Sandy Brown Jazz

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Jazz As Art


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


Click below to choose the page where you will find the music and pictures:



Calum Gourlay Quartet - Emotional Trombone. Calum Gourlay's Quartet album New Ears has an unusual but very effect line-up with Calum (double bass), Helena Kay (tenor saxophone); Kieran McLeod (trombone) and James Maddren (drums). Calum and James go way back. They were at the Royal Academy of Music together with pianist Kit Downes and as a Trio they made a significant impression on the UK jazz scene when they graduated. Since then, each of them has gone on to be very much in demand individually and with various projects. Calum plays regularly with other bands and has also been leading a big band residency at The Vortex Jazz Remi LaBarre paintingClub in Dalston, London - highly recommended when gigs start up again. Helena Kay and Kieran McLeod have also made waves in the UK jazz community. Helena is currently based in New York. She grew up in Scotland, went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and has played with countless bands in the UK. Amongst her various awards she received the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award in 2017 which she used to record and release her debut album Moon Palace. She recorded the album with her band KIM trio, featuring David Ingamells on drums and Ferg Ireland on double bass. Like Calum and Helena, Kieran McLeod is also from Scotland, he is a winner of the Don Lusher Trombone Award, and like Calum and James he is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and busy with various bands. Their substantial talents are brought together well in New Ears; the album was released on the Ubuntu label in December 2019. The cover artwork for the album is by Calum who has been inspired by the paintings of Gina Southgate, one of whose pictures is included below. Gina is a painter of live music, much of which is captured at London jazz clubs.

I have just chosen one track from the album for this month's Jazz As Art, but the whole album is worth hearing. The album opens at a good pace with Be Minor introducing us to the particular sound of the Quartet. Here is the first of a number of engaging solos by Calum beautifully worked beneath it by James Maddren’s drums. Blue Fugates (referring to the Blue People of Kentucky who had a genetic trait leading to the disease methemoglobinemia, which gave them blue-tinged skin), swings out a really catchy number from trombone and sax and bringing a reminder of the big band setting in which all of these musicians have played. The title track, New Ears, features a fine solo from Helena Kay; Solstice is a slow step paced by Calum’s bass, and I am appreciating by now the album’s skilful mixing by Alex Bonney. Ro is another really catchy tune reminiscent of a Prayer Meeting with the saxophone and a great trombone solo taking the lead voices. Trinity is the longest track at just over eight minutes; James Maddren’s drums are lifted here to set a pace and the track allows plenty of room for the trombone and sax to go travelling. The character of the Quartet is distinctive and appealing. Click on the links above later to see what I mean. (Click here for where to buy or download the album).

There are several tracks on the album that I would gladly have chosen for this article, but in the end I have picked the sixth track Emotional Trombone. It is one of those tracks that stay in your mind when you have played it a few times and it provides a challenge for readers to imagine which emotion or emotions are referred to here. Like the art work below, I guess it depends upon your personal interpretation.




Pablo Held - Forest Spirits. Pianist Pablo Held was born in Hagen, to the south of Dortmund in Germany. He studied jazz piano in Cologne from 2004 with John Taylor and Hubert Nuss and in 2006 formed his Trio with Robert Landfermann (bass) and  Jonas Burgwinkel (drums), since then they have released ten albums on the Pirouet and Edition labels.

Pablo has received numerous awards including the WDR Jazzpreis, the SWR Jazzpreis, the Horst & Gretl Will Scholarship, the Förderpreis des Landes NRW and the Westfalen Jazzpreis. He has collaborated with many top jazz musicians such John Scofield, Ralph Towner, Chris Potter, Jorge Nasheet Waits, Norma Winstone, Tom Harrell and Mike Gibbs, and has toured The Leshyextensively throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and Canada. In 2018 he set out on the road with a new project "Pablo Held's Buoyancy Band" with Kit Downes, Percy Pursglove and Sean Carpio. Since 2017 Pablo has been curating his own concert series at the LOFT in Cologne called "Pablo Held Meets". He also teaches at the IFM Osnabrück, at the Conservatory of Maastricht and gives workshops worldwide.

