beginner Guitar HQ who provide online guides for guitar playing. They have published a page on guitar Hollow body guitarimprovisation that they thought our readers might find of interest. The article begins:

 

'Any budding guitarist with an interest in playing jazz quickly hears about the fabled ii-V-I sequence. This humble three-chord progression is the foundation of most of jazz music, in the same way that the I-IV-V forms the basis of blues and rock.

But while beginner and intermediate guitarists can master blues improvisation relatively easily — the minor pentatonic scale works perfectly over all three chords — ii-V-I sequences present a tougher challenge.

Technically, it’s possible to use just one scale over the three chords: the Ionian (major) scale of the tonic chord. However, the major scale gives the absolute opposite of a jazzy feel to your solo licks and sounds rote and tired when played over tunes with multiple ii-V-I changes.

Improvising smoothly over ii-V-I lines is an essential skill for any guitarist playing jazz. There are plenty of ways to do it successfully, but to get a better idea for how to do it we first need to break down the structure of and theory behind the ii-V-I sequence .....'

Click here to read the rest of the article .

 

 

 

The Absolute Beginner's Guide To Jazz

Duke Ellington

 

 

In case you missed the broadcasts, there is a summary of Alyn Shipton's BBC series available online with 12 tracks from Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet to Carla Bley and Wynton Marsalis.

This could be a useful introduction for people just becoming interested in the music. Click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Quiz

London Calling

This month we challenge you with fifteen questions related to 'London'. How many can you answer?

 

London

 

 

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Lester Young, Count Basie and Herschel Evans

Lester Young

Lester Young (Prez)

 

'... be-bop tenor man Dexter Gordon said, "Hawk (Coleman Hawkins) had done everything possible and was the master of the horn, but when Prez appeared we all started listening to him alone. Prez had an entirely new sound, one that we had been waiting for, the first one to really tell a story on the horn."

'It was during these decisive years with Basie that Prez reached his peak. His porkpie hat became famous, and his unique sounds and conceptions on tenor attracted musicians, fans, and critics. He leaped and they followed. But with fame his eccentricities became Herschel Evans and Lester Youngpronounced. He claimed to have psychic and prophetic powers, and when he left the Basie band in 1940 it was ostensibly because a recording session had been called, in defiance of one of his superstitions, for Friday the thirteenth. But according to drummer Jo Jones, a Basie compatriot and one of Prez's closest friends, the reason for the walkout was the culmination of a sorrow Prez had been bearing for almost two years: the death of Herschel Evans.

 

Herschel Evans, Eddie Miller and Lester Young.

 

'"They were supposed to be battling on the bandstand, but actually Lester had the greatest respect and admiration for Herschel. It was just like a twin dying. Soon afterward, Lester would be so restless that he would keep his coat and hat underneath the music stand and other guys would have to pull him back down to his seat to keep playing." According to Jones, Prez didn't drink heavily until Evans died. Jones feels that "after Herschel died, Lester felt it was his duty to play Herschel and Lester. He had a dual thing going - he'd play four bars of himself and four for Herschel. He was lost."'

From 'From Satchmo to Miles' by Leonard Feather

 

Click here for Prez and Herschel playing Bugle Blues together in Count Basie's Orchestra in 1937. Herschel Evans takes the first tenor solo and Lester Young the second.

 

[Herschel Evans was a member of Count Basie's band from 1936 until he died in 1939 at the age of 29. Herschel had become increasingly unwell at the beginning of 1939, collapsing while playing with the band on two occasions in January and February. He died on February 9th, 1939 of heart disease in New York City while the Basie band was playing a one-nighter in Toledo, Ohio - Ed].

 

Herschel Evans

 

Herschel Evans (with Freddie Green) from a photograph discovered by Christopher Tyle

 

 

 

The Jazz Images Of Francis Wolff

Jazz Images by Francis Wolff

 

Coming in March 2020 is the publication of Francis Wolff's photographic compilation Jazz Images. The book compiles more than 150 Francis Wolff photos of jazz stars, most of which are published for the very first time. It also includes a special introduction by renowned music historian Ashley Kahn. "For two decades, Francis Wolff showcased jazz photography by photographing every jazz session that Blue Note Records made. He not only preserved a major part of jazz history, but with his remarkable eye, he captured amazing candid portraits of great artists that reveal the joy and intensity of jazz at the point of creation." (Michael Cuscuna).

Francis Wolff (1907-1971) was essential to the success of the Blue Note record label, founded by his childhood friend Alfred Lion. Wolff took thousands of photographs during the Blue Note recording sessions and rehearsals. His highly personal visual concept would be forever associated with both Blue Note and jazz as a whole. Ashley Kahn, who writes the Introduction to the book, is an American music historian, journalist, and producer. Among his critically acclaimed writing are books on two major jazz albums, Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. He has received a Grammy award for his liner notes, and he is a professor at New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

Jordi Soley, who has edited the book, is a jazz distributor, producer, and collector. He opened his first jazz record store, Jazz Collectors, in 1980. Since then, all of his business activities have been related to the world of jazz records. He started collecting LPs at the age of 13, and his collection now contains over 50.000 albums, making it one of the largest jazz record collections in Europe, as recently noted in the Japanese magazine, Jazz Perspective.

Available from 1st March 2020, the pre-order price at Amazon is £39.00 - click here for details.

 

 

 

 

Poetry and Jazz

We Speak Luniwaz:
Scott Kinsey Plays The Music Of Joe Zawinul

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].

 

Joe Zawinul

 

Joe Zawinul

 

Josef (Joe) Zawinul was an unlikely jazz man let alone an innovator of the music. For a start, he wasn’t American. He was Austrian, born in 1932 in Vienna, hardly New Orleans or Kansas City. He studied music at the Vienna Conservatory and worked as a jazz musician before moving to the US in 1959. His original intention was to study at Berklee College of Music but, almost immediately, he was snapped up by Maynard Ferguson and went on tour as the pianist in the trumpeter’s band.

Zawinul first came to wider prominence in the nineteen sixties as the pianist in Cannonball Adderley’s group. He was one of the first jazz musicians to develop the potential of the electric piano. Adderley encouraged Zawinul’s composition ambitions – with spectacular results when Zawinul came up with Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, one of the great jazz tunes and a big commercial hit. Click here for a brief clip of Zawinul playing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy live in 1968.

Zawinul composed other memorable tunes for Adderley, notably Country Preacher which was in the same style as Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, a style which came to be known as “soul jazz”. In retrospect, though, these tunes were laying part of the foundations of jazz rock, a genre in which Zawinul is a seminal figure.

In 1969, Miles Davis invited Zawinul to join him in recording an album which would eventually emerge as In A Silent Way. The title track is an adaptation of a Zawinul composition. In A Silent Way became a landmark album in the development of jazz rock although much of the music defies simplistic categorisations. One of the musicians who played on the album was British guitarist, John McLaughlin - click here for Zawinul and McLaughlin playing In A Silent Way live in Austria in 1992:

 

In 1971, Zawinul teamed up with another of Miles’ sidemen, Wayne Shorter, to form Weather Report. The group was hugely successful and had a wide appeal, reaching far beyond a jazz audience. Its music was exuberant jazz rock and its live performances had all the razzmatazz Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorterof a rock band. It also incorporated other musical influences, particularly African music. Zawinul moved well beyond the simple piano, even an electric one, to embrace all the possibilities of ever more elaborate synthesisers. In Austria, he had become something of a virtuoso on the accordion and he always said that the synthesiser was the natural successor of that instrument.

 

Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter

 

In the fifteen or so years of its existence, Weather Report released many albums, the most successful of which was Heavy Weather in 1977. Zawinul’s ability to write commercially successful tunes was on display yet again when one of the tracks on the album, Birdland, became a big hit. Click here for Weather Report playing Birdland live in 1977.   

My own personal favourite Heavy Weather track – indeed, my favourite track of all Weather Report’s prodigious output – is Zawinul’s The Juggler. It has all of Zawinul’s skill with a hook and a riff. It also seems to reach back into his Austrian roots with the feel of a Middle European folk song, the sort of song that fellow Austrian, Schubert, might well have built something around. You can listen to The Juggler if you click here.

 

Many musicians played with Weather Report including the influential electric bassist, Jaco Pastorius. The main axis of the band, though, remained Zawinul and Shorter, but with Zawinul always the main driving force. When the band folded in the mid 1980s, Zawinul founded The Zawinul Syndicate which toured and recorded for the next twenty years. Zawinul was on tour in his native Austria when he died in 2007 aged Scott Kinsey75. He is buried in Vienna’s Central Cemetery along with some of the great names of Austrian music.

Zawinul’s music lives on – anyone who uses a synthesiser in jazz or plays jazz rock owes him some sort of debt; and you can hear his influence (and that of Weather Report) in the more sophisticated end of the rock spectrum. His legacy has also been kept alive in a more direct way through the work of the Zawinul Legacy Band. One of the main musicians behind the Band, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, has recently released an album on the Whirlwind Recordings label called We Speak Luniwaz.

 

Scott Kinsey

 

“Luniwaz” is “Zawinul” spelt backwards. Scott Kinsey explains the concept in the sleeve notes: “Anyone who knows Zawinul’s music realises that he didn’t play licks or phrases that one can simply copy and regurgitate. What Joe did was create his own personal language that was always in the moment and totally fresh! So with time, I also learned to speak Luniwaz, perhaps using my own personal dialect, in the same way a person would learn any language – through immersion, listening and absorbing its essence over time”.

 

We Speak Luniwaz has seven of Zawinul’s compositions plus Wayne Shorter’s Port of Entry and two numbers put together by Kinsey’s group as a whole. The group has Kinsey on keyboards, Katisse Buckingham on sax and flutes, Hadrien Feraud on electric bass and Gergö Borlai on drums. The group is augmented by several guest stars, many of whom played with Zawinul. These include bassist, Jimmy Haslip, and percussionists Bobby Thomas Jr., Michael Baker, and Arto Tunçboyaciyan.

