Erik Honoré Heliographs Hubro ***1/2
Sampler Honoré, known for his work as joint presiding boffin/genius at live remixing festival Punkt in Norway and for his appearances with David Sylvian and Eivind Aarset among others, here on a debut solo project recorded in Oslo also using samples from concerts and live remixes, and featuring appearances on some tracks by singer Sidsel Endresen, percussionist Ingar Zach, sampler Jan Bang (the other Punkt presiding boffin/genius), guitarist Eivind Aarset, with violinist Jeffrey Bruinsma and trumpeter Arve Henriksen on a track apiece. The title of the album, according to Honoré, relates to the name of the first chapter of Honoré’s novel Orakelveggen, a fictional account of the development of the first photograph the inventor Joseph Niépce called heliography.
Even bearing in mind the longueurs on ‘Last Chance Gas & Water’ Heliographs is a rewarding listen drawing together as it does many strands from electronic music, and progressively-inclined jazz styles. A manifestation of advanced mixing technology and filtering from disparate sources the unearthly textures and soundscapery, improv and more manage to blend without any jarring viscosity at all. All this makes for a series of abstract aural collages marked by a mood of considerable serenity. SG
UK/Ireland release: 17 November
Hubro hosts a fifth anniversary label night on 21 November in Café Oto during the London Jazz Festival featuring Håkon Stene and Sigbjørn Apeland
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Thu 30th Oct 2014 14:34:57
- Last Updated: Thu 30th Oct 2014 15:33:07
Hindi Zahra’s mesmerising version of ‘Just Say I Love Him’, the fourth track on ’Round Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone (Verve ****), is a huge highlight of a new all-star tribute to Nina Simone (above) to be released in the UK/Ireland on 10 November. It's a song Simone sang on 1961's Forbidden Fruit.
Also featured with the world/jazz French Moroccan singer, who debuted with her album Handmade four years ago, are Lianne La Havas singing Randy Newman’s ‘Baltimore’; Keziah Jones, the spiritual ‘Sinnerman’; Sophie Hunger, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put a Spell on You’; Gregory Porter ‘Black is the Colour (of My True Love’s Hair)’; Olivia Ruiz on a boogaloo ‘Sidewinder’-flavoured take on ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’; Ben l’oncle Soul, the closest to the source, on ‘Feeling Good’; Melody Gardot, in another stand-out, Simone’s ‘Four Women’ from Wild is the Wind; Youn Sun Nah ‘Plain Gold Ring’; and Camille on an involving ‘Lilac Wine.’
- Category: News
- Published: Fri 24th Oct 2014 13:01:36
- Last Updated: Thu 30th Oct 2014 15:31:42
Molé RGB RareNoise ***
A band who on this showing specialise in a fist-in-the-air anthemic swagger and lost-in-the-dancefloor abandon, slimmed down two years on from What’s the Meaning to a trio — pianist Mark Aanderud bringing powerful bassist Threadgillian Stomu Takeishi into the fold to combine with long-time Aanderud drummer Hernan Hecht. There’s plenty of atmosphere, big themes in the Neil Cowley Trio mould, interesting woozy album sound and a New Melodic vibe overall, the grittier developmental passages washed down with a few avantisms along the way or stopping off to crank out a big hypnotic riff, or in the choppiness of ‘Reasons’ hinting at drum ’n’ bass. The band can do edginess too (the beginning of ‘Trichomatic’, perhaps). Aanderud has written the tunes with Aphex Twin and Massive Attack influences peeking through a little, and there is a side to RGB that could appeal to GoGo Penguin fans. ‘Freelance’ is the big tune with significant build topped off by a sense of ecstatic release (the band do optimism well), and there are at least three or four decent tracks that reward frequent play. SG
Released on 24 November
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Thu 30th Oct 2014 09:03:02
- Last Updated: Thu 30th Oct 2014 11:00:40
With jazz artists, particularly the greats, who have big discographies and long careers behind them you can go around as a listener living in parts of their past when reissues crop up as they often do. And this year there have been a few already to delve back in time to, in May, for instance, the reissue of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ancient Africa and Fats, Duke & The Monk offered a compelling invitation to transport your imagination back to 1973 a decade on from when Ibrahim (or Dollar Brand as he was by then) left South Africa firstly for Zurich and later New York. Or, also a reissue in 2014, even further back via African Piano to 1969 and a live album issued on vinyl by ECM taped not in north America but at the Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen.