Pablo Held’s new album, Ascent, his second for Edition Records, is a collaboration between his long-running trio and the great Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras. Regarded as one of the most talented and adventurous pianists and improvisors in Europe, Pablo has been building a formidable reputation, not only as a pianist of outstanding ability but also for his considerable musicality, energy and risk-taking. Ascent is described as 'a deeply satisfying fusion of powerful and expressive music'.

So how would I describe the album? As you would expect, a trio that has been playing together for a long time has a mutual understanding and guitarist Nelson Veras fits seamlessly with the others. I particularly like his playing on two tracks, Forest Spirits and Seizing where the drums are held back in the mix and guitar and bass play together. The first track, Unlocking Mechanisms, and track 4, Forest Spirits, tell you what to expect as their titles are descriptive. Some tracks are explorative with ideas coming fast from the piano, and which for me needed repeat listening to appreciate them. On the other hand, tracks 7 and 8, Musica Callada # 24 and Excerpt From Piano Concerto # 4, I find immediately, lyrically satisfying. Here again I really appreciate Robert Landfermann's bass playing. Pablo Held's Trio is well worth discovering.



Chris Botti - Let It Snow. Christmas has come and gone, but winter is still here. At the time of writing, weather (sic) we shall have snow remains to be seen. One track I really like goes back to 2012 when trumpeter Sue Richardson released her debut album Evgeny Balakshina On The CarnivalEmergence - click here to listen to the lovely Winter from the album. But the track I have chosen for this month's Jazz As Art feature is Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! from the album December by another trumpeter, Chris Botti. The band is Chris Botti (trumpet); Billy Childs (piano); David Carpenter (bass); Peter Erskine (drums, percussion). After graduating from high school, Chris went on to Indiana University School of Music and during his senior year played for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich. In 1985, he moved to New York City. In 1990, he began a decade long touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon and performed/recorded with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Scritti Politti, Roger Daltrey and others. While on tour with Simon, he met saxophonist Michael Brecker, which led to Chris co-producing a track on the Brecker Brothers' Out Of The Loop album - Evocations. The album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance. His first few releases are often classified as ‘smooth jazz’, although critic Alex Henderson argues that Botti's music was a cut above much of the genre; reviewing his 1999 album, Slowing Down the World, Henderson writes "it would be a major mistake to lump it in with... outright elevator muzak ... Botti is capable of a lot more.” He was also nominated in 2008 for his album Italia and received three nominations in 2010 for the live album Chris Botti In Boston. In 2013, he won the Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category  for the album  Impressions. Four of his albums have reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard jazz albums chart.





Arthur Rakham Snow White and Rose Red



Sonny Rollins - There Are Such Things. This version comes from the Sonny Rollins album Work Time. The 'standard' by Stanley Adams, Abel Baer and George W. Meyer dates back to 1942 when it was originally performed by Tommy Dorsey's orchestra with vocals by Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers. Work Time was recorded in 1955 with Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Ray Bryant (piano); George Morrow (bass) and Max Roach (drums). It ncluded three Great American Songbook numbers - There's No Business Like Show Business, It's All Right With Me and There Are Such Things. The other two tracks are Billy Strayhorn's Raincheck and Sonny's own Paradox. Opinions on the album vary, but it is one of my favourite albums, accessible, lyrical and inventive. The lyrics are a song of hope "A heart that's true / There are such things / A dream for two / There are such things ..... So have a little faith / And trust in what tomorrow brings / You'll reach a star / Because there are such things"