The album is true to the spirit of Zawinul’s music. It often feels like an updated Weather Report for the twenty first century with more modern recording techniques (the sound quality is superb) and no doubt better quality instrumentation. The technical virtuosity of the musicians is Scott Kinsey We Speak Luniwazsomething to behold. All of the numbers are upbeat, joyous affairs (Kinsey doesn’t seem to do slow) driven along by an infectious beat which transmits straight to the feet. As Zawinul’s career developed, he seemed to become much more interested in rhythm rather than melody and Weather Report often used more than one percussionist – as does We Speak Luniwaz, where each number has at least two percussionists. Indeed, one might argue that the percussionists are the key members of the ensemble providing the driving beat and stitching together the efforts of the others.

Take something like Running the Dara Down, for example, which is one of the pieces composed by the group but in many respects is more Zawinul than Zawinul. The piece has a pronounced African feel with most of the musicians contributing snatches of phrases which might have felt disjointed and rather aimless if it wasn’t for the steady rhythms provided by the percussion. The beat provides the structure and gives the piece a unity which it might otherwise have lacked. A word, too, for the atmospheric wooden flute playing here of Bobby Thomas Jr.

The electric bass playing of Hadrien Feraud also provides rhythm, of course, but as with Pastorius in Weather Report, the bass is often used as a front line instrument. Feraud’s playing is one of the highlights of the album. He is clearly influenced by Pastorius but there is something else quite magical there. On Fast City (from Weather Report’s 1980 album, Night Passage), for example, he takes electric bass to a whole new level.      

Another feature of the album is the use of the voice. Zawinul was fond of the vocoder, a device for changing the sound of the voice electronically. Kinsey uses it on many of the numbers on We Speak Luniwaz but always sparingly and to effect. Kinsey also follows Zawinul in the use of background voices to create atmosphere. For instance, on Black Market, one of Weather Report’s most popular numbers from the 1976 album of the same name, background voices conjure up the atmosphere of an African market. Click here for a   performance of Black Market by the Zawinul Legacy Band live in 2013.

The most striking use of the voice, however, is on Cucumber Slumber (from the Weather Report album, Mysterious Traveller, 1976) which is interspersed with a rap from Katisse Buckingham outlining Zawinul’s career in rhymes. This will not to be to everyone’s taste. Jazz purists in particular, many of whom didn’t really take to Weather Report, may turn their noses up but it is entirely in the spirit of Zawinul who took influences from all sorts of music. You can listen to Cucumber Slumber if you click here.

As in much of Zawinul’s music, there is a lot going on with We Speak Luniwaz. The synthesisers and other electric effects make the ensemble sound at times like a much bigger band than it actually is. The music is often quite complex and can go off into unexpected directions. After a few listens to the album, I came to the conclusion that the best way to approach it was to let the music wash over you and to treat it viscerally rather than intellectually. It is complicated music which is best listened to in an uncomplicated way.

The final track on We Speak Luniwaz is Where The Moon Goes from Weather Report’s 1983 album, Procession. Kinsey and Whirlwind have made a music video of the track - click here. This showcases all of the features of the whole album – indeed, of all Zawinul’s oeuvre: compelling rhythms and riffs, a prominent bass, interesting electronic effects (including judicious use of the vocoder), and complex but accessible tunes and improvisations. The whole is proof that Kinsey and his ensemble have learned to speak Luniwaz absolutely fluently but in their own distinctive way.

  For details of how to get hold of We Speak Luniwaz, click here. For Scott Kinsey’s website click here.

 

 


Directory of Alternative Musical Definitions

 

Presa

Sign in musical notation that indicates that a Lester Young solo is coming.

 

Lester Young

Click on the picture

 

Click here for more Alternative Definitions.

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Voices

Rita Payés

Rita payes

Spanish vocalist and trombone player Rita Payés Rome, was born in 1999 in Vilassar de Mar (Barcelona). Her parents are both musicians so she has always been surrounded by music. She started out studying piano at the School of Music in Premià de Mar, moving on at eight to the School of Modern Music in Badalona where she also started playing trombone. Her next step was to enter the School Oriol Martorell (integrated music training centre) in Barcelona.

Now still only 20 she has played and sung in several big bands, jazz bands and combos. In 2013 she joined the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, under the direction of Joan Chamorro and since then she has made a huge impression and has played and sung at the Barcelona Jazz Festival, Jazz Jamboree Club Auditorium, Barnaswing, Summer Festivals in several villages of Catalonia, concerts in Almería, Valencia, France, Switzerland.

Click here for Rita and I Can't Get Started with the Sant Andreu Jazz Band.

 

Joan Chamorro presenta Rita Payes

 

In 2014, she was featured in the album ‘Joan Chamorro presents Rita Payés’. Chamorro said at the time: ‘Rita Payés (14-15 years old, while recording) is a trombonist and singer, but mostly she’s music, in every sense of the word, and a great person.....She joined Sant Andreu Jazz Band only one year ago, and I’ll never forget the emotion she caused me when I heard her sing Stars Fell On Alabama for the first time with a very personal voice, sometimes sharp, sometimes broken, nuanced, perfectly toned and rich in rhythmic contribution. Plus, as a trombonist, she has a clear sound, round, very direct’.

 

Click here for a video of Rita and Stars Fell On Alabama with the Joan Chamorro Quintet, the trumpet of Andrea Motis and saxophone of Scott Hamilton.

 

 

 

In July 2019, Rita was playing and singing with the Brian Kellock Trio at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and before that, in June, she performed with her mother, guitarist Elisabeth Roma, at London’s Pizza Express in Soho. They were ‘...launching their debut album during the London Catalan Festival, giving their personal take on the music that has accompanied them all their lives, from traditional Catalan lullabies to bossa nova, fado, boleros … ... The  family project started when Rita booked a two-day studio session for Elisabeth as a birthday present in June 2018. Rehearsing and preparing for that session, they re-evaluated and strengthened their repertoire and arrangements. It was then when they decided to take the project further and release it as their debut album. The album will be released later this year...’ Click here for a video of them playing together in April.

There are many videos of Rita on YouTube for you to explore. The video I have chosen for this feature is an informal duet from 2018 with pianist Toni Saigi playing Please Tell Me Now click here.

 

Rita Payes and Toni Saigi

Rita Payés and Toni Saigi

 

 

 

 

Who's New for 2020

Each year, Jazzwise magazine asks various people in the jazz community to say who they think we should look out for in the coming year. Full details are in the December/January issue of Jazzwise, but here is a list of the musicians and bands that were put forward. If you fancy looking back over who was named in the past, I have kept a note from some previous years' nominations (click here). The list is quite long, so I have linked to video pages for some of those named:

 

The Jazzwise '2020 Visions'

Sahra Gure

 

Bernadette Kellerman (violin)
Mark Hendry (bass)
Joseph Oti (trumpet)
Ife Ogunjobi (trumpet)
Maddy Coombs (saxophone)
Donovan Haffner (saxophone)
Izzy Burnham (bass)
Nadav Schneerson’s ‘Yadasofi’ (band)
Sahra Gure (vocals)

 

Sahra Gure


Cykada (band)
Sarah Farmer (violin)
Lee Griffiths (saxophone)
JD Beck (drums)
Domi Degalle (keyboards)
Max Gerl (bass)

Evan Marien (bass)
Maria Chiara Argiró (piano)
Leila Martial (vocals)
Sam Jesson Trio (band)
Dave Story (drums)
Imperial Triumphant (band)


Theo May

White Ward (band)
Erik Kimestadt (trumpet)
Joel Ross (vibraphone)
Alice Leggett (saxophone)
Xhose Cole (saxophone)
Sara Oschlag (vocals)

 

Theo May


Zela Margossian (piano)
Brandee Younger (harp)
Ashley Henry (piano)
Matana Roberts (saxophone)
Trish Clowes (saxophone)
Alina Bzhezhinska (harp)
Petra Haller (dance)
Theo May (violin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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].

Kwaku

Kwaku

 

Kwaku is the founder of BBM (BritishBlackMusic.com) and BMC (Black Music Congress), which is a forum for discussing black music issues, networking, and highlighting and providing pathways to music industry education. BBM provides via its e-newsletter information about music, music business, and music business education with a bias towards British and black music. Its off-line activities include cultural industries research, consultancy, music business courses, and it organises seminars and conferences, including British Black Music Month (BBMM June/July) and International Reggae Day UK (IRD UK July 1).

His background is as a music industry journalist, lecturer, and consultant. A former columnist for Billboard and DJ, and worker of the now defunct Black Music Industry Association, Kwaku began his career many moons ago running his own indie label and music publishing firm. Having taught on music business courses in University Of Westminster, City University London, City & Islington College, and Collage Arts, he now runs accessible music industry and event planning courses through BTWSC, a voluntary organisation that develops potential through use of the creative arts. BTWSC was formed in April 2002 and named after the successful 'Beyond The Will Smith Challenge' writing competition and publication, which was a Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) Millennium Awards project.

Kwaku holds master degrees in Media, Music Business Management, and an LLM in Entertainment Law, plus BIIAB Award for Music Promoters (AMP). He has a keen interest in IP (Internet Property) issues and he has organised and chaired a number of music copyright seminars, including the annual BBMM Talking Copyright seminar at City, University Of London. He stopped by for a Tea Break:

 

Hi Kwaku, nice to see you, can I get you a tea or coffee?

Hi Ian, tea, preferably herb tea please

 

Milk and sugar?

No sugar, no milk.

 

Each time I read your email newsletters, and you are sending them out regularly at the moment, your agenda seems busier and busier! How do you keep up with it all?

I'm glad to know you are one of those who actually read them! Although I meet people who tell me they look forward to the newsletters, I nevertheless have been concerned that we've been over-burdening subscribers with the frequency and amount of content covered. So I recently decided to switch to the Alert format, which will only come out when we wish to publicise an activity we're either organising or associated with. That way, the content will be short and focused. I've had people complain about having to read so much. I'm sure you too get that sort of response from some of your subscribers.

 

I'm sure that's true. I think I really expect people to scroll down my What's New page and pick up on those things that interest them rather than read the whole page, but I hope some people dip into other things and discover something new.