The much more recent present is important too. And the release a year ago of Mukashi: Once Upon a Time proved this, Abdullah joined by Ekaya’s Cleave Guyton on flute, clarinet and saxophone and by a pair of cellists, the sheer grandeur of the ‘Krotoa’ suite, and ‘Mississippi’, with its movingly raw clarinet solo and animated Ibrahim accompaniment, strongly suggesting that the fire burning inside Ibrahim is still strong and true.
Also new The Song Is My Story here was recorded very recently in June this year, just months before Ibrahim turned 80, over a couple of days at a concert hall in Sacile in Italy, with the accompanying DVD adding a document of further time spent in the city of Sacile where the Fazioli piano factory is also located. Bookended by Ibrahim playing saxophone the otherwise solo piano set covers material drawn from his repertoire plus freely improvised creations. Performing on a Fazioli piano it’s not an overly-long album in CD terms, clocking in at under an hour, and many of the pieces are very short. But this doesn’t detract from the unique atmosphere you’ll invariably find on any Ibrahim album and in concert, but it is a little bitty in places. Nonetheless beauty radiates in unexpected places, quite casually, in the best parts, for instance on ‘Just Arrived’ (from 1990s album Desert Flowers). And The Song is full of tiny often Ellingtonian moments of sheer pleasure tucked within the extensive ruminations and thought-laden explorations.
The DVD if anything is better with different additional material provided including a beautiful extract of ‘Blue Bolero’, a love song that appeared on the 1990s African Magic album, introduced via scenes of a river almost in spate and town scenes of Sacile, the music played and explained evocatively by Ibrahim. There are explanations too of marabi, thoughts on Cape Town, and much besides told with huge dignity and thoughtfulness by this remarkable man, an icon of the music the world over. SG
Released on 10 November. Abdullah Ibrahim plays the London Jazz Festival at the Royal Festival Hall on 15 November followed by dates at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden (16 Nov); Sage, Gateshead (19 Nov); and Howard Assembly Room, Leeds (20 Nov).
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Sat 25th Oct 2014 14:38:32
- Last Updated: Wed 29th Oct 2014 15:21:50
Nils Økland / Per Steinar Lie / Ørjan Haaland Lumen Drones ECM ****
The plangent atmosphere of Neil Young’s theme for the 1990s film Philadelphia springs to mind instantly but a little distractingly on ‘Dark Sea’, the opening track of this unusual Sonic Youth and Velvet Underground-inspired Hardanger fiddle, guitar, and drums trio. The band met on a session for The Low Frequency in Stereo, a post-punk and Krautrock outfit Økland’s trio-mates here, guitarist Per Steinar Lie and drummer Ørjan Haaland, are in.
A real tonic, if a largely pensive earful, crank this one up particularly early on, the droney unearthly wail of the band pretty compelling throughout, the slacker looseness to guitar and drums appealing. It must, however, be frustrating for any band on ECM to wait so long for release, and it’s taken three long years for this studio album recorded in Etne, south of Bergen, to come out. Økland cast adrift from his usually pristine deeply serious chamber and folk settings sounds as if he’s enjoying the new freedom breaking clear to marvellous effect on ‘Echo Plexus’, folky and bright with that wonderful tone and attack of his, the insistent tribal drumming from Haaland contributing to a powerful spell cast from the trio’s inventive imagination. An album haunting in its simplicity wigging out only at the end on the tongue-twisting Led Zep-recalling ‘Svartaskjær’. For all you husky-lovers out there there is a Siberian one on the cover by the way, and a tender vignette of a piece named in the dog’s honour tucked in near the end. An album you might as well concede that has plenty of bite. SG
Released on Monday 3 November. Ørjan Haaland, above left, Per Steinar Lie, and Nils Økland.