Wendy Lovoy painting



The Miguel Gorodi Nonet - Soma. The U.K.'s outstanding trumpet a flugelhorn player Miguel Gorodi released his Nonet's debut album, Apophenia, in 2019. Apophenia (a word defined as 'the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things', is an absorbing album. Miguel Gorodi says: "Through my music I've tried to communicate my experiences with OCD and depression, my thoughts on how to create meaning and purpose in life, and my concerns about the limitations our psychology and biology may have on determining what is meaningful to us". For the listener the result is an engaging experience. In the article I write: 'This album is not just a showcase for Miguel Gorodi as a trumpet player, although his instrumental and improvisational talent sparkles through his solos. Rather this is an album that belongs to the whole band and in particular to Miguel’s arrangements which I find imaginative, appealing and inclusive. There is plenty of room here for each musician to contribute and although I could pick out particular solos for you, they really only form part of a whole. Note the line-up for this band which includes vibraphone and tuba'.






Barbara Snyder Fallen Tree


Kevin MacKenzie - If A Tree Falls. Guitarist, composer and bandleader Kevin Mackenzie lives in Scotland. Kevin’s most recent album The Ballad of Future Joe was released on the 1st March 2019 with Mario Caribe (bass) and Alyn Cosker (drums). Kevin explains the intriguing title: "My son Finlay, who is a constant source of inspiration, knew a boy called Joe in his class. Joe had shoulder length blonde curly hair. One day a few years ago while walking home an older boy with similar hair walked past us. Finlay tugged my arm and said “Daddy .. that’s Joe... from the future”. With our thanks to Kevin, here we share the track If A Tree Falls from the album. The title is something of an enigma. All music brings a personal reaction from the listener – what does this track bring to you? – for Kevin, he comments that he has trouble with social media – “If a tree falls and nobody likes it on Facebook, does it really exist and  is it socially relevant”.





Michael Arnold Steam Train


Duke Ellington - Stompy Jones. Stompy Jones is a Duke Ellington composition that was first recorded by his Orchestra for the Victor label in 1934. As far as I can see, the personnel for that first recording was: Duke Ellington (piano, leader); Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney (reeds); Louis Bacon, Arthur Whetsel, Freddy Jenkins (trumpet); Tricky Sam nanton, Lawrence Brown (trombone); Fred Guy (guitar); Wellman Braud (bass); Sonny Greer (drums).

The tune appears again with quite a different approach by Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges on the 1958 album Side By Side. For this article I am using the 1934 version. I haven't been able to find out the inspiration for 'Stompy Jones' - perhaps someone knows?





George Sala painting



Kit Downes Trio - Madame. The tune Madame comes from the Kit Downes Trio's album Golden from 2009. Introduced by the bass of Calum Gourlay, Kit's piano duets for most of this track while James Maddren's drums are very much in the background. Kit, Calum and James met during their time at the Royal Academy of Music and over the past ten years, these three muscians, who had already established themselves by 2009, have gone on to be key players in the UK jazz scene in a variety of projects. To hear any one of them play live is a joy. If you get the chance to hear them, take it.






Miles Davis Someday My Prince Will ComeMiles Davis - Someday My Prince Will Come. Someday My Prince Will Come, written by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey for the 1937 Disney film Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, is the title track for Miles Davis' seventh studio album for Columbia Records. It was released in 1961 and it was the only Miles Davis Quintet studio recording session to feature saxophonist Hank Mobley. It was a time of personnel changes for Miles' band and the album reflects some of these. The personnel for the album as a whole is: Miles Davis (trumpet); John Coltrane (tenor saxophone on Someday My Prince Will Come and Teo); Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone on all tracks except Teo); Wynton Kelly (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Jimmy Cobb (drums on all tracks except Blues No. 2); Philly Jo Jones (drums on Blues No. 2). In Wikipedia we read: 'In a contemporary review for Down Beat, Ira Gitler praised Coltrane's solo on the title track while finding Kelly equally exceptional as both a soloist and comping musician. "His single-lines are simultaneously hard and soft. Cobb and Chambers groove perfectly together and with Kelly", Gitler wrote. "The rhythm section, individually and as a whole, is very well-recorded." The magazine's Howard Mandel later viewed Someday My Prince Will Come as "a commercial realization rather than an artistic exploration" but nonetheless "lovely", highlighted by each musician's careful attention to notes and dynamics, and among Davis' most "romantic, bluesy and intentionally seductive programs".