Good point. In terms of being busy, it's simply something I just get on with. I guess to outsiders it would seem a lot, because one day it's about music, the next time, it could be about the environment, Fairtrade, racism, history or even politics. I also marvel at one person in particular who is active across many discrete areas, and I once asked him how he manages to do so much across several theatres, so to speak. His answer, was 'stealing time', by not sleeping much. Something I know too well!

 

I don’t expect when you started BBM/BMC you expected it to be so busy! How and when did you get into it in the first place?

We started BritishBlackMusic.com (BBM) in 2001. The aim was to use the online arena to replicate some of the functions of an organisation I was involved in, the Black Music Industry Association (BMIA), which by then had become defunct. So the aim was to provide MusicIndustry Knowledge poster information about British black music, the music industry – at the time I was an active journalist writing for publications such as Billboard and DJ Mag, and music industry – I've always been passionate about providing industry knowledge, whether as a lecturer at university, be it City or Westminster, through BMIA's seminars, or through accredited and accessible, non-accredited courses offered by BTWSC.

It wasn't too busy at the beginning. However, very soon into the journey, I realised that although it was nice to post stuff online, it was also necessary to have some off-line engagement. So in May 2002 we launched Black Music Congress (BMC) with the first of what was a monthly debating session at City, University Of London. This gradually turned into every two months. Over the years, it's become an ad hoc forum which covers black music issues in different locations. So I guess, we've always been pretty busy, which is a challenge considering we are not funded, and most of our events are free, except for the half day music industry courses. Our busiest period is naturally the June/July window of British Black Music Month, which we started in 2006. Thankfully we have some strategic partners, such as City, University Of London, where we've hosted the Talking Copyright seminars for the last few years. And we now have Goldsmiths, University of London, where we host the International Reggae Day weekender.

 

British Black Music covers a whole range of types of music and the International Reggae Day seems to have taken off well. Most people associate Reggae with Jamaica and Bob Marley, but there must be more than that to its origins?

We hosted our first International Reggae Day event in 2017, and have subsequently not only hosted a number of related events, but have also become the UK co-ordinator of the Day in the UK. So far, the events have been London-based, but we are quite keen to have licensed events outside London in 2020. Of course we acknowledge that the birth place of reggae is Jamaica. And indeed, last year that was recognised with UNESCO according Jamaica a world heritage listing for reggae. However, the roots of the music lie in Africa, from where Catch A Fire Blue PlaqueAfricans were trafficked to Jamaica and other parts of the so-called New World.

But music, like all cultural forms, doesn't remain static. So in that respect, Britain has made some significant contributions within the reggae umbrella term. I filmed a vox pop documentary some years ago entitled 'Britain's Contribution To The Development Of Reggae', and in it, the over-whelming majority pointed to Britain's development of the sub-genre known as 'Lovers' Rock'. Others pointed to how British musicians have infused reggae sensibilities into genres such as drum & bass, UK garage, grime, dubstep etc. I've also been making the point that without Britain, reggae would most likely have remained a localised musical style, like several of the Caribbean musical styles. It was both the migration to Britain by African Caribbean people, mostly from Jamaica, and the British music industry's efforts, which projected reggae unto the global market.

At the start of this year's African History Month, I worked with Nubian Jak to unveil a blue heritage plaque on the former Island Studios building in Ladbroke Grove, west London which highlighted Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh of The Wailers. At the unveiling ceremony, I pointed out that had it not been for a British company, Island Records, perhaps Bob Marley may not have become the superstar that he is now.

 

 

All music has cross-overs – are there elements of reggae that you think link to jazz?

Let me start by saying there's an inextricable link between reggae and jazz. If one goes to the foundation of reggae – call it ska, if you like, Ernest Ranglin at Glastonburyyou can see jazz influences. At the start of recordings in Jamaica, many of the session musicians were alumni of Kingston's Alpha Boys School, where they received a solid grounding in music education and jazz music. The first album releases by Island Records in Jamaica were jazz offerings by the likes of pianist Lance Hayward, and guitarist Ernest Ranglin. The latter continues to straddle jazz and reggae, as do British acts such as saxophonist Courtney Pine, guitarist Ciyo, and the Jazz Jamaica band. Saxophonist YolanDa Brown has also been doing the same in recent times.

 

Ernest Ranglin at Glastonbury in 2016

 

There are several videos of Ernest playing Surfin' on YouTube, Kwaku, including a good version at the NPR Music desk, but I like this video of him playing Lively Up Yourself in Amesterdam in 2011. There is some good interaction with the bass guitarist and it shows his skill on the guitar (click here). But to pick up on the jazz connection there is an excellent compilation video called Ernest Ranglin Order Of Distinction recently out on YouTube that I'd highly recomment - it runs for just over an hour - click here - it's worthwhile just dipping into it).

 

 

 

Reggae is alive and well – which current bands would you suggest we might listen to?

Dennis Bovell

 

Unfortunately I'm very much old school, so singers such as Carroll Thompson, Jean Adebambo and Louisa Marks on the lovers rock front, bands such as Aswad and Steel Pulse still resonate with me. For lyrical witticism Macka B is up there, whilst Mad Professor is still relevant when it comes to dub. Equally, Dennis Bovell is a name to look out for, whether as a producer or a sideman live or on recordings. In terms of the newer bands, there's Royal Sounds, and for singers and toasters, there's Marla Brown, daughter of Dennis Brown, Josey Roots formerly known as Jo Caesar, daughter of Levi Roots, Deneez Peters, daughter of Freddie Notes, Hollie Cook, Teshay Makeda, Randy Valentine, Andrew Sloley, Melo D, and Gappy Ranks.

 

Dennis Bovell will be at the 2020 One Love Festival in August.

 

Those are some great recommendations, Kwaku, thank you. People can explore them. Teshay Makeda and Aleighcia Scott played a nice gig at The Hideaway in 2018 with Ciyo Brown's band 'to explore the music that influenced them from reggae greats Joya Landis, Phyllis Dillon and Susan Cadogan, through to current day RnB divas' (click here).

 

 

 

 

How about a biscuit or a slice of cake? I have some chocolate digestives, some Hob Nobs in the tin here, or there is some Ginger Cake left in the cake box?

Oh, you're spoiling me. But after all that racking of my brain to recall stuff, I think I'll opt for the chocolate digestives as I'm rather partial to chocolate digestives. My wife always cautions me about my weight when she sees I've bought some, but hey, we only pass here but once!

 

So what is your own background in music?

Well, I’ve never been a musician, but I enjoy listening to music and writing about it. Lately, I've combined my interest in global African history and knowledge of pop and black music history, and become a historical musicologist. I've consequently written a number of reggae history type pieces for The Weekly Gleaner.

 

I believe the Gleaner is a Jamaican newspaper that's been going since 1834! and that there is a UK version which presumably is the one you have written for. How did British Black Music month go this year? I know it usually runs from June into July.

Yes, you are right about The Gleaner and yes, I contribute to the UK weekly version. This year, we deliberately decided to cut down on the number of events for British Black Music Month.. I think it worked better, and gave me a bit more time, compared to Kwakuprevious years, when I hardly had a domestic life to speak of!

 

I think one of the valuable events you run during Black Music Month are the seminars on ‘the music business’. They must be popular as you run them each year. What can people expect to discuss at these workshops?

My interests are music, music industry and global African history, so whilst we have workshops that focus exclusively on music industry issues, we also create forums where any of the three areas I've mentioned can be the subject of discussion. For example, I attended a Fairtrade debate yesterday. As a consequence, I'm thinking of programming a discussion around Fairtrade as part of next year's British Black Music Month. Also, next year will be the 80th anniversary of the death of the pan-Africanist icon Marcus Garvey. As he has a great influence over roots reggae, I'm planning on highlighting his role within the reggae narrative. As for the Making Sense of how the Music Industry Works sessions, there is one more this year on December 14th (click here for details).

 

You must have made contact over the years with many musicians, some of them Jazz musicians – what do you think are the main challenges they face today?

I don't think much has changed from the days when a bunch of young African musicians decided in the 1980s to create their own scene, as the European gate-keepers such as agents and club owners wouldn't give them a look in. The result was the movement we now know as Jazz Warriors, from which has sprung many notable individual careers, of which Courtney Pine and Gary Cosby are examples. So in other words, I think the challenges are still the age-old ones of access, particularly access to performing in prominent venues, and profiling in the major media that cover jazz. I'd suggest anyone interested in this issue should check out the 2014 book 'Black British Jazz Routes, Ownership And Performance'.

 

We can listen to Courtney Pine talking about the start of Jazz Warriors in this video filmed before a performance at The Barbican in 2007 where there are some music clips of the band rehearsing too (click here).

Black British Jazz Routes, Ownership And Performance, is still available online and quite expensive (click here), but people could ask for a copy through their local library. I find that black women musicians are really making an impact in Jazz now. People like Nubya Garcia, YolanDa Brown, Sheila Maurice-Grey, Camilla George and Shirley Tetteh. Is it the same in Reggae and other genres?

Last week I attended an opera written by Shirley J Thompson, which featured the soprano Nadine Benjamin, who's well regarded within the classical music field. Reggae has always provided a space for female singers, but few are either musicians or producers. I think the same applies to most black music genres, though it is encouraging seeing the likes of Birmingham grime rappers Lady Leshurr and Lady Sanity who are also producers.

 

Have you worked out a main theme for your 2020 events, Kwaku? What can we expect to see happening in the New Year and how can people find out about the programme?

Our International Reggae Day hub events will take place on July 1 in the north-West London borough of Brent, and the weekend before at Goldsmiths, University Of London. We're planning a reggae album sleeve exhibition and other reggae and black music related activities as part of Brent, London Borough Of Culture 2020. I am also exploring how to engage music with key anniversaries, such as the 80th anniversary since the death of Marcus Garvey or the centenary of the first Pan-African Conference of 1900. Details will be on our facebook page (click here) or on our page of upcoming events (click here)

 

Just talking about it sounds as those it is going to be another busy time! You probably need another cup of tea?

Maybe one more.

 

OK. Choose some music, and I’ll put the kettle on.