Photo: Edgar G. Bachel / ECM
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Mon 27th Oct 2014 14:45:11
- Last Updated: Mon 27th Oct 2014 17:11:17
Effortlessly tasteful latter-day northern soul from Ms Lisa Stansfield here. New single ‘There Goes My Heart’ (Monkeynatra Records) is released on 8 December and included on the souped-up double album version of Seven (Seven +) just released. Latin-jazz conguero and DJ Snowboy is one of the remixers to contribute to the second of the discs. And that’s not all: next month Stansfield’s Arista period recordings are to be reissued in 2CD+DVD editions.
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 27th Oct 2014 14:02:00
- Last Updated: Mon 27th Oct 2014 15:39:46
Fini Bearman Porgy & Bess F-IRE Presents ***
There’s a certain punk energy set against a martial beat to the beginning of ‘Gone Gone Gone’ – the first track of Guildford-born singer Fini Bearman’s latest album – which certainly grabs you by the scruff of the neck. Tackling Porgy & Bess sees Bearman follow in the footsteps of Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, Cleo Laine and Ray Charles, as well as Carmen McRae and Sammy Davis Jr, not to mention a famous instrumental version by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. Very different to any of these jazz versions, Bearman, who studied at the Guildhall and at the Jazz Institute in Berlin, is backed by Hammond organist Ross Stanley, guitarist Matt Calvert, double bassist Jon Cox, and drummer John Blease. The interplay between Bearman and the blues, rock, and experimental guitar approaches of Calvert, who is also the producer, is the driving engine of the album recorded during November 2012 at London studio the Fish Factory. Blease is also a forceful presence on drums, yet the album’s rock opera feel to it isn’t always subtle while it certainly has impact. Bearman’s voice reminds me of Sarah Gillespie’s a little, another singer who injects a certain compelling attitude into her material. Finally, a small point, the Gershwins’ and DuBose Heyward’s names don’t appear credited on the artwork, which is a regrettable oversight. SG
Released on 28 October and launched that evening at the Forge, London
Fini Bearman, above
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Sun 26th Oct 2014 09:26:19
- Last Updated: Mon 27th Oct 2014 14:55:57
The New School, one of the hot US jazz colleges at the moment, has just made available this rare interview with Tommy LiPuma, the multi-Grammy winning jazz record producer known for his work on Breezin’, Unforgettable... with Love, The Look of Love and more recently Macca’s Kisses on the Bottom among other successes. The interview is hosted and conducted by Phil Ballman.
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 27th Oct 2014 08:41:03
- Last Updated: Mon 27th Oct 2014 09:53:44
Making his London debut at BluesFest is Nigel Mooney who appeared earlier this autumn at the Limerick Jazz Festival with his septet.
In his blues incarnation in the 1980s with his Gripewater Blues Band Mooney honed a sound he had built from his interest in the blues dating back to his schooldays and early listening to Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Peter Green, and BB King. Years later with the band that listening would be closer to the source still opening for BB when the blues great’s relentless touring reached Dublin. Now in his early-fifties, Mooney is 51, not 49 as stated on Wikipedia, with the Gripewater band in his early twenties it was “playing all those Willie Dixon numbers and then discovering the jazz stuff, searching for a new style,” he says. That new style would come tumbling down, first via Jimmy Smith’s organ and George Benson’s guitar. Mooney would also be listening to some Charlie Parker, some John Coltrane, and some Ahmad Jamal along the way.