Dancin In the Rain


Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang's Blue Five - Hey! Young Fella!. On the 28th of February that year, violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang led this 'Blue Five' into a recording studion in New York - the others were Jimmy Dorsey (trumpet, clarinet, alto saxophone); Adrian Rollini (bass sax, hot fountain pen, piano and vibraphone) and Phil Wall (piano). Writing the liner notes to one Venuti/Lang/Rollini compilation, Nöel Hendrick said: 'These tracks are notable for the way in which they exploit the versatility of Rollini on bass saxophone, hot fountain pen and vibraphone, whilst Jimmy Dorsey, best known as an alto-sax and clarinet player also contributes some tasty trumpet work'. Hey! Young Fella! was a popular tune of the day, written by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the 1933 musical film Dancing Lady starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. The film featured the screen debut of dancer Fred Astaire, who appeared as himself. The full lyrics are here, but we can get a taste of the song's theme (here, 'rubbers', of course, is the American word for 'wellington boots'):



You had nothing to sing about
The days were dreary and wet
Had no sunshine to sing about
And lots of rain to forget

Hey, young fella
Better close your old umbrella
Have a glorious day
Throwing rubbers away
'Cause it ain't gonna rain no more




The People Could Fly book



Camilla George - The People Could Fly. The album is named after a book of African folk tales that portrays the lives and experiences of African slaves who created stories in which animals have assumed the personalities of slaves and slave owners. "The People Could Fly was my favourite story in this collection of tales," says Camilla. "The cover illustration showed men and women flying over the cotton fields. The idea behind it is that some Africans were magical and had the ability to fly but through long enslavement, lost the ability to fly away. This image is bittersweet for me as it is a fantasy tale of suffering and is a powerful testament to the millions of slaves who never had the ability to fly away". The title track is played with pictures by Shai Yossef, Costanza Knight, Sarah Levy, Anil Lakhera, Chris Spies, Leonid Afremov, Shelli Walters, Max Beckmann, Wilfredo Lam, Ana-Lesac, Pamela Earleywine, Leo and Diane Dillon.







Kansas Smittys House Band


Kansas Smitty's House Band - Barbecue Blues - Cerys Matthews has said: ‘They dance to a beat of their own drum. Totally unpredictable’ - the band based at Kansas Smitty's in Broadway Market, London, E8 plays Barbecue Blues with pictures by Eleatta Diver, LeRoy Neiman, Jan Steen, Belinda Fireman, Jürgen Born, Peter Gumaer, Pol Ledent, Victoria Topping, Shaun McDowell, Matthew Snyder, Connie Chadwell and Terry Einer.






Leslie Pintchik You Eat My Food album


Leslie Pintchik - You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl - the title track from the pianist's 2018 album. With pictures by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Enrico Baj, Walter Quirt, Julian Trevelyan, Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, Roy Lichtenstein, August Sander, Debra Hurd, John Collier, Kristin Elmquist, Max Ernst and Julie Borden.







Red Nichols




Red Nichols - Feelin' No Pain with pictures by Claude Clark, Theodoor Romouts, Patrick Waldemar, William Beard, Mark Manson, Charles Bunbury, Aleksander Zyw, L S Lowry, Kazemir Malevich and Sarah Jenkins.









Nick Costley-White Detour Ahead album



Nick Costley-White Quartet - Thinky Pain from the album Detour Ahead. With pictures by TR Way, Norman Adams, James McNeill Whistler, Paul Klee, Asger Jorn, Thomas Benjamin Kennington, Leonid Afremov, TuroRudolph, Pablo Picasso, John Chamberlain and John Wolseley.