Sounds good! Please can you put on Carleen Anderson's Woman In Me, which I recently re-discovered on Youtube

On its way (click here)

 

Carleen Anderson Woman In Me

 

 

Utah Tea Pot

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Remembered

Herman Autrey

 

[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].

 

Herman Autrey

 

I have always enjoyed the playing of trumpeter Herman Autrey on Fats Waller’s recordings. Fats was such a strong personality he seems to dominate the recordings to the point where Autrey and clarinettist Gene Sedric often don’t get the recognition I think they deserve. Just listen to the way Herman picks up the energy already created by Fats on Dinah - click here. This recording is a little intriguing and perhaps readers can help out here? The YouTube reference says '1939' but I think that this is the Victor recording made on June 24th 1935. However, you will hear Fats shout "Swing it out then Jackson" for the reeds solo - who is 'Jackson'? The 1935 recording had Rudy Powell on clarinet and alto sax rather than Gene Sedric. Saxophonist Franz Jackson did join the Waller band at the end of the 1930s but my discography does not show him included in a recording of Dinah.

Herman Autrey was born on 4th December 1904 in Alabama. His father and two of his brothers were also musicians. He started out on alto horn, took up the trumpet in his teens and was soon gigging in Pittsburgh and Florida. By 1933 he had travelled through Washington D.C. and Philadelphia before arriving in New York City where he joined Charlie ‘Fess’ Johnson’s Paradise Ten.

The following year, Fats Waller signed a new contract with Victor Records and hired Herman, Gene Sedric, guitarist Al Casey and drummer Harry Dial for his band.

Click here to listen to him playing with Fats on Georgia May.

Herman Autrey

 

Without a comprehensive, accurate discography it is not always possible to know which of Fats Waller's numerous recordings included Herman Autrey. Although he played on the majority, other trumpeters such as Bill Coleman, Paul Campbell and particularly John Hamilton played on some.

In his book The Best Of Jazz, Humphrey Lyttelton wrote: 'I know few other performances which demonstrate so unashamedly the sheer joy of taking part in spontaneous jazz creation when total rapport and momentum have been reached. That Fats presided over scores of such performances in sessions designed for the commercial market is all the more wondrous. The end of 'Twelfth Street Rag' brings joy to its culmination. Fats overruns the ensemble with portentous descending octaves culminating in crashing Chopinesque chords, Herman Autrey blows a derisive 'that's all' phrase on trumpet and then Fats unleashes a final ear-splitting shout of 'YEAH!!!'.

Click here to listen to Twelfth Street Rag.

 

 

Herman was also recording with Fletcher Henderson and Claude Hopkins as well as smaller groups such as Gene Sedric's Honey Bears - here they are with The Joint Is Jumpin' - click here.

I am not sure whether there is video footage of Herman Autrey. There are some videos of Fats Waller playing but the only one I have found that I think might include Herman is this one of Fats and Your Feets Too Big - click here.

 

When the 1940s arrived Herman Autrey became sideman in several bands including those of Stuff Smith and Una Mae Carlisle. He also had his own combos with musicians including pianist and composer Herbie Nichols.

Click here for Herman in Claude Hopkins band playing Yacht Swing Club and here he is with Gene Sedric in 1946 in pianist/vocalist Pat Flowers band playing Googie Woogie - click here.

His playing was interrupted as the result of  a car crash in the 1950s but he was back in the 1960s playing and touring with Red Richards and Vic Dickenson’s Saints And Sinners band and then with drummer Buzzy Drootin’s Jazz Family.

By the 1970s, Herman was losing his lip on trumpet and spent more time as a vocalist.

He died in New York on June 14th, 1980.

There is an interview with Herman Autrey (now lodged at Rutgers University Library) available to listen to here that gives much more detail about his life than I have included here.

 

As it is December, perhaps we should end with Herman Autrey with Fats Waller and Gene Sedric and Swinging Them Jingle Bells - click here.

 

Herman Autrey with Fats Waller

Fats Waller and his Rhythm

 

 

 

 

Two Ears Three Eyes

Carmen Souza

As usual, photographer Brian O'Connor took his camera to gigs during November. Here is one of his pictures of Carmen Souza who was playing with her band at The Verdict, Brighton in East Sussex.

 

Carmen Souza

 

Now based in London, Carmen Souza was born in Portugal. Her parents moved to Lisbon in 1981 after the Carnation revolution for independence took place in their native Cape Verde. As a child, Carmen began singing gospel music in the church choir and childhood was filled with the music and culture of Cape Verde and Portugal. After spending just one year at college, she left to pursue her music career. In 1999, Carmen began partnering with bassist Theo Pas'cal who continues to perform with her. Carmen sings, plays piano and guitar and writes or co-writes her songs with Pas'cal. Carmen ‘usually sings in Creole because its variants allow her a flexibility for the language to meld with different cadences than more formal languages allow. But she also sings in English, French, and Portuguese’

Carmen was playing music from her recent album The Silver Messengers, released in October. On the album, the band includes Theo Pas'cal (bass and double bass); Elias Kacomanolis (drums); Ben Burrell (piano) with guests Zoe Pascal (drums); Jonathan Idiagbonya (piano); Sebastian Sheriff (percussion), but for her Brighton gig, the group was smaller including Ben Burrell (piano); Elias Kacomandis (drums) and Theo Pas'cal (bass and double bass).

Brian O’Connor says: ‘I went with a friend.  We were both a bit dubious, especially as said friend is not too keen on many singers.  However, in person she is quite a knockout, and far better than her YouTube (or at least the ones I've seen) videos seem to indicate.  Even said friend was very impressed.  A very good evening; an excellent personality - Go see!’ (Unfortunately, the band moved on from the UK to Europe for the rest of their tour).

Click here for a video of The Jody Grind.

 

 

Carmen Souza and Theo Pascal

 

Carmen Souza and Theo Pas'cal

 

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

 

 


Full Focus

John Pearce

Just Friends

From the album Just Friends

 

'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].

 

 

John Pearce

 

 

Born in Bristol, John Pearce developed his career as a classical violinist. He began learning the violin at the age of seven and was awarded a bursary at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Gyorgy Pauk, later continuing his studies privately with Bela Katona. He took part in the ‘Live Music Now’ scheme that was developed by Yehudi Menuhin as a musical outreach organisation and he has performed across Europe and Japan as well as playing at prestigious UK venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and St Martin In the Fields. He has performed live on BBC radio and television and he continues to give masterclasses and music workshops throughout the country.

In recent years, John has become increasingly interested in playing jazz and this year released his debut jazz album, Just Friends, with pianist David Newton, bass player Will Harris and drummer Ian Matthews. The album is full of variety with well-known tunes such as You Don’t Know What Love Is and Moonlight In Vermont tracking alongside Stompin’ At The Savoy and Lester Leaps In.  

I heard John play music from the album at the Wine Vaults in Bath where he was in the company of the resident trio led by bassist Wade Edwards. The place was full and he received an enthusiastic welcome and response from an audience that had clearly heard him play before and had come to hear him again.

As you might expect, John's classical training underlies his playing but that in no way detracts from his ability to improvise and perhaps adds to the emotion he is able to  convey through his music – his moving performance on My Foolish Heart was a case in point – you can hear it here where you will also find details of the album and samples of the tracks.

John Pearce Just Friends album

 

 

 

 

This month in our Full Focus feature, John talks about the title track from the album, Just Friends.

Click here to listen to the track.

 

 

 

 

 

My first experience of hearing the tune Just Friends was after my 14th birthday. Birthday money in hand, I ventured into the old HMV in The Galleries, Bristol, eager to explore the jazz and classical CD section to see what I could find. I bought a complete CD set of Beethoven's string quartets (recorded by the Medici String Quartet) and Charlie Parker with Strings. The battered black ghetto blaster in my bedroom was already well acquainted with Charlie Parker's music, listening to Parker's Ko-Ko had been a revelatory experience for me and had been played relentlessly on it. His recording of 'Just Friends' with strings would prove to be another addition to my all time favourites playlist.

The warmth and beauty of his sound and the extraordinary fluency and inventiveness in his playing were perfectly encapsulated on that recording. I would often go out on to the patio with an extension lead, the unbreakable boombox and a skipping rope and train whilst hearing it, repeating it over and over. It became a kind of call-to-action and I would be motivated to work harder and practice more after each listening.

As a violinist, my principal concern at the time was in practicing and performing the music of Bach, Mozart and Bruch. It was, and still is, music that is dear to my heart but I had yet to explore jazz in depth. That would come later, jolted into attempts at realising my own vision for jazz on the violin after hearing Mark O'Connor's Limehouse Blues on a flight from New York.

Fifteen years afterwards, I find myself on hallowed ground at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire recording my debut album. It is a cold January afternoon and there is a lingering tightness in my arms and stomach. My shoulders feel encumbered by a weight that I cannot shake, it is the second day of recording and after a few false starts and discussions about hits and tritone substitutions, the recording of Just Friends is underway.

 

John Pearce band

 

"What do you think guys? Should I play the hits with you on the shout chorus or not?" Will Harris asks. Gifted with great instincts for the right note at the right time, he is a bass player with an awareness and musicality well suited to the role.

"I mean, if you are walking through it and we're hinting at it, that's enough isn't it," suggests David Newton. "Maybe it is too much like a brick in the face if you do the full Monty!"

After a little more discussion and with a warrior's readiness, Ian Matthews counts in the tune for the next take. His infectious and propulsive energy is there before his stick hits the skin.

We all survive the introduction and I adequately navigate my four-bar break. It is now my opportunity to solo but I falter. There is palpable frustration in the studio.

"This tune is going to be called 'Barely Talking' by the end," jokes Dave from behind the piano. He has a nasty cold and a bit of a cough but his inventiveness, humour and sense of swing die hard. I feel the tension give a little as we all laugh and enter into another take.

It is the one that appears on the album as the first track and making the album, from start to finish, was a real labour of love. 

Expectation and pressure can build until self-doubt and endless analysis become all consuming and listening to one's own recording is like looking into a mirror; the truth is laid bare and there are no places to hide. I am delighted though to now be able to share the album, a snapshot in time and a culmination of numerous lessons and experiences, it is the result of a great deal of thought and care.  