Mooney grew up on Dublin’s south side, in Rathfarnham, and moved out to Wicklow, but now lives in the north of County Wexford. The blues scene in those distant days in Ireland included such totemic figures as Belfast scenester Jim Daly who Mooney first met in the unusual circumstances of JFK airport in New York. It was “an infamous situation,” Mooney explains. “A big company had gone bust and we were stranded with no return flight waiting for two days in the airport. I got talking to this guy, who was telling me about playing in Chicago with Sunnyland Slim, and I was amazed. I said to him: did he know Jim Daly? ‘I am Jim Daly’!” a story that amuses Mooney’s friend and fellow guitarist Ronnie Greer who used to play with the keyboardist’s blues band and who even addresses Mooney as I Am Jim Daly.
The Gripewater, with a core quartet line-up, filled a gap on the Dublin music scene of the time more attuned to heavy rock, and would play at Tommy Dunne’s tavern in Dublin, a place that used to be the Parliament Inn near the Capel St Bridge, and which is now a bar/restaurant called the Turk’s Head. There were three floors of bars, and gradually the better the band were the higher up in the building they would play. “It was a very old building but old and dilapidated as well, a good place to play,” Nigel recalls. “The top floor was dangerous and a fire hazard but when we got grooving on a Chicago blues if you went down below the top floor, as I would do for something, if a saxophonist was playing, you might get some plaster on your head as the band grooved and the crowd danced upstairs.”
That scene ended with no notification abruptly in late-1985, early-1986, when Mooney arrived one Saturday night ready to play, quite a large number of punters standing around outside, and the venue’s shutters were still down. The gig was finished. After that the transition began towards jazz and Mooney started to play at JJ Smyths on a Friday at that time not putting on any jazz, and in late 1986 and the early part of 87 saxophonist Richie Buckley started coming in and playing with Mooney and his bluesmen on a regular basis. Nigel says: “The band started introducing Charlie Parker tunes and it was a gradual graduation. I was still too lazy to learn all the key changes. But we brought in a drummer who swung a bit more.” When the Gripewater stopped Mooney began to play with band leader Earl Gill’s seven piece at the Shelbourne Hotel, and also with jazz pianist Tony Drennan in the 1990s, and they would play all sorts at hotel gigs and at weddings and functions. Mooney’s ear was changing.
Playing BluesFest, the headliners of which this year include Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, and Gregory Porter, Mooney is leading his band of Johnny Taylor on piano, Dan Bodwell on bass, and Dominic Mullan, drums, his main quartet, the guitarist-singer says, of the last few years.
As for records The Bohemian Mooney issued by Lyte Records last year Mooney says was a stop-gap and came some 10 years after All My Love’s In Vain. He says he had put writing for the band on the “long finger” and with a few changes in personnel in his band from the In Vain days he says hadn’t been “writing diligently” and instead “cobbled together” the album, initially an idea and concept for the septet. On it Georgie Fame also pops up on a Freddie Green song, the great Mose Allison-influenced singer/organist and 1960s pop star who Mooney has known since the late-1980s when Georgie was playing with Van Morrison. Van, with Richie Buckley, would come down to Nigel’s gigs, and Nigel would go to Van’s. An enduring friendship with Georgie was developing.
In terms of the vocals side of his performances Mooney says as a listener he likes Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra and Joe Williams as well as Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughan. He’s not a devotee of Ray Charles he says but ‘Ain’t That Love’ on the album even so shows a deep understanding and flair for the High Priest of Soul’s approach. The real tour de force of the album perhaps is ‘Bohemian Moondance’ where Van classic ‘Moondance’ metamorphoses effortlessly into ‘Milestones’ by Miles Davis, a natural fit in Mooney’s hands. The bandleader says he used to play ‘Moondance’ at gigs which he mentions tactfully was requested “too many times”. So after a while he decided to rewrite the bridge, change the tempo, and play it “a bit different and hoped nobody would notice!” Ah well, that cat’s well and truly out of the bag. You’d also imagine Mooney at BluesFest won’t go unnoticed either by blues and jazz fans making the scene. Stephen Graham
- Category: Interviews and features
- Published: Tue 14th Oct 2014 15:19:09
- Last Updated: Mon 27th Oct 2014 08:08:11