Mark Kavuma album




Mark Kavuma - Church from the album Kavuma. With pictures by Alfred Gockel, Archibald Motley, Debra Hurd, Jackson Pollock, Mike Daneshi, Shari Kreller, Anna Fitzgerald, Georges Braque, Valerie Catoire and Roy Lichtenstein.







Henry Spencer The Reasons Don't Change



Henry Spencer and Juncture - Hopeless Heartless from the album The Reasons Don't Change. With pictures by Myles Birket Foster, Sam Francis, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Rackham, Eduard von Gebhardt, John Henry Yeend King, Alfred Parsons, Frank Bramley and Victor Bauer.







Big Bad Wolf Pond Life




Big Bad Wolf - Quiet Coach from the album Pond Life. With pictures by Camille Pissaro, Friedrich Bercht, Ronnie Landfield, John Constable, Robert Motherwell, David Hockney and Jacob Lawrence.







Coleman Hawkins



One Hour (If I Could Be With You) by The Mound City Blue Blowers with pictures by Paula Rego, Leonid Afremov, Gustav Klimt, Franz Marc, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Georges Braque, Vincent Van Gogh and John William Waterhouse.







Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra Weapons Of Mass Distraction




The Screaming Ab Dabs from the album Weapons Of Mass Distraction by the Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra with pictures by Robert Helman, Chaim Soutine, Victoria Topping, Bernard Buffet, Max Ernst, David Ridley, Jackson Pollock and an Unknown Artist.






Rob Luft Riser



The title tune from guitarist Rob Luft's album Riser with pictures by Michelle Shromberg, Anselm Kiefer, Georges Seurat, Aubrey Beardsley, Henri Rousseau, Egon Schiele, Leonid Afremov and Swarez.







Sonny Rollins Worktime



Sonny Rollins - There's No Business Like Show Business from the album Worktime. With pictures by Bernard Buffet, Natasha Sazonova, Jackson Pollock, Victoria Topping, Juan Félix Campos, Florine Stettheimer, Wassily Kandinsky, Pieter Bruegel The Elder, Darryl Daniels and Janine Wesselmann.






Mark Lewandowski Waller



Mark Lewandowski - Lulu's Back In Town from the album Waller. With pictures by Auguste Renoir, Victoria Topping, Toulouse Lautrec, David Annesley, Evgeni Hristov and Maria Olmstead.






Sam Braysher Golden Earrings




Sam Braysher and Michael Kanan play The Scene Is Clean from their album Golden Earrings with pictures by Gerhardt Richter, Georgia O'Keefe, Edgar Degas, Ernst Kirchner, C O Murray, Georges Stein and Niki De Saint Phalle.







Matt Ridley Metta



The Matt Ridley Quartet play Ebb and Flow from their album Metta with pictures by Franz Marc, Li Keran, Edgar Degas, Perle Fine and Michael Kenna.







Dinosaur Together As One



Dinosaur play Robin from their album Together, As One with pictures by Joan Miro, L S Lowry, John Singer Sargent, Jackson Pollock and Pieter Bruegel the Younger.








Raphael Wilkinson and Hodgkins Live At Pizza express



Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins - Alone Together from the album at Pizza Express Live. With pictures by Caroline Vis, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Rory McEwen, Zsuzsi Roboz, Luc Tuymans, Victoria Topping, Mario Dubsky, Inka Essenshigh and Edward John Gregory.







Bill Evans I Loves You Porgy



Bill Evans plays I Loves You Porgy from the Gershwin's Porgy And Bess with pictures by Claude Monet, Paul Gaugin, Camille Pissaro, Vincent Van Gogh and Kasimir Malevich.







Nicolas Meier Orient



Nicolas Meier - Season from the album Orient. With pictures by Salvador Dali, Georgia O'Keefe, Gustav Klimt, Piet Mondrian and Jusepe De Ribera,







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