I hope that you enjoy it!

 

Click here for John's website. Click here for a video of John playing Skylark with the band (not on the album). Click here for details of the album.

 

John Pearce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lens America

Kevin Sun

 

Kevin Sun

 

Photographer Clara Pereira and journalist Filipe Freitas from JazzTrail in New York were at the Jazz Gallery in November for the launch of saxophonist Kevin Sun's album The Sustain Of Memory.

Filipe writes: 'Emerging saxophonist/composer Kevin Sun celebrated the release of his new double-disc album, The Sustain of Memory, at the Jazz Gallery on Friday, November 15. Playing with his regular mates, Sun filled the first set with two extended original compositions, “Circle, Line” and “The Middle of Tensions”, written for trio and quartet, respectively. Divided into 12 short movements, the former piece was equipped with challenging polyrhythmic junctures, rock-inflected sections, punctilious contrapuntal activity, and opportune tonal variations on the tenor, which, whether aligning with or shifting from the creative rhythmic tapestries, put us in an alert state of mind.......

.......Never sparse in ideas, Sun’s modern creative style successfully intersperses collective entanglements and solo moments, where every single musician has the opportunity to shine individually. By innovating today, these artists are stepping toward the jazz of tomorrow.'

Click here to sample the album The Sustain of Memory released on 8th November : Click here for Filipe's full review and more pictures by Clara.

Click here for a video of Kevin Sun playing A Fete Over Young, or After You've Gone - 'Due to rights issues, this classic Lester Young solo from 1938 remains unissued. Saxophonist Kevin Sun has brought it to light and shares it, note for note, along with a couple of his friends in these three reincarnated choruses of prime 1938 Young' (not on the album).'

 

 

Forum

 

Bristol Chinese R&B and Jazz Club

John Westwood writes of our November issue: 'Another good day (or three!)'s read for which many thanks. I look forward to all the update and info. Initial perusal poses a point... back in the 70s I used to play on occasion at the Bristol Bridge Inn in Baldwin Street, on the first floor (it was Henry's Bootblacks residence at the time) and have happy memories thereof. But the photo you have captioned thus (click here) now isn't that pub, and today the building is a Japanese restaurant. We also used to play at the Crown, at the back of St Nicholas Market,  and the Malt & Hops but that's another story! The centre of Bristol was a hotbed of hotmusic back then.... now there's only the Old Duke, where I plan to go tomorrow. How the world changes!'

 

New Merlin's Cave

Mike Reynolds looks back at the legendary jazz venue: 'I was walking along Margery Street recently and thought about the pub where I used to go on a Sunday. I worked in High Holborn and would zoom off to the Cave in my lunch break to get at least a half hour fix of the wonderful sounds and images not to mention smells of this rough old place. One Sunday I persuaded my wife to come along and we also took our 2½ year old son as I knew children were allowed. We lived in Tilbury then so it was a long day out. The date was 9th September 1973. I took along a cassette player/recorder from Dixons and a sixty minute tape. We arrived a bit late but I sat with this little machine on my lap and recorded about 50 minutes of music. The sound is definitely not great hifi but still listenable and extremely nostalgic. The line up that day was John Chilton, Bruce Turner, Colin Bates, Steve Fagg and Chuck Smith. Last but not least George Melly. In a couple of places I can hear myself and my young son and when he dropped his dummy George announced "Oh dear, he's dropped his placater"! Lovely to hear it still after 46 years. I must admit my son doesn't get excited about jazz in any format. I blame myself and George Melly. Great piano too. On another day there was this wonderful singer fresh in from the U.S. who just had an amazing voice. Susannah McCorkle. I remember that session well. I have a vinyl with her singing with Keith Ingham who sometimes played at the Cave. It was a tragedy she died too young.'

Click here for our page on New Merlin's Cave.

 

 

The Fishmongers' Arms and the Dancing Slipper

Stu Morrison writes: 'I was born in Pellat Grove, Wood Green in 1939 and was very happy to return there some 20 odd years later to the Fishmongers Arms as Mike Cotton’s banjoist and later bass guitarist. Cramped and hot it may have been but I loved working there. Despite there being drinks available when we finished we all still got to sleep in our own beds during a time when, to earn a living meant playing Penrith one night and Penzance the next, so to speak. We gathered a solid core of fans at the “Fish” and as the Mike Cotton Sound, we were resident there for some time. After I left Mike to take the Banjo chair with Chris Barber’s Jazz Band I’d still go and see Mike and the boys when my night off coincided with their appearance. Going home after one of those nights, having drunk not wisely but too well, I managed to lose control of my motorcycle and I still have the scar over my left eye. A nice souvenir of those wonderful days. I also played The Dancing Slipper, Nottingham with Mike, Chris and later Ken Colyer with whom I recorded a session available on Upbeat Records URCD113 ‘The Sunny Side of Ken Colyer’. Now, in my 81st year, it’s all so long ago but sometimes it just seems like yesterday. Mike, John Beecham and I with other members of the Jazzmen and Sound still meet up every three months and remember those happy days. Amazingly we’re still going pretty strong and still playing.'

Click here for our page on the Fishmongers' Arms (Wood Green Jazz club) and click here for the page on the Dancing Slipper.

 

 

 

Leslie Lambert

Alan Bond asks: 'Just a little query in case you have any subscribers in Australia - I have a CD by the Graeme Bell All Stars with a young lady vocalist by the name of Leslie (or should it be Lesley) Lambert. She only made five sides with Graeme and I wonder if there is any other information on her? I was rather struck by her 'tiny' voice with perfect intonation in a unique style and it has piqued my curiosity for some years now. I have drawn a blank with searches on the internet and I was hoping that someone from the antipodes may be able to shine a light on the matter?'

Please contact us if you can help.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

Jan Erik Kongshaug

 

Jan Erik Kongshaug - Norwegian sound engineer, guitarist and composer. In 1984, he founded his own recording studio, Rainbow Studio in Oslo and evolved into being one of the grand masters of Sound engineering. Altogether, he produced over 4,000 records. He was particularly known for some 700 recordings for ECM Records made from 1970 onwards. Though he played a more inconspicuous role than Manfred Eicher, the label’s renowned founder and main producer, Mr. Kongshaug was arguably just as crucial to defining the famous “ECM sound,” which relied on precision and fidelity and used heavy helpings of reverb to create a feeling of both magnitude and intimacy. The pair first collaborated on the experimental Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek’s 1970 quartet record, “Afric Pepperbird,” one of the earliest ECM albums.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Calum Gourlay Quartet - New Ears
(Ubuntu Music ) - Released: 6th December 2019

Calum Gourlay (bass, composition); Helena Kay (saxophone); Kieran McLeod (trombone); James Maddren (drums).

 

Calum Gourlay New Ears'Bassist and composer Calum Gourlay’s debut release for quartet New Ears features leading British musicians Helena Kay (saxophone), Kieran McLeod (trombone) and James Maddren (drums).  “The idea for the quartet came from my Big Band in residence at The Vortex Jazz Club,” explains Gourlay. “Helena, Kieran and James have been important musicians in my big band so I began to think this could be a great band in its own right.  With the quartet it was fun and easy to write things for trombone & tenor to play together.  It has all the energy, sound and colours of a contemporary big band but with only four members.” New Ears features seven original compositions, played once by the quartet at The Vortex and recorded for the album the very next day.  Three tracks will be released ahead of the album - the title track ‘New Ears’ ‘Be Minor’ and ‘Blue Fugates’.  “A teacher of mine once told me to imagine what kind of tune you would want to hear first at a gig,” says Gourlay.  “‘Be Minor’ was my attempt to write a glorious opener for the gigs and for the album.”  ‘Blue Fugates’ was inspired by the ‘Blue Fugates’ of Kentucky and written as a blues without a traditional 12 bar form.Gourlay started pulling the music together around the New Year of 2018 into 2019.  “The title of the album is a little joke to myself,” concludes Gourlay.  “But I really like the wider concept of it being a new way to hear my music and my playing, as this is my first album as a band leader.” London-based double bassist and composer Calum is known for his deep warm tone, controlled execution as both a supporter and improviser, and rock-solid time and pulse. Born in Glasgow, he began his musical journey playing the cello in primary school and by the age of 14 he started playing the double bass, having developed a serious interest in jazz and improvised music. Calum's talents were noticed by many of Scotland's premier artists and, as a result, he became the first bassist selected for the first Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, as well as other ensembles."Gourlay's note accuracy, unshakeable rhythmic sense and ability to follow a melodic line whenever possible make this a thoroughly enjoyable experience."-The Jazz Breakfast. In 2004, Calum started at the Royal Academy of Music in London and graduated with first class honours with a B.Mus. (jazz) degree. Since then, Calum has become a mainstay on the London jazz scene while performing with the Kit Downes Trio, The Tommy Smith Group, Will Vinson, The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra featuring Joe Lovano and John Scofield. Calum also works with Kurt Elling, Martin Speake, Martin Kershaw and Sheila Jordan. He writes for his own big band which has a monthly residency at the Vortex in London."Gourlay filled the space with a combination of spinning bass beats and a virtuosic exploration of harmony."(album notes).

Details and Samples : Video of Blue Fugates played live : Video of Emotional Trombone played live :

 

 

 

 

 

The Darius Brubeck Quartet - Live In Poland
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 13th December 2019

Darius Brubeck (piano); Dave O'Higgins (tenor sax); Matt Ridley (bass); Wesley Gibbens (drums)

Darius Brubeck Quartet Live In Poland'Ubuntu Music is delighted to announce the signing of The Darius Brubeck Quartet (DBQ), led by pianist Darius Brubeck. The album, Live in Poland, was recorded at the prestigious Blue Note in Poznan, Poland.Born in San Francisco, Darius grew up in the artistic milieu of his famous father Dave and has enjoyed a lifetime of varied international experience as bandleader, composer, teacher and broadcaster."I was invited to Poland three times in 2018, the 60th anniversary of the 1958 classic Dave Brubeck Quartet's tour of this country. With the end of World War I in 1918, it was also the 100th anniversary of Polish independence. Szczecin (where I played on stage for the first time when I was 10 years old) was the first stop on the 1958 tour and the first city visited during my initial trip. I appeared for one number, inevitably "Take Five", with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra as part of the celebrations", Darius explains."I was deeply moved to find that my father's tour was associated in the Solidarity Museum with the beginning of the movement that liberated Poland from Soviet domination. Szczecin Jazz invited me back with my London-based quartet to perform at an arts festival the following month. The third time was for a tour of the six cities where the Dave Brubeck Quartet had performed; the first American jazz group to play behind the 'Iron Curtain', starting in - you guessed it - Szczecin. 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 concert tour." Darius continues by explaining the formation of his quartet and the creation of this recording project. "The Darius Brubeck Quartet features Dave O'Higgins (sax), Matt Ridley (bass) and Wesley Gibbens (drums) and has been together for 12 years. The four of us, along with Cathy, my wife and manager, make important decisions together. The plan was to record every night of the tour and choose the best takes but, in the end, we decided that the last night at the Blue Note in Poznan (the only Jazz Club we played) was it. You might say the album should’ve been called ‘Live in Poznan’.  However, this performance was the culmination of a tour of sold out concert halls and standing ovations.  The band was at a peak, especially in terms of communication with each other and the audience. As the saying goes, the music speaks for itself.  I want to thank Dave, Matt and Wesley for their great playing, professional attitude and artistic wisdom, Cathy for her excellent management and Sylwester Ostrowski (OS Jazz), a great Polish saxophonist, for his concept and organization.” (album notes)

Details and Sample : Video of Take Five played live :

 

 

 

 

Kit Downes - Dreamlife Of Debris
(ECM) - Released: 1st November 2019

Kit Downes (piano, organ), Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone), Stian Westerhus (guitar), Lucy Railton (cello), Sebastian Rochford (drums)

Kit Downes Dreamlife Of Debris

 

'Dreamlife of Debris carries forward the story begun on Kit Downes's Obsidian (issued by ECM in January 2018), extending and developing its processes and core ideas. But where Obsidian was (almost exclusively) a solo church organ album, part of Kit's plan for Dreamlife was to put the organ in a broader context, and also to bring the piano into the larger compositional picture. Musicians in the project are primarily players with whom Downes has had long associations – saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, drummer Seb Rochford – and there is also a first musical encounter with Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus. "I was interested to see how bringing in different people would change the direction of the recording." The album - released in CD and LP formats - is drawn from sessions recorded at two UK locations - the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in Snape in the Suffolk countryside and St Paul's Hall (a converted 19th century church) at Huddersfield University - where the musicians arrived to variously interact with Downes. The instrumentalists meet, as Downes puts it ,"in a space with no singular character", with a dream-like ambience being created through overdubs and collage. Although the players do not come together as an ensemble, their appearance as individuals in changing constellations influences the direction of the shape-shifting music triggered by Downes's improvising, arranging and composing.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video Introduction : Listen to Sculptor :

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Ellis - Dwell
(Oti-O Records) - Released: 29th November 2019

Joy Ellis (piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals); Rob Luft (guitar); Henrik Jensen (double bass); Ferg Ireland (electric bass); Adam Osmianski (drums); Helen Burnett (sound bowls on track 1)

Joy Ellis dwell

 

 

'Joy Ellis is a pianist, singer and composer based in London. Since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama she has toured all over the world playing jazz. Past gig highlights include Ronnie Scott’s, the Jazz Café and the Barbican Pit Theatre in London, the London Jazz Festival, the Cork Jazz Festival and No Black Tie Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur. She was recently selected as one of fourteen emerging artists to work with Mercury-nominated singer ESKA on a composition residency in Manchester. In November 2019, Joy is looking forward to releasing her second album entitled 'Dwell'. The album reflects her passion for jazz and improvisation, her love of groove and dance music, her classical roots as a pianist and the soulful, poetic aspects of being a singer-songwriter. Joy also regularly prforms Brazilian music live with the Samba Azul Group' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video for Ice On The River played live : 2020 Tour Dates :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sirkis / Bialas IQ - Our New Earth
(Moonjune Records) - Released: 20th November 2019

Asaf Sirkis (drums, percussion, konnakol); Sylwia Bialas (vocals, waterphone); Frank Harrison (piano and keyboards); Kevin Glasgow (6 string electric bass)

Sirkis Bialas IQ Our New Earth'The SBIQ is an on-going band, established in 2014 consisting of four unique musical personalities bringing their individuality and working together as a team to create new explorative-forward-looking music. The new album explores many different colours on the emotional spectrum, using some rarely used instruments in jazz such as the church organ, waterphone, crotales, konnakol, and different vocal sounds. With an emphasis on band interaction and sheer joy of playing, ‘Our New Earth’ celebrates music from both Sirkis and Bialas, covering a wide range of influences such as contemporary classical music, Polish folk, Progressive rock, South Indian and Middle Eastern musics as well as a wide range of dynamics – from the most delicate ballad all the way to high-energy electric lines and everything in between; expect soulful melodies, aerospheric sounds with strong grooves, a full colour electroacoustic jazz with an ethnic touch and some uncommonly used instruments and sound effects. Although Sirkis/Bialas IQ’s music can sometimes be generically referred to as ‘vocal jazz’, Sylwia’s approach to singing is different; making the role of the voice more like an instrument rather then a lead. In her own words:“I truly feel no need to take the central spot on stage (as a singer is often expected to). I am tremendously fulfilled in being part of the band, contributing to its sound, adding different colours, sharing the joy of interacting and taking risks together. There’s no greater satisfaction for me than to stand ‘inside the band’, listening to the sound created by my fellow musicians at its source, watching their body language. I feel very happy and thankful that both audience and critics recognise and accept my personal approach. Our New Earth is the second album from the Sirkis/Bialas IQ. In comparison to the band’s debut album - Come To Me - this album is edgier, darker, full of tension and dissonance sound textures. In the words of Sirkis and Bialas:"The message behind Our New Earth is reflecting the drastic changes we are currently experiencing individually and collectively world-wide with the prevailing of technology, social media, and many other issues. We’d like to offer this music as a reflection, a wish of reconnection with nature and a kind of a prayer in music for a better world for all of us and hence the name Our New Earth". (album notes).

Details and Samples : Introductory Video :

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Rattigan's Pavillon - The Freedom Of Movement
(Three Worlds Records) - Released: 18th October 2019

Jim Rattigan (French Horn); Martin Speake, Andy Panayi, Mick Foster (saxophone); Percy Pursglove, Steve Fishwick, Robbie Robson (trumpet); Mark Nightingale (tenor trombone); Sarah Williams (bass trombone); Hans Koller (piano); Dave Whitford (double bass); Martic France (drums).

Jim Rattigans Pavillon The Freedom Of Movement

'Jim Rattigan has performed all over the world both as a jazz soloist and as a band member of various groups. These include the Michael Brecker Quindectet, the Charlie Haden / Carla Bley Liberation Music Orchestra, the McCoy Tyner Big Band, Django Bates’ Delightful Precipice, the Creative Jazz Orchestra with Kenny Wheeler, Brad Mehldau with the Britten Sinfonia, the Guy Barker Big Band and the Simon Purcell Octet. Jim has toured and recorded with the Mike Gibbs band and the Hans Koller band with Steve Swallow and Bill Frisell, Julian Arguelles Ensemble, Mark lockheart’s Scratch Band and the London Sinfonietta. Jim formed “Pavillon” in 2000 and recorded “Unfamiliar Guise”. In 2004 he recorded “Jazz French Horn”, in 2010 he recorded “Shuzzed” in 2011 “Strong Tea” and in 2014 “Triplicity”. Jim studied french horn at Trinity College of music and the Royal Academy of music in London. While a student, he was a member of the European Community Youth Orchestra and a founder member of the European Community Youth Jazz Orchestra (Eurojazz). On leaving college he embarked on a free-lance career working with all the major London symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras and small ensembles. He joined the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where he was a member for six years. During this time he also worked with the Bobby Lamb / Ray Premru Big Band and played on the Mike Gibbs album ‘By The Way’. Jim has played on numerous film scores including several James Bond movies, Lord Of The Rings, Batman, The Bourne Ultimatum, Moulin Rouge, Shrek, Florence and many more. He has also written music for film T.V. and radio. "I chose the title The Freedom Of Movement to reflect my career, not only travelling the world performing but also moving between many genres of music," explains Rattigan. "The freedom do do all these things has always excited me as a musician and in all the truly wonderful experiences that I have had, the highlight has undoubtably been forming the group Pavillon." (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video of Crout'n Confusion Played Live : Video of Timbukthree Played Live :

 

 

 

 

America

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

 

 

 

Ben Goldberg - Good Day For Cloud Fishing
(Pyroclastic Records) - Released: 23rd August 2019

Ben Goldberg (clarinet, contra-alto clarinet); Ron Miles (cornet); Nels Cline (guitar).

Ben Goldberg Good Day For Cloud Fishing

 

'Poetry that influences music, which, in turn, inspires new poetry, is a basic description to describe clarinetist Ben Goldberg’s interesting concept for his new album Good Day For Cloud Fishing. The album, inspired by Dean Young’s book Solar Plexus, exists on a plane of its own, delivering musical moments replete with compositional structure and unfettered improvisation. Goldberg puts together an excellent triumvirate for this effort, joining forces with cornetist Ron Miles in a productive two-horn frontline that operates over the quirky foundations engendered by the ever-unpredictable guitarist Nels Cline. .... Revolving around a specific melodic idea, “Parthenogenesis” requires Cline to function almost like a bass player. During the earlier laid-back 4/4 section, it’s Miles’ mildly distorted stretches that stand out, but the tune veers into a folk-impregnated vintage section that changes course once more, going toward bluesy and freer improvisation .....Alternating between perfect curvatures and sharp angles, softness and harshness, space and entanglement, this is an appropriate setting to become acquainted with Goldberg’s sonic depth, improvising skills, and compositional creativity.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Listen to A Rhythmia : Listen to Parthenogensis : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Earprint - Easy Listening
(Endectomorph Music) - Released: 18th October 2019

Kevin Sun (tenor saxophone); Tree Palmedo (trumpet); Simón Willson (bass); Dor Herskovitz (drums).

Earprint Easy Listening

 

' .....Easy Listening treats cutting-edge modern jazz not so much as a style, but as a lens through which we can see and hear more music. It reinforces the way that jazz happily digests contemporary music and that any musical material can be made cool and sophisticated, that any feeling can be related to the blues. Blues is an important thread for Earprint, even more than might appear at first glance. The streams of both rock and jazz, the two major descendants of the blues, flow into their aesthetic. The rough energy of Nirvana meets the transcendent progressivism of Mark Turner; psychedelic tinges of Jimi Hendrix recolor the counterpoint of Thelonious Monk. Hot meets cold; sweet, sour, salty, and bitter coexist. Blues is music where opposites join, where contradictions relax and paradoxes thrive, and such is the nature of Earprint.... (album notes). 'Earprint is a chord-less quartet of talented young voices in the contemporary jazz world, who found a way to make new music by connecting their individual languages and different approaches. The group incorporates a two-horn frontline composed of outgoing saxophonist/clarinetist Kevin Sun and sagacious trumpeter Tree Palmedo, and two rhythmic pillars, namely, Simón Willson on bass and Dor Herskovitz on drums, who provide solid foundations over which the improvisers soar to new heights. For their second album, Easy Listening, all members contribute compositions, in a total of 11. The communicative methodology is noted throughout a recording that sports captivating improvised excursions and nurtures a groove-oriented temperament...... These four young colorists are among an exciting new crop of jazz talents, being as much musical strategists as they are ear-openers. This record is something you should try out.' (JazzTrail).

Details, Samples and Full Album Notes : Listen to the title track Easy Listening : Listen to Hey Wanna Dance : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

New York All-Stars - Live Encounter
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 8th November 2019

Eric Alexander (tenor sax); Seamus Blake (tenor sax); Erik Soderland (guitar); Mike LeDonne (piano, Hammond organ); Aldo Zunino (bass); Bernd Reiter (drums)

New York Allstars Live Encounter

 

'Ubuntu Music is delighted to announce the re-signing of The New York All-Stars (NYAS), featuring tenor sax monster Eric Alexander, along with the exceptional Seamus Blake (tenor sax) and the incomparable Mike Le Donne (piano/organ). The live album, recorded in London, will be released in November. Although these world class musicians have a deep, mutual respect for each other, they had never played together. A series of unique circumstances made this possible and the result is breath-taking.The New York All-Stars play energetic and swinging music at the highest level, presented with the utmost professionalism and uninhibited enthusiasm, which has given them the title of "Jazz at its Best". The Financial Times jazz critic, Mike Hobart, having seen one of the shows, wrote, "Both tenor players follow form precisely, articulate closely, and play to the limits of exceptionally fluent techniques."Dave Gelly, The Sunday Guardian/Observer jazz critic, wrote, "For sheer intensity and overflowing invention, both individually and together, they're in a class of their own. "Eric Alexander is one of the most important soloists of the current modern straight-ahead jazz world. His accolades are many and he has appeared on over 75 albums--as leader, collaborator and sideman--with big names like Steve Davis, Jim Rotondi, Vincent Herring, Pat Martino, Jimmy Cobb, Cedar Walton and McCoy Tyner.Joining the line-up is saxophonist and composer Seamus Blake, who is recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. His music is known for its sophistication, bold improvisations and 'sheer swagger'. Seamus has performed with exceptional artists, including John Scofield, Antonio Sanchez, John Escreet, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Cheek, David Kikoski and Alex Sipiagin. Seamus has also appeared on more than 75 albums. Pianist/Hammond organist Mike LeDonne has played with many of the greats in jazz, including Benny Goodman, Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie and many others.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Video of Encounter live : Video of Incazzato live :

 

 


 

Joel Harrison - Still Point: Turning World
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 27th September 2019

Joel Harrison (guitar); Talujon (Matt Ward, Michael Lipsey, Tom Kolor, David Cossin), Indian sarode player Anupam Shobhakar (Indian sarode), and jazz musicians Hans Glawaschnig (bass), Ben Wendel (saxophone/bassoon) and Dan Weiss (drums/tabla). Guests include V. Selvaganesh (perc.), Nittin Mitta (tabla), and Stephan Crump (bass).

Joel Harrison Still Point Turning World

 

'To enter the immersive realm of Still Point:  Turning World is to join guitarist/composer Joel Harrison and colleagues in embracing the gloriously enlightening globalization of music, unhindered by category or preconception. .... “For many years, I have held up an ideal”, explains Harrison, “…to bring under one roof those sounds I most love. This often involves working with seemingly disparate systems of music. All music exists contemporaneously, and each new piece brings us a code to crack. In this case, the code is: how to balance extensive notation and improv; those who read [notation] and those who don’t; a drone instrument (that cannot play harmony) with western harmony; music that specifically grooves and music that doesn’t.” ... Dive into ‘Raindrops in Uncommon Times’ and you’re transported along marimba- and tabla-hued tributaries as guitar, sarode, sax, and konnakol improvisations coruscate across its rippling shadows; and in ‘One is Really Many’, the excitement of Shobhakar’s complex Indian raga patterns are matched by Weiss’s intense, fiery drumming. Harrison’s gritty, wailing guitar phrases and Wendel’s extraordinary wailing saxophone color ‘Permanent Impermanence’, leading on to mystically percussive interlude ‘Wind Over Eagle Lake’ and ‘Ballad of Blue Mountain’s W. African-derived rivulets. Furtive ‘Time Present Time Past’ crackles with cross-rhythms and stratified riffs; epic ‘Creator/Destroyer’ explodes with multiple solos and an extraordinary percussion intro; and the relative calm of closing ‘Blue Mountain (A Slight Return)’ is ramped up by mesmeric tabla and kanjira, featuring the exquisite Selvaganesh, who is best none for playing with John McLaughlin in Remember Shakti. Careful listening shows linked themes that binds the work together.“The concept of Still Point – Turning World is to take the listener on a soulful journey”, confirms Harrison. “The aim is to go deeply into quiet, private introverted spaces, and then also into passionate explosions of percussive wildness.” This is, indeed, a genre-busting odyssey of discovery.' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to Raindrops In Uncommon Times :

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Konitz Nonet - Old Songs New
(Sunnyside Records) - Released: 6th December 2019

Lee Konitz (alto saxophone); Ohad Talmor (arranger, conductor, tenor saxophone); Caroline Davis (flutes); Christof Knoche (clarinet); Denis Lee (bass clarinet); Judith Insell (viola); Mariel Roberts, Dimos Goudaroulis (cello); Christopher Tordini (bass); George Schuller (drums).

Lee Konitz Nonet Old Songs New

 

'The challenge for the arranger/composer is to create a fit for the featured performer and to get the performer to fully invest in the setting provided. Nonagenarian saxophonist Lee Konitz has been a featured soloist for many decades and has become a legend for his intriguing contributions to many well-known jazz dates with a wide variety of ensembles. Woodwind player, composer and arranger Ohad Talmor has been an important part of Konitz's musical sphere for the past three decades, providing the elder statesman numerous opportunities to contribute his celebrated alto sound. (album notes). 'The unmatchable 90-year-old alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, a living legend whose full and lush sound never ceased to create impact, revisits the nonet format on Old Songs New, his latest release on the Sunnyside imprint. The album’s arrangements have the distinguished signature of a former pupil and frequent collaborator, tenor saxophonist Ohad Talmor, who also conducts and contributes reed lines on “I Cover the Waterfront”, a serene classic that shows Konitz’s respect for the melodic persuasion of Frank Sinatra. The influence of this singer in the saxophonist’s playing is also noticeable during the balladic enchantment of “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning” ....... Continuing to benefit from an embouchure of his own, Konitz stands as one of the most admired jazz influencers of our times. His facility in developing melody with unexpected stabbing notes has a refreshingly positive effect. As a result, traditional jazz enthusiasts and post-bop loyalists should be on cloud nine.' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Listen to Goodbye : Listen to In The Wee Small Hours : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Jarrett - Munich 2016
(ECM) - Released: 1st November 2019

Keith Jarrett (piano)

Keith Jarrett Munich 2016'A solo concert from Keith Jarrett - recorded at Munich’s Philharmonic Hall on July 16, 2016, on the last night of a tour - finds the great improvising pianist at a peak of invention. Creating a spontaneous suite of forms in the moment with the intuitive assurance of a master builder – interspersing touches of the blues and folksong lyricism between pieces of polyrhythmic and harmonic complexity - he delivers one of his very finest performances. An attentive and appreciative audience hangs on every note, every nuance, and is rewarded with some tender encores including a magical version of “It’s A Lonesome Old Town". Jarrett’s solo concert recordings form a unique and continually evolving body of work inside his discography. To trace the line that leads from 1973’s Solo Concerts Bremen-Lausanne is to follow an extraordinary musical journey. High points along the road have included The Köln Concert, Sun Bear Concerts - due for vinyl reissue in the coming months -, Concerts (Bregenz München), Paris Concert, Vienna Concert, La Scala, Radiance, The Carnegie Hall Concert, Testament, Creation, A Multitude of Angels, Rio and La Fenice. Munich 2016 brings the story up to date, a document of Jarrett’s most recent European performance, held in ECM’s hometown. The particular intensity of the Munich performance singles it out as one of the truly outstanding concerts. So, too, the flow of its component parts. The shape of the individual concerts has been transformed, the large arc of the early concerts, with unbroken improvisations spanning an entire set, giving way to performances made up of discrete, tightly focused spontaneous compositions. Since Jarrett embarked on this quest the number of solo improvisers has multiplied exponentially yet his sense for developing motifs and melodies and uncovering forms in real time remains unparalleled. There is, still, nothing else like a Keith Jarrett solo concert. “Through a series of brilliant solo performances and recordings that demonstrate his utterly spontaneous creativity,” the Polar Music Prize committee noted a few years ago, “Keith Jarrett has simultaneously lifted piano improvisation as an art form to new, unimaginable heights.” (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to It's A Lonely Old Town :

 

 

 

Europe and Elsewhere

 

Marius Neset - Viaduct
(ACT Records ) - Released: 22nd November 2019

Marius Neset (tenor, soprano saxophone); Ivo Neame (piano); Jim Hart (vibraphone); Petter Eldh (bass); Anton Eger (drums) and the London Sinfonietta.

Marius Neset Viaduct

 

'The 34-year-old Bergen-born tenor/soprano saxophonist-composer Marius Neset presents his new recording Viaduct and makes his boldest, most restlessly diverse statement to date. On his fifth album for leading European label ACT, Neset organically integrates a wide-ranging, colourful kaleidoscope of influences with his compelling compositions/arrangements for a pair of extended suites. Originally commissioned for the opening concert of the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2018, Viaduct offered Neset a fantastic opportunity to reunite his regular top-notch Brit-Scandi jazz quintet with world-class 19-piece London Sinfonietta, having initially performed together for his 2016 ACT release Snowmelt. Made up of members of celebrated UK and Scandinavian contemporary jazz groups including Phronesis, Django Bates’ Beloved and Cloudmakers, Marius Neset says: “The reason it’s called Viaduct is that this is about a connection to different musical ideas. For me, music can give associations about how you go from one world to another and it’s all about the way things are connected, the transitions, and how you can make it into something meaningful.” Viaduct moves between improvised and modern contemporary classical music across two half-hour parts. The orchestral palette of the first half is relentlessly idiomatic and cinematic in scope, while the second shines the spotlight on the brilliant interplay between Marius, his band mates and London Sonfonietta.’ (album notes).

Details and Sample : Preview Video : Video of Part of a Live Performance :

 

 

 

 

 

4 Wheel Drive - 4WD Live
(ACT Records ) - Released: 25th October 2019

Nils Landgren (trombone, vocals); Michael Wollny (piano); Lars Danielsson (bass, cello); Wolfgang Haffner (drums)

4WD Live

 

 

'The studio album "4 Wheel Drive", a collaboration of four stars of European jazz interpreting the music of Sting, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney and Phil Collins, topped the German jazz charts for four months in a row, the following tour further enthused the quartet. "4 Wheel Drive live" documents the final concert of the tour at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart: "The concert surpassed all expectations. Sensational!" (Stuttgarter Nachrichten). "To witness how each musician picks up ideas from the others in a split second and creates new ones, is to reach an understanding of why music is the most beautiful of all languages ... The special flair of these four is really evident in the rests, in the thoughts that are quietly interspersed, in filigree pianissimo tones and the gentlest of contact with the instruments." (Oliver Hochkeppel, Suddeutsche Zeitung)' (album notes).

Details and Samples : Listen to Track 1 '4WD' from original studio album :

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Releases

 

 

Chris Barber - Memories Of My Trip
(The Last Music Company) - Released: 4th October 2019 - [2 CDs]

Chris Barber (trombone, bandleader) with various musicians.

Chris Barber Memories Of My Trip

 

 

'"Memories of My Trip" is a remarkable two CD retrospective celebrating the pioneering Barber's "A" list jazz, blues and gospel collaborations throughout his seventy-years as a band leader. It opens with Brownie McGhee remembering highlights of his early tour with the band. The whole set is crammed tight with fine examples Chris recording with Eric Clapton, James Cotton, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Ottilie Patterson, Lonnie Donegan, Keith Emerson, Andy Fairweather Low, Rory Gallagher, Edmond Hall, Jeff Healey, Jools Holland, Paul Jones, Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison, Dr John, John Slaughter, Albert Nicholas and Muddy Waters and others.' (album notes). 'Barber's recent retirement as a performare and bandleader has prompted the re-release of this 2010 double-CD compilation of selected recordings, some previously unissued, illustrating his long and star-strewn path. In effect, it's balanced between collaborations with friendly rockers and bluesmen, as well as guest appearances with his band by visiting luminaries of classic jazz .... A feast for nostalgics maybe, but a thoroughly engaging end-of-term report on one of the UK's most enduring and important figures...' (Peter Vacher in Jazzwise ****)

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Erroll Garner - One World Concert
(Mack Avenue) - Released: 27th September 2019

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

Erroll Garner One World Concert

 

'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. This was Garner's first live concert album after his chart topping Concert By Sea, recorded seven years earlier. A tour-de-force performance makes this a worthy successor, complete with his trademark improvisational fireworks. This new presentation includes extended introductions as well as an unreleased version of the Garner ballad "Other Voices," which has never been issued in a trio arrangement.' (album notes). '..... Though he'd recorded with Charlie Parker in the 1940s, Garner couldn't really be tied down to any particular style - he was simply himself, possessor of a style so personal that it's instantly recognisable, as his classic performance of Mack The Knife from One World Concert reveals, recorded live at the Seattle World Fair in 1962 ....' (Stuart Nicholson in Jazzwise *****)

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Bill Bruford - Earthworks Complete
(Summerfold) - Released: 19th July 2019 [20 CD + 4 DVD Box Set]

Bill Bruford (drums); Iain Ballamy, Patrick Clahar, Tim Garland (saxophone); Django Bates, Steve Hamilton, Gwilym Simcock (piano, keyboards); Dave Stewart (keyboards); Tim Harries, Mark Hodgson, Laurence Cottle, Mick Hutton (bass).

Bill Bruford Earthworks Complete""Earthworks Complete" is a Summerfold Records box set reissue of the entire back catalogue across the band's 20-year career. 15 titles on 20 CD's and 4 DVD discs include previously unreleased and little known material. Documenting the 20 year history from 1987 to 2006 of one of the UK's brightest, most travelled and best loved young jazz ensembles. Featuring Bill Bruford with Iain Ballamy, Django Bates, Patrick Clahar, Laurence Cottle, Tim Garland, Steve Hamilton, Tim Harries, Mark Hodgson, Mick Hutton, Gwilym Simcock. All audio, visual and print materials compiled and curated by Bill Bruford with additional, original artwork by award-winning illustrator, photographer and filmmaker Dave McKean. This phenomenal and awe-inspiring package features the following: Earthworks / Dig? / All Heaven Broke Loose / Stamping Ground-Live / Apart, And Yet Apart / The Sound Of Surprise / Footloose And Fancy Free (2CD) / Random Acts Of Happiness / Footloose In NYC (2CD & DVD set) / A video anthology Volume 1: 2000's (2CD & DVD) / A video anthology Volume 2: 1990s (2CD & DVD) / Earthworks Underground Orchestra / Earthworks in Santiago, Chile (CD & DVD set: previously unreleased video) / From conception to birth (17 short tracks showing the process from demo to master, with explanatory notes from Bill Bruford) / Heavenly Bodies Expanded (2CD 'Best Of' collection across the entire catalogue, with explanatory notes from Bill Bruford). "This is a heady concoction indeed, and one which joyously breaks down all sorts of musical barriers in its path". - The Times "It mixes up styles, moods and meters as effortlessly as it ignores musical boundaries. (Wall St.Journal) Earthworks makes jazz out of just about anything handy" - Jazziz' (album notes). 'This is how you tell the story of a band. Bruford has curated this box set with a diligence and precision that reflects the detailed yet light touch of the Sergeant Major' drumming ...A band and drummer much missed, yet their influence, vision and a sense of wonder underwrites much of the sheer joy in jazz found among the current generation of British musicians'. (Andy Robson in Jazzwise ****)

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John Handy III - Three Classic Albums Plus
(Avid Jazz) - Released: 1st November 2019 [2 CDs]

John Handy (saxophone) with various personnel

John Handy III Three Classic Albums Plus

 

'AVID Jazz continues with its Three Classic Albums plus series with a re-mastered 2CD release from John Handy III, complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details. This release contains two hard to find and pretty expensive John Handy III albums “In The Vernacular” and “No Coast Jazz” plus for the first time on CD we are pleased to present the classic John Handy album “Jazz”. Plus all but one track from the Charles Mingus album “Ah Hum” featuring the mighty John Handy III on alto sax. It’s always good to feature a living legend in our Classic Albums series and here we are honouring alto sax giant John Handy III. John Handy came up in the 1950s playing with Charles Mingus on a number of his classic albums of the period including “Mingus Dynasty”, “Blues & Roots” and “Ah Hum” from which we feature all but one track on our Three Classic Albums Plus release. Primarily known as an alto sax player, Handy was also proficient on tenor and baritone sax, saxello, clarinet and oboe. On our selections from the late 1950s and early 1960s on Roulette, Handy is heard as leader in both Quartet and Quintet formations. His most acclaimed album came in the mid sixties with his performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and he went on to release many fine albums for labels such as Columbia, Impulse and Warner Bros. Heard supporting Handy here are the likes of Richard Williams, Roland Hanna, George Tucker, Roy Haynes, Shafi Hadi, Walter Bishop Jr; Don Friedman, Bill Lee, Lex Humphries, Booker T Ervin, Horace Parlan Jr, and Dannie Richmond.' (album notes).

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Benny Carter - Four Classic Albums (Second Set)
(Avid Jazz) - Released: 4th October 2019 [2 CDs]

Benny Carter (saxophone) with various personnel

Benny Carter Four Classic Albums Second Set

 

 

'AVID Jazz continues with its Four Classic Albums series with a second re-mastered 2CD set release from Benny Carter, complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details. For our Second Set from the instantly recognisable horn of Benny Carter we have selected four more albums for you to enjoy as we again pay tribute to one of the true legendary giants of the jazz world.“The Tatum, Carter, Bellson Trio”, “Makin’ Whoopee”, “B.B.B & Co.” and “Further Definitions” Jazz greats heard on these four phenomenal selections include some of the greatest names in the jazz world, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Art Tatum, Louis Bellson, Jo Jones, Barney Bigard, Shorty Sherock, Jimmy Rowles, Leroy Vinnegar, Mel Lewis, Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse, Dick Katz and Jimmy Garrison.' (album notes).

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Some Other Pages on this Website:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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